Chapter 3 : First Year - The Beginning (Part III)
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Author's Note: Harry Potter world, characters and canon information in this story belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me.
Please note: I will write whatever story in whatever year I feel like writing, and when posting, the years will be kept in proper order. This means you may have to skip around to find the most recent chapter, rather than assuming it is going to be the very last one.
James and Sirius dragged their trunks until they lost sight of the boats on the lake. Once they got to the rocky cliff upon which the castle sat, the boats became hidden from view. It didn’t matter - they had made it, and the castle was just ahead.
The two pushed through the large front doors.
“Blimey,” breathed Sirius, taking in the large entrance hall. He’d thought his house was big, but decided that it was nothing compared to this. Staircases crisscrossed above him as far as the eye could see. The walls were cluttered with portraits, all of them moving.
Sirius winced. He hated moving portraits - he had a particularly nasty one of an old ancestor in his bedroom. They talked and muttered amongst themselves, and often, he got in trouble when they decided to tell his mother what he’d done during the day.
James looked proudly around, a smug smirk on his face and a twinkle in his young eyes. He sighed, as if to say Finally, I’m here, its my turn now.
Trunks and suitcases and owl cages and other luggage was piled all about them. Several house elves were busy grabbing the trunks and then disappearing with them, taking them up to dormitories. One of them squeaked at the sight of the two boys and then bowed low.
“Excuse us, Sirs,” it said humbly. And then they all disappeared at once.
James lifted an eyebrow.
“They aren’t supposed to be seen,” Sirius enlightened him.
They shoved their trunks into the piles and wondered what to do next. James put his hands on his hips and surveyed Sirius.
“I suppose this is farewell, then, Black,” he said, holding his hand out.
Sirius frowned, but shook the hand that was extended to him. “I suppose it is,” he agreed.
After all, they wouldn’t be able to be friends once they were sorted. They had already seen the reaction of a couple of Slytherins - Narcissa and Lucius - and it was clear that this friendship wouldn’t be possible.
Sirius rather regretted this. He’d had a lot of fun with James so far, save for being punched in the face. He couldn’t imagine getting into the trouble they’d already managed to get into with any member of the pompous Slytherin house.
(He knew half of those kids already from his parents’ dinner parties. They were smug and cruel, and Sirius never really liked them even though he tried to act like them. He only thought it was how he was supposed to behave, but saw now that there were other ways, proper or not.)
In fact, he was mildly jealous of whoever the next boy James would befriend. Sirius thought of his own future roommates - mainly the greasy boy he’d met in their compartment, as he was the only one Sirius had come across so far in his year who fully expected to be a Slytherin - and shuddered.
He looked at James, who seemed content to wait until their classmates arrived. James was looking curiously about at the portraits, perfectly carefree and with seemingly no expectations to live up to.
(He thought bitterly of the hundreds of generations of Blacks before him, and the fact that they’d all been the same, and also the fact that he was going to have to be just like them in order to be the heir that his parents expected him to be.)
They could hear the voices of the older students coming from the Great Hall, but suddenly, another, smaller group of voices could be heard joining them and growing steadily louder. After a moment, a group of young students appeared from a side corridor. They were being lead by a particularly severe looking woman, who’s hair was up in a tight bun. She caught sight of Sirius and James and cast them an impatient look from behind her glasses.
Sirius and James both looked guilty, and they wordlessly slipped into line with their classmates.
“You boys are lucky you have not missed your Sorting,” she lectured them. “As I have told your classmates already, when your name is called, you will come to me, sit on the stool and place the Sorting Hat upon your heads.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Sirius automatically, used to being obedient and submissive.
James smirked, and the professor surveyed his ridiculously messy hair and crooked glassed with a look of mild apprehension (one that clearly showed that, in that moment, she fully realized that he was going to be a nightmare to put up with for the next seven years).
All of the surrounding students whispered nervously to themselves as the Professor suddenly turned and led them briskly into the Great Hall. Immediately, all eyes fell upon the first years. Sirius did his best to walk straight, hold his head high, and look proud.
James tried to trip him.
Nevertheless, they made it to the front of the hall with no incident, although Sirius looked rather flustered and James looked slightly guilty.
At this point, Sirius was rather looking forward to being sorted. Despite what he’d thought of James moments before, the fact that James would certainly be a fun friend, he was now eager to get rid of the mischievous boy and get back on more familiar territory. Fortunately, with his last name, he only had two students to wait through before it was his turn.
“Black, Sirius,” said the strict Professor. Her eyes picked him out of the crowd immediately, whereas with the previous two students she had stared blindly at all of them until they emerged. Sirius felt a squirm of pride at this - that he was recognizable and well-known already.
He scooted onto the old stool smoothly. He caught James’s eye as he did so, and then everything went dark as the hat slipped over his head and covered his eyes. Impatiently, he adjusted it slightly so he could still see the hall.
Lucius was watching with faked interest. At his side, Narcissa examined her nails.
“Well, you are certainly a surprise,” mused a voice suddenly in his ear.
Bollocks, thought Sirius, going rigid in surprise of his own, for he hadn't expected the hat to speak to him.
“I beg your pardon,” said the voice boredly, and Sirius realized then that it could hear his thoughts.
Sorry. You scared me.
“Oh? Gryffindors are supposed to be brave, you know.”
This made Sirius’s heart stop. I’m not a Gryffindor, he thought in dismay. I am a Black. And I’m a Slytherin.
“You aren’t like them,” said the hat, and Sirius thought that he was getting tired of hearing that phrase.
“You’ve heard it outside of just me, then?” asked the hat innocently. “Then that just settles matters. GRYFFINDOR!”
Sirius clutched the hat on his head for a moment, still keeping it from falling over his eyes. He saw Narcissa look up suddenly from her nails in dismay, and then glare at Lucius angrily. And Lucius stared back, looking grim and irritated, as if he regretted ever being nice to Sirius. A ways down the Slytherin table, he caught Andromeda's eye - she held a hand over he mouth in horror and even from the distance, Sirius could see the sympathy in her eyes. They both knew the family wouldn't take the news well.
His eyes quickly scanned the faces that stared at him in the Great Hall, feeling foolish, feeling like a failure. It was deathly silent in the room, and only James looked unsurprised.
There was a tug on the hat as the Professor tried to remove it from his head, but Sirius clung tight. It was a mistake, it had to be. He hadn’t meant to think the part about being told he wasn’t like his family.
“Let go, Mr Black,” said the Professor impatiently after a moment. And then Sirius was forced to, and he slipped from the stool feeling ill. He made his way vaguely towards a table decorated in maroon and gold, and the faces of the students there stared stonily at him. They didn’t seem very pleased to have him. He sat at the end of the table, alone, and didn’t look at any of them.
He caught James watching him carefully - James still stood at the front of the hall, waiting to get sorted. Only now, James’s expression had changed to one of worry, and only then did Sirius realize that his parents were going to be furious with him, and that James had understood the same.
He looked away from James, caught sight of the unfriendly faces of his new housemates, and then looked down at his sweaty hands and blinked back his tears. His face felt hot and sweaty, and he could still feel the stares of several people in the room upon him.
It wasn’t long, however, before he was joined by a couple other new students, both female. One was the girl that had briefly sat with them on the compartment. She flicked her long red hair behind her shoulder and slid onto the bench beside him.
“Are you all right?” she asked him cautiously, laying a hand on his arm.
Sirius jerked his head up and eyed her carefully.
“Fine,” he snapped, and he jerked his arm away from her. (He almost called her a Mudblood to her face, but considering his company at the table, and recalling James's fist earlier, decided against it.)
“Well, I only asked,” she sniffed, turning instead to greet a boy that joined them.
Sirius ignored them both, though they struck up a pleasant conversation. All he could think about was his family and how he had let them down, and how he was going to get in trouble. He’d been in trouble quite a few times as a child, but he didn’t think he’d ever done anything quite so bad as this. And the worst bit was that he wasn’t even sure of what he’d done, it had just happened.
Another boy joined them, followed immediately by James. They were greeted with cheers, Sirius noticed, from the older students. He had received rude stares, and James had received cheers. This realization only made him feel even stronger that he wasn’t where he belonged, that the hat had made a mistake.
James seemed to suck it all up for a moment, shining and smiling. He wandered to Sirius’s side of the table.
“Excuse me,” he said to the red headed girl.
She seemed only too glad to scoot aside and let him sit beside the brooding Sirius Black. Sirius, for his part, felt a tiny bit better that James seemed willing to stick with him.
(Part of him, though, blamed James for his sorting. He wasn’t sure why, only that James had insisted all along that he wouldn’t be a Slytherin, and it was James’s words that the Sorting Hat had used to finalize its decision.)
“Are you all right?” he asked Sirius under his breath as he took his seat.
“I’m not talking to you,” snapped Sirius. He was waiting for James to say I told you so, Sirius, didn’t I?
“All right,” said James easily. He brightened considerably. “At least we can be friends now, can’t we?” he asked conversationally.
Sirius thought that the last thing he wanted to be right now, aside from a Gryffindor, was James’s friend. He turned in his seat slightly, angling his back to James, just to prove it. He concentrated instead on the rest of the sorting.
He saw the greasy boy get sorted into Slytherin, and felt a surge of jealousy. Likewise, the boy cast the Gryffindors a dark glare as he walked to the green table.
In fact, Sirius noted that there were quite a few students in Slytherin. More than in any other house, anyway. He couldn’t believe that out of all of them, he didn’t end up there as well.
(“It’s a new age,” Bellatrix had boasted a few weeks ago during a family dinner. “There’s a great wizard rising.” And she had seemed genuinely thrilled about it as she glistened in her jewelry and drank from her wine glass.
Sirius hadn’t had a clue what that was about. He wondered now if, perhaps, it was the reason why there was such an alarming amount of Slytherins. But that was the least of his problems, and he thought it only in the back of his mind.)
“You know,” James spoke to Sirius’s back, tearing him from his thoughts. “You ought to see Professor Dumbledore later. I’ll bet he’ll let you get sorted again.”
At that, Sirius turned to face him. “Really?” he asked earnestly.
James smiled and nodded. “Maybe,” he said. “It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
Sirius had eaten hardly anything during the feast, had talked to no one even though James attempted to talk to him.
He had then waited around when the Prefects took the other first years to their houses. He eyed the staff table warily, and ignored the curious stares he was receiving for hanging behind. He was waiting, patiently, for the headmaster to stand up and leave, but the old man seemed quite content to chat with fellow teachers.
But, after what seemed like eternity, the old man finally stood and headed for the doors. It was there that Sirius intercepted him.
“Sir!” said Sirius, jogging to meet the old man. When he stopped, he gave a quick, awkward bow, as he’d always been taught to do towards his elders at home (although he wasn’t entirely sure if it was necessary at school.)
Dumbledore smiled through his long beard, and his blue eyes twinkled magically behind half-moon spectacles.
“Ah, young Mister Black,” said Dumbledore merrily. “May I help you?”
“I think the Sorting Hat made a mistake, sir,” said Sirius earnestly. “I should have been in Slytherin.”
“Oh?” mused Dumbledore. “And what, exactly, makes you think this?”
“Please, Sir, my entire family has been in Slytherin. I should have gone, too, and that hat only put me in Gryffindor because it read my mind, and learned that somebody else said they didn’t think I belonged in Slytherin.”
“And it agreed?” asked Dumbledore pleasantly.
“Yes,” admitted Sirius.
“The hat is never wrong, Sirius,” Dumbledore said gently.
Yes it is, thought Sirius.
“I can’t be a Gryffindor, Professor,” said Sirius darkly, deciding to try another approach. “I’ll have let my whole family down if I’m not in Slytherin.”
“Perhaps,” suggested Dumbledore thoughtfully, “You should use this as an opportunity to discover why you were placed in Gryffindor. I daresay you would be more of a disappointment, not just to your family but to yourself as well, to not be who you were meant to be.”
I was meant to be the Black heir, thought Sirius slightly desperately.
“Can’t I be resorted?” he asked, abandoning all attempts at hiding his intentions.
“If that is what you wish,” said Dumbledore. He produced the hat from within his deep pockets and plunked it onto Sirius’s head, where it promptly slipped over his eyes once more.
“Hello again, Sirius Black,” said the hat guiltily.
Put me in Slytherin, was Sirius’s harsh response.
“I will not,” the hat chirped. “I have seen your deepest thoughts, and you are nothing like the Slytherins, however hard you try to live up to your family name.”
Dumbledore was humming slightly, and he had been looking around the Great Hall so as not to intrude. At this point, however, he glanced down at Sirius. “Any luck?” he asked.
Sirius pulled the hat off in defeat, messing up his carefully combed hair as he did so. “No,” he grumbled, thrusting the sodding thing towards the professor.
Dumbledore accepted the sacred hat and carefully placed it back into his pocket. His eyes twinkled again and he smiled warmly at the young Black beside him. “Come, now,” he said reassuringly. “You might be proud to be a Gryffindor in short time. For now, allow me to escort you to your common room, as you have missed out on knowing where it is.”
And so Sirius accepted, having little choice. Dumbledore walked him right up to the portrait of a horrendous fat woman (which Sirius felt was further reason to be ashamed of the house) and gave him the password. Once inside, he pointed Sirius towards the boys’ staircase, and Sirius wordless strode across the room, ignoring everyone who stared at him, climbed the spiral staircase and didn’t stop until he saw the door labeled First Years.
There were four beds in the room. All but one were occupied.
“Hallo,” greeted one of the boys he hadn’t met yet, as he walked into the room. Sirius glanced irritably at the culprit - the boy had light brown hair, and dark brown eyes, and a look of hopefulness about him.
Sirius shook his head angrily and didn’t answer. He made a beeline to the only unoccupied bed, and the boy who spoke blushed, and the other one (who was a fat lump, as far as Sirius was concerned) wisely decided not to say anything at all.
“Well?” asked James from the bed beside his own.
“Shut up, Potter,” snarled Sirius. He roughly yanked the ugly red hangings around the bed closed, and settled, brooding, into his blankets.
“I suppose it didn’t work, then,” observed James with a sigh. “Sorry, mate.”
In the dark confines of his bed, Sirius rolled his eyes. What did James Potter care, anyway. The Potter family was nothing more than a blight on the Purebloods of the world, his parents had told him so, and Sirius now regretted ever talking to the boy.