I walked into the Great Hall cautiously, trying not to let my nervousness show. I crack jokes with the guys around me, making them laugh. It's all for show, though, a distraction from my knocking knees, and my voice that I'm sure will tremble if I stop talking, even for a minute. I'm taking a huge risk here, I know I am. In this situation, there is no happy ending, unless a miracle happens. Either my family's mad at me, or I spend a miserable seven years here at Hogwarts. Gryffindor or Slytherin. That's my choice in houses. I know I'd never be suited to Ravenclaw; all that studying would drive me nuts. And there is no way I'd even be considered for Hufflepuff, I'm too independent; I'd be throwing things at the wall before a month was up. It's Gryffindor or Slytherin for me, no doubt about it.

"Black, Sirius!" I jumped. The sorting must have started while I was thinking about my options. I walked over to the hat and jammed it onto my head, staring out at the crowd. No one seemed to be paying much attention; most had started talking with their friends. I knew what they were thinking, 'Just another Black, he'll be sorted into Slytherin like all the rest'. I was going to prove them wrong though. I was going to make them sit up and take notice.

Bold one, aren't you? I jumped again. Someone was in my head!

Whoa…who are you? Get out or I'll…oh yeah, Andi told me about you, you're the Sorting Hat!

Brave too; you'll challenge me even when you don't know who I am. Now, where shall I put you? You're too bold for a Hufflepuff; you've got none of their diligence either. Ravenclaw wouldn't suit you either; although you've got the brains, you wouldn't be happy there, so that's out as well. I've placed all the Blacks in Slytherin-

You will NOT be putting me in Slytherin. NO WAY! I'm not going to be just another Black; I'm not like them!

Yes, well, you have do some of their qualities, there's no denying that. Don't worry, you don't belong in there either. Your bravery and daring far outweigh the Slytherin in you. There's only one place left for you, then…GRYFFINDOR!

"Thank you," I muttered as I hopped off the stool and went over to the Gryffindor table. The hall was silent for a minute, as if in shock, and then slowly the Gryffindors started to cheer. At the Slytherin table, I could see Bella and Narcissa, their mouths hanging open like they were trying to catch flies. I grinned. A letter would be on the way to my mother tonight; that I was sure of. I couldn't wait to see her reaction.

"Sirius, you're going to be late!" one of my new roommates, his name started with a R, I think, shouted at me at an obscenely early time in the morning. I opened my eyes a crack to see roommate #1 (temporarily christened "Nag") looking at his watch worriedly.

I groaned and pulled the pillow over my head. Unfortunately, my other roommate (Jake? I'll call him Bother for the moment) decided to get in on the fun, and proceeded to jump on my bed. I groaned again, and rolled over, and it seemed that he had given up, for I heard him get off the bed, and then the faint sound of him rummaging around while whispering to Nag reached my ears as I snuggled back under the warm covers. I had just reached the state where sleep was within reach once again when-

HONK!!!!!! I sprang out of my bed and its warm blankets to see Bother smirking at me, an air horn in his hand, and Nag doubled over laughing. Well, he had a humorous side, apparently; maybe there was hope for him yet. I glared at them, then started digging around for my clothes.

"It's too early in the morning," I muttered under my breath, shooting another death glare at Bother.

"Fine then, go back to sleep…just so you know, they are serving breakfast in the Great Hall, and I heard that all the good food is eaten within 20 minutes. And since breakfast started at 7:10, and it's now 7: 25…I'd be trying to get down there A.S.A.P if I were you, mate," Nag told me matter-of-factly.

"Well, you do have a point there," I sighed, still trying to jam one leg into my trousers. "Er…what's your name again?"

"Remus, Remus Lupin."

"Right…Remus. That's a better name then the one I christened you with this morning."

"What name did you temporarily refer to me as?" he asked curiously.

"Nag," I said mischievously, "Who's the idiot who decided to blow the air horn?"

"You could just ask me, you know. I'm standing right here. My name's James Potter. And your name's Sirius, right? Did you christen me with a name?"

"Yep. It's nice to actually learn your name…I think I like my name better, though. 'Bother' suits you so well," I remarked as we headed to the Great Hall.

We talked nonstop until we reached the Great Hall. When we got to the Gryffindor table, I started to climb into a seat, but a large eagle swooped down and dropped a smoking red envelope into my lap. I stared at it in shock. This shouldn't have come as a surprise; between Bella's glares, Narcissa's look of shock, and my family's reputation, I should have known that a Howler from Walburga Black was imminent.

"Run for it mate. Those things are nasty!" James exclaimed. I was more then ready to heed his advice, but there wasn't time. The Howler exploded and my mother's grating voice echoed through the hall.

"SIRIUS ORION BLACK!" For the second time that term, heads swiveled in my direction; I guess a first year with a Howler on the first official day of term was pretty unusual. "HOW DARE YOU BESMIRCH OUR FAMILY NAME?! GRYFFINDOR? HOW COULD YOU?! I ALWAYS KNEW YOU'D BE THE TROUBLEMAKER IN THIS FAMILY, BUT THIS TIME YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR! I HOPE YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO FIX THIS PROBLEM, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR LETTER ASSURING ME THAT YOU ARE IN SLYTHERIN WHERE YOU BELONG! TALK TO BELLA AND CISSY; THEY'LL MAKE SURE YOU BEHAVE PROPERLY, AND I'LL HEAR FROM THEM IF YOU DON'T!"

With that, the letter ripped itself into tiny shreds that fell onto my head. Remus and James were staring at me. "Did she call you Sirius Black?" James asked in worried tones.

"Yes," I said resignedly. My favorite cousin, Andromeda, had warned me that people in houses other then Slytherin tended to dislike Blacks. She also said that they were justified in their dislike.

"How did a Black end up in Gryffindor?" Remus asked.

"I don't know, but I'm way happier here then I would have been in Slytherin, believe me. I don't buy into all of that Dark Arts, 'purebloods are better' nonsense, and my family knows it. Hence the 'troublemaker in the family' remark in the Howler."

"That was from your Mum, right?" Remus asked.

"Yep. Darling old Mum, Black by birth, Black by marriage and black by nature. She doesn't like me very much, as you could probably tell" I replied, gesturing to the remains of the Howler.

"That's an understatement," smirked James, speaking up for the first time since he'd asked me about my last name. He quickly turned serious. "My parents warned me about you, said that I'd be better off staying away from you, but I think that you're different from your family, so I'm going to ignore that." I nodded, and he continued, a grin lighting up his face. "So…do you like to play pranks, by any chance?"

I nodded. "Only way to survive in Grimmauld Place without losing my mind. I played pranks on Regulus, my little brother, all the time. Why?"

"Well," he said mischieviously, "nothing would take your mind off of that horrible letter better than a good prank!"

We were heading back to the common room to start planning when Bella and Cissy pounced on us.

"Sirius!" Narcissa hissed at me. I glared back. "Get over here!"

"No thanks, I've got a good enough view of your ugly face from right here." I replied, mentally congratulating myself on such a witty comeback.

"Let him be, Cissy," a voice called languidly from the shadows. "We can deliver our message just as well with him standing where he is." Cissy sniffed, and my hated cousin Bella brought herself into view, twirling her wand between her fingers lazily. She turned to me. "Aunt Walburga says that you are to go to Dumbledore and request a re-Sorting."

"Not bloody likely," I growled at her. She grinned maliciously.

"Good…I was hoping you would say that. See, Aunt Walburga also said that if you refused, I was to use anything in my power to convince you to see reason. So, I thought that maybe giving you some nice rabbit ears and a little tail might help convince you. Oh, and did I mention that only I can take off said rabbit ears?" She looked at me smugly, confident that I would give in.

"Must I repeat myself? It's very tiring. I said no, Bella!" Bella lifted her wand, and I closed my eyes in anticipation, but the voice that spoke next didn't belong to either of my cousins.

"Pet-Petrificus Totalus!" a shaky voice that I didn't recognize called out. Bella keeled over, stiff as a board. A plump boy behind me looked terrified that he had cursed an older student, but also somewhat triumphant, as though he'd proved that he could do something.

"Who are you?" James asked him, but I pulled him away, and started to run.

"No time for questions! Run!" I yelled behind me. I'd seen Cissy start to pull out her wand, and knew we couldn't get lucky a second time.

We ran as fast as we could, not stopping until we reached the portrait hole. Gasping for breath, we slumped in armchairs near the fire.

"So, who are you?" Remus asked our rescuer again.

"Peter Pettigrew…I'm a first year," he answered.

"So are we…how come you weren't in the dormitory last night?" James asked. Peter looked sheepish.

"Well, after the feast, I kind of got in a fight with an older kid. He was looking for someone to pick on, and I happened to be standing right next to him. So…I spent the night in the Hospital Wing. I had one of my books with me, so I decided to learn a spell to defend myself. I was on my way back to Gryffindor Tower when I met you guys."

"Well, thanks for saving us," Remus said. "Sirius, who were they, anyway?"

"My lovely cousins, Bellatrix and Narcissa Black. They were passing on a message from my mother," I said, ashamed of my horrible family.

"Your family is nuts, mate," James said. Then, seeing my dejected expression, said, "You need to cheer up…how about we sneak down to the kitchens? My dad told me where they were before I came."

I brightened. Mum's letter had taken away my appetite at breakfast, and I was really hungry. "Sounds great!" My new friends and I headed out the portrait hole.

Friends…I'd never had any before, and now I had three. It's amazing what escaping from bunny ears did for a friendship, strengthened it very quickly.

"So, I was thinking, for the prank…did you see that greasy Slytherin first year?" James asked. We all nodded. "Well, I was thinking, my Mum taught me this really neat charm…."