Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, settings, or general plotlines included in the Harry Potter series. These are the creations of J.K. Rowling. The dialogue in the train-compartment scene comes directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Info: My story will be entirely from the first-person persepective of Sirius Black. It will begin with the Marauders' first year and, the way I'm currently planning it, end with Sirius going after Peter Pettigrew. Ships are as yet undecided, other than James/Lily. They will probably involve some OC's, but any romance involving Sirius will not play a particularly important part. I'm focusing more on friendship/family dynamics and the war against Voldemort.

Chapter One: Crossing the Threshold

I'm awake before five in the morning, which is early, even for me, and I've never been one to sleep late. It's impossible for me to go back to sleep. I'm way too excited. Tonight, I'll be at my first Hogwarts feast. Ever since I was little, at least one of my three older cousins has been studying magic, and though I've always known I would as well—my family can trace pureblood wizarding ancestry back to the twelfth century, as I'm often told—it's exhilarating to realize I'm almost there. My bed is huge, big enough for at least three people my size to sleep comfortably in, so there are mounds of covers to struggle through in order to get up. Grabbing my brand-new wand, purchased at Ollivander's just last weekend, from the bedside table, I sit on the edge of the bed, pointing it across the room at my bookshelf.

"Wingardium Leviosa," I whisper.

One of the books slides out from among its fellows and hovers in midair for a few seconds before I let it sink gently onto the floor. Underage wizards aren't technically supposed to do magic outside of school, but the Ministry can't tell who performs the spells in a magical residence, and I've been allowed to use other people's wands occasionally since I was about eight. Best way possible to make sure my powers develop fully, keeping me as far from being a Muggle as possible, or at least that's what Mother says.

Still holding my wand, I head out the door to check on my trunk, which is downstairs in the hallway. Our house-elf packed it last night, which means all the spellbooks will be stacked in neat rows and my uniform robes will be folded and freshly laundered inside of the cauldron. Had I packed it myself, everything would have just been thrown inside the trunk sloppily. I let the door to my room close softly—my younger brother, Regulus, is still asleep in the next room, and I don't want to wake him. In the early morning, before anyone else is up, I have the house to myself.

I run down three flights of stairs, passing several rows of preserved house-elf heads. It's a rather morbid family tradition started by some distant relative, decapitating our house-elves when they get elderly and mounting their heads on the wall. My brother used to have nightmares about them when he was younger, but Kreacher, our current elf, wants nothing more than to have his own head stuck up on the wall next to his mother's. Apparently it would be the highest mark of service. House-elves are strange beings.

The front hallway is dark, heavy velvet curtains drawn across the windows blocking what little light would enter from the square outside. To the Muggles who live on Grimmauld Place, our house is invisible. Protective spells have been placed on it continuously for generations, and they have no idea it exists. Even wizards can't come here unless we want them too. My parents like it that way. I hurry along, the thick carpet muffling my footsteps. The trunk looms against the wall. Opening it, I rifle through my schoolbooks, making sure everything's there. There's no chance it wouldn't be, but I'm a little nervous about starting school, and it's making me paranoid.

As I'm shifting aside the box holding my potion ingredients, I hear a shuffling noise behind me. Kreacher has come into the room, holding a cleaning rag. He's the only other person in the house who'd be up this early. Mother mentioned something at dinner last night about the drawing room silver looking a little dingy. Kreacher worships her, so he's probably come up here early to polish it. He sinks into a bow as soon as he sees I've noticed him.

"Master Sirius is awake very early this morning. Kreacher was expecting the family to still be asleep."

"Sorry for disturbing you, then." I say, a little testily. "The stuff she wanted you to clean is in the drawing room. You can get in there."

"As Master wishes."

Kreacher steps out of his bow and sidles through the drawing room door, staring at me all the way. He's never liked me much, even though he and the other elf we used to have, Gelly, who's up on the wall as well now, took care of me and my brother when we were too little to have tutors yet. I've never quite understood why most pureblood families have their children cared for by house-elves, because eventually the child figures out that their caretaker is bound to their blood and has to do what they tell him. This is probably why I got away with a lot as a child. Apparently I also used to pull house-elf ears when I was a toddler.

I prefer not having Kreacher following me around as well. He's quite strange, even for an elf, and like my parents he prefers my brother to me, although why I should care what a house-elf thinks of me I don't know.

I shove the contents of my trunk back into something resembling their original order, and head back upstairs. In just a few hours I'll be off to Hogwarts. Out of this place.

My mother keeps up a constant stream of vicious muttering as we wade through the crowds at King's Cross. She's not exactly used to Muggles, since my whole family prefers isolating themselves from lesser sorts of people. However, we've no choice but to force our way among what she ferociously terms "filth" on the way to the platform. Her obviously offensive grumbles only draw more attention from the Muggles at the station. It doesn't help that she's wearing a long, deep purple cloak, or that there's a large eagle owl in a cage on my luggage trolley. My father is less clearly angered by the presence of Muggles—he seems to want to avoid them. Face set grimly, he walks ahead of the rest of us, his stride fast and jerkily uncomfortable, yanking his own green cloak out of the path of a Muggle woman in a pink sweater, who's staring curiously at my odd-looking family.

I'm uncomfortable with all the attention, not just because I don't like being ogled like a zoo animal, but because whenever my mother acts like this it makes me nervous. I know the language she's using is really offensive, and most wizards don't see Muggles and people of Muggle ancestry as quite so inferior. Even though almost all my family agrees with my mother, my cousin Andromeda's tried to explain to me that it isn't right. I've seen for myself the reaction my mother's comments get from many wizards, and I don't like the disgusted way they look at her, and by extension, me.

I shove my luggage cart along, not as carefully as I probably should, letting it bump along over the uneven sidewalk. Lacerta, my owl, hoots reproachfully. Mother pauses briefly in her monologue to shoot me a glare.

"You needn't try to break all your school things before you even get on the train, Sirius."

Regulus smirks at me, tagging along next to our mother. He's small for his age, while I'm tall like my father, so even though he's nine and I'm only eleven I'm a head taller. He has to jog a little to keep up with the rest of us. I consider responding to my mother, but she's now complaining under her breath about the "dirty animals" we're sharing the station with, and I don't want to draw any more attention from the Muggles. The woman in the sweater is still looking after us, and it'll be hard enough for us to get through the platform barrier unseen. We're coming up to it now, the brick divider between platforms nine and ten, and as I watch, my father disappears through it.

"Go ahead, Sirius, hurry up," Mother says, and I shove my baggage trolley toward the barrier. The momentum carries me through the brick, and out the other side. Mother and Regulus step through a few moments after me.

In front of us, the Hogwarts Express idles on the rails, its engine car and carriages painted glossy cherry-red. Green or purple cloaks like those my parents wear don't stand out at all here; it's clearly a magical crowd. A couple in long gold robes fusses over their daughter just ahead of us, and a man leaning against a pillar is smoking a pipe that issues bright blue smoke. I stare around at the crowd, looking at all the kids I'll be going to school with. There's a short mousy-looking boy who's hugging his mother and crying a bit over by the train—a first year like me, almost certainly. In contrast, a tall girl who's already changed into her uniform is boarding one of the nearest cars, looking excited, a gleaming Ravenclaw prefect's badge pinned to the front of her robes.

I kind of want to just get on the train already, but my parents have other ideas. I have to submit to what seems like a full lecture on my responsibilities at Hogwarts. It's a little embarrassing, especially seeing as other people just seem to get good-bye, good luck, and a hug from their own family. I, however, have to hear a whole speech, split between my parents, but mostly my mother, on "the illustrious history of our family at Hogwarts"—my great-great-grandfather was Head of Slytherin House and eventually school Headmaster—"upholding the family honor" and "behaving as befits your pure bloodline." There's a lot of pressure put on children in my family, but especially on me, because I'm the oldest male child this generation, and thus the Black heir. My father's rather pleased with himself about this, because his own brother only managed to produce daughters. Throughout this, all I do is nod occasionally and dispassionately agree with everything they say. Finally they finish, and all three of us stare at each other a little awkwardly.

"I guess I'd better get on the train, then." I say. "Well, bye."

They both nod at me briskly. As I'm turning away to board the train, Regulus, who's been hovering nearby looking around the platform, runs up and hugs me. A little surprised, since my family has never been physically affectionate, I hug back.

Looking up at me, he says, "Good luck, Sirius. I'll miss you."

"Thanks. You'll be coming too, you know—just a couple years."

Regulus is a sweet kid, even if everybody and their house-elves seem to prefer him to me. "I know. So, see you."

"See you, Regulus." He lets go of me, and steps back to stand with our parents. Getting up onto the train, I wave and then turn around and head into the carriage, lugging my trunk.

Most of the compartments are half-full at best, since as it's only quarter to eleven a lot of people are still outside on the platform. The first few I pass have older-looking students in them, and older kids probably wouldn't want to sit with a first-year. The fourth compartment is empty except for a redheaded girl about my age. I slide open the door, and when she looks up I can see she's been crying.

Before whatever reflex that's supposed to tell someone when to shut their mouth kicks in, I say "What, are you homesick already?"

My shut-your-mouth reflex has never been particularly strong. The redheaded girl glares at me and then turns away, pressing her face against the window.

"Can I sit here?"

"Well, as I doubt I can force you out, yes, you can," she says, not bothering to look at me.

"Right then. I won't bother trying to talk."

I push my trunk and Lacerta's cage up onto the luggage rack and flop down across two seats. At that point, the compartment door bangs open again and a shortish dark-haired boy with glasses comes in.

"Are you guys first years?" he asks, lifting his own cage, holding a fluffy gray owl, up onto the rack next to mine.

"Yeah. Dunno about her, but she's in a rotten mood, so I wouldn't ask." The girl sniffs rather indignantly and then continues to ignore both of us.

"So, who're you?" I ask the other boy, who's sitting down opposite me in one of the remaining seats.

"My name's James. James Potter. You?" There's a Potter who works for the Ministry who my father thinks is a blood traitor. I wonder if they're related.

"Sirius Black."

"Have any siblings here already?"

"I've got cousins, but my brother's younger. So no."

"Well, that's more than I've got. I'm an only, and no cousins whatsoever. My parents went, of course, but I don't know anyone at Hogwarts right now."

"Well, my cousins are girls, and they're way older. One of them's already left." I don't feel like talking about my family, so I change the subject.

"Which class do you think you'll like best?" That's right, Sirius, go ahead and pick the nerdiest topic possible.

"Does flying count as a class?" James grins, and I laugh.

"I'm guessing you like Quidditch, then."

"Of course! I love flying. I've got a Silver Arrow at home, but seeing as 'first years are not allowed their own brooms'" He says the last part in a stuffy, uptight tone. "It's ridiculous; I've been flying about as long as walking. I think next year I'll try out for my House team. D'you play?"

"Well, I've flown quite a bit, but I've never actually played Quidditch or anything."

James is just starting to tell me how horrible that is and how much I've been missing all my life when the door opens again and another boy about our age, a scrawny, awkward-looking kid who's already in his school robes, slides open the compartment door and hurries in. He sits down opposite the redheaded girl, and they start talking quietly to each other.

"So even if you don't play, do you have a favorite team?" James asks me.

"Well, I don't particularly support anyone, but Puddlemere United has a really good side right now, don't they?"

"Yeah, they do, they're winning the league, unfortunately. I'm for Wimbourne, and they're third at the moment. They ranked first in '57—my dad was at the championship game—but they haven't won since."

At that point, the awkward boy tells the girl that "You'd better be in Slytherin," and James seems to notice the two of them for the first time.

"Slytherin?" he says, looking over at them a bit scathingly. "Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"My whole family have been in Slytherin." I say, my stomach squirming in embarrassment and even a little shame. I don't really know any Wizarding families outside of those mine associates with, and I don't have any experience with people who aren't Slytherin. James has been very friendly, but he clearly doesn't like Slytherin, and I wonder if he'll see me as a rival now, or worse, if he'll be disgusted.

"Blimey, and I thought you seemed alright!" James is clearly joking, though, and I can't help but grin.

"Maybe I'll break the tradition." I say, "Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?" I don't really know anything at all about the other three houses, since it's always been assumed that I'll be Slytherin through and through like the rest of the family.

"Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!" James says dramatically, hefting an imaginary sword. "Like my dad."

The other boy, who I've almost forgot about by this point, makes a sort of pained snorting noise.

"Got a problem with that?" James says.

"No." The other boy is sneering now. "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy—"

"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" I interrupt. The other boy's sneers and condescension are grating on me, and at the moment I'm not exactly feeling pleasant towards those who actually want to be in Slytherin. James laughs loudly.

The redheaded girl stands up, blushing, and frowns at us. "Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment," she says, rather snootily.

"Ooooooh…" James and I imitate her oh-so-high-and-mighty tone.

The awkward boy stands up and follows her out into the corridor. James sticks out a foot as he passes, but he sidesteps it.

"See ya, Snivellus!" I yell as the door closes.

"Hey, good one." James grins.

"Thanks." I say.

We end up talking pretty much non-stop about Quidditch, our new wands, Houses—James's mother was in Ravenclaw, so he's got some of two houses in his family—and, once the food trolley comes round, the respective merits of chocolate frogs versus licorice wands. I don't like licorice, so it's an easy decision for me, but James can't decide. We make a game out of daring each other to eat the nastiest-looking of our Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and after nearly choking trying to spit out a particularly foul vomit-flavored one, James announces that he hopes Bertie Bott, whoever he was, died an especially violent death, preferably involving a rampaging chimera. I suggest it would be more ironic if he died of an attack of food poisoning.

The Hogwarts Express steams through fields, moors, and forests. At one point we pass about ten minutes' worth of white fluffy sheep, and once James and I run to the window in order to catch a glimpse of a winged horse grazing in a meadow. As the sky outside begins to darken, we quickly change into our school robes. Just when it's beginning to look like night instead of dusk, the train begins to slow down, and soon comes to a stop at what must be Hogsmeade Station.

Grabbing our luggage, James and I join the crowd of students surging off the train. It's a little disorienting being among so many people, even more so than at King's Cross, and between the bodies buffeting me on all sides and everyone's contrasting voices I'm completely lost.

"Firs' years! Firs' years, over here!" This bellow is so loud I can hear it over the din, and the man who's speaking is head and shoulders above any of us, so he's easily visible. My first thought is that he must be a giant—but giants are about twenty feet, and this man is nowhere near that. Also, his face is much more human that the misshapen features of a giant. No matter what exactly he is, he's huge. And wild-looking as well, with tangled black hair and beard and a massive furry overcoat draped around his broad shoulders. But his eyes are kind as he looks down on the youngest students, who have all begun congregating around him.

"Alrigh', then, I think that's all of yeh. Leave yer luggage, it'll go up on its own," the man says, when about two dozen of us are grouped near the edge of the platform. The older students are beginning to trickle off down a hill. Though it's too dark to see Hogwarts itself, lights are twinkling in the direction they're headed. It's tradition for first year students to reach the castle by boat, however, so we head a different way, straight off the platform and along scrubby ground to the edge of the lake. It looks a strange sort of purplish-black at this hour, like a giant pool of oil, dotted with swirling eddies.

"Look at those ripples in the water," I say in an undertone to James. "D'you think they might be from the—giant squid?" I grab his arm suddenly at the end of the sentence, and he flinches and then bursts out laughing. Walking behind us, the mousy boy who was crying at King's Cross jumps and lets out a small squeak. There are several rowboats lined up by the lake, half in and half out of the water. The huge man gives each a push, sliding them into the lake water.

"Should be three or four of yeh to a boat," he says. "Pile in, now."

James and I clamber into the nearest boat, along with the mousy boy and another, curly-haired boy. Once all the boats are filled—the man takes up a whole one on his own—the oars, which must be enchanted, start to move, propelling us across the lake towards the lights in the distance. The mousy boy stares into the water as if watching for the giant squid, while the other three of us crane our necks, looking for our first sights of the castle.

Slowly, it comes into view, first the nearer towers, then the battlements, and finally the great stone base. I breathe in sharply—it's huge, much bigger than I imagined, even from my cousins' stories. Perched on a cliff overlooking the lake like some hulking stone animal, it'd be foreboding if it weren't so brightly lit. Light beams out of windows all over the castle, illuminating long swathes of water as we draw closer.

"Yeh'll be wantin' to duck now!" the man calls from the head of our little fleet, pressing himself almost completely flat against the bottom of his boat. We students dip our heads as we pass into a tunnel hidden in the cliff face. The boats dock at a pebble-strewn beach at the tunnel's end, and we all climb out of our boats. There's a steep path cut into the rock, and we wend our way carefully up it after our giant guide. The path evens out in front of a large wooden door in the castle's base, and as we group in front of it, the man knocks on the door.

A/N: Well, first chapter's up. Obviously. Next chapter deals with Sirius's unprecendented Sorting and the reaction to it. I write shortish chapters, but I also plan to update frequently. Please review me!