James Potter and the Immortal Icon
Chapter 1: On the Hogwarts Express
"Where is it?" eleven-year-old James Potter asked, surging ahead with his luggage cart. His unmanageable black hair whipped at his square spectacles as his eyes scanned the crowded train station. The cage rattling along atop his trunk held an Eagle Owl named Luftwing, the largest owl James had ever seen. Mr. and Mrs. Potter had decided to buy him a pet for his first year at Hogwarts, and from the moment James had seen the enormous, speckled owl, he knew Luftwing was the one for him.
At the moment, Luftwing looked even angrier than normal, his feathers ruffled from all the jostling and his bright orange eyes fixed on James. He let out an indignant hoot as James careened through the crowd in King's Cross, turning so sharply he nearly dislodged Luftwing's cage. James ignored the owl's reproachful cry and scanned the signs fixed overhead. They were just passing Platform Nine…
"Here we are," said Mr. Potter brightly, catching up to his son as they neared the wall dividing Platform Nine from Platform Ten. The wizard had the same amber eyes and black hair as James, though Mr. Potter's hair was streaked with gray. He lifted a hand to point at the wall. "That's it."
Mrs. Potter, a plump witch with sharp blue eyes and graying brown hair, joined her husband and son, smiling encouragingly at James. "Just walk straight at it, dear. You'll pass right through."
"Walk through?" James grinned. "Where's the fun in that?" He took off running, bending low over the handles of his luggage cart, ignoring his mother's screech of protest. Just before reaching the wall, he jumped onto the cart and rode it through.
Platform 9 ¾ bustled with students and parents crowding around a large red engine, but James hardly had a chance to take it in before he realized he was still hurtling forward, straight toward the gathered crowd. Next moment, his cart knocked into someone and came to a sudden stop, throwing both boys to the ground.
"Remus!" a tired-looking witch cried, rushing to the other boy's side. "Are you alright?"
The pale, scrawny boy ran a hand through his light brown hair and gave a shaky smile. "'m fine, mum."
"Sorry," James said, jumping to his feet and offering the boy a hand. "Didn't see you."
The boy accepted James' help and climbed to his feet. "'s okay," he mumbled.
James turned to see his mother charging through the barrier, followed closely by his father. Mr. Potter grinned into his hand, but Mrs. Potter looked much less amused by James' entrance. She stormed over, grabbed him by the ear, and dragged him away from Remus and his mother, apologizing profusely until they were lost in the crowd.
"Why…? You…! I never!" Mrs. Potter fumed, jabbing her finger at James' nose.
"It was just a bit of fun," James grumbled. "He's not hurt."
"That's not the point! What if a muggle saw you? What if you'd run someone over?"
James rolled his eyes. "Sorry, Mum. Won't happen again."
"That's right it won't!" Mrs. Potter placed both hands on her hips and scowled. "Next time, you're holding my hand."
"I can't hold your hand! What'll the others say?"
Mrs. Potter sniffed and shook her head. "Should've thought of that before you pulled your little stunt. Next time, you'll make a civilized entrance."
Mr. Potter shot James a pitying look over his wife's shoulder and glanced at the clock. "Three till," he said. "Better hurry up."
James took Luftwing's cage while his father hefted his trunk and loaded it onto the train. James grinned as he caught sight of the golden letters that spelled out Hogwarts Express. He could hardly believe it; he was finally on his way to the one and only Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once his trunk was loaded, James lifted Luftwing's cage and started up himself, but Mrs. Potter pulled him back into a suffocating embrace.
Mr. Potter quickly rescued his son, gave him a squeeze, and nudged him toward the train. "Have fun!"
"But not too much," Mrs. Potter hastened to add, frowning. "I don't want to get an owl tomorrow saying you've already got detention."
James laughed. "Yeah, yeah." He grabbed his trunk and Luftwing's cage. "How's the day after?"
Mr. Potter laughed as Mrs. Potter spluttered protests, but James didn't stick around to hear them. Instead, grinning, he turned and made his way down the corridor, peering into each compartment as he passed, looking for one with open seats. Halfway down the corridor, as the Hogwarts Express pulled away from the station, James found a compartment with only two occupants, a black-haired boy with rumpled clothes and a distant expression sprawled across one seat by the door, and a slender red-haired girl hunched against the window. Both looked to be first years, like James.
"Can I join you?" James asked.
The boy studied him for a moment, then shrugged. "Sure." The girl didn't answer.
James set Luftwing's cage on an empty seat and hoisted his trunk. The other boy stood and helped, and a moment later, they succeeded in lifting it onto the luggage rack. Shaking his hair out of his eyes, James dropped into the seat across from the other boy and grinned. "I'm James," he said.
"Sirius. Nice owl."
"Yeah. Rather have a broom, though."
Sirius scowled. "First years aren't allowed one."
"I know," James grumbled. "'s not fair. I'd try out for the Quidditch team if they let me."
Scowl vanishing, Sirius sat up a bit straighter. "What position d'you play?"
"Chaser, mostly. You?"
He hesitated. "Never actually played, but I always thought Beater would be fun."
The door opened, and another boy entered, but James and Sirius hardly spared him a glance as he passed them to sit across from the girl.
James grinned. "You gonna try out next year?"
Shrugging, Sirius grinned back. "Maybe. I dunno, though. Might be too busy with…other stuff."
"What, like homework?" James asked, wrinkling his nose.
"Yeah, right." Sirius snorted. "No, I've got other plans."
James raised an eyebrow. "Plans? What kind of plans?"
"Oh… you know…" Sirius said mysteriously. James leaned forward eagerly, but as Sirius opened his mouth to reply, James caught the tail end of the conversation between the other two passengers.
"You'd better be in Slytherin," said the thin, pale boy.
"Slytherin?" James asked, incredulous. "Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?" He turned to face Sirius, who had stopped smiling and slouched in his seat.
"My whole family have been in Slytherin."
James gaped at him. "Blimey, and I thought you seemed all right!"
Sirius grinned. "Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"
James hoisted an invisible sword. "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad." Beside him, the pale boy scoffed. James turned on him. "Got a problem with that?"
The boy sneered. "No. If you'd rather be brawny than brainy –"
"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" Sirius broke in. James burst out laughing, stopping only when the girl rose, glaring down at him and Sirius.
"Come on, Severus," she said haughtily, "let's find another compartment."
James rolled his eyes. "Oooooo…" he mocked in his best girly voice, laughing again as he realized Sirius had done the same. Severus stood to follow the girl, and James stuck out his leg. Severus stepped over it, face flushed red.
"See ya, Snivellus!" Sirius called as Severus slammed the compartment door behind him.
"Snivellus, huh?" James said. "Snivellus… Got a nice ring to it."
Sirius snickered. "I know, right? I can't believe that git actually wants to be in Slytherin."
"So, your whole family, huh?"
With a sigh, Sirius sagged against the seat. "Every last one."
"Rotten luck." James stared out the window for a moment, watching the countryside flash past. "What would your parents say if you weren't in Slytherin?"
Sirius' eyes were fixed on a spot on the ceiling. "Depends where I did go."
There was a beat of silence before Sirius answered, speaking slowly as a grin spread across his face. "I think they'd die of shame!"
"You don't sound too sad about that."
"Are you kidding? That'd be fantastic!"
At a knock on the door, James and Sirius looked up. A middle-aged witch pushing a trolley leaned her head into the compartment and smiled at the boys. "Can I get you two anything?"
James and Sirius leaped up at once. Five minutes later, the witch moved on, and the boys sat back down with a heaping pile of sweets between them. Sirius shoved his things off the seat so James could sit beside him, and as they fell to the floor, a book tumbled out. James bent to pick it up and frowned at the cover. "What's this?"
Sirius tossed an exploding bonbon in his mouth. "Huh?"
James waited for the candy to burst with a muffled pop, then held up the book. To James' surprise, Sirius' face flushed crimson.
"Oh, nothing. Just some muggle book I nicked from the library to annoy my parents."
Turning the book over in his hands, James raised an eyebrow. "Any good?"
Sirius shrugged. "Book's a book. Better than the stuff I got at home." He snickered suddenly. "Muggles have some weird ideas, y'know? They think you can stop a vampire with special holy water."
"Seriously?" James laughed, tossing the book aside and grabbing a chocolate frog from the pile of sweets. "You know many?"
"Vampires?" Sirius gave a devilish grin. "One or two."
"Oh. No, my parents don't approve of them."
James groaned. "Don't tell me they buy into that blood purity rubbish."
Reaching for a cauldron cake, Sirius gave a grimace. "They do."
"But you don't?" James asked hopefully.
"Course not! It's a bunch of codswallop if you ask me."
As the Hogwarts Express wound its way north, James and Sirius worked their way through the pile of sweets, talking animatedly about Quidditch and Hogwarts and whatever else came to mind. As the sun began to sink toward the horizon and Sirius suggested a game of Exploding Snap, James found himself hoping Sirius would be sorted into Gryffindor. He really seemed much too nice to be a Slytherin, after all.
A few hours later, the train began to slow. James and Sirius had given up on Exploding Snap some time ago and, after changing into their school robes, resumed their Quidditch discussion. A voice interrupted to inform students that they would be arriving momentarily, and to leave their luggage on the train. Grinning, James jumped up to press his face against the window. He could see little in the darkness. When the train came to a stop, he and Sirius joined the crowd of students streaming toward the exit.
The platform was even more chaotic than the train had been, as students and teachers bustled about. Many students streamed toward carriages standing nearby, and James supposed they must have been magic carriages, for he could see no animals around to pull them.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"
James turned to see a shaggy-haired giant of a man waving his great, thick arms in the air.
"You ever seen someone that big?" Sirius muttered as he and James wove through the crowd toward the man. James shook his head and gaped at the man, who continued hollering until all the first years had gathered around him. Nearly every face stared at him in shock, though many students quickly shut their mouths and averted their gaze. Not James.
"Arright," said the man, smiling at all the upturned faces. "Everyone 'ere? Follow me."
He turned and led the first years down a rocky path through thick trees. Up ahead, James caught a glimpse of moonlight on water. The path turned, and a collective gasp went up. Hogwarts castle towered over them, thousands of windows glowing merrily in the darkness. It stood atop a mountain across the lake, jutting towers and turrets into the night sky. James grinned madly. Sirius nudged him and pointed to a small fleet of boats lined up on the shore, and after exchanging a brief, mischievous glance, James and Sirius sprinted for the boats.
"No more'n four to a boat," came the deep voice, but James and Sirius had already leaped into a boat, which rocked dangerously and drifted away from the shore.
"Guess we get our own," James said, searching for oars. He found none, and frowned. A quick glance showed that none of the other students now climbing into boats had oars either, so he shrugged and made himself comfortable.
The giant man was the last to clamber into a boat, and although he had one to himself, the vessel nearly sank under his bulk. "Everyone in? Right then – off we go!"
At his words, the boats surged forward, and James grinned more broadly than ever as the castle loomed nearer overhead. The night was still and silent, aside from the gentle lapping of waves against the boats and the hushed breathing of the first years. The boats glided smoothly to the base of the cliff on which the castle stood and then on through a curtain of ivy into a low, dark tunnel.
Eventually, they reached a small harbor, and James and Sirius clambered ashore, sprinting up the path before the other first years even had a chance to get their balance. The path was steep and uneven, but James and Sirius didn't care. They ran until they reached the grassy patch at the top, where they stopped, gasping for breath but grinning at the massive double doors before them.
"It's… big," James said, craning his neck to look up toward the towers far overhead.
"Big?" Sirius replied, panting. "It's… bloody huge!"
"Think you'll get lost?"
With a grin, Sirius shrugged. "I hope so. I bet I'll find some neat stuff."
"Like secret passages?" James asked, looking at the castle with new anticipation. "Think we can find them all?"
"The two of us? In seven years? We'd better."
James laughed. "We'll have to start straight away."
"Tomorrow?" Sirius asked.
They grinned, but just then, the giant man appeared with the rest of the first years, holding a lantern aloft and turning to check that all the students were present. Once they were all gathered, the man stepped forward, raised a massive hand, and pounded three times on the door.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who clicked on this story! I'd like to draw your attention to several of my other fics - Moony's Story, Padfoot's Story, Wormtail's Story, and Lily's Story. All are companions to this story, and will be updated as we go along to tell certain events through the titular character's eyes. I'll let you know in author's notes here when each installment should be read, so if you're interested, keep your eyes peeled. (Alternatively, you can wait until the end of Year One and then read all the corresponding chapters of the companions, up to the first summer "Interlude" chapters. Your choice!) Happy reading!