Remus trailed along behind James and Sirius. The full moon was in two weeks and he wondered how many scars he would wake with this time. On a good night, he was only sore and very tired the next morning. On a bad one, he'd wake with at least three new scars and an injured friend.

"Snivellus," Sirius said with a sneer, breaking Remus his thoughts. He looked up and blinked in a bit of surprise. Snape looked...healthy. He was still pale but there were no longer dark circles under his eyes or a scary thinness. His lanky inky black hair was pulled back with a piece of leather and he looked on at the Marauders with a strange amount of neutrality. He normally sneered and glowered most hatefully at them.

"Black," he greeted, actually faintly smiling. It wasn't a kind or nervous smile. It was the smile that said he was amused and completely unbothered by Sirius' hostility. Then Remus noticed the stranger standing just behind Snape, watching them curiously. He had messy blue-black hair shaggily cut, bright emerald green eyes, and an angled face. He wasn't very tall - just a little shorter than James, actually - and thin like Snape used to be but Remus thought this was genetics rather than what he suspected was Snape's problem. He wore an unmarked Hogwarts uniform, showing that he was a new student.

Curious - new students at his age were all but unheard of. In fact, Remus couldn't remember ever seeing someone transfer in. Everyone had been there since they were eleven.

"What's your issue, Snivellus?" James asked suspiciously, just as wary of Snape's smile as Remus was.

"I don't believe I have one," Snape said. "Though I do wish you'd stop blocking the corridor."

"Did you hit your head this summer?" Sirius queried, confused and slightly alarmed. If anything, that seemed to amuse Snape more.

"Don't tell me your concerned, Black," he said with mock astonishment.

"Far from it," Sirius snapped back.

"As fun as this is," the green eyed teen said lightly, "and truly, I do find it simply hilarious, I'd like to get a compartment sometime soon. If you would?"

"Who are you?" Sirius asked curiously as Remus finally just pulled them to the side. "I've not seen you before."

He smiled rather like Snape. Amused. What were they so amused about? "No. You wouldn't've." And then they swept past.

"That was bizarre," James said. "I hope he's not in Gryffindor."

But he spoke to soon, Remus reflected hours later. Hayden Prosper had just donned the Hat and it took several minutes - another rarity in Hogwarts - but the Hat eventually called, "GRYFFINDOR!" The table clapped politely and Hayden took a seat not too far from them and next to some first years, and sent a small smile at Snape. Snape wrinkled his crooked (probably from breaking it and it not being set properly; it had been like that as long as Remus had known him and he was always wondering about the story behind it) nose, but didn't seem surprised or revolted.

"So," Hayden said, looking at the first years next to him. "We're at Hogwarts."

"Why are you so late?" Remus heard one particularly bold first year ask. He wanted to know that himself, so he kept listening despite his usual inclination to not eavesdrop on people with his advanced hearing.

"It's a long story. Simply put, I've not been around to properly start school here, though I did have people around to teach me," Hayden said. He leaned a bit closer and confided, "I'm a bit nervous about being here, though."

"Me too," several of the first years whispered back. Hayden smiled.

"Glad I'm not the only one," he said with a wink. "If you or any friends you make ever need any help, let me know." The first years nodded, smiling back brightly. Remus found himself impressed that Hayden was, for lack of a better word, reaching out to the firsties. Then Evans sat down across from Hayden.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," she said. "I'm Lily Evans, Head Girl."

Hayden shook her hand and, because James was always watching Evans, James growled under his breath, tightening his grip on his fork. "I'm Hayden, as you probably heard." He introduced the first years and Lily greeted them all.

"Hello, Darren," she said to the last one, the one who had asked why Hayden was so late, shaking his small hand too. He stared at her and Remus smiled a bit. Seems like Darren had his first Hogwarts crush.

"Nice to meet you," he managed, red faced. Lily smiled.

"If any of you need any help, just let me know. Would you like to meet the boys you'll be rooming with?" she offered Hayden.

"Sure," Hayden said, standing. "I'll be right back, Darren."

Lily led the way over to them. "Boys, this is Hayden. Hayden, this is Sirius Black, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin."

"You," Sirius said with narrowed eyes. "Why aren't you in Slytherin with your buddy?"

Evans looked surprised and glanced at Hayden, who had that smile again, only with a vaguely sardonic edge. "You caught me. I'm here to spy on you lot and bring down the noble house of Gryffindor from the inside so Slytherin can live on in glory, untroubled by their lesser halves - after all, discretion is the better part of valor, is it not?" Evans snorted and Sirius' scowl deepened. James looked disgusted and Peter imitated them. Remus rolled his eyes.

"Welcome to Gryffindor," he said a little wearily. He could only imagine what the year would bring if this kept up.

"Thanks," Hayden said and then turned and went to sit back by Darren.

"That didn't look like it went too well," Darren said lowly.

"No need to be so rude, Black," Evans said heatedly. "He's new! You could at least give him a chance!"

"It didn't. Black doesn't like my friend, Severus, who's in Slytherin," Hayden said honestly.

"Why not?" Darren asked, confused.

"I can't believe he's in Gryffindor!" Sirius growled.

"Because he's in Slytherin," Hayden said.

"Is that bad?" Darren was a Muggle-born then.

"No, but a lot of people will say that it is. Slytherins are cunning and ambitious, which tends to make them a little less trust worthy in other people's eyes. And a lot of Slytherins tend to be purebloods who think that purebloods are better than Muggle-borns or half-bloods," Hayden said. Well, at least he was honest.

"But Severus isn't one of them?" Darren clarified.

"He's friends with Snape," James added darkly. That shocked Evans and her face quickly became impassive.

"Not really but he pretends to be some times, to protect himself," Hayden confided. "Don't tell anyone cause some of his house mates aren't very nice."

"I won't," Darren said solemnly. His year mates nodded and Hayden smiled at them all.

"Well," Evans finally said. "That's his business, but if I find out you're pranking him or hazing him in some way, you'll deal with me." And she walked away stiffly.

"Thanks," Hayden said. "So what subject are you looking forward to most?"

Remus tuned out the rest of the conversation, thinking. It might be true, he couldn't completely discount it, but it didn't seem very likely. Though Snape had been friends with Evans for years. But he had called her the M-word. Then again, he had been humiliated in front of her by James and Sirius and no guy liked that. He had been hurt and angry and Snape was nothing if not prideful. And the more Remus thought about it, the more it made sense. Slytherins, as far as he could tell (no one outside the house knew much about its inner workings - and though it was the same for every house, it was especially true for Slytherin) were a fierce and complicated lot and Hayden's statement could easily be true.

"Earth to Remus," James said, snapping him back into the present by waving his hand in front of his face. Remus batted it away.

"What?" he asked.

"The new kid," Sirius said, twisting his face. Remus sighed mentally. Another for Sirius to have a grudge against - and this one had done very little other than be so amused and mock Sirius' hostility.

"What about him?" he asked a tad impatiently.

"What do you think?" Sirius said, exasperated. "Obviously this concerns you in a couple of weeks," he added in a lower voice. Remus hadn't quite reached that point in his thoughts just yet.

"I don't know - we'll figure out something," he said uncomfortably.

"Prank him," Peter said. "Get him out of the way for the night. Spike his drink at dinner, maybe."

"That's actually a good idea, Pete," Sirius said, impressed. Remus only half-listened after that.

Dumbledore made his announcements and the new Defense professor was someone named Damien Machiavelli and he was young. Barely older than Remus himself, really. Dumbledore must be desperate. Machiavelli had white blonde hair, grey eyes, and a tall, lean build. Clearly an aristocrat. Seemed confident enough but so had last year's professor until the third day when Sirius and James had pranked him. After that, he was wary, treating all of them (because he obviously hadn't traced it back to the Marauders) like dangerous animals. It was funny for a little bit, but then it was just annoying. The continued bi-weekly pranks didn't help. They had earned more detentions last year than any year previously.

And then there was the feast and planning for their last and greatest year of pranks and then off to the tower. Fairly basic and so routine, Remus almost forgot about their new roommate. But then he entered the dorm and there was a fifth bed set up, a black trunk at it's foot. It had silver latchings and an 'HP' engraved on the side. It also had multiple compartments - five to be exact, with oddly shaped key holes.

James let out a whistle when he saw it. "That must have cost a pretty penny."

"A gift," said Hayden from behind them, making them all start. "It's from a few friends as their way of wishing me luck with my new school."

"Got friends in high places?" Sirius said disdainfully.

"I'm not the only one, Black," Hayden said, arching a brow and out came that smile. "Or does your family name not afford you privileges, disowned or not? Not to mention the Potter name..." Sirius looked infuriated. The smile grew and Hayden's green eyes danced. "Look, this isn't how I planned on starting my school year. Maybe my second week, but not the first day. So how about this - you don't judge me, I don't mock you and we all get along, hmm?"

Sirius made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat and headed for the bathroom.

"Well, he can't say I didn't try," Hayden shrugged, unconcerned.

"You call that trying?" Peter asked.

"It's the most I'm going to do considering I never started any of our conflicts so far," Hayden said coolly.

"He has a point," Remus said when James looked ready to protest. Hayden gave him that faint smile - only this one wasn't amused but Remus couldn't really tell what it was. Without any more words, Hayden went to his trunk and Remus started changing. Spending six years in the same room as the boys who were his best friends made them all quite comfortable with each other. Hayden, however, took his pajamas and slipped into the bathroom.

Sirius came out only a minute later, looking annoyed. Hayden wasn't long and soon came out, going to his trunk. He did something they couldn't see and muttered something Remus chose not to hear, then started pulling a few personal items out. He set a photo in a dark wood frame with painted silver vines on top of his night stand, so that it faced his bed and slipped a small photo album into his desk drawer along with a mole skin bag and a long thin box. He drew a rune on the outside of the drawer with chalk, muttered something else while rubbing his palm over it. It singed and smoked and then the rune was burned into the drawer.

All the Marauders had noticed it and when Hayden turned with a dark little smile on his face, he seemed almost surprised to see them watching him - almost, but not quite. Anticipated it but hadn't been sure, perhaps.

"Locking rune," he said briefly, flexing and shaking out his hand as though it stung. "Works better than any spell."

"What about when you graduate?" James asked.

"I'll remove it," he said. "Or replace the drawer. Whichever." And then, making sure his trunk was closed and waving his wand over it, he got into the bed and closed the curtains.

"Weird kid," Sirius muttered, rolling his eyes. Remus had to agree that Hayden was definitely different. He wasn't sure if he liked him or not. Or if Hayden liked them, for that matter. Remus was inclined to think not, if only because Snape was sure to have passed on stories.

"I want to know who the photo is of," James said quietly, putting down his things and carefully walking over. Without making a sound, James snatched the frame and quickly retreated to Sirius' bed. Remus, despite his uneasiness with James' actions, went and looked over James' shoulder.

In the frame was a dark haired man that looked similar to Hayden, dancing with an auburn woman who had Hayden's eyes. Both were quite thin, so it was clear it was a genetic thing. The man also wore rectangular glasses but the woman didn't. Both had simple black robes on, though the woman had a maroon-ish beret. It was fall and leaves were floating on the wind around them, giving the photo an even more magical air.

"Wonder who it is," Sirius said. "Family?"

James opened the frame at the back and peered at it. "Says it's his mother and father, the day after they got engaged."

"Why does he have that here?" Sirius asked. "Shouldn't that be, like, on a wall somewhere?"

"Guys," Remus said slowly, a tragic thought occurring to him. "Do you think he's an orphan? That second year kid, Drew Carrington, had a photo of his folks and they're gone."

"They've been dead since I was one," Hayden said from just behind Remus, making them all jump again. He was leaning against the bed post and looking very casual. He looked round at their - Remus was sure - surprised and guilty expressions and smiled a small smile again. It was amused (again) and Remus was starting to dislike the expression. Intensely. Made him feel...young. Like he was being looked down upon by an amused older relative. "Come on, guys. I burned a locking charm into my drawer - you don't think I wasn't going to ensure nothing happened to the sole object left out? And I've been here for the past two minutes. How did you not notice?"

"Oh - um. Well. Here," James said, holding out the photo. Hayden accepted it, fixing the back. "Sorry about your folks."

"It's been sixteen years," he shrugged, turning and going to set it back on his dresser, staring at it for a moment before turning back. "We need to fix this. Now."

"Why?" Sirius said, automatically belligerent at Hayden's unyielding tone.

"Because I have more than a few dirty tricks up my sleeve," Hayden said, narrowing his eyes ever so slightly. He didn't look the least bit amused now. "Severus is my best friend, you know. But more to the point, I'm living here for the next year and I'd rather not be feuding with my roommates and acting like a paranoid old Auror. Therefore, we need to fix this."

"What exactly do you suggest then?" Remus asked, knowing the others would be a bit baffled at the point Hayden was driving at. Peter wouldn't get it - they took a photo and Hayden and Sirius didn't get along - big deal. James and especially Sirius would be defensive and see their actions as only justified and Hayden as an interloper, an annoyance, and in the wrong. It was only a photo after all. However, Remus knew that things would only get worse - and fast, especially at this rate - if they left this alone to build. Fixing a wonky bridge now was better than waiting for it snap and take someone down with it, right?

"Simple - understand that I am not your enemy," Hayden said. "I don't need enemies and I'm more inclined to be amused than annoyed at whatever foolish thing you've done. Unless it comes down to Severus - then they'll be hell to pay because, like I said, he's my best friend. Beyond that, I really couldn't care less. I don't care if you like me, I don't care if you dislike me - just don't mess with my things and we're golden. Actually, leave the first years alone. I don't think you're bullies, but I figure I might as well throw it in, just in case. I like the little midgets so far. Easy enough for you blokes?"

"Why are you friends with him?" Peter asked. Remus felt like hitting him. They were supposed to be making progress of some sort - not bringing up the biggest sore point between the Marauders and Hayden. As it was, Hayden only blinked and out came that so-called smile.

"Because he's Severus," Hayden said a tad cryptically.

"That is the exact reason I don't like him," Sirius said bluntly. Remus did elbow him. "So, please, explain further."

"He amuses me and I amuse and irritate him. And, more seriously, he was there for me after several friends and my godfather died in a Death Eater attack," Hayden said with a bit of shrug, the smile dropping as he added quietly, "You don't forget those kind of things."

"Oh," Sirius said, flushing ever so slightly. "Well." Unable to admit that there could be something decent about Snape, but being sensitive enough not to sneer at what could and probably was a uncomfortable topic for Hayden, left Sirius without anything to say. Remus figured now would be a good time to step in, before James decided to step in with a stupid and hindering question.

"I think we'll agree to disagree?" Remus suggested pointedly. Sirius and James nodded, Peter following a second later. "Good. And about the...deal or whatever you call it, I'm sure we can all abide by it, right?" Also pointed and also received nods. "Very well. It's late and Professor McGonagall will have our hides if we miss breakfast - especially you, James. Night all."

And then he, like Hayden had earlier, retreated to his bed without another word or glancing back. His hearing was enough to know that his not so subtle orders were being followed.


Thanks for reading! (And maybe reviewing?)

- C. Lux

1/27/2011 Update: Simple spelling mistakes, fixed some phrasing.