Chapter 1: The Boy in the Cottage
Princess Lily Evans sailed down the back path from the palace on her hover bike, dark red hair and skirt of her dress flapping around wildly in the breeze.
She had always been curious about the boy with the honey brown hair that lived in the large cottage a mile behind the palace that lay on the edge of the forest. He was handsome but slight of build. She saw him when she went to stay in the nearby village, often tending to his family's garden.
When she asked people at the palace who he was they shrugged her off. He was just some boy and nothing for her to worry about, they said. And it was pointed out to her that there were other boys who lived in other cottages on the palace grounds. But Lily wasn't interested in them.
She was thirteen now and that afforded her a little freedom. If she wanted to make a new friend then nothing would stop her, not even her royal parents who did not approve of her hover bike one bit.
The boy studied her from a distance as she approached. He was shielding his eyes from the sun so it wasn't possible to see what he was thinking, even as she pulled up. He didn't seem shocked by the tech of the bike and seemed to briefly admire it with a smile.
Lily got off the bike and approached Remus cautiously to avoid making him nervous.
"Hello," she said, trying her best to sound friendly and not too formal. Life at the palace had trained her to be formal but her parents had been allowing her to spend most of her time living with a family in the nearby village. She knew the boy would know who she was but she wanted him to forget that.
"Hi," he said. He seemed shy. Now that she was up close, Lily could see hints of scars on his face though it did not stop him from being handsome one bit.
"I'm Lily," she said.
"Yes, I know. You're the princess. I'm Remus. Remus Lupin," the boy replied with a faint smile while he dusted his dirt covered hands off on his overalls.
"Pleased to meet you," Lily said.
"Likewise," Remus said. "Is there something you need?"
Lily felt a bit put off by his question for a moment but then remembered that visits from the palace might be rare.
"No. I was just… curious," Lily said.
"About what?" Remus asked.
She couldn't actually tell him that she was curious about him. That just wouldn't do. But she had to say something…
"Your family. Most of the other cottages on the grounds are filled with nobles or other dignitaries. Your family see more like… Muggles," Lily said.
Muggles were folks who preferred not to use tech to enhance their lives. Officially, the United Technological Planets was a technological monarchy and the rights of Muggles was often under debate. Lily realized it would be a bit strange if Remus and his family were Muggles, under the circumstance.
"They are Muggles I suppose. I've never really thought about it. I personally find tech fascinating," Remus admitted.
"Me too! My parents don't want me around tech because they don't like it but I do! I want to go to Hogwarts Academy and train to use tech!" Lily said.
"I'm going there once I turn fifteen!" Remus said.
"Well, you still have to be accepted, you know," Lily said.
"I already have been!" Remus said.
Lily frowned and shook her head.
"What do you mean you already have been?" Lily asked.
"I've been promised," Remus said.
"Promised? By who?" Lily replied.
"Albus Dumbledore," Remus said.
Lily just stared. Albus Dumbledore was the head of Hogwarts Academy and Chief Royal Advisor. He worked directly with her parents.
"Dumbledore?" Lily said in shock.
"Yeah. He's a friend of the family," Remus said.
Dumbledore was friends with Muggles? This was certainly surprising though not at all impossible. The bigger mystery was why Dumbledore would befriend Muggles and presumable give them a place to live on the palace grounds.
"How did your family come to know Dumbledore, might I ask?" Lily said.
Remus frowned and looked away.
"I can't talk about that. I'm sorry," Remus said, looking oddly ashamed.
Lily felt uncomfortable like she had somehow hit a sore spot she didn't know was there. She decided to change the subject.
"You should come up the palace sometime, Remus," Lily said.
"I'm not allowed," he answered.
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm the princess and I say you can."
Remus stared at her for a moment then nodded.
"Yeah. OK. I'd like that," he said with a smile.
"Fantastic! I'll come by sometime, say, midday tomorrow and we'll go up there," Lily said.
"All right. I'll be waiting," Remus said and Lily found she very much liked his smile.
Remus sat alone on his porch. There was no way she was going to come. The princess take him to the palace? Absurd. Besides, she didn't even know what he was. No one but his parents knew for that matter. She didn't know what he became sometimes nor did she know about the basement where his family kept him chained up on full moon nights.
At last, Remus saw Lily on her hover bike gliding down the path to his cottage. He had been charmed by the girl though her interest in him made him feel suspicious. He wasn't used to people being interested in him.
Lily arrived in front of him with a big smile moments later. She looked very pretty with her dark red hair a mess from the wind and the sun shining off her green eyes. She wore a simple white dress that was lined with yellow.
"Get on," Lily said and gestured to the space on the bike behind her.
Remus gulped. He'd have to sit close to her if he was going to fit on the bike. This was definitely not something he was used to. He smiled and climbed on then wrapped arms around her waist when she asked him to.
"There are guests at the palace today. The Black family actually. Have you heard of them?" Lily asked as they rode back up the path to the palace.
"I've heard of Arcturus Black. He was a famous surgeon during the war with Grindelwald," Remus said.
Remus flinched when he thought of Grindelwald. It had been twenty years since he was defeated. He was responsible for the wolf soldiers, one of whom somehow survived the war, attack and infected Remus. On full moons he turned into a wolf like monster. Somehow the wolf soldiers had learned to take control of this ability but he wasn't sure how. He couldn't imagine wanting to be like that.
"Yes, that's right. These people are related to him, somehow. I'm not really sure," Lily said.
Remus felt an immense sense of happiness with his arms around Lily, the sun on his face and the breeze through his hair and the excitement of getting a proper look at the palace. It looked amazing. He'd heard it had gone through a great many renovations in recent years but he lived too far away to see what they had done.
Currently, it was painted in shades of purple and blue with hints of gold and silver tracing lines around it. It looked very regal indeed. He'd heard that the queen and king were different than monarchs from the past and preferred a simple life compared with an extravagant one but apparently some things stayed the same.
Lily parked her bike at the back palace steps and they stepped off the bike. Remus felt nervous but excited. He was really going to go inside the palace!
As they walked up the steps he noticed a girl standing at the top, no doubt Lily's older sister and first in line for the crown, Petunia. She was taller and thinner than Lily and had blonde hair. Remus didn't think she was very pretty and he immediately felt a bit put off by the way she stretched her neck in disapproval.
"What is he doing here?" Petunia asked.
"He's my friend. I'm allowed to have friends, aren't I?" Lily said with a smile, brushing Petunia off in a way that Remus really admired.
And friends? Did she say they were friends? He barely knew her. Remus liked the idea of having a friend but deep at the back of the mind he knew his dark secret would always be there waiting to destroy any potential human relationships.
Petunia scoffed and shook her head.
"Mum and dad won't be pleased with this," Petunia said and marched inside the palace.
"Mum and dad won't care," Lily said with a glance to Remus. "Don't worry. They're pretty relaxed."
"Great," Remus said and followed Lily inside the palace.
For being the royal palace of the United Technological Planets it was a fairly low tech building. An obvious security system was wired throughout but in general things were in fact kept simple, along with real fire rather than electric light.
Remus followed Lily down a long hall until they arrived at two large doors at which point Lily stopped and stood there in front of it and faced Remus.
"This is the library. Used to just be nothing but tech but my parents found actual books to fill it with. It's pretty cool, actually though the books are old and kind of smell… musty," Lily admitted.
"I have some books actually. I like them," Remus said.
Lily smiled at this then continued, "Anyway, the black family was in here when I left and I bet they are still in here if you want to take a peek."
"All right," Remus said and Lily slowly opened one of the doors to the room.
But there wasn't a family in there. Just one boy with long, dark hair facing the window. He was certainly dressed in the fancy clothes of a noble but he didn't hold himself like a noble. He stood with his arms loose and he seemed impatient and twitching with anxious energy.
"Oh, sorry. We thought your family was in here," Lily said and the boy quickly turned back at them in surprise.
"No, they've gone. It's just me, I'm afraid," the boy said. Remus thought he looked the same age as he and Lily.
The boy began to step towards them, giving Remus a much better look at him. He appeared to be the same age as Remus and Lily. He was tall and had striking facial features, the least of which was not his grey eyes. Remus found himself entranced by the boy though he knew nothing about him.
"Sirius Black meet Remus Lupin," Lily said gesturing from Sirius to Remus.
Whatever Sirius thought about Remus it was not revealed on his face. He smiled and nodded graciously.
"Pleased to meet you," Sirius said.
"Yes, it's a pleasure. I mean…" Remus said, feeling embarrassed and hoping he wasn't turning red.
Sirius just smirked then looked at Lily.
"Your boyfriend is a funny fellow," Sirius said.
"He's not my boyfriend," Lily said.
"No? Hmm," Sirius said, turning to look at Remus again with a smile. "If you say so."
"Remus and his family live in a cottage on the grounds. I wanted to show him the palace," Lily said.
"Excellent. And what do you think of the palace?" Sirius asked.
"Oh. It's nice. A bit less simple than I'm used to," Remus said.
"Well, it is the royal palace, you know," Sirius said with a raised eyebrow.
Gorgeous yes, but Sirius was also a bit of a jerk.
"Well, yeah. I mean it's nice. I like it. Just different than what I'm used to," Remus said.
Sirius smiled again and nodded.
"So tell me, princess, what else is there to see at the palace? Is there a chance we could see something really interesting?" Sirius inquired.
"Call me Lily, please. Hmm. Would you two like to see my room?" Lily said.
"Your room? What in the world could we possibly find interesting in a girl's room?" Sirius said.
"Yeah, I'd like to," Remus quickly said.
Lily smiled at Remus then said, "Well, Remus and I will go then. Goodbye, Sirius."
As they began to walk away Sirius called out, "Wait. Hang on! I'm coming too!"
Sirius Black was in love… or something. He wasn't sure what it was but he'd never felt it before. He couldn't take his eyes off Remus Lupin even as he sat next to the princess on her bed admiring the little bits and bobs of tech she had created.
The boy no doubt was hoping the princess would fall in love with him and he could marry her and eventually become king himself. No, he'd never give Sirius a second thought that much was clear.
But he felt something powerful when he looked at Remus. It was like a flutter in his belly and it made him anxious. He felt like getting closer to Remus, trying to talk to him and make himself seem interesting. But Remus was so cool and relaxed. He would never find a stiff son of nobles like Sirius interesting. Sirius felt so damned boring.
Despite his initial hesitancy, Sirius had to admit the princess's room was interesting. Despite being only thirteen she was very skilled with tech and had a inventor's mind. Sirius was envious. It wasn't fair that she got to be beautiful, brilliant and so bloody charming. How was Sirius supposed to compete with that?
"Are you all right, Sirius?" Lily asked.
Sirius jumped, feeling startled. He tried to regain his composure quickly.
"Oh, yes. Quite. I was just lost in thought," Sirius answered.
"Come sit on the bed, next to Remus," Lily said.
Sirius gulped but complied in silence suddenly finding himself sitting next to Remus, his heart pounding out of his chest. Remus and Lily were discussing these goggles that Lily had designed to make things look purple. He was sure if he could've focused he would've found the explanation of how the tech worked fascinating but all he could focus on was Remus.
After awhile Sirius noticed something: Lily kept looking at him. At first he considered that maybe she was admiring him but that just wasn't the case. She had noticed the way Sirius was looking at Remus and she was smiling at him in approval. So she honestly wasn't interested in Remus. Good. Now if he could just get Remus to be interested in him… oh but, dammit he never would be, Sirius admitted to himself.
Eventually it became dark. The three of them had talked about tech all night. Sirius thought it was nice to talk about tech in a more casual and fun way. His family only thought tech was usual for weapons or for healing and body modification.
Lily and Remus were more curious about using it for fun or interesting ways. Doing little things to brighten life up and thinking outside of the box and invent things you didn't know you needed or wanted.
Sirius felt a pang of sadness when Lily took Remus back to his cottage. He didn't know when he'd come back to the palace. It might very well be the last time he would see the boy. He didn't want that to be true.
Late that night there was a knock on the door of the guest chamber Sirius was staying in. Lily identified herself quietly and he beckoned her in.
"I saw you looking at Remus," Lily said excitedly.
"I don't know what you mean," Sirius said, sitting back in his bed with the sheets over his chest.
"Oh come off it. I saw it. You couldn't take your eyes off of him. I don't blame you. He is very handsome," Lily said.
Sirius smiled despite his best efforts not to.
"I knew it!" Lily said, proudly.
"Yes, fine. I fancy him," Sirius confessed and crossed his arms in frustration.
"Just to be completely clear I am only trying to be his friend. He is free for you to pursue should you wish," Lily said and winked.
"Like it matters. He'll never be interested in me," Sirius said.
"Why do you say that?" Lily asked.
"Why? All you have to do is look at him. He's so good looking and nice and intelligent and funny. I'm not good enough for him. I'm just a damned boring noble," Sirius answered, scowling.
"I don't think you're boring and I doubt Remus does either. He just needs to get to know you. And I don't know if you've noticed but you are very handsome yourself," Lily said.
"Do you really think so?" Sirius asked, blushing a little.
"Absolutely," Lily said.
Sirius smiled for a second but then frowned and shook his head.
"We're leaving in the morning and headed back to our home station. I'll never see him again," Sirius said.
"Well not until Hogwarts," Lily said plainly.
"Hogwarts?" Sirius said.
"You are going to attend, correct?" Lily said then stared at him in disbelief.
"Well… yeah. Of course I am. My family would disown me if I didn't!," Sirius answered.
"Well, so am I and so is Remus!" Lily said.
Sirius's heart began to pound. They would be in school together for four years!
"Oh but… that's two years away. That's basically a lifetime," Sirius said.
"Nonsense. Thanks to tech we can live to be well over a hundred now. Two years is barely anything!" Lily said.
"Two years," Sirius stated. "Two years."
"Until then, just be patient and I'll keep an eye on Remus for you," Lily said.
"Just an eye?" Sirius asked, mostly joking.
"I'll try my best," Lily said then laughed forcing Sirius to laugh with her.
Two years. It kept repeating in his mind. Two years.
Remus was in darkness and chains. The change was imminent. Before the change he always tried to focus on something to anchor him to his humanity, something to remind him that he's not truly a monster. He thought of the things and people he loved but sometimes it wasn't enough.
But he knew some could retain their personality after the transformation. Maybe he could do it this time!
As he felt his skin begin to crawl, this time he thought of his new friend Lily and the handsome Sirius Black. He hoped he could remain friends with Lily. She was so kind and fun. Hopefully, she would never find out what he truly was.
And Sirius… blasted bloody gorgeous Sirius Black. What would he want with a creature such as Remus? It was just as well he wasn't likely to ever see Sirius again because it would save him the humiliation of Sirius ever finding out.
In the morning, Remus remembered nothing of his change. He hadn't found enough to hold onto yet. Maybe he never would.
Lily was sitting on the end of a pier on a lake with her feet hanging off the edge. The lake was right in the middle of the village and Lily liked to come here when her chores were done. The family she stayed with were nice people and always declined to give her many chores but Lily always insisted on taking on extra.
Her parents didn't want her to take anything for granted and having her stay in the village was a part of that. Lily loved tech, truly she did. But she had to admit there was something rewarding about the simpler life the Muggles lived here.
Even still as she sat on the pier she imagined how much fun it might be to ride her hover bike across the lake. But as a rule she left it at the palace when she came to stay in the village.
"Hello," a voice from behind her said.
Lily turned around and saw a boy who she had seen around standing there looking somewhat nervous. He was very pale and had long, black hair that hung into his eyes. His shirt and trousers were also black.
"How do you do?" Lily said.
"I'm fine," the boy said and walked forward with a hand extended.
"I'm Severus Snape," the boy said.
Lily stood up off the end of the pier, turned around took his hand and said, "I'm Lily Evans."
Did he know she was a princess? If he didn't she certainly wasn't going to tell him. She tired of the way people treated her after finding out she was a princess. She didn't want to be treated like she was made of a glass and might shatter if she was touched the wrong way. Nor did she want people showing her so much deference or those that didn't like the royal family sneering at her in disgust.
"I don't mean to bother you. I've just seen you here a lot. My family lives just over there," Severus said and pointed to a shack a few houses down.
"House on the lake. Must be lovely in the summer," Lily said.
"I don't like the summer. It it's too hot," Severus said.
"Oh, but that's why the lake comes in handy!" Lily said.
"I suppose. I'd rather be up there," Severus said and pointed at the sky.
"Oh me too. I only have one more year until I'm fifteen and can attend Hogwarts Academy," Lily said but then immediately wished she hadn't. It wasn't good to brag.
"I'm planning on attending next year as well. My mum has trained me in tech, you see. My father… he doesn't like her to but she does anyway," Severus said. His mouth twitched at mention of his father.
"Have you been accepted?" Lily asked.
Severus frowned and shrugged.
"I don't know. Have to wait on an actual letter as we don't have the tech to receive electronic ones," Severus said, sounding sad.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My sister actually just received her rejection letter. Bit of a mess really. She wasn't happy when I left the… when I left home," Lily said, quickly stopping herself from mentioning the palace.
"When you left home? Have you run away?" Severus asked.
"No, sorry. I don't normally live here if I'm being honest," Lily said.
"Visiting family?" Severus asked.
"Not exactly," Lily said.
Severus considered her for a moment but said nothing else for a moment. His eyes were dark and when he looked at her it almost felt like he could see right through her. But she could tell that he liked her.
Lily sighed and looked down. The hem of her dressed was soaked from the lake. She would likely get a lecture about appropriate behavior but she really didn't care. Why couldn't a princess have fun? If she were a prince would anyone care?
Lily realized she couldn't escape the truth of who she was and she couldn't be a good, honest friend and keep this secret.
"I'm actually a princess," Lily said, looking back up at him.
Severus continued to study her. It was impossible to tell whether he believed her or not but he clearly didn't consider her assertion ridiculous.
"My parents… the king and queen, I mean, they send me to the village so that I never get lost in the luxuries of being royalty and never forget what life is like for common people," Lily said.
"Common people like me?" Severus asked.
Lily looked down again and nodded, worried she had offended him.
"Makes sense, I suppose," Severus said.
Lily smiled at him and to her surprise he smiled back.
"Otherwise you might go around thinking you're better than everyone else," Severus added.
"That is true. That's how my sister acts. My parents wanted to send her to stay in the village but she refused," Lily said.
"Your sister sounds awful," Severus said.
"I don't know. She is my sister and one day she'll be queen. Maybe she'll grow out of it," Lily said.
"Yes, maybe. Or maybe she'll give it up and let you be the queen," Severus said and grinned.
"Not likely. And I don't want to be queen. And I don't want to think about my parents dying," Lily said.
"Oh. Sorry," Severus said, apologetically.
"It's OK," Lily said then added, "Listen, Severus. It's getting dark and I need to head back to the house I'm staying in. But I hope to see you again sometime."
"Yes, I'd like that," Severus said.
Lily smiled and then shook his hand.
"It was nice meeting you," Lily said.
"You too," he replied and Lily pulled her hand away and walked away to the other side of the village.
After a short while she glanced back at the pier and saw that Severus was still standing there watching her. Lily had made a new friend, the first one since Remus last year, and she couldn't be happier.
The sun was going to burn the flesh from his body, Remus was sure of it. He pulled the last weed from the garden and tossed it on the pile. He was done. He needed water desperately. He grabbed the old metal cup he was certain he had just filled with water and tipped it into his mouth. Nothing came out and he tossed it aside in frustration.
Remus sighed and pulled himself up and went over to the well. After pulling the bucket back up he dipped his cup inside and then drank the entirety of the cup in one drink. He then set the cup on the edge of the well. In the distance, he realized he was hearing a familiar sound: Lily's hover bike.
Before he even registered she had been on the way she was there in front of his house. Remus felt embarrassed being sweaty and shirtless in front of her. He couldn't imagine what she must think of his scars.
"Hello, Lily," Remus said.
"Petunia has run away from the palace!" Lily said, climbing off the bike.
"Run away? Where to?" Remus said.
"No one knows. She was gone when everyone woke up this morning," Lily said.
Remus brushed sweat from his brow then shook his head. Self-consciousness finally overwhelmed him and he walked over and grabbed his shirt from the front steps of his home and slipped it back on. He then sat down and Lily came over and sat down next to him.
"Do you think she'll come back?" Remus said.
"I don't know," Lily said.
Remus frowned and hesitated before continuing: "Do you care if she doesn't come back?"
Lily's mouth dropped open in obvious shock. Her mouth then closed and she looked away.
"Yes. Yes, I do care. I know we don't get along… but she's my sister," Lily admitted.
Remus nodded. He had a sister too and understood to some degree, though his relationship with Natalie was very different.
"I understand that. But if she never came back… Lily, you could be queen some day!" Remus said.
"I don't want to be queen! Honestly, if you ask me, I don't believe we should have kings or queens. The people should have a say not have everything decided for them by people who only got the position because they were born into it," Lily replied.
Remus realized that this had no doubt been on Lily's mind for some time, years perhaps.
"But it could happen now, Lils. You could be queen. What will you do if that happens?" Remus asked.
Lily looked down at the steps, her dark red hair covering her eyes so that Remus wasn't able to get a read on her thoughts. Finally she looked back up and said, "If that happens I'll use my power to end the monarchy for good."
Remus smiled at Lily but as Lily turned towards him he could see there were tears in her eyes. Remus placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently.
"Don't worry. I'm sure they'll find her," Remus said.
Lily nodded and wiped her eyes.
"You're probably right. I'm going to return to the palace and see if there's been any word. See you later, Remus," Lily said and sat up from the steps and dusted off her dress before walking over to and climbing back on her hover bike.
Sirius Black lay on his bed looking out at the stars. Grimmauld Station was not Sirius's favourite place to be by any stretch and he was frankly itching to get off the station and away from his parents and his annoying little brother, Regulus.
There was a beep on his data pad and Sirius leaned over and grabbed it from his night stand in a rush of excitement. To his great pleasure he found it was a letter from Princess Lily, the first one he had had in months.
Remus is doing well. He asked if I had heard anything from you and I told him that I had but I didn't tell him that you've asked about him, as per your own request. I'm not sure what it is you are afraid of. Remus is clearly interested in you.
In more dire news, I must report the disappearance of my sister. The royal guard has been unable to find her anywhere on Fidelius. A note was finally found hidden in her bedroom but it said nothing more than that she was running away and never planned to come back.
An off-planet search is underway but for now I would appreciate it if you didn't mention this to anyone. My parents are hoping to find Petunia before news that she is missing spreads around the galaxy.
As for myself, well lately I've been spending a lot of time with Severus, the friend I told you about before. We meet at the lake often when I am staying in the village. He's very different than you or Remus but we get along well enough. I feel bad for him as his home life is terrible.
In less than a year we'll all be at the Academy together, Sirius! Won't that be wonderful?
Anyhow… it is time for supper. I hope you are well.
Sirius clutched the data pad to his chest as his heart pounded intensely. He wanted to run around the room in excitement. Remus had asked about him and clearly seems interested! Granted this wasn't much different than what Lily had said before but Sirius couldn't help himself when it came to Remus.
"Did you get a letter from your girlfriend?" a voice called from the doorway startling Sirius.
Regs was standing there with a smirk on his face. Sirius frowned at him and set the data pad aside.
"I've told you that I haven't got a girlfriend," Sirius protested.
"You've not been getting letters from the princess then?" Regulus said.
"Well, yes, I have but I assure you she's not my girlfriend," Sirius said.
"That's not what mother and father are telling people. They are telling everyone that she is," Regulus said.
Sirius groaned. Of course they were.
"Well, I wish they wouldn't," Sirius said desperately hoping Regs would just leave his room immediately.
Instead Regulus approached the bed and sat down. Great, Sirius thought.
"Sirius… will you write me while you're at Hogwarts?" Regulus said.
"What? Write you? We barely talk now, as it is," Sirius said.
Regulus brushed dark hair from his eyes and continued, "It may get lonely here… with only mother and father to talk to."
Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Regs you are a perfect son, everything they wish I was," Sirius said.
"Mother says you used to be better but now you're going through a terrible rebellious phase," Regulus said.
"Yes, I'm so rebellious just because I don't agree with every bloody thing they believe," Sirius said though inside he wondered how much of their beliefs he truly shared.
"It's what she says," Regulus repeated.
"Yes, I know," Sirius said then sighed and added, "Oh, all right, Regs. I will try to write you. A year isn't a long time,anyway really, and then you'll be at the Academy too."
Regulus smiled and reached out and touched Sirius's arm.
"Thank you, Sirius," Regulus said then got off the bed and left the room.
Sirius had no intention of writing his little brother, but if it would get him off his back then he would lie and say he would for now.
Did Sirius really believe a year wasn't a long time? He thought about how with less than a year to go until he would be able to see Remus again at the Academy he felt he could hardly bear it. No, sometimes, he had to admit, a year was a long time.
Chapter 3: Hogwarts Academy
Remus stood at the door to the transport and took a deep breath. This was it. He was going into space! Lily stood there smiling as the hem of her dress fluttered in the breeze. Remus suddenly became aware of how much she had grown over the last couple of years, though he supposed he had too. Still, she was nearly as tall as he was now.
"Come on, Remus. There's nothing to be afraid of," Lily said.
"I'm not afraid. It's just… a big moment," Remus said then stepped onto the transport.
The transport was the best the royal family had access to. It was pre-war but everything was. The interior looked very worn, the cloth of the seats especially. The king and queen had decided money was best spent on post-war recovery and not shiny new transports.
The truth was the war with Grindelwald and had crippled the galaxy in more ways than one. Even thirty years after its end recovery wasn't getting any faster.
"Sit here, Remus. You'll be able to see it best from here," Lily said gesturing at a seat next to a window on the left side of the transport.
Remus sat down and then strapped himself in. It was only going to be himself and Lily on this transport. There was another larger transport for the nearby villages but this one was exclusively for the royal grounds. Lily's parents could've insisted that Remus get on the other transport but they didn't. Whether that was their own kindness or a result of Lily begging them, Remus wasn't sure.
The door the transport sealed itself as a voice overhead announced they were leaving planetside bound for Hogwarts Academy just above Fidelius's atmosphere. Remus clutched his arm rests as the transport lifted off the ground with a rumble. The ship wasn't shaking much but it was enough to put Remus on edge.
"This is the worst part, don't worry. It's smoother after this, I promise," Lily said.
"OK," Remus said and tried to relax his hands.
Lily was right, however. The shaking and the rumbling stopped and Remus was soon able to look out the window and marvel at the sight of the countryside growing smaller. The palace looked incredible from the air. The restoration work the king and queen were doing were really something.
As Remus was admiring the view of the ever shrinking farms and villages his mind slowly began to turn to his dark secret and how he would manage it at Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore had sent a holo-message two months ago informing him that special accommodations would be made for him but Remus hadn't the faintest clue what that would be.
Remus pictured a dark room and himself chained up tightly with guards waiting outside ready to put him down should he escape. His parents had been keeping him chained up in the basement for as long as he could remember but he had begun to break the chains recently. He wasn't a little boy anymore. He was fifteen and becoming a man.
Granted Remus wasn't a very large young man, being barely taller than Lily, though she was a bit tall for a girl he thought. Working outside every day in his parents's garden had given him a tan and good muscle tone but he worried he was too thin.
Remus cringed when he thought of all the times he'd probably embarrassed himself at the palace eating dinner with the royal family and hungrily shoving every bit of food in his mouth that was set before him. If Lily minded she had never said so. She likely understood that his family were not overflowing with food.
Remus had spent many recent nights fantasizing about what food at Hogwarts would be like. He thought it would be amazing though in truth he would be happy just to not be hungry anymore.
Before Remus even realized it they had reached the upper atmosphere and were moving into space. Lily laughed at Remus startling him.
"I'm sorry, I've just never seen you so happy before," Lily said.
Remus felt himself blush.
"It's incredible, Lily. It's just so…," Remus trailed off, searching for the word.
"Big?" Lily suggested.
"Yeah. Big. I'm sure that sounds ridiculous but," Remus said then looked out the window again at Fidelius then around space and the stars, feeling in awe at the size and depth of it all before finishing, "that's how it feels."
"Look," Lily said then nudged Remus and pointed at angle out the window.
Two space stations were in view. Closest was the main government building where the will of the king and queen was enacted, in orbit over the moon. It wasn't very large. A bit further past the moon was Hogwarts Academy. It had been built nearly two-hundred years ago by Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin from schematics left from the era of Arthur and Merlin and their tech empire.
It looked like what the stories of Arthur and Merlin called a castle but there weren't any castles anymore so Remus wasn't sure how accurate it really was. It was certainly impressive.
The academy was designed to have four divisions, each based on one of the four people who built it. Remus was a bit fuzzy on what set the divisions apart, exactly. He and Lily had discussed them thoroughly and they had agreed that Gryffindor suited them the best, though apparently her friend Severus, who Remus had never actually met, had tried to convince Lily to try out Slytherin.
All the best doctors came from Slytherin, now this was true. But Slytherins on the whole had a bad reputation. Remus wondered if Sirius Black was going to be a Slytherin. Apparently his entire family were Slytherins and always had been. He felt his heart sink a little. Though he knew he'd still be able to see Sirius regardless of his division he knew if they were in the same program it might be easier to relate, plus they'd share most classes.
At least Remus and Lily were going to be able to share a room at the school. Lily's parents had wanted her to get a room to herself but Dumbledore had informed them that the school was far too packed to find a room for just herself. Lily then immediately suggested Remus for her roommate to Remus's great surprise.
The even greater surprise was when her parents said yes. He'd been certain they wouldn't let her room with a boy even if he and Lily were only friends.
Remus smiled and sighed with happiness as the transport slowly moved towards the docking bay of Hogwarts. This was a new beginning and Remus could feel it all over himself. He wasn't sure what it was the beginning of but he knew it was going to be great.
Sirius was jarred awake by a shoulder bumping into his.
"Sorry, mate," a voice said.
Sirius opened his eyes and saw a boy with messy black hair, hazel eyes and dark skin sitting next to him and looking apologetic. The boy then reached into his pocket and pulled out his glasses and placed them just in front of his face. The glasses then opened and floated onto his face and ears and the lenses activated with brief flashing sound a low vibrating hum. Sirius was impressed. Those glasses were very recent tech. This boy clearly came from a good family.
"No problem," Sirius replied.
"James Potter," the boy said and extended a hand.
Sirius sat up and shook his hand.
"Sirius Black," Sirius said.
"Excellent. Black. The Black family, eh?" James said.
"Yes," Sirius said and allowed himself a prideful smile.
Sirius couldn't stand his parents and yet he still felt a strange pride at knowing he was nobility and therefore respected. This feeling of pride was muted somewhat when James frowned at this.
"Heard dreadful things about the Black family," James said.
"I assume you mean about Arcturus… we're not all like that, you know," Sirius said.
"Ease up, mate. I wasn't accusing you of anything," James said then smiled and slapped Sirius gently on the shoulder.
Sirius chuckled. There was something about James he really liked. Something about the way he composed himself. He seemed… fun or rather he seemed like the sort of fun Sirius wanted to be having, the sort of fun he knew his parents would hate.
Sirius became aware that the transport was moving again. It seemed pretty full now, he thought looking around the room which was now filled with other teenagers from privileged families such as his, though he doubted any of them were nobility.
"So what program are you entering?" James asked, casually.
"Slytherin, probably," Sirius answered.
He wasn't sure how he felt about the Slytherin program but if he was ever going to be a great doctor like his parents wanted he had no choice.
"Probably? So you're going to let it sort you then?" James asked.
"Yes, I suppose so," Sirius said.
"I'm going for Gryffindor. But I'm going to let it sort me anyhow. Must admit I'm curious about the sorting algorithm," James said.
"I might let it have a go out of curiosity myself. I'm sure it'll tell me I belong in Slytherin anyway. My whole family has always been Slytherin," Sirius said.
"When you mention your family you sort of cringe. I don't know if you've noticed," James said.
Sirius stared at James then frowned and looked away, feeling self-conscious.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend," James said.
"You haven't. I just… have a complicated relationship with my family," Sirius said.
"Really? I'd get the impression that you don't like them. Doesn't seem complicated at all, mate," James said.
"I don't want to talk about it," Sirius said.
"Fair enough. Didn't mean to make things awkward," James said.
"It's all right," Sirius said.
James was quiet for awhile. Sirius felt bad. He liked James but they'd only just met. He really wasn't ready to pour his heart out about his family yet.
"So do you like tech ball?" James said out of nowhere about an hour later.
"Tech ball? Yeah, sure," Sirius said.
It was only half a lie. He was interested in tech ball but he couldn't claim to really know much about it. But he had watched some games on the tech video network and found them entertaining.
"I love Tech ball. Hogwarts has a team. Can't try out for it until next year but I'm going to the first chance I can," James said.
"Are you any good?" Sirius asked.
"Good? I'm the best!" James said and laughed.
"That's bold," Sirius said with a big smile.
"That's honest!" James insisted.
Sirius shrugged and said, "Well, then it must be true."
James laughed again and nodded. After a minute James placed a hand on his chin and went, "Hmm."
"Yes?" Sirius said.
"Oh, I was just thinking. They're going to randomly place us in rooms but I've heard if we get in fast enough we can request roommates. You seem all right and I was wondering if you might want to room with me?" James asked.
Sirius was stunned.
"I… Yes. Absolutely. That sounds marvelous," Sirius said.
"Fantastic! Oh, man. Hogwarts Academy is not ready for the likes of us," James said.
"No, probably not," Sirius said.
Sirius couldn't believe it. He'd made a friend. Even if things didn't work out with Remus at least he would still have James to keep him entertained. Though he was trying not even allow himself to think about whether or not things could work out with Remus. It had been two years. They might very well be different people now.
But as the transport docked and James and Sirius got up and marched single file with the rest of the students onto the docking bay Sirius caught a quick glimpse of Lily and a brown haired figure next to her. Even with a brief look at Remus's face Sirius knew his feelings were still there and as unbearable as ever.
Severus Snape was standing by himself in the main hall of Hogwarts Academy when Lily found him. Remus had gone off to locate their room and settle in while Lily stuck around to search for Sev.
"Hey, Sev," Lily said.
Severus smiled at her.
"Hello, Lily. It's good to see you," Severus said, his black eyes fixed on her intently.
Students were still in line for the sorting machine which was a sort of tech hat that read your brainwaves and determined which program was your best fit. She and Remus had just requested Gryffindor directly. She assumed Severus had put himself in for Slytherin as he said he would.
"You too. Going to be great to be away from your father this year, isn't it?" Lily said.
Severus frowned and nodded. Lily could never get him to talk about his father and she doubted that would change now. But she tried to let him know that she knew and that she cared.
"So I suppose you and that farm boy have put yourselves in Gryffindor," Severus said.
"His name is Remus. Yes, we have," Lily replied.
"Still think you should've gone for Slytherin. You'll be queen someday. The galaxy could use a good Slytherin queen," Severus said with small smile.
"I don't want to be queen," Lily said.
"You will be. They're never going to find your sister if they haven't at this point," Severus said.
Lily sighed and frowned.
"I know. Actually… they aren't even looking anymore. They know she was on certain transports shortly after her disappearance but where she ended up… no one knows," Lily admitted.
"I'm sorry, Lily," Severus said and placed a hand gently on her shoulder.
Lily nodded and smiled at him. He had moved much closer to her and she hadn't even noticed. Sometimes Lily was curious about Severus. She felt comfortable with him and sometimes she thought about what it would be like to… do things, like kiss him perhaps and maybe… more than that.
But she worried Severus might want more than that. It was hard to put her finger on but she got the impression sometimes that he wanted them to be together in a serious sort of way. That didn't really interest her.
"Lily!" a familiar voice said.
"Sirius!" Lily said spotting Sirius Black over Severus's shoulder.
Severus stepped back and looked uncomfortable as Sirius came over and gave Lily a hug.
"Princess Lily Evans, allow me to introduce to my new friend, James Potter!" Sirius said with a gesture at a tall and handsome boy with remarkable hazel eyes and hair that looked like it needed a comb through it.
"Pleased to meet you," Lily said and shook James's hand.
"Thanks," James said with a wink making Lily laugh.
Lily noticed Severus was staring at James with a clear dislike that made her suddenly uncomfortable.
"Well, I'm going to let the two of you catch up and go check out our room," James said turning to Severus and adding, "Oh and uh… nice to meet you… I'm sorry I didn't catch your name."
"Severus Snape. I'm a good friend of Lily's," Severus said with a sneer.
James furrowed his brow and nodded at Severus before turning and walking away.
"Your room? You're getting a room with him? Did you just meet him here?" Lily asked Sirius.
"Nah. Met him on the transport. He's cool," Sirius said with a big grin.
Sirius was just as handsome as Lily remembered, though he was much taller than she last saw him. He also seemed more relaxed than she remembered. Was that James Potter's influence? He must've made a significant impression on Sirius.
"So where did you get sorted?" Lily asked.
"Gryffindor, weirdly enough. I thought for sure it would put me in Slytherin," Sirius said.
Lily smiled and slapped Sirius on the arm. Remus was going to be thrilled when he heard.
"If you're wondering, Remus is taking care of our room," Lily said, feeling bad that Remus wasn't here for both his and Sirius's sake.
Simultaneously Lily saw Sirius freeze up and try not to smile at the mention of Remus and Severus look offended.
"You're sharing a room with the farm boy?" Severus said, sounding appalled.
"Yes. Why wouldn't I?" Lily said.
"He's a boy!" Severus said.
"He's my friend," Lily said.
Sirius looked uncomfortable, though Lily was sure he wanted desperately to talk about Remus.
"I'm gonna go. Tell Remus I said hi," Sirius said then quickly walked away.
"Sev, this isn't a big deal. Would you rather I get stuck in a room with someone I don't trust or my friend who I do trust? I'm a princess. Once people realize who I am I'm not going to get a moments peace. At least I can be sure when I go back to my room I will have a place where I can relax and be myself," Lily said, firmly.
"Whatever. Suit yourself. I'm going to go see who they've stuck me with," Severus said and also walked away, leaving Lily by herself.
Just then a very large man with a shaggy black hair and beard stepped out and loudly said, "Dinner in the great hall in twenty minutes!"
Lily realized she had better run and find Remus. He wouldn't want to miss his first meal at Hogwarts.
"She's really pretty, isn't she?" James said as he laid back on his bed.
"Who?" Sirius asked, not removing his eyes from his data pad, where he was reading some sort of book.
"The princess," James said.
"Obviously," Sirius said.
"No, I'm telling you mate. She has the most amazing green eyes. And her hair! It's so red!" James said.
"You have correctly identified two things about her," Sirius said, with obvious sarcasm.
"Shut up! No, I'm telling you she's perfect. She's tall too isn't she, for a girl I mean. And her lips they look so soft," James said, privately imagining what her lips might feel like on his own.
"She's the princess. Have some self-control," Sirius said.
"Do you want her? Is that the problem?" James said.
"Want her? She's a person not a possession," Sirius said then added, "And no, I'm not interested in her, I promise you. We're just friends."
Something about Sirius's tone convinced James he was being honest.
"Then what's the problem? Do you think I'm not good enough for a princess?" James said.
Sirius sighed and set down his data pad.
"No, it's not that. I just… I've known Lily for awhile and I sort of feel… protective. She deserves respect," Sirius said.
"I do respect her. I can think she's hot and still respect her," James said.
Sirius shrugged and picked his data pad back up.
"I'm just saying that if you want to try and court her you might want to ease up a bit. Don't come at her too strong," Sirius said.
"I wouldn't do that. I've dated girls before you know, Sirius," James said, though privately James admitted to himself that neither of his past relationships had gone very well for reasons that were probably his own fault.
"Bet you've never dated a princess before, James," Sirius replied.
"I don't care that she's a princess. She's perfect! She's so beautiful and just… ugh! Something about her. The way she smiles and the way she laughs. I'm telling you, she's perfect," James said.
"She'll be queen someday, probably," Sirius said.
"I know. I don't care," James said.
"Are you sure? If things work out and you marry it would mean you'd be king someday. Even if you don't care about her royal status you have to acknowledge that dating a princess is not like dating any other girl," Sirius said.
James felt a little deflated. Sirius was right. Courting Lily Evans would be complicated by her being a princess, whether he liked it or not. Assuming she even liked him he'd have to hope her parents approved of him and didn't have any other suitors in mind. And then if it worked out it was impossible to deny that being a king was a lot more responsibility than he saw in his future.
James laid back and closed his eyes. He pictured Lily in the main hall from earlier in the day. She didn't act like he thought a princess would act. She seemed so relaxed and fun and so… kind. Yes, that was it. There was a kindness in her mannerisms and how she talked to her friends, even that disgusting Severus Snape boy who he caught glaring at him during dinner.
"I don't care. I mean… I do care, but it doesn't matter. She's perfect and I won't forgive myself if I don't at least try," James said.
"Good luck," Sirius said.
"Pfft. I don't need luck, mate," James said and laughed.
"No, really, James. Good luck," Sirius said and looked over at James with a smile.
"Oh… thanks," James said.
James then rolled over and closed his eyes and went back to imagining what it would be like to kiss Lily.
Sirius woke up early the next morning and got out of bed quietly so as not to wake up James. It had been well after midnight when James finally stopped rambling about Lily and nodded off. Sirius hadn't got much sleep but he had promised to meet Lily and Remus for breakfast that morning.
He had only caught at glimpse of Remus again at dinner last night. He had hoped Remus might come over and talk to him but he never did. Sirius felt so foolish ever thinking Remus would be interested in him but he didn't want to give up hope.
Sirius tried his best to only walk and not run on his way to the great hall. The floors were all metal, though they were made to look like stone and if he were to run it would make an awful lot of noise.
Despite his effort Sirius must've been walking too fast for he bumped right into another boy as he was turning a corner.
"Oof," the other boy said before falling backwards.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Sirius said and picked the short, pudgy boy up.
"I'm all right, I think," the boy said while he tried to straighten his brown hair.
"Are you headed to breakfast?" Sirius asked.
"Oh, yeah. I'm afraid I'm lost," the boy replied.
"Follow me. I'm Sirius Black, by the way," Sirius said.
"Peter. Peter Pettigrew," the boy said and they shook hands.
Sirius set off to the great hall while Peter scurried close behind.
"So what program are you in?" Peter asked.
"Gryffindor," Sirius answered.
"Me too!" Peter said.
"My roommate, James is Gryffindor too," Sirius said.
"That's great," Peter said.
"Here we are," Sirius said as they reached the double doors that led to the great hall.
Sirius opened the door and went inside as Peter followed. The room was mostly empty as most students were still asleep. Seated at the far end of the hall at a table alone was Lily and Remus who waved at him.
Sirius smiled and started to run before accidentally tripping forcing Peter to catch him.
"You OK?" Peter asked.
"Yes. I'm fine," Sirius said, feeling embarrassed.
Dammit, Black, pull yourself together, he thought.
Sirius walked over to the table and sat down across from Lily and Remus. Peter sat next to him but Sirius barely noticed. Remus was even more gorgeous than Sirius remembered. He felt excited and nervous and when he opened his mouth he realized he had forgotten how to make words.
"Hello, Sirius. It's good to see you," Remus said.
"Umm. Yeah. It's good," Sirius said.
Oh this was terrible, Sirius thought. First time seeing Remus after all this time and he couldn't even speak like a normal human being.
"How have you been?" Remus asked.
"Good," Sirius said.
"Terrific. Lily told me you're in Gryffindor," Remus said.
"Yeah," Sirius said.
Remus nodded then looked towards the kitchen. Great, Sirius thought, I've lost his interest. Remus turned back and seemed to notice Peter who Sirius was ashamed to realize he had forgotten.
"Who's your friend?" Remus said.
"Peter! This is Peter," Sirius said and rubbed Peter on the shoulder as an apology.
"Nice to meet you, Peter," Remus said.
"Nice to meet you… er?" Peter said looking at Sirius.
"Hmm?" Sirius said to Peter.
"I'm Remus," Remus said.
"Nice to meet you, Remus," Peter said and leaned over and shook Remus's hand.
Sirius wanted to climb under the table and hide in embarrassment. Here he had been telling James to play it cool with Lily when it was obvious he was incapable of being cool with Remus.
"I'm Lily, by the way," Lily said and also shook Peter's hand.
"Nice to meet you," Peter said then sat down.
"Are you all right, Sirius?" Remus asked.
"Yes. Why?" Sirius said.
"You seem sort of… bothered," Remus said, looking concerned.
"I didn't sleep well," Sirius said, which was technically true.
"You should get some sleep after breakfast. Gotta be well rested for classes tomorrow," Remus said.
"You're probably right," Sirius said.
Maybe he was just tired. Surely, he wasn't always this incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. He was a Black! He was nobility. Nobility has no use for awkwardness.
"We should hang out sometime," Remus said.
Sirius felt himself suddenly unable to breathe. He wanted to stand up and shout in excitement but instead tried to just smile and nod.
"That'd be good," Sirius said.
Yes, play it cool, Sirius thought. If he was going to impress Remus he'd have to stop being so weird.
"Just let me know what your schedule is like and we'll see what there is to do around here for fun," Remus said.
Sirius's heart was pounding and he worried that he was visibly trembling with excitement but a glance at his hand assured him that he was not.
"We'll do that," Sirius said.
"Great," Remus said and at that moment someone came by and set plates filled with warm breakfast in front of them.
Chapter 4: Classes Begin
The transmogrification classroom was larger than Lily expected. It was a circular room with grey metallic walls and curved benches with tables all around the circle on three descending levels. In the center of the room was a table with various tech objects scattered on it in front of which stood an tall, austere looking woman with black hair tied up in a bun, square tech glasses on her face and draped in an emerald green dress.
"Please be seated," the woman, no doubt their teacher, Minerva McGonagall, said.
Lily and Remus sat down in the front row near the teacher next to a short, chubby, dark skinned girl with glasses of the more basic sort and her natural hair pulled back in a ponytail, who seemed a bit shy as she looked away quickly as Lily sat down next to her.
Lily quickly noticed Remus looking around the room, probably looking for Sirius. Lily didn't see Sirius or Mr. Potter anywhere about.
For a moment it appeared, as everyone had seated and it was past the hour and class had officially started, that James and Sirius weren't going to show up. Finally, as the doors were closing to the classroom Sirius, James and that boy Peter entered the classroom. James was smiling and Sirius and Peter appeared to be trying to contain their laughter, though Lily couldn't imagine what was so funny.
"You three. What are your names?" McGonagall asked them in a sharp tone as they sat down on a top row bench, not even bothering to point out who she meant.
"James Potter," James said with a casual raise of his hand.
"Sirius Black," Sirius said, also raising his hand.
"Peter, miss. Peter Pettigrew," Peter said, his voice coming out in a squeak.
"The three of you now have detention after your classes today. Please, do not be late to my classes in the future," McGonagall said.
"Wouldn't dream of it," James called out with a smile.
McGonagall glared at him and his smile disappeared, seeming genuinely intimidated.
"Good morning," McGonagall said to the room.
"I am Minerva McGonagall and I am going to teach you about transmogrification. Transmogrification is an older tech skill so it is therefore erroneously thought to be outdated," Minerva said as she strolled around the center circle.
"Even in the era of Arthur's old tech empire, transmogrification wasn't looked down upon as being nothing more than tricks or hacks," Minerva said then lifted a finger up and stopped walking before continuing, "They were only half correct. Some of it was just tricks and hacks but out of that grew something greater. Today, transmogrification is an art form. The ability to transform one type of tech into another has immense value, especially in these times."
Lily gulped at the mention of the war. McGonagall was right, of course. After the war there was an excess of military tech being salvaged that needed to be repurposed and that job had fallen to transmogrifiers.
"No, I assure you that modern transmogrification is not tricks nor is it easy, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said with another sharp glare at James who was whispering something in Sirius's ear.
The girl next to Lily made a small grunt of disapproval and Lily glanced at her with a smile. The girl laughed in response then quickly covered her mouth in horror. McGonagall rounded on them and gestured at both Lily and the other girl.
"And who are we?" McGonagall asked.
"I'm Lily Evans," Lily said.
McGonagall raised her eyebrows at Lily's name but made no other reaction. Perhaps, being a princess would save Lily from detention, though she knew it wasn't fair.
"And you?" McGonagall asked as the other girl sat there looking frightened.
"I'm… Dorcas. Dorcas Meadowes, miss. I'm terribly sorry," Dorcas said.
"You and Miss Evans can join Potter, Black and Pettigrew for detention," McGonagall said.
In a way, Lily was relieved that her status as royalty wouldn't give her special treatment but on the other hand she felt terrible for poor Dorcas and was worried that she might blame Lily. Lily turned and gave Dorcas a sympathetic look. Dorcas shrugged and nodded back, clearly indicating she understood it was no ones fault.
Remus for his part gave Lily a comforting pat on the shoulder but said nothing else, no doubt in fear of detention.
The rest of the lesson proceeded quietly as McGonagall explained how the history of transmogrification led to its modern uses. Lily knew intimately the work that was being done by the royal government but she appreciated an outside perspective.
As the bell sounded for class end McGonagall promised tomorrow she would demonstrate some actual transmogrification for the class. Lily had attempted at home to transmogrify an old tracking sensor into a torchlight but hadn't been very successful. The light had only lasted half a second before burning out and rendering the tech useless forever.
As Lily and Remus exited the classroom they found James, Sirius and Peter waiting there for them. Dorcas was also there but seemed reluctant to put herself in the crowd.
"Can you believe that?" James said.
"Believe what? That we've all got detention? Definitely," Lily responded.
"It's our first day and we've already got detention," James said, exasperated.
"You were late to class!" Lily said, feeling baffled that James was failing to see the obvious problem.
"I know that. It's not like we were trying to be late. Sirius and I were up late and when the alarm went off I guess we didn't hear it," James admitted.
"I… I was waiting on James and Sirius. Told them I was going to wait for them," Peter piped in.
"I think James has a point. McGonagall, could relax a little," Remus said, surprising Lily.
Sirius smiled at that, looking relieved. Lily sighed.
"I'll agree, that personally in her shoes I wouldn't've given any of us detention. Maybe just a warning. But I'm not in her shoes and frankly I can respect that she's not showing me any favouritism," Lily said.
"Why would that be so bad?" Sirius asked.
"I don't like being given special treatment because of who I am," Lily replied.
"Are you sure she even knows?" Remus asked.
"I assume everyone knows. The teachers at least," Lily said, lowering her voice, realizing that she didn't want anyone to know if they didn't already.
"I suppose we should head to class boys. Say, Remus would you like to walk with us?" James asked.
Remus looked back and forth between James, Sirius and Lily but shook his head.
"Gonna stick with Lils, thank you," Remus said.
"Suit yourself," James said and he, Peter and Sirius walked to the next class, which was History of Tech by Instructor Binns.
"What do you mean by who you are?" Dorcas asked.
"Oh, it's nothing," Lily said.
"Didn't sound like nothing," Dorcas said before adding, "I'm sorry if it's none of my business. You just seem nice and I'm curious."
"She's the princess," Remus said casually.
Lily frowned at Remus who simply shrugged and started walking to class, forcing Lily and Dorcas to follow him.
"A princess!" Dorcas shouted before covering her mouth in embarrassment.
"The princess," Remus repeated.
"It's really not a big deal. I'm a student like any other and that's how I want to be treated," Lily said.
"Of course. That's totally understandable. Still, it is kinda cool, isn't it?" Dorcas said
Lily smiled at Dorcas who was grinning wide and flashing her dark brown eyes, despite herself. Dorcas was very cute and earnest in a shy sort of way. If she wanted to be Lily's friend that was definitely all right.
History of Tech turned out to be a disappointment. Binns, as it turned out, was actually a holographic projection of a long since dead teacher at the school. He only existed within the confines of his classroom and contained all the memory, knowledge and personality of his former self.
Unfortunately, this meant that he was just as boring as his former self. This was a shame as Lily had been looking forward to History of Tech. She had her datapad ready to take notes but instead found herself struggling to remain awake for most of the class.
Next was Astronomy and Astronavigation with Aurora Sinistra. Lily found Sinistra to a compelling speaker who clearly had a great love for the stars. She reprimanded James and Sirius several times during the class but gave out no detentions.
After that it was time for lunch. Remus insisted they sit with James, Sirius and Peter. Dorcas declined, preferring to sit alone, but promised she and Lily could talk after detention later.
As they walked to the table where the boys were seated Lily spotted Severus Snape and gave him a smile and a wave. Sev smiled and nodded his head at her in return. She hoped at some point they'd be able to sit and talk and catch up.
Once they'd reach the table food was quickly brought out. The food at the Academy wasn't as good as what Lily was used to at the palace but it was definitely not terrible.
"So it looks like our schedules are basically the same," Sirius said, setting his fork down for a moment.
"For the most part, yeah," Remus answered.
"Makes sense that we'd have the same classes, us all being Gryffindor," James said and tugged at the red and gold stripe of his Gryffindor uniform.
Lily smiled at James. He could be cute when he wasn't being a complete arse. James smiled then adjusted his glasses.
"We could hang out today, but you've all got detention," Remus said.
"What about tomorrow after classes?" Sirius asked.
"Oh umm," Remus replied, seemingly strangely uneasy.
"Is there a problem?" Sirius asked.
"No, it's not that. I just… I have some things I need to get taken care of tomorrow and they can't wait, I'm afraid," Remus said, looking ashamed.
Lily had no clue what Remus was talking about but he seemed very uncomfortable. She could tell that Sirius detected his discomfort and instead tried to change the subject.
"So what are you lot looking forward to today?" Sirius asked.
"Enhancements with Flitwick," Lily answered.
She was bloody good with enhancements and was looking forward to having solid chance to make it clear that she wasn't just a princess but a person appropriately skilled at creating and using tech in her own right.
"I think Enhancements sounds good too," Peter said with a small smile at Lily.
"Cyberbeasts with Kettleburn should be a riot," James said.
"Dangerous, more like. Probably, having some completely disgusting like one of Grindelwald's wolf soldiers," Sirius said with a laugh.
Lily noticed in the corner of her eye as Remus recoiled at this and when she turned to him he looked very distressed.
"I'm going to go ahead to class," Remus said.
"You've not done eating," James said, staring bewildered at Remus's plate.
"It's fine. I'm not hungry," Remus said and got up and walked quickly out of the hall.
"Remus, wait!" Lily called out and got up and ran after him.
If any of the other students made any reaction to this scene, Lily didn't notice. She exited the large double doors and managed to catch Remus before he turned the corner.
"What's the matter, Remus? You seemed upset when Sirius mentioned the wolves," Lily said.
"It's nothing, really," Remus said and turned to leave.
"If something's bothering you, Remus, please know you can tell me anything and I won't judge you," Lily said.
"I know," Remus said then added, "I've just got some personal stuff I have to deal with. I'll tell you sometime, I promise."
Remus then walked off to class leaving Lily standing in the hall feeling confused and worried for her dear friend.
Detention with McGonagall was a bore, Sirius thought. She'd assigned them all essays to write on their datapads on the early history of transmogrification. Sirius found it difficult to focus on the essay as his mind kept drifting to Remus. He had somehow offended Remus at lunch and he wasn't sure how.
After detention Sirius tried to talk to Lily about it but Dorcas was there and though she seemed nice he really didn't want strangers knowing about his painful crush on Remus. The more people who knew about it, the more likely it was that Remus would find out.
He could tell James he supposed. After all, James was having no trouble endlessly gushing about how amazing Lily was. But she was a princess and though James wasn't nobility like Sirius at the very least he came from a good family. How would it look for Sirius to be secretly, madly in love with Remus who most seemed to see as nothing more than a farm boy, though he'd never worked a day on a farm in his life.
As he lay in bed that night trying to do homework on his datapad he kept glancing over at James, wondering if he should tell him. He hadn't even known James for a week yet. He'd known Lily for years now and had left her the sole person who knew his big secret. What if James was more judgmental than he seemed?
"I'm worried about Remus," Sirius said, trying to sound as casual as possible.
"Mmm," James said, clearly focused on something that Sirius doubted was his homework.
"Can you listen, James?" Sirius pleaded, realizing being casual wasn't going to cut it.
"Of course. Sorry," James said then set down his datapad and gave Sirius a friendly smile.
"Thank you. I'm really worried about Remus. He seems bothered," Sirius said.
"I'm more worried about you, mate," James said.
"Me? What's wrong with me?" Sirius asked, confused.
"You met this bloke once a couple of years ago and you've been hung up on him all this time. It's really not healthy," James said.
Sirius stared at James, mouth agape.
"Sorry, it's obvious, mate," James said.
Sirius threw his head back on his pillow and groaned.
"Listen, I know you don't understand and you don't think he's good enough for me but I promise you it's the other way around: I'm not good enough for Remus and I know it," Sirius said.
"Don't be ridiculous! You barely know each other. How can either of you know you aren't good enough for the other? And what does that even mean?" James said, shaking his head.
"I know loads about him! Lily has been writing to me regularly and telling me things about him since we first met," Sirius said.
"Has she talked to him about you?" James asked.
"No. At least not extensively. I asked her not to say anything lest Remus figure me out," Sirius admitted.
"Sounds like you need to take a step back and get to know each other," James said.
"That's what I'm trying to do! But I feel like I keep making a fool of myself in front of him. And like I said, he seems bothered," Sirius said.
James studied Sirius with his hazel eyes for a moment then nodded.
"OK. You're right. Something is bothering him. My advice is to give him some space. You think I don't want to tell Lily how beautiful and amazing she is? Oh, man, every fibre of my being is telling me to do that," James said, clenching his fists for a moment.
"You don't seem to lack for confidence, James," Sirius observed.
"No. I just like her a lot. I don't want to mess it up. I've made a fool of myself with girls loads of times before. She's special though. If you think Remus is special, and it's obvious you do, then you need to wait for him," James said.
"I've waited two years," Sirius groaned.
"Hang in there a little longer, mate. He'll come around," James said and went back to whatever it was on his datapad.
Severus Snape was tired of waiting on Lily Evans to realizing she had feelings for him. He lay in bed as he did every night unable to get to sleep because all his thoughts were of her. Didn't she realize how he suffered?
Now that Lupin, Black and Potter were around he knew it was only a matter of him until one of them got to her first. Lupin was no real competition, he supposed. He was nothing more than a farm boy, after all. Though the thought of Lupin sharing a room every night with Lily and the idea of the things they could be doing made Severus feel nervous and sick.
Black was a pathetic excuse for someone born of a noble family. He seemed to be only interested in following Potter around and laughing at every stupid joke Potter made. Clearly, the princess was only being charitable by being his friend.
Then there was Potter… Yes, he had known boys like Potter growing up in the village. Sure, they had less money that Potter's family but they were no different. A bully is a bully no matter how nice their clothes are or how handsome they are.
Yes, he could see how Potter looked at Lily. It was all right. Potter could never have what Severus and Lily had. They understood each other despite their different backgrounds. Lily had never said anything but he knew she had feelings for him. Why else would she continue coming to the village to see him long after her parents had decided it was no longer necessary?
One time they had been sitting alone at dusk on the dock on the lake and he'd nearly tried to kiss her. He felt a fool later. What must she have thought of him? She'd probably been screaming in her head, dying for him to make his move. It was no matter. Next time, he wouldn't fail to act.
He knew he couldn't wait much longer. One of those boys, possibly Potter, would get their hands on her and weasel their way into her bed. No, that was an honour, Severus deserved, and no one else.
Severus grunted. Thinking about enjoying that particular honour wasn't going to help him relax at all. He sighed and slid his hand into his pyjama bottoms. What else could he do?
The second day of classes wasn't much different than the first. Oh, certainly James, Sirius and Peter were a little better behaved. And then there was Remus. He seemed agitated all day and when he told her he wouldn't be coming back to their room that night she begged him to tell her what was wrong with him.
He'd insisted it was nothing for her to worry about, he had a special arrangement with Albus Dumbledore.
After all this time Lily had never figured out what Dumbledore's interest in Remus was. Dumbledore was responsible for Remus's family living on the royal grounds and was responsible for Remus even getting into Hogwarts.
She had asked her parents a few times but they remained tight lipped on the matter. Was there something Dumbledore owed Remus's parents? Oh, she didn't want to ignore Remus's privacy but she couldn't shake this feeling that something was not all right with Remus and she cared about him far too much to ignore it.
After classes, Lily invited Dorcas hang out in her and Remus's room for a bit deciding she could use a friend to help her relax.
"Hmm. Somehow I thought this room'd be fancier than mine," Dorcas said as she looked around the room.
"Well, everything was gold plated when I got here but it was garish so I had them take it out," Lily said with a smirk.
"Very funny," Dorcas said sarcastically, though she still let out a chuckle.
Dorcas finally sat down next to Lily, crosslegged on the bed.
"So what's it like sharing a room with Remus. He's cute!" Dorcas said.
"He snores," Lily admitted.
"Oh, my roommate does too but she's not too loud, I suppose," Dorcas said.
"I'm hoping I'll get used to it," Lily said.
Dorcas nodded and smiled.
"So do the two of you get up to much in here all alone?" Dorcas said.
"Haven't really been here long enough to develop any habits. So far we both mostly just read or do homework. Not much to talk about with us both sharing classes," Lily said with a shrug.
"Oh so you don't do anything else?" Dorcas asked with a raised eyebrow.
"What do you mean? What else is there to do?" Lily said.
Dorcas looked embarrassed then let out a nervous chuckle.
"I mean like snogging or something," Dorcas said.
"With Remus? Goodness, no," Lily replied.
"Why not? I'd want to, if I could get up the nerve," Dorcas said.
"Remus is my friend," Lily answered.
"So? Is there a rule about not snogging friends no one told me about?" Dorcas said.
Lily hadn't really considered that. In truth, she'd never felt interested in more than friendship with anyone. She'd certainly felt physical attraction to certain people but didn't think it was possible to pursue one without the other.
"No. I suppose not. I guess I've never snogged anyone because I didn't want them to think I wasn't interested in something else. I know I'm the princess and I should probably spending my time daydreaming about meeting the love of my life who can get to be my king but I must confess it doesn't really have much appeal to me," Lily said.
Lily noticed that Dorcas had been slowly inching closer to Lily on the bed or perhaps Lily had moved closer to Dorcas.
"What does have appeal to you?" Dorcas asked, her face not far from Lily's.
Suddenly, Lily leaned forward and pressed her lips into Dorcas's full ones. Dorcas pressed back then parted her lips and let Lily feel their softness as they moved against hers.
Lily felt her body warm and tingle. She felt excited and something about it made her want to laugh. She leaned over and moved her body close to Dorcas's, placing a hand on her side and another on her shoulder. She pressed her chest into Dorcas's ample chest and Dorcas fell back into the bed.
Lily lay on top of Dorcas and her hands clutched Dorcas's face as her lips hungrily explored Dorcas's. Dorcas slid her tongue briefly into Lily's mouth which surprised her and made her shiver.
Lily felt charged and ready to get lost in the moment but the bell sounded, letting students know it was time to get back to their own rooms.
Lily laughed and slid off of Dorcas.
"That was fun," Dorcas said.
"Yeah," Lily admitted with a nod.
"We'll have to do that again sometime," Dorcas said.
"Wouldn't miss it," Lily said, though she was trying to shake an odd sense of embarrassment, though she knew they'd done nothing wrong.
"See you later," Dorcas said then left the room.
Lily fell back on the bed, her body alight. Lily had just discovered something she might love nearly as much as she loved tech. She thought of all the people she knew and had know her age and wondered if they might be fun to kiss.
Remus and Sirius might be off limits for now, and she wasn't even sure if they were interested in girls at all. There was James Potter. He was certainly hot. She could consider it.
There was Sev. He wasn't exactly gorgeous, she admitted but he was nice enough looking and she liked him a lot as a friend. She bet he would enjoy it plenty.
Remus hadn't been sure what would happen with his condition once he was off the planet. Part of him had worried that being so near the moon might trigger his transformation constantly. Dumbledore had been a great help though. During the war with Grindelwald and his wolf soldiers they had learned a great deal about his condition.
The transformations still happened regularly it turned out, moonlight only hastened them. While, Dumbledore wasn't sure why moonlight affected the transformations he knew it was the case.
Luckily, the transformations still couldn't come that often, so even living near the moon his body would still need time to recharge for a few weeks before another transformation. Dumbledore was also confident they might be able to find ways of delaying transformations.
For now, they had the room that Remus found himself sitting in, alone. He had met with Dumbledore yesterday who revealed the room was ready just in time. It was sound proof and incredibly secure and was installed with calming tech especially designed for those with his condition.
In theory, he would transform but in a more subdued form. He would still be dangerous but at the very least he wouldn't be a harm to himself. This was a great relief, he thought as he removed his clothes.
It was also a comfort to not be chained up for once. His wrists and ankles hurt for days after transforming while being chained up.
Remus could feel the transformation coming. He could feel the heat and the familiar aches and sense of swelling and stretching and a growing itchy sensation.
It hurt and it was terrifying but as the change began he admitted there was a small part of him that liked it. He had always been horrified by the notion but deep down he knew it was.
Chapter 5: Tech Ball
"Remus, I'm sorry for whatever it was I said that bothered you," Sirius said, looking straight at Remus as he ate his breakfast.
Remus nodded and continued eating. Two weeks had passed since the uncomfortable incident and Sirius had been trying his best to give Remus space. Remus normally ate meals with Lily and Dorcas but today Lily was having breakfast breakfast with Severus Snape and Remus didn't seem to like Severus much, so today he was eating with James, Sirius and Peter.
Sirius was beginning to accept that something special between himself and Remus was never going to be a reality. With that in mind he was turning his eye towards at least having Remus's friendship.
"Remus… James and I were wondering, if um… maybe you'd like to come watch Tech ball game with us and Peter tonight?" Sirius said, with a hopeful but nervous grin.
Remus stared at at Sirius in surprise.
"I don't know anything about Tech ball," Remus said, then went back to eating.
"James has showed me some clips recordings of some games. It looks amazing," Sirius said.
Sirius had finally admitted to James that he had never actually seen a Tech ball game. Rather than getting upset at Sirius's lie he instead took the opportunity to give Sirius an intense all-night Tech ball primer that left Sirius excited for the start of the new season.
"OK, I'll come. Where is the game happening?" Remus asked.
"The games are played on their representative planets. This is the first game of the season. It's being played in an arena down on Fidelius but we're not allowed to leave the school so instead they have a big holo-projection theatre at the bottom of the school. It's sometimes used for plays but mostly it gets used to show Tech ball games," James interjected helpfully.
Remus looked up at James and raised an eyebrow.
"They project the entire game?" Remus asked, sounding very curious.
"Yes! All the players and their balls and equipments have projection Tech on them. It'll be nearly like they are really there. It's the same Technology they use for Binns… only these players are alive and playing the game that very moment!" Sirius said, then realized he must be shouting because people were staring at him.
Remus smiled brightly while James chuckled at Sirius.
"That sounds incredible! Count me in for sure," Remus said.
Sirius could've jumped up on the table and shouted in victory at that very moment but somehow he found restraint.
"Excellent," Sirius said as casually as he could then added, "You are welcome to invite Lily."
"Nah, I think Lils has other plans," Remus said.
Sirius wondered if that was actually true or not but decided not to say anything. He could only hope that Remus didn't want his best friend around as a distraction. Sirius tried not to hope but one look at the smile on this beautiful boy's face made him want to.
There was something oddly regal about her Archaeological Tech Professor, Agatha Chubb, Lily thought. Outwardly she appeared a bit of a mess and more than a little eccentric. But sometimes she stared off at the walls and she seemed deep, dark and ancient, though she was scarcely middle-aged. She was short, had sharp features and was very pretty. With her dark red hair and blue eyes that reminded her of the paintings of her grandfather, Lily liked to imagine that she was a distant relative somehow.
Today Professor Chubb was telling them about the ruins of Listinoise, which had some connections to her distant, ancient ancestor, Arthur.
"So you see, this was a very interesting site when Tech archaeologists first discovered it. While, historically it may only be a footnote, you can only imagine what it was like when a century ago, this barren planet, so long ignored for its obvious lack of resources, was revealed to have ruins that had been largely left intact," Chubb said with a warm smile.
"We didn't learn any of Arthur's ancient secrets, but we did learn a great deal about his era and the way his people lived."
Chubb activated a hologram that showed three-dimensional photographs of the ruins. The royal palace was filled with paintings that resembled the ruins and even Hogwarts was designed based on ancient schematics from that era, or so the founders claimed.
"Albus Dumbledore only allows me one field trip a year and I've never taken a group to Listinoise before. I very much hope to take my students there before the end of the school year. It is one thing to read about history, or here someone recite it in the most dull, unbearable fashion imaginable," Chubb said, pausing to let the class laugh at her obvious dig at Binns, before continuing: "But it is another to actually stand inside history. To experience its evidence with your own eyes."
Professor Chubb spoke with such rich enthusiasm that it made Lily want to look further into her ancestors. Before know her distant relation to the legendary King Arthur was a thing of vague curiosity, something that was technically true but normally of limited actual appeal.
These days little was known anymore of Arthur's line, beyond the last five-hundred years, before Queen Caelia and the first Great Tech War. Before Caelia the line was a blur, with some rumours that Caelia was a fraud. She disappeared after reigning for twenty years, leaving her teenaged son to carry on in her stead.
Severus Snape yawned, startling Lily out of her deep thoughts of her ancient relatives.
"This is so dull. We're not learning anything practical, are we? This is scarcely more entertaining that Binns. And if she thinks she's dragging me off to some barren planet, she has another thing coming," Sev whispered with a sneer.
Lily frowned at Severus.
"You didn't have to take this class you know. You're in the Slytherin program. It's not required," Lily whispered.
Severus shrugged. Lily had still been contemplating the prospect of inviting Sev back to her room for a make out session. Tonight, Remus would be with Sirius, James and Peter to watching the Tech ball game. It could be a good opportunity.
Lily studied Sev's mouth with a fleeting glance. His lips were thin and very pale but she bet snogging him wouldn't be too bad.
"Oh, Sev. I was um… wondering if you wanted to visit my room to help me study tonight," Lily asked with a smile.
"What about Lupin?" Sev asked, looking serious.
"He's going to the Tech ball game," Lily answered.
"All right then," Sev replied, with a small grin.
The arena was humming and lit by a cool, blue light. Remus watched intently as the players appeared in the center of the dome-like room that was surrounded on all sides by a fence, outside of which were the numerous rows of seating.
It almost appeared as if the players were really there. Sirius was wrong… this was so much better than the Tech that made Binns appear. Binns was somewhere at the midpoint between opaque and translucent. The Tech ball players were at least eighty-percent opaque, and suffered far few glitches.
There were ten players in the arena, five on each team. They all hovered above the floor, using Anti-Grav Tech. Their uniforms were made by special Tech fibres that were designed to be light-weight, tightly fitting, serve as protective armour, while also being extremely flexible and providing ample oxygen to their skin. Both teams had silver uniforms with bright coloured lining; blue for one time and orange for the other. Their helmets featured insignia's, indicating their planet or region.
The eponymous Tech ball hovered in the center of the arena, a glowing, yellow ball made up entirely of curved lines. On either side of the teams there was a glowing, circular hoop. The one behind the blue team was orange, the one behind the orange team was blue. If Remus understood correctly, the goal was for a team to score ten points. That struck him as being an easy enough goal to reach.
A loud chime sounded and the players moved. Remus was shocked at how fast they moved, despite being in the air. A player from the orange team grabbed the ball and tossed it towards the orange hoop. A player from the blue team leapt up and kicked the ball hard back at the orange player, whom it hit with a flash of light after hitting the player's protective energy shield and bouncing off.
"That kicker was Catriona McCormack. She's been playing for Fidelius for years. She's brilliant," James said to them.
It was hard to notice many distinguishing features through their uniforms and helmets and consistently thin and lean figures, but Catriona had raven hair sticking out of the back of her helmet that Remus thought might make following her actions a little easier.
Remus noticed that both hoops had disappeared. His eyes searched for them but they couldn't be found.
"Where did the hoops go?" Remus asked.
"They move around. Makes it harder to score. See! There's the blue one," James said, pointing in the direction of the hoop, in the north of the arena.
A blue player had the ball and tossed it to Catriona who was the player closest to the hoop. Catriona grabbed the ball then tossed it with swift precision. The ball flew through the hoop, and both exploded with a burst of light.
The ball reappeared in the center of the room and the cycle continued. The blue team from Fidelius dominated the game with ferocity. The orange team, who James informed them was from one of the moon's of Alohomora, fought hard but appeared to be no match. It was obvious that the crowd was distinctly on the side of Fidelius, especially from their chants of "Catriona, Catriona, Catriona!"
Sirius said little during this time. Remus liked glancing at his face, so enthralled with the game. Once or twice he thought he saw what appeared to be Sirius sneaking a glance back at him but Remus dismissed it as merely being his imagination.
At an hour into the game another chime sounded, signifying the end of round one. There were three rounds, each lasting an hour with ten minute breaks in-between each round. At the end of round one, the blue team had three points while the orange team had one point.
The players mostly disappeared during the break as many of them left the arena during the break down on the planet below.
"So what do you think?" Sirius asked Remus with a large grin.
"Breathtaking. It's intense, isn't it? I'd say it's a damn good thing they have those shields," Remus said.
"But that's the thing! The shields don't last. They only get to charge them once before the game. If you take enough hits, your shield breaks and you're out of the game," James said.
Remus gawked at James with disbelief.
"But some of them have taken a lot of hits already!" Remus said.
"I know! We should see them dropping off pretty hard in round two. Even Catriona took a few hard blows from Alohomora's captain, Petra Porskoff," James said, and motioned a tall player who had remained behind and was currently stretching.
Remus steeled himself for what was likely to be an intense second round.
Lily sat at the top of her bed, typing onto her datapad while Sev narrated from the transmogrification texts on his datapad. She really did appreciate his help with studying. Lily might be hoping for a little bit of fun but she still considered herself to be honest and practical, when it mattered.
In any event, Sev hadn't picked up on anything yet, or if he had he wasn't letting on. When they had at last reached the end of the assigned chapter, Lily put down the datapad and moved down the bed, next to Sev.
"Well, if we're done I suppose I could head off to bed. And I imagine Lupin will be showing up soon," Severus said with a frown.
"Remus won't be back for a couple of hours. They've only just started the second round of the Tech ball game," Lily said, having made sure to find out exactly how long the game lasted ahead of time.
"Oh really?" Severus said as Lily scooted closer to him, barely pushing her thigh against his.
"Yeah," Lily said and turned to Sev, licking her lips.
Lily watched as Severus's bottom lip twitched, somehow seeming more enticing that it had when he was scowling in the classroom that morning. His black eyes searched her, seeming simultaneously, frightened, excited and confused.
Lily moved forward and pressed her lips softly into Sev's. Sev didn't move at first, seeming unsure. He reached a hand behind her and pulled her closer too him as his lips fumbled against hers clumsily. This was nothing like snogging Dorcas. Dorcas was warm and fun. Severus was cold and stiff. He also clearly had never snogged anyone before. Lily pulled away.
"You need to loosen up, Sev. Let your lips glide against mine," Lily said and pressed her lips back into his, letting their softness drift over his lips, sliding her tongue over her lips and briefly into his mouth as his lips parted.
She pulled away and Sev gasped.
"Where'd you learn that?" Sev demanded.
"Dorcas showed me!" Lily declared, happily.
Sev made a disgusted face.
"You and her?" Severus asked.
Lily smiled and nodded, unbothered by his apparent repulsion. He seemed annoyed but Lily really just wanted to get back to snogging. She leaned over, placing her hands on his sides and pressed her lips back into his. This time as her lips glided, his moved with them, in sync. He was catching on.
Lily moved in closer to Sev, sliding her hands down to his thighs. Sev's hands slid down to the small of her back, hovering just above her bottom. She could feel him breathing hot and hard into her mouth. She felt that charge again that she had felt with Dorcas. Lily's lips felt slightly swollen and her skin felt like it was on fire.
Lily spread her legs, then slid onto Sev's lap, pressing her torso flatly against his and wrapping her legs around his back. She could feel his heart pounding his chest as their mouths moved sensuously in unison.
Catriona McCormack slammed the ball into the chest of the orange team's captain, causing his shield to shatter in an explosion of orange light.
"Yes!" James called out.
Sirius clapped hard and turned to look at Remus who was also clapping.
"Incredible!" Peter sounded.
James clapped Peter on the shoulder and laughed. Sirius looked up at the holo-projected scoreboard. With only four players left, two from the blue and two from the orange, the score was blue team: seven, orange team: eight. The score was close and round three had only just begun.
Catriona moved around the room swiftly, waiting for a hoop to appear. Petra Porskoff chased her while their teammates grappled in the center.
An orange hoop appeared and the Petra leapt at the ball in Catriona's arms. Catriona dodged, spinning in mid-air to land in a crouch behind Petra, who rolled away.
A blue hoop appeared on the south side of the arena and Catriona ran hard in that direction.
"Go! Go!" Sirius called out, biting his lip in anticipation.
The orange player who was tied up with Catriona's remaining teammate, elbowed them hard in their chest twice, causing their shield to shatter in a blue burst as Catriona tossed the ball at the blue hoop with fury.
Sirius didn't know what to react to so he just cheered. Now the three players gathered in the center of the arena again. Catriona was two points down and all on her own against the two orange players.
"She's really in trouble, isn't she?" Sirius said with a panic.
"Don't worry, mate. Catriona's got this," James said and reached behind Remus and Peter to give Sirius a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
Sirius glanced at Remus who looked far too nervous and engrossed in the game to notice Sirius admiring him, even if it was brief.
Sirius's eyes went back to the game. Catriona crouched and looked ready to run. The chime sounded and she was off. One of the orange players reached the ball first and Sirius stood up and shouted "No!" as an orange hoop appeared near the player, allowing them to easily raise their score to nine.
"That's not fair!" Sirius said angrily, as he sat back down.
"It's random," James said, though he did looked worried.
"Someone rigged that! I'm telling you! There needs to be an immediate investigation! Some shady stuff happening out on Alohomora," Sirius declared.
"Well, one of their moons," James corrected.
"Whatever," Sirius said with a shrug, feeling annoyed.
The bell chimed again and this time Catriona didn't move. The orange players made it to the ball but with no hoop up and Catriona seemingly unmoving they seemed unsure what to do.
"What are you doing?" Petra, who had the ball, called out.
Catriona ignored her and crossed her arms. The other orange player shrugged and charged Catriona. A blue hoop appeared on the east side of the arena and Petra ran in the opposite direction.
The charging player bent down, clearly intent on hammering into Catriona and breaking her shield and possibly his own. Just as he arrived at Catriona's position she swiftly did a back flip then turned and swept him off his feet. He landed hard beside her and she stomped on his chest, shattering his shield.
"Yes!" Remus said under his breath, pumping his fist.
Sirius smiled at him and Remus smiled back. For a moment they held each other's gaze before Sirius looked away, feeling embarrassed.
An orange hoop appeared right behind Catriona. Petra screamed and charged at Catriona. Once she was in range she tossed the ball hard, throwing all of her weight behind it as she fell down, sliding on her belly in mid-air. Catriona leapt up high, and Sirius felt his entire body tense as the ball carried on a trajectory straight for the center of the orange hoop.
Catriona's fingertips hit the ball and her hand curved and wrapped around it as her body was pushed backwards back with the force. The orange hoop disappeared as Petra got to her feet and ran at Catriona.
Next to Sirius, Remus was crouched over, looking twice as tense as Sirius felt. Sirius had an urge to lean over and wrap an arm around Remus but resisted.
Blue and orange hoops appeared, near each other, on the far north end of the arena. Catriona got to her feet and growled loudly, dashing towards the hoops. Petra moved to stand directly between Catriona and the hoops. She was larger than Catriona and was likely banking on Catriona's shield possibly not being able to withstand another blow.
As Catriona reached the Petra she leaned hard to the right. The player mirrored Catriona's movement as Catriona swiftly reversed her movement to the left, charging forward and glancing off the Petra's shoulder, sending her spinning to the ground as Catriona tossed the ball into the blue hoop, tying the score at nine each.
"Shit!" Petra screamed as the crowd cheered.
Remus cheered and slapped Sirius on the shoulder. Sirius laughed and slapped Remus back, feeling a rush even from a touch like that.
"This is it lads! Last ball. Either someone's shield will break, someone will score or the time will run out and it will be a tie," James said.
"I can't believe it! My heart is racing," Peter said.
"Hold on there, mate. Catriona's got this. I'm telling you!" James said, though his face looked far from sure.
Sirius wondered what the two players would do. One or both of them might choose to see who could break the other's shield the quickest, though that struck Sirius as a dirty tactic. It would seem wrong for the game to not be decided by a proper winning shot.
The bell chimed as the ball appeared. Both hoops appeared, the blue in the south, the orange in the north. Both players ran to the ball. Sirius was astounded at the endurance they both had. He got winded if he had to run more than thirty seconds.
Petra grabbed the ball and ran at the orange hoop with Catriona fast on her heels. Sirius was filled with dread. He didn't see how Catriona could stop her. Petra threw the ball at the hoop and Sirius heard Remus howl in shock as Catriona tackled Petra from behind right as the ball left her hand. The ball flew through the air before missing the hoop by mere inches and flying back to the center of the room for having flown out of bounds.
The players pulled themselves up and ran at the ball. Catriona arrived first but the hoops disappeared. Catriona ran eastward, away from the center and looked around the room wildly. A blue hoop appeared right behind her but she didn't notice.
The crowd screamed and Catriona finally saw it right as Petra dove towards her. Catriona dove backwards, tossing the ball behind her head. The ball arced through the air and went right through the center of the hoop. The hoop exploded in blue and the crowd erupted.
All four boys stood up and cheered, clapping each other on the backs. James hugged Peter, then Remus and Peter hugged while James and Sirius hugged. Finally, Remus gave Sirius a shy smile and they embraced. Sirius felt himself stop breathing as Remus held him tightly. He was amazed out how strong Remus was for his size. He held Sirius firm but comfortably.
After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds, Remus pulled away and Sirius hugged Peter. Sirius felt a rush of emotions and he realised that this was an evening that he would never forget, smiling fondly at his four friends, most of all at Remus.
Remus walked back over to Sirius, leaned into his ear to say, "When is the next game?"
Lily Evans squirmed on top of Severus Snape as his hands caressed her back, through her uniform. Her bosom felt heavier than he had expected, pressed hard against his chest. His lips felt numb from all the kissing. Her mouth had tasted sweet, like honey.
He had imagined what this moment would be like, how it would happen, but he always thought that he would be the one to seduce her, that he'd be able to win her over and convince her of his obvious value.
Severus slyly slid his hands down to her bottom and squeezed it through the skirt of her school uniform. Lily giggled into his mouth then pulled away and sucked on his neck again. Severus moaned and longed for relief for the discomfort in his trousers. If he could just have her, wholly and completely then she would be his and she wouldn't pay another thought to that rich hooligan, James Potter.
"Lily… Lily can we?" Severus said and began to reach underneath her skirt.
Lily quickly pulled away from his neck and said, "No."
Severus stopped, not wanting to ruin the moment.
"Are you sure… I just…" Severus started but wasn't sure how to finish.
Lily smiled down at him, her dark red hair falling all around her face. Her lips were a much darker shade of pink than normal and green eyes seemed more bright and brilliant than ever.
"Sorry, Sev. I'm not sure I'm ready for that," Lily said, offering no other explanation.
Dammit, Severus thought. He was so close to ensuring the inevitable.
"That's all right," Severus said.
"Really? Great," Lily said and playfully pressed brushed her lips against his with a giggle.
"Sure," Severus said.
Severus looked at the time on the clock in the center of the room. It was late. He may as well go. This had been fun but if nothing further was going to happen, he could get some sleep instead.
Lily kissed his cheek as he started to pull away.
"Where are you going?" Lily asked as Severus rolled out from under her.
"I have an early class," Severus said.
"So do I," Lily said.
"I haven't been sleeping well," Severus lied.
"Oh. Well… OK, then. Rest up," Lily said.
Severus smiled at her then quickly shuffled out of the room, hoping he wouldn't bump into anyone in the hallway.
Chapter 6: Weekend Vacation
James Potter was getting antsy. The boys should've been here already. If he was going to pull this thing off, being caught was not an option and it was still was early enough that no one would notice until it was too late.
Peter finally came dashing into the docking bay with Remus and Sirius right behind him.
"We're here!" Pete said as he arrived in front of James, panting hard.
"Sorry!" Remus said.
"Yeah," Sirius added.
"It was McGonagall. She wanted to know what we were doing out of bed. Sirius made up some really amazing lies on the spot and saved our arses," Peter said with a smile at Sirius.
"Brilliant, lads! Well… this is it," James said, turning around and opening his arms at the round ship that was behind him.
"It's a ship," Remus observed, flatly.
"Yes!" James said, turning back to his friends with a huge grin.
"It looks like like a deflated ball. What about it?" Sirius asked.
"It's ours! Well, mine but only technically!" James said proudly.
"None of us have pilot licenses. In fact, we can't get them until we are sixteen. And how did you even get that into the dock?" Remus asked.
James sighed and shrugged.
"I can't say that I care about not having a license. I know how to pilot a ship. Actually, I'm a bloody good pilot," James said, chuckled at himself then continued, "As for how I got it here… I pulled some favours and you'd really be surprised what you can manage when you have enough money to through at a problem. As far as the school knows this ship is just making routine deliveries."
"But that's only going to work once, isn't it? If we fly it they'll know and they'll take it away. We'll be expelled," Sirius said with a frown.
"No, I'll be expelled," Peter said and everyone turned to look at him.
Peter sighed then said, "Think about it: Remus is close to the princess. She can protect him. Sirius is practically royalty himself. And you, James… your family really does have enough money to pay their way out of any problem."
James looked at Peter. He looked sad and dejected. James stepped forward and placed hands on Peter's shoulders.
"Look at me," James said and Peter slowly looked up at him.
"Whatever protection we all have will extend to you. I don't think we'll get expelled. We might get a lengthy lecture from McGonagall and detention for a week… or two. But the galaxy needs people who know how to use Tech. The demand far outweighs the supply," James said and gave Peter a small smile.
Peter slowly smiled back at him.
"All right. All right! When do we leave?" Peter said.
"Now!" James said and ran towards the ship.
"Now?" Remus called.
"Definitely. We'll pop down to Fidelius for a weekend vacation and be back by Merday morning. I've never been to Fidelius. I've heard it's nice during Harvest," James said.
"Beautiful," Remus said.
James entered a code into a panel. The loading bay opened, revealing a ramp. The ship was a bit old, having been built at the end of the last war but James was confident it could be repaired. He could've paid for a new ship but he decided he'd want to make enough upgrades that it wouldn't make much sense when he could buy something cheaper that would be easier to modify than newer ships often were.
James walked up the ramp and into the ship proper. The boys followed in behind him and James quickly closed the ramp. He ran to the front end of the ship and slipped into the pilot seat. He entered some codes into the primary control panel to turn on the ship's various systems.
The boys arrived behind him. Peter took the other front seat. With some training they could learn to assist him but for now he would have to manage control of the ship by himself. Remus and Sirius took the seats behind them and everyone buckled in.
"All I have to do is send the docking bay control a code and they'll assume my delivery is complete and we'll be free to go. If we're lucky they might not notice we're gone," James said.
"What if our friends notice we are missing? Lily will notice when I'm not in bed tonight," Remus said.
James cringed. He hadn't thought about that.
"Hopefully, Lily won't worry too much," James said.
"I don't think my roommate likes me. He'll probably just be glad that I'm not around," Peter admitted.
The ship thrummed as the engines engaged. James pushed the button to send the code. A green light quickly flashed on and he sighed with relief. He pulled a lever and the ship lifted off as the gate to the docking bay opened, letting them drift into space.
James steered the ship around the curve of the moon and headed towards the green planet below, his heart pounding and his stomach fluttering.
When Lily woke up she was surprised not to find Remus in bed. Every couple of months, almost like clockwork, Remus disappeared for a night. At first he had been cagey about where he was going those nights but when he was finally pressed he admitted to Lily that he was helping Dumbledore with some filing.
It sounded like a lie but Lily decided if Remus was lying about something it must be important. She had lived around scheming aristocrats too long not to know that some secrets are dangerous.
But Remus definitely slept in their room last night. He had mentioned something about having plans with James and the boys today but she assumed there must be a Tech Ball game.
Lily checked her datapad for the Tech Ball schedule. The next game wasn't until Guinsday. Remus definitely wasn't doing anything Tech Ball related today. Lily sighed and scrolled through panels on her datapad until she found the connections tab and tried to connect to Dorcas's datapad.
A moment later, Dorcas appeared, putting her hair into a ponytail.
"Morning, Lils," Dorcas said with a smile.
"Hello, Dorcas. Is there something happening today?" Lily asked.
"Not that I know of. I was just about to contact you. New holo-movie has arrived at the school. It's about robots falling in love. Sounds trashy," Dorcas said then chuckled as she slid her glasses on her face.
"I'm worried about Remus," Lily said.
"Do you want to look for him? I mean, the station is big but it's not that bloody big," Dorcas said.
"Yes. Yes, I think I do," Lily said.
"I'll be there soon," Dorcas said.
Dorcas was there ten minutes later. Dorcas, had a habit of punctuality and making appointments as fast as possible, no matter how short the notice. She claimed it was anxiety and a perpetual fear of tardiness causing problems.
Lily and Dorcas quickly searched the obvious places: all the passageways, the holo-theaters, the great hall and finally the docking bay. There was no sign of Remus anywhere.
"He's not here, Dorcas. Remus isn't on the station!" Lily said, as a transport ship landed inside the docking bay.
"What do you mean he's not here? Of course, he's here! He has to be! No student can leave Hogwarts Academy during the school year unless it's an emergency!" Dorcas said.
"Yes, but Remus has some sort of connection with Dumbledore. They know each other. Dumbledore was the one who got him into the school in the first place. Maybe he's gone with him for some reason," Lily said.
Just then the transport ship opened it's doors. A single person exited the ship. She was medium height with light brown skin and short, messy, brown hair. She looked serious and tough. The way she walked gave off an air of confidence and strength. Lily found her immediately entrancing.
She was already wearing a school uniform, though it was the weekend and they weren't actually required. Lily had an immediate urge to run up and say hello to her but she felt oddly intimidated. The girl didn't look mean, in fact she smiled at the pilot of the transport when she stepped out but she did look like someone who might not suffer fools gladly.
"Lils? Lils! Are you listening?" Dorcas said, tapping Lily on the shoulder.
Lily hadn't been listening it turned out. All of her focus was on the new girl who was rapidly approaching them.
Compulsively Lily said, "Hi!" right as the girl arrived. Lily cursed herself internally. The girl smiled and looked down at the floor the way Dorcas did sometimes, before looking back up and replying, "Hi. I'm Mary. Mary MacDonald," the girl said.
"I'm Lily," Lily said, feeling suddenly weak and flushed but somehow adding, "Welcome to Hogwarts!"
The corner of Mary's mouth curved up in a half smile and she said, "Cheers."
Mary walked through the entrance into the school while Lily watched, transfixed.
"Wonder how she managed to get into the school mid-term?" Dorcas said, startling Lily.
Lily turned towards Dorcas and frowned.
"You didn't introduce yourself," Lily said.
Dorcas bit her lip and shook her head.
"I figure if she didn't ask, she didn't care to find out," Dorcas said, looking ashamed.
Lily put a hand on Dorcas's chin and lifted up her head.
"Don't be ridiculous," Lily said.
Dorcas smiled then shook her head.
"So what do we do about Remus?" Dorcas asked.
"I'm not sure. My guess is if he's gone missing then it must be important. If he's not back tomorrow then I'll contact Dumbledore or something. It's probably none of my business," Lily said, then gestured back into the school with a hand.
Lily and Dorcas went back into the school, while Lily desperately hoped she was going to have class with Mary MacDonald.
Remus stepped off the ship and looked around at the forest that surrounded them. They were in the middle of the part of Fidelius that was essentially on the other side of planet from the palace. He knew little about it personally and had certainly never been anywhere near there.
"This is the Great Eastern Forest. This is Muggle country, exclusively in fact. When Queen Caelia moved the capital to Fidelius hundreds of years ago, she allowed the Muggles who had been restricted to a district of the capital the freedom to go wherever they wanted and offered them this land to live in," Remus said.
"So there's no Tech here?" James asked.
Remus turned, smiled and nodded.
"Yes. It's kind of amazing," Remus said.
"Who would want to live without Tech? I mean I can understand if you don't understand it, but it makes things easier… more interesting," Sirius said.
"But you see, Sirius, they didn't start avoiding Tech for no reason," Remus said, finding a tree to lean against.
James closed the ship up and locked it down. At least in the Great Eastern Forest, no one was likely to mess with it. Peter sat down on a large stone and Sirius mirrored Remus by leaning against a tree.
"Yes, it was all because people thought they knew better than Arthur and Merlin," Sirius said with a sneer.
"That's not true at all," Remus said.
"Then what is the truth?" Sirius asked.
"The truth is that Arthur didn't want to give anyone a choice. He wasn't going to force them to accept the use of Tech but if they wouldn't comply he was fine with letting them suffer and starve. He denied aid. He stood back and watched as famine consumed them and disease decimated them. He argued that he would've had to use Tech to help them but that was a lie. He wanted them to beg for Tech to save them. Some did. Others didn't."
"Whoever survived has left the people of this land as ancestors. They aren't eschewing Tech for the sake of it… it's part of a complicated heritage that they can't just throw away," Remus said.
Sirius looked down at the leaf covered forest floor, seeming ashamed. Remus couldn't blame Sirius for not understanding. His family were all Tech, all the way back and Remus had heard nothing but dreadful things about them. As far as he was concerned, Sirius was one of the good ones.
"Harvest is a bit cooler than I expected," James observed, probably hoping to break the tension.
"We're entering the third month of Harvest. It's going to get cold these next few weeks," Remus said, as he felt a cool breeze pass through the trees.
"Well, what do we do now?" Peter asked, looking around at them all curiously.
"Let's explore," James said.
"What if we get lost?" Peter countered.
"Relax, mate. I've programmed this mini-pad to memorise the location of the ship. It will also take down basic details about the terrain we cover to actually provide an exact path back to the ship," James said with a smile.
"That's amazing. Where did you find that Tech?" Remus asked.
"Find it? I invented it," James said.
"That's brilliant," Remus admitted.
"Obviously… I mean… cheers!" James said and laughed.
The four boys grouped together and started walking north from the ship. For a while, there was nothing but trees and the small creatures who occupied the forest. They all remained silent and just took the presence of nature surrounding him.
Remus always liked trees. Something about them felt comforting. He used to stand outside of his home on the palace grounds and stare out at the forest and wonder what was there. His parents were afraid to let him explore. If he were to get lost and undergo the transformation there was no telling what damage he might've been able to do.
The fear that he would transform and escape was always a great one. There were many who were children during the last war that could still remember the wolf soldiers and the terror and atrocities they had caused. When Remus was a child his parents had barely wanted to let him out of the house and when they did it was never without supervision.
When he was twelve he convinced them to let him go outside and work unsupervised. When at thirteen Princess Lily Evans showed up on her hover bike and wanted to take him to the palace Remus believed there was no way they would let him go. He wasn't sure why they had agreed but they had done so without a fight. Perhaps, they felt they mustn't say no to the family that let them live on the palace grounds.
Remus could scarcely believe that had been nearly three years ago. Soon he would be sixteen. In most parts of the galaxy he would be consider a man at sixteen. Adulthood seem a strange, vague concept. He wondered if there was just a day when you finally woke up and suddenly felt like you were an adult. Or maybe it was all a lie and you never felt like an adult.
In some ways, the reality of his transformations and years of working out in the sun, helping his parents with their gardening made him feel like he had already been an adult. Right now in the forest with his friends he felt the freedom of an adult and the wonder of a child. Maybe life a never-ending transition to the next stage. Adulthood was a legal concept that said nothing about how you felt inside.
At sixteen he would be free to make all of his own choices. He would no longer require his parents consent or approval. But what did it really matter? There would always be limitations and until school was over he had no actual way of caring for himself. But school wouldn't be over until he was twenty, well past the point of adulthood by even the most conservative outer-rim planets's standards.
Remus sighed privately and decided to think about this again after his birthday.
The boys walked north for a couple of hours. Remus's legs tired. They all spoke surprisingly little. There was something majestic and startlingly real about the great forest. He could see how their eyes roamed about, so wide it seemed like they were afraid they might miss something.
Finally, the boys came upon a woman who was camping. She was cooking some sort of stew in a pot over a fire when they approached.
"Hello! Don't be shy, lads," the woman said.
She was a short, plump woman with long dirty, blonde hair. She wore what his parents might've referred to as 'rags' but upon closer inspection he could see that her garments were dirty but very well constructed.
"Have a bite if ye'd like," she said.
"Cheers," James said and they all grabbed bowls and spoons that she offered.
"I always make extra just in case someone happens by. Terrible thing to get lost in these woods without food," she said.
"I can imagine," Sirius said and Remus realised that he hadn't spoke since their discussion about Muggles earlier.
They all silently sat around the fire, all probably just as afraid of her asking questions as they were afraid of asking her questions.
"You lads aren't Muggles, are you?" the woman observed.
"No, we aren't," Remus admitted.
"Based on your age and your dress, I'm guessing that you're from the school that's floating up there by the moon," the woman said, pointing to the sky.
"We are," James said.
The woman snickered.
"I'm guessing you're not meant to be down here?"
The boys all looked nervously and cringed. The woman burst out laughing.
"Don't worry, lads. Even if I felt inclined to inform your school where you are, and I'm not, I can't. There's no Tech in this forest. Nearest village with Tech is days away west of the forest and I've certainly never been there. It's not a simple path and I've no need of Tech," the woman said.
Remus was desperately hoping none of the other boys would ask her strange, probing questions about being a Muggle. Anything they wanted to know, he could probably tell them himself, having been essentially raised as a Muggle himself.
The woman did tell them her name and her history. She came from a village in the south of the forest and regularly made the trek to the larger village in the north to trade goods. She was fifty and had never been married or had children. She had been born into a small family as an only child. Her parents had died when she was a teenager and she had cared for herself ever since.
They never had to ask her about being a Muggle. She didn't explain things exactly that way but it was easy to see how different her life was. Even Remus, had always assumed that living life the Muggle way, free of Tech was harder but he was amazed at all the alternatives they had developed for handling problems. It was extraordinary. He had been wrong to compare his own parents to Muggles. He had never realised how affected by Tech even their lives were.
An hour passed and they had long since finished the stew. They could tell that the woman appreciated company. Her life sounded lonely, though it seemed in many ways she preferred it that way.
"Well, I must be heading further north. Shan't be reaching the next village 'till nightfall. It was nice meeting ye lads," the woman said, smiling warmly at them all.
After she was gone the boys wondered what to do next.
"We could go north and find out what the village is like. We could even stay there over night," James said.
"The ship has proper cabins… and heating. And it looked like there were rations," Peter said.
"There are rations. That's true. But where's your sense of adventure Pete?" James said, winking at Peter.
"I'm afraid I must agree with Peter. We should consider heading back to the ship. It will be dark by the time we arrive," Remus said.
James looked displeased. He turned to Sirius, perhaps searching for some support but Sirius shook his head. James sighed and said, "Well, let's be off then."
As they walked south, following the path set out for them on James's mini-pad, the sun slowly set. Remus was watching for the moon. He hadn't had a need to do since being at Hogwarts. The moon was always there, right next to them. But down here a full moon meant an almost guaranteed transformation that he wouldn't be able to stop.
As they arrived at the ship Remus was relieved to see that the moon wasn't full that night, though it would be within two nights, most likely.
The boys went inside the ship, all of them yawning. It was decided that they would sleep there that night and take off again in the morning, to find another part of Fidelius to explore for a day.
There were only two cabins in the ship. Remus crashed in cabin two, flopping face first onto a bunk. He was shocked to find out it was actually more comfortable than the bunks at school.
"Hey," Sirius said, startling Remus.
"Hey," Remus said, nervously.
"Looks like James and Peter have the other cabin," Sirius said then, pulled off his shirt then walked in the room and sat on the other bunk.
"Oh," Remus said, feeling his heart start to pound, his eyes not knowing whether it was OK to check out Sirius's bare torso or not.
"I'm uh… sorry about earlier. The stuff about Muggles. I was wrong," Sirius said, his grey eyes looking hopeful.
"Don't worry about it," Remus said and gave Sirius a small smile.
Remus finally let his eyes glance over Sirius's chest. Sirius was filling out nicely. He had seemed thin when they first met. There was a hint of light black hairs covering his chest. He was very pale, but that wasn't surprising given he had lived in space his whole life. Remus licked his lips then looked away, wondering if Sirius had noticed.
"Well, umm… lights out I guess," Sirius said.
"Yeah… lights out," Remus said and stood off the bed then flipped the switch.
Remus dropped back down on the bed with a thump. He yawned and pulled the blanket over himself. The ship's heating system filled the room with just the right amount of warmth. Remus tried hard not to think about the close presence of Sirius Black nearby.
Remus tried to desperately get comfortable. He knew he should be comfortable. The bed was definitely both softer and more firm than the ones at school or even his bed at home for that matter. Only the beds at the palace rivaled it in his very limited experience.
The problem was Sirius Black. He was at best two meters away, shirtless, his tall form stretched out over the bunk. The notion was intoxicating and Remus felt hot, nervous and frustrated. He tried to think about anything else but there wasn't any use.
He wondered if Sirius was sleeping. He was silent. Was Sirius the type to snore when he slept? Did he talk in his sleep? Maybe, he was the type to fall asleep quickly and sleep good, long and hard. Remus grunted, in frustration.
"You too?" Sirius said, and Remus shuddered in surprise.
"Yeah," Remus said.
"These bunks weren't made with a tall person in mind, I think," Sirius said.
Remus wasn't at all tall enough for that to be problem. The beds seem perfectly suited for him.
"This bed is sort of perfect for me. I just can't relax," Remus said.
"Should I leave? I could go sleep in the galley," Sirius said.
"No," Remus said as Sirius started to lift up off the bed.
Even in the dark, Remus could see Sirius's dark hair partially obscuring his face, revealing a hint of his grey eyes. What light there was coming in from outside the cabin door, was enough to see the muscles of Sirius's back flexing and straining as he lowered himself back down.
Dammit, Remus thought and shifted his pelvis uncomfortably. He definitely wasn't going to get any sleep like this.
Both boys went silent again. Remus simultaneously wished he was alone so he could get some relief but also relished Sirius's presence. After a while, Sirius began to lightly snore and sometime later yet Remus must've fallen asleep because there was a knock at their cabin door.
Remus and Sirius both grunted. Sirius was up from the bed, still without a shirt, and opened the door with a push of a button. James was standing there, looking panicked.
"Lads, we have a problem," James said.
"What?" Remus said, covering his face with a pillow as the light poured into the room.
"The engines won't start. I can't move the ship. We're stuck," James said.
Dorcas appeared on Lily's datapad and immediately looked concerned.
"What's the matter?" Dorcas asked.
"Remus never showed up yesterday. I haven't heard anything. What if he got expelled?" Lily said.
"Then he'd get shipped back to the palace, wouldn't he?" Dorcas asked.
"That's what I thought. I contacted the palace and there hasn't been a transport in days," Lily said.
"It's probably nothing, Lils. Do you really think Remus would leave the school without saying goodbye? You're his best mate!" Dorcas said and crossed her arms.
Lily sighed then bit her lip.
"Something feels wrong about this Dorcas. I know something isn't right," Lily declared.
"Then what do you intend to do?" Dorcas asked.
"Dumbledore is probably busy. I'll track down McGonagall and see if she knows anything. I can't stand the thought that something terrible has happened to Remus," Lily said and disconnected the datapad.
Chapter 7: Fear of the Wolf
"Don't be ridiculous, Remus!" James said, trying to keep himself from shouting.
"I'm not! I have to stay here in the ship. You must understand," Remus said, his face desperately pleading.
"Obviously, I don't understand," James confessed.
"Nor do I, Remus," Sirius said.
Remus looked back and forth between them, seeming on the verge of panic. Sirius stepped forward and placed his hands on Remus's shoulders. Remus looked up at Sirius, his brown eyes shining and fearful.
"Help us understand," Sirius said, then removed his hands and stepped back.
James resisted the urge to smile at the brief touch. He deliberately asked Peter to share a room with him last night to ensure Remus and Sirius would have to bunk together. Even if things were likely to never work out with him and Lily Evans at least he could help to nudge his friends together. They might not be able to see the way they looked at each other but he sure as hell could.
"One of us should stay with the ship," Remus said.
James shook his head.
"We've already established that's not going to work. There's only enough rations for another day or two as it is and we're going to have to take some with us when we go to search for the village the woman told us about. Life support will drain the ship of its power and getting it recharged might be difficult," James said.
Remus looked frightened and defeated. Why the fear? What was he afraid of?
"Remus, I don't know what it is that you are afraid of, but I can tell you that no harm will come to you. I swear to it," James said and placed a hand over his heart.
"That's not what I'm afraid of," Remus said and looked away.
James realised it might be time for a little tough love.
"I don't care what you're afraid of, mate. I can't leave you here alone. If something were to happen to you… Dammit, this is all my fault! This was my idea. I rushed into it. I should've made sure the engine was fine. If something happens to you because I leave you here, it's on me. How could I show my face at Hogwarts again?" James said, also privately wondering what Lily Evans would think about him getting her best friend killed.
James wiped a tear from his left eye and turned and walked away, feeling more tears welling up in his eyes.
"OK," Remus said.
James turned back around, feeling shocked. After the back and forth for the last half hour, Remus was really just giving up?
"Are you sure?" James said.
"No. It's a bad idea, but perhaps I have no choice," Remus said then got up and walked out of the galley, back towards the cabins.
James looked over at Sirius. Sirius shrugged but looked sad.
"Come on, lads. We need to get moving. It may be a long walk to the next village to the north," James said.
Mary MacDonald was facing out of the giant windows that graced the entrance to Hogwarts Academy, her hands behind her back. Lily had been glancing at her on and off for at least ten minutes. Mary didn't move. Ostensibly, Lily was just hanging out around the entrance and hoping that Remus would show up. No such luck, so far.
McGonagall, it turned out was off station today and Dumbledore was busy doing work for her parents, leaving Lily no choice but to wait for one of them to return tomorrow. More troubling was that she had now realised that Sirius, James and Peter didn't appear to be around either. She even tried to contact Sirius's datapad and there was no one there. Where the devil could they be?
Lily glanced over at Mary again. She wondered if she should go ahead and go over to talk to her. She was at a loss for the moment on what do about Remus. She sighed, then fumbled with her hair, wondering if it looked all right, before she stood up and walked over to Mary. There was something interesting about her that Lily couldn't resist.
"Hi," Lily said, feeling nervous.
"Hi," Mary said, and smiled to Lily's surprise.
"Couldn't help but notice you standing here. All those stars just going on forever… Amazing isn't it?" Lily said.
"I didn't know there were so many," Mary said, looking slightly ashamed.
"Where are you from?" Lily asked.
"Levicorpus. It's… very far from here," Mary said.
"I'm afraid I've never heard of it," Lily admitted.
Mary frowned but nodded.
"I'm not surprised. We have no resources for anyone to trade or exploit. We are poor and can't afford to build our own ships. All the Tech we have is from before the last war," Mary said.
"I'm sorry," Lily said, feeling awful.
"The war never came to Levicorpus. Most of the planet lives in a single large city as so much of the rest is a barren wasteland. It was founded by one of Arthur's knights, probably. He moved his people there and isolated them from the rest of Arthur's galactic kingdom," Mary said.
"I suppose my question is… well, it's none of my business, I'm sorry," Lily said and turned to leave.
"No. Stay. It's fine," Mary said and Lily turned to her.
Mary smiled. Lily's eyes were entranced by her lips purple-tinged lips that looked full and soft. She licked her own lips and struggled to remember what she was trying to say before.
"I… what I wanted to ask was how it was that you came to come to Hogwarts. Most students here either qualified with excellent test scores through their school or had parents who could afford to buy their way in," Lily said.
The truth was that Lily's parents had all the money and power that anyone could imagine but Lily had insisted on earning her position as she thought it was only fair.
Mary frowned at Lily's question then bit her lip before sighing.
"I lied when I said my planet had no resources. It does have resources… workers. Young, healthy and strong workers like me who have grown up willing to do almost anything to survive," Mary said.
"But why would the royal government go that far out just for workers? It's not like we have a shortage," Lily said, almost to herself.
"You'd be shocked at what a difference true desperation makes. You wouldn't believe the things my people do… the things I've done… the things I've had to do. Two years ago a royal military ship arrived out of nowhere. The captain was there to hire and train soldiers. Special top-secret government project. He grabbed teenagers, including me," Mary said.
Lily stared at her, horrified. Mary's face seemed distant and haunted.
"I was fourteen and being trained. For what, I may never know. The captain terrified me, though others admired him. He was tall, thin and pale. Very charismatic. He had a way of making people want to do whatever he requested and he requested a great deal," Mary said.
"What… what did he train you to do exactly?" Lily asked, afraid of the answer.
Mary scoffed and shook her head.
"What didn't he train us to do? He trained us how to fight. He trained us how to manipulate and steal. He trained us how to be ruthless. He trained us how to use Tech to our advantage and he taught us about living Tech. He even… experimented on us," Mary said, looking sad.
Lily's mouth hung open but she was afraid to speak.
"I still don't know what he did to me. I would go to sleep in my own bed then wake up later in their lab. I've been told the doctor at the school might be able to help me," Mary said.
"Madam Pomfrey is excellent and very respected," Lily said and Mary nodded.
"After a relentless year of training he just… he left. He didn't say anything or tell us when to expect him again. After he was gone… no one knew how to move on. We had been trained as some sort of soldiers, but were never told what for. Finally, nearly a year later, a shuttle arrived. A man named Malfoy said that anyone who had been trained by the Captain were welcome to take passage with him and be relocated to safer worlds," Mary said.
"The only thing I wanted… the only things I've ever wanted was to study Tech and to play Tech ball. We don't have any way to watch current games but we still have old recordings. I've dreamed of playing since I was a child. So I asked Malfoy if I could come to Hogwarts. He said he could pull some strings… and here I am."
"But won't the captain… won't he come for you?" Lily asked, feeling terrified.
How could this possibly be happening in her kingdom?
"Yes. But he won't take me without a fight," Mary declared.
Lily suddenly realised that she might be able to inform her parents that a captain was involved in some shady, almost certainly illegal dealings.
"The captain… what was his name?" Lily asked.
"I don't know. He used another name. He didn't want anyone using his real name. He said we should just call him… the name even creeps me out. I almost feel afraid of saying it… Voldemort," Mary said, making a disgusted face.
Lily shook her head. The name wasn't familiar.
"Well, Mary, if I… if there's anything I can do to help I'd be glad to," Lily said and smiled brightly.
Mary raised a dark eyebrow and said, "What could you do?"
"Umm… well, I'm very um… knowledgeable," Lily stammered.
She couldn't tell her that she was a princess yet. Mary might not have such a positive view of royalty or the government given what she had gone through.
"Oh… well, cheers. I think I'll be fine but I appreciate the offer," Mary said, giving what appeared to be a sincere smile.
"Well, I guess I'll be going now," Lily said and started to walk away.
"Wait," Mary said and Lily turned around to find Mary nearly right behind her.
Lily held her breath and gazed helplessly into Mary's amber eyes.
"Have you eaten? I'm famished. Would you like to join me for lunch?" Mary said.
Lily exhaled and nodded.
"Yeah. That'd be great," Lily said and they headed off to the great hall together.
Sirius wished he knew what to say to Remus as they headed north. If he just understood what Remus was thinking then perhaps he could offer some sort of advice. But as it was he knew nothing and therefore had nothing he could tell him. Remus hadn't spoken a word since they left the ship. He was cold and distant.
Sirius they knew were all nervous. It would be a miracle if they found a way back to the school without anyone noticing. Most likely they would have to find a way to contact the school to retrieve them. Sirius wasn't sure what would happen to them next but it would be a disaster. Sirius did feel like privilege would still keep them in place but it was no guarantee.
Sirius wiped sweat from his forehead. It was unusually warm for a late Harvest day. The normally grey overcast sky was blue and the sun was shining down through the trees.
The northern village proved to be much further away than they had anticipated. After walking for five hours they still hadn't arrived even though they had long since passed the spot where they had encountered the woman who they had met the day before. Sirius appreciated even more how far she traveled. After all this time he felt hot, sticky and ready to collapse.
When they spotted the pond beneath the waterfall Sirius was certain he was hallucinating from the heat.
"Look!" Peter yelled and ran straight for it.
James immediately ran after Peter. Sirius looked over at Remus and shrugged then ran too, hoping Remus would follow.
The pond was circular and at least ten meters wide, the water being provided for it by a waterfall which was itself the end of a stream. A smaller stream jutted out on the south-eastern side of the pond sending the water to the east.
"I told you I heard running water!" Peter said, proudly.
"Well spotted, Pete," James said, patting him on the back.
James quickly pulled his shirt off and tossed it aside.
"I'm going for a swim, lads. Care to join me?" James said, as he proceeded to remove his shoes.
James then continued to remove his trousers and without a care he removed his pants as well. James laughed, as Sirius averted his eyes away from James's bare bottom in embarrassment and James hopped into the pond with a splash.
Peter was also quickly removing his clothes. Sirius shrugged and quickly removed his own and leapt in right after Peter. The water was startlingly cold and the fact that he had been hot before became immediately irrelevant.
Remus remained standing watching and holding the supply pack that he had requested he carry.
"Are you going to join us, Remus?" James called out.
Remus shook his head.
"Are you sure? The water is great. You must be hot!" Peter said.
"No one will look at your willy, if that's what you're worried about," James said.
"I'm not worried about that," Remus said, seeming honest.
Sirius did think it would be good for Remus to relax and have a swim but he didn't want to force him into it. Remus finally set the supply pack down and slowly pulled off his shirt, looking ashamed. He stood there for a moment, arms across his chest before slowly removing them.
Sirius could see the cause of Remus's fear: his torso was covered with scars that looked like they had been caused by some sort of wild animal. Sirius realised that he was probably gawking and turned away.
"Remus?" James said, sounding worried.
"I… I was attacked when I was a kid. It was a long time ago. Almost no one has ever seen my scars," Remus admitted.
"No worries here, mate. No one is going to laugh at you or act disgusted, I promise," James said then gave Sirius and Peter a stern look of warning.
Peter and Sirius both nodded and said, "Yeah," in confirmation. Remus smiled and relaxed. Sirius, on the other hand, was admiring the form of Remus's chest. It was easy to see that Remus had been working out in the field for years. He was a much darker shade of pale than Sirius and his chest had obvious weight on it, some of which was muscle definition. He looked quite healthy and very attractive.
Remus swiftly yanked off his trousers and his pants then ran towards the pond. Sirius did sneak a quick, subtle glance between Remus's thighs then blushed and looking away, thankful that Remus didn't notice.
Remus dove into the water and Sirius was stunned to realise that he could swim.
"You can swim!" Sirius said.
"Of course, I can. Lily took me swimming at the palace and shared her instructor with me," Remus said with a proud grin.
If Sirius had wanted to learn to swim his parents probably would've laughed in his face. He felt an odd sort of envy, even knowing how much worse Remus had it growing up compared to him.
The boys must've laughed, played and swim in the pond for what seemed like at least an hour to Sirius. He knew that they were probably wasting valuable time, but why shouldn't they make the best out of this bad situation?
"I guess we should pack it in, lads. If we're lucky we'll reach the village before dark," James said.
There looked to be two hours of sunlight left at best and Sirius hoped that James was correct. They each climbed out of the pond and made use of the single towel that they had just in case. Remus leaned against a tree and waited to go last. He looked genuinely happy, and unworried about who was looking at his body.
After they all dressed, they continued north. James's hope that they could reach the village before dark proved to pay off, but only barely as they arrived as the last rays of sunset were fading from the horizon.
The village was not at all what Sirius expected it to be. It was very similar to the villages near the palace, but the absence of Tech was far more obvious and pronounced. They had stone roads, and houses made of wood and brick. There were shops and what appeared to be a pub with an inn.
They asked after the woman whom they had met before but she had already moved on to the east. They next went into the inn and inquired about rooms. Only two were available.
The price for the rooms was a couple of hours of chores and errands around the town. Since there were four of them they would be able to split the price between them. Some Muggle communities, such as this one, also opted out of currency, instead preferring a trade and work based system. Though, this didn't mean anyone unable of providing either of those was necessarily turned away. There was always a way to work things out and give back to the community.
Having grown up with a family that drowned themselves in wealth and status, Sirius really admired this system. Sure, it would've been nice to just pay and go lie down, but a strange part of him felt good about giving back.
James washed dishes, Peter swept and mopped the floors, and Remus went outside and chopped firewood while Sirius served drinks. He had been tempted to sneak a sip of beer but he thought better of it.
Once their tasks were all completed they went upstairs, James and Peter once again taking a room and Remus and Sirius the other. Once Sirius stepped into the room he quickly realised there was a problem.
"There's only one bed," Sirius observed.
"Oh," Remus said.
Neither of them spoke or moved for a moment. The bed wasn't small but it was clearly designed for a couple to stay the night in together. He wondered if James and Peter were having to share a bed. He thought perhaps not.
"Well… it is what it is, I suppose. Best to make do," Sirius said and sat down on the bed.
"Yeah," Remus said and went around to the other side of the bed and sat down.
Sirius removed his shoes, socks and then his shirt. He pulled the cover down then slid under it. Sirius glanced over as Remus undressed, wondering, and even secretly hoping, if he would remove his shirt. Remus did remove his shirt. He then stretched as Sirius admired the muscles of his back.
Remus turned around quickly and Sirius frantically tried to pretend he had been looking at something else. He desperately hoped that Remus hadn't noticed. Nothing would be more humiliating than knowing the guy you are about to share a bed with secretly likes you and is deriving great satisfaction from a situation that probably displeases you.
Remus put out the lantern and got into bed. If he had noticed Sirius checking him out he wasn't reacting. There was plenty of room in the bed for them both to fit but Sirius was still being careful not to bump into him. It wouldn't be that difficult if he wasn't paying attention and trying to keep to his side of the bed.
Sirius laid there in silence. He wanted to ask Remus why he had wanted so desperately to stay on the ship even though it made so little sense. And his scars… why had he never mentioned his attack before. What other secrets was Remus Lupin keeping?
Sirius quietly sighed. What secret could possibly be worse than the one he was carrying? His secret was that he had fallen for Remus from the moment he had met him and that every day since he had only fallen harder and harder for the gorgeous farm boy with the honey brown hair.
Remus suddenly groaned loudly and Sirius could feel him stretching beside him. Remus's foot tapped the bare skin of Sirius's ankle and Sirius had to stop himself from gasping. He could feel himself blushing and tried hard to stay still, lest he make things more awkward. He would just pretend he hadn't noticed. That would leave it in Remus's lap for him to decide how he felt about it. Or maybe he didn't even notice. Sirius was probably freaking out over nothing.
Sirius yawned. Seconds later Remus also yawned. Funny how that always worked. Sirius wasn't sure he could relax any better than he could the night before. Actually, tonight it was much worse because he wasn't just in the same room, he was in the same bed with the object of his true desire.
Sirius wanted to take his pillow and shove it into his face until he passed out. The pressure of trying to keep his cool was far too much to manage.
"Are you OK?" Remus asked quietly.
"Uh… yeah. Are you?" Sirius countered.
"Yeah. Sort of," Remus said.
Sirius turned over towards Remus. He could barely see him in the dark.
"What's the matter?" Sirius asked.
"I can't explain," Remus said.
"You can't… or you won't?" Sirius asked.
Remus went quiet for a moment while Sirius waited patiently.
"Both, sort of," Remus finally said.
"You can tell me anything. There's no need to be afraid," Sirius said.
Remus went quiet again, this time for longer.
"Is it about your attack as a child? Are you afraid it will happen again?" Sirius asked.
"It's related to that… but that's not my fear, exactly," Remus said.
"Then what is it?" Sirius pleaded.
"I'm… I'm afraid it will happen to someone else. To you or James or Peter. I… I couldn't bear it," Remus said.
Sirius impulsively reached over and placed a hand on Remus's shoulder. Sirius had somehow forgot that Remus was shirtless. His skin was hot and even a light squeeze revealed to Sirius the muscle beneath the skin.
"I promise none of us will get attacked. I talked to people from this village and other villages while I was tending the bar. Obviously, I asked about how dangerous it was to traverse the forest. Animal attacks are rare. In fact, he said the last time there were any serious attacks was during the last war when the wolf soldiers were unleashed. But those filthy beasts are all dead and gone. Every last one of them," Sirius said, and squeezed Remus's shoulder affectionately.
"Yeah," Remus said, almost sadly.
"So you see there's nothing to fear. We're all safe. The road to the east to find Tech will be long but not dangerous," Sirius said, and pulled his hand away.
Remus was again quiet. Sirius wasn't sure if he hadn't fully assuaged Remus's fears but surely he had at least made a dent.
"OK," Remus said.
Sirius smiled and rolled back onto his back. Somehow helping Remus helped him feel more calm. Instead of feeling antsy at being in such close proximity of his crush, he felt happy and calm. Slowly, he felt himself drift off to sleep.
"But what was that movie really saying? I mean what was the point?" Mary said as they exited the holo-theatre.
"What is says, is that robots like to fall in love and shag just like anybody else!" Dorcas said then laughed.
"I think it made a good point. I mean once you look past all the snogging and gratuitous innuendo, I think it was sort of a lovely production about robotic autonomy," Lily said.
"What?" Dorcas said loudly then laughed again, sending an echo down the passageway.
Mary laughed as well. Lily smiled and shook her head.
"No, really. The debate on how we should handle robots has been ongoing since the first great Tech war, five hundred years ago. Officially, the U.T.P. has outlawed robotic autonomy, but many still practice it. I happen to know for a fact that the government is allowing people to develop robots that are capable of thoughts and feelings, in the hopes that they may have future use," Lily said, only a little smugly.
Mary rolled her eyes, and Lily remembered that she didn't know that Lily was royalty.
"Please, Lils. The movie makers clearly just wanted to program robots to shag. Maybe what you say about there being an ongoing discussion about robotic autonomy is true but I don't think there was any message behind that beautiful, beautiful trash," Dorcas said.
"'Fraid I'm with Dorcas, love," Mary said and gave Lily a wink that sent a flutter from her belly to her heart and she blushed.
The three girls preceded to the dormitories. Dorcas broke off first as she was on a different level. Mary as it turned out had managed to get a room to herself. The school had done well with pairing everyone but being the sole addition in the middle of the year meant there was no one to pair her with and she just happened to be on the same level as Lily.
Lily politely invited Mary into her room.
"That's Remus's bunk over there," Lily said gesturing to his bed.
"Where's he, then?" Mary asked.
"I'm not sure. And today I realised that his friends might be missing too," Lily said.
"What? You've been pissing about with me and Dorcas while your friend is missing?" Mary said, seeming actually offended.
Lily sat down on her bed with a thud.
"Yes," Lily said sadly.
Mary sat down beside her.
"Lily, if the school doesn't know he's missing you have to say something," Mary urged.
"I was planning on it. But McGonagall has been off station and Dumbledore is busy," Lily said.
"McGonagall is back. I saw her right before we went to the holo-movie. We have to go right now," Mary said, and took Lily by the hand then pulled her up.
Lily found herself face to face with Mary for a brief moment before Mary stepped back, releasing her hand and pointing out the door.
"Let's go," Mary said.
Minutes later they arrived at McGonagall's office. Lily knocked hard. McGonagall opened swiftly.
"It is late, Miss Evans. Surely, whatever it is can wait until morning," Minerva McGonagall said.
"I'm afraid it can't, Ms. McGonagall. I… I think Remus Lupin isn't on the station and I think James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew might be with him," Lily said.
McGonagall gave Lily a serious look then nodded.
"All right. Come inside," McGonagall said, stepping aside to let them in.
"Wait. Who are you?" McGonagall said to Mary.
"I'm Mary MacDonald," Mary said.
McGonagall's eyes widened.
"The child from Levicorpus," McGonagall said.
"I'm not a child! I'm sixteen and I'll be seventeen before the end of the next cycle!" Mary said, startling Lily who hadn't realised that Mary was a year older than her.
"Hmph. In any event, seeing that you are new and have never met Mr. Lupin I see no reason why you should be here and not in bed," McGonagall said sternly.
"I… I just wanted to help, Lily," Mary said, scowling.
"You've done brilliantly," Lily said, smiling at her.
"Cheers," Mary said, giving a faint smile.
"Straight to bed, Miss MacDonald!" McGonagall demanded.
"Yes ma'am," Mary said and headed back down the hallway.
"All right, Miss Evans, come inside and tell me everything," McGonagall said.
Remus woke up with his arm across Sirius's stomach flat stomach. He jumped and pulled away quickly. Sirius appeared to still be thankfully deeply asleep. Remus had barely slept at all. The knowledge of what was coming the next night was petrifying.
He had appreciated that Sirius had tried to comfort him but nothing could stop what would happen tonight. The moon would rise and the wolf would be unleashed. Remus needed to move, quickly.
Silently, he slid out of bed and got dressed. He went to the door and looked back at Sirius for what might be the last time. His heart ached and he wanted more than anything to wake him up and kiss him and tell him how much he loved him. He imagined that their love would be enough to tame the beast inside of him for good.
Remus closed his eyes as tears streamed down his cheeks. He didn't believe in fairy tales. He reopened his eyes and quietly exited the room and crept through the inn. The innkeeper saw him stepping outside and they shared a wave.
Once Remus was outside he looked around the village. He needed to run as far away from people as he could, as far away from his friends as he could. He turned, feeling desperate and wishing he knew the right answer. He just needed some place he could go where the wolf wouldn't be able to escape.
Remus turned again and found himself face to face with James Potter, who adjusted his glasses and gave Remus a confused look.
"What are you doing, mate?" James asked.
"I… I have to go. I have to hide," Remus said.
"Don't be ridiculous. Have you had any sleep? You look bloody knackered," James said.
"No… not much. You don't understand!" Remus shrieked.
"You've been saying that a lot lately. And no, I still don't understand. None of us do, mate. I suppose we haven't earned your respect enough," James said.
"No. It's not that. Please, I'm only trying to protect you… I'm trying to protect everyone," Remus said and suddenly ran fast to the west, out of the village.
Remus ran as hard as he could while tears poured from his eyes. He had to hide. He had to protect them.
Lily struggled to focus during all her classes the next day. All she could think about was the search that was happening to locate Remus. It hadn't taken McGonagall long to determine that the boys had somehow obtained a ship and boarded it to leave the station.
Unfortunately, they had no way of knowing for sure where they had gone to, but Fidelius was a safe bet. But even if they knew that much, there was still an entire planet to search. They were beginning to look around the palace. At least there people might recognise Remus.
If they couldn't be located or traced they would widen their perimeter, day by day, focusing on areas with the highest concentration of Tech as it seemed highly unlikely that the boys would've gone into Muggle territory.
If the ship had belonged to the government or the school it would be a simple matter of following a trace. This ship had no trace and was a model that was old enough to not be in any current databases.
The delivery driver had used an outdated code for a driver who had actually retired and had probably hopped off that ship to get directly on a different transport out. There were no recordings or the slightest shred of evidence who this person was.
This meant the ship could be from anywhere and have virtually any history imaginable and there was no way to trace it at all. They had to search the hard way. Officially, they were under no obligation to update her, but Lily secretly had royal connections that were updating her anyway. After most of a day the palace grounds and surrounding villages had been searched. They were currently scouring the forests around the palace but it was believed that the boys had not been there.
Lily desperately hoped the boys would just return. She hated all this worrying. What if they had crashed? Lily cringed and closed her eyes. She refused to let herself ponder that any deeper.
"I bet they'll expel them," Sev said suddenly.
"I hope not," Lily said.
"Why not? They broke the rules. What are the rules for if there are no consequences to breaking them?" Sev asked incredulously.
Lily knew on some level that Severus was correct but she still gave him a look that she hoped conveyed that this was not the time nor the place for this discussion. To her surprise, Severus nodded and went back to reading over the passage that Professor Chubb had instructed them to read.
After class, Lily was stopped by Professor Chubb before she left the class.
"Miss Evans, I was wondering… How would you like to become my apprentice?" Chubb asked, smiling brightly.
"Oh," Lily said, staring blankly and wishing her mind was so distracted.
"Is that 'Oh' as in yes, or 'Oh' as in no?" Chubb said then blinked twice.
Lily half smiled and shrugged.
"I suppose I'm not sure what you mean," Lily said.
Agatha pursed her lips then turned and went behind her desk and sat down, propping her feet up on the desktop.
"I don't mean to brag, but when it comes to archaeological Tech, I'm peerless. There is no one more knowledgeable or skilled than me. I've often wondered what I could accomplish with the right help. If I had someone with the obvious innate capabilities whom I could mold into greatness," Chubb said then quickly stood back up and circled back around to Lily.
Lily was surprised at how much shorter than her Chubb was. She had a presence that made her seem strangely taller.
"You, Miss Evans, have a bright and pliable mind and an obvious love of history. And I admire that you aren't just someone looking to connect to your royal ancestors, though I think there is a great deal that you can learn about them yet. Your work this year has been exemplary. Your test scores are immaculate," Chubb said, her bright blue eyes looking intense.
"Cheers," Lily uttered softly.
"Really, you should be proud. Many students find my class a challenge. Most will dropout as soon as they can. But you… you're special," Chubb said and gave Lily another wink.
"So… what do you want me to do?" Lily asked.
"Meet with me for an hour a day after school and then two hours a day on the weekends. I'll teach you everything I know," Chubb said, smiling devilishly.
Lily felt frozen in time. On any other day she would be ecstatic about this offer. She hadn't be sure that archaeology was the exact career path she desired. Frankly, her skills still lied in transmogrification, though she knew that would help in this course as well.
"OK. I'll do it," Lily said.
Chubb smiled widely.
"Excellent. We begin tomorrow evening. I need tonight to prepare. Good day, Miss Evans. You won't regret this choice, I promise," Chubb said and Lily quickly shuffled off to her next class.
Darkness was falling and Remus had found a large hole to hide in that he didn't believe the wolf would be able to climb or leap out of. Of course, this also meant that he might struggle to get out once morning came but he would deal with that problem when it came.
He could already feel ripples beneath his skin. He felt agitated and tense, like he was ready for a fight. Somehow he felt oddly excited. He had never made the change free of chains and confinement. There was a relief knowing that the wolf would have space to run around in. Maybe he would hurt less in the morning.
His joints ached and his muscles felt tight. It wouldn't be long.
Suddenly, he heard a familiar voice shout, "Remus!" in this distance.
No, not now, he thought. Please, please go away!
"Remus!" the voice, obviously Sirius, shouted again.
"Remus!" he heard James and Peter also shout.
How had they followed him? The fools didn't realise the danger they were putting themselves into!
Remus pushed his back into the side of the hole. Perhaps, they would walk by and not see him. It was getting dark, after all.
Slowly, the voices got closer and closer. Remus could feel the transformation beckoning him. Once it began he wouldn't be able to control it for long. He would have to give in.
"Remus," Sirius said and Remus looked up into Sirius's relieved face with horror.
"What are you doing? Get out of here!" Remus shouted.
"You found him?" James said running up, Peter hot on his heels.
"Remus!" Peter said.
James looked around the hole, clearly trying to ascertain a way down.
"Looks like it might make more sense to help Remus back up and for us to go down," James said.
"You must go away!" Remus said and felt a sharp pain shoot up his spine.
It was happening.
"The only way we're leaving is if it's with you, mate," James insisted.
Remus fell to the ground then screamed in pain as his body erupted with heat.
"Remus?" Sirius said.
Remus could no longer respond. All he could do was feel the pain of the transformation until it devoured him completely and he no longer knew who he was anymore.
The wolf howled at the center of the hole then snarled at the boys that stood there frozen in fear. So this was what Remus had been afraid of, Sirius realised. He wasn't afraid of being hurt or of them being attacked by a wild animal. Remus was afraid he would hurt them, against his will.
"The animal that attacked Remus… it wasn't an animal. It was one of the wolf soldiers," Sirius observed.
The wolf suddenly leaped up but the hole was far too deep and steep for him to climb out of. A human might be able to manage it but the wolf could not. There was something of Remus to him, especially in the face. He was only a little larger than Remus. He stood on his hind legs but hunched over. His jaw was large and his teeth sharp and white. His fur was an odd sort of blue-grey.
"We're going to have to wait this out," James said.
"We can't leave him. Someone might hurt him," Peter said.
"I promised him that none of us would get hurt. I intend to keep that promise," Sirius said.
And so they waited while the wolf tried his best to escape for hours before finally succumbing to exhaustion and passing out. The boys waited for the morning.
Chapter 8: Another Progress Update
I worked on this AU as much as expected the last couple of months but it has only resulted in one published thing (part of a revamped prequel fic.) I'm still anticipating doing a lot with this au this year but losing my notes and rebuilding them takes time and I want to fix a few things. Also *really* want to add the Fantastic Beasts characters to the fic set immediately before this one. I'm still in a very creatively fruitful period and in this case it's not that working on this au is hard. Just time consuming because of having to make things up again from having lost notes. But at some point in the not too distant future I'll do an edit of this fic and post at least one new chapter regardless of anything else I do. I lost the 2k words of the chapter I had next before but I haven't at all forgotten what happened.