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Chapter 2: Chapter One - Home Again
Sirius stood in the Potter’s hall, waiting impatiently for James to finish packing his final things in his trunk.
“Prongs!” he called up the stairs. “Hurry up! We’ll be old women by the time you get down here at this rate!”
James’ head appeared, grinning over the banister at the top of the stairs.
“You may be an old woman by that time, Padfoot, but I intend to be a rugged, maturely aged man,” he informed him with a grin.
Remus snorted from behind him as he dragged his trunk out to take it downstairs.
“Since when have you ever been mature?” he asked.
“You’ll not live long enough to get that old if you don’t get down here in the next five minutes,” Sirius muttered so they could both hear him, though Remus and James ignored him.
“We’re meeting Peter there, right?” Remus asked James as he went back into his room to grab a book he’d just remembered was in the bedside table.
“Yeah,” James nodded. “He only got back from being away with his family yesterday; otherwise he’d be coming with us. Well, better get on, or Padfoot down there will bite our heads off,” he said with a grin, as he went to finish getting his trunk ready.
It took another fifteen minutes before everyone was completely ready to go, by which time Sirius’ patience had all but run out. However, everyone was used to that; he never did have much to begin with.
Despite all his moaning for them to hurry up, Sirius was the one to linger for a last look around the house he’d spent so much time in since he’d run away from his own home. He wondered if he’d be returning there for much longer at the end of this final year at Hogwarts. He couldn’t keep relying on James after all, but he had such good memories of this place.
It was not an overly large house, though there was plenty of room for everyone, but then it was not for grandeur that Sirius had come to this house. Coming as he did from the Black family, he had seen all sorts of riches and treasures, but no other house was filled with love and a security of the heart like this one was. It was the memories that made the house a home like no presentation of it ever could. To Sirius, it shone with the times he’d laughed most, a solid representation of the happiness he felt whilst he was there.
Eventually though, he turned and followed the others out the door to begin their seventh year of Hogwarts, which he hoped would be better than their last.
The end of their last year had been exceptionally eventful; Sirius had thought it would be a good idea to end the year with a bang, and had therefore set up a good old practical joke. And of course, it just wasn’t the same if he didn’t involve Severus Snape…
Sirius made his way up to the Gryffindor tower, immensely pleased with himself, having just set his practical joke in motion. ‘Snivellus had fallen for it hook, line and sinker,’ he thought to himself gleefully.
As he entered, James and Peter looked up and waved him over to the fire, where they were waiting for everyone else to leave the common room so they could get going on their monthly adventure. Remus had already left for the Shrieking Shack.
“Well, you look like the cat that’s got the cream,” James observed mildly whilst Sirius flashed him a grin.
“Yeah, well you would be too if you’d just gotten the better of old Snivellus,” Sirius replied, as Peter turned his attention to him with interest.
“What did you do?” Peter asked excitedly.
“I can’t believe you didn’t fetch me first,” James complained before Sirius could reply. “Bet it was good. Is this your end-of-year joke, then?”
“He should be well on his way to the Whomping Willow by now,” he mused aloud.
“I said-” Sirius started to repeat himself, but James cut across him.
“I know what you said, Sirius! Why is he going there? You know Moony’s there!” James exclaimed, and it was a mark of how serious he considered the situation that he did not use Sirius’ nickname.
Sirius frowned at his best friend.
“He’s only getting what’s coming to him,” he said sullenly, the joke losing its appeal now that James obviously didn’t think as much of it.
For James’ part, he shot out of his chair and was halfway through the portrait hole before Sirius reacted.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
“To stop him of course,” James’ reply floated back through the closing portrait as he pounded along the hallway and down the stairs to the Entrance Hall. Sirius did not follow him.
James almost dashed headlong into the Whomping Willow before he realized it was frozen and that he had not pressed the knot on its trunk. He could only surmise that Severus had already gotten past the tree and silently cursed Sirius, though there was no love lost between Severus and himself.
Hastening into the tunnel he caught a glimpse of a light ahead, and with a last spurt of speed he brought Severus, who was standing frozen at the sight before him, into view. From the snarls that were sounding in the tunnel, James knew exactly what the sight that greeted him was. Without a second thought, he flung himself forward and grabbed Severus’ arm before proceeding to drag him as fast as he could the way they’d come in.
As they burst out of the tunnel and jumped clear of the now unfrozen tree, Severus angrily shook his arm free from James’ grasp.
“Get your hands off me, Potter,” he hissed at him, eyes flashing.
James obliged without needing persuasion.
“You ought to watch what you’re putting that large nose of yours into,” he said coldly. “You never know when it’s going to bite back.”
Severus’ lip curled as he clenched his fists at these words.
“Think that was funny, Potter? Amusing joke your friends played there. I think a lot of people will be highly interested to know what I’ve just seen.”
“Why you ungrateful little-” James started to say, but was interrupted.
“Mr Potter and Mr Snape,” a voice addressed them from behind, and they both swiveled to see Professor Dumbledore standing close by.
James opened his mouth to explain what had happened, but Dumbledore cut across him.
“You may return to Gryffindor tower, Mr Potter, and send Mr Black to my office. Mr Snape, follow me please,” he told them both in a tone that brooked no refusal. Both obeyed immediately.
Things hadn’t been so fun for Sirius in the remaining two weeks of term, though at least Severus had been banned from talking to others about what he had seen by Dumbledore. Sirius was made to do a detention every night and had narrowly avoided suspension, owing to his lack of thought for a fellow student’s safety, which was not something Dumbledore took lightly. He also lost Gryffindor one hundred house points and consequently the House Cup. Although it had been James who had called a halt to his prank, all of his friends stayed by him, and things seemed to return to normal very quickly. Lupin, it was true, took a while before he forgave Sirius for using him like that, but he too got over it, and Sirius could not restrain himself from insulting Severus for long. Indeed, the whole half-day he did manage it was something of a record for him. But the holidays were upon them before he could do anything else to him.
Sirius snapped out of his thoughts on the end of last year when James leapt out of the car at Kings Cross station and moved to get his trunk from the boot of the car. Quickly, Sirius and Remus followed, and all three walked into Kings Cross with Mrs. Potter. She was telling Remus to try and keep James out of too much trouble, but there was a twinkle in her eye as she said it.
“Yeah Prongs, Moony’s going to have his eye on you this year, so you better watch out,” Sirius joined in with a grin, knowing perfectly well that he was as often the cause of getting them into trouble as James was.
“That’s right, let your best friend take the fall for you,” James said in a mock-wounded voice, sighing dramatically.
They all laughed as they passed through the barrier to the platform. James was too busy focusing on his performance to notice where he was going, and consequently almost knocked someone flying. Spinning to face the way he was going, he hastily leant down to help the person up, but froze as he was reaching out his hand.
“Evans,” he fairly squeaked in horror, as he registered the girl on the floor glaring up at him with her piercing green eyes.
“Potter,” she snapped, annoyed, and got to her feet by herself. “Watch where you’re going,” she said before striding off to join her friends, who were grouped a little further along the platform saying goodbye to their parents.
“Nice one Prongs,” Sirius smirked, as he began to haul his trunk onto the train. Remus followed him, smiling.
James groaned to himself before he made his way onto the train, after kissing his mother goodbye.
Lily hurried along the platform to greet her friends. She was glad to finally be returning to Hogwarts. The summer holidays had not been good, her sister had reaching new levels of unpleasantness. Her best friend, Alice, broke away to hug her and soon started squealing when she heard Lily had made Head Girl. Lily’s other good friend, Jasmine, joined them. Lily received a few disapproving frowns from a passing couple of Gryffindors as she hugged Jasmine too, but she ignored them.
“You going to make us all toe the line, work hard and generally stick your nose in our business now that you’re Head Girl?” her Slytherin friend asked her teasingly. “Oh wait, that would be no change from usual.”
Jasmine laughed as Lily took a swipe at her, feeling happy she was there. The three of them had been inseparable friends since second year, but Jasmine wasn’t as well-liked among the rest of the girls who Lily and Alice were friends with, and couldn’t deny she was relieved now that both of them were there.
Severus Snape stood apart from the rest of the students with his mother, observing as Emily and Kayleigh, the other two Gryffindor seventh-years, all greeted Lily. He wondered, not for the first time, why Jasmine deigned to spend her time with them. He turned his thoughts away from them though, and said goodbye to his mother who was looking immensely pale and drawn.
The summer had been hard on her; she had been dragged through a difficult divorce with his Muggle father. Privately, Severus was more than happy to see the back of him, but his mother seemed to want to cling to a dying relationship. He couldn’t help a slight sneer playing abut his mouth as he thought of her stupid ideals of a love that had never been there in the first place. It was amazing how she could be so sensible about so much, but this was an idea that never seemed to register with her. Severus privately vowed never to allow anyone such a hold over him.
“Goodbye Mother,” he said curtly, before striding to the train, having already put his trunk on board.
He didn’t look back to see if she left or stayed, but made his way to a carriage of his friends. A lot of the group he had spent his entire school life with were no longer there, having graduated in previous years. He would miss Bellatrix Black, Rodolphus Lestrange and Evan Rosier the most. However, he still had Narcissa Black, Marcus Wilkes and Niger Avery.
When he got to their compartment he found an extra person he didn’t know, who was also sitting with the others. Narcissa smiled at him as he entered and quickly introduced the newcomer.
“Hi Severus; this is Rabastan Lestrange; he’s new,” she said.
Severus knew from her tone that she did not mean new to Hogwarts, but new to the ranks of their master. He had seen Rabastan around Hogwarts before and thought he must be in about third or fourth year, but he must have only just joined. Severus nodded to Narcissa in acknowledgment of the information, but sat down next to Marcus without a word.
Severus was not looking forward to the final year; his last had ended pretty horrifically, and the summer had not improved his outlook on life. He remembered with the deepest loathing how Potter had pulled him back from that monster he had glimpsed down in the tunnel. He could understand Sirius’ cowardly attempt on his life, and took satisfaction in plotting some revenge, but what James had done was not repayable and was unforgivable.
Severus ground his teeth in hatred just thinking of him, but there was no escaping what had happened he was forced to just put it out of his mind. Instead of thinking of James, he opened his Potions book and continued the notes he had been making on it during the summers when he had been bored, ignoring the others in the compartment.
Lily and her friends hurried to board the train as the whistle sounded, still calling greetings to the various people who passed them. Lily reached the door at the same time as Jasmine and, with a smile, stepped back to allow her on first.
“Pure-bloods first, of course,” she said, teasing.
Jasmine laughed; it was an old joke between them that she was of higher quality than Lily, due to her blood.
“Oh no, I insist.” She too stepped back. “Shit before the shovel, after all.”
Lily shook her head, laughing as she jumped up onto the train and made her way to an empty compartment, her friends in tow. As seemed usual lately, the conversation turned to boys as the train started to pull out of the station.
“Did you meet anyone over the summer at all, Lily?” Kayleigh asked her. When Lily shook her head, she launched into an account of her own summer romance.
“I think I’ve died of boredom,” Jasmine muttered in Lily’s ear, when Kayleigh was still going strong after ten minutes; everyone else joining in the questioning.
Lily looked at Jasmine reproachfully, who rolled her eyes before sitting back in her seat and folding her arms.
Only ten minutes into the train ride the door to the compartment opened and Marlene, a girl who had graduated last year, entered. Lily looked surprised to see her older friend and wondered what she was doing there.
“Hi!” Marlene said enthusiastically. “I guess you want to know what I’m doing here, huh? Well, as you may know, I didn’t get into the job I wanted and there wasn’t much available. Professor Dumbledore agreed to hire me as a teacher assistant! Isn’t that great?” she squealed, letting Lily know she was still the same old Marlene.
“So what exactly does that mean you do?” Alice asked.
“Oh, well I help out with any teacher who requires assistance in a lesson but I’m really assigned to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Dearborn. I’ve not met him yet though,” Marlene explained.
Lily supposed it made sense to lend a helping hand to a new Professor but she wasn’t sure exactly how much help Marlene could be to a teacher.
Emily then moved the conversation on to the topic of the marauders, obsessed as she was about Sirius.
“This year he’s going to notice me,” she said, her eyes lighting up. “I can feel it.”
“I don’t know why you bother with him,” Lily said scornfully. “The only one worth bothering about is Remus.”
“You should give James a chance,” Emily jumped to the marauders’ defense.
It was common knowledge that James wanted to go out with Lily, but so far she had remained adamant that it was not going to happen. She had watched as he went through a string of girls the previous year, but none had lasted long and, as far as she could see, he had learnt nothing from any of them. He was not her kind of boyfriend material.
“Don’t be silly,” Lily sighed. This was not the first time they’d had this conversation. “Besides, we’re going to be much too busy with N.E.W.T.s this year to have much time for boyfriends, I would have thought.”
Jasmine snorted quietly, knowing that most - if not all - of Lily’s friends would always have time for boyfriends, but she refrained from saying anything.
A little further down the train, James sat in a compartment with his three friends, looking up at the door every time someone passed. Sirius was idly making objects fly around their compartment whilst Remus was explaining a Transfiguration concept to Peter.
“Oh, come on James, you’ll see her when we get to school,” Sirius complained, as James once more opened the door to see who had walked past a second before. “You’re being pathetic,” he pointed out bluntly, and turned back to trying to Transfigure a chocolate frog into a live one without saying the spell out loud.
James glared at him and flicked his wand once. Immediately, there was a live frog where the chocolate one had been. Sirius promptly dumped the frog unceremoniously on James’ head.
“I was almost there! What’d you have to do that for?” Sirius pouted, but soon forgot as Peter suddenly noticed the Head Boy badge on James’ uniform.
“Hey! You made Head Boy!” he exclaimed, staring at the badge.
“Yeah, I know, came as quite a shock to us too,” he informed Peter, whilst grinning at James. “Dumbledore’s finally lost it; I can’t imagine why he would’ve done something like this. It’s like he’s officially approved of our pranks.”
Remus raised an eyebrow at this new take on James’ instatement as Head Boy.
“Somehow I don’t think he’s approving all your pranks, at least,” he said meaningfully, but Sirius just relaxed back against the chair without a shred of remorse.
“Oh, come on now Moony, don’t you think it’s time we forgot about that? It’s all in the past. I’m a reformed man.” He grinned wolfishly at Remus’ highly skeptical expression. “I’m hurt that you doubt my morals.”
“You regard morals as highly as you regard rules,” Remus pointed out, but he was smiling too.
“Ah, you know it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t,” Sirius said, getting the last word in.
James shook his head at the banter between his two friends.
“Reckon we’re the only normal people in here, don’t you Peter?” he addressed the boy opposite him.
Peter laughed but made no reply, not wishing to insult Sirius and Remus, but also wanting to agree with James.
“Hey, did you make the potion?” Sirius suddenly asked James.
“Yeah, I’ve got it in my trunk, don’t worry. Took me a while, though. We need to get a better potions maker.”
James was, of course, thinking of Lily and her great natural ability in Potions, rivaled only by one other’s ability in their year. But the idea of asking Severus to concoct a potion for them was ridiculously laughable. James was actually very good at the subject, as he was at every subject, but it wasn’t a great strength of his like Transfiguration was.
“Good luck,” Sirius said in a voice clearly stating he thought James would need it, knowing exactly what he was thinking.
The train pulled its way into Hogsmeade station about an hour later and the students all disembarked. They quickly made their way into the carriages waiting for them, glad of the relative warmth they offered. The wind was picking up and rain had begun to lightly fall, as they trundled up the path to Hogwarts. All were happy to get inside the great castle and to the feast that awaited them.
The Sorting didn’t last that long; the numbers of new students had been dropping year by year as Voldemort made his presence known to all. Most preferred to keep their children with them and away from any possible influence by contact with members of other families, even though they all respected Dumbledore’s ability to keep the Dark Arts out of his school.
Sirius attacked his food as if he hadn’t eaten in a week, though Mrs. Potter had in fact kept him well fed over the holidays. Peter kept glancing up at the staff table in expectation, but desisted in doing so when James kicked him under the table. Remus shook his head ruefully and calmly ate his way through his dinner. At last everyone was finished eating and Dumbledore stood for quiet.
“It is in depleted numbers that we gather for the new school year, but we shall still set our standards of education as high as they ever were. In these times it is important that our unity stands strong, and I look to our new Head Boy and Girl to help promote such unity.”
Here Dumbledore broke off to nod to Lily and James; Lily, it could be noted, looked faintly horrified as it came to her attention exactly who the Head Boy was, but she was making the effort to look supportive of Dumbledore’s speech.
“Both of them are Gryffindors. How are we supposed to be united with all of the power in another’s court?” muttered a surly fifth-year Slytherin, who Jasmine quieted with a glare.
“We welcome Professor Dearborn as our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher…”
Dumbledore was continuing with his speech and introducing a new caretaker, Argus Filch, as Appollyon had retired the previous year, when giggles began to surface around the hall. Everyone was starting to stare, not at him, but the teachers lining the table behind him. All of them appeared to be sprouting moustaches that grew sideways before ending with an elegant curl. None seemed to notice what was happening, and all were looking at Dumbledore seriously and wondering what was so funny.
“Oh my gosh.” Lily clapped a hand over her mouth as she turned her attention to the teachers as well. Beside her, Marlene erupted in laughter whilst Ashley choked on her pumpkin juice. Lily was finding it hard not to join in their laughter as the teachers began to realize what was happening.
Dumbledore broke off in his list of new rules to turn and see what was causing so much bother behind him. He fought a smile as he turned to look severely at the Marauders, all of who smiled innocently back at him, and everyone could see his eyes twinkling in merriment.
“Perhaps the best warning I can give to our new students would be to stay out of the way of these four. Thank you for making such a grand start to your final year,” he addressed them, whilst a few of the teachers were beginning to try to remove their new facial hair. Professor McGonagall looked particularly annoyed as none of her spells came to any effect.
The rest of the students were chattering freely again and everyone knew that the new year had truly begun.
“Well, off to bed with you all,” Dumbledore called above the noise.
The Prefects began organizing their Houses under Lily’s supervision, as James was occupied with explaining how they had done the prank to several interested girls, who were all clamoring around the Marauders.
Sirius sat back on the bench and gazed happily around at the laughing students as the Great Hall began to empty.
“It’s good to be back,” he said with a smile.
Author's Note: Hey everone reading this, hope you're enjoying the story so far. I'm planning to update once a week, depending on the workload I receive upon starting college (apparently 5 a levels are not to be taken lightly. I have been told this repeatedly, lol). I have a couple of chapters in reserve in case I get behind in the hope I will be able to catch myself up again, if this doesn't work the update time will be longer though. I love to hear what you think of my writing, constructive criticism is welcome, so feel free to drop a review :-)
With thanks once again to my beta JackieJLH.