James was so excited about this day. Finally finally he was going to Hogwarts! After spending years dreaming about the castle, listening to tales and myths about it, he was finally going to see it for himself. Not just that, he was going to spend the next seven years, holidays excluded, there! How can someone not be excited about that!?
He was also kind of sad, though, he thought about going to this huge castle and leaving mum and dad home. It was the first time ever he would spend a night away from his parents. Not only a night, months and months. He was, even if he wouldn’t admit it, frightened. It was going to be the first time he was surrounded by so many kids his age. He was not used to that, he wondered who were going to be his roommates. He wondered if he was going to get any friend. It wasn’t easy for him. Well, he was very extrovert, maybe too much, but he never had the chance to make any real good friend. What if he didn’t find anyone he liked? What if he was going to be the best in his class and the others were all dumb!? Not to talk about his House. What was it going to be? He hoped for Gryffindor, of course, like his father, but what if it was going to be sorted into something else?
He couldn’t wait! He wouldn’t wait anymore!
That day he woke up really early. His luggage was ready already, waiting for him in the entrance. He stormed into his parents room and jumped on the bed.
“Mum, mum! We need to go, we need to go!”
For Euphemia that wasn’t the best of the awakenings, but seeing, well, hearing her son so happy and excited filled her heart and made her forget everything else. Fleamont wasn’t any different. They both got up, mostly to stop James from jumping on them, and they all got ready for the travel ahead.
James didn’t stop even for a second to ask question about everything. He asked about the enchanted ceiling, about how great was the Great Hall. He asked about Quidditch, he wished he could play already, maybe he was going to be so good that they’d allow him to play in his first year! He asked about the subjects, about the Houses. He also asked how he should relate to the other kids, the Slytherins, the powerful families that would send their pupil to Hogwarts. When the family arrived at King’s Cross, the parents were exhausted, but James enthusiasm was renewed. When he was about to go through the barrier between the platforms 9 and 10 he was shaking. Everything was so huge and shiny, the barrier melted when he passed through, it was like going through jelly. He giggled, euphoric, his head was spinning, his glasses askew his parents didn’t know how he could see anything.
His jaw dropped in front of the red locomotive, it was impressive to say the least. The black smoke that already spiraled behind it made the contrast even starker. Finally, James stopped talking. His eyes were sparkling and he looked from his parents to the train and back multiple times before being able to talk again.
“It’s better than you said!” he exclaimed and subconsciously stepped closer.
In spite of being up so early the Potters arrived just in time. They carried James’ chest to the closest door, and dreaded the moment their son would get into the train and leave.
James dreaded that moment too. Behind all the excitement, and now in front of the train when the departure was so close, he was scared. His mother took him in a big strong hug. “I’m squeezing out the fear, honey,” she whispered in his ear and made James smile. His father didn’t say anything when he hugged him as strong as his mother, but words weren’t needed, James knew his feelings.
“C’mon James, it’s time to go,” he murmured as if saying it low enough wouldn’t make it real, but people were starting to form a line behind them, saying goodbye to parents but waiting to get on board.
James nodded, his eyes shiny for something that wasn’t entirely excitement but was close to tears, not that he would say. He mounted the stairs and took a deep breath. He turned to see his parents one last time but the crowd already hid them.His only choice was to go forward.
He walked through the narrow corridor of the train, smelling the smell of teenagers, old trains, and different types of food. He checked every compartment, but they were all full, so he kept walking for a while, until he was afraid he wouldn’t find a place and he would have to stand all the time till dinner. Finally he found an empty one, a completely empty one. He asked himself if something bad happened in there that made the other students take their distances, but the smell was fine and there wasn’t anything weird inside. So he sat.
He sat for about two seconds, then he changed seat, another two seconds passed and changed again, and again, and again till he found himself in the first seat he sat. He stood again and walked to the door, he put his head out in the corridor and checked left and right. There were students everywhere and he felt his excitement come back in spikes. Where they going to be his Housemates? Was that blond guy going to be his roommate?
A kid taller than him, black hairs, piercing grey eyes that looked ahead and didn’t take into consideration the students he met, was heading James’ way. He looked elegant, but James understood he wasn’t trying, he also understood that this kid was a member of one of those families of pure-blood. He played a game with himself, he tried to guess what family this guy belonged to. Goyle? Nah, he didn’t look like a Goyle. Lestrange, not even close. James knew some Lestrange, and this kid didn’t look like them. Longbottom? Malfoy? Maybe, he had the elegance, the air of superiority. Most Malfoys he knew were blond but that didn’t mean their hair couldn’t be any other colour. Prewett maybe, but he wasn’t sure.
The kid was just a few metres away when another name struck James’ mind. Black. The kid was a Black. Of course he was. How couldn’t he? It was crystal clear now. And James didn’t like him. He heard his parents talking about the Blacks. They were one of those families that believed in the “purity” of their blood more than they believed in the bonds between their members. This guy didn’t even look at the other students, he was engulfing them like an avalanche without even noticing.
When he arrived at James compartment, their eyes met. But it wasn’t like in one of those tales his mother used to read him. There wasn’t any electric shock, any deep insight in one another’s life. There was nothing. The only thing that changed was that the guy stopped in front of him, waited a second then raised an eyebrow.
“Would you move?” he asked. His tone was neutral, not polite, not rude.
James now understood that he was looking for a seat and wanted to seat with him. He moved, he was too good-mannered to refuse. The boy sat in one of James places (but weren’t they all!?). James still stood, still looked outside, and sometimes glanced at the kid. To his surprise, he wasn’t sitting straight as he expected from a pure-blood aristocrat, the way his mother demanded from him when they had guests or when they were someone’s guests. He saw the kid’s shoulders relax, he closed his eyes and sighed of relief. James was becoming curious. He turned and went to sit in the first seat he tried, right in front of the other. He still couldn’t stay still, though, his feet was tapping not so gently on the floor, and he felt the impulse to get up again and walk around. The Black kid still had his eyes closed.
“Are you a first year?” James was startled by the questions he didn’t plan on asking.
“Yes,” the other murmured, not opening his eyes. It was clear he didn’t want to engage in a conversation, but James wasn’t that good at reading people and even if he was, he didn’t care that much.
“Me too!” he said with a big smile, the thrill alive again, “What house do you want to go in?” he asked but he knew the answer, the Black went to Slytherin, it was well known.
“Why are you asking?” the suspicious grey eyes were fixed on him now, and the tone was almost aggressive.
James shrugged. He was right, this guy was a jerk. They stayed silent for a while. A very long time if you asked James, and looking at the boring landscape outside the window didn’t help. James was too restless to stay still and he felt some kind of weird tension in sitting in front of this guy, who didn’t seem to care about the most exciting day of their life. James was glad this boy was going to be a Slytherin, he was no fun at all.
After what seemed to be ages, James resigned to stay sit and just swing his legs with the occasional sigh of boredom, Black ignored him.
“Lily?” a small voice at the door mumbled, or at least James thought he said that. A boy stood at the door, his black hair was oily and long, with strands in front of his eyes. His nose was large and hooked.
James was so bored at this point that he seized the moment and laughed meanly at him. “Well, if you washed your hair from time to time, it wouldn’t get in front of your eyes and obscure your vision!”
“And if your nose wasn’t so big it would be even better!” the Black kid added, “I can help you with that!” he exclaimed, flashing his wand and laughing a bark-like laugh.
Before the two kids could react, the boy at the door murmured something and pointed his wand at them. There was a loud pop, but nothing happened. Black, who had already his wand in his hand, reacted fast, whispered a spell and there was another loud pop. The kid seemed fine, but he stormed away. James could swear there were tears in his eyes, but he wasn’t totally sure. The boys looked at each other with a smirk on their faces and started to laugh uncontrollably. Maybe this kid wasn’t that bad after all.
“I’m James,” he said, his breath still short.
“Sirius,” the other smiled.
James nodded, but he didn’t know what else to say. They shared a moment, but they also spent a long time in silence before that. Was this kid going to have a conversation with him? Or was he too full of himself to make conversations with others?
“Everything but Slytherin,” Black, err Sirius, surprised him after a while.
“Pardon?” James’ wide eyes were staring at him like he was an alien.
“You asked what House I’d like to be in. Everything but Slytherin is my answer.”
James took a while before answering. If he was right, this boy was a Black, and Blacks were sorted into Slytherin, it was like a tradition, a honorable thing to them. But Sirius here didn’t want to go there. At all. “Well, my mother said that if you ask, the Sorting Hat listens to you. So maybe if you ask it to sort you into another House, it’ll listen,” he shrugged.
“Maybe…” Sirius copied the movement.
After that they stayed in silence until the food trolley arrived at their compartment. James jumped out of his seat. “I’ll get something of everything!” he shouted and made Sirius laugh.
“You’re going to get cavities in no time!”
“What? My mum said I could buy sweets!” he pouted and Sirius laughed again.
Nevertheless, James almost emptied the trolley and shared everything he got with Sirius. “Mother never lets me eat sweets,” he said, his mouth full of Chocolate Frogs (he tried to eat three at a time).
“That’s awful, I can eat them at every special occasion!” James smiled.
“Well, she’s not here now!” Sirius laughed and grabbed a Cauldron Cake.
They started talking about everything after that. Sirius was excited after all, maybe he was more excited to be away from his family than be at Hogwarts, but James could tell that that played a large role in his feelings anyway.
When the train finally stopped and they were about to get off, James was hyperactive once again and his behaviour affected Sirius too, that now was grinning widely at the giant who was calling for First Year students. They risked to fall into the lake when they saw the castle for the first time.
“It’s huge!” James whispered reverently. Sirius was right at his side, both of them stuck out of the boat, their mouths agape.
The inside of the castle was even more surprising to them. The Entrance Hall was incredible, it was so big that James’ neck hurt to look up. The professor who greeted them was a Scottish woman in her late thirties who introduced herself as Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration professor and Head of Gryffindor House. She explained the Sorting ceremony, to big surprise of most Muggle-borns, and explained what the House they were going to be sorted into represented. She let them in the small room and went on to prepare the ceremony. When the ghosts appeared most students were startled, but not James and Sirius. They answered the ghosts questions and made joke at their expenses, they also managed to cross Nearly Headless Nick. When professor McGonagall appeared again they were lead into the Great Hall, and James found the name perfectly fitting. It was Great, it was beautiful, and warm and huge and magical. It was all so great that James wanted to scream.
After the Hat’s song, professor McGonagall started to call the First Years in alphabetical order, which meant that James was going to be close to last, but if he was right about Sirius, his new friend was going to be close to first.
“Black, Sirius,” Sirius moved with his subconscious elegance, his shoulders straight, his head high. Slytherin cheered, waiting for the moment another Black joined their table. The Sorting Hat took a while, James could see Sirius tense under it, maybe he was trying to convince it that he wasn’t fit for Slytherin. “GRYFFINDOR!” the Hat shouted in the end and for a moment the Great Hall fell silent.
“You go, Sirius!” James broke the tension and the Gryffindor started to cheer, while the Slytherin booed still in disbelief. Sirius turned towards James, with his thumb up and a wide wide grin on his face.
The ceremony went on, every table cheered for the new student, but there weren’t any more surprises as Sirius’. When finally was James’ turn, he was grateful, he couldn’t wait anymore. He walked to the stall, trying to imitate Sirius’ stride. The Hat was on his messy hair for just a few seconds before shouting “GRYFFINDOR!” and James had never been happier. The table started to chant his name, and he was euphoric. He sat close to Sirius, and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony before enjoying the banquet.
When it was time to follow the Prefects to Gryffindor Tower, James almost got lost because he was too enthralled by everything to stay in line and follow the older students. He was just able to pay attention when they arrived in front of the Fat Lady’s painting and the Prefects told them the password. They entered the Common Room and he felt home right away. There were tables, chairs and couches and armchairs in front of the fireplace. There were shelves for books and games, and two staircases that the Prefect immediately indicated as leading to the dorms.
James went upstairs with Sirius and they found out that they were going to share a room. James didn’t tell him how grateful he was. It was the first time he slept away from home and having a friend, or at least someone he knew even briefly, with him made him feel calmer and safer. There were other two kids in the room with them. One was short, with sandy blond hair, and if James didn’t knew he was a First Year he would have thought he was still too young to be at Hogwarts. The other seemed to be a shy kid, with brown hair and brown eyes, who however smiled warmly at them while he carefully folded his clothes and change into his pjs. They introduced themselves as Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin respectively.
Even though the four boys were all too tired, they spent most of that night talking, telling each other about their families, their expectations, and sharing the few sweets James saved from the train journey. All in all, James was happy and all his fears vanished when he found that these three boys were nice and having friends probably wasn’t going to be that difficult after all.