He walked through the oh-so-familiar wall that separated the red train from the prying eyes of muggles.
Well, walked was a pretty big word. More limping like an old man. Or, in his particular case, limping like a werewolf who had bitten himself too many times the previous night. With a sigh he looked at the train. It was just the same, and if Remus hadn't known better, he'd have expected his friends to erupt from the steam any moment now, laughing like lunatics, walking towards him and patting him on the back like all the boys of their age would do.
And yet, it was so different. He sighed again and looked at the clock above him. An hour left before the train would leave. Remus hadn't know how long it would take to get to King's Cross on muggle transportation, so he had just stepped in the first subway he could find at nine o'clock. Apparition wasn't exactly an option; with the state he was in he would most likely splinch himself.
Inwardly he groaned. If he had just remembered that it was full moon on the night of August 31, he wouldn't have had to stand in the Metro, with every muggle staring at him like he was some kind of tramp. He limped closer to the train and stepped in. The second cabin was occupied by an anxious first year, but all the others were empty, so he took the last one, knowing that entering would fill his head with every memory of his own school time. After all, this was the same cabin Remus had stepped into as a first year, and every year after that, to "open the first meeting of the Marauders," as Sirius once put it. With a deep breath and a last gasp of strength, he pushed his suitcase in the luggage rack. Then he plopped down on the seat he had usually taken and thought back . . .
The Marauders . . . what a change their friendship had been through. Two dead, by the hands of the third, and the last one feeling guilty for ever having been friends with the murderer at all. If it hadn't been for Dumbledore's persuasion, and his own financial problems, Remus wouldn't have even considered returning to the place where he had once been so happy with his three best friends. Even now he was doubting his decision; with Sirius on the loose, everything would be . . . he couldn't even put the thought into words. And then there was the great and mighty secret of the Marauders, which no one knew now, except for Sirius and himself. Somewhere in the depths of his mind, Remus had a nagging suspicion that it was not by accident that Sirius had become the first person to escape from Azkaban. Admittedly, Sirius had always been brilliant, but in this case, he had an extra advantage. Should he, Remus, tell the Ministry what he knew? It was the right thing to do, and only just, considering what Sirius had done. But doing so would force him to reveal the whole truth: that he had abused the trust of Albus Dumbledore, the one authority figure who had ever trusted him at all, and was now giving him a job. Besides, the Ministry just came up with some new rules and laws for werewolves….. Remus didn't feel warm and fuzzy about them at the moment. He looked at his right, to the compartment door. Slowly, he felt his eyes closing, thinking about the Marauders' third journey to Hogwarts, when they'd hexed the neighbouring compartment, causing its occupants to feel the need to run through the train, yelling and barking like mad.
"Who do you reckon that he is?" Suddenly he heard voices entering the compartment. The sleep he had before was still shimmering, so he let his eyes closed, hoping the students would notice he was now a professor, and leave, because, honestly, who would voluntarily sit next to a teacher when you could avoid it? Remus slowly noticed that the train was also riding and he felt the ritmic sounds.
"Professor R.J. Lupin," another voice, (female this time,) whispered. Remus wondered for a moment how she had known that, until…
"How do you know that?" Apparently, he hadn't been the only one wondering.
"It's on his case," replied the girl.
"Wonder what he teaches?"
"That's obvious. There is only one vacancy, isn't there? Defence Against the Dark Arts."
He smiled lightly. It was clear that the girl was very smart and had a knack of "connecting the dots," as his dad had always said.
"Well, I hope he's up to it. He looks like one good hex would finish him off, doesn't he?"
Remus thought he ought to be slightly angry with the kid, but couldn't bring himself to get mad. After all, the boy was probably right.
"Anyway . . .What were you going to tell us?" the boy continued.
A third voice began to speak.
Remus' eyes flew open, and he could hardly suppress a gasp. Next to the compartment door sat a thirteen year old boy, speaking and looking exactly like James Potter.
Inwardly, Remus cursed. Of course. In all the commotion in the past weeks, between his new job and Sirius' escape, Remus had totally forgotten about the Boy-Who-Lived, or in his mind, The-Son-Of-His-Best-Friend-Who-Didn't-Die. The boy who had survived when his parents didn't, and the boy who had survived again and again. The boy who now, rumour had it, was the newest target of the mass-murderer Black.
Listening to Harry's words, he heard that Harry knew about the danger he was in, but didn't know the whole story.
"Sirius Black escaped to come after you? Oh, Harry . . . You'll have to be really, really careful. Don't go looking for trouble, Harry—"
"I don't go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds me," Harry replied, sounding slightly irritated.
It was the same sentence James had uttered long ago, only then it had been used as a pick-up line directed at Lily Evans. Then again, most things James said turned into pick-up lines, which he always attempted to use on the same person.
He remembered that in one of his attempts to ask the mother of this child out, Sirius, Peter and himself had been standing outside, looking above their heads, to see James on a broomstick knocking on the window of the fifth-years girls dormitory.
A second later, James was being attacked by several items that could only be found in a girl's room, including three lipsticks, a container of cold cream, and a bra, which later found its way to an altar made especially for it by Sirius.
The next second, James fell of his broom, because a certain red-head had decided that holding the end and shaking furiously while her roommates still threw stuff at him, was fun. This was also the exact reason why Remus had demanded to Peter and Sirius to come, because no matter how good James was as a flyer; Lily was better at making him a fool out of himself and letting him fall of a broom.
The three of them had used their hands as a safety-net, but unfortunately, James was a bit too heavy for them to support, so the four boys ended up in a mess of arms, legs and various other body parts, while Lily used the time to throw more things at them from above, including James' very heavy broomstick.
Remus didn't heard what the kids say further: his brain, which hadn't had sleep last night, demanded that it would get it now. In the background, he heard a faint whistle. A Sneakoscope, he thought immediately: how many times hadn't he heard it He'd heard them too many times to be concerned. They always went off in the presence of a werewolf.
"Get out of it!" The voice of the red-haired boy woke him from the shimmering sleep. He peeked to see what was happening.
"Ron, don't!" the girl said angrily.
A large ginger cat was sitting on the boy named Ron, who tried to shove it away. Remus stirred. He hated cats, ever since the day he got his condition;he'd been out looking for his pet cat when he was bitten. He could hardly blame the werewolf for biting him, not now that he knew how awful it was to be one himself. So he had always blamed cats for getting lost and their needing to be found.
He could feel the kids' eyes on him, and found it best to pretend he was still a sleep and turned his head, letting his mouth hang slightly open. However, he didn't sleep at all. He was peeking at the reflection of the tree kids in the window and analysing them.
So this was famous Harry Potter and his friends. He didn't know what he had expected to see when meeting Harry again, if he would have ever met him, but it wasn't this. The boy was, if you didn't look too hard at the scar or think of the story behind it, almost normal.
In fact, if you ignored the scar, changed the green eyes for brown ones and added some cockiness (to be fair, a lot of cockiness), one would say without hesitation that it was James. And James had been perfectly normal.
Okay, perhaps normal wasn't the right word for it. After all, not every normal boy was friends with a werewolf and went so far as to change into an animal every month, but still: apart from that, he had been normal.
A smile crept up Remus' lips when he thought back at the time that James had finally told Lily that he was an animagus, and that every time she saw a deer wasn't so coincidentally at all.
And then there were Harry's friends. The girl seemed to have absorbed the entire contents of the Hogwarts library, and was attempting, by the looks of the gigantic book she was holding, to cram still more information into her head. The Ron-guy, the red-head, reminded him slightly of a guy he'd known at school. What was his name? Prewit? Prewett? Maybe this kid was family. The rhythmic sounds of the train together with the kids' whispers slowly put him back into sleep, this time a fast one.
He woke up when it started to rain outside; the glass he had been leaning against had become cold and he shivered tiredly. He recognised the scent of Cauldron Cakes in the compartment; the food trolley had already been past. Not that he would have had the strength to wake up and root through his trunk to find his last galleons in order to buy some candy; he still felt weak.
The discussion had turned to a heated debate over Quidditch teams. Ron was going on and on about his favourite team, while Harry made ironic comments. According to, the James-clone, who ought to know if he were half as obsessed with Quidditch as his father had been, the Cambridge Cannons did nothing but loose.
Suddenly he heard footsteps in the corridor and the door of the compartment opened. In the reflection of the glass, Remus saw three boys, or actually one blond boy and two massive, stupid-looking bodyguard-types standing on either side of him.
"Well, look who it is," said the boy in the middle. "Potty and the Weasel." The other boys started to chuckle as if on cue. "I heard your father finally got his hands on some gold this summer, Weasley. Did your mother die of shock?" the boy continued.
Remus flinched. They were definitely not good friends.
The girl in the compartment put her book away. Ron stood up, his fist clenched around a Quidditch magazine he'd been reading from earlier. In his haste, he knocked the cat's basket off the seat and onto Remus' foot. He gave a snort. Of course the basket had to land on the foot he'd injured last night.
"Who's that?" the blonde kid said immediately and Remus continued pretending to sleep.
"New teacher," said Harry. "What were you saying, Malfoy?"
"C'mon," muttered Malfoy and soon after he heard them leave.
Remus smiled. As far as his personality went, Harry fortunately didn't seem much like his father. James would have cursed the boy into oblivion, but Harry had managed to avoid getting himself in trouble while still getting rid of the kid.
"I'm not going to take any rubbish from Malfoy this year. I mean it." He heard Ron sit down and looked at the trio's reflection in the window. The girl had her book in her lap, looking concernedly at Ron, who continued, "If he makes one more crack about my family, I'm going to get hold of his head and—"
The reflection in the window wasn't great, so Remus couldn't quite tell what Ron intended to do, but it was obviously violent.
"Ron!" hissed the girl, pointing to Remus (who closed his eyes the second he saw her pointing) "Be careful . . ."
As if he was going to give detention for something the other boy obviously deserved. A Malfoy . . . probably related to Lucius, who was helping the ministry put up more rules against werewolves. Together with a woman named Umbridge, Lucius was at the very bottom of Remus' list of friends. Why couldn't people accept that werewolves were also people? Why wasn't everything simple, as it had been when he was at school? He had been able to cover up his condition; most people hadn't a clue what he was. But at the same time, his true friends had been able to figure it out, and had managed to come up with a way to help him. The sound of the rain and the train put him to sleep again.
"We must be nearly there," he heard at as he drifted back to consciousness. He felt someone leaning over him to look outside.
Suddenly the train started to slow down and he felt the same person (probably Ron) standing up.
"Brilliant," he heard him say, and it was indeed Ron. "I'm starving, I want to get to the feast . . ."
"We can't be there yet," Remus heard the girl say.
"So why're we stopping?" Ron asked.
The train stopped, and from other compartments came the sounds of falling luggage.
Remus heard someone opening the door into the corridor. Then without warning, all the lamps went out. The light that had shone through his eyelids vanished. He opened his eyes and gripped his wand inside his pocket.
"What's going on?" Ron said.
"Ouch! Ron, that was my foot!"
Remus heard the compartment door slam shut, along with a flurry of movement as Harry, Ron and the girl felt their way back to their respective seats.
"D'you think we've broken down?" Harry asked.
"Dunno . . ." came Ron's answer. The boy used his sleeve to wipe off a bit of the window.
"There's something moving out there," Ron said. "I think people are coming aboard."
Immediately, Remus felt the hairs in his neck stand up. This wasn't good. The only creatures that could put out the lights and making him feel this way were . . . But that couldn't be . . .
The door opened again and with a gigantic crash, someone fell into the compartment.
"Sorry – d'you know what's going on? – Ouch – sorry –"
"Hello, Neville," Remus heard Harry say.
"Harry? Is that you? What's happening?"
"No idea – sit down –"
The cat made a hissing noise as the new boy tried to sit on it. The boy yelped and the cat fell to the floor of the compartment. The girl picked up the cat and stood up, putting the cat in her place. Judging by her faint outline, she was moving towards the door.
"I'm going to go and ask the driver what's going on," she said.
She opened the door but apparently walked into another girl; Remus heard them both yelp squeals of pain, while he himself was being occupied by looking out of the window.
"What are you doing?"
"I was looking for Ron –"
Remus tried to listen for the rustling sound he expected to hear; it would confirm his fear: With the kids around him talking loudly, there was no way he was going to be able to hear it.
"Come in and sit down –"
"Not here!" came Harry's voice. "I'm here!"
"Ouch!" That would be Neville, the boy who had just fallen in.
Unable to stand it any longer, Remus suddenly said, "Quiet!"
To his surprise, they obeyed him and immediate silence followed. Far away, he heard the familiar rustling. He had been right: there were indeed Dementors on the train.
He conjured some flames in the palm of his hand, to illuminate the compartment. Five pairs of frightened eyes looked back at him.
"Stay where you are," he said, and got to his feet. His voice sounded hoarse and he swallowed, though he knew the hoarseness wouldn't go away.
At the same time, the door of the compartment slid open. Before him was a huge Dementor. He could hear the thing drewing in a deep breath of air from the compartment.
Then the occasion went from bad to worse. Suddenly, Harry had fallen from his seat to the floor of the compartment, shaking like mad, as if the situation hadn't been weird enough. He looked as though he was having some kind of fit. It probably had something to do with the Dementor, but nevertheless, it was frightening, almost as though the boy was being tortured.
Trying to be braver than he was, he stepped over Harry, who was still shaking, looked at the hood and said: "None of us is hiding Sirius Black under his cloaks."
The Dementor didn't move; instead, it drew another breath and Remus felt the cold inside him become more intense.
"Go!" he said to the creature.
In the back of his mind, he saw flashes of the first time he became a werewolf and he shook his head. He had to think of something happy. Next to his right leg, he felt Harry still shaking on the floor and immediately he saw the image of James, Sirius, Peter and himself, waving in a photo he had kept in his apartment, now safely hidden in his trunk. He thought back to those happy days and immediately murmured the spell:
The figure turned away and disappeared into the corridor. Not a minute later, the lights on the train came back on. The Dementors had gone.
Remus turned around and saw the brown-haired girl and Ron kneeling beside Harry. The boy who had came in later was staring at them, and a girl with red hair, who appeared to be Ron's sister, was sitting in a corner, her knees drawn up to her chest as if she was trying to roll herself up into a ball.
"Harry! Harry! Are you all right?" The brown-haired girl was trying to wake him up, but Ron seemed to have a better idea: he slapped him.
"W-what?" Harry's voice came from the floor. Remus looked at him. He looked even paler than Ron's sister and his glasses had fallen on the floor beside him. All five kids looked as though a bit of chocolate would do them a world of good. Remus turned back to his suitcase and pushed the lid a bit open, taking out a large bar of Honeydukes' best.
"Are you okay?" Ron said to Harry.
"Yeah. What happened? Where's that – that thing? Who screamed?"
"No one screamed," said Ron.
"But I heard screaming."
Remus noticed that Harry's voice was still faint, as if he was afraid they were playing a trick on him, and would reveal the Dementor at any second. Yep, it really was time for some chocolate.
He broke the bar, and everyone jumped and looked around to see what had caused the sudden noise. Breaking off a large piece, he handed it to Harry.
"Here," he said to Harry, who looked at him as if he were a ghost. Well, not a ghost; since they were quite common in Hogwarts, they wouldn't scare Harry any more, would they? His familiar green eyes pierced into Remus almost the same way Lily's had seemed to look straight through him every time she caught the Marauders planning a prank.
"Eat it. It'll help." He heard himself say.
"What was that thing?" Harry asked.
Remus cursed. (inwardly of course) Why was he the one who had to tell Harry about one of the most fearsome creatures ever?
"A Dementor," he said, giving the rest of the kids pieces of chocolate as well. Talking to Harry was a lot easier when he didn't have to look at those piercing eyes. "One of the Dementors of Azkaban."
Suddenly, he had the full attention of every person there. Even the cat was staring at him, which made him quite uncomfortable. He put the now empty wrapper in his pocket. Too bad that he had to use it already; it had been his emergency candy bar.
"Eat," he repeated to the people sitting around him. "It'll help. I need to speak to the driver, excuse me . . ."
He walked towards the door, and as he closed it behind him he noticed that he had cold sweat on his forehead.
Great. In 24 hours, he had transformed into a werewolf and back again and started his new job. On top of that, he'd met the son of one of his best friends, all the while knowing that another, former best friend was trying to kill the boy, and saved the boy in an encounter with a Dementor, not a creature you would want to meet every day to have a tea-party with.
Whatever would happen this year, an interesting year it would be…….