Secrets Are Walls That Keep Us Alone

Chapter Two

The rattling of trolleys and yells of old friends echoed off the walls of Platform Nine and Three Quarters, a cacophony of excitement.

Peter tugged his trolley to a place next to the train, then leaned against his school trunk, waiting for his friends to come help him drag all his stuff into a compartment.

He felt conspicuously alone in the crowd of animated teenagers who shrieked greetings to those they hadn't seen since last year. He hadn't seen James and Remus since they met in Diagon Alley two weeks before, and he hadn't seen Sirius since June. He had spent his summer alone, and now he was waiting by himself again.

Peter hoped no one would see him and try to start something, not now. Not when his friends couldn't help him out.

He kept a sharp eye out for anyone he knew, and was rewarded only a few minutes later when one of them appeared.

Remus slowly made his way through the crowd, his nondescript brown hair causing him to almost blend in with those around him. All that set him apart was the paleness of his skin; it looked as though he had not seen day light in months. His expression was serious, though patient, as he politely requested admittance through the crowd.

Upon seeing Peter, an easy smile spread across his face and his pace quickened until he was standing with his friend.

"Hello, Peter," Remus said.

"Hey, Remus," Peter replied, trying to hide his relief at finally having some company. "D'you know where James and Sirius are?"

"Haven't seen them. I haven't seen Sirius all summer, and he barely wrote," Remus said, a small frown playing across his features.

"I'm sure he was just busy," Peter said, already searching the crowd again.

His eyes lit on another familiar face as James made his way through the crowd. James, though, did not have to ask to be let through. The masses of people seemed to part to allow the Quidditch hero passage, reaching out to slap his hand as he walked past. James grinned easily, obviously enjoying the attention.

The features of James' face were strong and definite, from his perfectly shaped nose to his hazel eyes behind his glasses to the even, white teeth that showed when he smiled. He looked sure of himself, and everyone could see the confidence that radiated from him, and they respected him for it.

James messed up his hair, and Peter watched with a mixture of fascination and awe. Any other guy would look stupid with messy hair, but on James, it worked. He didn't just look like he had just gotten off his broomstick; he looked like he had just gotten off his broomstick after diving a hundred feet towards the ground at high speed, snagging the snitch just before his opponent, and thus securing the Quidditch cup for Gryffindor yet again. And all the others certainly acted like that was exactly what he had done.

James stopped in front of Remus and Peter, still grinning. "Hey."

They nodded back at him.

"Where's Sirius?" James asked, suddenly seeming to realize his friend was not yet present.

"Over there," Peter pointed, having just spotted him.

As it had done for James, the crowd parted for Sirius. But unlike James, Sirius didn't seem to relish the attention. He walked past, his dark eyes set on where he was going, rather than what was going on around him.

Though both dark-haired and handsome, no one would ever have confused Sirius for James. Sirius had the sort of features that made him look both strong and delicate. He had clearly lost weight over the summer, as he always seemed to during holidays from school, but even this did nothing but accentuate his features and make him all the more good-looking.

His pale skin seemed even more so in contrast with his straight, midnight-black hair, which fell to his shoulders, though the pieces around his face just barely brushed his cheekbones.

People nodded and greeted him as he passed, though they did not cheer for him as they had for James. Something about his expression told them that now was not the time.

Peter watched this, and he wished he was more like Sirius and James. He wished he was as popular as they were, as good-looking as they were. Instead, he was short and round, with dull brown hair. He had a pointed face and small eyes. The only reason he didn't get picked on constantly was that Sirius and James simply didn't allow it. He was grateful for that, but he would rather be like them himself than have to depend on them.

As he walked up to his friends, Sirius' expression changed from one of extreme focus to one of happiness. He halted in front of them and smiled.

"Hey. Feels like forever since I saw you."

"It has been, Padfoot," James said, pretending to scowl. "What, are you trying to ditch Peter or something?"

Sirius laughed. "No, Prongs, I was actually trying to get rid of you. Too bad you're too thick to realize it."

James and Sirius slapped palms and shook hands.

"Should we get on the train?" Peter broke in anxiously, checking the clock on the wall and seeing they only had a few minutes.

"Yes, we should," Remus said, beginning to drag his trunk towards the nearest door.

Within ten minutes they were settled into a compartment with the myriad of things they needed for school, as the train slowly began to creep forward and they started the long journey to Hogwarts.