This one's for you, Harry. Because I want you to know how much I love you, or loved you I guess I should say now.

It's for you too, Lily. Because I am so sorry. I am sorry that I couldn't save you. I am sorry that we can't stand by Harry's side and hold his hand as he faces the troubles that our death has inevitably brought him.

It's for you, Severus. It's for everything you've done for my son that I couldn't, and for everything that you've tried to do for my wife, for loving her as much as I do. To you, as well, I am truly sorry.

Finally, it's for you, Moony, Wormtail and Padfoot. Though one of you would betray me, one of you would be blamed and one of you would also have to leave his son, you all join me and the rest of us as we hope the best for Harry. We will always remain the four best friends. Always, we the marauders

"Mother, get... of... me!" I said, wrenching away from my mother's tight grip and insufferable kisses.

"I think it's time we said goodbye, darling, the train's leaving in a few minutes!" said my father, finally coming to my rescue. He pulled my mother away from me, hugging her himself as she cried into his chest. I looked around to check that nobody was looking.

"My baby," wept my mother, dabbing her eyes with a sopping wet handkerchief. "He's all grown up and going off to school without me!"

"Indeed he is," said my father proudly, clapping my shoulder. I beamed under his hold. "Be good son," he said, and then I was off. I mounted the Hogwarts express proudly, not even turning to wave goodbye to my parents. The other first years were doing that, but as I looked around I saw all the fifth years walk on as if they didn't even have parents. I adopted their comfortable stride immediately. Who would want to be friends with a trembling kid?

I looked in to all the carriages as I passed, trying to find the most empty one. Friends would come to me, in time. I finally found one which was occupied by solely one other first year. She had deep red hair that hung over he shoulders, shielding her face. I ruffled my hair and entered, sitting on the opposite bench and away from the window against which she was leaning. She said nothing to me, simply sniffed and looked away.

I studied her as we waited for the train to fill up. Her eyes were gorgeous, almond shape and intense green. They blinked a lot, as if she were fighting tears which had welled up every now and then. She was exceptionally pretty, despite the redness around her nose and her slightly swollen mouth, suggesting along with the constant sniffles that she had before been crying. Still she didn't even look at me, so I gave up on trying to stare her into giving me her attention. I looked around the cabin instead, and outside the window at the dank walls of Platform 9 and 3/4s.

At some point, another boy came down and sat opposite me. I knew immediately that I wanted to be friends with him. He had naturally messy hair that fell every which way, and sat down with his legs parted, his black boots hitting the floor with a thud. He carried the same confidence I did, and he seemed to register my presence as much as I did his.

I was about to open my mouth and initiate a conversation with him when another boy came in. He, too, had black hair, but his fell just past his long, pale chin in greasy locks. He walked with a slump characteristic of those I had often seen as adults who had gone nowhere in life. He went and sat immediately with the red haired girl and they began to talk. His voice grated on my nerves as he began to drawl. I could see no life in him at all, not even in the words he spoke.

"You'd better be in Slytherin," he told his red-haired friend.

"Slytherin?" I asked, suddenly interested. They both turned to look at me. "Who's want to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?" I gestured to the boy sitting opposite me, who slumped back in his chair.

"My whole family have been in Slytherin," he said.

"Blimey!" I replied, immediately annoyed that I wouldn't be able to be friends with this one. "And I thought you were one of the good ones!"

A smile broke the boys sullen expression. "Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you going, if you've got the choice?"

I lifted an imaginary sword in the air, like some kind of shining knight. "Gryffindor, where dwell the brave of heart! Like my dad," I looked over to see if my flexed muscles had stirred any emotion in the girl. She looked unimpressed; so did her little companion. He gave a little 'huh'.

"Got a problem with that?" I asked, riled up, dropping my invisible weapon.

"No," he jeered, "if you'd rather be brawny than brainy..."

"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" the boy opposite me shot at him. I was immediately impressed by the wicked speed with which he managed to snap back. I howled with laughter. The girl stood up haughtily.

"Come on, Severus, let's go find another compartment." she said loftily.

"Oooooh," me and the other boy taunted. I stuck my foot out as the boy called Severus passed, but he simply stepped over it.

"See ya, Snivellus!" I called as he disappeared. When the door closed, me and the other boy collapsed into fits of laughter. When finally we stilled, he stuck out his hand.

"Sirius Black," he said, proudly, shaking my hand firmly.

"James Potter," I replied. He sat back and clapped his hands together, rubbing them with a look of pleasure on his face.

"You looking forward to Hogwarts?" he asked, staring out the window at the fleeting scenery.

"Am I ever. A whole school with no parents, just magic, girls and plenty of rules to bend." I winked at him mischievously.

"I like you, Potter." said Sirius, stretching out to be more comfortable in his chair.

"You too, Black," I said in return. We laughed an joked all the way to Hogwarts, practically brothers by the time the train arrived.

"Firs' yers this way!" ushered a giant as all the Hogwarts students milled out around him, lugging trunks and all manner of animals. "Firs' yers this way!"

The first years all bunched up as the giant led the way, opposite to the way all the other students were going. I dragged Sirius to the front of the throng, and we walked beside the mammoth of a man.

"You two gettin' along all right?" he asked, looking down at us over his scruffy beard.

"Very well indeed," I said charmingly.

"Excited 'bout yer firs' year at Hogwarts?"

"Really excited," nodded Sirius beside me.

"What're yer names then?" he asked, friendly, as we trudged towards a great black mass I assumed to be a lake in the quickly fading light.

"I'm James Potter, this is Sirius Black," I said. The giant harrumphed.

"I see you've met my cousin, Bellatrix," Sirius said.

"I have, she's a bad 'un. Like yer whole family is."

"Agreed," said Sirius gravely. We walked in silence for a moment while the giant pondered what he said, and then he shrugged and stuck out his enormous hand.

"Rubeus Hagrid," he said as we each took a massive finger and shook it, "Hogwarts game-keeper. If yer real lucky, I'll even let ye call me Hagrid," he chortled and then stopped. We had arrived at the edge of the lake, where several boats with single lit lanterns awaited to take us to our final destination. We could all see it from where we stood, lights flickering some distance away.

We all clambered up into the boats, me and Sirius in the one at the head with Hagrid, the girl from the train and two other boys. There hadn't been any space for Severus as we dumped all our luggage in the middle. I flashed an evil smile at him and shuffled closer to the girl. He glowered at me.

"And what's yer name?" Hagrid was asking her.

"Lily Evans," she replied sweetly.

"And you?" he asked the other two who until this point had remained silent. One of the boys, who had been reading, took off his glasses and sighed.

"I suppose I would never have been able to read in this light anyway," he muttered. "I'm Remus Lupin."

"And I'm Peter, Peter Pettigrew," piped up the boy beside him. I looked at him. He was a small boy with rat-like features. He looked around himself wondrously, and beamed at everybody, as if trying to get them to like him. I knew his type, easily impressionable and willing to do anything in the name of acceptance. He would do finely as a companion.

We arrived finally at the foot of the beautiful Hogwarts castle, magnificently lit against the black evening sky. We dumped our bags in a large untidy pile at the entrance and marched up the stairs. We were greeted at the top by a middle aged witch, wearing formal black robes, a witches hat and glasses perched at the end of her nose. Her face looked somewhat aged and her frame was slight.

"Welcome to Hogwarts, I am Professor McGonagall" she said, pleased, looking down at the swarm of nervous first years. "You are soon to all follow your fellow pupils into the Great Hall, where you will be able to sit and dine with them, but first, you must be sorted. The four houses of Hogwarts are named after her founders, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin." a buzz of whispers began as the students discussed the houses they were hoping to be placed in. McGonagall hushed them. "Now, for those of you who don't know, the sorting is very simple. You will all walk in pairs to the end of the hall, where you will then line up. I will call out your names one by one, and you will sit on the stool. I will place the sorting hat on your head and it will call out your house. You can then join on that house's table. Ok, ready?"

As she said the final words, the doors in front of us began to swing open, and we could finally see the great hall in view. As we walked in, I heard gasps and whispers from behind me, all of us gazing in awe at the ceiling, enchanted to look like the night sky. Around us, candles hung in mid air as we shuffled in between two long tables. There were five tables in total, the four house tables and the staff table at the end of the hall. Sirius nudged me and tipped his chin over to the Slytherin table on the left side of the room, gesturing to a girl with wild black hair who was cackling hysterically.

"That's my cousin Bella," he said apprehensively. "If I'm not sorted into Slytherin, she'll tell my whole family."

"Well let's hope for the best," I said, fingers crossed.

"Yeah, Gryffindor," he agreed, grinning.

We lined up in front of the stool McGonagall had talked about, and one by one she placed a hat on our heads. Sirius was one of the first, and immediately declared a Gryffindor. The hat itself chuckled. "This is going to cause quite a stir," it said.

Sirius was joined by Lily, then Remus, then Peter and finally me. We all sat at the Gryffindor table as I watched Lily's face as Severus was sorted into Slytherin, monitoring the look of disappointment.

"Fancy this, eh?" I said, looking over.

"What?" she asked dismissively.

"The two of us being in Gryffindor."

"What of it?" she snapped. I was stunned by her contempt towards me. Surely she couldn't really care for that slimy git?

"Just proves we both have excellent characters," I said, flashing a smile, trying to melt the cold shoulder she was blatantly shoving in my face.

"One of us has an excellent character." she said condescendingly, clearly not meaning me. Then, she turned away, so I gave up. The sorting was wrapped up, and the entire hall hushed as Albus Dumbledore, the Hogwarts head master, stood up to speak.

"I will not keep you for long, only to welcome those of you who are new to the school to Hogwarts," there was a round of applause. "I wish you all very good luck for the oncoming years, and I offer you a warning, should you wish to accept it. We, here at Hogwarts, do not accept the darkness some of you see rising around you," he was referring to Voldemort, a wizard reported to have killed a few muggle borns for purely that reason. "I would like to inform you all that we do not stand for such behaviour here at Hogwarts. You may all be tempted by the dark magic, it might seem attractive and powerful to some of you," he glanced over at the Slytherin table, "but it is unacceptable. I also urge you all to be serious in your studies. Those of you who are will become great witches and wizards, as I am sure all of you have the potential to be. And so, with no more ado, I would like to welcome you to feast. Dinner is served."

He raised his right hand and clicked, and suddenly dinner appeared on the table, a large feast of just about everything one could think of. I ate and laughed with Sirius, Remus and Peter until my stomach hurt, knowing that these were going to be the best years of our lives.

A/N: Thanks for reading, please REVIEW and keep me motivated!