How It Began
AN: I've been working on this for a while. This is essentially the marauders era but without magic. Although it's a lot more fun than that. I hope I haven't put you off too much. There's no explicit content but I've rated this M for the explicit language. Enjoy.
How It Began
Like soldiers, the schoolchildren trudged through the corridors, exchanging lacklustre rumour and complaints about the overwhelming sunshine. They manoeuvred themselves in a sticky, uncomfortable manner due to an unfortunate combination of a narrow space provided for walking and abnormal amount of heat.
In spite of this hostile environment, laughter managed to survive (no matter how infrequent).
"I am funny!" cried one giggling teenage girl upon entering the hall.
Her friends did not dispute this, but they did not exactly support it either. They merely took their places on the stiff wooden benches and fell silent.
All the students ceased conversation as the doors closed behind them. The only sound to fill the hall was the rapid click of their headmistress' heels against the varnished pine floors.
Miss McGonagall was renowned for that sound. That clicking. The clicking that instilled fear into the hearts of even the most rebellious of her students. Miss McGonagall was not a headmistress to be messed with.
It was only when she reached the very front of the hall did the clicking stop. She positioned herself next to a blackboard on which was written, "Farewell Class of '76."
"Blazers please," she ordered, in a tired voice. It had been a very long school year.
There was a low grumble of objection, but the few students who had neglected to put on their blazers pulled them on nevertheless.
"Might I add that you should have had them on before you entered the hall," she snapped. "Are you or are you not year 11 students?"
A few students nodded but that was all the reply she received.
"Well," she continued, unperturbed, "While you remain secondary school students I expect you to abide by the uniform rules. Those of you who return for sixth form in September will be able to frolic about in whatever they wish."
Sniggering followed this which she quickly silenced: "Within reason! Now, as you know you will receive your O-level results in August."
It was then that a side door burst open and a very flustered receptionist, known by a few students by the name of Rosie, came into view.
She made an attempt to hurry across the hall, however, this attempt was somewhat hindered by her tight skirt and high heels. Eventually, she did manage to scurry (not completely discreetly) over to where Miss McGonagall stood.
All eyes were on Rosie as her footsteps filled the hall with a cacophony of uncoordinated clicks, drastically different from the infamous clicks that Miss McGonagall emitted.
Upon reaching the headmistress, Rosie received a stern look. Smiling apologetically, the receptionist put her weight on the very tips of her toes so she was made a reasonable height and could thereby whisper in McGonagall's ear.
After approximately six seconds McGonagall's stern expression was replaced with her lips becoming thinner and her eyes narrowing dangerously. She murmured a quick "thank you" to Rosie before turning to face to students.
"You are dismissed," she declared before hurrying out the hall.
(Twenty Minutes Earlier)
Seven shops. He counted seven shops. Well, seven shops and a pub.
Given that the last shop he had seen was over eight miles ago, he suspected that these seven shops were the only shops in the vicinity. Oh, and the pub of course.
Overall, the car journey had not revealed any promising aspects of Sowsworth so far.
"It's very... quaint isn't it?" Ilene Potter stammered, her eyes flickering nervously between the road and her teenage son. "James?"
"It's pretty, don't you think?"
"Stunning," he said in a bored voice.
Sighing, James turned to look out of the car window once more. Sowsworth did appear to be very peaceful. Peaceful, though, had never particularly appealed to him as an adjective. He didn't trust peaceful.
As they turned down an incredibly narrow road, they were soon graced with the rather unimpressive sight of St. Albus' Secondary School. It was a very square building with an overwhelmingly large quantity of widows and green plastic.
As her hands were no longer required on the wheel, she took James' right hand in her left one and gave it a squeeze. "Do you need me to go in with you?"
James shrugged. "If you like."
"I won't if you don't want me to. I know you don't want your old mum embarrassing you in front of all your new classmates."
It might have been true that Ilene Potter was older than most mothers. She had given birth at the miraculous age of forty-two and the following sixteen years of raising a rowdy young man had not exactly done wonders for her aging appearance, but none of this mattered because her age did not embarrass James in the slightest.
"Come off it, mum," he said, flashing her a toothy grin of reassurance.
"No, don't worry about it. I'll wait here."
"Abandoning me early are you?" he joked.
She flinched. "James, please don't say that."
"It was a joke, Mum."
"Well, it's nothing to joke about. I don't want you to think I'm abandoning you."
"I know, I know. I'm a grown up now, why should you and dad hold back on your dream? Especially since you've been dreaming of retiring to France for all these longs years," he recited, having heard this very reasoning countless times over the previous year.
A brief silence hovered in the humid air between them, broken only by the distant buzzing of insects.
"You better get going," she said.
Nodding in agreement, he leaned forward to give her a quick peck on the cheek before undoing his seatbelt and beginning to clamber out of the car.
He was just about to slam the door behind him when she cried out, "James."
"Yes?" he inquired, sticking his head back in the car.
"I'm always friendly."
"You know what I mean, James," she said. "Be nice."
"Always, mum. James Potter: nice and friendly. That's what they all say."
She looked back at him with pleading eyes.
"I'll be nice, mum," he reassured her. "I promise. I'll only be gone ten minutes anyway. I doubt I'll have much opportunity for not-niceness"
"Good luck!" she called after his head as it withdrew from the car once more.
Ilene watched him stroll up to the front doors, exuding his usual confidence. She sighed to herself, knowing full well that ten minutes was more than enough time for her son to exhibit 'not-niceness.'
The reception area was the obvious place to wait, James knew this, yet his curiosity disagreed with this simple logic and so dictated that he wander towards the mass of students filing into the hall.
The interior of the building was no more impressive than the exterior. In fact, the only impressive quality he deemed the school to have was the astoundingly impressive amount of pine it had managed to incorporate into its decorating.
The student body was small, from what he could see, although his counting ability might've been somewhat compromised by the fact that it looked as though every single girl was wearing a skirt.
After a quick surveillance, his eyes settled on a gaggle of girls just a few inches away. Amongst them were some very nice legs, the longest of which belonged to a chatty blonde.
"I'm serious!" she cried. "He said he was really going to miss me when he left and that we should meet up for a drink some time!"
The other girls just laughed at this.
"Why is that so hard to believe?" she inquired of her friends. "Because he's older? Because he's successful?"
"Because he was our Geography teacher?" came an amused voice. James gave what he had intended to be a quick glance over to the owner of the voice, however giving this girl a quick glance appeared to be physically impossible. At least for James.
She was quite something to behold. It would be stretching the truth to say that she was the most attractive girl he'd ever seen. Nevertheless, it was incredibly hard to look away.
She had very dark red hair, a mercifully short skirt and a nice set of legs to go with it. Objectively, she was a pretty girl. But that wasn't what was captivating him. It was something in her stare. The way her eyes widened, her head tilted, and the corners of her mouth twitched as she looked at her friend. It was almost as if she was saying 'come on now, be serious' with her face alone.
He felt safe to stare at her because he thought it was unlikely that she would notice him. What were the chances of her picking out a stranger's face amongst all the faces she had no doubt known her whole life? Not to mention that James, while being exceedingly confident in his good-looks, did recognise that his appearance was not exactly one that drew attention.
He had grown a lot over the past year and his body had yet to fill out his new frame, thus leaving him looking rather gawky. His hair was a mess of black and a pair of glasses sat upon his long nose. All of this added up to a rather forgettable and hardly noticeable appearance.
"Yeah, Cas, it seems unlikely that Mr Barnes would ask you out for a drink," said a short girl who was rather less than captivating in James' opinion.
"Just because he's a teacher doesn't meant that he can't fancy me!" The blonde girl, whose name appeared to be 'Cas' was quite indignant now.
"Yeah, but Barnes always hated you."
"You never did your homework."
Cas huffed. "Yeah, well I think you're all just jealous!"
"Oh, no!" the redheaded girl spoke again."However did you guess?"
"Oh, shut up."
"Or what?" she asked innocently.
"Or I'll tell your mother on you."
"Oh, please don't!" she pleaded dramatically. "She might punish me for the entire summer!"
Cas narrowed her eyes. "You think you're so funny."
James never heard whether or not the girl with the red hair went on to confirm her hilarity or to deny it because there was a tap on his shoulder.
When James turned to face the tapper the first thing he saw was empty space. Then, upon looking down a few inches, he saw a round-faced blonde woman who was incredibly short despite wearing heels higher than any he had seen before.
"Excuse me," she said, her voice sugary and already irritating. "Are you James Potter?"
"I am," he replied.
"Come with me."
He did as he was told but gave one last look over his shoulder. The redheaded girl was gone.
"I'm Rosie, the receptionist," the blonde woman informed him.
He rolled his eyes. "Fantastic."
She led him down a narrow corridor to a door just past her desk ("that's my desk," she had said as they went passed, as though this might interest him. It didn't) on the door was a bronze plate which read "Miss McGonagall, Headmistress."
Rosie opened the door and nodded her head, indicating that he should enter. "The headmistress is just holding the leaver's assembly, she'll be along in a minute," and with that she closed the door behind her.
A quick scan of the office told him two things: this McGonagall liked books and the dark. There was also an abundance of pine but he assumed that this was not down to the headmistress' personal taste but to that particular wood being the overall theme of the school's decor.
His eyes, after taking in the room, immediately landed on a brown file that lay on the desk. He did not hesitate as he ventured towards the file and picked it up.
The symbol of the front was that of a lion: the logo of his previous school. This told him that the file was exactly what he had thought it to be. It was his school record.
Flicking through it he felt a vague sense of panic. He had never realised how many of his misdemeanours had been recorded.
He wasn't certain, but he might have actually gulped when he came across a page that had been entirely circled in red ink.
"Oh, bugger," he murmured.
He acted quickly, without thinking through any of the consequences which might ensue from what he was about to do.
Making his way over to the bin by the door, he pulled a purple lighter from his pocket and set the offending page alight.
Rosie was not particularly accustomed to seeing smoke emerge from Miss McGonagall's office and was therefore inexperienced in the field of dealing with such a situation.
After emitting a small shriek, she jumped out of her desk chair and hurried towards the hall. It would be best to fetch the headmistress, she had decided.
James swore loudly as the flames flicked his thumb. He abruptly dropped the paper and left it to burn in the bin.
He gave the door a nervous glance before sighing with relief: he was going to get away with it. Or so he thought anyway. Into the fire went another report regarding "violent" tendencies. He resented that. James had never been particularly violent, in his eyes anyway. He was perfectly in control of his emotions and was not one for fits of rage. He just got bored sometimes. Was it so wrong to relieve himself of boredom by... well, it wasn't important. Just as he decided to add to the fire a detailed account of why he had been banned from taking his O-Level English Literature exam, the door opened.
"Shit!" he cried instinctively.
Miss McGonagall did not look particularly amused. "Mr Potter, might I ask why my bin is on fire?"
"It was like this when I found it," he said.
She gave looking pityingly between the boy and the bin before sighing. "Mr. Potter you have been on school grounds for no more than ten minutes and you have already lied, cussed, and set something alight. We're not exactly off to the best start here, are we?"
He smirked and opened his mouth to retort but she spoke first, "That was a rhetorical question," she said.
She gave the dying embers one last glance before sighing again.
"Very well," she said, sitting behind her desk and motioning for him to take the seat opposite.
She picked up his report, which he had left open on the desk. Upon noticing it to be open and in a far messier state than she had left it in, realisation dawned on her.
"Now, Mr Potter," she began in an exasperated tone. "I'd like you to show me what it was you used to start the fire."
He gave a sheepish grin before diving into his pocket and pulling out the purple cigarette lighter.
"I thought so," she said.
Due to the questioning look on his face, she felt she should elaborate, "You should note that we do not tolerate smoking here at St. Albus'."
"Oh, no," he said quickly. "I don't smoke."
"If you don't smoke then why on earth do you carry a cigarette lighter?"
He shrugged. "To set things on fire."
"Well, that's terribly comforting," she said dryly. "I would like to know what on earth possessed you to set your own files on fire."
"I suppose it never crossed your mind that I might have read your records extensively before admitting you to this school?" she put to him.
"Ah indeed, Potter," she said. "I assume there were certain documents in here which you were ashamed of?"
"Which is understandable, given that you have a clear history of... well bullying, for want of a better word."
"Now, Miss," he grinned, "I don't know what would've given you that idea. I've always been terribly popular. My history is completely bully free."
"Which has obviously left you with a very healthy level of self-esteem, but we both know that's not exactly what I meant."
"What exactly did you mean then, Miss?"
"What I meant was that you seem to have caused a lot of trouble for the other students at your previous school," she said.
"You could say that."
His arrogant grin remained but anyone with any sense could see that this conversation had entered a rather uncomfortable area for him. McGonagall recognised this.
"Don't look so worried," she said. "Whatever you did at your old school, though taken into consideration, will not affect your time at St. Albus'."
"Well, of course if you were to continue the behaviour you demonstrated at your previous school then perhaps we might have to revisit these records." She shot him a meaningful look. "I don't expect to have to though. Are we clear, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes Miss," he said quickly.
"Good," she said, pushing aside the file. "Now, I understand you'll be staying with your Aunt?"
"I trust that she'll keep you in line."
James chuckled at this. "My Aunt Angie is a good cook, not the best guardian."
"Well," he began seriously, "I once spent a summer with her in Cornwall and five girls ended up pregnant."
While he cracked a smile at his own joke, McGonagall certainly did not.
"Potter, while your future classmates might appreciate your humour, the staff will not."
"Noted," he said with a nod.
"I expect to see a drastic change in attitude when you return to us in September."
"I will make sure of it. What attitude would you prefer?" he inquired.
"Respectful would be best."
He screwed up his face in contemplation before shaking his head. "I'm sorry I don't stock that. I can give you cocky with a dash of enthusiasm."
"Potter, I will see you in September."
"And, Mr. Potter," she called, forcing him to linger a second longer. "A change in attitude please."
Grinning, James gave a quick wink before closing the door behind him.
McGonagall's office had been so dark that James' eyes had a small moment of panic as he exited the school. After blinking a few times, adjusting to the sudden sunlight, his eyes immediately found the pretty redheaded girl. She was not accompanied by the girls she had been with earlier. Instead she was in rapid conversation with a boy.
Not just any boy, a boy with a truly horrifying face. James smirked as he noticed the scowl the girl was wearing: she was clearly not impressed with his horrifying face either. James could see why. The boy had a large, hook nose and very long, black hair that looked as though it had neither been brushed nor washed since his birth.
James gave a small shudder and brought his gaze back to the much more pleasing picture that was the pretty redhead.
"It's not that I have a problem with them," said the girl, sighing. "It's just that I don't like what they're doing to you."
"They're not doing anything to me, Lily. I can make my own decisions," he replied.
"I'm not saying that you can't, but they're changing you, Sev."
"They're not as bad as you think they are. If you'd just give them a chance-"
She laughed out loud at that.
"I'm not joking, Lily."
Lily raised her eyebrows at him. "So you're saying in all seriousness that I should attempt to be friends with these people?"
"Y-yes," he stammered.
She gave another laugh of disbelief. "Sev, these people look down on me. They look down on all of us locals! The other day Avery called me a grot."
"I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it."
"Except that I'm grotty?"
"Lily, you can't take everything they say so personally. They're nice people, promise."
She rolled her eyes.
"Come on!" he persisted. "Don't you trust my judgement? I thought we were friends. Aren't friends supposed to trust each other?"
For a second it looked as though he was wearing her down, if only he'd kept his mouth shut.
"Besides," he continued, "they accepted me didn't they?"
"Yes, but when, Severus?" she snapped. "Not until your parents-"
"Lily, don't" he said.
"What? You know it's the truth! If your dad was still around they'd still treat you like the rest of us."
With the silence that followed, Lily looked down at the floor and bit her lip. The boy she called Severus, on the other hand, allowed his gaze to wander away, searching for some way out of the awkward aftermath of their argument.
What he saw did not make him feel any better.
A boy who he had never seen before was staring at Lily. His Lily. The stranger caught Severus's eye and received a sullen scowl. He didn't like boys staring at Lily.
The stranger did not scowl back and so, for a few moments of blissful ignorance, Severus allowed himself a flush of pride. This was soon knocked out of him, though. As the stranger walked past, he allowed his shoulder to collide with Severus' and almost sent him to the ground. He was rescued, however, by Lily, who had managed to grip onto his wrist and keep him from falling.
"Filthy git," spat Severus, glaring after the stranger.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Sev, I'm sure it was an accident."
No sooner had the words left her mouth, than James Potter turned and made an obscene hand gesture and cried, "Wanker,"
"Then again," she mused, frowning after him. "Maybe not."
AN: There ya go. That's the first chapter. If you're wondering where the marauders are, they are on their way.
I'd appreciate any and all feedback so that I can get a clear idea of how this story is being received and what I can do to improve it.
Reviews are like kittens but softer.