Author's Notes: will be typed after chapter is finished, as usual. Someone remind me if I forget to change this. Bonus points to whoever can guess where the last chapter's title is from and thanks to my new friend and beta, Death's Silver Shadow!
"What's wrong, Moony?"Sirius asks when he sees Remus sitting at the table and staring into a cold cup of tea. "You're not worried about teaching Ancient Magic and Magical Artifacts, are you? Dumbledore said it himself; you're the only person he thinks is responsible enough for the job. Let alone capable."
"I suppose I am a bit nervous considering what happened the last time that class was taught," Remus looks up at Sirius, longing clear in his amber eyes. "But that's not what's really bothering me. I miss them, Siri."
"I know, Remy. I miss Lily and James too. I wish they could see Harry graduate from Hogwarts. I wish they could finally see us together," Sirius says wistfully, avoiding the point Remus had been trying to make.
"As do I, Padfoot, but I wasn't talking about them," Remus sighs. "Lily and I worked so hard those few months. We finally saw real smiles on their faces and then...he got hit with that curse and he vanished."
"Remy, I hate saying this anymore, but they were Slytherins, two of the bravest Slytherins I ever met, mind you," Sirius reminds his fellow Gryffindor. "That last week of school was the best until the night of graduation."
"You and Severus have barely said a civil word to one another since. James at least attempted to be civil for Lily's sake. Lily was devastated. She lost two of her best friends that night. Severus went from finally being social after being tormented by you and James to being the emotionless shell he is today, even around her," Remus says, his voice cracking now and again despite that he knows Severus is trying to be his old self as Arcanus. Only on this subject would he and Sirius break down. They had lost a friend they considered naming the fifth Marauder.
"Agreed. I never meant any of the horrible things I said. I really should tell ole Snivellus that I was a complete arse even more so than normal afterwards because I thought it would help him, shouldn't I?" Sirius takes Remus' glare as an obvious confirmation of his statement. "Still, what made you think about all this again, other than the class?"
"Watching Arcanus and Harry, I suppose. They remind me of them in a way," Remus admits, hoping Sirius will consider it but not question it and discover that Severus and Arcanus are one in the same. It's Harry's similarities to their friend that's confusing him.
"They do dance around one another the same way," Sirius muses and Remus resists the urge to hit his head on the table. "Look on the bright side though; at least they don't have Lucius Malfoy being a royal pain because he's jealous and possessive of something that's not even his."
Remus shakes his head and chuckles in amusement. Only Sirius could ignore that loud of a hint without even realizing it.
"Why am I coming with you again?" Arcanus questions as the carriage he and Harry are in approaches Hogsmeade Station.
"Because I want you to meet my friends. And because I'm not leaving you in the castle by yourself while all the teachers are at a staff meeting," Harry reminds his friend. "Do you want to stay in here or wait outside with me?"
"I'll stay in here, thank you."
Harry rolls his eyes at Arcanus' response and receives a glare in return.
"They don't bite and they are your Housemates, you know," Harry sighs as the thestral-drawn carriage comes to a stop. Harry gets out and waits next to the carriage, trying to figure out why Arcanus is being so miserable. He had woken Harry up twice last night with nightmares, something Harry has plenty of experience with.
"Harry! Harry, where are you?"
Harry looks up at Hermione's voice and shouts an "Over here!"to the brunette and their friends.
"Sorry you couldn't spend the summer with us, mate," Ron claps Harry on the back as he climbs into the carriage, ignoring Harry telling him to wait a minute. "H-harry, why is there someone in here already?
Hermione gives her pseudo-brother a questioning look and is answered with a shake of his head and a motion to follow him.
"You need to learn to listen, Ronald," Hermione snaps as she takes a seat across from the stranger and forces the red head into the seat next to her.
Ron looks the male across from him over a few times. He isn't at all sure what to make of him. The teen's dark hair and eyes are intimidating but he only looks to be of about Harry's height and build. His magical signature is also similar to Harry's, Ron notes; powerful but repressed and controlled while Harry's is powerful but wild and untamed. Harry's bouts of accidental magic in the dorm are enough of a warning that anyone with that level of magic could be a major threat.
Hermione, on the other hand, just looks at the teen curiously. Like Ron, she can tell he's just as powerful as Harry but is in control of his magic for the most part at least. The stranger's nervousness worries her a bit but she attributes it to attending a new school. Harry trusts him so he can't be all bad, right? Hermione frowns in thought for a moment, remembering her friend's sixth sense about people and how he had been right about whether or not to trust someone. Still, his magical level being so close to Harry's nags at the corner of her mind; as though she should know him by his magic from somewhere. She casts her gaze towards Harry to signal that he can speak.
"Ron, Hermione, this is Arcanus Black, Sirius' nephew. Arcanus, these are my best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger," Harry introduces the group and then sits next to Arcanus as the carriage begins to move once he's sure his friends have decided on their first impressions of Arcanus.
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," Arcanus says somewhat stiffly, unsure of how to act around these two now that he's a fellow student and not their teacher. Keeping close enough to Harry to keep both the Dark Lord and Albus happy means having to have these two accept him as a friend as well and slipping up and acting like his older self would ruin any chances of that happening.
Hermione and Ron exchange looks of wary distrust with one another, having a silent conversation with their eyes before looking at Harry for approval. As Harry rolls his eyes at them, Arcanus has to admit that his opinion of Weasley and Granger has just gone up.
"If Remus and Sirius are willing to accept you and let you be around Harry with Voldemort," Arcanus suppresses a flinch at the name, "on the loose and after Harry's life, then you can't be too bad. Right, 'Mione?"
"If Harry's willing to trust you, then so am I," Hermione gives Arcanus a smile and holds out her hand, curious as to why his name means 'secret'. "It's nice to meet you, Arcanus. Have you been sorted into a House yet?"
"Yes, Gryffindor with the three of you," Arcanus answers, still unsure.
"You can relax around us, mate," Ron comments. "We're not like the Slytherins who don't trust anyone and will backstab you at any given moment."
"Ron!"Harry and Hermione snap.
Arcanus gives them a questioning look but doesn't comment, knowing that he's not supposed to know much about the school and the Houses. Trying to not correct Weasley's assumptions about his former House isn't easy though. Not all Slytherins are evil, Severus himself being one of them. Living in a House that isn't trusted by the other three tends to leave seeds of distrust within the House itself.
"I'll explain it to you later," Hermione says and sits up straighter. Harry and Ron give Arcanus pitying looks as Hermione starts asking Arcanus all sorts of questions.
"Don't you ever breathe?" Arcanus asks once Hermione finishes and answers only the questions he feels are important enough, along with answering some before they're asked. "I transferred here from Durmstrang where my mother is the Deputy Headmistress. We live in Italy near the ocean. Uncle Sirius is way too protective of me and Harry to be healthy and Remus isn't scary at all. My mother's half vampire and half Veela so I'm used to the odd creature habits. No, vampirism only affects full vampires, not half bloods or less. The Veela blood isn't that strong in me either because the human blood outweighs it. Everyone happy?"
"Yeah, we're good," Ron answers as he claps a hand over Hermione's mouth before she can ask anything embarrassing. "You're going to be in our year though, right?"
"Yes," Arcanus says, wondering why he forgot to mention that and why Weasley was so quick to silence Granger, despite the fact that he's undeniably grateful for the quiet. "Can you guys save me a seat at dinner? The Headmaster wants me to follow behind the First Years and then have the Sorting Hat announce what House I'm in to the school, unfortunately."
"Of course," Harry chirps, startling the other three. He had stayed silent during most of the trip so that he didn't slip up and hint that he had warned Arcanus about how Hermione would have a list of questions for him.
"Now, we have a new student with us this year and I would like for all of you to treat with respect and courtesy no matter what House he is Sorted into," Minerva McGonagall announces to the school once all of the First Years have been Sorted. The chatter in the Great Hall dies down immediately. "Arcanus Black, come and place the Sorting Hat on your head."
"Yes, ma'am," Arcanus over to the stool and sits obediently, playing the part of a nervous student unsure of where he's going to end up perfectly as the Sorting Hat is placed on his head.
Quit trying to change my mind, dear boy, you still belong in "Gryffindor!"The Sorting Hat shouts and the Gryffindor table bursts into applause, though some of the older students seem wary.
Arcanus moans to himself as he walks over to the spot Harry, Granger, and Weasley had saved for him. Harry happily introduces him to everyone, the female Weasley included. The fact that the red head is sitting on Harry's other side only serves to worry Arcanus as to whether or not she'll be around most of the time. She might be a problem in his orders to get close to Harry, despite him being friends with the teen already.