Romula wondered what arsehole had the fan-fucking-tastic epiphany that there should be only one bleeding train to Hogwarts, leaving from a city in a not-so-central location and not making any stops. And whose brilliant idea was it to make attendance on this idiotic train ride mandatory? Did it ever occur to the sodding bastard that perhaps not every Hogwarts student lived in a location geographically convenient to London? Romula happened to know of two students who lived over 300 kilometers north of that overcrowded, polluted rattrap. Maybe it would be a clever idea to let them depart from their embarrassingly run down cottage directly for the Scottish Highlands not by way of London! Maybe they lived closer to the north of Scotland than to the south of England! Just—a—thought.
Of course the fact that Remus and I have a ridiculously long commute to school wouldn’t be an issue if we could Apparate to London like normal seventeen-year-olds, thought Romula bitterly. Well, even if we could Apparate we wouldn’t be normal, as Remus is a fucking werewolf and I have a slight problem with handling my inner rage. But we wouldn’t have to drive for six hours in an ancient Citroën GSA that caps out at fifty km/hr.
Rhea Silvia Lupin, remarkably phobic of magic considering she’d been married to a wizard for twenty years (though the werewolf-for-a-son probably didn’t help matters), did not like the idea of Romula and Remus Apparating the hundreds of kilometers to London, Remus transporting his trunk full of what could only be the heaviest books he could find and Romula transporting a slightly lighter trunk, though balancing an owl cage (and within, Ryder the Owl) on top. They’d received their licenses only months before! argued Mrs. Lupin. It was just too dangerous for two novice Apparitionators or whatever they’re called to teleport themselves and all the belongings they could conceivably need or want in the course of a school year all the way from the wood north of Leeds to London. Mrs. Lupin did not even consider this option. The family would just have to pile into the car for the seventh consecutive year and drive to the capital city.
“178 kilometers to go!” exclaimed Romula with cheery sarcasm, clapping her hands together for sardonic joy. “Wonderful progress, Family Lupin! With every centimeter we crawl closer and closer to the cultural hotbed that is London!”
“Why do you have to say things like that?” muttered Remus, looking up from his book to glance at his sister. They were cramped in the tiny rear row of the Citroën, their respective trunks awkwardly placed upright between their knees and the backs of their parents’ seats. Ryder’s cage was perched precariously on Romula’s trunk, and the squaking bird certainly was not a source of pleasantness on this trip.
“Because we’re a little cramped back here,” snapped Romula. Their father had applied for a permit to magically enhance the size of the car years ago, but an employee of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, a Mr. Perkins, had denied Marius Lupin’s application. Romula was cross that she was the only one of her family to display any bitterness about this matter.
“Romula,” said Mr. Lupin sternly, diligently keeping his eyes focused on the motorway ahead of him, “please watch your tone. The Muggle mechanic warned me not to push the engine when the gear shifter is in such a rough state.”
Romula sat back in her seat (though considering the small quarters, she didn’t have far back to sit) and crossed her arms to demonstrate her dissatisfaction. Remus shook his head and returned to his book. The campy wanker.
But Marius is worse, thought Romula resentfully. Fecking Ravenclaw tosser. Every ruddy last one of those obedient gits follows every ridiculous rule they come across in the course of their lifetime religiously. But that’s all they’ve got, yeah? Following idiotic rules? Who gives a shit about how smart Ravenclaws allegedly are? Every sodding house has a fair number of bright people. Well, except Hufflepuff.
“I can’t believe you two are in upper sixth form already!” exclaimed Mrs. Lupin in absolute wonder. “It seems like just yesterday that you were wee freshers.”
Rhea may be a Muggle, but she’s obviously Helga Hufflepuff reincarnate, thought Romula. Mum, could you be any more cheery?
“I’m really excited about seventh year, Mum,” said Remus. “Everyone says it’s the most difficult academically, which is perfectly logical what with the impending N.E.W.T.s, but it’s also supposed to be the most fun, by far.”
“You okay about not getting Head Boy, Remus?” asked Romula, her tone sincere all of a sudden. She hoped she didn’t come across as bitchy.
“I guess,” he replied, maintaining his composure. But Romula knew he wasn’t okay.
“It’s just that,” continued Remus, “Rhian was so sure that Lily and I would get the Heads positions. She just made a blind assumption, which isn’t unusual for her, and I believed her without considering the other possibilities. James will do well, though. He’s an excellent leader.”
Romula clicked her tongue and thought to herself. Rhiannon Clark. Remus’s girlfriend. The bint who he’d pined over for at least two years before she broke his precious heart by going out with Sirius Black for a brief period the previous year. But since Black was incapable of maintaining a long-term relationship, things ended messily and Clark finally found her way to Remus. They seemed happy enough together. Clark had kicked the stick out of Remus’s ass so he wasn’t nearly as pratty and boring. It’s just too vile, grimaced Romula. Remus and Rhian. Their first names begin with the same letter. How adorable.
She made a mental note to never date a Rob or a Richard or any other ‘R’ names. Romula saw tree after tree slowly make its way by her window in the Citroën as the Family Lupin gradually made the journey to London.
“So fucking heavy,” growled Romula as she struggled to push her trolley along the platform of King’s Cross Rail Station. “Are you sure you didn’t take my trunk by mistake?”
Remus casually pushed his trolley along the smooth platform, not acknowledging the horde of Muggles gaping at the caged bird on Romula’s trolley. “I don’t think so,” he said nonchalantly.
Romula grumbled some choice words to herself. “What the hell were Mum and Dad thinking giving us the same initials?” She glanced at her own trunk, which bore the letters RJ Lupin, and turned to Remus’s, which was also emblazoned with RJ Lupin in a plain typeset.
“I suppose they liked the sound of the names Remus John Lupin and Romula Jacqueline Lupin,” remarked Remus, pushing his trolley with the greatest of ease.
Their parents had dropped them off at the front gate of the station and bid hasty adieux, so hurriedly because the ride back to Leeds would be at least as long as the trip to London, and both Marius and Rhea had to work in the morning.
Romula huffed as she struggled to push her curiously heavy trunk on the trolley along the platform. Ryder hooted at her and swiveled his head. He knew what was going on.
“Open your trunk, Remus,” ordered Romula.
Remus looked around in confusion. “We’re walking at a brisk clip in a crowded terminal toward our train, which leaves in four minutes. Why exactly do you want me to take inventory of my things now?”
Romula steered her trolley into his, forcing him to halt and push his trolley to the side barrier. Romula lined her trolley with her brother’s, and deftly took out her wand.
“We’re still surrounded by Muggles!” screeched Remus softly. “What are you doing?”
“Unlocking your ruddy trunk,” replied Romula swiftly, performing a non-verbal Alohomora spell and pocketing her wand once the lock clicked open. “No one saw.”
She flipped open the top of the trunk and gasped when she saw what was inside. “You have my trunk!” exclaimed Romula. “This one’s full of girls’ clothes and makeup and other lightweight objects, when I was stuck with yours, full of books and bricks and other ridiculously dense shit!”
“We’re going to miss our train,” said Remus sheepishly.
“You switched the trunks on purpose!” accused Romula.
Remus grinned slyly, the sort of grin foreign to his normally solemn face except when he got into a bit of mischief with his mates. “I like my books, of course, but I’d rather not push them around this terminal. And our trunks are identical, bearing the same name.”
Romula smirked back at her brother. “Well done, Remus. Clever means of self-preservation. Very Slytherin of you, actually.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Remus. “We Gryffindors can be just as opportunistic and selfish as anyone, if we put our minds to it.”
Romula nudged Remus out of the way and placed her hands on what had been his trolley. “We’re switching back now. No more tricky shit. Yeah?”
“Not much time for tricks,” said Remus, hastily glancing at his wristwatch. “The train leaves in 90 seconds.”
The twins grabbed their proper trolleys and bolted in the direction of the magical barrier, determined to catch the Hogwarts Express before its 11 o’clock departure.
They made it, of course. Romula laughed haughtily to herself as she walked the corridor of the moving train, wondering what idiot could manage to miss a simple train. You didn’t have to be an Unspeakable to understand the concept of train timetables.
After they stepped onto the Hogwarts Express, she and Remus hurried to the front of the train in the hopes that they wouldn’t be late for their prefects’ meeting. But they were.
When Remus opened the door to the prefects’ compartment, Lily Evans stopped talking and looked at them. As did every sodding prefect in the room. Remus apologized for his tardiness (Romula did not), and they were forced to stand in the corner, as every seat in the compartment was already occupied.
“Let’s move on to the correct procedure for handing out punishments,” said Lily Evans, deftly changing the subject in her composed, graceful way. Bitch. Romula had never cared much for Evans, what with her perfect hair and excellent wardrobe and brilliant mind. All the teachers loved her, but not as much as two boys sitting in that very room.
Romula scanned her eyes for Severus Snape, one of her closest friends in the world. He sat, sulking, on one of the benches next to the sixth year Slytherin prefects. His clothes were wrinkled, his hair was as oily as ever, and his eyes attentively concentrated on Evans while she babbled on about detentions. Romula wasn’t listening. That ponce headmaster loved Evans, and of course the intelligent, responsible redhead was his first choice for the position of Head Girl. No one else even had a shot.
But the bloke assigned Head Boy, who was staring at Evans almost as determinedly as Severus, was an absolute wild card. James Potter? The bastard so fucking proud to be famous for pranking? The teachers never even trusted him as prefect, so why would they make him Head Boy?
When Evans handed the floor over to Potter (beacause Romula wasn’t listening, she judged this by the fact that Evans had shut her gob and now Potter was the one reminding them of pointless rules and wasting everyone’s time), Romula turned to Remus and whispered, “You okay?”
His eyes darted to her, surprised that she was speaking to him during the prefects’ meeting, and whispered back, “Peachy. And how do you do?”
“I mean about Potter getting Head Boy instead of you,” she whispered bluntly.
Remus exhaled and returned his attention to one of his very best mates, who was still talking about what could only be an insipid subject. “I trust Dumbledore’s decision,” said Remus faintly.
“No you don’t,” said Romula knowingly. “How could anyone be okay in your situation? It’s James Ruddy Potter we’re talking about here! You’ve saved his arse how many times? He’s your alleged best mate, yeah? How could he do this to—”
“Lupin!” Romula heard Evans’s crisp alto voice cut across the room.
Both Romula and Remus turned to look at her.
Evans shook her head. “Romula, not Remus. Lupin, may I ask why you feel the need to talk during a meeting led by the Head Boy and Girl?”
Ooph. Lily Evans was a hard ass. “First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m so, so sorry, Evans,” replied Romula with all the false sincerity in her bones. “And Potter, I really should apologize to you, since I so rudely interrupted your very important speech. Can you ever forgive me? And lastly, I feel like I ought to apologize to all my fellow prefects. I’m sorry that I let you—nay, our entire school—nay, the entirety of sweet Britannia down! I’m a blemish on the otherwise attractive face of wizardry!”
A select few prefects chuckled, including Severus. Remus, however, was definitely not smiling, and Evans looked violent.
“You’re quite the orator,” she muttered sarcastically. “Now, I think—James, were you about done? Yeah?—I think that wraps up this start-of-term prefects’ meeting. Please pair up by house and year and patrol the corridors.”
Remus bolted from Romula the moment Evans closed her mouth, in search of Adelaide Something-Or-Other, Evans’s replacement prefect for seventh year. Love you too! Have a super year! shouted Romula telepathically, though it was difficult to say if Remus received the message. She decided that it was unlikely.
“Oi, Severus!” called Romula to her lanky, greasy-haired best friend across the compartment. As he walked toward her through the throng of prefects, Romula figured he wasn’t that bad-looking. Apart from the hygiene issue and the blunt notion that anyone who saw him was struck with, that he put absolutely no effort into his appearance, Severus was a tall, thin, unhappy-looking boy with a large nose.
Morgan le Fay! exclaimed Romula in her mind. I did not just insinuate that in an alternate universe, Severus Snape could be remotely attractive! The poor sod’s too in love with Evans, anyways. Even if I did think he was good-looking (which I don’t!), then it would be pointless to even think I had a chance. Which I don’t care about since I don’t fancy my best friend, cos that’s mental.
“Romula,” said Severus as he approached her, nodding.
“Hullo Severus!” she said, overcompensating. Blast!
“So…shall we begin our rounds?” he drawled. Whenever Severus Snape drawled, it was anyone’s guess as to whether or not he was being sarcastic.
“Oh—kay!” exclaimed Romula, blunt with her sarcasm. “Let’s get a move on, Severus! Many ickle firsties to discipline, yeah?”
As they stepped out of the compartment and into the corridor, Severus gleamed, “But I do love dolling out detentions.”
They strolled down the corridor, not diligently in the slightest keeping a close eye out for mischief-makers, lazyily and blissfully doing a poor job of being prefects. But this was how Romula and Severus had approached the job for two years prior; they most certainly weren’t going to change now.
“How was your summer, Severus?” asked Romula, friendly. She knew that she could be a right bitch at times, but she obviously didn’t act that way towards her friends. Only the hopelessly perfect Evans, the hopeslessly ugly Dorcas Meadowes, and the hopelessly stern Professor McGonagall.
Severus placed his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “It was,” he drawled.
Romula pursed her lips to the side. “Huh,” she said noncommittally. “I suppose my summer just was, as well.”
“Lucky us,” said Severus.
“We’re definitely the fortunate ones in this world, what with our limitless wealth and popularity,” added Romula, appreciating that she had a friend like Severus to be self-pitying and sarcastic with.
“Amen, Lupin,” said Severus distantly.
“Amen back at you, Snape,” replied Romula. She wasn’t sure what ‘amen’ meant, but her mum sometimes used it when she pretended that the rest of her family prayed with her before meals.
They leisurely meandered down the corridors of the train, running into no fights or other infractions. Quiet group we’ve got here, thought Romula. Hope this year won’t be too dull.
All of a sudden, a small, dark figure jumped out of the compartment next to Romula and cackled jovially.
“Alecto!” exclaimed Romula happily, leaning over to hug her petite best friend. Well, probably not as much of her best friend as Severus, but do details ever matter?
“Romy!” replied Alecto Carrow as the girls ended their embrace and stepped back. “And Sev! Didn’t see you hiding over there!”
Severus scowled, though the corner of his lip twitched slightly. “Call me ‘Sev’ again, Alecto, and I’ll have to curse you. And that would probably put a strain on our friendship.”
Romula piped, “You think that by calling us stupid nicknames then we’ll start to call you Alex, but you’re wrong. I’m Romula, not Romy, he’s Severus, not Sev, and you’re simply Alecto. Learn to live with it.”
Alecto pouted dramatically. “Fine, bitch. You don’t have to call me Alex, though when I want to irritate you, I shall most certainly refer to you as Romy. Take it or leave it.”
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” said Romula dryly, then she promptly grinned.
“Come sit in our compartment!” barked Alecto.
Romula glanced at Severus, then back at Alecto. “Er, we have prefect rounds.”
“So?” asked Alecto obnoxiously. “Stop wasting your time on those retarded rounds and come sit with your friends.”
Romula glanced at Severus once more. “Want to ditch rounds?”
Severus thought for a moment. “Yes. But I’m going to go for a walk to clear my head. Maybe I’ll join you later.”
“Fine, you slimy bastard,” said Alecto. She took hold of Romula’s arm as the latter waved goodbye to Severus, who disappeared down the corridor.
The two girls strode into the compartment and sat down on the bench to the left. Seated in the compartment were their fellow Slytherin seventh years Hersilius Wilkes, Callisto Burke, Juno Ramsey, and Laverna Strudwick. Those three girls were among the stupidest people Romula had ever encountered, and Hersilius looked particularly grateful for her presence.
“Thank Mordred you showed up, Lupin,” he said languidly as he leaned back in his seat, across from hers. “I’m not the only bloke in here anymore.”
Romula frowned and kicked him hard in the shins. “When the hell are you going to stop with the I’m-a-bloke jokes?”
“Fuck!” exclaimed Hersilius in pain, clutching his shin. “Merlin, I was bloody kidding! I think this qualifies as a slight overreaction!”
“I could have aimed my foot higher,” said Romula snidely, though grinning. Hersilius was her Quidditch captain and another sort of best friend. He was handsome (unlike Snape and the ugly Alecto), fit, ridiculously talented at sport, and rather popular, though not the brightest student in school. Yet Hersilius’s intellect was far superior to that of Callisto, Laverna, and Juno.
“Where’s Amycus?” Callisto asked Alecto suddenly, assuming Alecto kept tabs on her twin brother’s whereabouts at all times.
“Yeah, where is he?” asked Juno. “And Evan isn’t here, either.”
“And Flavius!” added Laverna.
Alecto gasped. “I don’t know! Maybe you should go look for them!”
The three nitwitted girls agreed that this would be a very good idea, and hurried out of the compartment in a fit of giggles.
Hersilius grinned and outstretched his long legs on the now vacated bench he sat upon. “Infinitely glad that they’re gone,” he smirked.
“How were your summers?” asked Romula cordially of her two friends.
“Excellent!” said Alecto enthusiastically. “I holidayed on the Amalfi Coast and it was gorgeous. The scenery, I mean, and I’m not talking about the coastline.” She winked.
Hersilius shuddered. “Well, I played Quidditch. A lot of Quidditch.”
“Good, because your Keeping skills were mediocre at best,” grinned Romula devilishly.
Hersilius clutched his heart in mock pain. “Oh Romula! That hurts! Emotionally!”
“How was your summer, Romy?” asked Alecto.
Romula groaned at Alecto’s pet name for her. “I suppose it just was,” she replied.
Alecto scrunched her forehead. “That’s not a peculiar answer. Not at all.”
“How was being forced to live with a Gryffindor for two months?” asked Hersilius.
“Fine,” said Romula promptly and coldly. “What are you insinuating about my brother.”
“Er, nothing,” said Hersilius, looking regretful that he’d brought the matter up.
“What, just cos he’s in Gryffindor and has moronic friends that makes him unbearable?” asked Romula testily. “Sure, he’s the worst kind of Gryffindor that there is, but he’s still my brother, you know!”
“I’m going to go look for a boy to snog,” interjected Aleco.
“Okay?” said Hersilius uncomfortably.
“That sixth year Horatio Farfignewton asked me out last year,” said Alecto. “He’s friends with Regulus Black, so you know him, right?”
“I don’t usually keep track of all my Seeker’s mates,” said Hersilius sarcastically.
“Me neither,” added Romula.
“Hmm,” said Alecto. “Well, he’s ugly, but not more so than me. I’m going to go find him and see if he wants to snog.”
“Good plan,” said Romula wryly as Alecto opened the door to the compartment and stepped out.
Romula and Hersilius sat in silence for a few moments.
“Sorry about talking shit about your brother,” said Hersilius finally. “Even if I didn’t really. But I should have remembered that you’re all sensitive and shit about that sort of thing.”
“Sorry for maybe overreacting,” conceded Romula. “But you know my temper.”
Hersilius chuckled. “That I do.”
The conversation stopped flowing for a few more minutes.
“Let’s go for a walk,” suggested Romula. “This is boring.”
Hersilius agreed and they stepped out of the compartment and slowly meandered down the corridor. Romula wondered when riding the Hogwarts Express had become so dull.
“So, Quidditch,” said Hersilius.
“It’s the sport we play,” commented Romula.
“Yes,” he said. “Er, I thought of some new plays this summer.”
“Nice work, captain,” said Romula.
“They’re mostly for the Chasers,” said Hersilius. “Of which you are one. So they concern you.”
“And I’m sure you’ll tell us all about them at Quidditch practice,” said Romula. “I’m not as obsessed with sport as you, Hersilius, and believe or not, I don’t think about it all the time. I’m an anomaly, I know. A freak of nature, a girl who isn’t overly zealous about sport. But it’s just who I am.”
Hersilius rolled his eyes. “You know what I love about you? Your compassionate, sweet nature.”
Romula had to laugh at this one, but abruptly stopped when she noticed the fight directly in front of her.
It wasn’t Severus v. Potter, or even Severus v. Black (Sirius Black, not Regulus). No, James Potter was pointing his wand at his very best mate Sirius Black in a remarkably menacing manner. Black was growling at Potter, while Severus and Evans stood to one side and Peter Pettigrew stood on the other.
“Lower your fucking wand, Prongs!” exclaimed Black, not entertained in the slightest.
Potter obliged reluctantly. “You were hexing another student, Padfoot! I don’t care if it’s Snivellus! I’m Head Boy, I can’t let you get away with this!”
Black glanced at his mate in disbelief. “Prongs! We’ve hexed Snivellus loads of times. You get that goddamn badge and all of a sudden you’re his sovereign protector?”
“Fuck no,” grumbled Severus, finally speaking up.
“Severus,” said Evans desperately, “please—”
“Stay the hell away from me, Potter,” interrupted Severus. “I don’t need your sodding help.”
With a swish of his cloak, Severus hurried down the corridor, not acknowledging Romula and Hersilius as he rushed by. Romula glanced at Hersilius, and he back at her, in slight confusion.
“I’m going to have to give you a detention for this,” said Potter reluctantly to Black. “And dock five points each.”
Black’s jaw dropped. “You’re docking ten points from Gryffindor?”
Potter ran his hand through his untidy black hair. “I have to follow the rules, Padfoot.”
Black glared at him and muttered, “Go fuck yourself.” He turned and walked away from them in the opposite direction that Severus had.
Potter turned to Pettigrew and said reluctantly, “You should have stopped him, Wormtail.”
Pettigrew tensed up, a terrified expression upon his face. “But Prongs, I—”
“You know better,” said Potter, utterly disappointed.
Pettigrew opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it and hurried down the corridor after Black. Soon, only Potter and Evans were left.
“You—you gave your best mate detention,” said Evans in disbelief.
“And docked ten points from my own house,” said Potter weakly.
She stared at him strangely, her shining green eyes regarding him as they never had before. “That’s very…noble of you,” said Evans with difficulty.
“Thanks,” replied Potter, his voice hollow.
Evans seemed to think for a moment, then said, “Should we continue rounds?”
“I s’pose so,” answered Potter, exhaling sadly. The pair walked down the corridor in the same direction as Black and Pettigrew, completely unaware that Romula and Hersilius had stood only fifteen feet away from the entire incident.
“Well that was odd,” said Romula out of nowhere.
“That it was,” remarked Hersilius. “That it was.”
A/N: And there’s Chapitre Deux for you all! I actually omitted a scene that I was going to conclude with, because it’s already pretty long and I wanted to get this out before I leave for the weekend. Wish us luck in our race against Princeton!
I hope the chapter was good. I think it’s interesting, at any rate. But I’m extremely biased. Please review! Feedback is CRUCIAL at this stage of the story, since I’m still figuring out the tone and finalizing the characters’ personalities. I love reading your favorite lines (or least favorite lines, though I hope that there aren’t any of those), and feel free to include constructive criticism! Thank you so much for reading.
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