Friday 15th October 1971
Remus had to spend the next few days avoiding Sirius – or at least avoiding being alone with him. This wasn’t easy, the boys spent all their time together, especially on the weekends. They all got through the Friday Charms lesson with no trouble; even Peter. Flitwick was thrilled that the entire class had mastered levitation so early in the year that he let them all out early for lunch.
Sirius made himself unavoidable the very next week, during their flying lesson. If Remus hadn’t hated History of Magic so much, then Flying would have been his least favourite subject. Twenty minutes into their very first lesson with Madam Hooch he had learnt that he was afraid of heights, and the rest of the classes had been miserable for him.
James was the star of the class, of course, and even the other Marauders found him insufferable as he flitted around the quidditch pitch, throwing loops and feints as if he was born on a broom. Sirius was excellent too, and most of the other kids in the class had grown up playing on broomsticks; even Peter was competent.
It had rained the night before, and the ground was soft and muddy. They’d changed out of their usual lace up shoes and into thick boots and scarlet flying kits before squelching out onto the pitch. They picked up their brooms and awaited instruction. The brooms were provided by the school. First years weren’t allowed to bring their own, but James would tell anyone who stopped long enough to listen that he had a top of the line model at home.
“Right, mount your brooms please, ladies and gentlemen,” Hooch bellowed at the group, “Nice strong wind today, so I want you all to take good care. Potter, no showing off!”
Remus clambered onto his broom, swallowing hard. If he could manage not to be sick then it would be a victory.
“I’d like five clean laps around the pitch, then a good landing back here from each of you. Mind the puddle and remember to lean into the wind where possible. Use it to your advantage. Five points to whoever’s back first.” And with barely any warning, the silver haired witch blew her whistle hard.
Remus and Lily, the only two muggleborns in the class, were the last off the ground. Once the redhead was in the air, however, she streaked ahead with ease.
“Bit higher, Lupin! Come on now!” Hooch boomed from below, shouting through a megaphone. He wanted to ignore her, but there was no escape – at least back at St Edmund’s when they made you do cross country you could hide around the corner and skive off in town for the afternoon.
He pushed himself higher, trying to look ahead and not down; trying to think about anything other than the empty space between himself and the ground. He could see Lily’s bright red plait flashing ahead like a fox’s tail, Peter’s shining blond hair somewhere towards the middle of the group. Though he couldn’t see that far ahead, he knew that James and Sirius were almost neck and neck. Remus just ploughed on grimly, not wanting to go any faster. Who cared if he was last, if he didn’t break his neck getting there. As he rounded a corner at the end of the pitch, the wind really hit him and he tried not to slow down too much, leaning forward. It was so cold, and the grey morning air battered his face.
The second lap was as bad as the first. By the third, he noticed that James had taken to circling each of the towers in the empty spectator stands, despite Madam Hooch’s admonishments. On the fourth lap, Remus had company.
“Having fun?” Sirius grinned, cruising along beside him. He looked so comfortable, as if he could raise both hands over his head, spin upside down and fly backwards without any trouble at all.
“What are you doing?” Remus frowned, trying to ignore him. “Trying to lose?”
“James is gonna win,” Sirius shrugged, “Might as well let him have his moment. Thought I’d hang out with you.”
“Why?!” Remus replied, through gritted teeth.
“Thought you might want the company,” Remus didn’t need to look at him to know that he was grinning that irritating Sirius Black grin. “Plus we’re about to land, and I know you hate landing.”
“I’m warning you, Black…”
“You can’t punch me up here, Lupin, unless you want to let go of your broom.”
“God, you’re annoying.”
“Yep.” Sirius flew up in front of him, then all the way around, a perfect orbit.
“Piss off.” Remus tried to dodge him, wobbling dangerously.
“Time to land... remember to stick your legs out and lean back… then bend your knees as you hit the—oi!”
Remus had grabbed the tail of Sirius’ broom and given it a hard yank. Laughing, Sirius righted himself, then flew back to Remus’ side and gave him a hard shove back. Remus shook, but held on tight, making his descent. It was much smoother than before, he leaned back, then twisted quickly to push Sirius again.
“Out of my way!” He yelled, going faster, “You can be the last down for once!”
“Oh no you don’t!” Sirius now grabbed Remus’ broom tail, laughing, tugging him backwards. This was perhaps a step too far, as they were both quite close to the ground now. The two wrestling boys tumbled towards earth, brooms flying out from beneath them they both crash landed into a huge muddy puddle, skidding and rolling forwards, soaking their robes in the process.
“Black! Lupin!” Madam Hooch marched over to the two boys sprawled in the mud.
The other Gryffindors gathered around, giggling and pointing. Sirius leapt to his feet with all of the grace his nobility blessed him with, and pulled Lupin up roughly by the hand. They both looked up at the teacher, blinking water droplets from their eyes.
“What did I say about minding the puddle?” Madam Hooch raised an amused eyebrow. She usually saw the fun in things. “A point each from Gryffindor. You’d better go and wash off in the showers. Off you go.”
They both waddled towards the quidditch changing rooms, holding out their heavy, waterlogged robes.
“Bloody ridiculous kit.” Remus grumbled as they stepped into the squat littler stone building. “How we ever going to dry it?”
“The house elves will take care of that.” Sirius replied, shaking his off and dumping it in a pile in the corner.
Remus couldn’t be bothered to ask what on earth house elves were. He pulled his own robes off and kicked away his boots, then entered a shower cubical to continue undressing. There were towels laid out already, and the water was deliciously warm. He leaned forward into the stream, letting it warm his blood, watching the mud and rogue blades of grass swirl down the drain. At least he’d got out of forty more minutes flying.
He scrubbed his hands roughly over his hair. Without Matron’s monthly haircuts his hair was getting longer and softer, sticking straight up most of the time, as messy as James’. He could finally see the colour of it, but was disappointed – it appeared to be a bland mousy brown.
Remus finished in the shower before Sirius and got out, looking around for his uniform quickly. He was half dressed once Sirius finally emerged, his long hair swept back, wet and shining like oil. He was already fully dressed and looked impossibly cool and grown up, while Remus had realised he’d missed a button on his shirt and had to begin all over again.
“What’s that?!” Sirius said, suddenly. Remus looked up, then back down. Sirius was pointing at a long silver stripe which stretched from the left half of his collar bone down diagonally across his chest to his right nipple. He fumbled with his buttons, trying to close the shirt faster.
“A scar.” He muttered. There was no point saying anything else now. He barely noticed them anymore. They were just there, as much a part of him as his freckles, or the fine hairs on his arms.
“It’s… did it happen to you at the home? Where you grew up?”
There was something odd in Sirius’ voice. Remus found he couldn’t speak, so he just nodded. Sirius nodded too. “I’ve got scars.” He said, so quietly that Remus thought he’d misheard at first.
Sirius bent down, and pulled up his trouser leg, turning his ankle to show Remus the marks there. His scars weren’t like Remus’ – which were big and rough and jagged, full of rage and hunger. The silver stripes on the backs of Sirius’ legs were thin and straight; uniform in their cruelty. Remus stared for a few seconds, before Sirius dropped the edge of the fabric and straightened up.
They stared each other down for a full minute. Remus feeling very hot, Sirius’ eyes cool and calm. Then it broke.
“Shall we go and watch James making a prat of himself?” Sirius asked.
Remus nodded again, and they both stepped back out into the cold autumn air. They took their seats on the hard benches in the spectator’s stands and watched the rest of the class flitting back and forth across the pitch, red robes fluttering behind them. Lily, though lacking James’ formal technique, was giving him a run for his money when it came to speed, beating him in two out of three races between goal posts.
“Remus?” Sirius said, suddenly, as their classmates came in for their final landing.
“You can’t read, can you?”
Remus sighed. He had enough secrets to keep as it was. And Sirius had shared one of his.
“I won’t tell anyone.”
That Sirius Black grin.