A/N: I know it has been forever and a day. I must apologize and say that I did get my laptop back (virus free I might add) but I haven't updated in so long because I've been so busy with school work. But I will try to redeem myself by saying my hard work paid off, I got straight A's for the semester! Whoop whoop. And to celebrate I am posting a new chapter! It took the better part of two days but it is finally finished.
I hope you guys like this one. It's a bit different than the others. I used flashbacks, hence the italicized parts. In case it is unclear, James and the boys are 16 going on 17 in the non-italicized parts. Please leave me a review when you're finished reading. They really do make me super happy and hey . . . maybe they'll light the fire under my bum and make me write more, and faster. Lol. Enjoy! =)
James drummed his fingers on the top of his wooden desk. He sat there wondering how much more he could take of his professor's droning. He hated this part of his knighthood training. The lessons, save for sword fighting, were such a bore. He didn't see why he would need to learn to brew ingredients to create a potion, there were people in town who did that for a living. He missed the lessons he had as a boy. The ones taught by one of his best friends' father. Feeling his mind drift, James thought back to the day he met Remus.
A six year old James was running through the halls of the castle. He smiled to himself, his parents had told him many times to never do such a thing because it was very un-prince like. What that meant, James didn't even know, all he knew was that he was having fun breaking the rules. He rounded a corner and nearly toppled into a servant carrying a stack of dishes. James ducked under the man but a loud crash told him the man had lost his footing. James snickered as he continued running.
"Wotcher, James," called a friendly voice. James looked up into the smiling face of Andromeda, his mothers favorite dress maker.
"Hiya Andi!" James said happily. He had always liked the young girl.
"Not causing trouble, are you?" She asked with a knowing smirk. James chuckled.
"No, ma'am. You know me," he told her with a wink, he then took off down the hall once more. He could hear Andi's chuckle echoing from behind him.
"James!" He froze outside of the throne room. His mother was standing there, her hands on her hips. James gulped at the scowl on her face. Behind her, his father was smiling at him. "What do you think you are doing?" She all but yelled. "How many times have your father and I told you not to run around." James ducked his head. His mother grabbed his hand and led him the opposite way down the hall.
"It's time for your lessons." His mother led him to the main floor study where his many lessons were held. Today's lesson was History. He was the Crown Prince of Gryffindor and the sole heir to the throne. He had to learn not only about his own kingdom but of the others as well. His mother rapped on the door once and then opened it.
"Good afternoon, John," his mother said to a tall lanky man with sandy blonde hair standing by the window. At his side was a small boy James' age. He looked remarkably like his father.
"Your Highness," he said bowing to the Queen. "Ah, young Prince James. I trust you are feeling well?"
"Very well, thank you sir." James said, bowing slightly. His eyes flashed to the tired looking boy at the man's side.
"James, this is Professor Lupin. He is going to teach you all about history. And is this your son, John?" Queen Margaret gestured to the small boy and offered him a warm smile.
"Yes, this is my son Remus," he said, placing his hand on his sons shoulder. "Remus, say hello."
"Hello Your Majesty," he said bowing to the Queen. "Your Highness," he said, bowing to James. James chuckled. His mother left the room and Professor Lupin began his lesson. During each lesson after that first, Remus would sit quietly next to James, listening intently to what he said.
It was two years later that the boys first spoke. Professor Lupin had left them in the study while he went to the library to retrieve a book. James was lounging in his chair tossing a small golden ball, the size of a golf ball, into the air. Remus sat under the window, his nose buried in a book.
"You don't talk much, do you?" James broke the silence. Remus looked up from his book.
"Only when there is something to be said," James smiled at the boys' witty comment.
"What are you reading there," James asked, nodding his head in the direction of Remus' book.
"A book on werewolves," Remus said defensively. James was slightly taken aback but would not let the boys' attitude deter him.
"Do you know much about them?" James asked curiously. He was determined to find out why Remus was so defensive.
"More than I'd like to," Remus said, just barely above a whisper. James stared at him a moment longer. They sat in a stiff silence.
"So," James said, trying to break the silence. "Legends say that werewolves transform at the full moon," He looked to Remus for conformation, but the boy just stared at him stony faced.
"I'll take that as a yes," James said offhand, he saw Remus' lips twitch towards a smile so he decided to continue.
"So what about an eclipse? Does a werewolf still transform?" This time, Remus was full out smiling. "The moon is full, but cast in shadow." Remus chuckled.
"I always wondered the same thing myself. Or how about when you see the moon in the daytime sky, what then?" The two boys laughed for what seemed like hours. When Professor Lupin came back, he had a hard time calming them down. He asked what was so funny, but James and Remus just shared a mischievous smile.
After that day, James and Remus became the best of friends. It was hard to find one without the other. They were often seen roaming the halls of the castle or strolling around the town.
James smiled fondly at the memory of his oldest friend. But thinking about his first meeting with Remus brought memories of the day he met Peter.
It was on one of their adventures around town when they were 12 that they met another friend of theirs.
The sun was shining brightly in the sky high above their heads. James and Remus were walking through the streets of town. James smiled charmingly at a group of girls gathered outside one of the stores.
"Why do you encourage them?" Remus asked with a smile and a roll of his eyes.
"Because it's fun," James said as one of the girls winked and blew a kiss in his direction.
"You're going to give yourself a bad reputation," Remus told him with a chuckle. "If only your mother knew what you were up to." James shoved Remus playfully with his shoulder.
"Let's go in here," Remus said, stopping out front of a small bookstore. James looked up at the sign and groaned.
"Aw Rem, come on!" James whined. Remus, again, rolled his eyes and grabbed his friend by the elbow, dragging him into the store.
The shop was small and cozy. A warm feeling and a sweet smell enveloped them when they entered. The walls were lined with shelves stocked full of books. Remus' eyes were alight, like he was a small child who just walked into a candy shop. From beside him, James was looking around, bored. He had never understood Remus' fancy for books. As much as he loved his lessons with Remus and his father, he really preferred sword fighting. James walked around the shelves, glancing at the books. Remus, however, was already engrossed in a book, another five stacked at his feet.
"Good afternoon, young sir," Called a kindly lady from behind the counter. She was a stout old lady, just a tad taller than Remus. She had mousy brown hair and watery blue eyes. "Do you need help finding anything?"
"No thank you ma'am," Remus said with a smile. From somewhere in the back of the shop, a bell rang. James watched as a stout young boy about his own age entered. He headed towards the counter in the center and James noticed he walked with a slight limp. He walked up to the counter and slipped under it, coming to stand next to the woman.
"Peter," the woman said worriedly. "What happened?" She reached up and gingerly touched his eye. James, thoroughly curious, walked closer to the two of them. He could see a small bruise developing around the boy's watery blue eye. He guessed that this boy was the shopkeeper's son.
"It's nothing mum," the boy, Peter, said quietly, turning his head out of her reach. The woman placed her hands on her hips and looked at her son sadly.
"Is it that MacDonald boy again?" Peter didn't answer his mother. Instead he picked up a nearby book and slipped back under the counter to return it to its proper shelf. "Maybe I should have a talk with his mother." Peter spun around on the spot, a horrified look on his face.
"That would only make things worse. I can handle this mum," Peter said forcefully. He shoved the book onto the proper shelf and left the shop. As the door slammed behind him, his mother sighed sadly. James looked from the shopkeeper to the closed door. Remus walked to the counter, his arms loaded with books. He smiled hesitantly at the woman and paid for his things.
Just outside of the shop, Remus and James saw Peter sitting on the ground. He had a stick in one hand and was carelessly drawing in the dirt. His other hand was holding his head. James and Remus exchanged glances before heading over to the boy.
"Long day?" Remus asked kindly.
"You have no idea, I . . ." Peter looked up and saw who was standing in front of him. He stood straight up and spluttered incoherently. Finally, he gathered his wits and sunk down low on one knee.
"Pardon my rudeness, Your Highness. I did not realize it was you," he said with his head bowed. James looked curiously at Remus, the other boy was chuckling softly.
"Please, no kneeling." James told the boy who hesitantly rose to his feet. "And the name is James." He said with a smile.
From then on, Peter began to follow James and Remus around. They were leery at first but grew to appreciate Peter's presence. He did not show it, but Peter was very brave and, like James and Remus, had a bit of a mischievous streak. He was very unpopular in town, but once he started hanging around James and Remus, the other boys stopped their teasing. They would never cross their prince or his friends.
James was snapped out of his memory as the class around him began to scramble. Apparently they were done for the day. James gathered his books into his hands and looked to the boy next to him. His newest friend, Sirius, was sprawled across his desk. His dark black hair hanging over his closed eyes, he even swore he saw a line of drool from his mouth. James chuckled as he elbowed the boy in the ribs. Sirius jumped.
"Where's the fire?" He asked sleepily, looking around the room in a daze. A few students still in the room chuckled, James full out laughed at the boy.
"Come on, mate. It's time for some sword play," James said, pulling Sirius through the room. They walked out of the lesson barracks to the open field where sword fighting practice was to be held.
Sirius had not been with them very long, but the boys were so close it felt like they had known one another for their entire lives. Sirius was originally from the kingdom of Slytherin but he, along with his cousin and friend, fled the lands when they were 13. Sirius had another cousin living in Gryffindor whom he came to stay with. The kingdom and James' parents were hesitant at first to let the new children join them, after all they could be spies, but James, along with Sirius' cousin Andi, his mother's favorite dress maker, convinced them all. Most of the people in town didn't agree with the decision of letting Sirius continue his training but he proved himself, in the three years since he joined them, that he was an able warrior and no traitor.
"Just two more weeks and training is done," James said in an offhand voice as they went to stand with the rest of the trainees.
"Yeah. With this year's trip, I say we take down a dragon," Sirius said with one of his famous smirks. The boys decided that every year, in the beginning of the fall, they would take a trip into the Wandering Woods. They first started it the year before when they were 15, of course James' mother made them take along one of the higher ranking knights, Sir Benjy, but this year, they would be full knights themselves. They would be allowed to go on their own.
James jumped when, out of nowhere, a figure landed in front of Sirius. The figure raised it's sword, getting ready to strike, but Sirius was quick. In an instant he had his own sword drawn and had pushed James to the ground behind him to protect him. He blocked the figures blow and was even able to get a few strikes of his own in there. As suddenly as it began, the attacking stopped. The figure offered his hand to James, who was still sitting on the ground.
"Constant vigilance," their instructor, Sir Moody, said. James smiled ruefully. "Well done Black," he said turning to face Sirius. The lesson continued as such and they were broken off into pairs to practice. It was during their lunch break that James once again found himself lost in his memories.
A 13 year old James was walking through the hallways of the castle, Remus at his side. Peter was in town, he had promised his mother he would watch the shop for her while she went to the market to pick up some things.
As they rounded the corner, they found themselves in the throne room corridor. Down the hall a little ways, a dark figure was standing in front of what James knew to be the throne room, their ear pressed up against the door. James pulled his new sword from around his waist and motioned for Remus to follow him and to be quiet.
When they were close enough to see the figure, James sighed with relief.
"Andi?" he asked curiously while sheathing his sword. Andi jumped at the sound of her name, her eyes were frantic. When she spotted James, she bowed slightly and offered them a smile.
"Wotcher, James." James could tell there wasn't much cheer or emotion behind her greeting. Something was wrong.
"Andi, is everything okay? It's not Ted or Dora?" James asked worriedly. He was very close with Andi's family. Ted had always been one of his favorite guards and James had taken a liking to the couples little, and strange, daughter, Nymphadora.
"Yes, yes. They're fine," she said, glancing at the large doors once more. "It's my cousin, Sirius, and his friend." James looked at her quizzically. He had known Andi and her family his entire life and he never recalled her mentioning a cousin.
Seeing his quizzical face, and glancing to the firmly shut doors before her once more, Andi launched into her story. She told him of her running away when she was 17 and how she had been born and grew up in the kingdom of Slytherin. She told him about her 13 year old cousin and his friend who showed up on her doorstep last night, and of how her sister had been with them and was now lost. Andi was doing all she could to hold herself together.
In the throne room . . .
Cora was sitting on a wooden chair the King and Queen had brought in for her. The poor girl looked dead on her feet. Her light brown hair was matted and covered with leaves and twigs. Sirius didn't look any better. He had scratches up and down his arms and a cut on his cheek that was still bleeding. Sirius stood behind the chair, his hands rested on Cora's shoulders for comfort and support.
"Please Your Majesties," Sirius said for what felt like the millionth time. "We are not spies. Just two young teenagers who couldn't take their family situations any longer."
King Harold and Queen Margaret regarded the two children in front of them. They could not condemn them, they knew that. But could they keep them? Would their families allow it? Would they send someone after them? Could this spark an actual war amongst the already fragile kingdoms?
"Our families don't know we're here, and I doubt they'll find out." Sirius said reasonably.
"I doubt mine will care," Cornelia whispered. Sirius gripped her shoulder in comfort. The King and Queen exchanged glances.
"Do you have anyone to vouch for you?" Queen Margaret said with a smile, one to rival Sirius'. At this moment, the throne room doors bust open and Andi practically ran into the room, closely followed by James and Remus.
"I will, Your Majesties. After all, he is my cousin," Andi said, wrapping her arms around Sirius. The King and Queen smiled.
Andi led Sirius and Cora through the halls and out into the main courtyard. Through the gates, they entered into town. They passed many types of shops and café's before they reached a modest shop that read, 'Andi's Boutique'. Andi led them through the front door and into the back room.
"Mummy, who are they?" called a small voice from the doorway.
"Dora," Andi said softly, "Come meet your cousin, Sirius, and his friend Cornelia." Dora walked hesitantly into the room. She settled herself in her mothers lap and stared at the newcomers. Sirius watched in amazement as the little girl's hair color changed from a mousy brown to bright purple then to bubble gum pink.
"Does her hair always do that?" Sirius asked, his mouth agape. Andi chuckled.
"Yes, she was born that way. It's a very rare gift to be a Metamorphmagus."
There was a bang and a muffled shout from the front of the store. Andi, Dora, Sirius and Cora stood up to see the source of the noise. On the ground, covered in fabrics that had fallen from a nearby table were James and Remus. Both regarded the rather large group with apologetic looks.
"Wotcher, James, Remus. What are you two doing?" Andi asked with a chuckle. She helped the boys to their feet. Cornelia watched with a smile as little Dora's hair turned a bright red as she looked at Remus.
"Well we just . . ." said James.
"We wanted to . . ." said Remus.
"Go for a walk . . ."
"And then . . ."
"James tripped causing . . ."
"I didn't trip . . ."
"Fine, the table jumped out at him . . ."
"Now you're just being smart . . ."
"Something you'll never understand." Remus finished with a smirk. James crossed his arms and glared at his best friend. The others watched the boys' argument with amusement.
"All right, all right," Andi said, "James, Remus, this is my cousin Sirius and his friend Cornelia. I trust I don't need to explain their story to you again."
"Prince James," Sirius said, bowing.
"Please, it's James, just James." Remus made a face behind this back. "And this doxy egg eating idiot is my best friend, Remus."
"Cornelia, you look tired. I'll show you to your room while the boys get acquainted." Cora looked gratefully up at Andi. She exchanged a few quick and quiet words with Sirius before she disappeared up the stairs behind Andi and Dora.
"So . . ." Remus said awkwardly, trying to break the silence.
"Do you play Quidditch?" James asked Sirius with a large grin. Remus groaned.
From then on, the boys were practically inseparable. Sirius was allowed to continue his studies as a knight and he joined James in classes. Remus stayed in the castle studying under his father as he hoped to be a professor one day. Peter was often found in town at his mother's shop. She was an older lady and needed his help running her book shop. The boys hung out everyday, usually after training and work. Cornelia stayed in Andi's shop to help her with her work. They soon discovered that she was very skilled with a needle and Andi's costumers doubled.
James couldn't be happier with the way things had turned out. He had three of the best friends he could ever ask for. He was excited that his training was coming to an end. And when he was finished, he would take the usual trip into the Wandering Woods with his friends. He hoped that he would meet some grand adventure there, and he quietly agreed to himself with Sirius, maybe they would take down a dragon.