Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, I am not making any money from this.
Chapter 1 –
Platform 9 and ¾ was alive with magical energy and the hustle and bustle of another year of students returning to Hogwarts. Cats, rats and toads prowled and jumped underfoot, and above were the screeches of owls as they said hello to their owl-friends after a long summer. Steam filled the air, and the Hogwarts Expresses whistled impatiently, waiting for its turn to run.
Remus Lupin stood with his father, brushing his fringe to one side in an aggravated way, and looking around the station for his friends. It had been a long year without Sirius Black around to spew jokes, and he had only seen Padfoot and Prongs once in the summer holidays. He was looking forward to returning back to Hogwarts with the rest of the Marauders… well, most of the Marauders. He gulped audibly, trying to push thoughts of Peter to the back of his mind once more.
"Are you all set?" Asked Lyall, checking his watch. He'd have to return to the Ministry soon, but he had taken the time to see his son off, as Hope was unable to access the platform. Remus nodded, turning round to give his father a quick, one-armed hug, and then making his way onto the train. He waved out the window, but his eyes were still scanning the platform for his friends.
He searched a couple of carriages, in case they had made it onto the Express before him, but when he came up short he settled himself down into an empty one ready to wait for them. Not ten minutes later, a tall, long-haired boy entered his carriage. He had his trunk in one hand, and opened the door with the other. When he saw the werewolf sat in the compartment a soft smile erupted on his face.
"Hey beautiful." He sighed, pushing himself and his trunk into the compartment. Remus rolled his eyes at the pet-name, standing to help Sirius lift his luggage onto the overhead rail. It was easy to do when you had werewolf strength in your bones. Both boys sat down facing each other, and an awkward silence settled over them. It was the first time they'd been alone since the incident last year when Sirius had been excluded. Remus crossed his arms over his chest.
He'd forgiven Sirius, after many apologies via owls, and a long hard think about what his life would be like without the Black heir, but it was still awkward between them. Sirius sat forward in his chair, looking Remus directly in the eye.
"I want you to know…" He began. "I will never be so stupid again. I will never, ever, take advantage of your condition again."
Remus grunted a response.
"You've already said as much." He grumbled, then sighed, pushing his fringe out of his eyes again. He desperately needed a haircut – he usually got Sirius to do it, as the boy was pretty good with his hair-styling spells, but they'd barely spoken enough for Remus to breach the subject. "Look, let's just… let's just enjoy the year."
Sirius breathed out a little sigh, but no more could be said on the subject as at that moment their third, and now last, friend entered the carriage. James had obviously managed to get his eating under control since the year before, and had begun to earn back some of the muscle he had lost to Cinis. He still looked more fragile than Remus was used to, but it was nice to see the Chaser smiling. Remus shot another glance at Sirius on James' arrival – he knew if not for the Potter heir having long talks with Snape regarding the incident, Sirius might not be sitting there at all.
He entered the compartment and Remus once again helped him get his trunk onto the overhead compartment. James rushed out of the room, and then thirty seconds later entered again carrying a small cage.
"What is that?" Sirius asked, pointing towards the box. James smiled sheepishly.
"Well, it's a cat."
Remus rose his eyebrow, peering into the cage to see brown, tabby fur similar to that of McGonagall's animagus form. Sirius was also looking at James as if he'd gone mad.
"Why in Merlin's name would get a cat?"
James plonked himself down next to Remus, placing his new pet next to him on the bench, in its carrier. He shrugged in response. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small badge. For a brief second Remus thought it might be a prefect badge, but then realised no one in their right mind would make James a prefect, plus no one got made prefect in their sixth year, so it had to be something else.
"Quidditch Captain?" Sirius asked, a sense of awe to his voice. James nodded.
"So mum and dad wanted to get me something big to congratulate me and well… since we no longer need to worry about anyone eating…" He trailed off, making an odd gesture they all knew meant he had wanted to say Wormtail. "So I got a cat."
There was an awkward silence where they all separately thought about going into their next school year without the fourth marauder, then Remus clapped his hands together.
"A cat, huh."
James nodded, pulling the feline out of its carrier and placing it in his lap. He gave it a few strokes, and Remus noted it was small, like a kitten.
"Her name is Jinx. It's supposed to be, you know, ironic. She's totally non-magical."
She opened her eyes and gave Remus a mistrustful look, and then curled up in James' lap and fell back asleep. James gently moved her back to her carrier, mumbling about not wanting to lose her. Remus suddenly had a flash back to last year, when he'd spent a long time searching for Regulus Black's made up feline 'Yeti'.
He smiled fondly at the memory as another person entered their carriage.
"Can I sit here?"
Remus looked up to see a shock of red-hair and a light yellow summer dress. Lily had become a sort of ally since Pete and Sirius had left the year before, and her presence had become customary – but he and James both knew she was really there to see Sirius. The dog-animagus gave her a dazzling grin, patting the seat next to him so she could join their group. She smiled, folding her dress underneath her as she sat down. The two of them instantly began talking in rapid, hushed tones about things they had done and seen over the summer. Apparently Sirius had spent most of the summer alternating between being at the Potters' and seeing Lily.
There was another knock, and finally the train jostled into life, sending them all on their way to Hogwarts. They all looked up towards the door to see Severus Snape standing in the doorway. He had already changed into his school uniform and he had gained another couple of inches over the summer so that his robes were beginning to get a little small for him. He'd taken to wearing his long, lanky hair up now, and Remus had to admit it did look slightly better on him. His pale, swallow skin was stretched thin over his face as he grimaced, surveying their carriage. Remus whipped his head round to watch James, who was, true to form, staring at Snape with a look of awe, and slight tint of fear.
"You." Snape said, pointing at James, "Come with me."
James immediately obeyed, exiting their carriage with a quick wave of his hand, and following Snape down the corridor. Remus could see them go from his seat, and watched until they turned the corner – James following behind Severus, keeping his head low.
James obediently sat down on the seats of the empty carriage they had found. Regulus Black had been sitting there, but when Snape entered, with James trailing behind, he quickly excused himself. The Gryffindor looked up at his Slytherin. Over the last year they had grown closer than he had ever thought possible – James had spent all of the time Sirius had been visiting Lily, with Snape. They had even managed to convince their respective parents to allow them to have a couple of nights together in the Leaky Cauldron before term began, on the pretence of being close to Diagon Alley for their school things, which James was unlikely to forget any time soon. He smirked at the memory.
Severus heavily deposited himself opposite the boy.
"I have an order for you." He said, making James tense slightly and look around to make sure no one was about. Severus' orders, as of late, had tended to stray into the more personal regions. Nevertheless, he nodded. "I want you to forget everything that happened last year."
James instantly protested.
"What are you saying?"
Severus rolled his eyes.
"I am saying I want you to forget we made this deal. I want… I want you to know that even if you never did a single thing I asked I would still make the Elixir for you." He said. James was glad he was sitting down; he was sure that if he wasn't his legs might have given away beneath him. He breathed out a puff of hot air. Severus frowned down at his own knees, twisting his hands in and out of one-another, as he tried to think of the next thing to say. Eventually he sighed and looked up, catching eye-contact with the newly appointed Quidditch Captain. "What I am saying is… I want us to start… fresh. And I am here asking you, not ordering you, but asking you…" He huffed, looking to one side in a gesture that James found oddly adorable.
"Are you… Merlin, Sev, are you asking me out?"
Severus stood in a hurry, heading to the door as if trying to escape, but James caught his arm.
"Wait. Just… if you were, I would… I would like that."
Severus stopped his attempt to leave and turned round to look at the Gryffindor with a mistrustful look in his eyes. He ripped his arm away from the Chaser, and slowly, almost so that James couldn't even see it, nodded his head.
"I am." He admitted. "There is a Hogsmeade weekend the first weekend of term – I would like it if you would accompany me."
James had to look at the ground to try and hide his smile. He found it strange that he would be so elated by this turn of events, when less than a year ago he would have punched someone for even suggesting he found the Slytherin anything more than a bat. Eventually he nodded.
"Okay. I'll meet you by the greenhouses?"
"Good. Now -" He smirked. "Come here."
He sat back down and patted his knee, making James flush. He looked once more out of the carriage, and quickly pulled down the blind over the door, before crossing the room to settle down on his Slytherin's lap.
Remus exited his carriage with a sigh, glancing behind him at Sirius and Lily, who had quickly forgone the pretence of chattiness and moved on to sucking face. He tried not to revert back to his pre-teen years of making gagging noises, and quickly removed himself from the situation. Once he had closed the door behind him he took a quick step back, only to stumble into the youngest Black sibling.
"Oh, Regulus." He exclaimed, hand jumping to his fringe to push it out of the way again. Regulus' eyes followed his movements, and the werewolf found himself becoming highly self-conscious about his overgrown locks. He'd spent the majority of the last year trying to ignore his stupid little crush on the boy, but he hadn't been very successful.
"Lupin." Regulus greeted, looking past him into the carriage. "I was hoping to speak with my brother."
Remus nodded, of course he was. He gestured behind him.
"He's a little busy with his girlfriend right now." He replied. "You're probably just as well to leave it until later if you can." He advised. Regulus made a face at the words 'busy' and 'girlfriend' that perfectly summed up how Remus inwardly felt.
The fourth year stepped backwards and leant against the wall, tucking his curls behind his ears. He was dressed in the Black idea of muggle clothing – smart black trousers and a black shirt that he had neglected to do up the top two buttons of, revealing the pale skin over his collarbones. It took a lot of Remus' strength to rip his eyes away from the sight. He had hoped upon hearing his brother was otherwise engaged the younger teenager might retreat back to his own friends, but it appeared he had other plans. He gave Remus a cheeky smile that was eerily reminiscent of his older brother.
"So, Sirius has Lily, Potter has Severus… Pettigrew has abandoned ship." He stated. "Looks like you're in for a lonely year."
Remus surveyed the boy with suddenly hard eyes, upon hearing the name of their former friend. He coughed slightly before replying.
"I am sure I'll find something to fill my time with." He responded.
"Or someone." Regulus replied, holding eye-contact in a way that was almost challenging. Remus gulped audibly.
"Are you offering?" He asked, voice coming out husky in a way he wasn't proud of. The youngest Black smirked, making Remus worry he'd been caught out on his little crush.
Eventually the younger teen shrugged.
"There's a Hogsmeade weekend the moment term begins – I assume you'll be staying at Hogwarts and studying?"
Remus held his breath. He stupidly wanted to believe this was the younger boy's roundabout way of asking him on a date, but even if it was he could hardly parade himself around with Sirius' younger brother in Hogsmeade – the older Black would kill him if he found out about Remus' less than pure feelings towards his sibling.
"I have NEWTS next year; I have to be prepared." He attempted to excuse himself, thinking the boy's assumption about his weekend activities was a hundred percent correct. With Sirius and Lily destined to spend the entire weekend in Madam Puddifoot's and Severus and James probably spending the weekend holed up in the dungeons, he hadn't fancied a trip into the village solo.
"Okay. But the whole school will be in Hogsmeade." He pressed, glancing towards the carriage where his brother was still making out with Lily. "Maybe we can study together."
He said study in a way that suggested they would be doing anything but studying.
Remus found himself nodding along dumbly.
He thought for one stupid second that he might confirm whether what Regulus was suggesting was a sort of secret date, but then the door to the carriage they were outside of swung open and Sirius stood in the hallway looking dishevelled.
"Reg!" He exclaimed, opening his arms as if he expected the younger boy to hug him. Regulus, of course, did nothing of the sort.
"Sirius." He greeted formally, instead. Sirius sent a brief look between his brother and Remus.
"Are you two friends now?" He asked, voice calm, but eyes suggesting he found the situation odd. Remus went to vehemently deny any connection to Regulus, but the Slytherin rolled his eyes, pushing forward into the cabin, where Lily was tying her hair into plaits.
"I just bumped into him on my way to see you." He replied calmly. Remus marvelled at his ability to stay so calm and blatantly lie to his brother.
"Oh." Replied Sirius, and the two of them began chatting. They talked of how Sirius' father, Orion, wanted to see him, and how Regulus thought he might join the Slytherin team as a beater and wanted some tips from his brother – but Remus mostly tuned it out in favour of watching the younger boy's Adam's Apple bob up and down in his throat as he talked.
"You're staring." Lily whispered to him a little while later, and he found he had no excuse ready to refute her.
And so begins the official sequel to Dependence! I hope you enjoy, and please don't forget to review - it motivate me to write faster!