The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Secret of The Founders Four  Chapter: Chapter One: Prologue
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters and situations belong to JK Rowling (what a wonderful imagination!) and I am in no way attempting to make any money from this. I had to take a few things from the books because that’s the way they are. I intend no copyright infringement. It’s purely for fun. Don’t sue me, all you’d get would be my Harry Potter books, Bon Jovi tape and Ronan Keating CD, none of which I’m parting with!

Summary: The introduction to my series about Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs and that strange group known only as the “Goils.”

Author's Note: This is the first of this sort of fic I’ve posted, and my second posted Harry Potter fic. The Secret of the Founders’ Four sort of goes with “When the World Was Mine” in that it has the same characters and introduces Anita, Raven and Bond, but this won’t spoil it, and the spoilers for this in “When the World Was Mine” are minimal, mainly involving what happens to Raven and the seventh year Quidditch final. This will wind up as a series of 5 stories, I hope. The Prologue is the train journey, the Sorting and the first lesson of term. It’s probably a bit slow moving, but the rest of it should be a bit quicker paced. This is basically just to introduce both my interpretations of JK Rowling’s characters and my new characters.

Yes, I confess that I have a thing about starting off with thunderstorms. They just offer so much potntial for dark, magical scenes. Besides, they're fun to write ;-).

Thank you to my wonderful beta readers, TQ, Elanor Gamgee and Memory.

Enjoy! :-)
 

Chapter One: Prologue


Somewhere in Scotland, eleventh century A.D.

The students of the fledgling Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were curled up in their four-poster beds, sleeping, finally oblivious to the amazing show of the might and force of nature that was taking place outside.  Thunder crashed across the mountains and the wind howled, driving the pouring rains hard against the stone walls of the castle.

The occupants of the circular room that served as a meeting place for the witches and wizard who ran the school were acutely aware of the conditions outside. Theirs had been the unpleasant job of calming the students in the face of the terrible force of the storm.

Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw had been sleeping peacefully in their beds, finally having made it to sleep after an altogether too eventful day, when their colleague, Helga Hufflepuff, shook them awake.

Now the three Founders sat in silence in the office. The only sound in the room was the lashing of rain and wind outside, and Helga was watching Godric and Rowena, waiting for their response to her news.

Suddenly Godric leapt to his feet and began pacing the room.

“Are you absolutely certain, Helga?” he asked, frowning. Helga sighed.

“As certain as I can ever be, Godric. Divination is one of the more difficult magical arts, and it is impossible to be absolutely certain. But I can tell you that my most accurate visions and prophecies come during a storm.”

There was silence once more, punctuated only by the wild sounds of the weather outside. Rowena frowned thoughtfully, then spoke.

“So,” she said slowly, “you mean to say that Slytherin’s Heir will destroy the wizarding world?”

Helga groaned.

“It certainly looks that way, Rowena. The flashes I had before the vision were all scenes in which Slytherin’s descendant was killing people, torturing Muggles, even attacking a baby boy. I saw crowds of wizards huddling in fear, whispering ‘You-Know-Who’ in hushed tones. This wizard is going to be powerful.

“Without these people in the vision, all is lost.”

Godric stopped pacing and turned to her, a reflective frown on his face.

“Tell us exactly what happened in the vision, Helga.”

Helga closed her eyes. Rowena and Godric could tell she was thinking hard.

“There was a wizard,” she said slowly. “A wizard with white skin and red eyes. He felt very powerful and very dark. Somehow I knew he was Slytherin’s descendant. His folowers surrounded him, and they were fighting against two more wizards, who were standing in front of and behind the Dark one.

“The one behind him muttered something. It seemed to be a preparatory incantation, for when he was finished, the one in front of the Dark one raised his wand and shouted out a spell. It was incredibly advanced magic. I could feel the power flowing through him, as though I was him.

“And then,” she faltered, searching for the right words. “Then... everything exploded. And the vision ended.”

Godric and Rowena mulled over Helga’s retelling of her vision. Suddenly, Rowena’s eyes widened.

”Helga,” she said excitedly. “This doesn’t have anything to do with that prophecy you made, does it? You know, ‘When Slytherin’s Heir has passed through’...”

“The prophecy of the Founders’ Four?” Helga asked thoughtfully. “It might...” She shook her head, looking bewildered. “I just don’t know!’ She sounded frustrated.

“From your description,” Godric began slowly, “it certainly sounds like the hour of darkest need will be caused by Slytherin’s Heir.” His eyes flashed angrily. “Isn’t there some way we can stop this?” He thumped his fist on the table.

“Godric,” Rowena said  quietly. “We can’t kill innocent children because if the mistakes of their parents.”

“I know that!” Godric cried. He rounded on Helga. “What can we do to help?”

“Well...” Helga replied hesitantly. “I had a feeling that they desperately need our help. Without us, I think they cannot succeed. We’ve got to do our best to prepare them for it.”

“What can we do?” Rowena asked firmly, her eyes reflecting her resolve. The same light shone in Godric’s eyes.

Helga ran her hand through her hair, looking frazzled. She quickly composed herself.

“Well,” she said in a businesslike tone. “There was a magical explosion, so they’ll need protection from it. Godric, you’re best at that.”

Godric nodded.

“Was the spell one you recognised?” Rowena asked. She had begun to take notes on a piece of parchment. Her quill was poised above the page as she waited for a reply.

Helga shook her head.

“From the snatches of it I heard, it sounded custom written.”

“Right, that’s another job for Godric,” Rowena said, painstakingly noting the decision on her parchment. “And we’ll need some way to hide the information until these two can access it. I’ll look into that. Helga, is there any way of finding out whether the wizards were part of the Founders’ Four?”

“I shall consult the Orb.”

“Right,” Godric declared. “Helga, Rowena, we have a job to do. To work.”

The three of them strode out of the room, Godric to his study, Helga to the Divination tower and Rowena to the library. There was work to be done.

* * *

Anglesey, Wales, a thousand years later

It was a perfectly normal morning in the Evans home of number nineteen Channel Road on the island known as Anglesey. Mr and Mrs Evans were at the table eating breakfast and listening to the radio. Mr Evans was reading the newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee, while his wife was examining their daughter Lily’s school list. It was a peaceful domestic scene, but the morning tranquillity didn’t last long.

“Mother!” a whining voice cried from upstairs. “Lily’s done something with my homework, I can’t find it!”

“I have not!” came an indignant shout, and a girl of about eleven walked down the stairs, trying to run a brush through her thick, unruly mop of dark red hair. “Besides, she still has a month, what’s she complaining about?”

“That reminds me, Lily dear,” said her mother, reaching for a cup of coffee. “We should get your school things soon.”

Lily grabbed some toast and began to spread butter over it.

“When are we going?”

“Might as well be today,” Lily’s father said from behind his newspaper. “Get it over and done with. I need to go to the mainland, so we can do it there. We can find everything easier.”

At that moment, Petunia, a bony faced girl of fourteen, sat down at the table. She opened her mouth to speak, but all that came out was:

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

A large barn owl had flown into the house and dropped an envelope on Petunia’s head. It gave a hoot and settled on the middle of the table. The Evanses were all very startled by this peculiar event. Mr Evans dropped his newspaper, his wife squealed, and Lily leapt up from the table in surprise and stood staring at her sister’s hair and the owl, which had begun to calmly munch her toast, apparently undisturbed by the family’s reaction to its arrival.

Mrs Evans was the first to recover from her shock. She plucked the envelope from Petunia’s hair and examined it. It was made of yellow parchment, and was very thick. Lily craned her neck to try to get a good look at it.

“It - it’s for you Lily,” she said in a trembling voice.

Lily walked slowly to her mother, stunned, and took the envelope. The parchment it was made of had a lovely texture. She ran her fingers over it, enjoying the silky feel of the envelope, then flipped it over. She gasped. The address, written in emerald green ink, read:

Miss L. Evans,
The corner bedroom,
19 Channel Road,
Aberffraw,
Anglesey,
Gwynedd,
Wales

How did they know where she slept? Lily wondered as she slit open the envelope and pulled out a sheet of the same yellowed parchment. She frowned at the letter as she read it, then gave a little gasp, flipped over the envelope, examined the wax seal and handed the letter to her mother, totally bewildered.

“Well?” said Mr Evans.

“It says I’ve been accepted into a magic school!” Lily said in disbelief. Petunia went white and choked on her breakfast. Mrs Evans frowned, took the letter and it, then handed it to her husband. Mr Evans’ eyes widened as he scrutinised it.

“Fishy,” he murmured. “Probably a hoax.”

“Oh, no, can’t we at least find out?” Lily squeaked. “I mean, it’s a trip to London, sure, but we’ll be able to tell, there’s a little post-script that says we have to go to a pub in London, and the people there will help us... Please?”

Mr and Mrs Evans looked at each other, then stood up and walked out of the room, with ‘we need to talk about this in private’ looks on their faces. They shut the door and began a hurried conference in the hallway.

Petunia sat like a statue in her chair, stony faced. Lily glanced at her and stuck her tongue out, knowing her sister’s strong opinions on anything ‘abnormal.’ Petunia glared back. Lily crept towards the closed door, hoping to hear what her parents were saying. The door opened abruptly, and she jumped back as the adults walked into the kitchen, Mr Evans looking very grim, and Mrs Evans with a puzzled expression on her face.

“Well,” Lily’s mother began. “We have decided to give this a chance and if we see something that will prove this one way or the other, we will act upon it.”

Lily bounded across the room and hugged her parents.

“When can we go?” she squealed in delight.

 * * *

So it was that Lily Evans, who had never even dreamt of being a witch before, came to be standing in the crowd at King’s Cross station on September 1st, 1972. It had been a very strange trip to London to get her school things, but the exotic, magical side of London had convinced both her parents from the moment the huge man called Hagrid had opened the archway into Diagon Alley.

Lily now had her own robes, spellbooks, potions supplies kit, magic wand, and most pleasing of all, a beautiful snowy owl called Aphrodite. Lily looked around the station in a state of frenzied excitement, searching for a clue to the mysterious world of Hogwarts.

“Which platform, dear?” asked her mother. Lily showed her the ticket. “Nine and three quarters!” Mrs Evans exclaimed. “But there is no platform nine and three quarters!”

Lily felt sick. She frantically scanned the platforms, looking for other people with owls, or people in robes. Surely this wasn’t all a joke, after all this. Had they all been fooled? She craned her neck, searching frantically. It had to be real. There was the wand and the bookshop and the apothecary and the owls...

Lily must have been looking lost, because a thin, pale girl had sidled up to her. She was wearing perfectly ordinary jeans and a blue shirt, but Lily caught a glimpse of her trolley and her heart leapt. It had a large trunk on it, and on top of that was a cage with an elegant grey owl in it.
The girl would have been considered pretty if she was trying to look nice and hadn’t been so shy. She had short, sandy hair that almost reached her chin and a pleasant face, but looked very frail, mainly because she was so slender. However, the most surprising part of her appearance was the pair of bright, startlingly blue eyes that shone from her pale face.

“Hogwarts?” the girl asked shyly, giving Lily a tiny smile. “First year?”

“Yes!’ Lily replied eagerly. “You too?”

The girl nodded.

“Are you from a magical family?” Lily asked, feeling desperate.

“Sort of,” her companion said with a small grin and a light in her eyes that showed a sense of humour in the frail, timid girl. “Mum’s a witch, but Dad’s a Muggle. A non magic person,” she added at Lily’s bemused expression.

Lily sighed.

“Good, because my parents are, er, Muggles?” Lily glanced at her companion, who nodded encouragingly, “and I...”

“Want to know how to get onto the platform,” the girl finished for her. “Just walk through the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Watch my brother.” She pointed to a boy who was walking towards the concrete barrier with a self-confident air. Just when he was about to hit it, he turned around and called out to the girl standing with Lily in an impatient and slightly contemptuous tone.

“Come on, Anita!”

Then he turned and Lily blinked, then stared. The boy had vanished.

“I have to go,” Anita said. “Come on. You first. If you’re nervous, run.” She stepped back politely to allow Lily to say her farewells to her family.
Lily said good-bye to her parents, then walked forwards nervously. This was so ridiculous, but before she had received her letter, she had thought that the whole idea of magic was quite outlandish. Now she was willing to believe almost anything. She jogged towards the barrier. Her mind wanted to stop, it screamed to her that she was going to hurt herself, but she forced her feet to keep moving, to pick up speed. She was going to run straight into the barrier...

And a different world was in front of her. Platform nine and three quarters materialised around her. There was a scarlet steam engine at the platform and there were robed people everywhere. Lily turned around and saw a large, elegant wrought iron gate with the words ‘Platform Nine and Three Quarters’ on it where the ticket box had been. She turned back around and surveyed the platform.

Lily’s first impression was one of total confusion. Witches and wizards ran around everywhere, trying to find siblings, saying farewell to parents, loading luggage onto the train and trying to calm excited owls, cats and toads. Lily looked around, drinking in the wonderful scene and feeling her excitement heighten inside her. She couldn’t wait to be a part of this happy wizarding world. She scanned the crowd, looking for possible friends. Several people around her age stood out.

There was a tall, skinny boy with black hair and glasses. He was talking to his parents and seemed to be reassuring them that he would be all right. Lily couldn’t help noticing that he was quite handsome, and thought he looked very interesting.

She also saw a pale, tired looking boy, who she was sure she had seen in the Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley, staring wistfully at the animals. She wondered why he looked so worn down and unwell. He was another person she wanted to know.

 Then she saw a tall boy with black hair. He had a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, even though he didn’t look very happy. He was already wearing his robes, and was arguing with a man who looked so much like him he could only be his father. The boy’s mother seemed to be trying to calm them both down. Lily was sure that she had seen the boy looking in Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop in Diagon Alley. She decided to be careful when accepting anything from him.

As Lily was gazing around looking for other promising people, Anita appeared beside her.

“Um, I’d better go, I need to say good-bye to my sister and mother,” she said awkwardly.

“Oh,” Lily said. Then she held out her hand, which Anita shook. “I’m Lily Evans.”

“Anita Sanderson,” Anita replied. She turned with a shy grin and walked towards her brother.

 * * *

Anita walked up to her family. Raven, her twin brother, was saying his farewells in his own aloof way. Anita stood aside and let him finish before stepping forward and embracing their little sister. Alexi looked pouty.

“Do you have to go?” she asked, tears brimming in her eyes. Anita gave her a warm smile.

“I’m sorry, Alexi. You’ll get to come when you’re my age. I’ll send you lots of owls. Greyshield will be glad to get the exercise.”

Alexi smiled bravely at her sister, cheered up by the prospect of lots of mail. Anita moved on to Christene, her mother. Her father was at work, and unable to come; it wouldn’t have been possible for him to get onto the platform anyway.

“Take care, Anita. I won’t fuss, I know you don’t like it,” Christene said, smiling and wiping briefly at the corner of her eye. “Just have fun and do your best.”

Anita smiled and kissed her mother and sister, then looked over to where Raven was waiting. He was glaring at a boy standing nearby, who was grinning back at him with a twinkle in his pale blue eyes, holding a bag which looked suspiciously like it had come from Gambol and Japes. Anita couldn’t help speculating that he looked very much like a prankster, and was therefore probably a person to keep Raven away from. She walked over to her brother, tapped him on the shoulder and smiled at the prankster, who winked back. Anita felt her face flush and quickly turned away with her hand on Raven’s arm.

Together Raven and Anita pulled their luggage onto the train. They began searching for an empty compartment. It wasn’t long before they found one. They put down their luggage and Anita carefully put Greyshield’s cage on the seat opposite her. Raven placed his cat carrier on the floor near him and took a window seat. Anita pulled out her Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook, The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, by Quentin Trimble, and began to flick through it. She couldn’t wait to start at Hogwarts, and had been ticking off the days on the calendar. Now all she had to do was sit through the train ride, which looked like it was going to be very interesting.

Anita had been very proud to receive her letter. Her father was a Muggle schoolteacher, so she had had a lingering fear that maybe she would not be accepted into Hogwarts. Raven had never had any doubt, he was very self-assured. Anita had often found herself wishing that she had her brother’s confidence as well as his eyes.

 She remembered back to that glorious day, but before she’d even gotten herself down the stairs, Lily Evans and a tall boy with messy hair poked their heads through the compartment door.

“Hi, Anita,” Lily said happily. “Is there some room here?”

Anita indicated the empty seats, and Lily sat down. The boy pulled her trunk into the compartment, smiled, then turned to leave, saying that he should get back to his seat.

“I’m so excited!” Lily said. “You wouldn’t believe how shocked I was to get my letter! I mean, I always used to think I was just a Muggle!”
Anita grinned. Raven remained silent. He was staring out the window with his copy of The Standard Book of Spells Grade 1 open on his lap. His sister glanced over at him, then nodded at Lily.

“I know what you mean, even though Raven and I always knew we were magic. Well, he knew and I hoped!” She grinned, and Lily smiled at her.
They fell silent. Lily and Anita sat quietly for a while and watched the English countryside flash past the windows as they sped northwards, their excitement and nerves building.

Anita felt happy. She was sure that she had found a friend, and was content with that knowledge. She was finally starting at Hogwarts, and she already had someone to talk to.

Raven sat reading his textbook, and Anita couldn’t help but wish that he would stop being so cold. Eventually, when it became clear that Raven was not going to talk of his own accord, she decided to start a discussion with Lily, and hope that he would join in.

“Have you ever been to Diagon Alley?” she asked. Lily nodded. Raven remained engrossed in his book. “We go there quite a bit,“ Anita continued. “We live in Kent, so whenever we need anything, we either drive with Dad or Floo with Mum to London... What?” she added, seeing Lily’s confused expression.

“What’s Floo?” Lily asked. Anita smiled sheepishly.

“Whoops, sorry,” she apologised. “Of course, you wouldn’t know. Floo powder is a wizarding way of travel. You throw some in the fire and say the name of any place on the Floo Network. It only works if you’re hooked up.”

“Oh,” Lily said. Anita felt a pang of guilt at the other girl's expression. It looked like Lily was beginning to feel quite lost. Anita could imagine that Lily must be thinking she would never catch up with the magic-born students. She had missed out on years of experience with the terms and customs of the wizarding world. Anita felt sympathetic towards her, and smiled reassuringly.

Just as she was about to say something encouraging to her new friend, the head of the boy who had helped Lily with her trunk poked around the door. He smiled and stepped into the compartment, wrinkling his nose, and pushed his glasses up it until they were where they belonged, and didn’t look like they were about to fall off.

“Hi,” he said in a friendly voice. “Are you first years?” Lily nodded.

“Are you?” she asked. The boy grinned. “Yeah, I am.” He looked around sheepishly.

“Sorry I didn’t introduce myself earlier,” he said apologetically.

“That’s okay,” Lily said. “I’m Lily Evans. This is Anita Sanderson and...” She paused.

“My twin brother Raven,” Anita finished for her, embarrassed about not introducing him to Lily.

Anita smiled at the newcomer. Raven snapped his book shut and opened his cat’s cage. Ovarson leapt out of the carrier and onto his lap. He stroked the cat and ignored their visitor.

“James Potter,” the boy said, offering his hand to Lily.

 * * *

James shook Lily’s hand and took the empty seat across from her. He looked around the compartment. He had hidden a large bag of tricks from Gambol and Japes in his trunk and was hoping to find a partner in pranking, so he examined Anita and Raven. He thought neither of them looked very likely as pranksters. Anita looked too shy, and her twin, with his annoying way of looking down his long nose, looked too arrogant.
James had overheard his parents talking about a family friend’s child who was going into their first year and was definitely someone for the caretaker, Filch, to fear. He was hoping to meet this terminal prankster, although he had no idea who it was.

No one seemed to have much to say to anyone else, and they sat in silence, punctuated only by the arrival of the lunch cart. They all bought some food and set about eating it, even Raven.

Lily seemed to be confused by the Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, so James began explaining them to her. She smiled at him and examined her first Chocolate Frog card.

It had a photograph of a wizard with dark red hair and green eyes. He had short hair, but his beard was very long. He wore what appeared to be some sort of ceremonial robes. The photo smiled at Lily, and she squealed as the wizard reached up a hand to brush away a fly.
Anita gave a small smile.

“Wizard photos move,” she said simply.

“Oh.” Lily flipped the card over.

“Who’d you get?” James asked.

Lily handed him the card. The caption under the picture read Merlin Talisen XLIII.

James read the back of the card.

Merlin Talisen XLIII is descended of both Merlin and the great bard Talisen. He is the head of the Druidic Council, which is currently centred in Ireland. Talisen is the leader of the Irish wizarding population, and united both the Northern and Southern Irish magical communities. He also at a young age helped Albus Dumbledore in his defeat of Grindelwald.

James handed Lily the card with a smile.

“He’s one I don’t have.”

He ripped the wrapper off a Chocolate Frog, then handed Lily the card, which was Albus Dumbledore. Lily exclaimed over it, and immediately began to read the back. James laughed.

“Dumbledore’s supposed to be great,” he told her reassuringly. She giggled.

Raven’s cat leapt off its owner’s knee and onto James’. James smiled and began stroking it. It purred.

“Nice cat,” he said appreciatively to Raven. “My parents won’t let me buy one yet. What’s its name?”

Raven turned and narrowed his bright blue eyes, which were exactly the same as Anita’s.

“Ovarson,” he said.

“Interesting name,” Lily said curiously. “Why Ovarson?”

“He’s named after some of our more famous ancestors,” Raven said in an aloof tone. His sister rolled her eyes. “The Ovarson family can be traced back for five hundred years, and many of them were notable historical figures.”

“Yeah,” Anita added, quietly but sarcastically. “Head boys and Ravenclaw Quidditch captains. Hardly famous. Stop being such a snob! I’ve had it with your...”

Her tirade was cut short by the compartment door opening. Everyone, even Raven, turned to look at the new arrival, who stepped into the compartment and sneered at James.

He was fairly tall, and his brown hair was parted perfectly and impeccably combed. James could tell that he was being looked down on because of his own untidy hair. His first impression of the boy was that he wasn’t someone James wanted to know.

The stranger’s cold grey eyes glinted as he stepped forward.

“Oh,” he said coldly. “So you’re the infamous James Potter.” James could hear his contempt, and wondered briefly how the boy knew his name.

“What’s it to you?” Lily snapped. The newcomer turned his cold stare on her.

Who are you?” he asked, disapproval apparent in his voice.

“Who are you?” Lily retorted.

“Bond,” the boy said coolly. “Jorman Bond, the twenty-fourth.”

James was no more enlightened as to who the boy was by knowing his name, but he now knew that the was from an old wizarding family. He must be, to pride himself so much on his name that he introduced himself last name first.

“My, you remind me of the character in the Muggle movies, introducing yourself that way!” Lily snapped.

“Watch your mouth!” Bond snapped. “No doubt you’re no more than a common Mudblood!”

James and Anita leapt to their feet.

“Say. That. Again.” James’ voice was threatening. Bond scowled at him. Lily looked bewildered.

“Obviously it’s true then, if you react like that,” Bond sneered.

The compartment door flew open. By the look on the face of the boy who entered, he had heard everything that Lily, James and Bond had said, and probably agreed with Bond. His nose was raised so he looked down on all of them, and his eyes were a cold, pale blue.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said coldly. James remembered seeing him on the platform, briefly, standing near Raven Sanderson.“Bond. Thrilled to see you,” the stranger continued, his voice oozing sarcasm. James frowned. This boy had been grinning at Raven. Now he was behaving like what James could only describe as a pire Slytherin.

“Oh, you!” Bond said contemptuously. “Son of the famous Aurors. Commoners, the lot of you!” He turned. The newcomer’s cold eyes were flashing angrily. The shot about his parents seemed to have hit home.

“Actually, Bond, I think you’ll find that my family can be traced back almost to the Norman Conquest!” he snapped.

“You’re dreaming, star boy!” Bond snarled, his eyes glinting dangerously. The stranger straightened, drawing himself up to his full height. He was taller than Bond, and better built. He managed to look quite intimidating.

“To you, Bond, that’s Sirius Black the twenty-fifth!”

Bond’s face contorted with rage and he stormed out.

Black rolled his eyes at the ceiling, then turned to James.

“So you’re the infamous James Potter?” he asked, in a very different tone to Bond’s. James met Lily's eyes again. She frowned at him. He shook his head and shrugged. Black laughed, and his entire attitude seemed to change.

“Sorry,” he said, grinning, and James noticed that rather than the haughty tones he had assumed when speaking to Bond, the boy actually had a pleasant Cornish accent. Black rolled his eyes again. “The only way to deal with Bonds is to out-snob them. By out-numeraling them,” he said, inventing the word for the occasion. He turned to James. “I don’t really approve of numbers by my name. So, are you James Potter?”

“Yeah, I am. And this is Anita Sanderson, her twin brother Raven, and Lily Evans.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Black said, grinning, then he turned to James and added - “I’m Rosalind’s son.”

Finally James knew who someone was in relation to people he knew. Rosalind Black was an Auror, who was married to a high-ranking official from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Rosalind Black and James’ mother, Serena Potter, were friends from Hogwarts, but James had never had much contact with the Blacks.

Black offered James his hand. He took it.

“Sirius Black, terminal prankster.”

James grinned.

 * * *

Sirius took the empty seat next to James. He recognised Raven and Anita from the platform. Raven had been glaring at him, and Anita had distracted him. She struck Sirius as very shy. Not a pranking partner.

But he had heard about James Potter. James Potter was a prankster. Sirius’ mother had quite a sense of humour, and when his father wasn’t around, she would tell stories of some of the jokes she and Serena had pulled. Rosalind also said that Serena’s pranking paled next to her son’s.

“Are you the prankster of legend?” Sirius inquired, turning to James with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Definitely,” James replied.

“Then I hope we’re in the same house!” Sirius grinned, then looked at his watch. “Oh, you guys should probably get changed. The train’s going to arrive soon.” He stood up. “In fact, I’d better get back to my seat. Ciao.” He started to leave, and was almost at the door when he turned. “Don’t mind Bond. He’s a Malfoy in nature, if not name. In fact, he’s darling Lucius’ first cousin.”

“Oh! That explains it all,” James said in a knowledgeable tone.

“You bet,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes at the ceiling. James stood up and looked at his watch.

“I’d better go, too.” They left.

James’ seat wasn’t far away, so Sirius walked with him. As they strolled away they could hear Anita hurriedly explaining to Lily exactly what a Malfoy was. James turned to his companion and smiled.

“You really had me fooled there, Sirius. I thought you were a sure Slytherin.”

Sirius grinned.

“Not likely. The Briens, my mother’s family, have been Gryffindors for ages. Sorry about that, but I’ve had too much to do with Bond already. I’m sick of him and we haven’t even started school yet. And watch out for Malfoy. I think he’s a third or fourth year.”

“I know what Malfoy can be like. No doubt it was him who told Bond about me.”

Sirius gave a half smile.

“You bet. Stupid git.”

James laughed. They had reached his seat now.

“Well, here’s where I leave you,” he said, grinning. Sirius raised a hand in farewell.

“’Bye!” James called as his new friend walked away.

 * * *

It wasn’t long before the train pulled in at the station and the students disembarked in the gathering dark. Through the crush Sirius looked around, curious about the strange school that still remained a mystery to him. Over the noise of the crowd a loud voice called out -

“Firs’ years! Firs’ years, over here!”

Sirius turned towards the voice and pushed his way through the crowd.

“Firs’ years!”

Sirius froze at the sight of the man who was gathering the first years. ‘Man’ wasn’t quite the word for him. ‘Giant’ would have been more suitable. He literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd, and his great mass of black hair and beard gave the impression of a large bear.
He grinned at Sirius, who gave a weak smile back.

“Hi, Hagrid!”

Sirius turned and saw Lily running towards the giant man, followed at a slower pace by Raven and Anita.

“All right, Lily?” the giant asked.

“Just fine, Hagrid!” Lily called, grinning.

“You know him?” Sirius asked, pushing his way through the crowd to where Lily, Raven and Anita were standing.
“Sure,” Lily replied lightly. “He helped me get into Diagon Alley. He’s the game keeper here. He’s really nice.”

Sirius gave a weak smile as the first years moved off down a dim, narrow path that he could only assume led to Hogwarts. He stumbled in the dark, unable to see where he was going. Lily helped him up.

“Yer can see Hogwarts jus’ ‘round this bend,” Hagrid called.

The path ended abruptly at the edge of a huge lake. The first years all gasped. On a mountain on the other side of the lake stood a magnificent castle. Its many turrets and towers shone under the light of the waning moon.

There came a soft whimper from next to Sirius. He turned and saw a pale faced boy with light brown hair. He smiled at him, but the boy just looked away.

“Four to a boat!” Hagrid called, and the first years began scrambling into the boats that sat in the water at the lake’s edge.

Sirius, Lily, Raven and Anita climbed into a boat and sat in trepidation, wondering what would happen next.

“All in?” Hagrid asked, looking around. “FORWARD!”

The boats began to move slowly across the still lake. Something broke the surface only a few feet away from the boat Sirius was in.
“What was that?” he cried. Lily shrugged.

Just as they were about to hit the cliff, Hagrid called out to them to duck, and the boats went through a small passageway, until they stopped and everyone disembarked. James made his way over to Sirius.

“Hi!” he called, looking around curiously. Sirius gave him a weak smile in return. He felt lost and overwhelmed in this new, strange place.

“This way!” Hagrid's voice called, and Sirius and James scrambled to obey him.

They were led through another passageway on foot, and finally came out at the very entrance to the castle, where a stern looking, black haired witch who Hagrid called Professor McGonagall was waiting for them.

McGonagall led them through to an empty room off the Entrance Hall. She explained the role of the school houses, then left. The first years stood around in nervous groups, unsure of what was coming, but thankfully it wasn’t long before she was back.

“Form a line, and follow me!” she said, leading them into the Great Hall. Sirius stepped into line behind James.

He stared, awed. The hall was enormous. Four long tables with students seated at them were laden with golden plates and goblets. Above them floated thousands of candles, and Sirius saw what looked suspiciously like ghosts scattered among the students. At the top of the hall was another long table, at which the staff were sitting. Albus Dumbledore was sitting in the middle of the staff table on a magnificent golden chair.
Sirius could feel the eyes of the whole school upon him, and unsettled, he turned to look at the boy next to him. It was the brown haired boy who had been near him on the walk to the school. His face looked even paler now, and he had dark shadows under his eyes.

James nudged Sirius in the ribs. Professor McGonagall had brought out a stool with a shabby wizard’s hat on it. To the astonishment of the first years, a rip opened in its brim and it began to sing.

 * * *

When McGonagall began to call out people to be Sorted, Sirius swallowed, hoping fervently that there weren’t many A’s.

“Anderson, Sarah!”

A girl with fluffy brown hair stepped forward and jammed the hat on her head. There was a small pause, then...

“RAVENCLAW!” the hat yelled.

The table second from the left exploded with cheers, and the girl hurried off, her cheeks red.

“Andrews, Katharine!”

When Katharine placed the hat on her blonde curls, it had barely touched her head before it declared her a Hufflepuff. The table on the right whooped and yelled, and Xavier Avery, a black haired, dark eyed boy, tried on the hat.

“SLYTHERIN!” it yelled without any hesitation, and Avery hurried off to the table second from the right.

“Come ON!” Sirius moaned. He was beginning to feel sick. He hopped up and down, nervous energy flowing through him as Angelina Bandery became a Hufflepuff.

“Black, Sirius!” McGonagall called.

Sirius swallowed. He felt as though grasshoppers were jumping up and down in his stomach, and his lunch seemed to want to re-visit his mouth.

“Good luck,” James whispered as Sirius stepped forward , stumbled over to the hat and put it on his head.

A tiny voice began whispering in his ear.

“Hmm... Let’s see. Brave, very brave, clever too. Where shall you go?” Sirius gulped. It seemed a very long time before the hat spoke again. “Hmm. A disregard for rules, but so much courage. Better make you GRYFFINDOR!” It shouted the last word.

Sirius pulled the hat off his head and hurried over to the table on the far left, from which cheers had erupted. He nervously took a seat next to a ghost in a ruff and tights, who introduced himself as Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. Sirius looked away from him, uncertain, and waited anxiously for a new Gryffindor.

Not surprisingly to Sirius, when Bond was called up, he became a Slytherin. He strode self-confidently over to the Slytherin table and took a seat next to his cousin, Lucius Malfoy, who turned to him and began to say something which Sirius thought looked like a cordial greeting.

Samuel Bone became a Ravenclaw, Valerie Bulstrode (large and ugly) a Slytherin and finally, Arabella Cartier and Padraig Connolly became Gryffindors. They took seats across from Sirius and Sir Nicholas, and Sirius watched as Lily stepped up to be Sorted. The hat declared her a Gryffindor quite quickly. She grinned as Sirius whooped and cheered, then she hurried to the Gryffindor table and took a seat next to Arabella.
They listened as Nancy Evans (“No relation,” Lily promised) became a Hufflepuff, followed by Horace Fletcher.

Sirius’ stomach growled.

“I’m hungry,” he whispered, then he turned his attention to the stool. The pale boy who had been next to him in the line had stepped forward to the call of “Lupin, Remus!”

The hat considered him for a while, then declared him a Gryffindor.

Sirius, Lily, Arabella and Padraig whooped and hollered. Remus looked embarrassed by the attention, and he quickly took the empty seat next to Sirius, who turned to him and offered him a hand.

He shook it, then edged away from Sirius.

“It's okay,” Sirius said lightly. “I don’t bite.”

Remus recoiled, staring at him. Obviously that had been the wrong thing to say.

There were two more Ravenclaws, a Slytherin and three Hufflepuffs, then Peter Pettigrew, a short, stout boy with a pointed nose and watery eyes, became a Gryffindor.

McGonagall called out James. Sirius waited, hoping, wishing, as hard as he could. Fortunately he didn’t have to wait long before the hat declared James a Gryffindor, loudly and decisively. Sirius stood up and cheered. James grinned as he took a seat next to Remus.

Anita was hurrying off to the Ravenclaw table, and her brother had just been called up. He became a Gryffindor and James groaned.

“He is such a snob!”

Sirius grinned. Raven took the seat next to Padraig.

“I never got to ask before,” Sirius whispered, leaning towards him. “Why Raven?”

Raven turned his and narrowed his eyes at Sirius. He was very strange looking, with his Celtic appearance. His skin was very pale, and he had bright blue eyes and hair so black that it shone blue in the candlelight.

“Why Sirius?” he said haughtily. “That’s a star, I believe. A bird’s no more strange.”

“Ah, yes,” Sirius replied. “But my name comes from an ancient family tradition dating back nearly a thousand years.”

“What?” James asked jokingly. “Spoiling a perfectly good adjective?”

“No, spoiling a perfectly good star.”

James laughed, and they turned their attention back to the hat, which had just declared Bronwyn Williams a Gryffindor. Alyson Wilson became a Hufflepuff, then finally, the Sorting ended as Alicia Yonn became a Gryffindor. Dumbledore welcomed the school, then the food appeared on the tables and everyone began to eat.

 * * *

The next day the Gryffindors met outside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom for the second lesson of the term. Sirius and James were still laughing over the expression on Bond’s face when the Potions master had called the roll and pronounced his name ‘Jaw-man’ instead of ‘Yor-man.’ Sirius and James had spent the entire lesson asking ‘Jawman’ if they could borrow Potions ingredients. Bond had been livid.

Remus smiled weakly at them as they lined up outside the classroom.

“Oh, come on, Remus! That was hilarious!” Sirius rebuked him mildly.

Remus laughed quietly.

“Yeah, I guess it was.” His heart didn't sound it in. Sirius decided against saying anything.

“Class!” the professor called from inside the classroom. “You may come in.”

Sirius took a desk in the back row. Remus and Peter sat across the aisle from him. He grinned at them as he began to extract ink and parchment from his bag.

Lily and Arabella took seats in front of the boys, talking quietly.

“Drat!” Sirius cried, rifling through his bag. “Excuse me Professor, could you come here please?”

The professor looked up, then walked towards him. Sirius saw James dash up to the teacher’s desk, as if his apparent difficulty had been a pre-rehearsed cue.

“Yes?”

“Oh, never mind,” Sirius said. “I found it.” He held up his copy of The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection.

The professor glared at him, then returned to his desk. James darted to the back of the room and took the seat Sirius was saving him, grinning. At the front of the room the teacher picked up his roll, then dropped it suddenly and stepped back from his desk.

BANG! went the roll, in a puff of purple smoke.

Sirius and James burst out laughing.

“Right, you two!” the teacher hollered. “I mightn’t know your names, but it’s detention, the pair of you.”

“Sirius Black,” Sirius gasped through his laughter. “And James Potter,” he added, pointing at James. “Pranksters extraordinaire!”

The teacher sighed, then picked up the roll, which this time didn’t explode.

“What a day,” Lily commented wryly to Arabella.

“As Sirius would say,” her friend replied, rolling her eyes exactly like Sirius did. “You bet!”

 

 * * *

 

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