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Road of Loyalty

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Roads Travelled". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Over a decade has gone by since the war, but Buffy and Remus might be on the edge of another - against the same enemy as Voldemort is not truly gone. And while Sirius escapes to go after Peter Pettigrew, will his Godson end up in the crossfire?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: Remus LupinladyvisionaryFR13862,0333355,1591 Mar 1327 Jul 14No

Hogwarts Express

DISCLAIMER
This story is in no way associated with, or makes any claim to, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or any other fandom/celebrity/anything else you may recognize. It all belongs to their respective owners. No money is being made from this story which is purely written for entertainment.

Charlie Hunnam as Remus Lupin and Rachel Hurd-Wood as Elizabeth Baddock

1 September

"Hurry up!" Sarah exclaimed impatiently, pushing a trolley with her and Remus' luggage on it ahead of her, while Buffy and Remus followed at a more sedate pace, Remus carrying a small battered case held together with a large quantity of knotted string. "Or I might miss the train."

"We're early, Sarah," Buffy said, amused, as they made their way towards platform nine and three-quarters, easily navigating through the many muggles at King's Cross station. "There's no rush."

"Well, I want to make sure I get a good spot," Sarah said.

"Pick the compartment at the very end of the train," Remus suggested with a slight smile. "It's the 'Marauder compartment.' My friends and I always shared it during every trip to and from Hogwarts."

Sarah lit up. "Like a tradition?"

"Exactly. I'd be very happy to see you continue it. Ah, here we are."

The Lupin family came to a stop in front of the solid metal barrier between platform nine and ten.

"Is the Hogwarts Express really through there?" Sarah asked. "Because if you two are just making fun of my ignorance and I smash right into that barrier, I'm not going to be very happy with you."

Remus and Buffy laughed. "We're not making fun," Buffy said and began to walk backwards towards the barrier. "I swear it." Less than a second later, she abruptly disappeared, having passed through it painlessly and without a sound, faster than Sarah could blink.

"Cool," Sarah breathed out, and then broke out into a run, passing through the barrier after her mother, Remus jogging after her. Once he too reached platform nine and three-quarters and rejoined Buffy and Sarah, he wrapped an arm around his now frozen daughter, who was staring at the Hogwarts Express with her mouth wide open.

"So what do you think of the Hogwarts Express?"

"It's wicked," Sarah exclaimed. Looking behind her, she saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. A sign above the billowing smoke from the train announced the departure time to be eleven o'clock, just like it said on Sarah's ticket. The platform was still fairly empty of people - it was almost forty minutes until eleven o'clock - but there were a few other wizarding families milling around, most of them consisting of older students.

"Do you want to go inside or wait out here for a little while longer?" Buffy wondered.

"Go inside," Sarah said, heading towards the top of the train. "I want to have time to explore the entire train!"

"Alright," Remus said. "We'll take your luggage and place it in the last compartment."

"See you there!" Sarah said, skipping away.

Buffy sighed as she and Remus entered the opposite end of the train with Sarah and Remus' luggage, quickly finding the last compartment and settling down there. "She certainly doesn't seem to suffer from any sort of leaving-the-nest syndrome," she said, putting her head on Remus' shoulder as they sat down. "While I'm going to miss her - and you - something terrible this year."

"I'm going to miss you too," Remus said. "But there's always floo and I'll make sure Sarah doesn't forget to write you, and I'll see you during each full moon... And you and I can always meet up in Hogsmeade."

"It's not the same," Buffy grunted. "And I'll worry for your safety. Not just because of Sirius but because of the Dementors as well." She shuddered.

"I can handle the Dementors," Remus assured her.

"And Sirius?"

Remus sighed. "Let me get back to you on that."

"...And Elizabeth...she'll be a fifth year, right?"

Remus stiffened as he gave Buffy a look of surprise, having thought she must have forgotten about his sister, taken away to live with the Baddock family as an infant, since she hadn't brought her up when Dumbledore hired him. As if she knew what he was thinking, Buffy gave him a deadpan look. "Like I would forget about your sister, Re," she said. "How will you approach her?"

"I'm not sure I will," Remus shook his head. "She doesn't know about me and I don't want to ruin things for her with her family..."

"You are her family, Re, and the Baddocks don't have any right to keep you from her," Buffy insisted. "Elizabeth is old enough to make her own decisions."

Remus remained noncommittal. "We'll see," was all he said, and Buffy gave up, knowing her husband wouldn't change his mind right now - Buffy was, however, certain he would later, once he met his sister, and was more than happy to wait things out and let things take their natural course.

The married couple sat in silence as the clock ticked away while they waited for Sarah to return. Looking out the windows, they saw more and more students and wizarding families appear - both of them were unconsciously keeping an eye out for a shock of messy black hair or the Baddocks - outside on the platform.

Finally, ten minutes before the train was meant to leave, Sarah appeared at a run, her brown hair windblown and a wide grin on her face as she came to an abrupt stop on the threshold. "The train is awesome! Okay, so the compartments sort of look identical and some of them smelled funny, but it's still awesome!"

"Don't run on the train, Sarah," Remus said even as Buffy stood up and embraced Sarah in a long, tight hug, valiantly trying to hold back tears and failing.

"I swore to myself I wouldn't blubber like an idiot when it became time to say goodbye," Buffy choked out, even as Sarah returned her hug just as firmly, suddenly feeling rather teary herself, though she didn't know why - it wasn't like she would never see her mother again. "So much for that, I suppose." Buffy pulled away slowly, wiping at the corner of her eyes, Remus watching both of them with a tender smile on his face.

"I'll miss you too, mum," Sarah admitted, her own eyes glassy with suppressed tears.

"Don't get into too much trouble," Buffy said. "Or at least don't get caught doing it," she added. Sarah giggled while Remus only let out a resigned sigh, shaking his head. "Don't forget to do your homework and read actual textbooks - not just fiction - and make friends. I don't care how many, as long as they're loyal. And keep an eye out for Harry. That goes for you too, mister," she added to Remus who nodded with a smile. "And don't be upset if you're not in Gryffindor. The Sorting Hat makes the decision, not you."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "And I'm sure it will make the right one and put me in the house of the brave and daring where I belong. I'm your daughter, after all."

"Oh, shouldn't that make Gryffindor the house of the cheeky and the reckless?" Remus cut in innocently. Buffy threw him an unimpressed glare.

"You were a Gryffindor too, you know."

"Ah, but I was the responsible one." Remus nodded sagely.

"Sure you were," Buffy rolled her eyes, the sarcasm unmistakable, even as Remus smirked. "Floo me once you get settled in," she added and gave Remus a long kiss goodbye, ignoring the sounds of gagging from Sarah. "Goodbye, you two."

"Bye mum!"

Buffy left the train, just as a loud whistle could be heard and guards began to slam all the train doors shut as the Hogwarts Express prepared to leave the platform. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of Harry, standing with a red-headed man who could only be Arthur Weasley, talking. Why was he not on the train yet?

"Arthur, quickly!" she heard someone say and she turned around, catching sight of Molly Weasley. Steam was rising from the train and it began to slowly move. Buffy saw another red-head in Harry's age slam open one of the compartment doors to the train while Harry ran to catch up, jumping inside just as the train picked up speed. Both of them leaned out a window to wave goodbye to the Weasley couple, Harry grinning widely as he caught sight of Buffy, who threw him a salute as the train disappeared into the distance.



"Hello Harry and welcome to compartment awesome!" Sarah said with a wide grin as the door to her and Remus' compartment opened a few minutes after the train had left the platform, revealing Harry standing in the doorway beside a red-head and a bushy-haired brunette. "We have fun, games, intelligent and amusing conversations and a cool Hogwarts professor who will hopefully not try to kill you."

"Umm..." The red-head blinked while the brunette's eyebrows flew up, even as Harry stepped inside to give Sarah a hug.

"Hi, Sarah."

"Hi, Harry. A little late to get on the train, weren't you?" Sarah smirked.

Harry laughed. "I like to make an entrance. Ron, Hermione, this is Sarah Lupin - I met her and her mother in Diagon Alley this summer, Sarah, this is Ron and Hermione, my best friends."

"It's nice to meet you," Hermione said, giving Remus a curious look as the trio sat down.

"This is Remus Lupin, my dad. He's the new Defence professor this year," Sarah said, seeing her look.

"Hello," Remus said mildly, his heart skipping a beat as he took in Harry's face. He really did look a lot like James and his eyes were so much like Lily's it hurt. "Harry, it's especially nice to meet you."

"Why? Because he's the Boy Who Lived?" Ron asked dumbly, and, in Sarah's opinion, rather insensitively.

"Ron!" Hermione smacked him.

"What?"

Remus chuckled. "No, definitely not because of that. I knew his parents very well - both Lily and James were among my best friends."

"Oh." Ron looked properly chastised. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it."

"What was it you needed to talk to us about, Harry?" Hermione wondered and then gave Remus and Sarah a look. "If you wanted it to be in private, maybe we should wait until we get to the school...no offence," she added hastily, as she didn't want to risk alienating her new professor. Remus looked greatly amused.

"No, it's alright," Harry said after a few seconds after glancing at Remus, deciding to take a chance and trust him. After all, Buffy and Sarah had been nothing but nice to him and Buffy had even said her husband's door would certainly be open to him if he had any questions... "Mr Weasley seems to think Sirius Black is after me." He explained all about the argument between Mr and Mrs Weasley that he had overheard the night before, and the warning Mr Weasley had given him on the platform. He did not notice the many expressions crossing Remus' face, or Sarah's fascination.

Once Harry finished, Ron looked thunderstruck, while Hermione had her hands over her mouth. Remus knew he should say something, knew that he should come clean to Harry about Sirius and what he knew - but as he opened his mouth to speak, he found himself unable to bring himself to do it. For some reason, not a single word escaped his mouth. "Oh, Harry... you'll have to be really, really careful. Don't go looking for trouble, Harry - "

"I don't go looking for trouble." Harry sounded nettled. "Trouble usually finds me."

Remus couldn't help the snort that escaped him - from what Dumbledore had told him and Buffy about Harry's first two years at Hogwarts, that was not exactly true. But he didn't think Harry would appreciate a lecture. "Sorry," he said instead when he saw the weird looks from Harry and his friends, "it's just James - Harry's father - he was the type of person who did go looking for trouble." He smiled ruefully at how easy it was to talk about James in comparison to Sirius. "If there was a path of danger ahead, he'd take it. And that's not even mentioning the trouble he caused."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked, eager for any stories about his parents and forgetting entirely about Sirius Black for the moment, and Ron and Hermione too seemed to have recovered from the shock of Harry's story, forgetting their fright for the moment. Before Remus could answer, a faint, tinny sort of whistle interrupted and everyone looked around the compartment in search of the noise.
"It’s coming from your trunk, Harry," Ron said and stood up, reaching into the luggage rack. A moment later, he had pulled the Pocket Sneakoscope he had gotten Harry for his birthday out between Harry's robes. It spun very fast in the palm of Ron's hand and was glowing brilliantly.

"What is that?" Sarah asked interestedly, standing up for a better look alongside Hermione.

"A Sneakoscope," both Hermione and Remus echoed, glancing at each other in surprise. Harry inwardly sniggered, remembering how he had said to Buffy that both of them seemed a lot alike, having a love of books in common. "If someone who is untrustworthy around, it's supposed to lit up and spin," Remus explained, feeling another pang: if only they'd had a reliable Sneakoscope around during Order meetings, perhaps Sirius would never have gotten a chance to betray them all...

"Yeah...mind you, it's a very cheap one," Ron said. "Bill even said it was unreliable... It went haywire just as I was tying it to Errol’s leg to send it to Harry."

"Were you doing anything untrustworthy at the time?" Hermione asked shrewdly.

"No! Well… I wasn’t supposed to be using Errol. You know he’s not really up to long journeys… but how else was I supposed to get Harry’s present to him?"

"How do you turn it off?" Sarah wondered.

"Let me - silencio!" Remus pulled out his wand, pointing it at the Sneakoscope which abruptly fell silent. "There," he held out the Sneakoscope to Harry, "the charm should hold for at least a few days, but Sneakoscopes do turn themselves off after awhile."

"Thanks," Harry said, sticking it back in the trunk.

"We could get it checked in Hogsmeade," Ron suggested. "They sell that sort of thing in Dervish and Banges, magical instruments and stuff. Fred and George told me."

"Do you know much about Hogsmeade?" Hermione asked both Ron and Remus eagerly. "I’ve read it’s the only entirely non-Muggle settlement in Britain - "

"It is," Remus nodded. "And a lot of historical events have taken place there."

"Yes, I read about that!" Hermione lit up, noticeably happy to have someone to hold an intelligent conversation with. "I read in Sights of Historical Sorcery that the inn was the headquarters for the 1612 goblin rebellion. And You-Know-Who attacked the village during the war, didn't he?"

Remus' stomach churned uncomfortably. That particular battle was not something he liked to dwell upon - Buffy had been so badly injured and Mandy had been taken, something Remus still blamed himself for. Now, years later, Remus pinpointed that event as the moment when everything had started to go wrong. Oh, there had been several horrible occurrences before that as well, Samantha's suicide for one, but the marauders' downward spiral hadn't really started until the battle of Hogsmeade - that's when they truly began to fall apart. He forced himself to smile at Hermione. "He did."

"I just want to get inside Honeydukes," Ron interrupted, to Remus' relief.

"What’s that?" Hermione asked.

"It’s this sweetshop," Ron said with a dreamy look on his face, "where they’ve got everything… Pepper Imps — they make you smoke at the mouth — and great fat Chocoballs full of strawberry mousse and clotted cream, and really excellent sugar quills, which you can suck in class and just look like you’re thinking what to write next - "

" - Chocolate," both Sarah and Remus chorused, identical expressions of bliss on their faces, to Harry and Hermione's amusement.

" - and massive sherbet balls that make you levitate a few inches off the ground while you’re sucking them," Ron finished.

"You'll have to tell me all about it," Harry said heavily.

Ron blinked. "What d'you mean? You'll come with us and explore, won't you?"

"I can't. I didn't get my permission form signed."

Remus couldn't help but feel somewhat relieved - it would be a lot more difficult to keep an eye out for Harry if he was in Hogsmeade, but if Harry was the slightest bit like James - and Remus had a feeling he was - he would probably find a way to sneak out anyway.

Remus decided in that moment that he would just have to find a way to keep Harry occupied during Hogsmeade weekends, to keep him from being tempted. And if he got the Marauder's Map back from Filch, it would make it a lot easier for him to keep an eye out for Sirius and make sure Harry didn't sneak off somewhere dangerous at night.

Remus shook himself out of his thoughts, and belatedly realised he must have missed a great deal of conversation as the trio was back to talking about Sirius again, Sarah listening with interest. Inwardly, Remus sighed, realising he would probably need to keep an eye on Sarah on the map as well. In fact, he thought resignedly, there was probably a bigger chance of Sarah sneaking off than Harry.

"...do you really think he’s going to worry about attacking Harry just because we’re there?" Hermione was fumbling with the straps to her cat basket as she spoke.

"Don't let that thing out!" Ron said, but too late; Crookshanks leapt lightly from the basket, stretched, yawned, and leaped towards Ron, but before he could land on his lap, Sarah grabbed the cat midair, cuddling him towards her chest.

"Oh, he's adorable!" Sarah cooed, ignoring the cat's hissing protests.

"He's a menace!" Ron exclaimed, ignoring the dirty looks from both Sarah and Hermione.

"His name's Crookshanks," Hermione told Sarah who was happily stroking the cat's fur. Crookshanks had calmed down and was now purring in Sarah's lap.

"I want a pet, dad," Sarah told Remus. "Can't I have a pet?"

"No," Remus said firmly. "Neither you or your mother have the best track-records when it comes to animals. I've heard stories about the life of the poor pet-goldfish Buffy killed,(1) and I don't even want to think about the fate of rest of the pets you've had in the past. Your turtle dehydrated, our owl flew away and did not come back, your rabbit literally died of fright, you grew bored of your fish and flushed them down the toilet, and you ran your cat over with your bicycle!(*) You're not getting another pet. Ever. If you need to send letters, you can use the school-owls."

"It's not like I did that on purpose," Sarah muttered somewhat petulantly, pouting.

Hermione looked horrified, her hands twitching as though she wanted to tear Crookshanks away from Sarah, even though Ron and Harry had difficulty in hiding their sniggers.

The Hogwarts Express moved steadily north, and as the scenery outside the window became progressively wilder and the sky darkened as clouds thickened overhead, Remus slowly drifted off to sleep, somewhat tired from his transformation the night before.(2) He missed when the food cart came by, and he also slept passed an unwelcome visit from Draco Malfoy and his two cronies, Crabbe and Goyle.

Sarah was less than impressed by the three of them and their rather pathetic insults and was greatly amused by the way they ran off once they caught sight of her dad. The three might like to pretend they were all that, she said once they were gone, but it was clear they were nothing but cowards. After they left, Sarah was more than happy to listen to Ron, Harry, and even Hermione, tell her all about the enmity between them and their various run-ins during their two years at Hogwarts.

"Your dad sleeps like the dead," Ron whispered to Sarah as the train sped farther north amidst thickening, hammering rain and roaring wind. The windows had gradually darkened and lanterns had flickered into life all along the corridors and over the luggage racks. "We must be nearly there." The words had barely left his mouth when the train started to slow down. Ron got up and walked carefully past Remus to try and see outside. "Great. I'm starving. I want to get to the feast..."

Hermione, however, was frowning. "We can't be there yet," she said, checking her watch.

"So why're we stopping?"

The train was getting slower and slower. As the noise of the pistons fell away, the wind and rain sounded louder than ever against the windows. Harry, who was nearest the door, got up to look into the corridor. All along the carriage, heads were sticking curiously out of their compartments. The train came to a stop with a jolt, and distant thuds and bangs told them that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then, without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.

Sarah usually didn't mind the dark, but something about this had her feeling uneasy, and she unconsciously pressed herself closer to her dad's side, even as she listened to Ron, Harry and Hermione.

"D'you think we’ve broken down?" She heard Harry ask.

"Dunno…" There was a squeaking sound, and Sarah saw the dim black outline of Ron, wiping a patch clean on the window and peering out. "There’s something moving out there," Ron said. "I think people are coming aboard…"

Sarah frowned. Why would people come aboard? Weren't they in the middle of nowhere? The compartment door suddenly opened and Sarah let out a gasp as there was a loud sound of someone falling.

"Sorry!" she heard someone say. "D'you know what’s going on? Ouch! Sorry —"

"Hullo, Neville," Sarah heard Harry say.

"Harry? Is that you? What’s happening?"

"No idea! Sarah, are you alright? Neville, sit down — "

There was a loud hissing and a yelp of pain; Neville had tried to sit on Crookshanks.

"Yes, I'm alright," Sarah said, her voice steady, the comforting thump of her dad's heart against her ear calming her down, though she was surprised he still hadn't awakened.

"I’m going to go and ask the driver what’s going on," Hermione said, and Sarah heard the door slide open again, followed by a thud and two loud squeals of pain.

"Who’s that?"

"Who’s that?"

"Ginny?"

"Hermione?"

"What are you doing?"

"I was looking for Ron —"

"Come in and sit down —"

"Not here!" Sarah heard Harry say, "I’m here!" Suddenly, the entire situation struck Sarah as rather funny, all of them fumbling around in the dark blinder than bats. Beside her, she felt her dad move, waking up at last.

"Ouch!" Neville exclaimed.

"Quiet!" her dad said, his voice hoarse from sleep. Sarah waited patiently, no longer scared at all now when her dad was awake. It didn't take long before a shivering light filled the compartment, accompanied by a soft, crackling noise, a handful of flames hovering above the palm of Remus' hand. Her dad, his eyes alert, glanced around the compartment warily, quickly taking stock of everyone there, pausing slightly on Harry and Neville, and then turned to Sarah, giving her a long once-over. "Are you alright?"

"I'm peachy, daddy," Sarah said, ignoring the sounds of shock from the new people in the compartment - Ginny and Neville.

Remus nodded. "Stay where you are," he said in the same hoarse voice, and he got slowly to his feet with his handful of fire held out in front of him, moving towards the door. But the door slid slowly open before he could reach it. Standing in the doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in his hand, was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood.

Sarah felt suddenly cold, and she began to shiver violently. From the reactions of the others in the compartment it was clear she wasn't the only one feeling the effects, and her dad's face was pale. Then she saw Harry's eyes roll up into his head and he abruptly fell off his seat to the floor, his body twitching, and Sarah let out a whimper.

Remus stepped carefully over Harry moving towards the creature with determined steps, holding out his wand in front of him. "None of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks. Go." The creature didn't react and Sarah closed her eyes. "Expecto Patronum," she heard her dad whisper, and Sarah opened her eyes just in time to see a cloud of silver, without a real form, shoot out of the tip of his wand, and the creature turned around and glided away.

Her dad's shoulders seemed to slump down in relief as it left and Sarah immediately felt better and she sat up, giving her dad a long hug, which he was more than happy to return. The lights came back on, and the floor began to shake as the Hogwarts Express began to move again. "Are you okay?" Remus asked her. Behind them, Harry's friends were kneeling, beginning to try and wake Harry up.

"Yes," Sarah said through clattering teeth. "Are you? You were awfully near that thing..."

"I'm fine. Promise me you'll stay far away, run even, if you see one of them approach you again," Remus said, while noting Harry seemed to have woken up, being helped back onto his seat by Ron and Hermione. "A Dementor is not something you can fight until you're much older."

"I promise," Sarah said solemnly, and Remus nodded, having a feeling that this particular promise was one Sarah would be happy to keep.

"What happened?" he heard Harry ask. "Where’s that — that thing? Who screamed?"

"No one screamed," Ron said nervously.

Remus paled at the implications while he pulled out a large chocolate bar which he had placed in an inside pocket with shaking fingers. He knew of the effects a Dementor could have on your memories. Was it possible Harry actually remembered that night? That he remembered what happened when Voldemort came to Godric's Hollow, even though he had been so young? Remus couldn't think of any other instance when Harry would have heard someone scream... who had he heard? Lily? Or James? Or both?

"But I heard screaming - "

Remus snapped the chocolate bar into pieces, realising he'd probably done it more forcefully than necessary when everyone in the compartment jumped at the sound. "Here," he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece. "Eat it. It'll help."

Harry took the chocolate but didn’t eat it. "What was that thing?" he asked.

"A Dementor," Remus answered while handing out chocolate to everyone else, giving Sarah a piece that was the same size as Harry's, since he knew of her chocoholic tendencies. He inwardly shivered - he had never wanted Sarah to come so close to a Dementor... "One of the Dementors of Azkaban." He crumpled up the empty chocolate wrapper and put it in his pocket, suddenly finding it rather difficult to breathe... "Eat," he repeated, aware of his short tone but not really caring at the moment. "It'll help. I need to speak to the driver, excuse me…"

He strolled past Harry and disappeared into the corridor, not stopping until he was in the very middle of the train, where he came to an abrupt stop, leaning his forehead against a closed door in the empty corridor, breathing heavily: everyone seemed to have locked themselves inside their compartments to avoid the Dementor's effects. The door was cool against Remus face, and it helped to calm him down.

He wished Buffy was here... To just see Harry again had thrown him for a loop, even though he knew of his presence, even though Buffy had described him... and then, the Dementor had showed up, making Remus realise he might actually remember Lily and James' deaths... what would have happened if he hadn't been in the compartment with them?

Harry's reaction to them had been awful to see, and the Dementors might officially be on the Ministry's side, but Remus would never trust them. To see one in such close proximity to children - to Harry, to his own daughter - was horrifying. And it was all because of Sirius' escape. "Damn you, Sirius," he breathed out. "What were you thinking? What are you thinking?"

He took a deep breath before he straightened up and knocked on the compartment door he'd been leaning against. The door opened slowly and Remus got yet another shock as he caught sight of the girl who stuck out her head, peering at him nervously. It was like staring at a younger version of his dead mother, with some differences: her hair, while strawberry-blonde, was in a deeper shade, her nose more pronounced, and her eyes...her eyes were the same shade as his dad's had been. Elizabeth. His sister.

"Can I help you?"

Remus became suddenly aware that he was gawking and he quickly collected himself. "Yes, you can actually," Remus said, readjusting his previously open mouth into a small smile, hoping it did not look too strained. "My name is Remus Lupin, and I’m the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Do you happen to have an owl I can borrow? I need to send a message ahead to castle about the Dementor. Some of the students had a particularly bad reaction to it," he added, deciding not to single out Harry, having a feeling he would not appreciate it.

The girl - Elizabeth - a Ravenclaw, Remus noted, seeing the colours of her tie - nodded and opened the door wide enough for Remus to slip through. From the lack of reaction at his surname, Remus understood Elizabeth's adoptive parents had told her nothing about their relation, just like they'd said when they were given guardianship over her. "Please, come in. Cedric, you don't mind if professor Lupin borrows your owl, do you?"

One of Elizabeth's companions in the compartment, a tall Hufflepuff, shook his head and stood from his seat, moving to unlock the cage his owl was in. "Not at all."

"I'm Elizabeth Baddock, by the way," Elizabeth said to Remus, and then began to introduce her companions to Remus, pointing them out one at a time: "This is Emily Bennett, who is in Ravenclaw with me, and Cedric Diggory and Drew Summers,(3) both from Hufflepuff. Do you know why a Dementor was on the train?"

"I expect it was looking for Sirius Black," Remus answered somewhat grimly while pulling out an empty parchment and a ballpoint pen from an outer pocket of his robes and began to write.

"Sirius Black?" the male Hufflepuff Elizabeth had introduced as Drew exclaimed, sounding alarmed. "What would he be doing on the train?"

"My father works at the Ministry," Cedric spoke up, holding out his arm for his regal-looking Eagle-Owl to clamber on to. "He said he heard it rumoured that Black is after Harry Potter, which is why Minister Fudge has decided to station them around Hogwarts for the students' safety this year. He thinks it is likely Black is going to try to get inside the castle."

"Alohomora," the other Ravenclaw girl, Emily, said, pointing her wand at the window, unlocking it.

"That, unfortunately, seems to be the truth," Remus said as he finished his note and pointed his wand at it. "Impervius." Cedric walked over to Remus with his owl which obediently stretched out one of its legs, making it easy for Remus to tie the now waterproof note around it. "Take this letter to professor McGonagall, please," he told the owl.

"And then you can go straight to the Owlery to rest," Cedric added, stroking his owl's feathers.

The owl hooted, pecked Cedric gently on top of his head, and then flew out the open window, bravely bearing the storm, which didn't seem to bother it too much.

"Thank you for your help," Remus said. "I look forward to seeing all four of you in class," He left the compartment, closing the door behind him; taking several deep breaths once he was outside. Technically, the term hadn't even begun yet and Remus already felt completely drained of energy... How was he supposed to last a whole year? This entire train-ride had been like an emotional rollercoaster.

After talking to the driver, who told him they'd be at Hogwarts in ten minutes, he made his way back to the end of the train. Re-entering his compartment, his eyebrows quirked up as he saw Harry still hadn't eaten his chocolate, and Sarah was now eyeing his piece hungrily. He smiled. "I haven't poisoned that chocolate, you know..."



The Hogwarts Express finally came to a stop at Hogsmeade station and there was a great scramble among everyone to get outside quickly and into a dry carriage: it was freezing on the tiny platform and rain was driving down in icy sheets. "Firs'-years this way!"

Harry, Ron and Hermione turned and saw the gigantic outline of Hagrid at the end of the platform, beckoning the terrified-looking new students forward for their traditional journey across the lake.

"All righ', you three?" Hagrid yelled over the heads of the crowd and the trio simply waved in greeting, before they turned to Sarah, who stood silently beside her dad and had made no move to walk over to her fellow first-years who was gathering around Hagrid. To Harry's surprise, he saw the normally exuberant girl actually looked a little bit anxious.

"We'll see you after the sorting, Sarah," Hermione said. "And we all hope to see you in Gryffindor."

"We'll save you a seat," Ron said and Harry gave Sarah a grin, before he, Ron and Hermione took off towards the carriages that drove all second to seventh years to the school, leaving Sarah standing on the dark platform alone, beside her father.

"You should join Hagrid," Remus told his daughter. "In fact, I'm surprised you haven't run off already." He threw her a rueful smile.

Sarah smiled weakly. "I'm feeling rather...nervous, all of sudden." She gave her dad a long hug, which Remus was more than happy to return.

"I think that's normal, Sarah," Remus said, amused. "Now run along, before Hagrid and the other first-years leave without you."

"Hah!" Sarah grinned, some of her normal spark returning, even as the rain kept beating down on them. "Like anyone would ever dare to leave me behind!" She skipped away towards Hagrid, and Remus watched with a slight smile as he led her and the other new students away, towards the boats. Satisfied Sarah was in good hands, he finally entered a carriage, relaxing against the seat as it took him towards Hogwarts.



Sarah kept her head high, eagerly peering over the heads of her fellow first-years, who were all shuddering from the cold, their heads ducked down, hoping to catch sight of the lake. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see much of anything except the raindrops and the bobbing light from Hagrid's lantern, which led the way down the steep, narrow path.

"Yeh'll get yer first' sight o' Hogwarts in jus a moment," Hagrid called over his shoulder as the first-years came around a bend in the road. In front of them, the narrow path opened up on to the edge of Hogwart's great lake. And on the other side of the glistening water, on top of a high mountain, the castle towered up towards the night sky, lights in the windows flickering with a welcoming glow even through the pouring rain. "No more'n four to a boat! Hagrid said next, once everyone finished gawking at the school, Sarah included.

Moving towards the fleet of small, paddle-less rowboats that sat in the water by the shore, Sarah sneezed from the cold, drizzling water falling from the sky. "Bless you," someone said and Sarah spun around. "I'm Astoria Greengrass,"(4) the girl who had spoken said. Her blonde tresses were drenched with water and plastered against the sides of her face and the shoulders of her black robe. "Do you want to share a boat?"

"Sure!" Sarah said happily, giving Astoria a welcoming smile as she climbed into the boat, holding out a hand for Astoria to grab and helping her inside. "I'm Sarah Lupin."

Astoria nodded, but didn't say anything else, her teeth clattering from the cold. Around them, the other first-years were clambering down into the rest of the wooden boats, and Sarah and Astoria were happy to help two more first-years - named Romilda Vane and Matthew Summerby(5) - join them.

"Everyone in?" Hagrid shouted once he climbed into a boat of his own. "Right then - FORWARD!"

Sarah and the other three first-years grabbed on to the sides of their dinghy as it suddenly began to move off, gliding across the lake alongside all the other rowboats: the stormy weather made it impossible to make the journey entirely smooth, but Sarah found the way the boat rocked back and forth on top of the bobbing waves sort of comforting.

Both Matthew and Astoria seemed likewise unaffected by the swaying of the boat, their eyes transfixed on the rapidly approaching castle, but poor Romilda was beginning to look rather green. "I think I'm going to get sea-sick," the dark-haired first-year admitted, as she put her head down between her knees.

"We're almost there," Astoria said, tearing her eyes away from the castle to look over her shoulder. "Look."

"I'm good, thanks," Romilda responded, not moving an inch from her current position.

"It's gorgeous," Sarah breathed out as she looked up at the castle.

"What houses do you think you'll end up in?" Matthew asked, his voice slightly breathless and barely a whisper, as though he was afraid of breaking the almost reverent mood that had fallen over all the first-years as the boats came closer and closer to the cliff on which Hogwarts stood, proud and unyielding.

"My sister is in Slytherin, so I suppose it would be nice to end up there with her, but I don't care if I'm sorted somewhere else," Astoria said.

"Gryffindor," Sarah said with a grin. "Definitely."

"I've got my heart set on Hufflepuff, myself," Matthew said. "Both my parents were Hufflepuffs, for one. What about you, Romilda?"

Romilda only let out a weak groan in response. "Don't talk to me right now unless you want me to puke in this bloody boat..."

Sarah, Astoria and Matthew shared a look over Romilda's head. They felt sorry for her, of course, but the situation was also rather funny, and they let out quiet sniggers.

"Heads down!" Hagrid yelled as the first boats reached the cliff and all three of them quickly bent their heads down as their boat carried them through a curtain of ivy which hid a wide opening in the cliff face. The water was a lot calmer here, the boats sailing smoothly through a dark tunnel. Romilda finally raised her head, looking pale but otherwise alright.

The boats came to a stop by an underground harbour of sorts and all first-years hurriedly clambered out on to rocks and pebbles, Romilda looking greatly relieved to have firm ground beneath her feet.

"Follow me now!" Hagrid said, leading the first-years up a passageway in the rock until they came out on to smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle. Before he could raise a fist and knock, the castle door swung open, revealing a tiny wizard with a shock of white hair who beamed happily at them which immediately put Sarah at ease.

"My name is professor Flitwick,(6) and I am happy to welcome you all to Hogwarts!" he said in a somewhat squeaky voice and pulled the door wide open, giving Sarah a perfect view of the gigantic Entrance Hall, the stone walls lit with flaming torches. "Please, come inside! Quickly now! We don't want you freezing to death! That would be an awkward start of the year, indeed!"

The first-years let out nervous giggles and Sarah smiled widely as she entered the castle next to Astoria. Oh, she would definitely like it here.



Remus waited nervously by the staff-table for the sorting to begin, alternatively looking towards the double doors to the Great Hall and the Gryffindor table where Harry and his friend, Hermione, were both notably absent. Remus assumed Harry must have been taken to Madam Pomfrey due to his reaction to the Dementors, and he supposed Hermione must have joined him. He tried to pay no attention to the curious looks and whispers from the students, and the glare coming in his direction from Severus Snape.

Everyone but the Potions Master had greeted him happily or at least kindly enough when he sat down by the staff table, and Remus could not say he was at all surprised. Severus was honestly one new colleague he could have done without, but Remus was determined to not antagonise him on purpose: he couldn't help if he did it accidentally by just existing.

Just then, Flitwick entered the Great Hall with the first-year students and Remus quickly located Sarah near the top of the line, standing beside a blonde girl. Sarah waved at him discreetly when she saw him and Remus smiled, giving her a slight wink in response as they walked up towards the staff-table, coming to a halt in a line facing the other students.

Flitwick brought the Sorting Hat forwards, the hat even more shabby-looking now than it had been the last time Remus had seen it, placing it on top of a three-legged stool in front of the first-years. The rip near the hat's brim opened and it began to sing:

"Gryffindor was a brave ol’ chap,
That made me into a talking cap.
Slytherin was ambitious and cunning,
And had his enemies fleeing and running.
Hufflepuff valued loyalty and trust,
Her house is for the hardworking and just.
Ravenclaw liked to study and read,
Yes, Rowena was a clever woman, indeed.
Now, dear children, just put me on,
And I'll put you where you belong."

The Sorting Hat fell silent and Remus silently wondered if it had felt uninspired during the past year or years as he felt the song had been rather short, instead of the long show tune it usually put on. The students as a whole seemed to have appreciated it though, as the Hall burst into applause as the hat bowed and then became still.

"When I call your name, please sit on the stool and put on the hat and it will sort you," Flitwick told them, holding a scroll of parchment that was almost longer than him.

Remus clapped automatically for every new student that was sorted, not really paying attention, waiting both eagerly and somewhat apprehensively for Sarah's name to be called. The only first-year which gathered slightly more notice was the student who stood next to Sarah, as her last name was that of Greengrass, making Remus wonder if she was somehow related to Belinda Greengrass who had married Lucan Davis and taken his surname. Finally, Flitwick reached the letter 'L' and Remus unconsciously straightened in his seat. "Lupin, Sarah."

Sarah sat down on the stool confidently and Remus watched expectantly as she put on the hat, her long light-brown hair trailing down her back in a wet mess beneath it. Several seconds went by. Remus watched as Sarah's back abruptly stiffened, presumably in anticipation, and then... "SLYTHERIN!" the hat called out.



Trivia

(1). In Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3x20: The Prom, Buffy says to Angel "I killed my goldfish."

(2). The actual full moon occurred on 1 September, 1993, but I had it occur the night before (31 August) since I didn't want Remus to have to go home the very night he got to Hogwarts, and the other full moon dates as they occur in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban aren't correctly synced to the actual moon cycle anyway.

(3). A Hufflepuff by the name of Summers tried, like Fred and George Weasley, to take an aging potion to bypass the restrictions for the TriWizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is meant to be him.

(4). Astoria Greengrass is the little sister of Daphne Greengrass, here cousin to Tracey Davis and eventual wife of Draco Malfoy in canon.

(5). Romilda Vane is a Gryffindor who in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tried out for the Quidditch team and attempted to dose Harry with a love potion. Matthew Summerby is meant to be the same Summerby who was named Seeker for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

(6). The reason it is professor Flitwick and not professor McGonagall who is leading the first-years to the sorting is because McGonagall is with Harry and Hermione in her office due to Harry's reaction to the Dementors and Hermione's timetable.

(*) No actual animals were harmed during the research for/creation of this episode.

Episode Art: Charlie Hunnam as Remus Lupin and Rachel Hurd-Wood as Elizabeth Baddock.



Published: 27/04 -13
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