Author's Note: I'm new to the world of fanfic, so I'm still learning the ropes, and am in need of a beta. Not knowing the ropes, I have no idea how to get a beta. Help in this area would be appreciated. In other news, this was meant to be short, and just kind of ran away from me. Reviews make me happy.
The other kids were all huddled together, and Remus Lupin wasn't sure what to do. He wanted to huddle closer with them, felt tempted to take a few steps toward the bunch, but years of habit made him stand a few feet away, alone. They looked just as nervous as he felt. He recognized some of them from the train. He had seen that round-faced girl giggling with a group of her friends in one compartment. He had seen that redhead crying right after the train left Platform 9¾, and he had thought about going in and sitting with her, but he didn't have the nerve. She was now hovering near a pale boy, holding onto his arm.
He had seen the two boys in front of him on the train too. Both with black hair, laughing and teasing each other. Remus had walked past their compartment during the beginning of the journey. When he walked past again later, the compartment was full of people, talking, laughing, looking at them admiringly. Remus had barely noticed them, because he learned long ago that people like that barely noticed him. He had spent most of the train ride in a compartment near the back, trying to be invisible, and succeeding.
He looked from one person to the next. His classmates. He was here, at school, where he never in a million years dreamed he would be. The redheaded girl caught him looking, and gave him a shy and excited smile. Startled at being noticed, he looked away quickly and stared at his shoes.
"Hey," one of the black-haired boys in front of him whispered to the other, apparently unaware of Remus's presence.
"Yeah?" the other one whispered back.
The first boy hesitated, then asked, "James, will you still be my friend if I get sorted into Slytherin?"
Remus didn't hear James's answer, because at that moment the door opened and a rather severe-looking witch came out and bade them follow her.
Something akin to panic fluttered in Remus's chest as he looked out at all the students in the Great Hall. There were so many of them, and he couldn't help thinking, So many who could notice, so many I could hurt, so many parents who could demand my expulsion. He shuddered. The witch had placed an old hat on a stool, and it was now singing a song about brains and ambition and bravery and loyalty, but Remus found he didn't care. He was at Hogwarts, that had been the hard part. Where he went now didn't seem to matter much. The song ended, and one by one, his classmates went forward and tried on the hat.
"Lupin, Remus," the witch called. Remus didn't make eye contact with any of the other first years as he made his way to the stool, and the hat dropped onto his head.
"Ah, a bright mind!" the hat said into his ear. "And a real thirst to learn. Oh, but there's more here, isn't there? A need to prove you aren't a monster, a need to do good. You've felt pain, and pain no longer scares you, but you're very afraid, aren't you, Lupin? Afraid of what you'll find here?" I don't want to be afraid, I don't want to be afraid, Remus thought to himself. But the hat knows I'm afraid, and Remus felt ashamed. "Your greatest fear is fear itself," the hat chuckled. "Very wise for such a young boy. Yes, I think I know just the place for you. You belong in GRYFFINDOR!"
Remus jumped as the last word was yelled to the entire hall. Gryffindor? The hat had just told him that it knew he was afraid. Why on earth did it place him in the house for the brave? But the witch had taken the hat from his head, and one of the tables was cheering loudly, and Remus had no choice but to join them. The redheaded girl was among them, and Remus noticed one of the dark headed boys was there as well; apparently he had not ended up in Slytherin as he had feared.
The boy scooted over as Remus approached, making room for him on the bench, and clapped him on the back. Across the table from him, a boy with a prefect badge smiled at him and reached out his hand.
"Well, done... Remus, was it?" Remus nodded, shaking the boy's hand. As he reached out, the sleeve of his robe slid up, and a particularly brutal looking scar was revealed on his forearm. "Frank Longbottom. Welcome to Gryffindor." If Frank Longbottom noticed the scar, he didn't show it. Nevertheless, Remus whipped his arms back inside his robes, and tried to keep his head down for the rest of dinner, allowing his shaggy hair to cover the scars on his face.
"I'm in Gryffindor! I'm in Gryffindor, James!" Whoops and cries of celebration filled the air as the door to the dormitory burst open. The black haired boy ran in, leapt onto his bed, and began jumping up and down excitedly. "Oh, my mum is going to kill me!" he crowed delightedly.
Remus was kneeling on the floor in front of his trunk, pulling out his pajamas and the textbooks he would need for the next day, A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration and The Standard Book of Spells Grade 1. Behind him, he heard the boy called James run in too, slamming the door behind him.
"Told you, Sirius!" He leapt onto his own bed, his glasses bouncing on the bridge of his nose as he jumped. "Told you you wouldn't be in stinking Slytherin!" He jumped onto Sirius's bed, and the two boys began punching each other playfully and laughing until Sirius knocked James off and onto the floor.
"What about you?" James asked, flopping down face first on Remus's bed so he could stare at him over the foot of it. "Aren't you excited? Gryffindor's the best house! My entire family told me so!"
"Yeah, show some excitement!" Sirius jumped down too and messed up Remus's hair and punched him on the arm.
Remus stared at them, completely nonplussed. He automatically reached up and rubbed his arm, which throbbed slightly from the punch.
"What's wrong, mate?" James asked, calming down slightly. "You all right?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm f-fine," Remus stammered.
"Then celebrate!" Sirius grabbed Remus's hand and dragged him up onto Sirius's bed, nearly pulling his arm out of his socket. "Look around! No mum! No dad! We can do whatever we want, right?" Remus nodded uncertainly. "Doesn't say much, does he?" Sirius said to James, and Remus blushed.
Just then, the door to the dormitory opened again, and a rather round blond boy entered uncertainly. He looked around at James, lying on Remus's bed, and Remus and Sirius standing on Sirius's bed. He looked uncertain of where to go, but James was unfazed.
"Hey, mate! This is your bed over here," he said, pointing at the one next to Remus's. "This must be all of us, there's only four beds. I'm James Potter, and that's Sirius Black," he said, pointing. And that's..." he paused and turned to Remus. "What's your name?"
"Remus-" his voice had come out hoarse and croaky, and he cleared his throat and tried again. "Remus Lupin."
"That's Remus Lupin," James said, as if the boy couldn't hear him. "Who're you?"
"Petter Pettigrew," the boy said timidly.
"Well, Peter, Sirius and I were just getting ready to teach Remus the proper way to celebrate," James said, getting up. "Come here." He reached out a hand, and pulled Peter onto Remus's bed. "It's very simple. You stand on this lovely, neatly made bed," he said, with the air of explaining something very complicated.
"And you do THIS!" Sirius yelled, and he began jumping again. "C'mon Remus!"
Timidly at first, Remus began to jump up and down. He hadn't jumped on a bed since he was six years old, and he felt rather stupid, but he didn't want Sirius and James to think he was boring or stuffy. He looked over and caught Peter's eye, and they shared a slightly sheepish, slightly amused smile. If Sirius and James noticed that the other two boys felt at all out of place, they gave no indication of it. Then –
Sirius's blow with the pillow knocked Remus right off the bed. He looked up from the floor, startled, but Sirius just gave him a mischievous grin, and leapt onto the next bed and hid behind James and Peter.
"Oh, no way!" James yelled, pushing him down off the bed, grabbing Remus's pillow, and knocking him in the face with it. After only a moment's hesitation, Remus grabbed a pillow and joined in.
It was crazy. Remus had never been in a pillow fight in his life, never even really spent time with other boys his age, and now these boys were including him, laughing with him, and he was a part of it all. He had just whacked Peter so hard that he crashed into James, knocking him over, when the door opened again.
All four boys froze, pillows in hand, and looked up at Frank Longbottom. He was standing in the doorway, eyebrows raised, and Remus realized how much noise they must have been making. James spoke first.
"Frank! Hi! We're out of pillows, but you can run to your dorm and get one if you want!" James beamed, his smile innocent, but the gleam in his eyes mischievous.
Oh no, Remus thought. I've been at Hogwarts for three hours, and I'm already in trouble. What happens now? He wondered. Detention? Extra homework? Something worse?
But incredibly, the corners of Frank's mouth were twitching, and he didn't sound the least bit angry as he said, "We have class tomorrow, boys, and you're keeping everyone in Gryffindor up. Go to bed."
"Yes sir," Sirius said immediately, nodding solemnly, and both James and Peter snickered. Frank rolled his eyes and closed the door behind him.
Remus didn't even realize that he had been holding his breath until the other boys busted out laughing. He sat down on the edge of his bed and allowed the panic to drain away from him.
"Oh, I thought we were in for it," Remus muttered, running his hand through his hair.
"Oh, come on, Remus," James said, still laughing. "Lighten up."
"Whoa!" Sirius said, looking at Remus's face. "Where did you get that scar from!"
"What?" Remus asked, panic rising again as he shook his hair back over his face.
"Check it out, James!" Sirius said, reaching over and grabbing Remus's chin, turning his face so James could see the long, jagged scar running down Remus's left cheek.
"Nice!" James said appreciatively. "How'd you get it?"
"An accident," Remus muttered, jerking his face away. "When I was little." He grabbed his pajamas from where he had left them on top of his trunk. "Frank's right, we should go to bed." He said. "I don't want to be late the first day of classes."
"You going to be our mum, Remus?" James asked. The words stung, but when Remus looked up, James was grinning at him. James reached over and ruffled Remus's hair before heading to his own bed. Remus shook his head, not sure what to make of it. It was almost like James and Sirius liked him. He looked over at Peter. Peter smiled at him, but it was a smile that reflected Remus's own thoughts, a smile of bafflement and happiness.
Remus pulled the curtains shut around his bed. His covers were everywhere, kicked every which way from the earlier celebrations. He straightened them out the best he could, and climbed beneath them.
He couldn't help smiling a little bit in the dark. That was fun, he thought, and he tried to remember if he had ever had fun like that before. Nothing came to mind.