Chapter 5 : First Year: Challenges
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I arrived onto the platform with my mother’s hand clenched tightly around my shoulder, feeling slightly sick; I took a step away from her to take a deep breath. Her nails dug in deeper, “not here,” she hissed angrily, “there are people watching. Don’t you dare make a fool of us by being sick after apparating. You’re a Black. Act like one!”
She smiled pleasantly as the Rosier family walked by; each giving my mother a respectful nod, but their eyes seemed to linger on me. A coldness that was never in their eyes before seemed to glare at me now.
Before I could retort with a comment I knew would get me in trouble when I returned in summer, there were three loud cracks behind me. We turned to face the newcomers, and although the cracks were lost in the loud bustle of parents saying their last goodbyes to their children, the newcomers were already gaining a lot of looks. Conversations seemed to halt in mid-sentence.
There were five people that stood in front of me; Andy with Uncle Cygnus, Reg and Cissy with Bellatrix. Andy’s face had turned a deep shade of red and was currently attempting to pull away from her father. Reg looked around the crowd eagerly; I knew he couldn’t wait to leave home. He was counting the days, just like I used to. Cissy looked incredibly bored as she scanned the rows of parents and students but her lips pulled into a small smile and she ran her fingers through her blonde locks when Lucius Malfoy and his parents approached us. Bellatrix was smiling, her head was held high and she surveyed the other people on the platform with an air of regality.
The crowd split as we walked towards the train; parents pulled their children who were too young to attend Hogwarts into close embraces. Whispers filled the air and my face burned with embarrassment. My mother tightened her grip on my shoulder.
"Don’t you dare shy away from them,” she hissed angrily, “hold your head up. You’re a Black!"
I did as she asked and looked all the wizards and witches in the eye who were all currently dragging their children away and making them promise that they weren’t friends with any of us. Not all though, a small percentage of the crowd waved and bowed their heads in respect to our arrival. I was counting the seconds until I reached the train.
One. Two. Three.
“For Merlin’s sake Andromeda! Will you stop fidgeting?!” My Uncle Cygnus snarled from behind me.
Eight. Nine. Ten.
“My father reckons I’m going to play Quidditch professionally, you know? He bought me the new Cleansweep 180 for Christmas, not even all the professionals have one of those yet.” Lucius Malfoy’s voice drawled, Cissy answered my giggling and clutching his arm.
Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen.
“You can’t blame yourself, Auntie Walburga. There are oddballs in every generation – perhaps he’ll grow out of it. Of course we must make sure that he doesn’t socialise with any Muggle lovers to encourage his behaviour…” Bellatrix’s voice trailed off as I attempted to block out her voice.
Thirty-Four. Thirty-Five. Thirty-six.
"I’m walking! You don’t need to cling onto me all the time.” Andy whined.
Forty-one. Forty-two. Forty-three.
“Bellatrix! Bellatrix, I’ve been meaning to speak to you about your petition for Muggle Hunting – I think I’ve found a loop hole!” exclaimed a man with a large nose and a slight limp who appeared from the crowd.
Fourty-nine. Don’t say anything. Fifty. Just keep on walking. Fifty-one.
“I swear the amount of mudbloods has increased this year.” Bellatrix said with some distain.
Fifty-six. Block it out. Fifty-seven. You’re nearly at the train. Fifty-eight.
"Mudblood?” the word spread like a disease through the crowd.
Sixty-one. Nearly there. Sixty-two. Don’t think. Sixty-three.
“Mummy, what’s a mudblood?” a small girl with pigtails tugged on her mother’s leg. People around her gasped, more mutterings filled the air.
Seventy. Just breathe. Seventy-one. At the door and-
“Reg, don’t look at them. You’ll probably catch some sort of disease.” Bellatrix ordered.
And that was all that did it, Bellatrix filling my brother’s head with more of her warped beliefs. He was my brother.
“Would you just stop it?” I yelled. My mother’s eyes widened in shock, Bellatrix’s eyes narrowed, Andy stopped fidgeting and Cissy pulled her eyes away from Lucius. The group was still as they watched me. “Just because you believe that rubbish doesn’t make it true!”
The crowds were silenced; stunned. Some of the students tried to hide their smiles unsuccessfully; some of the parents’ eyes were darting between me and the trunks behind us which were currently being pulled by a half dozen of house-elves. My trunk had a large red lion in the corner so the school house-elves could put our trunks in the correct dorms. Parents eyebrows’ raised and they looked at me with a new interest.
I dragged my gaze from the crowd of Hogwarts families to my own – and I knew I had gone too far. Bellatrix looked like she had been slapped and was holding her wand which had red sparks shooting from the tip. Andy’s eyes were wide; I could almost hear her begging me to run. Cissy’s mouth was dropped open and Reg seemed to me imitating her. My mother took a step forward, her eyes a frightening, cold black.
She took a step forward; I took a step back.
My heart was hammering inside my ears as I anticipated her next move. ‘Walburga?’ a kind voice called out from the crowd. The crowd separated to reveal an older woman with grey-streaked hair. Small lines were round her hazel eyes and she looked somehow familiar. “Yes, it is you – well? Aren’t you going to say hello?” The woman stepped forward; in between my mother and me.
My mother’s eyes narrowed, “Aunt Dorea,” she snarled, “what a surprise.”
Dorea smiled in response and turned her back on my mother to face me. “And this charming young man must be Sirius?” I nodded with some apprehension. “Well it’s nice to meet you Sirius; my son has spoken very highly of you this Christmas.”
At this moment, James had pushed through the crowd with his father in tow. He grinned when he saw me and I smiled back. “Pleasure to meet you, Mrs Potter.” I said as I shook her hand.
“No, please – it’s Dorea. And this is my husband, Charlus.” He smiled warmly and shook my hand as well, before he turned to Dorea and exchanged a look with her. She nodded faintly.
"Sirius! Did you get my letter? I’ve got something really cool to show you! What did you do for Christmas? Mine was good though they,” he gestured to his parents, who were listening with a trace of amusement, “left me for that stupid ball. Dad said you wouldn’t have gone – so what did you do? I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got! Remus and Peter said they’d meet us in the compartment.”
Charlus Potter chuckled, “try to remember to breathe next time, James? Or perhaps even give Sirius the chance to reply?” James grinned mischievously. “Now before you go, aren’t you going to say goodbye to your dear loving parents?” Mr Potter joked.
“Or would that embarrass you too much?” Mrs Potter interrupted. “Would it be embarrassing if your mum gave you a big kiss before you leave?” James yelped as he tried to squirm away from her embrace to no avail. “Now, try to behave this term? Remember what we discussed? No more than four owls sent home this time, okay?”
James reluctantly nodded and turned to speak to say goodbye to his dad. Dorea looked behind us with a frown; my family had vanished. All that marked their presence was the lone trunk on the platform. James’ mum was obviously noting how they didn’t say goodbye; my cheeks felt very warm.
James pulled away from his dad and gestured towards the train; I nodded and went to follow when Mrs Potter leant down to give me a hug. “Have a good term Sirius,” she whispered.
I started, surprised, “thank you,” I whispered back before following James onto the Hogwarts Express.
A loud noise came from James’ and Sirius’ direction. They were in the corner of the classroom, behind Peter and Mary, with similar shocked expressions on their sooty faces. Sirius opened his mouth to speak but I coughed to alert them that Professor Lech was hobbling in their direction; James quickly stored something in his pocket.
“Boys? What have you done this time then? Well? What prank did you find hilarious this time? Dying Peter’s hair green? Gluing each other to the wall? Well? I’m getting sick and tired of your continuous childish games – I have a six year old niece who is more mature then both of you put together!” Professor Lech snapped.
"Sir, we were only-"
“I don’t want to hear it Black.” Professor Lech scowled. “This is defence against the dark arts! Not playtime! If you don’t think you can handle paying attention for one lesson then perhaps I should recommend to Dumbledore that you go home and try again next year! Hmm?”
Sirius and James swapped amused glances and I tried to withhold a snort with some difficulty; Lech used the same threat every week. “Sir if you’d listen,” James argued, “we were only doing the spell you told us to – but Sirius must have done it wrong.”
“I did not! You did it wrong – I did it right!” Sirius replied, outraged.
“Did not! It was you!” James replied childishly.
“You!” Sirius, just as childishly, retorted.
“Enough!” Professor Lech yelled. I saw Amelia roll her eyes beside me. “Honestly boys! You were supposed to be practising the full-body bind spell and I may not expect you to master it first-time but it would certainly not cause a minor explosion – so tell me what did you do?” There was silence as James and Sirius swapped looks. “Come on, out with it! Don’t make me write to your parents again!” They still didn’t say anything and I took the opportunity to get my friends out of trouble.
“Sir?’ Professor Lech turned to face me slowly, ‘I was watching – they only did the spell. Honest, though they both did it at the same time so I didn’t see what set off the explosion.” Professor Lech looked at me appraisingly before deciding that I wasn’t lying and strode back to the front of the class; James and Sirius both gave me a thumbs up behind his back.
Amelia used my distraction to her advantage and loudly said “Petrificus Totalus!” I was caught off guard and didn’t even see the spell hit me, yet I felt a peculiar sensation in my feet. I went to move them but found each foot stuck in place – I could move the rest of my body, but just not my feet.
Amelia laughed when she saw the spell had partially worked and Professor Lech yelled “Brilliant!” with an air of triumph. I grinned but lost balance and ended up sitting on the floor, with my feet and shins in the exact same position. Amelia smiled and sat down beside me, before turning to me with her face returning to its usual serious expression.
“Why did you cover for them? I know that you saw James put something in his pocket – you could have just told and then you could have focussed on the lesson.” Amelia said; her brows furrowed in a frown.
I shrugged, “they’re my friends. They were only having a bit of fun – you would do the same for Lily and Mary, wouldn’t you?”
Amelia didn’t answer immediately and instead looked over at Mary who was giggling at James and Sirius whilst Peter was attempting to hit her with the full-body bind spell. I could tell that Amelia refrained from rolling her eyes with some difficulty. Instead her gaze travelled to Lily who was two rows in front of us. Lily was practising the spell with Jacob Bell; a blonde haired Ravenclaw. They were both laughing as it appeared Lily had done the spell – yet only Jacob’s arm had been affected, meaning it was stuck in a claw shape.
Amelia bit her lip, “I don’t know. They wouldn’t do it anyway, but- Remus, sometimes you’ve got to choose between what’s right and what’s easy - that’s what my papa always says. And lying for James and Sirius wasn’t right, it was easy – they won’t learn anything from this now.” I felt my cheeks grow warm and started to feel slightly guilty.
Amelia bit her lip, “sometimes I wonder if any of you have any idea of what’s starting out there, my papa said-” Amelia stopped mid-sentence and looked at me with her uniquely serious eyes, she cocked her head to the side then seemed to decide something, “never mind.”
“What?” I asked, intrigued. Her lips pressed into a thin line, a sign that she wasn’t going to say anymore. “No, tell me Amelia, please?” I smiled hopefully. She rolled her eyes and turned to look at my feet instead. I could move my right little toe and my entire left foot now.
“No Remus, forget I said anything. Papa told me to not spread it around anyway.” Amelia said with an air of finality.
“Amelia, come on – what were you going to say? I won’t tell anyone. Honest.”
“It’s nothing Remus. Drop it. You wouldn’t understand.” She said simply.
“What do you mean I wouldn’t understand? I bet I would!”
“Remus! Drop it. You just wouldn’t! You wouldn’t understand because,” she paused momentarily, “your life is perfect. You haven’t even noticed what’s happening!”
I paused to stare at her for a moment. “My life isn’t perfect.”
“Oh yeah? You live with both of your parent’s right?”
I nodded slowly, faintly I recognised the spell wearing off my feet but I seemed to be frozen in place at her accusation.
“You’re an only child right? Probably spoiled rotten?”
I didn’t answer; she took my silence to be a confirmation. My teeth ground together.
“You’ve never had to worry about bills have you?”
I felt my anger rising, it was rare that I got angry but Amelia had no idea what my life was like. She opened her mouth to continue, but I interrupted her first.
“Just because I live with my parents who have never mentioned paying bills in front of me does not mean my life is perfect, Amelia. You have no idea what you’re talking about.” She scowled in my direction and I felt my neck start to burn.
“Try me.” Amelia said simply, a dare. I was aware that the classroom conversations had quietened and we were attracting a lot of stares, but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to care. My heart was thumping against my chest and the werewolf emotions that I tried so hard to supress started to rise to the surface.
Amelia rolled her eyes and returned to the front of the classroom. It was that single gesture which made me do it. I raised my wand, “Petrificus Totalus!”
Amelia jolted and her eyes widened in surprise. She was frozen; a full body-bind. Professor Lech loudly clapped as he walked towards me. “Well done Remus. Excellent. Five points to Gryffindor.”
I barely heard him over the blood beating in my ears and my eyes watered with anger. Faintly I heard the school bell ring and so grabbed my bag and walked straight out of the room without a word to anybody else.
How dare she say that my life is perfect? I fumed angrily. She has no idea what my life’s like. No idea. The thoughts buzzed round my head, on some level I knew I was over-reacting. But the lycanthropy made my emotions unstable at times and was sometimes hard to control. Well, she might not have said that if she knew the truth? I tried to reason with myself. No, the other side argued, she’d just run away screaming instead. Like the rest would. And then what? Then I’d have no education either. It’s not fair! Why can’t I just have a normal life?
I kicked the wall beside me in agitation when a hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun round to instead see James and Sirius, looking very concerned. “Remus?” James asked; his brows furrowed in worry. “Are you okay?”
Are you okay? I thought of Amelia’s comments. I thought of the full moon. I thought of the pain every month. I thought of my parent’s faces prematurely aged with worry. I thought of the burden I had bought on them. I thought of the secrets I was keeping.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I smiled, “do you know what the homework is?”
James and Sirius frowned at each other and Remus ran from the room. They grabbed their bags and gestured to me to follow. I nodded and they ran from the room, expecting me to be following.
I grabbed my bag off the desk and attempted to imitate how Sirius had swung it over his shoulder, but instead I hit Mary who squealed as she fell into the ink bottle on the desk. The bottle smashed against the floor, covering all those nearby in ink; including Amelia who was only just starting to regain the use of her body.
“I-I-I’m so sorry.” I squeaked as I bent down to help Mary up. To my disbelief she was laughing as she looked down at her ink splattered jumper. “It’s alright Peter,” she giggled “it was just an accident. Aren’t you going after Sirius and James?” Her head tilted to one side so that her brown hair fell over her freckled face.
I nodded and smiled as I turned to leave. Before I reached the door, a hand reached out to grab my arm, it was Amelia.
"Peter,” Amelia bit her lip, her face the image of regret. “If you see Remus, tell him I’m sorry – I didn’t mean what I said and I didn’t know he would react like that. I-I – Just tell him I’m sorry, please?”
I nodded but frowned as I continued into the hallway. It was no secret that Amelia was more mature than the rest of us – even Remus, but she looked especially serious today. I couldn’t help but notice that the bags under her eyes were deeper than before Christmas.
The halls gradually became clearer until I was the only person in them; I still couldn’t find my friends. Every so often I thought that I could hear footsteps or a muted conversation, but every time I stopped to listen there was only silence. I rounded a corner and jumped when I heard something smash, but once again I looked round and there was nothing there.
My neck tingled and I started to feel uncertain. I was pretty sure that I was lost; I had passed the Dungeons three corners ago and had since climbed up a flight of stairs and descended down three more. The hallway I was now stood in wasn’t as well-lit as the others had been, the paintings were grimier and the people in them stared down at me threateningly. I gulped and stepped backwards; yelping as I backed into a suit of armour which I was sure wasn’t there moments before.
“Huh,” a voice echoed down to hall, “you’re right Lucius – the pig sure can squeal.” The voice was followed by snorts of laughter which bounced off the walls.
I spun round to see where the voice was coming from, but could see no evidence of another person in the hallway.
"Told you Evan – how loud do you reckon he can squeal?” Another voice responded; the hallway remained empty.
“Well, why don’t we try and find out?” This time I heard the sharp tap of a foot stepping towards me. I spun round again, my heart hammering in my chest and my blood pumping in my ears.
More laughter, yet this time I saw something move out of the corner of my eyes. I turned to the wall which was cloaked in darkness. Slowly, five people began to appear in front of it. It seemed like they were part of the wall, but their bodies gradually came into view as if the background was just melting off them.
“M-Malfoy.” I said, my voice coming out in a squeak. He responded by pushing his pale hair away from his face and smiling menacingly. His prefect badge reflected the torchlight behind me.
They all took a step forwards, their minds seeming to work in sync. Each of them looked at me with eager eyes and I struggled to swallow. Malfoy nodded and they all spread out; a pack of wolves surrounding its prey.
“Piggy,” Malfoy nodded, “are you lost little piggy? Can’t you find your way to dinner?” He looked me up and down, “not that you need it. Tell me, does your mummy cook you five meals a day, piggy? Huh?” My lips opened to speak, but my throat wouldn’t work and a resounding squeak echoed in the hallway. The Fifth Years laughed. “Huh? Answer me!” Malfoy ordered.
He raised his wand and muttered something that I couldn’t catch. A purple light shot from the tip of his wand and hit me in the stomach. I fell to the floor, the spell winding me.
I looked desperately for help, but the hallway remained empty. Hoping that he wasn’t as bad as Malfoy, I pleaded, “Evan – please?”
The Evan boy stepped towards me, his grin turning to a snarl. “It’s Rosier to you, piggy!” He repeated the spell and another purple light hit me. I gasped for air.
My hands were shaking and I curled into a ball on the floor. Their laughter echoing around me as I desperately tried to shut it out. Time seemed to drag and I had no idea how long I remained on the floor whilst they stood over me, entertaining themselves.
Then a voice called out into the hallway which awoke me from coma state. “Oi! Leave him alone!” The voice was nowhere near as deep as the Fifth Years and they looked round with a start.
James, Sirius and Remus stood at the other end of the corridor – they’re wands raised. James looked at the group, dislike etched into his eyes. Sirius stood next to him, glaring in hatred at the group. Remus was on the left, his narrowed eyes swapping between glaring at the Slytherins and looked in concern at me on the floor.
Remus edged closer to James and whispered something hastily. James hesitated but then nodded and whispered to Sirius. They all moved forwards carefully whilst the Slytherins watched in amusement.
“First Years,” Rosier snorted, “what are you going to do? Shine a light at us?” The others snorted in agreement.
“No,” Sirius said simply, “but you’re going to move away from Peter and let him go.”
I groaned internally, couldn’t they see that we were outnumbered? I pulled myself to my knees; my friends just a couple metres away.
“See that’s where we disagree, Piggy here is learning a lesson.” One of the other Slytherins spat, sending another purple spell towards me; I slumped forward gasping.
“Peter!” James moved forwards; the Slytherins raised their wands. “Now!” Remus yelled.
At once, the three of them yelled “Petrificus Totalus”. Jets of light filled the hallway and the Slytherins were knocked off their feet. I looked in disbelief at my friends, two of whom had been unable to do the spell just the previous lesson.
Remus and James reached down and both pulled me to my feet. “Are you alright?” Remus asked me quietly. Sirius shouted before I could respond, “not now! Run!”
Remus spun back round to see the Slytherins getting to their feet. James looked at us with alarmed eyes before nodding, “run!”
They kept their hands on my arms as we all ran down the corridor. The Slytherins were yelling behind us and by the sounds of the echoes, a couple were already on their feet.
I felt my face burning and I flushed with embarrassment when I realised sweat was starting to drip down my face; the others weren’t even out of breath.
“Come on Peter – keep running!” Sirius yelled; ducking as a red light hit the wall to the side of him.
“Up here!” James yelled, diving into another passageway. Remus pushed me into the turning and I found myself faced with another staircase.
“Come on – keep going Peter!” Remus called encouragingly.
I nodded and swallowed the bile rising in my throat; the Slytherins’ voices seemed to be getting louder. At the top of the stairs we took a right, then a left and then another right before we fell into a small circular room. It was a dead end.
I swayed; black spots appearing in my eyes as the others desperately looked for an escape. “Come on, we’ve got to go bac-” But Sirius was cut off by the sound of the Slytherins’ on the stairs. James bit his lip.
I lost my balance and fell towards the tapestry of an eagle sitting on a Lion. My hands reached out to catch myself against the wall, but instead my hands brushed the tapestry corner and I felt myself falling forwards.
“Peter?” James yelled fearfully. It was dark but I could see a long corridor in front of me. Then suddenly light filled the corridor as the tapestry was lifted once more; Sirius stood with the light shining around him. His eyes glittered with excitement, “it’s a passageway. A secret passageway!”
“Never mind that now, get in!” James yelled; pushing Remus and Sirius into the corridor. The room was dark once more as the passageway was covered by the tapestry. We held our breaths as Malfoy and his followers ran, panting, into the room.
“Where are they?” Rosier roared angrily.
There was silence, my heart beat painfully against my chest. “They must have gone the other way – this is a dead end!” Malfoy spat. Their feet pounded against the floorboards as they left.
James let out a sigh of relief before turning to me, “Peter are you alright?”
I nodded; too out of breath to speak.
Peter eventually regained his breath, though is face was still ashen. Remus and I reached forward to help him up. Merlin he’s heavy, I bit my lip to stop my thoughts being said aloud. Sirius looked just a little too smug in my opinion.
"Sirius, hold Peter for a moment – I’ve er got to tie my shoe.” I said hastily. Sirius’ grin disappeared off his face and instead scowled at me as I transferred Peter’s weight onto him. I hid my snort whilst pretending to tie my shoe.
“Where’d you reckon we are?” Remus asked curiously.
“I don't know,” Sirius gasped under the weight. “Only one way to find out.”
I nodded and started to walk down the corridor, from Sirius’ grunts I assumed they were following. We had only walked a hundred metres or so when I reached the end of the corridor, shallow light beamed through the edges of what I assumed to be another tapestry. I put my fingers to my lips and slipped out the tapestry – checking the coast was clear for the others.
To my astonishment I was suddenly in the corridor only 50 yards from the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. “Guys come out,” I whispered. There was a cough and then all three of them tumbled out from behind the tapestry of a badger playing with a snake.
Remus looked around, puzzled. “How are we up here? We were down in the dungeons at the other side of school just a minute ago!”
Wasn’t the answer obvious? I coughed, “Magic?”
Remus blushed and Sirius snorted, before Remus laughed as well.
Peter had let go of Sirius and Remus and his face had returned to its normal colour, sweat glistened on his head and down his face. He looked confused. “T-thanks for helping me,” his face burned and he looked to the ground in shame, “they just came out of nowhere. H-how did you find me?”
I blushed at this, “well we would have been there sooner if it wasn’t for me. Sorry Peter.” Peter looked at me, still confused. I continued, “we saw you disappearing in the other direction – you were obviously looking for us. So we decided to follow you, just to see how far you’d go before you gave up. But, well, you just carried on walking. Anyway I accidently dropped my bag and my ink pot smashed everywhere-”
“I thought I heard something smash!” Peter butted in.
“Yeah, that was James – the klutz.” Sirius added, snorting. “But by the time we’d picked everything up you’d disappeared and we’d lost you. After a bit we heard the Slytherins and well… you know the rest.” Peter nodded, and then he frowned again.
“But you weren’t following me, I kept looking because I thought I could hear someone – there was no one there.”
“Oh! Yeah, that was me. I’ve wanted to tell you guys for ages and I told Remus to cheer him up. I’ve got my dad’s invisibility cloak now – I got it at Christmas.”
Peter’s mouth dropped as he reached out to touch to cloak that was draped over my arm.
“Phoenix.” Remus said to the fat lady at the Gryffindor entrance. We scrambled through the entrance whilst I answered Peter’s questions. The others were listening intently and I was just about to describe how I took it from dad’s study without him noticing when a loud laugh interrupted my story.
Lily was surrounded by the other two Gryffindor girls and a couple other students in older years. She looked up when we entered and beamed, “thank you for the book guys. Professor Slughorn recommended it – I’ve wanted to read it for ages!”
Book? What in the name of Merlin is she talking about? The others were smiling and accepted her thanks; I frowned and tugged on Sirius’ sleeve.
Sirius looked at me for a moment before rolling his eyes. “Well you only turn 12 once Lily,” Remus smiled, “and we all pitched in.” We did?
Sirius smacked me on the arm and I glared at him. What? He gestured to Lily, oh. I realised they’d all just spoken to her.
“Happy Birthday.” I murmured before turning back to Peter to carry on my story that Lily had rudely interrupted.
Remus hit me on the arm this time. What? He gestured to Lily as well. Merlin, how needy was this girl? I was trying to tell a story!
I looked at Lily, her face was as red as her hair and she was looking at the floor. She looked slightly hurt; I took a deep breath and let it out. “Fine, what did you get for your birthday?” I asked her.
“Well there’s no need to sound so patronising James!” she snapped angrily.
“How was I being patronising?” I snapped back. Honestly! Can’t she see I’m trying to talk to my friends? “I was just being polite!”
“Polite?” she snorted, “how in Godric’s name were you being polite?”
“I asked what you got for your birthday didn’t I? You’re the one not being polite by not answering the stupid question!” I exclaimed. Honestly!
Her cheeks burned even brighter; her laughter from before completely forgotten. “Well for your information I got this jumper from my parents – not that you actually care!” She gestured to the green jumper she was wearing; it had a stag and three deer embroiled on the front.
I snorted. “If they sent that as one of your presents then I can’t wait to hear what else they got you.”
Someone in the common room gasped. Remus clutched my arm and said warningly, “James.”
I shrugged him off, “well?”
Her mouth hung open as she regarded me with cold green eyes, “well what?”
“What else did they get you?” Honestly! Was she stupid?
Lily ground her teeth together and stared at me, her head slowly moving from side to side. I suddenly felt my stomach clench as her eyes seemed to glimmer with unshed tears. “They didn’t send anything else, Potter. Because unlike you, I’m one of the majority who doesn’t get everything they ask for! I, unlike you, am not a spoilt toe rag who believes he can just get everything he wants without any effort. And my parents, unlike yours, can’t afford hundreds of presents. So yes, my mum knits me jumpers for my birthday but that sure as Merlin does not give you the permission to mock it!” She yelled angrily. Lily lifted her arm to wipe her face before storming past us, towards the portrait hole.
My stomach was tense. Why didn’t I think before I spoke? It’s her birthday and you’ve ruined it James. James Potter strikes again. And now what you idiot? Your dad isn’t here to sort it out this time.
Lily turned as she reached the portrait hole and I felt a new wave of guilt hit me as I saw the tear marks down her face. “Guys, although somehow I doubt James had anything to do with it, thank you for the book – I really do appreciate it.” She smiled slightly before turning to the hole.
“Lily!” My voice broke slightly, “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said – I just got carried away. I’m sorry.”
She appeared to hesitate for a moment whilst climbing out the room, but then continued through the portrait hole as if I had never said a word. There was a quiet murmuring; she was speaking to her Slytherin friend.
“Sev? Yeah, don’t worry ab-”
The portrait closed and her voice was cut off. I felt guiltier then I ever have as I turned to face my friend. Sirius rolled his eyes and went to pull me towards the boys’ dormitories. Peter was looking at the floor; ignoring my gaze whilst Remus stared at me, frowning.
“Why?” Remus asked simply.
“I-I didn’t think.” My face filled with shame. “I didn’t mean to- I didn’t want to- how can I make it up to her?”
Remus bit his lip and shrugged. I tucked the cloak into my trunk; no longer feeling the need to tell them how I had got it.
I was vaguely aware of Sirius and Remus re-asking Peter if he was alright before they all headed to dinner.
Sirius lagged behind, “are you coming mate? Look, I’m sure Lily will forgive you. We all know you regret what you said and I mean it’s not really your fault.”
"Not my fault?” I questioned, “why’s it not my fault?”
Sirius looked uncomfortable, “well you- I mean, you, well, you don’t really know what it’s like-”
A sudden realisation hit me, “you agree with Lily, don’t you? You think I’m spoilt.” I paused to think of my birthday the previous year; it took me two days to unwrap all the presents, most of which I’d never used again and were squashed at the back of one of my cupboards. “Am I?”
Sirius shrugged and looked at me before hesitantly asking, “do you want the truth?”
I nodded my focus solely on Sirius. Was it true? Am I spolit?
“Then yeah, I think that you’re slightly spoilt. But then again, so was I. It’s not really either of our faults – it’s just the way we’ve been raised. Don’t feel bad because your parents care for you too much.” Sirius said bluntly, pushing his dark hair away from his eyes.
I frowned, looking over Sirius. He was leaning against the bed; both hands gripping onto the wooden frame. He was taller than me now and his dark hair curled around his ears.
“Was?” I questioned, noticing the past tense.
Sirius jolted, his eyes moved to my face in alarm and his hands clenched the frame tighter. He seemed to be scanning my face for something. Sirius bit his lip before seeming to make a decision. “M-my parents aren’t too happy that I got sorted into Gryffindor.”
Weren’t happy? Why? Gryffindor’s the best house there is! I got a new broom for my sorting, why in Merlin’s pants wouldn’t you want to be a Gryffindor?
Sirius noticed my perplexed look and sighed. “You said it yourself after our sorting remember – there’s never been a Black in Gryffindor.” Oh.
"So – t-they treat you different now?”
Sirius paused before nodding. “I’m starving. Shall we go get dinner then?”
I nodded at the obvious change of conversation and followed him out the room. Stupidly I’d always assumed that everyone had grown up like I had. The image of Lily in her new grotty jumper filled my head. Somehow, I was going to make it up to her.
Well, that was quite an angsty chapter wasn't it? Well, as angsty as a First Year could have. I hope that makes up for the lack of action in the previous chapters - afterall they are only First Years :D Also an apology for the late chapter! I had exams and also started my new WIP, so this took a while to put in the queue. So sorry about that!
Oh! And also a massive thank you so Beeezie and DirtyDeedsDoneDirtCheap for helping and teaching me with my writing! :D
And I'd also love to dedicate this chapter to my friends; Anna and Roisin. Simply because no matter what challenges we face your friends are always there to support you! OKay.. signing off now :D Until next time :)
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