Friday 10th September 1971
By the end of his first week of lessons, Remus had lost ten house points, learnt one spell, and gained another bruise; this time on his chin.
The first few lessons were ok – they were introductory, and while Lily Evans spent each class furiously scribbling down pages and pages of notes, nobody else seemed too bothered. They were set a few simple pieces of homework, but Remus made a plan to pretend he’d forgotten to make a note of it if anyone asked.
Charms was the most exciting – the tiny professor enchanted a pile of pinecones to whiz around the room, to everyone’s delight. After a few goes at the spell themselves, Lily had levitated her pinecone at least three feet in the air, and Sirius got his to spin like a top – until it got out of control and smashed a window. James, Peter and Remus had less luck, but Remus was sure his had jumped once or twice.
Transfiguration was just as interesting, but much more serious, as it was led by Professor McGonagall. There would be no practical work at all during the first week, she explained, but she would be setting lots of homework in order to gauge their ability levels.
History of magic was absolutely dire, and the less said about it the better. Remus struggled not to fall asleep as the ghostly Professor Binns floated up and down the aisles, reeling off dates and names of battles. He too set homework – two chapters of reading from the set text. Sirius rolled his eyes at this and muttered to James,
“Surely everyone’s already finished ‘A History of Magic’? It’s kids stuff.” James nodded, yawning. Remus felt sick. He hadn’t opened even one of the books in his trunk yet, except to rip the first page from ‘Level One Potions’ to spit his chewing gum into.
He’d actually been looking forward to Potions, hoping to at least see something blow up, like in chemistry. But that turned out to involve a huge amount of reading too, and even worse, they had to share the class with the Slytherin first years. The Professor leading Potions was annoyingly cheerful and took almost half an hour just to read the register.
“Black, Sirius – aha, there you are! Quite surprised at the sorting my boy, quite surprised! I’ve had every one of the Blacks in my house since I started teaching! Shan’t take it personally, young Sirius, but I shall be expecting great things!”
Sirius looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him up. Slughorn continued calling out names,
“A Potter and a Pettigrew, eh? Well, well, along with Mr Black here this class has quite the pedigree, eh? Let me see… Lupin! I knew your father; not one of mine, but a damn good dualist. Nasty business…”
Remus blinked. He wondered if Slughorn knew he was a werewolf. The whole class was looking at him – they knew by now that he had been raised in a children’s home, and that his father was magical (Remus suspected that Peter had told them), but no one had dared ask him much more. There seemed to be another rumour going around that he was violent and possibly in a gang. He was sure that James and Sirius were encouraging it, too, though he found he didn’t mind too much.
Fortunately, Slughorn wanted to get them started on practical work as soon as possible,
“Best thing is to just get stuck in!” He smiled, “Now, if we all work four to a cauldron, you can all take it in turns to follow the steps…”
Everyone clamoured to pair up – James, Sirius and Peter immediately claimed the cauldron at the very back of the room, and were joined by Nathaniel Quince, a Slytherin boy who knew Potter and Pettigrew from home. Remus decided he would just wait until everyone had grouped off then see if he could get away with just hovering at the back for the rest of the lesson.
No such luck.
“Remus! You can join us!” Lily’s grabbed his wrist and pulled him over to a cauldron she was sharing with Severus Snape – her long-nosed friend Remus had met on the train – and Garrick Mulciber, a brutish, snub nosed boy who Remus was a bit afraid of.
Lily was already chattering away, laying out all of the ingredients and heating up the cauldron carefully. She was looking at Severus’ book, which already had notes scribbled all over the margins.
“Here’re the desiccated snail-eye stems.” Lily shook a tiny jar. “I think we need quarter of an ounce…”
“You can be fairly liberal with them, Lily, they don’t add much overall.” Severus drawled, sounding bored.
Lily measured them out anyway and tipped them into the bubbling brew. Mulcibur then took the book and stirred for five minutes, taking instruction from Severus on how fast to go and in which direction. Then it was Remus’ turn. Lily gave him the book. He stared at the page. He could see that they were instructions, he could make out maybe half of the words. But every time he thought he had a grasp on it, the letters seemed to shift on the page and he was lost all over again. His cheeks grew hot and he felt slightly sick. He shrugged, looking away,
“Oh hurry up,” Severus snapped, “It’s not as if it’s difficult.”
“Leave him alone, Sev,” Lily chided. “The book’s covered in your notes, no wonder he can’t find his place. Here, Remus,” she flicked open her own, brand new potions book. But it was no good. Remus shrugged,
“Why don’t you do it, if you’re so clever.” He spat at Severus.
“Oh Merlin,” Severus’ lips curled, “You can read, can’t you? I mean, even muggle schools teach that, surely?”
“Severus!” Lily gasped, but the smug dark haired boy didn’t have a chance to say anything else – Remus threw himself over the desk and into Severus, fists flying. He only had the element of surprise going for him – Mulciber grabbed his collar and yanked him back, punching him square in the face in three seconds flat.
“Stop!” Slughorn boomed. Everyone froze. The portly potions master stormed over, “Get up, both of you!” He shouted at the two boys on the floor. Snape and Remus climbed to their feet, chests heaving. Snape looked worse off by far, his hair ruffled and blood oozing from his nose. Remus had a rather sore chin where Mulciber had hit him, but other than a rumpled uniform he was fine.
“Explain yourselves!” Slughorn shouted. They both looked at their feet. Mulciber was grinning. Lily was crying. “Very well,” the teacher said, crossly, “Detention for both of you, two weeks. Ten points from Gryffindor and ten from Slytherin.”
“That’s not fair!” James said, suddenly from the back, “Should be twice as many from Slytherin, it was two against one!”
“From where I was standing it was Mr Lupin who started it,” Slughorn replied, but shook his head anyway, “Still, you are quite right – Mulciber, five points for punching Remus. Violence does not solve violence, you know, as I’ve told your eldest brother on a number of occasions. Miss Evans, please take Mr Snape to the hospital wing. Lupin, you can clean up the mess you’ve made.”
Remus didn’t know any cleaning spells, so he had to mop up by hand. Slughorn even made him clean Snape’s blood off the flagstones. Unfortunately, it being so soon after a full moon, the rich, iron smell of it made his stomach growl. James, Sirius and Peter were waiting for Remus outside after the lesson was finished.
“Bloody brilliant, mate,” James punched Remus lightly on the arm, “The way you just went for him!”
“Mulciber was out here bragging afterwards, told everyone what Snape said.” Sirius added, “You were right to do it – what a prat.”
“Told… everyone?” Remus moaned.
“Don’t worry, they’re all on your side.” James said, “Well, except the Slytherins.”
“Yeah, and who gives a toss about the Slytherins?” Sirius grinned, “C’mon, it’s dinner soon – hungry?”
“Starving,” Remus grinned back.