Disclaimer: I own nothing. Sad, I know.

Rating: Going to make it M for future chappies, just in case. K+ at the moment really.

xxxx

The first time Sirius Black met the Marauders things did not at all go according to plan.

And for that he would forever be grateful.

xxxx

Sirius Black, heir to the most Noble and Ancient House of Black, had a plan.

His plan- AKA Operation Hogwarts Express- was a genius plan he'd come up with in the holidays before his first year at Hogwarts. He'd had nothing much to do that summer, what with being locked in the cellar for putting exploding dung bombs in his cousin Bellatrix's rats nest hair. On the up side her hair still smelt like shit. On the downside, after a couple of days in that dungy hell hole he'd gotten so bored he'd had to stoop to writing things as a way to pass the time.

As if he wasn't going to be doing enough of that at school.

Of the number of pranks he'd come up with (sheer genius in his opinion, some of them), letters he'd written (hate letters mostly) and elaborate escape plans he'd come up with (none of them had worked); there was one plan he hadn't burnt and danced around the ashes of when he'd been let out. That plan was Operation Hogwarts Express.

Unlike a lot of his plans, this one did not involve exploding things, flashy monologues or fake crying to get the hell out of dodge if things went pear shaped. Not that it had ever worked on his mother anyway. It was quite simple really which was probably why he had disregarded its genius to begin with. The more he thought about it however, the more he began to realise its full potential as not only a way to piss off his tosser Slytherin cousins, but also as an unexpected way to make friends. Friends who weren't evil or in Slytherin - even though they were more often than not one in the same if his family was anything to go on and they were the purest specimens of evil he'd ever encountered.

The plan was simple. He was a Black and as much as he hated that fact, it was unmistakable in both his appearance and mannerisms. Although not haughty and prejudiced like his parents, he was still raised pureblood and the signs of his not inconsiderable wealth were engrained in him on a basic fundamental level and as much as he wished it (and he did, by god didhe wish it), he couldn't change that.

As luck would have it, this was the one time him being a Black would work in his favour.

As the eldest Black child he had a pretty good idea of who people expected him to be and what they expected him to act like. They would expect him to strut onto that train like he owned it, look down his nose at everyone regardless of age and blood status and join his future Slytherin cronies in the back cabin.

That Sirius, to put it plainly, was a bastard and actual Sirius refused to be that Sirius. If that's what everyone expected him to be then- as per the genius of Operation Hogwarts Express- he'd be the opposite.

He'd walk onto that train, walk not strut, find the most sorry looking, down trodden soul he could, become their friend and be absolutely perfectly nice to everyone.

If that didn't have old Granny Black rolling over in her grave he didn't know what would.

He could see it now. The abject horror on old Bella's face when he befriended a bunch of half-bloods or better yet muggle borns! Poor Cissy might actually have an aneurism, he thought giddily.

The litany of Howlers he'd get from his mother and conveniently absent father might put a slight dampener on things, but it'd be worth it as long as he could distance himself far, far away from his family's name and reputation. He didn't want to be just another evil, stuck-up Black at Hogwarts. He wanted to be Sirius, the one who finally broke the mould.

This brought him to the final phase of Operation Hogwarts Express. Once he had his bunch of muggle born friends and perhaps a couple of blood traitors thrown in there too for good measure, he'd have the proverbial icing on his delicious blood-traitor-in-the-makingcake.

At the sorting ceremony he would defy generations of tradition and be the first Black in five hundred years to not be sorted into Slytherin house and if his penchant for wine red jumpers was anything to go by- unlike his great uncle Beezle- it wasn't Hufflepuff he was gunning to be put into.

He couldn't wait to see his cousin's faces when he wasn't sorted into their merry band of snake charmers, but first- phase one.

He had to find some friends who would absolutely disgrace the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black and with the high pitched whistle signalling the Hogwarts Express' imminent departure, he doubted he'd find them standing on the platform.

He waved goodbye to his grim faced mother, lugged his trunk onto the train, shook his shaggy hair out of his face and giggled quietly to himself as he made his way down the narrow stretch of walkway, bypassing compartment after full compartment. Ignoring the startled double takes people made of him when he smiled and waved at them as he passed by, he came to a compartment about midway down that only had two occupants, but the messy haired kid with glasses looked in pretty deep conversation with the tall lanky blonde so he knocked on the compartment next door instead in which a small lump of blankets appeared to be muttering to itself.

Sirius grinned when the startled boys head snapped upwards faster than was strictly necessary and his wide blue eyes blinked twice before stumbling over in a mess of flailing limbs to open the compartment door.

Blustering inside with deliberate enthusiasm and nearly knocking the poor boy of his feet, Sirius introduced himself none too quietly, "Hi, I'm Sirius Black", he smiled warmly and held out his hand after hauling his trunk under the seat opposite the startled boy, "it's nice to meet you"

The boy stared for far longer than was considered polite and Sirius began to grow uncomfortable, "And you are?"

"Oh!" the boy spluttered, collecting himself by clearing his throat quietly and holding out a slightly clammy hand which Sirius shook despite, "I'm Peter, Peter Pettigrew"

Peter Pettigrew he thought mildly, an odd smile quirking his lip. He took a seat opposite Peter who seemed to take that as his queue to sit as well and leant forward so his elbows were resting on his knees, head cradled delicately in his palm, "So what's your story then Pete?"

Peter seemed startled for a moment, obviously not used to people asking about him, but seemed to relax more after that and smiled at Sirius, "What do you want to know? I have been living for eleven years you know and it's not a short story if you want the lot."

Sirius let out a startled laugh at the mousy haired boys teasing tone, he hadn't expected it, but it definitely wasn't an unwelcome surprise. He thought he could get used to this kid, "Well let's start with what you want me to know and then we can move onto the bit where I use my not inconsiderable powers of manipulation to pull the rest out of you anyway"

Peter laughed merrily, shooting him a quirky little smile, "Sounds good"

And, nothing like he'd expected, Sirius didn't have to fake a single laugh or smile from then on. He barely even noticed when the train started moving, far too deep in Peter's moaning second-hand recounting of the birthing chamber at St. Mungo's and his mum's not irrational fear of stirrups.

He thought he could definitely be friends with Peter Pettigrew.

xxxx

Remus Lupin was having a bad day.

Whoever decided to have the train for Hogwarts depart the day after a full moon was obviously a masochistic bastard out to see all new student werewolf's curse the day they were born, or er well, bitten in his case. And it was just his case anyway. As far as Dumbledore had told him he was the only werewolf attending this year or, er well, ever really. From the moment he'd met the man with the moon glasses and had been told of his acceptance into Hogwarts he'd felt an inexplicable need to make the man proud. He twitched in his seat and thanked god he was one of the first on the train. He wasn't even at school yet and he was a bundle of nerves. He was so wound up after the moon he just hoped no one decided to poke him. The funny thing about a bundle of nerves, it doesn't matter where you poke, if you poke, you're going to get a reaction. And that reaction, which would be undoubtedly violent, was not one he wanted his new classmates to remember him by.

The last thing he wanted to do was make enemies on his first day.

So he'd arrived early, hoping to relieve some of the tension in private before the train started to fill within the next hour before departure. He'd said goodbye to his crying mother and equally distraught father and thanked god that only he and the unfortunate conductor were there to bear witness to the embarrassing scene. Not that his father's emotional state was unfounded. In addition with his only son leaving for boarding school, he was a muggle, so Remus supposed he might have been a bit harsh in using his werewolf strength to shove him bodily through the barrier of platform nine and three quarters without warning or apology.

After saying goodbye he'd made his way onto the train, found a compartment about midway down and sighed in relief when he was met with glorious silence for the first time that morning. He loved his parents, but honestlythey were literally the loudest people he had ever met, including his mother's yapping muggle cousin Cherie who would only ever shut her fat gob to stuff her equally fat thighs with mud cake via her aforementioned mouth. They had been fretting, packing, unpacking and repacking his trunk with every piece of magical and non-magical paraphernalia he could ever and would ever need. If it wasn't for the undetectable extension charm his mother had placed on his trunk he'd have to have bought out the entire store of magical luggage in Diagon Alley to possibly fit all the things that were currently rattling around in his trunk.

Unpacking was going to be an unmitigated disaster.

He sighed and let head fall back against the seat behind him, taking a number of deep breaths to soothe his frayed nerves. Due to his heightened senses he heard the footsteps before they were within fifty metres of him and smelt the distinctively prepubescent scent of boy even before that, but he wasn't expecting the feet to stop outside his compartment a minute later- not with all the others free at least.

Silently praying the boy would keep walking, he kept his eyes closed and pretended not to notice him. He heard the door open and the unmistakable sound of a hooting owl before the boy even knocked and Remus sighed quietly, resigning himself to what would undoubtedly be many many minutes of awkward chit chat and more awkward silence before the boy got the hint that Remus was not the type of person he wanted to make friends with if the absolutely thrumming, jittery energy coming off the boy was anything to go by. Remus just didn't have that kind of spirit, nor did he want it. He liked peace, quiet, tranquillity and more than the occasional good book- not because he liked reading (which he did by the way) – but because it was a solitary activity and Remus Lupin liked being alone. Without even opening his eyes he could tell this boy was none of those things and if his decision to sit in the one compartment on the train with another person in it was any indication, he certainly didn't like being alone.

Remus opened his eyes and turned his body part way to regard the boy by the door. Whatever he was expecting, this wasn't it. The boy was short and a little scrawny with black hair that stuck out in every direction and circular rimmed black framed glasses. His body was taught with nervous energy and his hazel eyes were bright and looking hopefully into Remus's own golden gaze.

Remus quirked a brow and waited for the boy to finish staring and introduce himself. He knew he was an odd sight, far too tall for his age and skinny with disconcertingly golden coloured eyes that tended to throw people off (animal eyes). His only redeeming feature was his dark blonde hair which hung in his face, over his ears and skirted his collar. It had the two-fold effect of both hiding the more conspicuous scars on his neck and shadowing his eyes when they became too bright- too animalistic- near the full moon as the wolf got closer to the surface. He used his hair now, running a hand through it to snap the other boy out of his trance.

It seemed to work because the other boy ran an embarrassed hand through his own wind swept hair and chortled lightly to himself, "Hello or um Hi! I'm James!" He smiled a little self-consciously and stuttered over his words, "J-James Potter that is"

He smiled tentatively and Remus nodded his head politely in return, "Remus Lupin"

This seemed to make the boy brighten and Remus watched with a begrudgingly amused expression as the boy- James- tried to hoist his trunk above his shoulders and place it in the racks above the seat opposite Remus. Being the size of a slightly taller than average house-elf however, he failed miserably and Remus failed to hide his snicker behind his hand. James glared at him over his shoulder, trying to both support the weight of the case and fish his wand out of his pocket.

He had just managed to liberate it when Remus spoke up, "I wouldn't do that if I were you"

James scowled at him, arms shivering noticeably under the trunks oppressive weight, "Why not?"

Remus repressed a condescending sigh, "Because" he stressed eyeing James reproachfully, "I doubt you know any decent levitation charms and if you do you would most certainly not have enough control over them to be effective if the way you've been hauling your trunk around is any indication of its weight"

"Besides," He began, studiously ignoring the other boys incredulous stare and crossing over to him to pluck the trunk out of his hands, that were, by that point, shaking with the effort of holding it up, "You only had to ask and I would have done it for you"

As he placed the trunk in the overhead compartment, deliberately grunting in feigned effort, he noticed James' eyes soften.

When Remus turned to face him, James smiled gratefully at him, once again rubbing his neck in embarrassment, "Thanks Remus" he muttered and despite himself Remus felt himself smile a true smile.

He sat opposite James and easier than he thought they would, they began to talk. James was infectious, he noted. He drew you into his word with flailing hand gestures, bright eyed enthusiasm and larger than life personality. And surprising himself, he began to reciprocate in kind, questioning James about Quiddich and talking about his own family as well. They continued to talk and laugh, so drawn into their own little world they barely noticed the train filling up until the shrill whistle of the Hogwarts Express brought them back to reality.

"Wow," Remus exclaimed with much more enthusiasm than he'd boarded the train with, "I don't think I've ever talked that much in my life"

James snorted, eyes mirthful, "I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk that much in my life" Remus glared at him and, if possible, his eyes grew more devious, "From the sounds of things I don't think you have as little in common with your gabby aunt Cherie as you think"

James yelped as Remus threw a shoe at him, exclaiming, "A shoe? A shoe?!"

Remus only smiled, "Tosser" he muttered fondly, "What were you on about before, something about you being master of the world?"

James rolled his eyes and glared in a way that was becoming something of a signature for the boy when he was exasperated, "Not master of the world Remus, geez, I said pure-blood"

"Oh, my mistake," Remus said airily, cocking an eyebrow loftily, "From the way you were bragging about it I must have just inferred that's what you meant"

James looked all suffering and Remus grinned, "I should have known from the way you were dressed I suppose, very fancy may I add, new robes?"

James looked ready to retort when suddenly his eyes were drawn towards the door and quicker than a flash he was leaning towards Remus in a way that suggested intimate conversation. Remus was confused for a moment and went to turn his head to get a look at who was at the door. He caught a flash of shaggy black hair before James' words stopped him in his tracks, "Don't! Pretend you're talking to me. We don't want him in here. Trust me."

Remus didn't question it and did what James asked, fleetingly wondering when he came to trust and obey this boy he'd met not an hour ago.

When he felt the boy move past their compartment James physically relaxed and Remus furrowed his brow in confusion, "What was that about?"

James ran a hand over his face, his relief obvious, "I didn't think there were many other half empty compartments and I really didn't want him in here with us"

Apparently sensing Remus' confusion, he elaborated, "He's a Black, the eldest I think actually"

When Remus still looked confused, he continued, albeit reluctantly, "They're bad people the Blacks. Evil wizards and witches the lot of them. Pure-blood supremacists"

Remus felt something hot and tight coil in his stomach at the words. He'd known people like that all his life. The ones who believed he should have been put down as a child after he was bitten and had nearly passed the legislation to do it. The ones who had barred him from ever having a wizarding education because he was technically classified as a non-human, a dark creature. The ones that had his mother fired, the most talented medi-witch at St. Mungo's, after he had been bitten. He knew those people. The ones that sat behind their desks at the Wizegamot perpetuating their baseless hatred through endless debilitating legislation.

He hatedthose people.

He hated the Blacks and everyone like them.

James looked worried and Remus knew his anger must have shown on his face and he forced himself to smile, "Well, let's make sure we steer clear of that guy, yeah?"

James seemed to relax and smiled bitterly, "Don't worry, it'll be a cold day in hell the day I befriend Sirius Black"

Remus smiled.

He thought he could definitely be friends with James Potter.

xxxx

Sirius would love to have said it wasn't his fault, that when Peter informed him that they would be arriving in ten minutes and commented that Sirius still hadn't changed into his robes that he'd walked out of the compartment, gone into the bathrooms at the front of the train and changed without incidence.

Except that wasn't what happened, not at all, rather the opposite actually and he supposed it kind of was his fault.

Kind of.

He said kind of, because really. Could he really be blamed for his family, his family upbringing and the absolutely batshit insane impulse they'd buried within him from the day he was born to never ever back down from a fight?...

Maybe.

Maybe that was just Sirius.

Whatever it was it was natural to call someone out when they snarled at you wasn't it?

And it was also natural to get into fist fights when they called you names that you knew were insulting even if you didn't quite understand what they meant, wasn't it?

Well it was for Sirius. In which case, it might have explained why, when he left his compartment, not at all looking where he was going and smashed bodily into the boy with the ridiculous hair and glasses from the compartment next door, instead of apologizing, he said this,

"Hey watch where you're going!"

Looking up at him from where he was sprawled on the ground, glasses askew, the boy frowned at him, "I'm sorry" he said mockingly, rolling his eyes, "and here I was thinking it was you who bumped into me"

Sirius did a double take, realising he was right and was just about to reach down and offer his hand in apology, when the door of the glasses boys compartment was wrenched open and the blonde boy he'd seen earlier offered his hand instead and hauled the slighter boy to his feet. Only after making sure his friend was okay, did the boy turn to face Sirius.

The first thing he noticed were his eyes, bright, golden and furious.

It was all he really had time for before he was advancing on him. He didn't stop until he had Sirius backed against the window of the train and was using his somewhat substantial height advantage to stare down at him in what had to be his most intimidating manner.

It worked.

Sirius felt his heart catch and meeting those burning eyes, it refused to start up again. Sirius thought he might die and when the other boy began to speak, he wished he had.

"Now you listen here," he began, teeth barred, eyes predatory, "I don't know who you think you are, but if you're the bigoted, cowardly, arsehole I think you are, you aren't too good at standing up for yourself"

Sirius wanted to disagree, he really did, but he was frozen, unable to move in his terror. He didn't know what it was, but something about those eyes made him feel very much like the canary in the cat's claw.

"I know your type, rich, powerful, reliant on mummy and daddy for your perfect little life. I bet they'd fix any little problem you had, wouldn't they?Well listen here you entitled snob, because mummy and daddy aren't here to help you anymore"

The boy pressed himself against Sirius further, until there was not a breath between them and Sirius had to ignore the cramp in his neck to continue to meet his gaze. Not that he could have broken it if he'd wanted to.

His eyes were alive and hungry in a way Sirius did not understand, "If you ever touch my friend again, you will rue the day you were spawned"

Sirius couldn't speak, he couldn't even breathe, "Are we clear?"

Perhaps it was the way he could feel the other boys heart beating against his chest or the warmth emanating off the body that touched him everywhere, but the sudden realisation that this boy was a flesh borne human just like him and in fact not the intimidating inhuman predator wearing boy clothes his traitorous mind deduced him to be was what jolted Sirius into action.

Sirius raised his arms and shoved the boy, hard, in the chest, barely noticing when he didn't move an inch at the contact, but merely stepped back to look like he did, "No, we are certainly not clear"

The boy's eyes narrowed into slits and Sirius saw his fists clench, "Oh?" he breathed, voice deceptively calm and for whatever reason, this just made Sirius angrier.

"Where do you get off telling me what to do huh?" He exclaimed, jaw locked momentarily as he drew in a huffing breath, "This isn't your problem"

Behind the other boy Sirius saw the worried face of the glasses kid he'd knocked over. He was speaking and placing a soothing hand on the blonde's shoulder, "Remus," He began, tone beseeching with an edge of panic that didn't show on his face, "it's okay, I'm sure it was an accident"

Sirius was silent and vibrating with rage as the taller boy turned back to regard him, "Apologise"

"What?!" He yelped. At the back of his mind Sirius knew it wasn't an unreasonable request and that if he'd just done that to begin with none of this would have happened, but at that moment his pride made it impossible for him to back down.

"Apologise to James and I'll let it go"

Sirius narrowed his eyes, "No"

Before James could reach out a hand to stop him, the boy- Remus- had moved and had grabbed him by the collar, dragging Sirius forward until he was right up in his face, dragging his toes across the carpet to meet him, "Apologise" he enunciated carefully and let out what Sirius could only describe as a snarl.

Sirius turned up his face, eyes defiant, "Let go of me", he bit out through clenched teeth

Remus' mocking smirk was the final straw and before the other boy knew what had happened, Sirius had reeled back his fist and punched him in the face- hard.

Sirius would love to have said it was not his fault and the fact that it took two faculty members, James and Peter to pull Remus off him certainly supported that, but as the teachers sat them down in the last compartment of the train long after the other students had left and pulled what had happened out of the four of them- Sirius knew he couldn't pretend.

He had quietly apologised to the three of them, James and Peter genuinely because he should have apologised to James in the first place and he still felt really guilty about the wayward punch he'd hit Peter with when he had tried to intervene and Remus a little less so. The boy had still yet to even glance his way after all even when he'd had to apologise to the three of them.

As they were escorted up to the castle in the last lonely boat by the giant grounds keeper Hagrid Sirius couldn't help but wonder how Operation Hogwarts Express could have gone so horribly wrong.

xxxx

Remus was livid.

The wolf growled and thrashed against his rib cage as they made their way up the magnanimous staircase towards the great hall for the sorting ceremony and he had to grit his teeth to keep from snarling in kind.

He felt James' worried stare burn into the back of his head as he stalked in front of the other three to catch up to the dwindling crowd of first years waiting to process into the great hall. Remus supposed he should be nervous. At that moment, however, he was far too angry to be nervous so he didn't bother overthinking it for what must have been the first time in his life.

The wolf was far too close to the surface for rational thought.

He felt that kid Sirius at his side and he had to close his eyes to thwart the rush of fury he felt just being in his presence. It wasn't his fault he inspired this much anger in Remus. He was an utter berk no question, but he didn't deserve to be the mincemeat Remus would have undoubtedly turned him into if he hadn't been pulled off the Black heir. He felt guilt stir in his belly.

He hated being a werewolf.

"I'm sorry"

The words were so quiet that Remus wondered if he'd heard him correctly, "Huh?"

"I said I was sorry. You were just protecting your friend and I was…" Remus was so surprised he forgot to be angry and he looked down towards the young Black whose long hair was hanging in his face, shielding it from view, "I was being an idiot"

Remus continued to stare at him as the boy chanced a look at him from under his curtain of hair and met his gaze apprehensively, "I'll just go…", he muttered, making to leave.

Heart aching with guilt and a small unbidden seed of affection for this surprisingly humble boy, Remus reached out and caught his arm, "Don't," he breathed, obviously startling the other boy and James as well who was looking at him with something like pride, "I'm sorry too. I… shouldn't have overreacted. You were right in defending yourself."

After holding his eyes for a long moment, Sirius nodded and sent him a tentative smile that Remus returned. The least he could do was be civil to the boy he'd almost murdered.

Someone exhaled heavily behind them and they both turned to find Peter sagging with relief against a very amused James whose eyes were once again bright with laughter, his previous worries forgotten and Remus had to smile as James ruffled Peter's hair affectionately, obviously having gotten to know the boy whilst Sirius and Remus were brooding.

"You good now Pete?" James questioned and as the line shuffled forward, Sirius and Remus moved into step beside the other two boys, Sirius flanking Peter and Remus flanking James.

"Yeah," Peter said with obvious relief, and nodded at James who seemed appeased by the shorter boy's gusto, despite the black bruise blooming at his eye. He looked up at Sirius, "I'm just glad you guys aren't fighting anymore. You're awesome Sirius mate, when you aren't being a thoughtless berk that is"

Sirius was obviously amused by this because he laughed softly and murmured his agreement, glancing over at Remus apologetically once more. For his part, Remus just waved his hand in a flippant gesture, determined to at least be polite to the boy.

Peter turned his attention to him and looked at him somewhat thoughtfully- if the constipated expression on his face was his own personal brand of thoughtful that was. With a burgeoning horror as he tapped his forefinger to his chin, Remus realised it was, "and I reckon I might be mates with you too Remus, as long as you don't attack me that is…"

Remus threw his head back and laughed as did James and Peter. Sirius just smiled lightly, but was obviously still amused.

Remus looked over at the mousy haired boy, smiling fondly, "I reckon I can manage Pete"

"Right", James clapped his hands, rubbing them together, eyes twinkling with mirth and mischief, "You heard the lad. I hereby claim us all to be friends regardless of whatever is about to happen. Wherever we are sorted, whatever happens, we'll still be mates, yeah?"

James looked over at the other brunette who was determinedly trying to burn a hole through the floor, "You too Black"

"Yeah!" Pete agreed, nodding enthusiastically.

Sirius blinked and looked over in surprise but eventually inclined his head and released a small, hopeful smile, "Yeah,"

And that's when Remus saw it, that same battered, broken spark of pain and resignation in the eyes of the other boy that he recognised almost immediately- because it was also within himself. The one that came from years of people putting you down and treating you like dirt; telling you with words and actions that no matter what you do you'll never be good enough. Not for anyone, not even for yourself. The one that caused you to seethe in anger and lash out in violence when threatened in his case or- his breath hitched and his eyes widened in realisation- caused you to cling to the last vestiges of your pride to compensate for the lack of pride you felt for yourself. For the person they've made you into with their words and the actions that spoke louder than any of them.

Oh Sirius.

Remus smiled and real affection for the slighter boy sprang up within him. He knew this boy. He knew his pain. How could he not be his friend?

Remus paused, looking around at the faces of the people he could one day call his best friends –potentially- and smiled, "Agreed," He said firmly, looking straight at Sirius who seemed to straighten up and brighten like a watered flower under his bright gaze.

"Well then Gents", James exclaimed, straightening his robes and looking around at them, "Todays a good a day as any to test that theory. Let's get sorted"

Remus looked up and was startled to find the line of first years had dwindled to just them and another girl in front of them who was nervously making her way up to the sorting hat. He took a moment to take in the magnificence of the great hall, hardly believing he'd get to eat here every day. Despite himself and the seriousness of the situation, he smiled gleefully when he spotted the floating candles and couldn't help but wonder exactly where the dripping candle wax was going.

"James Potter!" a middle aged witch exclaimed, her voice as shrill and sharp as her pointy green hat.

He gave James an encouraging thumbs up as he watched with baited breath as the hat was placed on his head. To his credit, only James' twitching fingers were a sign of how nervous he was and Remus knew why too- his entire family had been in Gryffindor for generations and if he wasn't sorted into-

"Gryffindor!"

Remus clapped loudly and hollered as James took his place at the Gryffindor table, smiling brighter than the sun.

"Peter Pettigrew!"

Peter, the poor boy, looked like he was going to spontaneously combust and Remus put a calming hand on his shoulder. He turned slightly and looked at Remus wide eyed, "Remember, whatever happens; we're your friends Pete"

Peter seemed to draw courage from that because he smiled and without hesitation scrambled up the small staircase and into the old chair in under three seconds. Remus saw Sirius smile out of the corner of his eye and he moved deliberately to stand next to the black haired boy who caught his gaze and smiled wider.

The sorting hat seemed to take longer with Peter and the longer it sat silent, the more uncomfortable he seemed to get. Finally, the hat gave what could only be described as a barking laugh and exclaimed-

"Gryffindor!"

Peter smiled winningly at Remus and Sirius and went to join James at the Gryffindor table to raucous applause much the same as James had gotten.

He had barely broken eye contact with James who had been giving him a thumbs up, eyes alight with happiness, when he heard his own name.

"Remus Lupin!"

He swallowed thickly and couldn't find it within himself to move, all he could think about was what James had told him on the train about dark witches and wizards and how they had all been in Slytherin. Not such a big leap from dark witches and wizards to dark creatures was it?

The silence hung in the air around him, what if he was in Slytherin.

Suddenly there was a hand on his arm and a soft voice in his ear, "You're not going to be put in Slytherin Remus," he looked over in surprise and Sirius smiled a little brokenly, "You're too good for that. Now go!"

Remus allowed himself to be shoved forward and used the momentum to propel him into the seat in much the same fashion as Peter had. Unlike Peter however, as they put the hat on his head, he was a statue.

He could hear the sorting hat in his head, moving about, opening draws and shelves and perusing files. Hm… You're very intelligent, that is immediately apparent and rank intelligence highly among your virtues, but not as highly as others, interesting… Perhaps Ravenclaw? Hm, no… too bold for that house. Intelligence would have to be an integral part of your basis nature and it is not, you use it to temper your basis nature which is… primal, carnal, cunning… Slytherin perhaps?

"No!" he exclaimed before he could stop himself, eyes flying open as his voice echoed around the hall. There were quiet snickers and whispering, but all Remus could focus on was Sirius Black who was looking up at him wonderingly, eyes tracked on his like he was the reason for breathing. He didn't let himself wonder why. Focus! He chided himself. Breaking eye contact forcefully, he closed his eyes and focused on the hat once more.

Not Slytherin? Well you didn't let me finish boy, you have a cunning streak to you no doubt, but it is one borne of survival, necessity- not personality. You are a just and kind individual who I would without a doubt put in Hufflepuff if not for your not inconsiderable intellect, but you are also not suited for Ravenclaw. Your basis nature holds the key, yes, that's it. You are kind, loyal to a fault and brave undoubtedly, but there is still something that…ah! There it is. Chivalrous, brave and loyal- It's a wonder I didn't see it before! Hiding it under all those smarts you were boy!

I know where to put you-

"Gryffindor!"

Remus released a sigh of relief and smiled when he saw James and Peter enthusiastically waving him over. He met Sirius' eyes on the way down and wasn't surprised when his hand on his shoulder stopped Remus in his tracks.

He looked nervous, "What," He paused, biting his lip, "What were you saying no to?"

Remus smiled, "Slytherin,"

Sirius looked up sharply and seemed to take strength from that.

"Sirius Black!"

There were whispers and murmurs all around- especially from the Slytherin table and suddenly Remus got it, he grabbed Sirius by the chin and turned his head up just as he made to move and smiled warmly at the other boy, "You're not going to be in Slytherin Sirius, you're too good for that"

Sirius' mouth dropped open in surprise at his words and his eyes lit with feeling.

Remus just let his hand drop from his chin, squeezed his hand and with a meaningful look that he hoped conveyed his own certainty and gave him some reassurance he moved off towards the Gryffindor table where Pete and James were sitting together on one side of the bench. He sat opposite James and met his friend's curious gaze, "What did you say to him?"

Remus smiled, "What he needed to hear"

James continued to look at him before nodding and turning to watch Sirius with Peter and Remus.

Sirius didn't move and the only sign he was uncomfortable was the furrow of his brow and the frown marring his aristocratic features. Remus felt his own frown mirror his friends. There were several long moments of silence and just as the tension in the great hall grew to an almost unbearable level the sorting hat laughed, actually laughed and exclaimed between merry guffaws-

"Gryffindor!"

You could hear a pin drop in the great hall there was such a crushing silence.

Remus looked up towards the staff table and met Dumbledore's measuring gaze and realised he was waiting for something.

Suddenly feeling angry for reasons he didn't understand, Remus met James and Peter's eyes across the table and nodding together, the three of them stood and began to cheer- loudly.

Sirius smiled at them gratefully and then, as he descended, the staff table joined in, led by a now smiling, appeased Dumbledore, then the Gryffindor's and gradually the other houses as well- even a despondent Slytherin house- until the whole hall was cheering for Sirius.

For his part, the Black haired aristocrat had never looked happier and that was probably why Remus couldn't wipe the smile off of his face either.

xxxx

The applause was deafening as Sirius went to stand with his friends, James giving him a giddy thumbs up and Pete clapping him on the back loudly and laughing into his ear as he hugged him. He moved to sit next to Remus who smiled at him warmly and gave his hand a quick squeeze under the table.

When, for whatever reason, Sirius didn't let go of his fingers, Remus surprised him by grazing his fingers teasingly over his palm and winking lasciviously at him in a manner that made him choke on his own spit and flame an embarrassing shade of red.

When Pete asked him what was wrong, James and Remus (the bastard) sending him concerned looks, he muttered a small nothing that seemed to convince them and once Peter and James were suitably distracted by the feast that had just appeared in front of them, he turned to glare at Remus who was picking at his chicken carefully, a perfectly innocent expression on his face, the small quirk of his lips his only tell.

The four boys made small talk and swapped stories well into the night and if Sirius was still holding the golden haired boys hand under the table, well, who could tell?

As far as the Black heir was concerned, Operation Hogwarts Express, though a resounding failure in itself, gave him something much better than a way to get back at his family.

It gave him three something's actually, three friends, three brothers, three marauders.

xxxx

AN: Yay! Okay now this could be a multi-chapter following the boys through Hogwarts, a RLSB obviously, or it could just be a one-shot?

If it's a multi-chapter it would jump from this (year one) to fifth year, where their problems/ feeling/ teenager stuff begins to happen and then it's just two or three chapters per year until the end of school. Maybe an epilogue? Anyway, let me know if it's something you'd like to read and I'll continue this.

Read and Review- thanks guys!