Four months. Four Marauders. One little brother. Scenes from Regulus Black's first term at Hogwarts. Rated T for language and bullying. I hope you enjoy this story.
Peter's dad always insisted on arriving at places unnecessarily early. They'd got to King's Cross so early this morning that the Hogwarts Express hadn't even arrived yet. Dad had attempted to give Peter a pep talk while they waited, but Peter insisted he didn't need one.
"Dad, it's fine. I'm doing great in school, you know I am,"
In truth Peter was only doing well because his friends let him copy off them, but Dad didn't need to know that.
"Third year now, though. Time to step it up a gear, eh son? You're a teenager, you're taking new subjects, you're allowed to visit Hogsmeade. School's giving you more privileges and they expect you repay that with hard work. I expect you to repay with hard work,"
"Course," Peter murmured.
"Let's see if you can get Prefect in a couple of years,"
There was no chance of Peter ever being made Prefect but he smiled and said, "Alright Dad, I'll try,"
Peter was spared any more boring encouragement, because at that moment the Hogwarts Express came chugging into view from around the corner. Peter loved the the smell of the train, the bright red engine, and the thumping, mechanical noise. It was the sound of friends and magic and new adventures.
Once the train had pulled up at the platform Dad helped Peter find a compartment for his trunk, and then they waited on the platform for the rest of the school to arrive. Perplexed-looking first-years tumbled through the barrier, enormous seventh-years strolled, a couple of Hufflepuffs in the year above Peter crashed their trollies into each other and got shouted out by the train guard. Peter saw Slytherin's Beater Bertram Aubrey run through, Ottoline Shallay from Ravenclaw, Tobias Turtle who had sat beside Peter in first-year Charms. The station became platform became more and more packed and clamorous, and Peter craned his neck to look for his friends.
"Where are they?" he muttered.
"They'll turn up," Dad assured him, "It's still only quarter to,"
Peter chewed his lip and chuntered to himself while they waited. He knew that James, Sirius and Remus would turn up at some point, but he didn't like the thought of being surrounded by other students without the three of them there too. Peter felt braver around his gang; the world seemed much less daunting when he had James and Sirius by his side.
Finally, Peter saw a bony, dark-haired boy appear from the barrier. Peter waved happily. "Sirius. Hey, Sirius!"
The boy looked up.
"Hold on, Dad," Peter said to his father, and hurried over to where Sirius was standing with his trolley. He'd grown since Peter had last seen him in July; he was now almost a head taller than Peter. Sirius was wearing the old-fashioned dress shirt and blazer that Peter had always seen him wear outside of school, and his usually flowing hair was kept back in a plait.
"Hi, Pete. What's up?" said Sirius, although Peter wasn't noticed that he wasn't smiling, "Good Summer?"
"Alright. What about you?"
"Horrible, obviously," Sirius spat. His voice had started cracking at the end of the last term and was now a full octave lower. It sounded hoarse, as if Sirius was still working out how to use it. "Where's James?"
Sirius always wanted to be with James. JamesandSirius, BlackandPotter. Sometimes they even answered to one another's name. Peter was jealous of how close the two of them were; Moony was alright but he wasn't Peter's best buddy like James and Sirius were to each other, nor was he as popular or funny as they were. JamesandSirius were the stars and Peter and Remus were hanging on their coat-tails. Peter knew this because Sirius had told him so many times.
"I don't think he's here yet," shrugged Peter, not wanting to dwell on the subject, "Anyway, have you had a chance to read any more about becoming a you-know-what-agus?".
They were going to turn themselves into animals. James and Sirius had decided which meant that they were definitely going to do it. Sirius and James could do anything they put their minds to. They were so clever. Peter was jealous of that, too.
"A bit," said Sirius morosely, "I found a few books in the library but my father found me reading them and got suspicious,"
"Oh". Peter's shoulder's slumped. He tried to think of something to say to cheer Sirius up, but before he could a screech rang out through the platform hubbub.
"Sirius! Get back here, boy,"
Sirius grimaced and turned towards the voice. Peter looked too, and saw Sirius' mum scowling in their direction. She was willowy and weirdly beautiful in a severe sort of way. Peter had met Mrs Black couple of times and had concluded that she was an even scarier version of Professor McGonagall. Like Professor McGonagall she seemed to disapprove of nearly everything Sirius did, but that was different coming from a mum than a teacher.
"Coming, Mother," sighed Sirius. He gave Peter an apologetic look and trudged away. Peter watched him go, and it was only then that noticed a boy standing next to Sirius' mother. He looked about Peter's height although Peter guessed from the boy's acne-free babyface that he was a couple of years younger. He had dark hair tied back in...in a neat plait…he was wearing a stiff-collared white shirt, silver buckled shoes, and a black blazer...identical to Sirius'. (Although, Peter noted, Sirius' clothes and hair were much scruffier than the younger boy's). Was it- could it- did Sirius have a brother? Peter moved closer to get a better view of them. Mrs Black was talking sternly to Sirius (Peter couldn't hear her words) and thrusting an envelope at him. Sirius replied and pointed at the younger boy. Mrs Black pushed his arm down as if telling him not to point, and said something else. Sirius took the envelope, stuffed it into his blazer pocket and walked back over to Peter.
"Sorry about that. Have you got your suitcase? Let's put them on the train and wait for Moony and James,"
He marched away towards the train and Peter scurried to keep up. "Who was that boy, Sirius?"
Sirius didn't look at him as he replied, "That's my brother,"
Aha. "Yeah, I- I thought it might be,"
"Didn't need to ask then, did you?" Sirius snapped.
"You never said you had a brother,"
"It's not important. He's an idiot, just like the rest of them,"
"Yeah, but...a brother". Having a brother was quite an important fact about Sirius, and Peter was baffled that Sirius hadn't mentioned him before, "Do the others know?"
Peter resisted the temptation to reply bitterly that of course Sirius would have told James. "What's his name? Is he starting Hogwarts?"
"Yes, but you won't be seeing much of him," said Sirius curtly, "He'll be a Slytherin like the rest of them. His name's Regulus,"
"Blimey, your family don't half have poncy names, don't they?" Peter blurted. Sirius glared at him.
"Sorry. I mean…I'm just surprised, that's all. Look, here's where I've put my stuff," Peter said hastily. He directed Sirius to the compartment he'd stored his trunk in. Sirius grabbed his trunk from the trolley, jumped onto the train and shoved his trunk into the compartment. Peter watched him, taking the hint from Sirius' glower that it was a good idea to drop the subject. It wasn't too different to Moony not telling them about his furry little problem, Peter tried to tell himself. But, well…it was different. A brother. It was odd to think of Sirius as a big brother. Peter gathered from Sirius' reluctance to discuss it that it wasn't a role Sirius enjoyed.
"I suppose I'd better say goodbye to Mother," Sirius mumbled glumly once he'd stored his luggage.
"Yeah, I should talk to my Dad,"
They leapt down onto the platform, which was now buzzing with activity. Remus must around here somewhere, Peter thought, and-
"Hey, you two dung-sacks!" crowed a voice. James Potter was laughing as he ran towards them, steering his trolley from side-to-side and nearly crashing into everybody around him.
"James!" cheered Sirius. He sprinted to James and jumped on him, almost knocking him flat. James wrestled Sirius off and Sirius retaliated by giving James a shove. James kept his balance, stuck his tongue out and yanked Sirius' plait. Sirius, who was taller and stronger, lifted James up by his shoulders and spun him round roughly.
"Put- me- down," James protested, guffawing as he beat his fists on Sirius' back. Sirius tried to turn James upside-down but James clung on to Sirius' shirt to stop him, and they ended up toppling over into a giggling pile of limbs. Peter watched them play-fight, admiring their easy physicality and envying of their rough camaraderie. James and Sirius flicked Peter's ears sometimes or cuffed him round the head, but they never matily scrapped with him like they did with each other.
"Bastard," grinned James.
"You missed this," Sirius retorted, thumping him happily across the shoulders.
"Sirius Black! Stop ruining your clothes, you silly boy, and come here right now!"
Sirius' face dropped as his mother's voice shrieked over the crowd. He said something to James that Peter didn't catch and disentangled himself from James' limbs. Then he stood up and slouched across to her. James and Peter both watched him go, and it was only when Sirius had disappeared into the crowd that James looked around and saw Peter. Peter waved and sprang towards him.
James didn't even get up. "Oh," he said flatly, "Hello, Pete".