Metal Guru, could it be?
You’re gonna bring my baby to me
She’ll be wild, y’know a rock n roll child…
Remus gripped the handles of his battered old suitcase with white knuckles, his stomach turning excited somersaults as he watched the bustling crowds. Matron had let him run at the barrier this time, though she looked away at the last minute, terrified. Now she was far behind him, on the muggle side of the station, and he didn’t have to see her again for ten months.
He’d had a terrible nightmare the night before that they would arrive at King’s Cross and be unable to get through to platform 9 ¾ - none of it had been real; magic, wands, wizards, his friends. But Remus tried to push these thoughts from his mind as he gazed eagerly about himself, looking for a familiar face.
“Let you come back, did they?” A cold voice interrupted his search. “Standards must really be dropping.”
Remus felt his shoulders tense. Why did the first person he spoke to have to be Snape?!
“Get lost, Snivellus.” He spat. He squared up, turning to face the Slytherin boy with his meanest look.
“Ugh, what on earth is that smell?” Snape drawled, wrinkling his over-large nose. Remus coloured – he stank of antiseptic, he knew it; Matron had been much too liberal that morning.
“I said get lost!” Remus murmured, clenching his teeth and balling up his fists.
He saw Severus recoil, slightly. Remus knew how he looked – he’d had two months without magic, surrounded by bigger and tougher boys than Snape. He was wound as tight as a bear trap and ready to throw a punch at the smallest provocation.
“Oi, baldy!” Another voice sounded over the crowd. A boy with glasses and jet black hair sticking up at all angles was leaning out of one of the carriage windows, waving madly at Remus.
Remus smiled, forgetting that he was trying to frighten Severus, and waved back. He rubbed his head self-consciously. His hair had grown out while he was at Hogwarts, but Matron had shaved it all off as soon as he was back at St Edmund’s, making him look like a thug again.
Casting a filthy look at Snape, Remus clutched his suitcase and hurried onto the train, pushing past other students to reach the carriage where his friends were waiting.
“Lupin!” Peter jumped up, excited. He didn’t quite know what to do with himself once he was on his feet – they certainly weren’t going to hug like girls, and apparently handshakes weren’t in order. Pettigrew awkwardly patted his on the arm instead, and Remus gripped his in return.
“Hiya lads,” Remus smiled, his cheeks aching with happiness as he sat down. “How’s it been?”
“We should be asking you!”” James laughed, punching him in the arm. “Not one owl all summer!”
Remus glanced at Sirius, furtively. He hadn’t mentioned the letter Remus had sent him, then.
“You know I’m practically a muggle over the holidays,” he replied, “Couldn’t even get into my trunk to do homework; they locked it up.”
That wasn’t strictly true – Remus had asked Matron to lock away his school things, terrified the other boys would get to them. The homework he hadn’t done because he hadn’t been able to. There was a quiet noise of disgust from the corner. Remus looked up, frowning.
Sitting on the seat beside Sirius was another, younger boy, with the same deep blue eyes and long dark hair; the same unmistakeable Black features – full lips and cheekbones that could cut glass.
“This is Reg.” Sirius nodded, offhandedly, “Say hello, Reggie.”
“It’s Regulus.” The boy replied, irritably, his high aristocratic voice indignant.
“My darling brother,” Sirius raised his eyebrow at the other three.
“Hi Regulus,” James smiled, offering a friendly hand, “I’m James.”
“Potter.” Regulus looked down at his hand as if it was filthy.
Sirius slapped him around the head,
“Stop being such a little prick.” He snapped, “These are my friends.”
“I didn’t want to sit here.” Regulus replied. “You made me.”
“Oh, go on, piss off, then. Dunno why I bothered.”
Regulus stood up, stony faced, and exited the car, slamming the door behind him.
“Wow, he really has that Black family charm,” James grinned. Sirius shook his head, despairingly, propping a foot up on the bench opposite and leaning an elbow against the window pane. The whistle blew and the train began to pull out of the station.
“Shouldn’t have expected anything else,” Sirius muttered, “He’s totally brainwashed. And annoyed with me. I shouldn’t have been gone all summer.”
“Reckon he’ll be in Slytherin, then?” James sympathised.
“Probably.” Sirius glowered, “He knows I won’t talk to him, if he is. Rather he was in Hufflepuff.”
Remus thought this was a bit harsh. Certainly, he disliked Snape and Mulciber – and yes, they’d played some pranks on Slytherin house, but Remus had never hated Slytherin like Sirius seemed to. Surely he wouldn’t disown his own brother just because they had a slightly different uniform? The only thing Remus could see wrong with the Slytherins was that most of them were snobs – and Sirius, James and Peter were snobs too, though they didn’t realise it.
This train of thought left him as they began to gather speed out of London, and Remus could finally relax into the idea that he was indeed returning to Hogwarts – and that magic was now officially permitted. He yanked open his suitcase and grasped his wand for the first time in months. Remus hadn’t dared touch anything magical since the end of term, but now he pulled out one of his second-hand books (they had arrived the week before from Dumbledore), opened it, and quickly performed Letiuncula Magna.
He pretended he was scratching behind his ear with the wand, and muttered the words under his breath. Sirius must have seen what he was doing, because he had jumped up to pull his broom down from the luggage rack, distracting James and Peter. Remus looked down at the book, his heart racing. The words filled his mind like music, and finally he could read again.
The summer had been incredibly dull. He’d attempted to read some of the books lying around St Edmund’s, but without magic it was too frustrating. He’d very slowly got through each of the letters from his friends, but was much too embarrassed to attempt writing back to anyone but Sirius. He’d also had to lie low a lot. Remus felt as though he had passed whole days sometimes without speaking to anyone; the other boys had been told that he’d been away at a private boarding school, paid for by his father’s will. This of course made him more of a target than ever, and combined with his increasingly difficult full moons, Remus had spent much of the summer covered in bruises.
Full moons were another reason he was relieved to be returning to Hogwarts, where Madam Pomfrey, the school’s medi-witch, was not only more sympathetic than Matron, but better qualified to handle the peculiarities of his condition. Matron had been horrified to see the new injuries Remus inflicted on himself each month, and treated him as though he had done it deliberately, just to annoy her. It had been much worse than the summer before, when he had got away with a few scratches and bruises each night. Now, underneath his muggle clothes, Remus was almost covered in bandages and plasters which pulled and chafed whenever he moved. He hoped he would be able to slip off to the hospital wing soon after they arrived.
Sirius and James were busy telling Remus about their own summer, with Peter joining in here and there, keen to make it clear that most of the time it had been the three of them. It sounded as though they’d all had a spectacular time, even if there was a lot of quidditch. James’ parents had a cottage by the seaside, as well as what James called their ‘usual home’ near London. The three boys had camped out on the beach, fished, flown kites and plotted their pranks for the year ahead. They chattered about it excitedly for so long that Remus felt like telling them all to shut up.
He felt a bit better when the trolley came around – James and Sirius pooled their pocket money and bought enough to feed half of Gryffindor house. Remus had no complaints – as usual, he was very hungry.
* * *
Remus was immensely glad that he had stuffed his face on the train, because he had forgotten how long and drawn out the sorting ceremony was, especially when you weren’t taking part in it. Regulus was indeed sorted into Slytherin, which came as a surprise only to Sirius, who Remus heard exhale sharply in disbelief. The younger Black brother scurried over to join his peers, and Narcissa, who was now sporting a silver prefect badge as well as a new sleek platinum hairdo.
Severus patted Regulus on the back, sneering over at the Gryffindor table.
“What is his problem?!” Peter sighed as the food finally appeared, “You’d think he’d get over a few stupid pranks.”
“More like he needs to get over Evans,” James said, sounding uncharacteristically pensive They all looked at him in confusion. “Oh come on, it’s obvious!” He grinned, “Ol’ Snivellus is clearly madly in love with a certain carrot-topped Gryffindor,” he winked at Lily, who gave him a disgusted look and very obviously turned her back on him to continue her conversation with Marlene.
“So because we got the bird he fancies, he’s going to be a pain in the arse for the next six years?” Sirius replied, disbelieving.
Remus blinked at him. Bird?! Sirius was not the sort of boy who called girls ’birds’, he was far too upper class. Where on earth had he heard that?
“Exactly.” James confirmed, looking very proud of himself.
“Nah,” Sirius shook his head, “No one could care that much about a girl.”
Remus silently agreed with him. Still, Potter didn’t seem to mind having his theories disputed. He shrugged, digging into his roast potatoes,
“If you say so. Must still be annoyed about that time Remus punched him, then.”
Sirius laughed at the memory of that, finally cheering up.