Long Live (Marauders: Year One)

It's James Potter's first year at Hogwarts and he's got pretty high expectations! Good thing they're not disappointing. He's got wonderful friends, his classes are the literal bomb and Lily Evans is totally in love with him. Okay, so maybe the last one is a lie, but surely one day she'll at least pay attention to him! His friends think he's nuts. But then again, they would. That's why he loves them.
((Part one of a series depicting the life of the Marauders as they go through their lives at Hogwarts, all while the start of the first wizarding war looms nearer))

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2. Welcome to Hogwarts

Waking up from his reverie, James shook his head and raced forwards to meet his friends by the giant man, who was still calling for the first years.  He stood over two metres, a towering figure that James should have been intimidated by, but wasn’t. Perhaps it was the way his dark eyes twinkled that made James feel like he was some sort of friendly figure, perhaps an uncle of sorts. 
Once he was sure that he had gathered everyone, the man (who’d introduced himself as Hagrid) told the group of students to follow him. James noticed that they were going a different direction to the other students and turned to voice this to his friends.

“We take the boats for a scenic introduction.” Remus answered immediately and cringed as the other three stared at him in surprise. “I read it a book…” he trailed off, apparently embarrassed.
“So it was you I caught reading on the platform, you huge nerd.” Sirius sniggered, elbowing the other boy as they made their way along a dirt path to the distant lanterns that glowed ahead. Peter turned to shrug at James, but the boy wasn’t paying attention- he was too lost on his own thoughts about the red headed girl who walked a few paces ahead of them. She was talking to the boy (Severus, was it?)-and sounded very determined as she did.
“Who were those people you were talking to?” she was saying, leaping to the side to avoid a puddle in the path. Severus wasn’t so lucky, however, tripping over the hem of his robes and splashing himself with muddy water. James snickered loudly and the two turned to glance at him. Recognising him, the girl rolled her eyes and pulled a face before turning back to talk to her companion.
“Only a few family friends.” Severus sounded rather bored with the conversation, as if there were much better things that they could have talked about.
“Well I don’t like them in the slightest! Sev, please don’t say we have to hang out with them?” she sounded cross with his indifference and for some reason, James smiled. Obviously their relationship wasn’t as strong as he’d thought.

“Earth to James.” Sirius said, waving his hand in front of James’ eyes. “Did you even hear what I said?” When James shook his head he glanced at the other two as if to say, ‘he’s hopeless’. However, James didn’t really seem to mind that they knew he was interested in the girl. Even they’d only known one another for a few hours, he felt as though he could trust these boys.
“I said, do you want to go in a boat together?” Sirius repeated slowly, as if James was dumb. Only then did James realized that they had arrived at the edge of a lake where a number of boats sat, each fitting four people and a lantern at the top. Pushing Sirius, he nodded and began to make his way to one of the boats, Peter, Sirius and Remus following suit. As soon as all the students were safely secured into their seats, they lurched forwards and began to glide over the inky black water.

“I heard there’s a giant squid in the lake!” Peter said excitedly, leaning over the edge so that his nose was almost touching the water. Jokingly, James leaned over and pretended to push him into the water, causing Peter to yelp loudly and the boys to fall into fits of laughter. 
The red haired girl, hearing the commotion, turned and gazed at the group with a look of pure contempt before looking straight ahead, a stony look on her face.
“She really has it in for you…” Remus murmured, frowning at James. “What did you do?”
“What can I say?” James smirked. “She’s just intimidated by my natural good looks.”
Sirius laughed. “You’ll never get her to like you.” he decided, glancing back at her.

James rolled his eyes good naturedly. “Fine. I bet you that she’ll be going out with me by seventh year. Cross my heart.”
“Yeah, sure. You better keep your word on that.”

Their conversation slowly began to die down as they arrived near a curtain on ivy hanging from a rock. Once all the boats had lined up, they moved ahead once more and it was when James was ducking under that he was it for the first time.
Hogwarts was exactly how he had imagined it, tall and so beautiful it nearly took his breath away. It was huge- impossibly so- and so grand he needed a few minutes to take it in. A warm golden glow came from the windows and he could hear the low rumble of conversation as the distant pointed hats of students disappeared into the castle. If he squinted, James could make out tiny windows on one of the towers. Gryffindor dormitories, where he’d hopefully be very soon.

Eventually the boats glided onto the shore of smooth rocks and the students climbed, all conversing excitedly. Even the girl had a look of awe on her face. And James, well James was delighted.
“Isn’t it great?” he asked his friends as they followed Hagrid up a cobbled staircase to the front doors of the castle, which were at least triple his height and very grand indeed.
“Yeah.” Sirius breathed, mirroring his friend’s awe. “It is.”

Once they had reached the top of the stairs, Hagrid lifted one giant fist and knocked, loudly.
A woman appeared almost immediately, a stern looking witch with a slightly lined face and dark hair pulled neatly under her hat. She had steel grey eyes and James felt as though she was someone not to be messed with- of course he was going to try, however.
“Welcome to Hogwarts.” she said in a no-nonsense voice. “I am Professor McGonagall, vice principal and head of Gryffindor house. Please follow me.”
And with that, she turned around in a swish of her dark cape. The students, murmuring lowly, followed her down into a giant corridor and to a set of large doors which, presumably, was the Great Hall.

“In a moment you are going to be sorted. There a four houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. These will determine your classes, dormitories and most likely, your friends. Not to worry,” she gave her first real smile. “I have known plenty inter-house best friends. Please, however, be on your best behaviour as you enter. The whole school was watching.”
She addressed this last comment to James and Sirius, who were busy whispering about something. They both stared at her with wide eyes and Remus rolled his own, as if it was unsurprising that they’d get into trouble in their first minute of the school.
Not waiting another moment, Professor McGonagall swung open the doors to the hall and marched forwards.

Following her, single file, the first years made their way into the hall. James felt his mouth nearly fall open as he did, looking up in awe as he did. The ceiling was absolutely astonishing, bewitched to look like he was staring right into space- stars and nebulae swirling above him in a sprinkle of dust and lights. Around him sat the older years, students with coloured ties and smiles on their faces, like they were happy to be home.
Home. I like that, thought James.

Once they had gathered at the front of the hall, McGonagall marched up and placed a stool at the very front of the hall so that it could be seen by everybody. Then, making her way back to the table, she produced a very old, very dusty hat.
“I will call your name and you will sit on this stool. When I place the hat on your head, it will announce your hat.”
Sirius and James exchanged looks. ‘She’s loony!’ James mouthed, causing Sirius to snort very loudly and for a number of students and McGonagall to look at him incredulously. Remus sighed.
“ATSBURY, Jeanne”
A short girl with long black hair tied into a braid stepped forwards and sat on the stool. James didn’t fail to notice that her hands were shaking. 
After a few moments of nothing, something peculiar seemed to happen. A rip in the hat appeared, as if it had a mouth and a voice called out.
“RAVENCLAW!”

The first table on the left burst into applause and Sirius and James exchanged looks. It seemed the hat did work.
It was only a few names before Sirius was called, the first of the four to step up. James noticed that his smile had faded slightly and it was obvious what the boy was afraid of. Giving him a reassuring smile, James crossed his fingers behind his back.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat called out and the table at the far right erupted into cheers. A look of relief washed over Sirius’ face and he gave James a thumbs up as he practically skipped towards the table.
“I hope we’re together.” Peter said as he watched him go, forcing a smile. 
“I’m sure we will be.”

The list went on and on and James was getting slightly impatient. Kat Devon was the first to be sorted into Hufflepuff and with the exception of Sirius, there hadn’t been any new Gryffindor students.
“EVANS, Lily!” McGonagall called and though James was hardly paying attention, he did a double take when he realized that it was the red headed girl from the train. She seemed much happier than earlier, grinning at Severus as she sat down on the stool.
It was a split second before the hat announced she was to be placed in Gryffindor and the boy’s face fell. However, James was now grinning. Surprisingly happily, the girl made her way to the table and sat down next to Sirius- only once she realized it was him she gave him a look of disgust and moved to sit somewhere else. Sirius pulled a face at the other three and gestured towards the empty seats around him as if to say ‘you’d better join me’. Peter gulped.

The names started to draw on, and James realized he wasn’t the only one who was getting bored. The older students around him were beginning to whisper and murmur about silly things as well, looking rather tired and hungry. It was then that James began to realize that he was hungry as well.
‘Hurry up!’ he murmured under his breath, at the exact same time that McGonagall announced “LUPIN, Remus.” to the hall.

Giving his friend an encouraging smile, James watched as the boy made his way up to the front, his hands playing with a loose piece of string that had come off his robes. There was a moment of silence and then a loud “GRYFFINDOR!” filled the hall.
Grinning wildly, Remus raced to the table and sat down next to Sirius with a look of relief. James was happy for them, though he kept his fingers crossed behind his robes. He really wanted to be with them.
It felt like ages before the P’s rolled around and even longer before it got to his name. A brunette girl named Mary had joined the ranks of Gryffindor students and now sat next to Lily, smiling animatedly as she watched her year get sorted.
“POTTER, James!”
Finally!’ he mouthed at Peter, knowing fully well that everybody’s eyes were on him as he made his way to the front. The hat was only on his head for a split second at most before a very loud voice rang in his ears.
“GRYFFINDOR!” it screeched and the table at the far right erupted with cheers, Sirius and Remus the loudest by far. James’ mouth split into a grin and he practically danced off the stool to sit down at the table.


“Nice of you to join us.” Sirius said as James plopped into the seat across from him, giving a grin to Lily who rolled her eyes. 
“I told you that you were alright!” James said, referring to Sirius’ nervousness. The taller boy pushed him and smiled wickedly.
“Shush you guys, it’s Peter’s turn.” Remus said, eyes glued onto the stool. Both boys quietened down as they followed their friend’s gaze to Peter, who sat- eyes nearly covered by the hat. He sat there far longer than the others, but soon enough he was also making his way to sit next to James. 
“I did it!” he sounded excited and the others smiled at him. We’ve all made it!

The rest of the sortings drawled on and on, the only other highlight being when “SNAPE, Severus” was called and placed into Slytherin.
Snape.” Sirius snorted loudly. “His name is Snape.” 
It was all James could do not to burst into laughter. “It suits him, don’t you think?”
“Obviously. Aw, poor little Snivellus didn’t get to be with his girly friend, huh? Is he going to cry about it?”

Finally, when WILSON, Gabriel, had been sorted into Hufflepuff and McGonagall had rolled up the scroll and taken away the stood, did Professor Dumbledore stand up.
He was a rather grand person, James had to think. There was something about him that even James didn’t want to defy, surprisingly, and definitely something that he quite liked. His blue eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacles as he made his way to the podium.

“Welcome back, new students and old, to Hogwarts. I don’t want to keep you from your delicious food,” James nodded at that. “But there are a few words I would like to share with you.”
Rules, fun…” Sirius groaned sarcastically.
“Students should know that the Forbidden Forest is exactly that, forbidden. No students are to go near it, there are many dangers lurking inside. A few of you may have noticed our new addition to the forest and I plead you not to go near it. Professor Keating, our Herbology teacher has fondly dubbed it the ‘Whomping Willow’  and I don’t want you to find out why it’s called that.”
“Wonder what that’s about? We should check it out” James wondered out loud, but he was cut off by an anxious glance from Remus.
“I don’t think you should...”
“Why?”
“Just… because…” the boy trailed off and looked away. Shrugging at Sirius and Peter, James tuned back to what Dumbledore was saying.
“-is forbidden in the corridors. And, with that- eat!”

As he said those words, the golden platters in front of them bloomed with about as much food as James had ever seen in his life. Bowls overflowing with salad, a full roast chicken, potatoes. His mouth watered and following the example of Sirius who was already reaching for a leg of chicken, he began to help himself.
The meal passed very quickly, with all the fun James was having eating and conversing with his new friends. They joked about the teachers and which looked the easiest to fool and which looked the worst to, who they thought was teaching what and what type of person they would be. Sirius did a hilarious impression of Snape, complete with slicking his long hair back and peering down at the others haughtily, causing James to laugh so hard he could hardly breathe. When the plates had finally cleared and when James felt as though he was about to explode, the students began to stand up and slowly file out of the hall. A tall, blonde sixth year student called for the first years to follow her as they made their way to the Gryffindor common room.
The other first years- there weren’t many, four girls (Lily, Mary and a tiny girl with bright blonde hair and a girl who looked half asleep) and two other boys (who appeared to be friends already) looked exhausted and weren’t really in the mood for conversation. However, the other four were just as hyper as they had been when they had first boarded the train, still joking and laughing as they made their way up countless staircases until they reached the portrait of a very fat old lady in a bright pink dress.
“Toadstools,” the prefect said and the picture swung open to reveal a hole that lead to a very cozy looking room, complete with plush sofas where various students lounged around a fireplace- all coloured red and gold. “The password changes every month.” she said, helping Peter through. The other three followed them, taking in the room. 
“Girls are on the left and boys on the right.” she said. “At least two to a room, maximum five.” the prefect nodded, as if dismissing them. Suddenly tired, James followed Remus, who had already begun to head up the stairs. There were a few floors, but it seemed only the third floor was unoccupied, with two separate rooms. The two other boys made their way into the dormitory on the left, leaving James, Sirius, Remus and Peter to make their way into the other room.

It was larger than James had pictured, at least double his room back home, with five four poster beds, each with their own dresser and curtains and a door to the left leading to a bathroom. Sighing deeply, Sirius flopped onto a bed furthest from the door. “I’m going to like it here.”
James laughed and dropped his bag down onto the bed next to his. 
“I know am.” Remus said in awe, still standing in the doorway. James got the impression that this was a luxury for the boy, so he grinned and bowed.
“Ah yes sir, refreshments?” he said in a false haughty accent, grabbing a pitcher of water and splashing Remus with it.
“James!”
James cackled evilly and leapt onto his bed, dancing just out of the boy’s reach. “Catch me if you can!”

Eventually they had settled down and changed for bed, turning the lights down. It had been ages since they had made their way into the room, they had spent at least an hour chattering away loudly, laughing at each other’s stories and jokes. Sirius’ snoring filled the room now, and James rolled over, a smile still plastered onto his face.

Welcome home, James, he thought to himself, closing his eyes and falling into the nicest dreams he had had in a long time.

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