Remus: 1 September, 1972
Remus felt guilty that he wanted to go back to Hogwarts.
"Tu vas me manquer, ma puce," Charlotte said with a crinkly-eyed smile.
"I'll miss you, too, maman," Remus replied as he folded up his robes. And he would. It was a strange thing. He didn't want to leave his parents, exactly, but he wanted very much to be back in the castle. With his friends. It was strange to him to think that this time last year, he was convinced he wouldn't have any friends. Now he had the three best friends a person could ever want. Remus smiled, thinking about them. He'd had an owl from James just yesterday saying that his dad was letting him bring the cloak again and that he already had big plans for it. Remus couldn't wait to see what they were. James and Sirius came up with the best ideas. Remus only hoped none of their ideas would be landing them in trouble this year.
"Are you glad to go back?" Charlotte asked in French.
Remus wasn't sure how to answer. He didn't want to say yes, because he didn't want her to think he was glad to be leaving her and Daniel behind. "I like it there," he said slowly, choosing his words carefully. "But I will miss you." Remus wished everyone he loved could be in the same place at the same time. Then he wouldn't have to miss anyone.
Charlotte leaned over to kiss his forehead. "You can be glad to go back and wish you could stay both. That's how I used to feel. When I was at school, I missed my family. When I was at home, I missed my friends."
Remus gave a knowing nod. That was exactly how he felt.
"Are you two ready to go?" Daniel asked, coming in with Remus' books.
Remus nodded, then changed his mind and shook his head.
Daniel smiled, handing Remus his books. "Not sure, eh? I don't blame you. I never wanted summer to end, either. I never had much patience with homework."
Remus only shrugged. He dropped the books on top of his robes. "I don't mind homework so much."
"Going to miss your old dad, then?" Daniel teased.
Remus shrugged again as he closed his trunk. "Yeah."
"You don't sound very sure about that," Daniel said with a wink.
Remus wasn't in any mood to joke. "I'll see you next week, Dad." The full moon would be in six days, after all.
Daniel's teasing smile faded, and Remus immediately wished he hadn't said that. Daniel didn't like to be reminded about the lycanthropy. He blamed himself, Remus knew, though Remus wasn't sure why. It seemed to him that the only person to blame was the werewolf who bit him. Remus thought about him sometimes. Or her. It could have been a her, for all Remus knew. Wondered if he remembered it. If he even knew what he'd done. If he'd ever forgiven himself. Remus wouldn't have been able to forgive himself if he ever bit someone. He hoped the werewolf who bit him had managed it, though. Remus didn't blame him. He hadn't been able to help it.
"Of course I'll miss you," Remus said, hoping Daniel would smile again. Remus relaxed a little when he did. Daniel reached out to ruffle Remus' hair. "Grab your trunk. It's time to be going."
"Wait a moment," Charlotte ordered. She disappeared and reappeared with a sack lunch. "I don't want you to be hungry on the train."
"Thanks, maman," Remus said, though he was sure Mrs. Potter had probably given James enough food to feed half the school. Remus picked up his trunk and took one last look around his room to make sure he had everything. He would forget something, he was sure. He always did. Charlotte asked him this morning why he waited until the last minute to pack, but Remus only shrugged. He didn't know why. He just did. If he'd forgotten anything, he couldn't think what it was. It would come to him about the time he got on the train, most likely. Remus followed his parents out the door.
Platform 9 ¾ bustled, as always. The new first years stood close to their parents, eying the whole outfit warily. Remus remembered that well from last year; how he'd stood here thinking about how much he was going to miss his parents, his entire body shaking with trepidation. He'd been terrified that he wouldn't make friends, that he'd fail everything, that someone would find out his secret. He didn't worry about that much anymore. He had been sure no one would believe that he was sick as often as he was, but the people around him seemed to take it at face value, even the Marauders, who loved a good mystery. Remus supposed he'd have done the same. Trust came much more naturally to him than suspicion.
Remus began looking for his friends the moment he hit the platform. He spotted Sirius first, standing with his mother and brother and looking very unhappy to still be there. Regulus stood close to his mother, looking around with unsure eyes. He whispered something to Sirius. Sirius whispered something back and Regulus seemed to relax a little. He gave a tiny nod.
James and Peter were already together, not far away from Sirius. Sirius kept shooting glances at them, clearly itching to be with them rather than his own family. Peter's father was deep in conversation with Abraxas Malfoy. Remus stayed with his parents, wanting to go and wanting to stay all at once. When Remus was young and first heard about Hogwarts, he couldn't fathom the thought of leaving his parents behind. He announced in the middle of tea one evening that he was going to bring them along with him. They laughed knowingly before their smiles faded. Charlotte changed the subject quickly, not wanting to tell him he probably wouldn't be allowed to go.
James caught Remus' eye and ran up to him, dragging him over to where he and Peter were. He had more boxes than he could carry piled on top of his trunk. The Potters and the Lupins met warmly. Peter's father never stepped away from his conversation with Abraxas Malfoy, though it was clear Malfoy wanted to get away. When he finally did, he made a beeline for Narcissa Black's parents. His son and Narcissa were already off to the side, standing far too close, as though they hopes to shut out the rest of the world.
Mrs. Black was clearly saying goodbye to her boys. She hugged Regulus and spoke to him. Probably warning him to be good and all of that. Parents always seemed to say that. When she had finished with Regulus, she looked at Sirius. He leaned forward slightly, a hopeful look on his face. A moment later, his face fell. Remus couldn't hear what she'd said to him, but it was clear from the look on her face - and his - that the words had been harsh.
James charged off so quickly that if Remus had blinked he'd have missed it. "Sirius! So lovely to see you!" he said loudly. "You, too, Mrs. Black!" James grabbed her hand and shook it exuberantly. "Sirius, I missed you! My parents missed you as well! They're so very fond of you, you know. You simply must come say hello. If you don't mind, of course, Mrs. Black."
Mrs. Black looked around, obviously aware that James was causing a scene. "Yes, of course," she agreed quickly.
Sirius didn't need to be told twice. He grabbed his trunk and bolted, not looking back. "Well done, James," Sirius said approvingly when they stopped running.
"If she didn't give in the first time, I was going to accidentally let slip that she sent you off to live with your uncle all summer."
Sirius pursed his lips, trying not to smile. "She'd have gone mental."
James winked. "I know."
"Boys," Mrs. Potter said, clearly trying to sound stern, but only approval came out. She pulled Sirius into a tight hug. "We did miss you, my dear one."
The train whistle sounded, and the final goodbyes began. Remus hugged his parents and promised to write, telling them that he loved them and he'd miss them. He nodded dutifully when they told him to behave a work hard and be careful. By the time he finished, James was already struggling with his boxes. There were three of them. The largest one was simple cardboard. The smallest was covered in a cloth that made Remus think something must be living in there. Remus wondered if he'd bough a chinchilla just to find out what one was. The final box held Griselda, already meowing piteously at being caged in.
James handed the largest box off to Sirius. "That's for you anyway. Only don't open it until we're on the train," he said absently as he handed a smaller box to Peter. "That one's for Gretchen," he explained.
"Nothing for Lily?" Sirius asked.
James jerked his head up, his face panicked. "Do you think I should have bought something for her?"
"What is this anyway?" Peter asked, peaking under the box top. He immediately yelped and dropped the lid. The box fell from its perch, shattering when it hit the platform. A black and orange tarantula crawled out. It moved slowly, as though surprised by its sudden freedom. It didn't get far before the screaming began.
"Remus, catch it!" James cried just as it scuttled by Remus' legs.
"Why would you want to catch it?" Peter cried, louder.
Remus reached down and picked it up, its legs still wriggling in the air. He felt sorry for it for a moment; so close to freedom and everyone around it screaming. The poor thing couldn't help that it looked so frightening. Remus stroked it with one hand, hoping to calm it, as he carried it back to the terrarium that Mr. Potter was repairing.
"Why in the world would you buy your girlfriend a spider?" Sirius asked.
"Who would even want one?" Peter asked, curling his lip as he stared at it.
"Who wouldn't?" James asked, the excitement evident on his face.
Mr. Potter held the box out to Remus as another whistle sounded importantly. There was no more time for dawdling or prison breaks. Remus placed the spider in the box. "It so soft!" he exclaimed.
"Sure," Peter muttered. "Except for the fangs."
"Off you go, boys. Remus, perhaps you'd best carry this."
Remus took the box carefully. "Good lad." Remus beamed at the praise, surprised by how such a small thing could make him feel so great. He followed the Marauders onto the train. James and Sirius were already discussing what they planned to do to Snape during the feast that evening.
"I can't believe you bought your girlfriend a spider," Sirius said with a shake of his head as they situated their belongings in an empty compartment. "You don't know anything at all about girls, do you?"
"Sure I do," James said defensively. "I know they like to be told they're pretty, and they like flowers and butterflies and, you know, girly things."
"On what planet are tarantulas considered girly?" Peter asked.
"But tarantulas are brilliant. Just look at him!"
James thrust the terrarium in Peter's face. Peter cringed, cowering away. "No, thank you!"
"Oh, come on! It's just a spider!" James reached into the terrarium and pulled it out to better brandish it at his friend.
"Get it away!" Peter screeched.
James probably would have spent most of the rest of the trip chasing Peter with the spider if Sirius hadn't said, "Leave him alone, James. How would you feel if someone waved a snake around in your face."
James straightened, his face indignant. "I wouldn't care. I'm not afraid of snakes."
"Bollocks," Sirius said through a laugh. "You practically sat in Remus' lap on Saturday just because you saw one in the pet shop."
"I did not! I told you! I tripped!"
"You screamed," Remus pointed out.
"I didn't scream. It was a grunt."
"It was a scream," Sirius said, leaving no room for argument. "You screamed like a little girl."
"I did no such thing!" James yelled with a stomp of his foot.
Sirius' reply dripped with sarcasm. "Sure you didn't."
For a moment, James looked as if he were about to unleash a mighty fury. Remus sailed quickly to the rescue. "What's in the other box, James? The one you said was for Sirius?"
"Oh, right!" James said, switching gears almost immediately. Remus said a silent prayer of thanksgiving that he was so easily distracted. The box was still on the seat next to Sirius. James looked expectantly at Sirius. "Well, open it!"
Sirius pulled the top off the box. The Marauders gathered around. Peter looked up, confusion written across his face. "Is it dead?"
"No, of course not! He was scared of being in the box, so my dad stunned him." James stepped forward and put his wand in the box. "Enervate!"
The black puppy lifted his head and began to shake. Sirius lifted him out of the box, his face impassive. He put the puppy in his lap, and the puppy buried his face in Sirius' stomach.
"James! I told you my parents will never let me keep him!"
"No, it's fine," James said dismissively. "I talked to my dad. He can come home with me during the hols. We'll take care of him for you. Your parents will never have to know. I almost got him liking me. Well, he doesn't run away from me, anyway. He likes Griselda. Pity she's not too fond of him. She hisses whenever he comes round."
"I don't blame her," Peter muttered, but Remus was sure no one else heard. Once he realized what was in the box, he quickly retreated back to the seats.
"You don't like many animals, do you?" Remus asked softly, while Sirius and James were distracted with the puppy.
"I like Hester," Peter said indignantly. As if to prove his point, he stuck a finger in her cage and ran it against her head. She leaned into his touch and hooted affectionately.
"What will you name him?" James asked. "I've been calling him Padfoot, but I don't think he knows his name yet, so you can call him anything you want. My dad called him Bear. He said he'll be as big as a bear once he grows up a bit"
Sirius shrugged. "I could call him Ursa. That's the Bear Constellation."
"Wasn't Ursa a girl?" Peter asked.
"No, only one of them is a girl. The other is Arcas, a mighty hunter." Sirius lifted the puppy up. "What do you think? Are you a mighty hunter?"
The puppy wagged his tail and licked Sirius' cheek. Sirius looked up. "I think he likes it."
James reached out to touch Ursa, but the puppy shied away, burying his face once more. "Strange little thing, isn't he?"
Sirius scratched his ears. "I think he's perfect."
James changed gears quickly again, grabbing Sirius' arm to pull him out of the compartment. "Come on. Let's go give Gretchen her new present!"
Sirius allowed himself to be dragged but looked none too happy about it. Ursa followed along, grabbing at the hem of Sirius' robe with his teeth.
Remus got up to follow, but Peter did not. "Are you coming?" Remus asked at the door.
Peter shook his head.
"I don't want to see the spider again."
"But don't you want to see Gretchen's reaction?"
Peter thought about it only a moment before his lip curled into a half smile, and he nodded, already halfway out the door.
The Marauders found Gretchen sharing a compartment with Lily and the Blondes. Lesley jumped up the moment she saw Sirius. "Sirius! I missed you!" she cried, throwing her arms around her neck.
Sirius endured her affections gracefully and removed her as soon as he thought it prudent. He was planning to break up with her, Remus decided. He couldn't put a finger on it, but something was different between them. Sirius made his way over to the seats. The moment he was settled, Ursa jumped into his lap. Lesley followed, sitting close to him despite a strange awkwardness that had sprung suddenly into the air between them. No one but Remus seemed to have noticed.
"Gretchen, I brought you something," James said.
Gretchen blushed and reached out for the box James handed her. She opened it and pulled out the terrarium just seconds before emitting a scream that Remus was sure could shatter glass. He felt awfully guilty for laughing as Gretchen scrambled to get away from it. He wasn't the only one. Sirius and Peter were laughing as well. Gretchen looked at them and then turned a glare on James. "Is this your idea of a joke?"
"No!" James said. "I thought you'd like him. I like him."
Gretchen looked back and forth between the Marauders for a moment before she made a sound of disgust and rushed from the compartment. James chased after her, leaving the entire compartment to revel in the stillness their sudden departure made.
Lily was the one who broke the silence. "That was a mean trick."
"That's the thing," Sirius said with a chuckle. "It wasn't a trick. He really thought she'd like it. We tried to warn him, but he wouldn't listen."
Lily picked up the terrarium that had fallen on its side. "Poor thing. It isn't his fault he's scary."
Remus smiled a little. That was what he thought, too! He went to sit by Lily. "Want to touch him? He's really soft."
Lily nodded, and Remus pulled the tarantula out, placing it gently in Lily's hand. "Oh, he is soft!" she exclaimed. He began to crawl up her arm and she let out a small laugh. "He's tickling me!"
James came back in, looking none too happy. He plopped down in an empty seat. "She just dumped me!"
"Bad luck," Sirius said sympathetically.
"She thinks the spider was a joke." James scowled, watching Lily. "At least someone likes him."
"He's really cool," Lily said, excitement in her eyes.
"You want him?" James asked. "You can have him if you want him."
Lily's head shot up. "Really? I can have him?"
James nodded. "Only you have to bring him to the common room and let me visit him sometimes."
"Yeah! I will!" Lily agreed quickly. "Oh, Petunia's going to scream so loud when I bring him home. Maybe I'll put him in her bed."
It was at just that moment that Snape entered. He took one look at the spider and let out a yelp. "Don't worry, Lily, I'll get it!" Snape cried, taking off a grotty shoe that looked as if it had just been pulled out of a rubbish bin. He moved in, brandishing it at the spider.
"No!" Lily cried, holding up a hand. In one neat movement, she had the spider back in the terrarium. "He's a pet. James just gave him to me."
Lily spared a smile for James, and the smile James returned was soft and shy. Nothing like his usual confident grin.
Snape looked unsure. "Potter gave you a spider? And you're happy about it?"
Lily nodded. "He was originally for Gretchen, but she didn't like him. Imagine anyone not liking him!"
Snape's only response was a grimace. It was at that moment that Remus began to wonder how Snape would react to spiders in his bed. He pushed the thought away quickly. They could never do such a thing to poor Snape.
"I'm going to go show Rustom!" Lily cried, and rushed out with the terrarium.
"Rustom?" James asked.
"He's her boyfriend now. He asked her out on the platform."
"Her boyfriend?" James and Snape replied in unison.
Snape turned to James, his grimace becoming a scowl. James was unimpressed. He only rolled his eyes. "Careful, Snivelly. Your face might freeze that way."
Snape's eyes searched about for a retort, or perhaps something to throw, and landed on Remus. His scowl transformed seamlessly into a wicked grin. "Not too sick to come back to Hogwarts, then, Remus? Only some of the Slytherins were saying you'd been kicked out. Pity they were wrong."
Remus' heart skipped a beat. He felt his face grow hot. Judging from the look on Sirius' face, he saw it, too. He left Lesley and stepped forward to throw an arm around Snape.
"Listen, Sevvy. May I call you Sevvy?"
Snape's malicious grin became a scowl once more. "No."
"Oh, you prefer Snivellus then? Very well. Listen, Snivellus. This is how it's going to go. You're going to leave my friend alone, or I'm going to permanently attach that tarantula to your face. Don't forget, I'm friends with everyone. I can get the Slytherin password anytime I want."
Now it was Snape's turn to be red as a beet. Sirius let him go, and he stumbled backward out of the compartment. "Bye-bye now," Sirius said, a pleasant smile upon his face. He shut the compartment door and turned back to the others.
"Remind me never to make you angry," James said. "That was brilliant, mate!"
Sirius shrugged. "I never much cared for bullies. You ready to go back to our compartment?"
"Can I come?" Lesley asked.
"Sure, but we're going to have a farting contest. Points for stinkiness, loudness, and duration."
"And force," James added.
"And force," Sirius agreed.
Lesley decided she'd rather stay where she was.
They returned to find Dirk and Michael waiting for them, wanting to catch up after their summers. Dirk and Michael hadn't seen anyone from Hogwarts at all. They decided to stay for the farting contest, which never happened. Instead, Dirk and Michael seemed to have begun a revolving door of visitors. Second and third years who wanted to speak to James and Sirius and catch up. First years who had already heard stories and wanted to know if they were true. Fifth and sixth years who had heard they got pinched by muggle police over the summer and wanted to know if they'd managed to survive. Remus was relatively sure he entire school came by.
Even the new DADA professor, who was making the rounds, trying to meet as many students as he could. He managed to catch them in a rare moment when they were alone, and the twitch of his chin when he heard the Marauder's names led Remus to believe that their reputation must precede them. The new professor gave them a stern speech filled with veiled threats about how he wouldn't tolerate any nonsense and left as quickly as he'd come.
"Look at his arms," James whispered as the professor walked away. "Have you ever seen anyone so hairy?"
"He must be part werewolf," Peter agreed. "He's certainly foul enough."
"He isn't part werewolf. No one can be part werewolf. You're either a werewolf or your not," Remus said.
"Who made you the expert on werewolves?" Peter whispered.
"No one. You don't have to be an expert on werewolves to know that. And not all werewolves are foul."
"How do you know?" Peter asked. "Have you ever met any? They might all be foul."
"They're not," James said with his air of authority. "Don't you remember what my dad said? Werewolves are just people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Right," Sirius agreed.
"They might be foul," Peter muttered.
"You might be foul," James shot back.
"I am not!"
"You smell foul. I bet if we had that farting contest, you would win."
"I bet you would!"
"Let's find out, then. Remus, you be the judge."
The farting contest was put on hold again as Regulus came in, a frown pasted on his face. "Sirius? Can I come sit with you?"
Sirius scooted over to make space. "Of course. What's the matter?"
"I was sitting with Narcissa, but she kicked me out, and then I sat with Cauldley MacNair, but he went to sit with Nadia Dolohov, and then I didn't have anyone to sit with." Sirius chewed his lip, and Remus was reminded strongly of himself just one year before.
Regulus reached out to pat Ursa. "Whose dog?"
"James'," Sirius replied, never batting an eye. "We're about to have a farting contest. Want to join us?"
Regulus looked up, anxiety in his eyes. "A farting contest?"
"Points for stinkiness, loudness, and duration."
"And force," James corrected.
"And force," Sirius amended.
Regulus appeared to think for a moment. "Yeah, okay."
Few people came to their compartment after that, and the ones who did left quickly. Peter did indeed win, though he claimed it was a fix, even though Remus was the one awarding the points. By the time the train pulled into Hogsmeade Station, Remus had his head hanging out the window as he tried not to puke.
"Sirius," Regulus whispered after they disembarked. "What if I'm not in Slytherin?"
Sirius shrugged. "You'll be happy whatever house they put you in. Maybe you can even be in Gryffindor with me."
"No!" Regulus yelped. "I don't want to be a disappointment!" Sirius' face fell. Regulus seemed to realize what he'd said a split second too late. "Sirius, I didn't mean..."
"Firs' Years!" came Hagrid's call. "Firs' Years this way!"
Regulus moved closer to Sirius, and he whispered something in his brother's ear.
"He's not half-giant," Sirius replied.
"Yes, he is," Regulus insisted. "Mother said-"
"Mother says a lot of things. Doesn't make them all true."
Regulus looked as though he wanted to retort, but he picked up his trunk instead. "See you," he whispered to Sirius.
"See you," Sirius said. "Good luck at the sorting."
Regulus nodded, squared his shoulders and went after Hagrid.
Remus hoped beyond hope that Regulus would end up anywhere but Slytherin. Sirius already had so much to worry about. He didn't need to worry about Regulus as well.
"Where are we supposed to go?" Peter asked.
"Everyone seems to be headed that way," James said, pointing off toward the front of the train.
"Let's go then," Sirius said, lifting his own trunk. He watched Regulus' retreating form for only a moment before he led the way to the front of the train.
There were carriages waiting for them, but Remus stopped short the moment he got close to them. "What are those things?" he asked, looking at the black winged horses hitched to them.
"What things?" James asked. He followed Remus' gaze and furrowed his brow. "The carriages?"
"No, the horse things."
James looked back again. "There aren't any horse things."
"Yes, there are. They're horrid!"
"Thestrals," Sirius whispered. "I've never seen one before. They're harmless. Supposed to be dead useful, but they're awfully creepy, aren't they?"
James looked at them both like they'd gone mad. Peter looked off in the distance, narrowing his eyes as though expecting to see what they were talking about at any moment. "I don't think anything's there," he finally said.
"You can't see them. Not unless you've seen someone die."
James suddenly looked interested. "You've seen someone die?"
Sirius nodded. "My great uncle Lycoris, when I was five. He was killed in a duel. We all went to watch. We thought he'd win. He didn't." Sirius shuddered. "I used to have nightmares about it. About dying in duels."
"It was my great-grandfather," Remus said softly. "I don't remember him much. I was eight, I think. I only remember him being very, very kind and very, very old. I remember thinking I'd like to be like him when I get old... If I get old," he amended. Werewolves were not known to have particularly long life spans.
"Hurry up, you lot!" someone called from one of the prefect carriages.
Remus looked around and realized the Marauders were the only ones who hadn't gone into the carriages, except for one second-year girl, a Hufflepuff called Mary, who stood off to the side, staring at the thestrals with disgust on her face.
"It's all right. They're thestrals," Remus said, going over.
The girls looked unsure, but Remus held out a hand to her and she took it. Remus remembered her from their classes, but he doubted she'd remember him. ""I can see them, too. And so can Sirius."
Mary's eyes flicked up. "I don't like them."
"They won't hurt you," Remus assured her. "They're dead useful, actually. Would you like to share our carriage?"
Mary nodded slowly.
"I know. You're friends with James Potter and Sirius Black."
Remus nodded, feeling his face fall. Sometimes he wished he could be known for himself, and not for being their friend... though he supposed that was better than being known for being sick all time.
"I've seen you. In class. You're really smart."
Remus shrugged, but couldn't keep the smile off his face. He followed her into the compartment, and when they came over the rise, five faces looked excitedly up at Hogwarts Castle. Their second year had officially begun.
A/N: For the record, I am planning to keep this story going. Only it occurred to me that it's going to get terribly long if each year takes me forty-four chapters to write, so I'm going to break it up a bit. Keep your eyes peeled for the yet-to-be-titled Second Year Chronicles.