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Chapter 3 : Friendly Flashback
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The next morning, straight after breakfast, Ted did his holiday homework for about an hour, before he gave into the lure of discovering more in that ANSWERS box. After he stowed his books, ink, quill, and parchment away, he took the gold Gobstone out and placed it on the floor. He transfigured it back into the ANSWERS box, and got down on his knees before it. He poked around inside and pulled out the shoebox to see if there was anything he hadn’t looked at yet. He found an old enchanted yo-yo with the spell worn off of it, an old Exploding Snap game, an old mini-set of Gobstones, a pheasant feather quill, a chart of the constellations in the night sky charmed to glitter like real stars, an aged and filthy mini-telescope, and a dusty old spyglass, as well as quite a few books. Two that grabbed his interest were a pocket guide on defensive magic, and pocket guide to the wonders of the cosmos. The other books also had something to do with defense against the dark arts and stargazing, and now Ted had an inkling as to where he’d inherited such a keen interest in those particular subjects. Actually, Ted was an extremely bright and clever student even in herbology (the Sorting Hat had seriously considered putting him in Ravenclaw at first). The whole affair with that tentacula that had landed him in the hospital wing four days ago had been a complete accident, and more the fault of his half-witted partner than his own. Perhaps he was sometimes a bit too clever for his own good, which was probably why he’d never been made a prefect.
He also found his father’s letters to his parents, which he’d written to them while at Hogwarts. Each of them all had, at least once, written in them some form of reassurance that he was doing just fine in school. However, there was little else he was able to read: the ink in all of these letters seemed to be extremely blotchy, as if they’d been left out in the rain to let the ink run. He was disappointed, because when he came across these he’d really been excited: it meant he’d finally be reading something written in Remus’ own hand—and reading what people wrote was a really good way to get to know someone, get inside their head.
He stuck these letters back in the shoebox, and finding that he’d gone through everything in it, stuck it back in the larger box. Now all that was left was the huge number of small black leather-bound books. They were all identical aside from their labels, which had been written in silver ink along their spines. They were all labeled in years. Ted cast his eyes on the oldest one, the one labeled, “1971”.
That’d be the year he started Hogwarts, Ted thought, and he realized that all of these books must be his father’s personal journals. Excitement bubbled inside him once more as he plucked the one labeled, “1971” from the box. Leaning his back against the side of his bed as he sat back on the floor, he carefully opened the journal. It did not start (as Ted had expected it to) at the beginning of the year, in the month of January. The first entry was dated 31 August, and it was rather cynical for an eleven-year old boy’s journal entry:
Mum bought me this journal, because she thinks I should start writing down my thoughts and feelings, since I don’t seem to talk about them as much as I used to. I suppose I’ll get some use out of it, because I probably won’t make any friends at Hogwarts. I was looking forward to going, but now I think that—even though no one but Dumbledore and the teachers know about my...being a werewolf, well…. Anyway, people will just look at me and see I’m a mutant monster freak. They won’t even need to know exactly what’s wrong. They’ll just be able to tell that I’m different. So, out of loneliness, I’ll probably end up talking about everything to this stupid journal and making it my best friend.
The pity squeezed at Ted’s heart again, that his father had not awoken on that September morning feeling excited and nervous: just hopeless and—forget nervous—terrified, was a better word for it. It was obvious that his lycanthropy had made him extremely self-conscious, perhaps more so that he normally would have been. He turned the page to the next entry and continued to read:
Although I’m happy—ha! I’m actually happy!—to say that this journal may very well NOT need to serve as the only friend I’ll ever have, perhaps I’ll use it anyway. It was the only thing I could turn to, to express how happy I am without fearing my secret being found out! However, it’s wonderful to know that I might actually write CHEERFUL things in it—like I am right now! See, when I got to Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters to take the Hogwarts Express for the very first time….
Remus John Lupin followed his father, who was showing him where to stow his trunk on the Hogwarts Express. The mist that the great scarlet locomotive belched reminded him of foggy nights on full moon, and the thought made his spirits sink even lower—and they were pretty low to begin with. Nobody except Dumbledore and the Hogwarts staff knew that he was a werewolf. But his classmates…while they didn’t know exactly, he felt sure that they’d see something about him that was strange and dark, and would simply avoid him, and he’d never make even a single friend.
Remus looked around at the other students, and while he felt a sense of isolation from these other people who all were free of a lycanthropic burden, he still mildly enjoyed watching them. Perhaps it was the closest he’d ever come to knowing any of them.
The first family he and his father passed on their way to rejoin his mother (after divesting themselves of Remus’ trunk and trolley) was a formidable looking one, comprised of a mother, a father, and two brothers. They were all dressed in fine, black and silver clothes, and they had black hair that reached their shoulders, and the older of the two brothers—who was quite handsome for an eleven-year old, at least more so than his rat-faced younger sibling—seemed to be having a rather intense exchange with their mother, while his little brother and their father stood on the sidelines—the little brother clearly entertained, the father aloof and silently impatient, holding a black cane capped with a silver serpent’s head.
“And what’re you gonna do if I’m not in Slytherin, eh Mum?” the elder brother sneered. “You gonna disown me?”
“You will be in Slytherin, Sirius,” his mother said with quiet menace. “No Black has ever been in any house other than Slytherin. Your fate is sealed by your blood and birthright, you ungrateful worm.”
“Oh, you’re getting it now, Queerius,” the little brother jeered.
“Shut up, Regulus!” the older brother snapped back.
As their voices died away, Remus smiled slightly. He’d found the rebellious older brother’s defiance rather amusing, despite how violently edgy the scene had been.
They passed another family—a mother and her short, anxious son.
“Mum! I can’t find my Remembrall anywhere!” the boy whined, clutching at the front of his mother’s robes.
“Peter Reinhold Pettigrew, I swear,” his mother sighed exasperatedly.
Evidently this was not the first time this Peter Pettigrew had lost something important. The bespectacled boy with untidy, jet-black hair in the family next to them seemed to have problems of his own, although they weren’t about lost possessions.
“Dad, why can’t first-years try out for Quidditch?” the boy asked. “I’ve got the old Potter family talent for Quidditch!”
The boy’s mother smiled, while his father laughed and said, “James, you don’t even have a broom—”
“I did,” the boy called James growled. “It’s not my fault I crashed into our barn and got it split in half beyond repair.”
“Oh, James,” his mother sighed as she shook her head.
“Now that we’re talking about brooms,” James went on rather slyly, “how soon do you think you can get me a new one?”
“First-years aren’t allowed to have brooms,” his father explained.
Remus was surprised at how enjoyable it was just to listen to these families’ conversations as they saw their children off on the train. However, the next family he and his father passed was just the opposite. It was another two-some of a boy with his mother. They were both dressed in black, but unlike the first family Remus had observed, the Blacks, this small family’s clothes weren’t fine at all. They were just average.
The boy had sallow skin and wore a downcast expression, while his mother ran her fingers through his long, greasy black hair.
“Don’t you worry,” she said. “It won’t matter what House you’re in—”
“Don’t talk to me,” the boy snapped. He batted her hand away from his head and turned his back on her.
“Severus, please don’t hate me like this,” his mother implored, but very exhaustedly so. “Some Muggles are good people—your father—"
“And don’t you dare talk about him,” Severus growled.
His mother sighed but said nothing more.
As Remus continued walking, he saw Severus raise his eyes and gaze over in the direction of the next family nearby. The scene occurring here left Remus so transfixed that he stopped walking all together for a moment as he listened.
It was another family of four. The mother and father had to be Muggles, as they were dressed in Muggle clothing, and looking around at everything like small children at a spectacular fireworks display. Their two daughters were a little ways off, having some sort of argument. The slightly smaller redheaded sister seemed to be imploring with her brunette older sister, but her older sister was already stalking away from her, and over her shoulder she spat, “Freak!” as she stormed away to stand with their gawking Muggle parents. So only the younger sister was a witch….
Remus continued to look at them over his shoulder, dragging behind from his father. He saw the greasy-haired boy called Severus—having practically abandoned his woeful mother—take a tentative step towards the redheaded girl.
“Lily?” he said meekly, yet not unkindly either.
But the redheaded girl called Lily spun on her heels at the sound of his voice and ran the other way, pushing past Remus, giving him a brief glimpse of her bright green eyes. It suddenly struck him that she was very pretty. And then he had an inexplicable urge to follow her. Without realizing it he’d stopped walking altogether.
Remus jumped and looked around to see his parents approaching him.
“Wondered where you’d got to, son,” said John Lupin when they’d reached him, giving a laugh that sounded half-amused and half-anxious.
“Oh…sorry,” Remus muttered. He looked up at his mother, and saw that she was smiling fragilely at him.
“You’re growing up so fast, Remus,” she said fondly, reaching out and running her fingers lightly through his bangs, smoothing them out. Her voice cracked slightly when she said his name, and Remus thought she might start crying. Ever since he’d become a werewolf she was nearly always openly vexed about him.
“Mum? Dad?” he said quietly. “Do you know what Dumbledore’s planning to do about my—my problem?”
“He just said someone would come to take you up to the hospital wing,” his father answered. “And you and he and Madam Pomfrey will talk about everything there. I don’t know when; probably tonight, after the feast.” He checked his watch. “It’s nearly eleven, Jo.”
Joanne Lupin put her arms around Remus’ shoulders. She kissed him on the forehead then pressed his hair against her cheek, clutching him. Remus returned the embrace, wishing she didn’t fret so much. She had good reason to over-worry, but he still wished that she wouldn’t.
“Jo,” John said softly. “He’s got to get going.”
Joanne finally released Remus, cupping his face in her hands for a moment before pulling away completely and straightening up. Remus saw her wipe flusteredly at her eyes.
“Take care, son,” said John, pulling Remus into a very fierce hug that Remus had not braced himself for. He couldn’t remember his father ever embracing him so tightly. Luckily he didn’t try to prolong the embrace, like Joanne had. When he released him, he sniffed, taking a tiny step back as he reached out to ruffle his son’s hair. “You’ll do fantastically,” he said.
And there was that awful glimmer of guilt that always hung somewhere in his father’s eyes whenever he looked at Remus.
A sharp whistle pierced the air. It was the last minute call for everyone to get on-board.
Remus boarded the train with another group of nervous-looking first-years. As quick as he could, he found a window where he could stick out his head. He searched about for his parents in the crowd of other families gathering near the train for last-minute farewells. But he couldn’t seem to find them anywhere. Before he knew it, the train was moving forward, gradually gathering speed, before it rounded a corner, and Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters disappeared.
Remus heaved a sigh and withdrew from the window to find a compartment. In his jacket he had a book—his pocket guide to defensive magic. His plan was to find a compartment that was empty, and curl up with his book there. Unfortunately each compartment he passed already had at least one occupant. The train was racing through the countryside now, and halfway down the corridor, Remus was beginning to think he’d have to settle for a compartment with one or two other occupants.
Then he saw Lily again. She emerged from the compartment just ahead of him, in a huff. Remus, unable to help himself, stopped and stared, as she was followed by that greasy-haired boy Severus, who stumbled slightly, as thought someone had tried to trip him.
“Just ignore them,” Lily said to him as she and he walked down the corridor. “What are you looking at?” she added brusquely to Remus as she and Severus shoved past him.
Remus looked after them. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, somewhat taken aback by her attitude. He glanced back at the compartment from which Lily and Severus had just emerged, and from inside it he heard the laughter of what sounded like two other boys. Something told him that they had just insulted Lily just because they thought it was funny. Remus couldn’t fathom why, but for some reason he had something to say about this. Forgetting about how he’d promised himself earlier that morning that he wouldn’t talk to anybody (he’d figured that no one would want to anyhow), he approached the compartment door and poked his head inside, only to discover the two lone occupants were none other than the boy called Sirius and the boy called James, sitting across from each other—well, James sat, while Sirius lounged.
Remus, suddenly self-conscious again, cleared his throat nervously.
James and Sirius looked around at him, and the color rose in his cheeks.
“Erm…hi,” said Remus, trying to appear casual as he leaned his shoulder against the doorjamb with his arms folded. Unfortunately it only made him feel more foolish.
“Hi,” said James and Sirius together.
Remus was relieved to hear the friendliness in their voices. But instead of getting to the point, he thought maybe it’d be better if he got on amicable terms with them first before he said anything about Lily. “Er…have room for one more?” he asked
James and Sirius exchanged a fleeting glance and then looked back up at Remus.
“Sure,” said James. “Three’s a crowd, right?”
“Thanks,” said Remus, smiling rather shyly as he entered the compartment. He closed the sliding door behind him and went over to sit down by the window on James’ side, a little apart from him and Sirius. They were being so nice to him. Why would they do something like insult a pretty girl? And speaking of nice, he’d nearly forgotten the courtesy of giving them his name. “I’m Remus, by the way,” he said, folding his legs to his chest and hugging his knees. “Remus Lupin.”
“Cool,” said James, grinning pleasantly. “I’m James Potter. And that there’s my new best mate, Sirius Black.”
“James, you’re embarrassing me,” said Sirius, also grinning as he rolled his eyes in mock embarrassment. He had his hands folded behind his head and one foot up on the seat while the other rested on the floor.
“’Course that might change,” said James, shifting his position to mirror Sirius’. “His whole family’s been in Slytherin. If he’s in Slytherin too, well…I just don’t know….”
Sirius snorted and looked out into the corridor through the glass of the sliding compartment door. “Like I said before, I think I’ll break the family tradition, thank you very much. Unlike the rest of my…family—” He said this word with an obvious note of contempt—“I am not exactly Slytherin material.” He rolled his eyes and glanced over at James and Remus. “Can’t stand their obsession with being pure-blooded, you know?”
“I don’t blame you, mate,” said James. “If I were you, I couldn’t stand it either.”
“Nor could I,” said Remus quietly.
“And if anything, I don’t want to be in Slytherin,” said Sirius, “if it’s got people like that git Severus—or Snivellus—or whatever his name is.”
“I like Snivellus better,” James tittered.
“Are you talking about that kid who was with that redheaded girl I saw storming out of here a minute ago?” Remus asked.
“Yeah, him,” said James with distaste. “Did you see how greasy his hair was?” he asked Sirius. “I mean I know the Slytherins are an unfriendly lot, but I didn’t know they had poor hygiene too.”
“Yeah, I thought he smelled funny,” laughed Sirius. “Bet he hasn’t bathed in weeks.”
“The girl was very clean though, I think,” said Remus, before he could stop himself. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he felt his face grow hot.
James and Sirius both quirked an eyebrow at him, and then laughed. It was not, however, the laughter of ridicule—they were laughing with him, not at him.
“I s’pose she is rather clean,” James chortled.
“Yeah, so what’s she doing hanging out with dirty people like that Snivellus, eh?” Sirius wondered aloud. “For her sake, I hope she doesn’t end up in Slytherin. It’d be a waste to see hair like that get greasy.”
Just then the witch with the snack trolley arrived at their compartment. James and Sirius—both of them being rather wealthy—loaded up on pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, licorice wands, Droobles’ Best-Blowing Gum, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans, and chocolate frogs, as well as any number of other assorted candies and sweets. Remus, on the other hand, being the son of a watchmaker, had very little money on him, and decided to just get one Chocolate Frog. Of all the candies and sweets in the world, chocolate was his one great weakness.
James now sat on the other side of the compartment with Sirius, so they could spread out their haul between them in one big pile. Then they dived in, without fussing over who bought which candy or sweet. As far as they were concerned, what belonged to one belonged to the other.
Remus however stayed on the side he’d been sitting on before, and curled up with his chocolate frog. He ate it and then tucked the card into his pocket.
Sirius saw him do it and asked, “Who’d you get?” as he tore off a huge bite of his licorice wand in a rather dog-like way.
“Lupus Beowulf,” Remus sighed.
“Don’t like him?” James asked.
“He’s the one who was a werewolf, I think,” said Sirius. “Isn’t he?”
Remus pulled out the card and checked. “Yeah. It says it right here. ‘Werewolf. Died while attempting to find a cure for lycanthropy.’”
“What’s lycanthropy?” asked James.
“It’s what a werewolf has,” said Remus. “It’s the condition they get when they’re bitten.”
“Must be a technical term,” said Sirius.
“How do you know so much about werewolves?” James asked Remus.
Remus suddenly realized that he might have said too much, and was already giving the other two a great chance to work out his secret on their own. Quickly he said, “Er…I like reading up on defensive magic. I find it quite interesting. Especially since the dark arts are such a threat these days.”
“I take it you don’t like the dark arts much?” said James, raising his eyebrows as he opened a box of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans.
“Not to use them, no.” Remus hesitated, and then thought perhaps he could brag just a little. “I’ve actually been working on a spell I made up—”
Sirius gagged on his licorice wand. “You made up a spell?” he asked through watering eyes as he looked at Remus incredulously.
Remus shrugged modestly. “It was just something I came up with yesterday,” he explained. “My dad had this poltergeist problem in his shop—he’s a magical watchmaker—anyway, and I sort of worked out this spell for it.”
“Neat,” said James, clearly impressed.
“Ditto,” said Sirius.
Remus felt positively elated by their reactions, and the color rose in his face as he smiled shyly again. He wasn’t exactly the world’s best bragger.
A brief lull fell among them, during which Remus looked over at the large pile of sweets between James and Sirius. James and Sirius did not fail to notice this. They did not however, demand to know why he hadn’t got more for himself. Instead, they seemed to see that Remus couldn’t have gotten more, much as he’d wanted to, because then James grinned and said, “Hey, Remus, these sweets aren’t just for us two lovebirds over here.”
“What?” said Remus, faintly crinkling his brow.
“Yeah,” said Sirius, grinning as he caught James’ eye for a split-second. “You can have some of it too. As much we’d like to think we could, I don’t think just us two could eat the whole lot.”
Remus did not move. Why were they being so nice to him? Like he was…like he was…their friend…?
“C’mon, Remus, we don’t bite,” Sirius added laughingly.
Remus moved down to the floor so he could sit closer to them. “I didn’t think you did,” he said meekly, grabbing another chocolate frog from the pile. As he unwrapped it, he sat back with his legs crossed. “I just….”
“You just what?” asked James.
“I just….” Remus looked up at him and Sirius, who were beaming back, without a trace of loathing or suspicion in their eyes. He smiled his shy smile. “Thanks,” he said softly.
“No problem,” said James and Sirius simultaneously.
Then James added, “Can you believe they won’t let us first-years try out for Quidditch? Or even let any of us have a broom?”
“You were thinking of trying out?” Sirius asked through a mouthful of his cauldron cake.
“Well…I couldn’t have anyway,” James admitted, “because I sort of…had an accident with my broom, and, er…I don’t exactly have one anymore.”
“Will your parents get you a new one?” Remus asked, remembering James asking for one from them back at King’s Cross.
“They said, ‘We’ll see’,” said James. He sounded doubtful.
“Parents,” Sirius muttered, perhaps more to himself then to the other two. Then he said, “I love watching a good Quidditch game. I was at the World Cup last time Britain hosted it. Don’t play it much myself, seeing as how the only kid I was ever allowed to play with was my stupid little brother, and I hate him. He’s just as pure-blood obsessed as my parents are.”
“Why were you only allowed to play with your brother?” Remus asked.
“Well, see, our house is right smack in the middle of Muggle London,” Sirius explained. “Dunno why the Blacks decided to live there if they hated Muggles so much. They did everything to the house so that no Muggle could find it no matter what. I suppose they enjoyed the opportunity to play tricks on Muggles—you know: ones they could get away with, without the Ministry having something to say about it.”
“What about you, Remus?” asked James. “You play Quidditch?”
Remus shook his head. “No. I like the game but…. Well I’ve never had anyone to play it with—I’m an only child and we live out in the country and…it wears me out.”
“Wears you out?” Sirius asked.
“Athletics get me tired real easy,” said Remus, which was in fact true. He didn’t have to add that the reason was because of his monthly werewolf transformations. “I’ve got a broom though,” he went on, “and I fly on it sometimes. But I’m not anything spectacular on it.”
“So you’ve ridden on a broom before too?” asked Sirius. “I hear first-years take flying lessons.”
“Yeah, it’s actually my dad’s old broom,” said Remus, opening a box of Bertie Bott’s. He now started going through the beans, trying to tell what flavor it might be without having to take the risk of tasting it. He was brave, but not that brave.
“Wish my dad had another old broom to give me,” James said wistfully, helping himself to another pumpkin pasty. “At this point, I’d even settle for a Silver Arrow.”
“A Silver Arrow?” said Sirius incredulously. “Those are ancient! They hardly even make them anymore!”
“Is that an owl?” Remus asked.
“No, it’s someone at the door,” said James.
Sirius got up and slid the compartment door open to allow their visitor inside. Remus recognized them immediately for the short boy he’d seen back on the platform, complaining to his mother that he’d lost his Remembrall. It seemed that James recognized him too, because he said, “Hey, you’re that little Peter Pettigrew!”
Peter, edging his way past Sirius, who was gazing down at him with a quirked eyebrow, jumped at James’ words. “I am,” he squeaked. “How did you know?”
“Heard your mum scolding you about something back at King’s Cross,” said James.
Sirius slid the compartment door shut and returned to sit with James and Remus.
“It’s my Remembrall!” Peter exclaimed. The height of his anxiety might have suggested that he thought the sky was falling and they were all going to die. “Of all the things I’ve lost, I’ve never lost anything so important! I’ll never remember anything! I’ll fail at Hogwarts my first day!” He looked wildly from James, to Sirius, and then to Remus. “None of you have seen it, have you?”
“I haven’t seen one,” said James.
“No Remembralls where I’ve been,” said Sirius.
“Sorry, me neither,” said Remus, shaking his head.
“Oooh!” Peter seemed quite agitated. He dropped to his hands and knees and began combing the floor for his lost Remembrall. “What if I dropped it into an Invisible Void?”
Sirius laughed a laugh that reminded Remus of a dog’s bark. “Not likely, is it? Invisible Voids are rare.”
“They move around though,” Peter pointed out, checking under the seats on the other side of the compartment.
“Well, everything that falls into an Invisible Void comes back out somewhere else at the other end,” said Remus.
“But that could be miles from here!” Peter whimpered. He sat up on his knees and looked helplessly at the other three. “Please, help me look! My life depends on that Remembrall!”
Remus saw Sirius roll his eyes.
“Oy!” said James as all four of them looked up at the ceiling.
The others barely had any time to realize what was happening, before James snatched something out of the air seemingly with no more effort than plucking an apple from a tree. In his hand, he held out Peter’s lost Remembrall for the others to see. Peter clapped excitedly, repeating “Thank you” to James in an almost groveling manner. And he was also—like Remus and Sirius—aghast at what James had just been able to do.
Noticing their gaping mouths, James said with a rather conceited grin, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? That’s my Quidditch position: I’m always a Chaser.”
“That was amazing!” Peter cried through grateful tears. “How did you do that? You made it look so easy.”
James handed the overjoyed Peter his Remembrall, not bothering to conceal his own pride. “Talent runs in the family.”
“No kidding,” said Sirius.
They decided to let Peter have the left-over sweets, seeing as they’d already had their fill. But that fill soon wore off as they reached the castle of Hogwarts. They had just changed into their new school robes when they saw everyone else herding themselves off the train. Quickly they followed, and queued up with the other first-years at the beckoning of a booming voice whose owner towered over them all with a big lantern in his hand. It was none other than Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper.
“Firs’ years!” he cried. “Firs’ years! Over here!”
“He’s so tall,” said Peter fearfully.
“He must have giant’s blood in him,” said Remus with eager interest. As he stood with James and Sirius (while Peter followed close behind them), he noticed Lily and Severus join the queue out of the corner of his eye. They, however, did not notice him back, for which, he supposed, he ought to be thankful.
At the lakeshore, Remus got into a boat with James and Sirius, and Peter hopped in behind him, anxiously clutching his Remembrall to his chest.
All of them—Remus, James, Sirius, Lily, Severus, and Peter—made that walk up the great stone steps and through the giant oak front doors. They were greeted by Professor Minerva McGonagall, who took them on from there, leading them into the entrance hall. As the doors closed behind them thunderously, there was a great echoing cackle coming from Peeves the Poltergeist. He zoomed over the first-years, bombarding their heads with buttons.
“Ouch!” Lily exclaimed as a big red button grazed her ear. She rubbed it furiously.
“I’ll take care of him,” said Severus. He pulled out his wand, but McGonagall noticed him with her keen-as-a-hawk’s eyes.
“Wands away!” she reprimanded.
Severus stared at her as though she’d smacked him then stuffed his wand back in his robes, looking sullen.
“Lucky McGonagall was here to save you from making a dire mistake, Snivellus,” said James when McGonagall was out of earshot. “You might’ve blasted your eye out.”
Sirius sniggered but Remus was more preoccupied with Lily’s fierce glaring.
“Hey, Remus,” James whispered. “Didn’t you say you’d made up a spell to deal with things like poltergeists?”
Remus glanced at Peeves now pelting buttons at a knot of squealing girls a little ways ahead of them in the queue. “Yeah, I did,” he whispered back to James and Sirius. “I’ll show you later though.”
“First-years, follow me, please,” said Professor McGonagall. She led them into the Great Hall.
Remus was spellbound by the ceiling and the floating candles, but when he saw all of the older students watching the first-years as they sat at tables determined by which House they were in, he swallowed. He stood with James, Sirius, and Peter as they all gathered at the front of the hall. He saw the teachers sitting at the High Table—Professor Dumbledore among them. Professor McGonagall brought out a stool and the Sorting Hat and placed it before the students. After the Sorting Hat sang its song, she unrolled a large scroll of parchment, and cleared her throat.
“Abbot, Wesley!” she called.
And so it began.
“How does it work, this spell?” Sirius asked Remus as the Sorting continued.
“Well, he has to have a wad of something,” Remus explained to him and James. “So, actually, you can use it on anyone or anything, as long as they’ve got a wad of something. But I highly recommend using it on poltergeists, only because it’s actually effective on them. At least…in my experience it was.”
Sirius looked around at his name. His confidence seemed slightly humbled as he approached the Sorting Hat.
After a few minutes, the Sorting Hat shouted, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Sirius was so elated that as he ripped off the Sorting Hat he jumped up from the stool and exclaimed, “Ha! Take that, Mum!” and jogged over to the cheering Gryffindor table, not caring that the other three Houses were laughing at him.
Remus and James were laughing too, but only because they knew that Sirius wanted to do something like that more than anything.
“Knew he was all right,” said James.
“I don’t know why you’d want to be in Slytherin,” Remus heard Lily whisper to Severus. “Look at them all. Do they always scowl like that? They don’t seem very friendly. Not like you.”
“I think they’re exactly Snivellus’ type,” said James, but low enough so that only Remus could hear.
“I’m not so sure about that,” said Remus. “I do know that Lily is not they’re type though.”
“What makes you say that?”
“She’s Muggle-born, I think. Slytherin rarely lets them in, they won’t stand for it. They’re too exclusively pure-blood.”
“Good point, mate.”
They watched Lily approach the Sorting Hat with trembling legs and sit on the stool. Remus found himself crossing his fingers behind his back. But they didn’t have long to wait: the Hat had barely touched her head, when it cried, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Remus sighed with relief, and he felt James do the same thing, but decided not to comment on it.
James, however, said, “Look at Snivellus!”
Remus glanced at Severus and saw wistfulness in his eyes as they followed Lily to the Gryffindor table. Then he remembered something from listening to Severus and his mother back at King’s Cross: if he wasn’t mistaken, Severus’ father was a Muggle, which would make Severus a half-blood. Surely there was no way he’d end up in Slytherin either…not unless he had something that would give Slytherin cause to overlook that…because Slytherin did not just look for pure-bloods, otherwise every pure-blood at Hogwarts would be a Slytherin, and he knew that wasn’t true…. Sirius’ being made a Gryffindor proved that if anything….
Remus felt James nudge him forward with a whispered, “Go on.” He walked up the steps, feeling everyone’s gazes on him. He felt the staff’s gazes on him. He felt Dumbledore’s gaze on him. He wondered if he was thinking: So, this is the little werewolf who’s come to school this year….
The Hat was so big it fell over Remus’ eyes as McGonagall placed it on his head. It wasn’t long before he heard a voice in his ear.
“Well, well…what have we here? Werewolf, are you? Hmmm. Never had a student infected with lycanthropy before. This could be rather difficult…. You’ve a clever mind; very clever indeed…perhaps Ravenclaw would best suit you…. But wait…I see bravery here…well, anyone who’s gotten bit by a werewolf has to have some stamina…not many people brave the full moon as a rule, don’t wanna give the bloodthirsty killers a chance…but I suppose you felt you had nothing to fear…. Yet I sense fear now…and a will to prove yourself to be just as good a wizard as any other despite your little secret…. Well, you’re far too unique a case for Hufflepuff, though I've been known to sort a rare Metamorphamagus in...and besides that, you're positively brimming with a nobility that Helga herself would been proud off.... But Slytherin is right out...you'd never make friends there...and that's what you want, isn't it? Anyway, you don’t fit the type…no, no….you're cunning, but there's far too much of that nobility here.... There is a solid loyalty here, as well…and a sense of selflessness…. Well, while you’ve an extremely bright mind, I quite think you’d be better suited to GRYFFINDOR!”
Remus felt so relieved the adrenaline made him tremble slightly as he got off the stool to join Sirius and the other cheering Gryffindors. At the table, he sat down across from Sirius, who said to him, “This is excellent.”
“Too bad I couldn’t make a memorable exit like you did,” said Remus, raising his eyebrows.
“Well…I’m a bit of a dramatic,” said Sirius rather playfully.
Remus noticed Lily sitting beside Sirius, but she had her back to him and her arms folded, so all he could really see of her was the back of her long dark red hair.
As McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on Peter’s head, Sirius whispered, “Bet he ends up in Hufflepuff, poor bloke.”
To their surprise, however, the Sorting Hat cried, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Peter nearly tripped on his way to the table, but Remus was nice enough to make room for him so that he sat directly across from Lily.
Remus and Sirius both crossed their fingers.
Remus, Sirius, and Peter were the loudest clappers at the Gryffindor table as James sat down on the other side of Sirius, directly across from Remus, his face beaming. Lily in the meantime rolled her eyes in dislike.
Severus was one of the last ones to be sorted. It didn’t take the Sorting Hat very long to come to a decision. After a few minutes it cried, “SLYTHERIN!”
Lily gave a moan while James and Sirius sniggered.
“Told you he was Slytherin’s type,” James said to Remus.
Lily glared at him and Sirius over her shoulder. She avoided talking to any of them during the feast, but Remus found he didn’t really care, because he was too filled with happiness anyway. As he tucked into his plate of food, and laughed with James and Sirius, who laughed with him in turn, he felt something he certainly had not dreamed that he would be feeling when he woke up this morning: the feeling that he belonged, that he was not an outcast or a freak or a monster, but a normal kid like everyone else around him.
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