September 1st – Start of Maya’s Third
“The Ministry of Magic did what?” Fourteen-year-old Sirius demanded between gritted teeth. Regulus looked from his older brother to his mother and gulped nervously. It was 10:30 AM; they had exactly thirty minutes to get to Platform 9 ¾ or they would miss the Hogwarts’ Express.
“They have blocked our floo powder network because of ‘suspected illicit activities’,” their mother said between gritted teeth. But today she wasn’t angry at her eldest son – she was furious at those “half-bloods and blood-traitors that are bringing the Ministry to ruin.”
“Suspected illicit activities,” Regulus repeated. In this situation he was happy to take the same side as Sirius. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means nothing,” their mother hissed, her eyes flashing, “Your father is currently at the Ministry clearing up any misunderstandings…”
“How long will that take?” Sirius asked.
“I’m not sure,” their mother admitted.
Regulus glanced at the clock nervously.
“Mum,” he said, as calm as he dared, “We need to get to London…”
“I’m sure that this will be…” their mother began.
But Sirius wasn’t listening. He reached down and grabbed his trunk.
“Where are you going?” their mother demanded.
“I’m taking the Night Bus,” Sirius said, glaring at her. “I’m not missing the train because of you and dad being mixed up with something shady.”
“Young man!” she began, but Sirius had already grabbed his trunk and was dragging it down the hall, setting off the paintings of their ancestors.
Regulus grabbed his own trunk and began to follow him. “Sorry, mum,” he said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “But it would look worse for us to miss the train than it does arriving on the Night Bus.”
She couldn’t argue with that, so she settled for shouting at the pictures in the hall long after her two sons had left the house.
The Night Bus screeched to a stop; Regulus and Sirius landed in a heap near the front.
“What’s going on?” Sirius asked Ernie, the assistant who had helped them get their stuff onto the bus. “We can’t be there yet.”
“We aren’t,” said Regulus, looking out the window. “We’ve still got at least six blocks!”
“Traffic, sirs,” Ernie apologized.
“What?” Sirius spluttered.
“Is this a magic bus or not?” Regulus complained.
“Even the Night Bus can’t circumvent bumper to bumper traffic when the cause is magic,” Ernie said. “I guess some dim-witted young people riding some fancy broomsticks…”
“Listen here,” Regulus snapped, at breaking point with stress about losing the train, “We are the only heirs of the Black Family and we are not accustomed to such mistreatment! I demand that-”
“Reg, shut up,” said Sirius. He grabbed hold of his trunk and began dragging it through the bus. “We’re going to run the last few blocks!”
“Is that a joke?” Demanded Regulus. Unlike Sirius, he was in suit pants and a collar shirt.
“No!” Sirius kicked open the door to the Night Bus, much to the shock of the driver. “Come on!”
Regulus looked from Ernie to Sirius, then grabbed onto the handle of his trunk and began to drag it. Bent over from dragging the trunks, the two young wizards ran between the rows of cars. The sound of honking horns filled the air; but traffic wasn’t moving so Sirius ignored them. Regulus muttered about stupid muggles as he huffed after his brother.
Severus gave Lily Evans a worried look. The Evans had been kind enough to offer him a ride to King’s Cross but they’d been sitting in the car for a good twenty minutes without moving. Lily tapped her father on the shoulder.
“Dad,” Lily said as calmly as she could, “Please! Hurry! We aren’t going to make the train! We only have fifteen minutes to get on the platform.”
“I’m sorry, Lily,” said Mr. Evans. “But traffic is completely stopped. We aren’t going anywhere.”
Severus and Lily looked at each other and then they both jumped out of the car.
“Love you, daddy.” Lily gave Mr. Evans a quick kiss.
“Thanks for the ride, Mr. Evans,” Severus said as he scrambled to get their stuff out of the car.
“What are you kids doing?” Mr. Evans demanded.
“Running!” The two fourteen-year-olds shouted as they began to drag their trunks through the traffic.
“Stupid cars and stupid muggles and stupid, stupid floo powder!” Panted a voice behind them.
“You aren’t helping, Reg!”
Severus and Lily looked at each other and then glanced over their shoulders.
“Seems like Black and Black have the same problem as us,” Severus muttered to her.
“Don’t stop!” Sirius shouted at them. “Keep going or we won’t make it!”
Severus and Lily didn’t bother replying, just tightened the grip on their trunks and kept dragging.
Up ahead, a chubby boy with a worried face jumped out of his car and also dragged out a Hogwarts trunk.
“Pettigrew?” demanded Lily.
“Anyone else about to miss the train?” Regulus shouted at the sky in exasperation.
“Keep going!” Sirius snapped at his brother. He could see King’s Cross up ahead. “We’re almost there!”
“Five minutes!” Warned Lily.
Maya Night, Remus Lupin and James Potter were some of the last ones on the platform. Or more accurately, James and Remus were on the platform and Maya was hanging out of the door.
“Where are they?” Maya asked the two boys.
“Peter’s usually on time for everything,” Remus said anxiously.
“And Sirius would die if he missed going to Hogwarts,” added James.
“But Sev and Lily aren’t here either! And neither is Regulus,” added Maya anxiously.
The train whistled and the three looked at each other.
“Bloody hell,” muttered James and he ran back towards the magical barrier.
“James?!” Remus and Maya shouted in alarm.
“Get ready to pull us on!” James shouted over his shoulder. Then, he was gone, back in King’s Cross. Maya and Remus looked at each other.
“Oh no,” said Maya.
Remus nodded grimly. “They better make it.”
Severus felt as if the clock ticking at the front of the station was pounding inside of his head. They were so close but everyone was exhausted from dragging their trunks. The seconds ticked down and Severus began to panic. He couldn’t miss the train. He just couldn’t. He had to go to Hogwarts – the only place where he didn’t feel like a freak, the only place where his opinions mattered.
Suddenly, of all people, James Potter – pushing five carts in a precarious parade – came shooting through the doors.
“Grab one and come on!” He shouted at the exhausted and surprised group before him.
Sirius savagely heaved his trunk onto a cart and then helped Regulus with his. James helped Lily then jumped to help Peter as Severus struggled to get his trunk secured. Then they were all running down the station, James shouting, “Get out of the way!” Frightened and startled muggles yelled at them angrily but the small group ignored them.
“Barrier!” Peter panted from the end of the line.
At a dead sprint, Sirius then James, then everyone else ran through the barrier.
“The train!” Regulus crowed happily. For a minute, Severus was ecstatic.
Then the train started to move.
Adrenaline pumped through his body and they sprinted to the train.
“Move!” Severus shouted. He didn’t have time to be tactful. He whipped out his wand and all of their trunks flew through the air, burst through an open window and spilled in front of the very surprised train attendants stacking trunks in the rear of the train. None of the young wizards nor the witch in question stopped to think about this however, because the train was picking up speed and leaving them behind on the platform!
“We’re not going to make it!” wailed Peter, his face red from the exertion.
A door flung open, revealing Maya and Remus.
“Run!” Maya shouted.
“Go, go, go!” James panted, pushing Lily in front of him. Too worried about the train to protest James’ hand on her back, Lily put on a last burst of speed and grabbed onto Maya’s hands. Maya heaved her aboard and there was one less person being left behind.
Sirius leapt and grabbed hold of the door frame; Remus grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled his friend on board.
Regulus was so tired he didn’t know if he would make it but Sirius turned and held out his hand.
“Come on, Reg!” Regulus gritted his teeth. If Sirius could do it, then so could he! With a last burst of determination he ran and linked hands with his brother. Sirius tugged him onboard and they fell back into the compartment, falling on top of Lily.
Remus and Maya each grabbed hold of one of Peter’s arms and the three of them fell on top of the others. The train was really picking up speed now – leaving the two last wizards behind.
“James!” Sirius shouted, pushing his brother off him and jumping to the still open door.
Maya poked her head out of the other side of the door and shouted, “Come on you two! Come on! You can make it!”
Severus gritted his teeth and sprinted, neck to neck with stinking James Potter. The platform was ending, they only had seconds. Severus put on a desperate burst of speed and leapt for the open door.
Leapt a single moment before James.
Severus and Maya grasped hands and Severus instinctively kicked out, trying to get his feet on the door.
In the process, he kicked James in the face.
James shouted and stumbled, almost falling to the ground. And definitely falling behind.
“You stupid git!” Sirius yelled at Severus.
“It was an accident you dimwit!” Severus panted back as Maya finally managed to pull him aboard.
Remus was already running along the inside of the train and Sirius took off after him. Maya and Peter followed, shouting at people to get out of the corridor. Lily and Severus looked at each other and Regulus ran to shut the door.
A loud snap sounded as the door sealed shut seconds before the platform ended. Regulus poked his head out the window. Despite not caring much about Sirius’ friends, James had gone to get them when they were outside the station. If it hadn’t been for those carts, none of them would have made it. He watched the young wizard receding in the distance and crossed his fingers. Just in case.
Remus’ wand was out and he unlocked the door before him with an impatient gesture. He was now on the small platform at the end of the very last train car. James was falling behind. The platform was ending. Remus gulped, there was no other choice.
“Jump!” Remus shouted desperately.
James jumped – leaping at the train even as it zoomed away from him. Remus grabbed him, grasping the front of his robes and his arms with all his strength. James was heavier than him, though, and they both almost fell over the railing and onto the tracks. But Sirius’ arms were around him and then Maya and Peter and then they were all lying on a heap on the floor, panting. For several long seconds, it was quiet except for their ragged breathing.
“So,” said Maya after this pause. “How was everyone’s summer?” They laughed breathlessly and Sirius ruffled her hair affectionately.
The group trudged back inside to reclaim their compartment and were unsurprised to find that Severus, Lily and Regulus still hadn’t left.
“I suppose a thank you is in order,” Lily said, not meeting any of their eyes.
“That would be nice,” said James, leaning against the door.
She took a deep breath and then looked up. “Thank you, Potter. And you, Remus. And,” here Lily broke into a true smile. “Thank you so much, Maya.”
“No problem!” Maya gave Lily a hug. “You’d do the same for me! I couldn’t let you miss the train to Hogwarts.”
“Yeah, thank you,” Regulus told the group, his eyes lingering on Maya’s. Sirius cuffed him gently round the head.
Severus regarded the group steadily and then walked away without saying anything.
“Hey, Snivellus!” Sirius called after him. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Don’t be rude,” Regulus told him. “He got our stuff on board.”
Sirius shrugged. Lily gave him a glare but any further conversation was interrupted by Lily’s friends coming to find her. The Marauders soon found themselves in the compartment by themselves. Regulus had simply left during the commotion and even Maya was gone – having been whisked away by Christy.
“Sirius,” said James.
“Lily was talking to us, you could have held off on the Snivellus.”
“He kicked you in the face and you almost missed the train!” Sirius argued.
James frowned. “Yeah, he did. But Lily…”
Sirius sighed. “Get over her, mate.” He suggested. “She’s never going to go for you.”
“Never is a strong word,” said Remus, taking out a book.
“Exactly…” James and the others continued to talk, and soon all the others were forgotten. Except for Maya – Remus wondered aloud if she would come back to sit with them, to which Sirius replied, “She never sits with us on the train – but she might, the full moon is next week. She’ll be feeling like an adventure.” Remus frowned at him and Peter laughed.
Regulus doubted his brother and his friends noticed when he slipped away. However, he had no idea where any of his own friends were sitting, so he just stood in the corridor a little ways away, looking around haughtily but feeling quite forlorn. To his surprise, the door to one of the compartments up ahead slid open and Severus Snape beckoned to him.
“Snape,” Regulus greeted him with a nod.
“Black,” Severus replied. “Would you like to join us? Avery says your family is a good, strong pureblood family – despite your brother’s stupidity.”
A thrill of excitement went through Regulus. Inside of Snape’s compartment were Mulciber, Avery, Nott and many other Slytherins in the two years above him. Furthermore, they were the group. The group that was interested in the Dark Arts and whispered about exciting and forbidden things late at night in their dungeon common room.
Regulus nodded in what he hoped was a nonchalant way. “Sure, I could join you…until I find my friends, of course.” He added the last part to avoid sounding too eager. Regulus sat down among them, hardly daring to believe it. And when the conversation moved onto the incompetence of the Ministry of Magic, why…he had a great story about the floo network.
Regulus was actually enjoying himself – and these older students were actually listening to him! – when the compartment door slid open. There stood Maya Night; and she was so at odds with the conversation Regulus had just been having about whether or not squibs should even be allowed in magical premises that he actually ducked his head in shame.
Severus looked at her coolly and said, “Night.”
“Snape,” said Maya just as coolly, “Listen, after our little escapade the trunks burst open. I think you’ll want to get your stuff before the rest of the group can rummage through your things.”
Snape sighed and stood. “I’ll be a while,” he told the group. “Please, carry on without me.”
Regulus also stood.
“Black?” Snape asked with a frown.
“I don’t want my brother going through my stuff either,” he said.
Maya and Severus looked at each other and Maya shrugged.
“Fine by me,” she said, and she began walking down the corridor. The other two followed her. She waited until they were a good distance away from the compartment before saying, “Regulus, was the lie that convincing?”
“Lie?” he repeated.
“I just needed an excuse to get Sev out of there,” Maya explained, still leading them through the train. “I knew he wouldn’t budge if he thought he was going to look stupid in front of them.”
Severus grumbled something unintelligible under his breath.
“Come again?” said Maya.
“Nothing,” said Severus. “Is Lily…?”
Maya grinned and pointed. Lily was waiting for them up ahead.
“Hello Sev, Maya…Reg?”
“Regulus,” Regulus corrected her automatically. “Only my brother calls me Reg.”
“Regulus,” Lily corrected herself with a smile. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“He sort of tagged along,” said Maya over her shoulder as she continued all the way down the corridor to the very back of the train.
“Wait,” said Regulus, “Isn’t this…?”
“The platform we used to get James onto the train? Yes,” said Maya. “And guess what?” She pushed open the door easily, revealing the flashing countryside outside. “We didn’t lock it behind us.”
She walked onto the platform and leaned against the railing, throwing back her arms and letting the wind blow back her curly black hair and the cloak she was already wearing.
Lily laughed and joined her; holding onto the railing tightly while letting her red hair stream behind her in the wind. Severus took his place beside her, but didn’t smile as he watched the rolling hills recede into the distance. Regulus let the door close behind him and he walked up to Maya’s other side. He couldn’t believe his luck. Neither Lily nor Severus seemed to mind his presence and Maya…beautiful Maya, was laughing at his side. He let a smile grace his face and lifted up a fist to pump into the air.
“Woo-hoo!” he shouted, letting the wind carry his shout far away.
Maya laughed and threw back her head, letting out a strange half-meow-half-howl that made Lily laugh and Severus finally smiled. Maya sat down with a slight thump, her back against the railing and grinned up at the people around her.
“What do you think?” she asked. “Better than a compartment?”
“I think that you’ve become quite the little mischief maker,” said Lily, sitting beside her. “Those boys in our House aren’t doing you any favors, are they?”
Maya shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that,” she said.
Severus snorted. “Those…”
“Sev,” Maya begged. “Can we just not talk about them? That’s all the three of us ever talk about now. You two complain and I either apologize for them or don’t say anything. Can’t we just talk about something else? The way we used to do?”
Severus and Lily looked at each other and Regulus felt out of place. But he didn’t like Maya’s frown so he sat beside her and said brightly. “Did you get any letters from Professor Slughorn over break?”
Maya smiled at him gratefully as she replied, “I did. About the welcome back party?”
“I got that too,” said Lily. She sat down on Maya’s other side and Severus slid down to join her a second later. “He said to bring dress robes. It sounds like he’s pulling out all the stops for this dinner.”
“He’s a strange professor,” said Snape thoughtfully. “A brilliant potions master but invariably odd.”
“You got an invite to the Slug Club, right Snape?” asked Regulus.
“I impressed him with a suggestion for a potion or two,” said Severus airily, a pleased smile making his lips twitch.
“Or twenty,” said Maya.
“Or a hundred,” said Lily. “You could re-write our potions book if they let you.”
“I just have a knack for that sort of thing,” said Severus as modestly as he could. “The way you do for charms.”
Lily smiled and tied back her hair, which was currently blowing in her face. “Oh, that’s no big deal.”
“No big deal?” Maya asked, amazed. “You two are geniuses! You’re probably smarter than most sixth year students.”
“Everyone has noticed it,” Regulus added. Lily and Severus tried to not look too pleased with themselves.
“Everyone is good at something,” said Lily modestly.
“The only thing I’m good at is getting out of trouble,” Maya laughed. “But you Regulus…you’re pretty brilliant at Quidditch. When you flew in Colver’s place last year when he got bit by that poisonous plant and couldn’t play – you were fantastic. Ravenclaw didn’t have a chance.”
“And that was in a chaser position,” Regulus couldn’t help boasting. “Wait until I try out next week.”
“Which position?” Severus asked.
“Seeker,” said Regulus smugly. “Just wait, the cup’s going to have Slytherin’s name on it this year.”
“You’re on,” said Maya. She stuck out her hand and proposed, “Winner buys the loser butterbeer.”
“You’re trying out?” Regulus asked her. She nodded. “Which position?” Regulus prompted.
“Keeper,” Maya replied. “I don’t know if I’ll make it but I thought it was worth a shot.”
“You’re quick and clever,” Severus told her. “I think you’ll make the team.”
“Thanks, Sev,” said Maya with a smile.
They continued to talk for several more minutes before Severus stood and said, “They’ll be waiting for us.” “Who’s they?” asked Lily.
“Mulciber and Avery and them,” Maya told her. Lily frowned slightly but didn’t say anything beyond, “See you around, Sev.”
Regulus stood and gave Maya a smile. “I’ll see you at Slughorn’s party?”
“See you then,” she replied.
The door slid shut behind the boys and the two girls looked at each other.
“I think Regulus has a thing for you, Maya,” Lily said with a grin.
“Really?” Maya scoffed. “I’ve talked with him before, Lily. He’s really big into the family honor thing. No way he’d like a nobody like me.”
“You’re not a nobody,” Lily said firmly.
Maya shrugged, and then grinned mischievously. “Are you nobody, too? Then there’s a pair of us, don’t tell! They’ll banish us you know.”
Lily laughed. “Emily Dickenson! But how do you know it?”
“Muggles have good books,” Maya said with a shrug.
Lily smiled and stood, stretching. “Mary is probably looking for me,” she told the younger girl. Maya nodded and held out her hand. Lily pulled the smaller girl to her feet and the two disappeared back into the Hogwarts Express seconds before the sun set and plunged the world into darkness.