Chapter 8 : Second Year: Returning
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I could hear them long before I saw them. We’d only walked a couple steps down the corridor before the sound of something breaking echoed down the carriage, shortly followed by Remus’ unmistakable voice moaning, “James,” and then Peter’s resulting giggle.
I chuckled and sped up, whilst one of my hands remained clutched on Regulus’ shoulder protectively, guiding him further along the train. Regulus’ grey eyes, almost identical to mine, greedily watched the activity in each compartment as we passed; smiling slightly as in one compartment two friends rushed to embrace each other before blushing as we passed another with a couple in Sixth Year getting ‘re-acquainted’.
I squeezed his shoulder to encourage him to walk, typically, the closer we got to my compartment – the louder it seemed to get. Regulus, who had grown up in the quiet Black household with just me for company, seemed to hesitate with his eyes repeatedly darting to me for confirmation that he had to carry on walking.
“Sirius,” Regulus whined, coming to a standstill in the corridor. His shoulders hunched under his dark blue robes. I paused and turned to look at my younger brother, his face was pale and he was subconsciously biting his lip as his eyes darted between the compartment door and me.
I sighed. “What now, Reg?”
“C-can’t we go sit with Cissy? She said that she’d save us a seat and t-then I could sit with some other first-years?” Regulus replied uncertainly.
I refrained from rolling my eyes with some difficulty. “We both know who you’d go sit with – Event Rosier and Thornus Greengrass.”
“They might not be there,” he said stubbornly.
“Of course they’d be there, Reg. Look at me.” His eyes were still glued on the compartment door ahead, so I lifted his chin to look me in the eye. “Don’t you understand? You don’t have to pretend to like them anymore. You can make a fresh start here. It doesn’t matter what mum and dad say, none of it matters anymore – you can be who you want to be. Hogwarts is your chance, Reg. Don’t waste it.”
His grey eyes had widened and narrowed as I spoke to him, I could practically see the conflicting thoughts running through his head. “That’s what you did – and now mum and dad don’t like you anymore.” Regulus said quietly.
My eyes tightened slightly but otherwise I showed no outward reaction. “But I’ve made some great friends, Reg. They like me for who I am, and not just because of who my ancestors were.”
Regulus bit his lip and nodded slowly. “But what if no one likes me?”
I snorted, “of course they’ll like you. Just – don’t go on about the blood purity stuff- yeah?”
Regulus winced and his eyes moved to floor. Not for the first time I wondered what had happened this summer whilst I was at the Potter’s, yet whenever I asked Regulus about it he immediately clammed up and changed the subject. We’d never had secrets before.
I put my hand back on his shoulder and gestured towards the loud compartment, Reg nodded but as we reached the door, he grabbed my arm and whispered, “are you sure you don’t want to sit with Cissy?”
I rolled my eyes. “Positive.” Then, before he could complain anymore, I pulled open the compartment and pushed Regulus into the room.
I saw a quick glance of my three friends standing in a huddle, with Peter biting his lip, Remus pointing his wand at something behind them and James running his hand through his unruly hair, before an excited shout filled the compartment and I was pulled into a welcoming embrace.
Remus was the first to notice that we had company. “Hi, you’re-you’re Regulus, right? Sirius’ little brother?” Remus smiled kindly in his direction.
Regulus looked at Remus with his lips pressed shut and his head tilted to the side. His grey eyes flicked to me momentarily before he glared at the floor. “Yeah.”
Remus frowned slightly as Regulus stood in silence. I glared at my brother’s head, his dark hair neatly groomed with a straight parting. Peter bit his lip and cleverly picked up a chocolate frog from a pile of bags on the floor. “James bought them off the trolley lady when we got on board so that he’d get first pick of the trolley.” He said by way of explanation before turning back to my brother cautiously. “Do you want some chocolate? Remus reckons that chocolate cures everything – even nerves.” He said simply, opening the box with one hand.
“I’m not nervous.” Regulus replied immediately. “And I’m fine, thanks.”
I gritted my teeth and refrained from rolling my eyes. Why was he acting to awkward? Reg’s not like this.
“You know, for Sirius’ brother – you’re kind of dull.” James stated bluntly.
“James!” Remus interrupted sharply.
James shrugged his shoulders, completely ignoring that he may have been rude. “Well it’s true.”
An awkward silence filled the compartment as Remus stared at James in disbelief, whilst Peter bit his lip as if fighting to withhold a snort. I glanced at James and Regulus who both seemed to be watching the other with a mix of apprehension and suspicion.
“So what was all the yelling about?” I asked Remus who rolled his eyes in response. “We heard something break.”
Remus let out a long sigh and moved to the side, revealing a smashed wooden panel where one of the compartment benches used to be. “James decided that we should test how strong the benches were.”
I felt my lips twitch into a smile as I turned to James with my eyebrow raised. “If you think about it,” James argued, “they’ve been here for, like, centuries and everyone’s sat on them – even fat kids – and they’re still here.” I hoped no one else noticed how James’ eyes wandered to Peter momentarily as he mentioned ‘fat kids’. “But you guys agreed as well!”
I turned back to my other friends with both eyebrows raised, Remus looked distinctly uncomfortable. “I thought you’d go ask someone if they’ve got spells on!” Remus spluttered.
“And I thought you’d just stack some heavy stuff on it!” Peter laughed.
“It was you who decided to push our trunks off the racks and onto the benches.” Remus continued. “And it was you who then decided to jump of the luggage racks yourself and onto the trunks!”
James opened his mouth to retort, before pausing, shrugging his shoulders and slowly nodding. “Yeah, that’s true.”
“Y-you did that?” Regulus whispered; his eyes wide and his lip quivering slightly. James nodded proudly, now looking at Reg again as if re-evaluating his fist impression. “B-but that’s vandalism!” Regulus said sharply.
The expression left James instantly and a scowl replaced it instead. “So?”
“You’ll get in trouble.”
“Not if we fix it first.”
“How in Merlin’s pants are you going to fix it?” Regulus replied, a small smirk on his lips; he was obviously still smarting from James’ earlier comment.
“It’s none of your business.” James replied through gritted teeth.
I stepped forward cautiously; this wasn’t like Reg at all. Yet before I could say or do anything, the compartment door slid open.
Amelia stepped in first; her blonde hair pulled into a plait, followed shortly behind by Mary; her freckles more pronounced as if she’d recently been on holiday, and lastly came Lily; her bright green eyes darting round the compartment.
“Alright?” I said to the girls, using their distraction to push Regulus further from James.
“We didn’t see you at the platform – I thought you might want to share a compartment.” Remus smiled.
“Yeah, that would be Lily’s fault.” Mary laughed and shared a grin with Amelia whilst Lily blushed.
“My sister refused to come onto the platform but my parents said she wasn’t old enough to stay by herself – and they really wanted to see me off since they rarely see anything to do with this world – so it took a while to get through.” Lily muttered by way of explanation.
Peter and I snorted – we’d witnessed Petunia Evans at the end of last year, she’d refused to touch anything ‘magical’ and nearly had a fit when Peter ‘accidently’ dropped his wand by her feet.
Regulus watched Lily carefully, his gaze sizing her up as she talked with us all as we recounted our summers. His penetrating gaze caught Lily’s attention as she turned to him, frowning slightly.
“Sorry, that was really rude of me. I’m Lily; I’m guessing your Sirius’ brother?” Lily held out her hand, Regulus just looked at it until Lily awkwardly retracted her arm.
Regulus nodded stiffly, his eyes darting to me once more as he looked like he was struggling to phrase his response correctly.
“A-are your parents… Muggles? Regulus asked simply, though he struggled to keep the intonation out of the word ‘Muggles’ – to me, I recognised him trying to be polite rather than asking something much worse which was likely to have sprung to his mind. To everyone else, he had sneered as he spoke.
Lily’s kind eyes turned frosty, the grin on Mary’s face faded and Amelia’s eyes darted toward me. “Yes.” Lily replied sharply.
Regulus frowned again, looking at Lily more intensely before suddenly appearing to become aware of the tense atmosphere in the compartment. I didn’t know what to do; to tell Regulus off would set his pride off – and he tended to rant in response, which wouldn’t do him any favours. Whilst to ignore his comment would make the others think that I agreed with what he said. I looked at Remus desperately.
Remus coughed to get the girls’ attention. “Amelia,” he started carefully, “w-we heard about your mum.” The blonde-haired girl immediately started to fiddle with one of the buckles on her coat. “Why didn’t you tell us t-that she was k-killed?”
Regulus was forgotten as the girls stepped closer to Amelia, Lily glaring at us for our ‘lack of tact’. Amelia shrugged, “I didn’t need any of you to pity me… and I still don’t.” She raised her eyes in determination. “Mum died because she made some enemies when she refused to pass the Muggle-born legislation. Everyone deserves a fair trial, no matter of your blood.” Amelia crossed her arms, as if daring someone to contradict her.
No one spoke; James and I swapped uncertain gazes whilst Remus and Peter nodded slowly. My stomach tensed as a small voice broke the silence.
“Why though?” Regulus asked, his grey eyes looked curious. “If you’re family has lived in the Wizarding world for generations, worked in the Ministry, found cures for magical diseases and helped build the Statue of Secrecy – then why should you be treated the same as someone who has no past with magic, who are the children of the people who used to want us dead?”
I heard the question within his words; he was looking for someone to contradict what we’d always been taught. But no one else seemed to.
Lily and Mary turned away from the broken bench that they were investigating to face my little brother instead. James and Remus stood up whilst Peter and Amelia shook their heads in disgust.
Lily opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it and shut her mouth. “Amelia, Mary – Eliza said that they’d save us a seat in their compartment.” The other two girls nodded and took Lily’s lead.They pushed past me; Amelia glaring as she did so.
“I guess we’ll see you at the feast.” Mary called over her shoulder; it was clear that she didn’t mean Regulus.
The others sat down slowly, Remus pulling on James sleeve and giving him a look. Regulus looked at me uncertainly; his fear of nobody liking him already coming true. I sighed and sat down next to him. “Why?” Regulus asked simply, his excitement from the train platform already evaporated.
“It’s all crime, Reg. If you steal someone’s broomstick or you kidnap someone’s cat – why does it matter how pure your blood is? It’s all crime.”
“But I didn’t mean that! I just meant that you shouldn’t be treated exactly the same.” Reg responded desperately.
Why didn’t he understand? Why can’t he just act normal?
“Hey Sirius, fancy a game of exploding snap?” James asked, his grin slipping back onto his face, though his eyes remained hard.
I looked at my brother with his desperate eyes, and back to my friends with the cards ready to play. “Sure.”
I didn’t say anything when James only counted out four stacks and I pretended not to notice when Regulus left the compartment silently to go find Cissy.
The platform was packed; every student dragging their trunks behind them in the race to get out of the pouring rain and into the warm castle. Over the thunder and squeals of girls’ whinging about their hair, I heard the distinctive call of the groundskeeper, Hagrid. “Firs’ Ye’rs over ‘ere.” He held up a large lantern; the light shining like a beacon through the darkness.
James was behind me, arguing with Jack and Gideon that he had everything under control and they didn’t need to fix the bench for him. Peter and I were helping Fabian and Frank pull all the trunks off the train. Sirius stood facing the crowd, his eyes darting to the face of each person, before darting forward and grabbing the arm of his passing brother. “Reg!”
His small brother fell forwards, bringing with him two other first years who sneered as they noticed Sirius. Sirius glared back and pulled his brother closer, whispering quickly his ear. I heard parts of his conversation over the thunder due to standing the closest. “Remember… family… last chance… Reg, remember.”
Yet before Sirius could say much more, a blonde-haired witch appeared from the moving crowd. She put a hand on Reg’s shoulder and pulled him away, her icy blue eyes glaring at Sirius as she did so; I vaguely recognised her as Sirius’ older cousin.
By the time all the trunks were off the train and we’d walked through the platform, there were only a couple carriages left.
“Jack!” A voice yelled over the rain, his features were lost in the downpour but his signal was clear. The Seventh Years nodded and grabbed their trunks. “See you at the feast.” Frank muttered before following his friends.
“Oi!” I shouted over the thunder. James turned round from where he was climbing into the carriage.
“What?” he shouted back, the rain plastering his usually uncontrollable hair round his face.
“Trunks!” I gestured to the abandoned wooden cases which were left on the platform. James jolted and instinctively scanned the nearby area; possibly for a house-elf. Turning back to face me, I saw with some amusement a slight trace of red on his cheeks as he hopped down off the step and helped pick up his trunk.
“For God’s sake Peter,” Sirius snapped behind me, “this is heavy – can’t you just walk normally?”
“I’m trying – but I don’t want to go near it!” Peter whined. “It looks like it’ll bite me!”
James and I deposited the trunk on the carriage before turning to see what Peter was talking about. Sirius was holding most the weight with Peter holding the other side whilst staring at the front of the carriage.
“Er… Peter?” I asked cautiously. James stepped forward to take the trunk from Peter as Sirius started to go red. Peter blinked and steeped back; allowing James to take the weight.
“What?” Peter responded, his eyes darting to each of us in turn. “The horse things!”
James and Sirius now stood next to me after disposing of the trunk. “What horse things?” Sirius frowned.
Peter gestured to the front of the carriage again. “Er… Peter there’s nothing there.” I replied calmly.
“Of course there is, don’t be stupid.” Peter said indignantly, “look – it’s sniffing James’ sleeve now!”
I swapped alarmed glances with Sirius and James snorted in response, but before any of us could say anything – a mocking voice interrupted us. “Let me guess – the fat piggy is too scared to climb on the carriage?”
It was answered by jeers and laughs; Malfoy and his friends were passing us in one of the final carriages, which the Sixth Year Slytherins had charmed with blue flames to float and produce a wave of heat. “Don’t blame you Piggy – it’d probably break the second you climbed aboard.” Malfoy called out.
“Didn’t you hear Luc? They smashed one of the benches in their compartment – had to get some Seventh Years to sort it for them.”
Another Slytherin called out, his friends laughed in response.
Malfoy grinned and looked at Peter menacingly. “That true, Piggy? Did you sit on it and it broke?”
James and Sirius had pulled out their wands whilst Peter stared at the floor, rapidly blinking. “C’mon,” I whispered, “let’s get to the feast.”
Sirius and Peter nodded, slowly climbing into the carriage. Though James remained standing, glaring at the retreating Slytherin carriage as it made its way through the rain. “James,” I said slowly. He nodded and climbed onto the horseless transport after me.
The rest of the journey was silent; Sirius twisting his hands and looking out the window, Peter staring at the space in front of the carriage, James glaring at his wand whilst grinding his teeth and me staring at the sky, the moon would be fully risen within the next three hours; just enough time for the feast and to sneak away to my holding pen.
The Great Hall was a welcome sight; the fire blazing out warm heat and the familiar chatter of the school echoing against the stone walls. Our late arrival went unnoticed by the majority and we’d just slipped into our seats when the doors were pushed open to reveal Professor McGonagall, her lips pulled into a tight line, leading the new First Years down the aisle.
Whilst some had grins plastered from ear to ear, others looked pale with their eyes darting from side to side. One girl with plaits waved briefly in our direction; Amelia responded with a grin.
“Who’s that?” James leaned forward to whisper to Amelia.
Amelia tucked a loose curl of hair behind her ear before responding. “That’s my little sister, Jane.” She whispered before turning to face the front where the stern Professor had just placed the old sorting hat. There was silence for a short pause as the hall waited with anticipation for the hat to talk. With a large blow of dust, the hat’s rim ripped open and the hat started to speak.
Until trouble rose and caused a divide.”
“Hey,” I whispered to Sirius across the table who was currently watching his brother intently. I followed his gaze to see Regulus standing between the two boys at the platform. “You’re just going to make him more nervous.”
Sirius nodded and turned to face the hat again, though his eyes kept darting back to his younger brother.
with courage and chivalry at your core.
Or perhaps Hufflepuff is your home,
those fair badgers mean you're never alone.
Maybe Ravenclaw are more your kind,
reserved for those of wit and clever mind.
Or should you be cunning Slytherin,
those with ambition make up their kin.
Put me on and let me see
what type of person you may be.
Hear me talk, let me speak,
for I’m the cleverest hat you'll ever meet.”
Applause broke out as the hat’s rim closed, signalling the end of his rhyme. Peter and Mary were pointing to the First Years; some looked relieved whilst others looked petrified. Professor McGonnagal stepped forwards, gripping the end of a scroll as she read out the first name.
A tiny girl with dark hair shuffled over to the three-legged stool; I’d briefly seen her at the platform with what looked to be Muggles. The hat was lowered onto her head briefly before the hat’s rim opened to shriek, “Ravenclaw!”
The table full of blue and black uniforms let out a roar of celebration as they applauded the small girl to her seat. Professor Flitwick grinned at a scowling Professor Slughorn on the head table. The hall quietened down again at the fierce glare of the stern professor.
I could sense the curious glances from the rest of the school thrown in our direction; ready to see Sirius’ reaction. Sirius was still, his jaw clenched and his hands screwed into a fist as he watched his brother stride to the stool. Regulus sat on the stool gracefully, scrunching his nose briefly as the uneven legs wobbled slightly. The greying hat was placed on his neatly combed hair and silence ensued.
It was longer than with the Adams girl, long enough for the other First Years to get restless. James started playing with his spoon and bet Peter on how long he could keep it stuck to his nose. Sirius stayed in the same position; his eyes never leaving his brother’s small figure.
After a couple minutes the hat’s brim ripped open. “Slytherin!”
Its voice echoed around the hall before being silenced by the cheers of the green table, whilst the other tables clapped politely; most faces turning towards Sirius who was imitating a statue with his mouth slightly ajar. The only sign of movement was his grey eyes as they followed Regulus to his seat. Regulus seemed to be deliberately looking anywhere but in our direction.
I looked to the head table to see Dumbledore watching us curiously. Beside him, Professor Slughorn was now grinning at a sullen Professor Flitwick; it appeared they had a bet of some sort.
“Sirius?” Mary asked cautiously. He grit his teeth in response and twisted his body to he was fully facing the front. Taking it as a cue, I shook my head at Mary who nodded in response.
Amelia’s little sister scrambled forward, her blonde hair slightly darker than Amelia’s but pulled into a similar plait. I was starting to get nervous; Madam Pomfrey had sent me a letter reminding me to wait for her to ‘collect’ me so she could make sure the lock was secure but full moon was fast approaching and I hadn’t seen her yet.
The hat had barely brushed Jane’s hair before it shouted, “Hufflepuff!”
The yellow table exploded into whistles and yells as Jane made her way to the table closest to ours. James snorted in response which caused Lily to tap him on the back of the head reproachfully.
Luckily, Amelia didn’t seem to hear as she smiled and clapped enthusiastically. “I knew she’d be a Hufflepuff; she’s too loyal for her own good.” Amelia said warmly.
The Hufflepuffs were still cheering when someone patted me on the shoulder. I turned to see the familiar sight of the kind Matron. “Sorry to interrupt Remus, but we’ve got to go.”
I felt a rush of relief that she’d appeared, though took in her slightly rushed appearance. “Where you going?” James frowned, leaning forward to hear what was going on.
Madam Pomfrey was tugging on my sleeve to hurry up; but I was already starting to feel sluggish so it took me slightly longer than usual. “Remus’ uncle has had a fall and his family thinks it’d be best if Remus went home tonight.” The matron said simply; the girls responded appropriately but my eyes were drawn to my three closest friends. Sirius had turned back round to face us and they were all swapping confused looks. We’d talked about our families many times; they knew I had no aunts or uncles. “Come along, Remus.”
I nodded, swearing to myself that I’d come up with a better excuse tomorrow but for now focussed on leaving the hall without arising any more suspicion. Luckily the Hufflepuffs were now cheering over another addition so I was able to slip away from the table and out the door with only a few questioning looks. With Madam Pomfrey clutching my arm and her wand raised in her other hand; we stepped away from the warm building and into the dark, wet night.
But no one else saw them. I carried on thinking, my mind focussing on one topic throughout the entire meal. Am I crazy? The others said that there was nothing there – but I saw them! They were pulling the carriages; looking like scaled horses with those black wings. They were there! Why didn’t anyone see them?
The others were looking at me curiously so I turned to the desserts instead; hoping to use them as a distraction from my previous thoughts. I reached across the table to the plate of chocolate truffles. It’d been so long since I’d eaten anything that didn’t come out of a box; I couldn’t help but fill my large plate with anything in reachable distance.
“Steady there, Pete.” Jack laughed behind me. “There’s plenty of it.”
The others laughed whilst Mary handed me her napkin to clear some of the crumbs around my mouth. I swallowed deeply and looked to the plate of half-eaten food in front of me. Without much thought, my shoulders hunched and I felt my eyes itch momentarily.
“What’s up, Jack?” James asked, grinning at the older boy. The others turned to face Jack and I used the distraction to push the rest of my plate away; shame filling my body.
“I’ve spoken to McGonagall – she said we can have the Quidditch pitch for try-outs next Saturday.” Jack grinned at the look of confusion on James’ face. “So if you’re still up for trying-out, then make sure you’re there.”
“Try-outs?” James repeated. “Why would we try out? You already said that Sirius and I were on the team!”
Maybe they’re all playing a trick on me. Trying to make me think I’m going crazy. But… no one else seemed to see the horses either.
“No,” Jack replied, his lip twitching slightly, “I said that we’d have a game of Quidditch and see what you were capable of – we never fully agreed that it was a try-out.”
James scowled and looked to Sirius for support, but the latter was glaring at the Slytherin table again. Regulus was sat opposite his two friends, who were unsurprisingly made Slytherin, and next to Snape. Malfoy and his blond-haired girlfriend frequently looked up to smirk at Sirius.
Jack’s friends had joined us, all clutching napkins full of deserts on their way to their dorm. “Sirius,” Frank asked cautiously, “are you alright?”
Sirius’ eyes flicked to the older students. “Fine.”
Maybe the horses are invisible – but why can I see them?
“James, Sirius?” A tall Gryffindor with shoulder-length blonde hair held out his hand. “Ed Bones. Amelia’s brother. The guys told me about summer; did you really play Quidditch inside?”
The other Seventh Years snorted, whilst those in other years who were nearby turned to look at us in disbelief. James coughed, trying to ignore the astonished looks being sent his direction. “Yeah. But in our defence, it would have been fine – but the bludger lost control after Sirius smacked it. Jack sorted it out though.”
“The bludger?” Lily repeated dryly. “Isn’t that one of those big, fast balls that try to destroy everything in its path?”
Sirius appeared to be snapping out of his trance-like stance and muttered, “yeah,” whilst rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously.
Ed snorted, “wish I’d of been there. Well, if you try out next week then you’ll be partnered with me. I’m the other Beater.” Ed added at my confused glance.
“Just leaves me, Peter and Remus then.” Frank rolled his eyes before looking at the table with a frown, “wait – where’s Remus?”
I looked at James, biting my lip. Then turned to face Sirius and swapped a confused look. Remus had told us that he didn’t have any aunts or uncles.
“His Uncle had an accident or something, so his parents wanted him to go home tonight.” Mary responded. “Hope he’s okay – Remus must be one of the most unlucky people ever.”
The Seventh Years frowned, but before any other comments could be said aloud, Fabian groaned. “Damn.” Gideon looked at his twin curiously. “Molly’s going to kill me.” His friends all turned to face him as Fabian gestured to his wrist. “My watch! Where the hell did I put it?”
Frank and Ed rolled their eyes whilst Gideon looked slightly panicked. “Please don’t say that you’ve lost it already? Where’d you last have it?”
“Uhh,” Fabian scratched his head whilst Jack peered down the table to their original seats, “I had it in the carriage because we were timing how long it took Flitwick to climb the stairs.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that; James had previously wondered the same thing. “Right,” Gideon nodded, “we’ll go check the carriages.”
Maybe they’ll see the horses this time? Should I ask them tomorrow?
The Seventh Years murmured goodbyes as they left the hall. A wave of relief hit me as the food in front of us disappeared; taking with it any evidence of how much I’d grabbed.
“What did you mean before?” James suddenly asked Mary, who was currently climbing off the bench with Lily and Amelia. “About Remus being unlucky?”
“Well, you know,” Mary looked at her friends uncertainly who had both turned away, “his Uncle’s injured, before that his great aunt died, before that his dog got hit by a Muggle car, then his friend went missing, his dad lost his job and… wasn’t there something about his gran?”
“Yeah,” I said slowly, my mind racking back to last year, “she got sick.”
James’ permanent grin faltered and his brows furrowed into a frown. Sirius, distracted from his brother, looked to be deep in thought. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Are you coming?” Amelia interrupted expectantly, turning away from her little sister and pushing her in the direction of the other Hufflepuff First Years. Mary nodded and smiled in our direction before turning to Lily, who was mouthing something to Snape on the other side of the hall. “Lily, we’re leaving.”
“Hm?” Lily replied absentmindly, turning to face her friends. “Right.”
“Did you realise that Remus goes home that often?” I asked Sirius and James cautiously as we followed the girls from the Great Hall.
“I just-I mean, I knew he went home, but-not that much.” James shrugged, a dark crease between his eyes.
Or perhaps there are no horses. Perhaps I’m just seeing things. Perhaps I’m just mad, fat Peter.
Sirius remained silent, deep in thought and on the few occasions he opened his mouth to speak, he would catch his brother in the corner of his eye and would return to brooding. I tried to ignore the older Slytherins pointing in my direction to the amusement of the younger years. I kept my eyes on the floor to the others wouldn’t see me blush when the Slytherins puffed up their cheeks and imitated a waddle down their aisle. I hoped no one noticed when I sucked my stomach in.
Their eyes were wide and fearful. Each boy stood at the end of their bed looking at us with a mixture of confusion and anxiety. I stood in the centre, Peter and Sirius standing slightly behind me.
I pointed to the boy closest to me; his glasses perched at an angle on the end of his small nose. “You! Name?”
“S-Simon Creyte.” The First Year answered immediately, his glasses glimmering in the candlelight.
I walked up to the boy so our noses were centimetres apart; behind me I could hear a muffled giggle from Peter. “Well, Simon, I don’t like glasses. Take them off.”
The boy squeaked and hastily removed the frames from his face. His eyes become unfocussed and I stepped back into the centre of the room. I pointed at another boy, his blonde hair hanging in ringlets round his pointed ears. “You! Name?”
The boy lifted his chin defiantly, though his eyes darted to the side to his companions. “C-Caradoc Dearborn.”
I looked the boy up and down intimidatedly, fully relishing in Sirius’ dare to freak the First Years out. I pointed at another one, his pointed features accentuated by his dark pixie haircut. “Name?”
This boy’s lips twitched as if he was fighting a smile. “Benjy. Benjy Fenwick.”
I nodded and looked at the others disapprovingly. “We’re the Second Year Gryffindors and tradition states that you lot have to go through an initiation ceremony that we create. Now, some tasks are evil – worthy of a Slytherin, right Peter?”
“Horrifying.” Peter whispered behind me, standing beside the doorway to the Gryffindor First Year room.
“There’s normally four of us. But Remus has such bad memories from our initiation that he’s currently hiding in our room waiting for the evening to be over.” The one who previously wore glasses, Simon, squeaked. “This is Peter, and this is Sirius. You might have heard of him, Sirius Black. Heir to one of the darkest Wizarding families there is.” The First Years turned to Sirius apprehensively, whose eyes flickered to me in annoyance. “But we’ve decided to be nice this year. Peter suggested sending you to the dungeons were the Bloody Baron is waiting to ambush you and place his bloody chains around your bodies for ever more for being from his ancient rival house.”
Two of the First Years who I hadn’t asked for their names, gulped and stepped backwards so they were virtually leaning against their bed posts.
“Sirius thought you’d prefer to be sent to the kitchens with the house-elves. Those elves have been driven mad in those kitchens; constantly being demanded to make food for us when they have little for their own. Dumbledore, the mad headmaster, strangles any of them who complain with his long white beard. They’re waiting for revenge and you may be the perfect victims.”
Caradoc and Benjy stared at each other and gave a nervous laugh, whilst backing away.
“I thought that we should send you out to meet Hagrid; the bearded monster who keeps hideous beasts which will tear your kidneys from your blood-dripping bodies for breakfast. On Hagrid’s hip is the keys to every room in Hogwarts; he’ll lock you away so no one will ever find you again.”
Simon yelped and I noticed with a grin that his hands were shaking. Sirius stepped forward, and the First Years turned to look at him instead. “Of course there are other alternatives, like binding your arms to your feet so you’ll always walk bent in half. Or cursing you to quack like a duck every time someone says the word ‘Professor.”
“Or,” I continued with a grin, “we could sneak in here when you’re fast asleep and take you outside, locking all the doors behind us. So you’ll wake up in the middle of the night to deal with all the beasts that wander in the darkness.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Look, it’s full moon tonight.” I pointed to the open window. “Hope you’re not scared of werewolves – those vicious monsters which will tear you limb from limb as they seek revenge on those who cursed them.”
I stepped back into line with the others as the First Years watched us with wide eyes. Sirius waved his wand and muttered under his breath. I big gust of wind filled the room and every candle blew out; leaving us in darkness. The First Years whimpered as they lost their sight. As planned, we snuck forward so we were each in front of a pair and raised our wands.
“But like we said, we’ve decided to be nice this year. You’ll get your instructions soon.” I said simply, my voice echoing around the dark, silent room.
Putting my wand under my chin, I hissed quietly. “Lumos.”
Ours wands lit, making our faces appear in the dark room. Immediately the First Years started screaming in fright and fought to climb onto their beds. Unable to contain my laughter anymore, I turned and ran from the room, Peter and Sirius at my heels.
We’d barely gone a metre before I ran straight into Frank. Gideon and Jack stood behind him. I was suddenly aware that the First Years were still screaming like banshees.
“D-Do I want to know?” Jack said carefully, his eyes darting between the screaming room and our grins.
I looked at Sirius, who eyes were alight with mischief and seemed to have momentarily forgotten about his brother, then at Peter, whose face was red with laughter and had a grin stretched from ear to ear.
“No, you probably don’t.” I smiled at the older students, who just shook their heads slowly.
Somehow I suddenly had the impression that this year was going to be fun.
Sorry for the delay - school has been extrememly hectic, but the good new is that it's nearly summer! Thanks for your support on this so far - it means a lot!
Until next time, Keira :)
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