Tuesday, 31 August, 1971
“Your head of house will be Professor Slughorn. He doesn’t share our respectable view of Mudbloods and Half-Breeds, but he is nonetheless a Pureblood and competent teacher. You’ll do well to gain his favour early on.”
Sirius was only half-listening as he pushed the foie gras around on his plate. For the last few weeks leading up to the start of his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Sirius heard very little from his parents that was not related to the greatness of Slytherin House, how a Respectable Black was to behave, and the does-and-don’ts of proper Pureblood conduct while at school.
Do: associate with other respectable pureblood Slytherins.
Don’t: befriend filthy Mudbloods, Half-Breeds and blood-traitor riffraff from other houses.
Do: work hard
Don’t: have any fun ever. Blah blah blah, Sirius had stopped properly listening more than a week ago.
As far as The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black was concerned, Sirius has already been sorted into Slytherin. They refused to answer his silly questions about what the sorting entailed, because it didn’t matter. It was a done deal. “All Blacks are sorted into Slytherin, Don’t concern yourself with the other houses” his mother had said at the beginning of August. A Black was a Black, and a Black was a Pureblood and a Slytherin and that was that.
The problem was, Sirius never really fit in with the rest of the Blacks. He asked far too many questions, for one thing.
“But why are Mudbloods a stain on the name of Wizards?” That had earned him a thrashing from his father.
“Isn’t it wrong for them to be hurting Muggles? They’re just trying to live their lives, aren’t they?” That had him sent up to his room without supper.
“I’d quite like to have a Muggle friend. They’d probably know loads of different games and things” His mother had cursed him for that one. He never brought Muggles up with them again after that.
Maybe it’s because he’d never properly spoken to a Muggleborn or a Muggle. “Respectable pureblood children don’t mix with that kind of filth.” But Sirius didn’t understand the hatred his family held for anyone who was not a Pureblood. But what did he know? Perhaps he’d understand their position after he met some at Hogwarts. Or, said a little voice at the back of his head, or maybe you’ll see just how wrong they are about non-Purebloods.
Dinner was cleared away by Kreacher, Sirius too anxious about the next morning to eat much, and Sirius and Regulus were excused up to their rooms.
Regulus stopped Sirius once they were out of earshot of their parents, before entering his room. “Are you nervous? About tomorrow? You’re not going to be home again until Christmas!”
Sirius smiled at his little brother. “Naw. ‘Course I’m not nervous” he lied gently, “’M excited! It’s going to be great.”
“I’ll miss you, though. Won’t really have anyone to play with when you’re gone.” Reg said softly, looking at his feet, black hair falling into his eyes.
Sirius pulled Reg into a hug. “You’re going to be fine. And four months will go by quick. You won’t have time to miss me.” He felt Reg’s short arms squeeze his waist, and held him for a moment longer. “Go on, Reg. Have a good sleep. I’ll see you at breakfast.
Sirius took a breath as Reg’s door shut behind him, before carrying on down the hall to his own room. He walked inside, double checked that he had everything packed for tomorrow, and got ready for bed. He lay awake until well past midnight, and he watched the magic calendar on his bedside table shift silently from August to September. He eventually fell asleep, pondering what would await him at Hogwarts.
Wednesday, 1 September, 1971
The next morning came with a sharp rap on his door and a beckon down to breakfast from Kreacher. Once again, Sirius was too anxious to eat much, but he did manage a bit of toast and some pumpkin juice. Regulus kept catching his eye, looking sad. Sirius smiled at him as much as he could. He didn’t envy Reg, being stuck here on his own with only his parents and Kreacher for company. The boys did have cousins, and Reg got on with them alright, but they weren’t here all the time. Sirius knew that no one would feel his absence more than Reg.
All too soon, it was 9:30 and Orion Black was levitating Sirius’s trunk and the cage containing Sirius’ new owl, Iris, into the trunk of the Ministry car that Sirius’ parents had arranged. Sirius, Walburga, Orion and Regulus all climbed in, and they were off to King’s Cross Station.
They had no trouble finding and entering Platform 9 3/4 of course, and with the scarlet steam engine in front of him, proudly declaring itself ‘The Hogwarts Express’, Sirius felt a small rush of excitement join the nerves swirling in his stomach. He found an empty compartment, and his father helped him store his trunk and Iris before they returned to the platform. Reg hugged him goodbye, his mother nodded at him, with a last reminder to behave as he should, and his father shook his hand – an unusually affectionate gesture. With a final wave, Sirius stepped back onto the train.