Disclaimer - Is it really necessary? Well, okay. Since it's the first chapter of the story - No, I'm not J.K. Rowlings. No, I do not own anything Harry Potter. No, I'm not making any money. I'm just playing in someone else's sandbox.
The Way We Are
"No way!" laughed Sirius. "You named your owl after the Montrose Magpies?"
"Yeah," James blushed. "They're a great team."
Sirius continued laughing, "Okay. If you say so."
"Well, what team do you like?"
"The Harpies," Sirius said with a wink and a smile. Remus chuckled.
"Why the Harpies?" Peter asked.
Remus chimed in, "All female team."
"Oooh." Peter said. James and Sirius burst out laughing again.
There was a tap on the compartment door and it slid open. The witch who pushed the tea trolley asked if anyone wanted anything. Everyone but Remus bought a handful of items and the conversation shifted briefly to the Wizard Cards from the chocolate frogs.
Peter said proudly, "I have almost all of the cards."
"No doubt," Sirius muttered. "Go figure… Slytherin," and he held up the card to show the others. He opened the window and chucked it out, then closed the window and returned to his seat. The other boys were grinning.
"So," James said, still smiling, "No Slytherins in this compartment."
"Mmm," was the only response he received. Sirius was still worried about that little detail and he sank into a sullen mood.
Some time later, there was, again, a knock on their compartment door. The prefect from earlier popped her head in. "Time to change into your school robes. We'll be there in a minute. Leave your trunks. They will be taken to your dorms for you." As the boys changed, they could feel the train slowing and then stop.
They exited the train and the biggest man they had ever seen was calling the first years to him. "First years. Over 'ere." The giant of a man waited for the students to gather in front of him. "All right then. Is that everyone? My name's Hagrid. I'm Keeper of the Keys an' Grounds at Hogwarts. Follow me. We'll be takin' these 'ere boats to the castle. No more 'en four to a boat."
The four boys quickly piled into one boat. Remus had to grab Peter to prevent him from toppling overboard. The boats rowed themselves across the lake. When the castle came into view for the first time, there was a collective gasp among the students and hushed chattering broke out. The large castle was a sight to behold with its lit windows glittering in the settling darkness. Its many towers looked quite imposing standing atop the cliff, like a knight in full armor, standing guard over the lake. Even though Remus had been to the castle before, he had not approached it from the water, and it had been day. His breath, too, caught when he saw his new home.
Once they landed on shore, all of the first-years traveled up a path to the front of the castle and entered into the huge entrance hall. James looked in all directions, trying to take in as much as possible. The things that caught his eye were the four hourglasses in one corner of the hall, each with the name of one of the school houses above it. The students were led into a small room off to the side. Well, smaller room. It was here that Hagrid left them with a much smaller, stern-looking witch who was standing quite still, waiting for the students to settle.
"My name is Professor McGonagall. I am the Transfiguration teacher here at Hogwarts. You are about to be sorted into your houses. These houses are your home away from home. And the other students, with whom you share this home, are your family. Your actions will have repercussions on the other members of your house. You will earn points for your house by doing something praiseworthy. Some of you," she looked warningly around at the students, "will lose points for your house. At the end of the year, the house points are tallied and the house with the most points wins the House Cup. This is a tradition that goes back…"
Suddenly, someone sneezed. Then again. All eyes turned to look at the cause of the disruption – a handsome, black-haired boy. Sirius pulled out a handkerchief and blew his nose - loudly. The sound reverberated through the room. Professor McGonagall narrowed her eyes at the impetuous boy.
"Sorry," Sirius said to the room at large. He held up his hand in apology. "Sorry," he directed at Professor McGonagall.
"Yes, well…" she seemed to have lost track of what she was saying. "I will return when we are ready for you."
James was eyeing Sirius, a smirk on his face. Sirius shrugged, "What can I say? I'm hungry." Remus gave a snort of laughter while simultaneously shaking his head disapprovingly.
A minute later, McGonagall returned and led the students to the Great Hall. The first-years filed down the middle path between four large dining tables. Each table belonged to a separate house. The older students were already seated and were waiting eagerly for the sorting. The first-years were more terrified than eager as they waited for The Sorting Ceremony to begin. It was one of the best guarded secrets in the wizarding world – how does the sorting take place? Despite having parents and siblings that attend Hogwarts, even most wizard children didn't know what to expect.
On a stool in front of the high table, sat a tall wizard's hat. It looked frayed and shabby and appeared to have been patched in places. To the astonishment of most of the first-years, one of the folds toward the base of the hat opened and the hat began to sing.
In long forgotten days of old,
Four witches and wizards stood proud and bold.
Taking the future under their wing,
They agreed teaching should begin.
But each one had his or her own style.
And students that came from many a-mile
To learn and grow, and be taught,
But be sorted, how? They knew not.
Then Gryffindor, with brains aplenty,
Spared some for this hat, once empty.
Now I do the sorting, it is true
By standards tested through and through.
Now Gryffindor is bold and brave.
Courage and loyalty, the day may save.
Slytherin make friends with a common goal
And serve their purposes, on the whole.
Ravenclaw is intelligent and cunning.
Great minds all, are you in the running?
Hufflepuff is kind and true.
They'll work hard to see you through.
So to which house will you be privy?
Try me on. You'll find I'm not so silly.
The hall erupted into applause when the song was done. The stern Professor McGonagall instructed, "You will form a single line. When I call your name, step forward, take a seat on the stool, and place the Sorting Hat on your head."
Sirius didn't have long to wait as the names were listed alphabetically. "Black, Sirius," McGonagall called.
Sirius stepped forward, feeling a bit nervous. He placed the hat on his head and it slid down, covering his eyes. He was grateful, because he was squeezing them shut in terrified anticipation. Just not Slytherin, he thought.
"Oh no. Definitely not a Slytherin," the hat said. "You are very talented, I see. Yes… clever. But you have courage, too." All of this was said only to Sirius. Then the hat spoke to the hall, "Gryffindor!"
With an ecstatic whoop, Sirius flung the hat into the air in celebration. The students had been stunned into silence at the declaration of a Black being placed in a house other than Slytherin, let alone being put in Gryffindor. When the hat went flying into the air, the silence was broken by gasps at the audacity of someone chucking the Sorting Hat.
Even Professor McGonagall was too stunned to chastise him. She glanced at the Headmaster and noted his amusement. Somehow, she was not surprised. He found the oddest things humorous.
Fortunately for Sirius, he caught the hat and set it back on the stool, apparently oblivious to the reactions of those around him. The first person to applaud this appointment was, actually, another Black – Andromeda Black, who happened to be the only other Black in recent history to be sorted outside Slytherin. Sirius ran, grinning, from the front of the hall and high-fived James on his way to the Gryffindor table. The applause spread from there and the Gryffindors enthusiastically greeted their newest house member.
Sirius watched the rest of the sorting intently. He could almost predict who was going to be in Slytherin, but, then again, he knew most of those students' families. It was not as easy to tell with the other houses.
"Evans, Lily." Sirius watched a very studious looking redhead approach the stool. If he were to guess, he would have said she was a Ravenclaw.
James was also watching this redhead with interest. She was very attractive.
"Gryffindor!" Lily hopped from the stool and smiled as she made her way to the Gryffindor table.
James smiled. They'd be in the same house. Excellent!
Remus watched all of this with interest. He wondered if the students had any say into which house they were placed. He knew he was smart enough to be in Ravenclaw, but Sirius, one of the three other students he knew, had been placed in Gryffindor, and James had been pretty confident that he would be in Gryffindor as well.
Remus approached the stool and placed the hat on his head. "Interesting." the hat said to him. "A great mind. Great mind, indeed. You would find challenges and equals in Ravenclaw…"
Gryffindor, please, Remus thought, politely making his request. He wasn't sure if his desire mattered at all, but it couldn't hurt to ask.
"Gryffindor, you say. Friends already there… Challenges of a different kind. You certainly have the bravery. Very well," and "Gryffindor!" the hat announced.
Thank you, Remus thought. He took off the hat and very respectfully placed in on the stool. He looked up at the high table. Professor Dumbledore gave a nod of approval. Remus smiled and headed to the table, taking a seat next to Sirius. The other Gryffindors applauded and welcomed him to their house.
Sirius clapped him on the back, "Well done, mate." Remus beamed even more. He had friends.
Several more names were called and then, "Pettigrew, Peter."
The round-faced boy was so nervous he almost fell off the stool when he tried to sit down. A quiet chuckle went through the hall when Peter visibly jumped, presumably when the hat started speaking to him.
"Now here is a tricky mind. Slytherin would take you where you want to go, but you have bravery of a sort and much potential that lies beneath the surface…" The hat remained silent for a time. It was as if it was deliberating with itself. Finally after nearly a minute, it announced, "Gryffindor!"
Peter jumped off the stool, nearly toppling it over. He placed the hat back on its perch and speed-walked to the Gryffindor table. He sat down opposite Sirius and Remus. Both greeted him with a smile and an enthusiastic handshake. He received pats on the back from other members of the house including Lily, which caused him to blush furiously.
"Potter, James." Sirius stilled as he watched intently.
James made his way up to the stool. He barely had time to put the hat on his head when it shouted, "Gryffindor!"
Sirius let out another whoop and the four boys laughed when James joined them at the table.
"I told you I'd be a Gryffindor," James said proudly.
The other first-year Gryffindor boy introduced himself, "Addison Frobisher."
"James Potter," he said and shook the boy's hand.
A few names down the list, they heard, "Snape, Severus."
The greasy-haired, hooked nose boy from the train stepped forward to take his place on the stool.
"Severus?" James whispered and snorted. The four boys looked at each other and, in unison with the hat said, "Slytherin!" They burst out laughing again as Snape joined the Slytherin table. The applause was much more subdued, as few students outside the house of Slytherin applauded anyone entering that particular house.
When the sorting was done, Professor McGonagall removed the hat and stool and took her seat at the high table. At this point, Professor Dumbledore stood up.
"Welcome, welcome, to a new year at Hogwarts. Just a few words before beginning the feast – Poppycock and fluffernutter." He gave a satisfied sort of nod, then pointed with his wand. With a slight jabbing motion, the tables filled with food. "Tuck in," he said and the start of term feast began.
The confused expressions on the boys' faces at Dumbledore's words were replaced with wide-eyed delight at the banquet set before them. They ate until they could eat no more. After the long, excitement-filled day, feeling well fed and comfortable, drowsiness became the pervading feeling at the tables.
Dumbledore stood up once more to speak. "Before I lose you to those visions of the night, I have a few start-of-term announcements. The forbidden forest is off-limits to all students. We have a new tree on the grounds this year. It is a Whomping Willow. I strongly suggest caution be used when in its vicinity. It has a surprisingly long reach. Also, Mr. Filch has announced new additions to the Forbidden Items list. You may view this list as it is posted on his office door. To bed!" he commanded and the Prefects immediately rose from their seats.
"Follow me, first-years. And pay close attention. The stairs like to shift, so it's best to learn more than one route," one of the Gryffindor prefects instructed. "I'm Corbin Ward." He led the way up several flights of stairs and a dizzying path through the corridors. He stopped abruptly before a portrait of a rather large woman. "The current password is Aguamenti. You will speak the password to 'The Fat Lady' for admittance into the Gryffindor common room." The students filed into the common room and the prefect continued his instructions, "The staircase to the left leads to the girls' dormitories. The staircase to the right leads to the boys' dormitories. Your trunks have already been brought to your room. Get some sleep."
James and Sirius rolled their eyes at the parental tone the prefect was using. They headed to their dorm room. It was a round room with five four-poster beds. Their trunks were already in front of their beds.
"Lupin," Sirius called.
Sirius nodded agreement, "Okay, Remus. Trade beds? I like the window." He felt freer near the window.
Remus shrugged, "Sure." It was fine with him; he really didn't want to be able to see out of the window. It was too much of a reminder of things to come.
James watched the exchange with curious interest. He looked at the other two boys. "Anyone else want to trade beds?"
"No," said Peter
"Nope, I'm good," said Addison at the same time.
"Good night, then."
They all practically collapsed onto their beds, stomachs full, and exhausted from the day.
A/N - This is the start of a new - and very long - story. I am going to break it up into chunks, hence the label "Part One." I hope you all enjoy the journey watching our favorite Marauders grow up.
Thanks also to those who read and those who review. Thanks to to my cheerleaders - J.A.Carlton, Mom, and mei mei. Love.