A/N: Thank you to everyone who reviewed… in other words, thank you Allemande and Jill.
*glares*… hint: More reviews make authors happy. Happy authors write more. You understand? More reviews = happy Kazaera = more writing and less sitting around being depressed = more fics more quickly.
And – if you don't like the Sorting Hat song, don't tell me. I know it's awful, I don't have to have that rubbed into my face. I just can't do rhyming stuff.
Remus spent the next few weeks reading his new schoolbooks and practicing spells. He was very nervous – what if people found out what he was? What if they treated him the same way his "friends" and his parents had? What if he had to go home? However, whenever he voiced these concerns Miss Syrent told him that he'd only have to be careful. After all, the Headmaster and the teachers had agreed that it was safe for him to come, and would probably help in making sure no one found out. He'd have to think of some good excuses as to why he left once a month, that was all.
Even with these worries, Remus could hardly wait till September 1st. He'd dreamed so often about going to Hogwarts, but had thought it would be only that – a dream. Now he had a chance of going to school normally, of making friends, of studying magic like any normal person.
Finally the day he'd be going to King's Cross Station arrived. Remus got up very early in the morning, he was too excited to stay in bed a moment longer. When Miss Syrent came to wake him, he'd already showered, gotten dressed, finished eating breakfast and was packing his trunk. The time until they left seemed to stretch, minutes like hours as Miss Syrent had breakfast and Remus, now done packing, paced back and forth. Finally, she sighed. "Really, Remus. Whether you look at the clock once every ten seconds or once every ten minutes, the time does not pass more quickly."
Remus blushed. "Sorry, Miss Syrent. I'm just excited."
"I think I can understand that."
They left a bit earlier than planned, Flooing to Diagon Alley and walking to King's Cross from there. Both of them felt uncomfortable in the strange Muggle clothes and tried to blend in, walking quite stiffly. They hadn't been able to afford an owl, so no one really looked twice at the lady and the boy with a trunk – Miss Syrent had been very careful when getting Muggle clothes, so they didn't stand out. Unlike some other people… Remus winced as he saw a tall, black-haired boy with his family. Remus was no Muggle, but even he could see that what they were wearing was not ordinary Muggle attire. Miss Syrent sniffed.
"Who're they?" Remus said quietly.
"Blacks. Old pure-blooded family – obvious from their attire, is it not? Gryffindor." She spat the last word like an insult. "They have an odd obsession with using stars as names. The man is called Orion, he was five years above me at Hogwarts."
Remus snickered at the name. Suddenly the boy he was looking at turned around, mischievous brown eyes meeting sad gold-green ones. Remus blushed and looked away, embarrassed at having been caught staring.
They reached King's Cross Station soon after. Platforms 9 and 10 were full with Muggles, although there was the odd Hogwarts student here and there. In front of the barrier, Miss Syrent turned around. "Well, Remus, I have to go to Diagon Alley. You should be fine from here… I'll see you on Christmas, then. Or, should you decide to stay over the holidays, next summer. Have a nice year."
Remus nodded and smiled at his guardian. "I'll send you many owls, I promise. Goodbye!" Miss Syrent left, disappearing into the crowd.
As he was just about to walk through the barrier to Platform 9 ¾, Remus heard a voice behind him.
Remus turned around. Lily Evans was running towards him. "Sorry to bother you again," she gasped. "But… how…"
"How do you get onto the platform?" he asked kindly. Lily nodded, blushing. "Don't worry about it. You just walk through the barrier, here."
Lily gaped. "But it's… solid."
"No, it's not. It just looks that way. C'mon, I'll go first."
He walked through the barrier. Despite all the times he'd been told about the entrance to platform 9 ¾, he closed his eyes when he was just in front of the wall. Too fast to stop… I'm going to crash…Then he was through. Lily emerged behind him and gasped.
As it was still rather early, the platform wasn't full. However, there were still quite a few students and parents bustling around. Owls hooted, cats meowed, tearful good-byes were exchanged. Lily stared around her. "This is so strange…"
Remus grinned at her. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it."
Lily smiled back. "I hope I will. Thank you for telling me how to get onto the platform."
"Don't mention it."
"Hey, are you a first year?"
Remus and Lily turned around. Three girls were standing behind them, apparently talking to Lily.
Lily nodded. "Yes. I'm Lily Evans."
The blonde girl who'd spoken to her said, "Narcissa Pritchard."
"Ariel Patil," said a girl with honey-brown hair and a friendly smile.
"So, what House do you think you'll be in?"
As the four started to talk, Remus waved at Lily and said, "See you at Hogwarts."
He heaved his trunk onto the train and looked for a compartment. Most were still empty, he chose one near the back and sat down at the window. As it was still very early the train was quite silent. Remus had tossed and turned all night, too excited to go to sleep. But now, on the train, he found he couldn't think of anything but how nice and comfortable the seats were and how heavy his eyelids suddenly felt…
The next thing Remus was aware of was voices shouting angrily outside and the compartment door slamming shut. He blinked and looked up.
James Potter was dragging his trunk inside, muttering something under his breath. He jumped as Remus yawned. "Oh, sorry, did I wake you?"
"No… I mean yes… but I didn't mean to go to sleep anyway."
James grinned. "That's all right then. I hope I can sit here, but all the other compartments are full or nearly full. And while I was outside I ran into this greasy-haired git who was teasing a Muggle-born, I interceded, of course,"
Stupid Gryffindor pride, Remus thought fuzzily. There is a fine line between chivalric and suicidal, and I'm afraid most Gryffindors have crossed it a long time ago.
James continued, "Well, then he hexed me – or tried to, the spell didn't work right – and I tried to hex him back – my spell worked better though! He got blue hair – and a prefect interceded, and said that we had better find a compartment right now, and if we got into trouble again on the way here we'd get detention when we arrived. That's pretty unfair, don't you think? I mean, I was only defending the poor kid!"
Remus nodded, about to drift off again. James' incessant prattle was strangely lulling, rising and falling steadily. He was brought out of his doze by the sound of the compartment door slamming shut – again. What is it now? Remus thought irritatedly. The boy he'd seen on the way to the station had just entered. He was tall, with longish black hair tied back and mischievously twinkling brown eyes.
"Sorry for bothering you," he said. "I just heard that the boy who turned Sevvie's hair blue was in this compartment and wanted to meet him. Say, can I sit here? All the other compartments are full of older students – I'm Sirius Black."
James grinned. "James Potter. And yep, I turned that slimy git's hair blue. His own fault, really, picking on a poor Muggle-born kid who'd never heard of magic before he got his letter. I still got a reprimand for it – unfair, don't you think?"
Sirius interrupted. "I know, I know. The 'slimy git' as you called him is one Severus Snape, I live near him – woe is me, wouldn't you say? I think 'slimy git' is a much better name for him than Severus Snape anyway." He looked around, noticing Remus for the first time.
"Hey, aren't you that kid I saw on the way here?"
Remus grinned. "Yes, Remus Lupin at your service. And next time try to dress more like a Muggle. You were so obvious, you might as well have had "Hogwarts student" flashing above you in big letters."
Sirius winced. "Really? That obvious? Well, I never really got the hang of all this Muggle stuff anyway." He peered down at his ill-assorted clothing. "Hope you don't mind if I change, these… clothes… are so uncomfortable."
"Yes, we have to be wearing robes when we reach Hogwarts anyway. And you're right – how do Muggles manage to wear these things? They're so… strange." James pulled at his jumper.
After changing, the three boys chatted. Well, James chatted, Sirius answered when he stopped to draw breath, and Remus threw in a word or two now and then. After a short time, Sirius' and Remus' eyes met and they simultaneously burst out laughing. James looked from one to the other, annoyed. "What?"
Sirius gasped for breath. "Really, James… do you… ever… stop talking?"
James looked mildly insulted, then a huge grin spread over his face. "Well… no. We're a very talkative family. Dad says that all Potters are short, skinny, have black hair that resists any attempts to tame it, glasses and never shut up. It's been that way since we can remember." This made the other two boys collapse in hysterics again. "I think you can imagine how noisy it is at home, with everybody talking non-stop. If you want to say something to me, just interrupt. Don't worry, I'm used to it. Anyway, I'm normally the quietest of the family. It's just all the excitement."
Sirius caught Remus' eye again and winked. Then he frowned. "Hey Remus, what happened to your eyes? They look really cool."
Remus blushed, feeling both boys staring at him. "Well, I had a bit of a magical accident when I was younger." That's actually true, you know. Bit of a magical accident meaning werewolf bite. "They've been like that ever since. They even change color sometimes."
"That is so cool. My eyes are boring – gray, just like my father's and his father's and his father's… although it's not another mark of the Potter line. It's from my great-great-grandmother. Don't remember what family she was. I wish that I had eyes like yours, Remus." James seemed very enthusiastic.
Trust me, you don't. Not with the ramifications, at least.Remus forced a smile. Luckily, that side-effect of lycanthropy – the golden tinge that came and went with the moon – wasn't very well known. As a matter of fact, several notable researchers had claimed that it was 'complete rubbish' and 'solely based on children's stories.' Thus, it was highly unlikely they'd ever discuss that in Defense Against the Dark Arts. And these two didn't seem the type to spend much time in the library.
The rest of the voyage was spent talking amicably. Sirius interrupted James quite often, Remus every now and then. Luckily the subjects weren't too dangerous. There was a painful moment for Remus when the talk came to families.
James started. "My parents both work at the Ministry, my dad in the Department of International Magic Co-operation, my mum in the Wizard-Muggle Relationships Office. She convinces the Muggle-borns that the letter is true and that magic exists." At this all three boys paused – a rare occurrence for James – imagining how it must be to live without magic. "That's how I met that boy – Peter, I think his name is. Mum went to his house to explain everything, I tagged along. Muggle houses look so interesting! I have an older brother, he's Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Playing Quidditch is a Potter tradition, same as being in Gryffindor."
The Potters seem to have a lot of family traditions,Remus thought.
Sirius was next. "Well, my mum works training post owls and my dad's an Auror. Actually, neither of them really need to work… the Blacks quite rich. Old family, y'know – we're all from one it seems. But… well… Mum loves her work – she was a Hufflepuff – and Dad thinks it's his duty. Whole family is Gryffindor with the odd Hufflepuff thrown in, so I'm almost certain to be in Gryffindor."
Oh, great, not another Gryffindor snob! I don't need this!
Both boys turned to Remus, who cleared his throat self-consciously. "Well… erm… I'd really rather not talk about my family. Really," he said desperately. He prayed that they wouldn't pester him too much. His only other options were to blatantly lie – and it was so easy to get caught in a lie – or to explain that he'd been 'adopted', which would leave the question of why a rich, old pure-blooded family would abandon one of its sons at age six and keep the other. That would certainly take some explaining.
The two boys looked sympathetic. "Oh, family difficulties? I'm sorry, that's awful," Sirius said. There was an awkward silence for about three seconds until James burst out again.
"Hey, did you hear about the person who tried to rob Gringott's? My dad got pictures of what happened to him – don't ask me how, Dad has all kinds of connections within the Ministry." And he was off on a new subject.
When the witch with the food cart arrived, all three of them were starving. Both James and Sirius bought plenty of things – Cauldron Cakes, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs,… Remus looked mournfully at the pile of sweets.
"Don't you want any, dear?" the witch asked him.
"No, I'm not hungry," Remus said as his stomach gave a loud rumble. The witch surveyed him critically. "Well, if you're sure dear… I'll be up with the driver if you change your mind."
James looked at Remus. "You really don't want anything? You look real hungry." Remus shook his head. He was hungry, but he really couldn't afford anything. He'd just have to wait until the feast. James didn't drop it though. "Really. You're all thin and you look pale, you should eat more."
"James!" Sirius hissed. "He probably can't afford it!" An ordinary human wouldn't have been able to hear what had just been said. A werewolf, however, could understand just fine, and Remus felt blood rushing into his cheeks. I really hate being so poor.
"Oh." James said, looking embarrassed. "Well, you can have some of mine, then. I think I bought too much anyway."
True, I don't know how he can eat that much, Remus thought as he fought back a smile. Normally he would never have accepted charity, but he was hungry. And tired of being poor. So the three boys munched their way through the pile of sweets. Remus idly wondered how James managed to eat so much and yet talk so much at the same time. Sirius must have been entertaining similar thoughts because he asked, "Hey James, how do you talk and eat at the same time?"
James grinned brightly. "Family trait – comes with practice."
It was the first time Remus had really talked with others of his own age in quite a while. Gradually his nervousness waned, until he was contributing almost as much to the conversation as Sirius. All in all, the three felt somewhat sad when they reached Hogsmeade. Remus was a bit worried about leaving his luggage on the train, but the other two assured him it would be all right.
It was dark and the platform was full of students. Remus, being rather small and thin for his age, was nearly swept away until Sirius grabbed his arm. "Hey Remus, don't run away from James and me," he joked. The three wandered around a bit until they heard someone shouting.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here! Follow me!" A giant of a man was holding up a lantern and shouting. James, Sirius and Remus fought their way through to him. They were among the last to join the group of frightened-looking first years.
"Is tha' everyone?" the man asked. "Well, come along then! Ye'll get yer first sight of Hogwarts jus' round this corner." Remus gasped at the imposing castle that had just come into view. He'd heard so much about Hogwarts, but he'd never seen any pictures of it. I didn't think it would be so… so… big? No. Impressive, he thought. I didn't think anything could be so impressive.
"No more'n four to a boat!" the giant called. Remus gulped, surveying the fleet of boats that was floating in the… lake? He hadn't even noticed the lake, he'd been so intent on gaping at the castle. Remus got into a boat with Sirius, James and – to everyone's great disgust – a certain sallow-skinned boy with bright blue hair. Sirius grinned at him. "Why, Sevvie!" he said in a mock friendly tone. "How nice you look today! Especially your hair – my, what have you done to it? It looks beautiful!" Remus tried to hide his laughter.
"Shut up, Black," the boy snarled and glared at James, who glared back. "You deserved it, you know. How dare you tease Muggle-borns?"
The boy… Severus Snape, Sirius had called him… retorted, "If you were a proper wizard you'd know better than to make remarks like that. Those Mudbloods don't deserve to go to a place like this." James looked as if he were about to explode.
"And who are you to decide things like that?" Remus interrupted, beginning to rise from his seat. "We have a completely different opinion of what makes a person a wizard." True, he might not be all too fond of Muggle-borns, but they were quite nice people on average and much better than someone like that snobbish pureblood. It's no wonder Gryffindors hate Slytherins, with people like him around.
Snape sneered at him. "And who asked you?" He gave Remus a shove. Ordinarily Remus would've easily kept his balance, maybe pushed him back. However, he was half-standing in a precarious position, and the small shove was enough to make him topple over the side.
The water was icy cold and Remus nearly let out his breath in shock. However, survival instinct kicked in and he tried to get to the surface. The robes were heavy in the water and dragged him back down. He struggled against them and then…
Somethinggrasped him around the waist and propelled him upwards. Remus surfaced, gasping for air, and two pairs of hands grabbed him and pulled him into the boat. James and Sirius looked at him worriedly. "Are you all right?"
The giant was shouting at Snape, who had been transferred to another boat. "…detention…" was the only thing that Remus caught. Then he looked at Remus. "Yer all right?" The werewolf nodded, teeth chattering. It was cold for September. "We'll get ye dried off when we reach the castle. Don't worry 'bout it."
The rest of the journey to the castle was relatively silent – even James was hardly talking. All three were looking around in awe, although the other two shot Remus occasional worried glances. He pretended not to see them… really, I'm just a bit wet. Nothing to worry about, I've been in much worse shape before. However, he couldn't deny how relieved he felt when they finally reached the shore – he didn't want to risk getting ill. Illnesses – even a small cold – made his transformations even worse than usual.
The giant used a Drying Charm on Remus, who sighed gratefully – still being cold, but no longer soaked to the skin. "Everyone here? All righ' then," he said and knocked three times on the castle door, which opened. A tall witch with black hair stood there. She was quite young but looked strict. Definitely not someone to cross.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall."
"Thank you, Hagrid." So the giant's name is Hagrid, Remus thought. The witch continued, "I will take them from here."
She took the frightened first years through a gigantic entrance hall and into an empty chamber. You could hear voices coming from outside, this room was obviously near the Great Hall Miss Syrent had told him about. Professor McGonagall cleared her throat to gain their attention.
"Right, now, everybody please listen. Welcome to Hogwarts. Before the start-of-term banquet you will be Sorted into your Houses. These Houses…"
Remus tuned her out. He already knew already about the different Houses, and what they meant. This little speech was for the Muggle-borns, and Remus felt far too nervous to listen – he felt as if he'd swallowed a swarm of butterflies.
Professor McGonagall finished, asking them to wait, and left through another door. That one probably leads into the Great Hall, Remus thought. He was feeling very frightened – what if he was put in Hufflepuff? He'd never be able to survive the shame… Miss Syrent would be so disappointed. Or even worse – Remus' stomach lurched horribly at the thought – what he wasn't Sorted at all? What if that Hat he'd heard about shouted "WEREWOLF!" for the whole school to hear? After all, everyone knew that Dark Creatures didn't belong in a place like Hogwarts.
Remus' thoughts were interrupted by Professor McGonagall's return. "Please form a line and follow me." The first years followed her silently – Remus wasn't the only one who looked nervous. Sirius was quite calm, but James seemed almost as frightened as Remus. He'd even stopped talking, much to Remus' surprise.
They filed into a hall lit by floating candles. It looked as if there was no ceiling, but Remus knew that it was merely bewitched to show the sky outside. Currently it was clear and thousands of bright stars shone down onto five tables – four filled with students, one with adults. The moon was waning, Remus noted absently. Almost new.
Professor McGonagall brought a small stool out in front of the first years. She put an old-looking, frayed hat on it. That must be the school Sorting Hat. It's supposed to sing, isn't it? Sure enough, a tear just above the brim opened up, and it began to sing.
"You come from outside,
I see you're all wet.
I guess you know me,
Hogwarts' Sorting Hat.
I have the solution, I bring the clue
I know who you are
and in which house you'll go.
But no need to worry,
I know your story
And all that I say is true.
You might go to Gryffindor
You must leave behind your fear
Bring bravery, nerves and more
If you wish to belong here
Then Rowena, with Ravenclaw
For her students of lore
You need books, wits and wisdom
Should your spirit soar
Or else there is Hufflepuff
Always a helping hand
Patient, kind, fair
The most loyal friend
You can get power, yet
what will it take?
Just put me on,
I've never been wrong
I'll show you where you belong!
When the Hat was finished, everyone clapped. Professor McGonagall stepped forward again, holding a long roll of parchment. "When I call your names, please step forward and try on the hat.
A blonde boy stumbled forward, face pale. The Hat fell over his eyes. There was silence for a moment, and then… "HUFFLEPUFF!" The table on the right – apparently Hufflepuff – cheered as the boy took off the hat and walked over. The Abbotts had a long history of being in Hufflepuff.
"Black, Sirius!" Sirius strode forward, cool and collected. He seemed very sure of where he'd end up. And sure enough, the Hat had barely touched his head when it shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" Sirius grinned.
"Chang, Li-Qin!" Obviously immigrants… I wonder if she's Muggle-born? Remus wondered as a tall, pretty Asian girl walked up to the stool. The Hat didn't take long this time either – "RAVENCLAW!"
Remus let his mind drift as several more C's and D's went to be Sorted. No Slytherins yet… well, I hear there's a new Malfoy coming. Two, to be exact. Miss Syrent had said that Lucius had a twin sister who hadn't been there on that day in Diagon Alley. Those are bound to be Slytherins.
He jumped when he heard "Evans, Lily!" The Muggle-born had seemed a very nice sort, he hoped she'd go into Ravenclaw. Lily came forward, red hair shimmering in the candlelight, and put the Hat on. It seemed to consider for a moment, but after a short time it shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" Remus groaned as the table on the far left exploded with cheers. The Slytherins booed, but no one heard them over the tumult. Gods, why'd she have to be a Gryffindor?
Remus yawned slightly as the Sorting went on… and on.
Finally, after "Lestrange, Felix" had joined the Slytherins, he heard "Lupin, Remus!" get called.
Remus walked forward, face pale. The whispers in the crowd seemed to echo in his ears, he felt queasy and dizzy. I'm not going to collapse… I will not… this is just nerves… Finally he'd reached the stool. He sat down hard and let the Hat drop over his head.
"Hm, what have we here?" said a quiet voice in his ear.
You can talk? In my head?
"Well, of course I talk!" the Hat sounded quite affronted. "Need to discuss where you go, I'd better be able to talk! Now, let's see. You're not ambitious at all, are you… no, Slytherin's definitely not the place for you. I'm afraid you'll have to disappoint Ziana there."
You know Miss Syrent?
"Of course I do! I Sorted her after all! Now be quiet and let me do my job. All right, quite loyal, but not Hufflepuff material. You'd do fine there, but I don't think it's the place for you. A very good mind, quite clever and studious. Yes, Ravenclaw would suit you well. But, wait! What's this? A werewolf?"
Remus felt as if his blood had frozen in his veins. Don't… please don't…
"Tell? 'Course I won't! What do you take me for? You have the same right to an education as anyone else! Well, this puts an entire new spin on things. You truly need bravery to survive in your state. Many people would have given up, y'know. But not you… oh yes… Godric would be proud to have you in his House."
NO! Not Gryffindor…please not Gryffindor.
"Sorry, mate, but I know where you belong. Don't let your prejudices dictate your actions. You'll do well in… GRYFFINDOR!"
Remus slipped the Hat off his head and walked over to the Gryffindor table, in shock. Gryffindor. No, no, no. Why in the world am I in Gryffindor? Then a new thought came. How in the name of Merlin will I be able to explain this to Miss Syrent? She'll be so disappointed. Sirius waved him over, and Remus forced a smile and sat next to him. "What took so long?" he asked.
"Well, the Hat and I… argued a bit. I thought I was a Ravenclaw." Now that I'm in Gryffindor, it really wouldn't be smart to mention that I hate this House.
"Apparently not, though. Oh, look, the two Malfoys are getting sorted. I wonder why they bother." Sirius smirked as "Malfoy, Lucius," was made a Slytherin almost before he'd even put the Hat on. Then came "Malfoy, Sophie." She resembled her brother immensely, so much that another boy at their table wondered how they'd be able to tell them apart. To everyone's surprise, the Hat didn't immediately yell out Slytherin. After a few minutes, whispers grew into murmurs. Then the Hat opened its "mouth" and shouted… "RAVENCLAW!" Most people gasped.
"What on earth? A Malfoy in Ravenclaw?" Sirius said. Remus nodded. "Now you know why Malfoys still get Sorted," he said, grinning.
"But… but… no Malfoy has gone into another House in three hundred years!"
"Until now, it seems."
When "Pettigrew, Peter" was called, Sirius nudged Remus. "I think that's the guy James was defending earlier." Remus looked at a small, slightly plump blonde boy. The Hat took nearly as long as with Sophie in deciding his House, but finally sent him to Gryffindor.
"Potter, James!" James stepped forward, trying to flatten his unruly hair. "Let me guess, the chatterbox lands in Gryffindor as well?" Remus asked acidly. Sirius grinned at him. "Hey, so he talks a bit much. He's not bad." True to what Remus said, James soon occupied the chair on the other side of Sirius. "See!" he grinned at Remus. "Toldya you'd get into Gryffindor with us!" Remus bit his lip. Oh gods, why Gryffindor? Okay, so James and Sirius are nice, but… Gryffindor! House of the self-righteous idiots!
The rest of the Sorting passed quickly. No names that they recognized were called, until…
Sirius and James snickered, seeing that Snape's hair was still bright blue. "Oops, someone forgot to do a Finite Incantatem there," James mocked. "Ah, it should wear off in a few days."
The hat didn't take long to send Snape to the Slytherins. "Well, that was a surprise," Sirius said. Remus looked at him, irritated. Honestly. Every idiot in the world gets sent to Slytherin… sure. Gryffindors are just as bad if not worse – wait, I'm a Gryffindor now. Merlin, what did I do to deserve this?
The last person to be Sorted was a Weasley, youngest in the family. "Well, I left a seat free for him," Sirius said good-naturedly – all Weasleys went to Gryffindor. But once again they were surprised – "RAVENCLAW!" the Hat shouted.
"What is it with old families and Ravenclaw this year? I don't think we've ever had this many surprises in one Sorting!" a fifth-year said. The three other Weasleys sitting at the table gaped as their brother, looking quite dejected, made his way to the Ravenclaw table.
"Malfoys and Weasleys in one House. Enjoy." Remus wasn't sure who'd said that, because just then the Headmaster stood up. "As I know that you are all starving, I will hold the speech after the feast. I only have two words left to say – dig in!"
The empty plates in front of them filled with food. There were salads, all kinds of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and of course the trademark peppermint humbugs. They were always there, and no one had ever touched one. Remus was slightly nervous, but relaxed when he saw that the cutlery was made of gold – not silver. He'd had some trouble with silverware. His stomach growled, and he realized exactly how long it had been since the sweets at lunch, and how good the food smelled.
Remus watched his new housemates – Gryffindor. Oh no oh no. – while eating. There were four boys – him, James, Sirius and the Pettigrew boy – and three girls. Two of those – Amanda Ray and Mallory Fletcher – already knew each other and were chatting. Remus felt sorry for Lily, who looked quite lonely. The three girls she'd made friends with on the train had gone into Slytherin and Ravenclaw, and now the other two Gryffindor girls were leaving her out.
He leaned towards Lily. "So, how do you like it at Hogwarts?"
She turned around, surprised. "Oh, I love it here! It's so… so… different," she said, and Remus wondered what her Muggle family was like. "I hope I do all right in my classes, I'm one of the only Muggle-borns here and I'm sure to be behind…"
"Don't worry. We know a bit more than you about the magical world, that's right, but there's so much to learn. You'll catch up quickly." Remus wondered if all Muggle-borns were this nice.
"What kind of things will we be learning?"
Sirius, who'd been listening to James, joined the conversation. "All kinds. There's Charms – useful, handy spells, basically. Levitating, summoning, banishing, making bright lights and similar."
Lily nodded. "Mr. Ollivander told me my wand was very good for Charms work."
"Watch out, here's our new Charms specialist," Sirius joked. "Leave us some time to catch up to you, all right?"
He continued. "Potions is taught by the Head of Slytherin, has been for a while. He favors his own House a great deal, discriminates against the non-Slytherins." Sirius looked angry. Remus felt annoyed – Of course. Go all self-righteous. Have you ever thought about the way Slytherins are treated by most people?
"Potions is where you learn how to make… well, potions. All those sleep draughts, poisons, antidotes, truth potions, and similar. Love potions are forbidden, so don't even think about it."
He winked and Lily laughed.
"Then there is Transfiguration… that's turning things into other things. Very difficult, I hear." Lily looked nervous.
"History of Magic is supposed to be awfully boring, learning about all kinds of things that happened hundreds of years ago." Sirius wrinkled his nose and Remus bit back a laugh.
"Defense Against the Dark Arts is where you learn about all the different curses, hexes, how to defend yourself against Dark magic, and Dark creatures." Remus flinched at the last, then looked around. Luckily, no one seemed to have noticed.
"Herbology is learning about all the different magical plants, Astronomy – well, I think you can guess from the name, right? Stars and planets. There are a bunch of other subjects, like Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures and Divination, but we can't take those until next year."
"You forgot Flying," James threw in. "That's where you learn how to ride a broomstick. Most of us already know how though." His face glowed – James obviously liked flying.
"You really do that? Fly on broomsticks, I mean? I thought those were only… fairy tales!"
Sirius snorted. "Of course we fly on broomsticks! It's really fun! And how else are we supposed to get around? We're not allowed to Apparate until we pass our test, you know!"
Lily blushed and looked down. "I… I…"
"Stop it, Sirius," Remus broke in. "She's Muggle-born, she can't be expected to know all of that."
Sirius looked angry for a moment, then embarrassed. "Um… sorry, I didn't mean to sound… condescending."
There was an awkward silence, broken by Dumbledore standing.
"Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! There are a few announcements to make.
First of all, first years should know that the forest outside the castle is forbidden to all pupils." Sirius' and James' faces fell.
"Our caretaker, Argus Filch, would like me to remind you that no magic is to be used in the corridors between classes. He also wishes first years to look over the list of objects not to be carried or used in the school hanging outside his office. I believe the list encompasses some three hundred ninety-six items.
If you wish to play Quidditch for your House team, contact Madam Hooch. Please note that there are remarkably few free places this year, and that the chances of getting onto your House team are slim."
James looked dejected. "I was hoping to play Quidditch on the Gryffindor team," he mumbled.
"No chance of that," one of the older Weasleys said. "The Gryffindor team is full. Next year, maybe – two Chasers, a Beater and a Keeper are leaving."
Remus yawned, missing the next few things Dumbledore said. Then there was a scraping noise, and everybody stood. The first-year Gryffindors followed a prefect – Frank Longbottom, Remus heard him being called – out of the Great Hall, and up a flight of stairs, another corridor, more stairs, through a hidden doorway, more stairs... Remus felt light-headed. He knew the Slytherin common room was in a dungeon, but he hadn't known the Gryffindors had theirs in a tower.
The Ravenclaws walked with them for a bit, then went another way at a fork in a corridor. Remus looked after them longingly, wishing that he was with them. Why did the Hat have to put me in this house?
"Anything the matter, Remus?" Sirius was looking at him. Remus blinked, realizing that the rest of the first years were nearly out of sight down the corridor. "Nothing, just tired I guess," he said and hurried after them.
Finally they reached a large painting of a fat woman in a pink dress. "Password?" she asked.
"Pumpkin juice," the prefect said. "And remember that, everyone. That'll be our password for the next week or so."
The painting swung open to reveal a large round room full of armchairs, decorated in scarlet and gold. Lily and the two other Gryffindor girls went through one door, the boys were sent through another. Their dormitory was at the top of a spiral staircase. There were four four-poster beds. Peter wondered, "How did they know how many of us there would be?"
"Dunno," James yawned. "Blimey, I'm tired." Remus gave a relieved sigh when he saw that his trunk had been brought up, and Sirius winked at him. "Toldya not to worry, didn't I?"
The four boys changed into their pajamas quickly, then got into bed. Remus fell asleep almost at once.