|Portraits in Jade
Author: ms.understood PM
The castle gates, wrenched open sometime near the beginning of all this, were the only reminder that an oblivious world lay beyond what those fighting were absorbed in. Oneshot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Words: 7,398 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Published: 07-30-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3076776
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: A gift for Ruby, from the Gift Exchange over at FNet. This is the long-planned and long-procrastinated warfic, and I finished it just for you. :D That, if anything, proves how awesome you are. Much love, Roob. Also, thanks to my Betas: Lou, Kela, and Rayne.
Curses flew overhead; blue, red, yellow, green, purple flashes illuminating the gloomy Scottish castle grounds as if it were special effects of a Muggle film. The sun, only previously managing to weakly glare down from the cloud-swept sky, was quickly disappearing behind the nearby mountains, leaving in its wake a stretch of battle-marred land. The castle gates, wrenched open sometime near the beginning of all this, were the only reminder that an oblivious world lay beyond what those fighting were absorbed in. This would be the end of everything -whether it would be for one side or the other couldn't be determined from the mass of bodies littering the ground.
Up the gravel drive, past the paddocks and gently sloping hills within the gates, was a set of large stone stairs, grandiose in the sense to welcome and arrogant in the sense to haughtily intimidate. The bottom and top of the stairs were guarded by warthog gargoyles; they were the entrance to the most famous magical school in all of Europe, and toward them raced three teenaged shapes.
"Hermione, you have to keep running! Ron, don't you dare turn around!" Green eyes flashed back over a shoulder, and Hermione Granger recoiled inside at the authority in them. This was the end, the orbs were saying, but I'll be damned if I let either of you die before me. She'd didn't want to thinking about it, and so she pushed her burning legs forward again.
They were running, running so hard and for so long she thought she'd collapse. The battle -massacre- had started early that morning, after breakfast. It wasn't sudden, they knew it would happen, but no one had thought… no one had known it would be like this. The bodies, the blood, the stench. The grounds reeked of it, the people reeked of it, but still they kept running.
Ron, ever the optimist, pointed ahead, visibly trying to keep himself from turning and sprinting back the way they'd come. His brothers had been seen a minute or so back, but there was nothing the trio of friends could do for them now. Fred and George Weasley had been seen, yes - seen face down in the dirt, hands clasped and George's eyes still open in fear.
Ron's extended hand shook, but his eyes gleamed with renewed hope. Around them, sounds and colors raged. She couldn't hear what he was saying! She couldn't hear him, but Harry apparently could. "I know, just a bit farther. Hogwarts will be safe. It has to be."
No one said what they were all thinking, but their increased pace was enough. Hogwarts could already have been taken…
The grass crunched under their feet, robes long discarded and only Muggle clothes on underneath. Harry wore a jumper Mrs. Weasley had knit him, now torn in places and riding up his stomach. With a lurch, he stumbled, toppling into Ron and sending them both to the ground in a pile of frantic limbs and curses. Hermione stopped, grabbed their hands, and hauled them back upwards. No time to stop, no place to hide, color streaking in every direction.
"Thanks, Hermione. Keep moving!" Ron limped a little, but his long legs still propelled him farther than Hermione could ever hope to achieve. Harry sprinted next to her, head constantly turning to make sure they weren't being followed, eyes wide and alert. His wand was between his teeth, hands crushed into fists and pumping at his sides.
The castle was close now, just a few yards farther, and she could see Order members standing at the doors, keeping the enclosing Death Eaters away only by maintaining the last of the splintered wards with their wands. As she watched, she suddenly felt, more than saw, a jet of light stream next to her cheek, and grabbed Harry's hand from midair and whipped them both behind a tree. Harry slammed into the oak, winded, and she pivoted to scream for Ron.
He stood in the exact spot Harry had just been, looking confused and squinting into the dim dusk. He didn't know what had happened, her thoughts panicked, and he didn't know about the Death Eater standing not four feet behind him. Opening her mouth at the same time as the unnamed monster, she raised her arms and waved wildly. "Ron!"
She could see Ron's eyes widen slowly, as if in slow motion, and he saw her and the green light at the same time. Realization flooded his gaze as he stared at her, and his mouth started to form mysterious syllables only to be cut short and turned into a scream as he fell to the grass. His screech stopped before he hit the ground, and Hermione choked on her unvoiced shout to look out.
Hearing the curse and her distress, Harry took a deep breath besides her before looking around the other side of the large tree. His head snapped back around not a second later, eyes forced shut and hand grasping for Hermione's; she took hold of his, squeezed, and pushed him forward. "Run. He shouldn't die for nothing! We have to get to Hogwarts!"
The sickening pit in her stomach opened wider as they left the body of their best friend behind, Death Eater crouching low over the red head, gloved fingers touching and pawing Ron's limp form. Harry was crying as they ran, and Hermione felt tears starting in her eyes too. McGonagall could be seen at the top of the stairs now, ushering the last of the Order in the doors before turning and spotting them. The Headmistress seemed distressed, screaming hysterically with her usually strict voice for them to get inside now, hands nervously twitching her wand to maintain whatever wards remained.
Hermione and Harry reached the safety of Hogwarts, finally, and she rushed up the stone stairs as if into heaven. Hands grabbed at her, reassuring their owners that she was indeed there, and short exclaims of joy were heard above the sobbing of the injured survivors left strewn across the entrance hall. She had made it, they said. The brightest witch of the age!
The Head Girl wondered why they did not exclaim over Harry.
Before her jumbled thoughts could process any further, an echoing creak shook the ground with its force, ringing in her ears. McGonagall was inside, apparently arguing with someone just out of hearing range, and she and Arthur Weasley's wands lifted to point at the door, sad and resigned looks etched upon their faces. Arthur sobbed. Angry screams were thrown up around her, taller wizards and witches pushing their way to the front and blocking her eyes from whatever was happening. Were they being taken? Was McGonagall locking them into the castle, preventing any further fighting and stranding whoever else that was unlucky enough to have not made it, outside? She couldn't!
And then one particularly loud scream reached her ears in the form of Molly Weasley's voice, and exactly why Harry wasn't with her was made mind-reeling clear. No.
Shoving her way past through the mob of people, dodging elbows, robes, and even a few ghosts before she emerged on the far side of the hall, nearest the entrance where the shouting was loudest. Arthur had turned, pointing his wand not at the archway but the crowd, and was issuing instruction for the others to calm down and accept orders before he was forced to hex them. A few bodies still blocked her from completely seeing the situation, but the creaking was growing louder and faster, sending her brain into denial.
Suddenly, Charlie Weasley's broad frame shifted to the left as he restrained his mother, and Hermione was able to peep through the new hole sufficiently. What she saw was far from pleasing. There stood McGonagall, doors closing in front of her, and through them could be seen one solitary figure standing on the steps, wand at his side. Harry hadn't come in, and he wasn't going to. Now resorting to jabbing people out of the way, she rushed from the congregation and made for the half-closed doors. As soon as she was within ten feet, though, Arthur had swooped around and caught her by the waist, his eyes streaming tears as he looked down at her. "There's nothing to be done, Hermione; he won't listen. Don't even think you'll be joining him either."
Hermione didn't understand, and it terrified her. Her eyes stayed riveted to the figure outside even as her hands scrabbled and tore against Arthur's tight grip on her middle, and the doors resumed their impending meeting. Harry was outside and would probably never come back in, Ron was dead, and she was being kept from them. It was inconceivable to her -they had been together through everything. Forests, chessboards, shacks, trolls, goblets, basilisks, astronomy towers, weddings, dementors, giants, magic. Everything in her new world -this world- revolved around Harry and Ron, her best friends, her boys, and now she would never be with them again? Her hands ripped at Arthur's skin even more frantically.
Finally, a sound forced its way up her throat, clawed with her vocal cords and managed to escape out her mouth with startling ferocity. It wasn't anything intelligible, though, so she tried again. Forced words, which had always been so plentiful before, from her mind, desperately. "Harry, no!"
A slow turning of a boy's body, a wry grin far too old for an unmarred face, and a returned shout made their way back to her. "I'm sorry, Hermione."
Pain, horror, hope. "You can't do this, can't sacrifice yourself for -for nothing! This isn't some stupid faerie tale, Harry, there are other options then simply walking out into a battle and waiting for a miracle."
"I've been waiting for one for seventeen years, Hermione. It's time I realised there is no easy way out." He titled his head, first at McGonagall then to Mr. Weasley. "Keep her safe." And then he turned around again.
Feeling tears well in her eyes again, she struggled to remain calm. The doors were only a fourth of the way open now, McGonagall's wand separating her from Harry at a sickening speed. Hermione sucked in a breath, preparing to scream for Harry to come to his senses and get back inside… anything, anything to get him back inside, but a hand, smelling of dirt and rust powder took hold over her mouth. She screeched, tried to bite, but it stayed in place.
Hermione started to thrash violently as the doors narrowed even further, now not even wide enough for her to walk through, and the hand was temporarily lifted after she delivered a particularly viscous kick to someone's shin. Her eyes were wild and throat hoarse as she screamed, "Harry!"
Her friend's emerald eyes met hers with a look of sorrow and determination. Harry lifted his wand with one hand, awkwardly waved with the other, and then turned around again without a word. He took a step downwards into the surging colours, and disappeared into the masses as the doors creak shut.
The dark grey stone of the walls made Draco looks even paler than usual as he ran down the narrow steps of the dungeons. The moon on the night sky, a lily floating in black waters, he ran. A battle was being held outside, as he knew from the screams and flashes of spells illuminating the afternoon clouds near his window. He hadn't been allowed out for the past week or so; an Order member had been guarding his door round the clock, and it wasn't until an hour ago that he'd figured out his entourage was missing. The Malfoy boy had quickly slipped from his "high-security" room.
His return to school seven months ago hadn't exactly bought him automatic trust, he thought resentfully.
Running a hand down the side of the wall, Draco carefully searched the bricks. There was a secret passageway the Slytherins had often used to reach the grounds quickly if they were running late, and it would come in handy again now. His wiry fingers rushed over the stones like they were porcelain at first, gradually becoming more frantic in their hunt and finally stabbing randomly at points on the wall; he hadn't used this passage for so long. Just as he was about to let out a stream of curses in frustration, his hand hit a small stone and the wall disappeared to reveal an extremely narrow lane cut through the masonry.
Taking a few steps inward, Draco began to think about what he was doing -not thinking before doing even the simplest tasks was learned the hard way as a pureblood child. This would be it, a final decision of sides. He would go out into that battle today, and no matter what happened, he would probably die a traitor to one side or the other.
He was entirely in the tunnel now, and he made sure the wall -air pretending to be a wall, he reminded himself- was back in place. The stones smelt of mildew here, left hidden for centuries away from the light of day, and Draco wrinkled his nose. So much for dramatic exits.
The tunnel was short, thank Merlin, and he could already see blood red sun trickling through cracks in the stone further down. As far as he knew, the Death Eaters or the Order had already won, or were lying in wait beyond the escape hatch ahead, but he still kept running.
Draco was at the opposite end of the tunnel now, raising his wand to dispel the pretending air, and then he was out in the sun for the first time in months. It didn't feel as good as he thought it would, the screams of people dying just around the corner echoing in his ears. Where he had some out onto the grounds there was no visible fighting, the side of the castle facing away from the gates, the Forbidden Forest, the lake; catching the last few rays of the sun. He could hear people though, hear them shrieking and yelling curses, dying.
Keeping his wand raised, the blond walked slowly towards the sounds, calculating from the view around him that he would come out somewhere facing the gates or Forest. The thought amused him, knowing that the last time he had come in this direction was the night Snape had killed Dumbledore; the last time he was in the forest, he had run for his life from that same madman. Snape had tried to take Draco with him, tried so hard, but eventually Draco had taken the risk -was he past the wards yet?- and just apparated away. He'd somehow landed in Diagon Alley, and from there had fled into Muggle London.
That had been quite an eye-opener, and he'd struggled for over a month there, making his way slowly to Scotland on foot. He knew the farther from Hogwarts he was, however unwelcome he was completely aside, he would be in more danger.
So he'd begged and pleaded his case at the Headmistress' and Order's wandpoints, and eventually, they had accepted him into the outer folds of their members -outer, outer folds. To the point where he made them more cups of tea and shuffled papers uselessly than coming up with brilliant battle plans.
The trees ahead of him were blowing softly in the breeze off the lake, and his robes swirled in the same breeze around his ankles. He was entering into the battle now, running full tilt towards the nearest Death Eater and using the element of surprise to knock the old man to the ground. Draco quickly used a Stunner, the red light hitting the man straight in the chest.
Just as he was about to join nearby Nymphadora Tonks and her band of Aurors, a scream pierced the air, carrying the sound of his name. He whipped his platinum head around towards the sound and almost fell over in shock.
Narcissa Malfoy, his mother, was racing up the drive towards him, calling his name desperately. And behind her, just defeating an opponent, was his father.
Narcissa sprinted still, oblivious, hurdling dead bodies and cutting dangerously through duels. Her hair was arranged neatly on top of her head, dress robes of lily-white trailing in the wind behind her, as if she'd just been coming home from a dinner party. Lucius, hearing his wife's familiar whiny voice, had lifted his head in surprise, and was now grinning beatifically. Draco groaned, and then snapped into action. His father and mother -and his father and he- weren't exactly on the best of terms.
"Mother, no!" he called, trying to aim at his father while running at the same time. "No!"
She was turning from the drive now, running through the bloodied grass towards him. "Draco, get inside! You can't be out here…" -and her face froze suddenly, not twenty feet away from him now, and suddenly she was falling. Narcissa crumpled to the grass like a rock being thrown in a lake, hard and fast. She looked like her name sake flower, spread over the green grass, graceful even in her death.
Draco howled, looking up at his crazed father, standing five feet behind where his mother had just been, wand still pointing straight ahead. He raised his own wand, not caring that this was Lucius at all.
Remus' eyes widened further with every step he took from Severus Snape's body, resting in the mud near the end of a white tomb. The stark paleness of the other man's skin was nearly blinding against the mud he lay in, wand snapped near his left hand and dark eyes staring blankly up at the words engraved in the marble. It was a fitting end for a traitor, seeing the name of his betrayed in his last moments of life. Remus almost choked on the irony, if not on the gore.
He honestly hadn't meant to impale the man.
He'd mumbled the wrong incantation of course -had to have, because Remus would never do anything like to anyone, not even Dumbledore's murderer. Especially not Dumbledore's murderer. But there it was, in front of his eyes, the tree branch was clearly sticking through Snape's heart, a stunning tribute to the vampire rumors the students had circulated when he had still been their professor. He hoped none of them would find out. He hoped no one would ever find out.
Quickly now, he turned from the sight of blood-stained grass and towards the Forbidden Forest edge. It wouldn't do to stay there with Severus when there was a battle raging -he'd make sure someone went back for his… body, later. Now he had to get back to helping the Order.
The line of the Forest would offer the werewolf safe haven to reach Hagrid's hut, and from there he knew he'd be able to assess the situation and find a knot of Aurors to fight with. He wouldn't venture off by himself again, he was sure; wouldn't risk a repeat.
It had been a spur of the moment idea to go to Albus' tomb when he'd first entered Hogwart's grounds, but he'd thought he'd been safe enough once he'd seen no one was there and put up his wards. Unfortunately, the wards did not keep things out that were already there. Severus had stepped through the trees towards him silently, and until the first hex had hit his shoulder he'd be unaware. He was getting old.
They had fought for a good while, trading hexes and disarming each other so they would have to dive for their wands again. It had been breakneck speeds, of course; Severus being who he was. And then, just as another bout of Crucio formed on the dark man's lips, Remus had panicked and muttered an Accio and the first thing that had responded had been the branch behind Severus. The spy had died at the feet of his one-time master and murder victim.
The trees were thinning now, spilling off into the patch of Hagrid's trampled garden, and Remus ducked down to avoid being seen by anyone inside the hut. He would have to sneak around to the side, just to be careful. Putting the wards back up with one silent swish of his wand, the man crept, half bent over, to the side of Hagrid's cabin and peered around the side.
The first few feet in front on the house were entirely swarmed with dead bodies and Death Eaters. Remus quickly retreated past the empty garden and through the bushes that crowded the edge of the Forest, his robes catching at the thorns and choking him. Pulling himself free, trying not to make any noise that would alert the enemy of his position, he fell back into the shadows once more.
How was he to find the others now?
He had his wand, battered and scratched from one too many a night without polish, and that was about it. He could keep running, of course -the smart thing to do. Rather flight than fight in this case, although he wouldn't find another safe place to emerge until he got to the lake, and even then it'd be risky. He couldn't fight all of the Death Eater's off by himself, but he could create a distraction…
Grinning, Remus looked above his head. The trees, of course. Leveling his wand with his eyes, Remus flicked it in a circular motion and muttered a soft curse and then pushed back through the bushes. Hiding behind a largely unharmed pumpkin, he waited until he heard the shouts until he sprinted from his hiding spot, over the bodies, and out into the field. He could make it to the greenhouses before they figured out that that movement of the trees was an illusion.
The bodies on the ground, and the stench of them staggered Remus, but he kept running anyway, toward the other side of the grounds. Here and there he could see small, closely knit groups of Aurors and Order members fighting the Death Eaters, but he couldn't find the larger groups he'd seen earlier. In fact, there seemed to be quite a few more black robes speckled over the grounds than the Auror and Order red. Frowning, he wondered where Tonks was.
It wasn't that he'd actually given into her confessions of love, hadn't kissed her or told her he loved her too, but after that scene in the Hospital Wing last summer -well, there had come to be a certain understanding in her eyes. The tirades had stopped, and they had become friends again, however uneasily. He loved her of course, had since before Sirius had gone, and now they both knew he'd never act on it -and because of that neither would she.
So now he had no idea where she was, in the middle of a battle, and there were countless red-cloaked Auror lying in the mud. It was terrifying, and it was even more terrifying that as he ran, he could make out faces that he knew. Fred and George Weasley, hands locked. Penelope Clearwater, missing an arm. Hagrid, Fang next to him. Madame Rosmerta, Fleur Delacour, Ginny Weasley, Gregory Goyle, Pansy Parkinson, Draco Malfoy, Terry Boot, Hannah Abbot, Argus Filch.
He couldn't see anymore faces, and so he turned his head to the approaching greenhouses. Slowed to a stop outside number three, still seeing the occasional student body -and in one case a frightened group of third years trying to squeeze together under a familiar Invisibility Cloak- before he rounded the other end into the other border of trees. Here he could see further into the Forest because the trees were far less dense, and about twenty feet in he thought he could see a few spots of red in the trees. Aurors lying in wait for running Death Eaters, most likely. Perhaps they'd know a way to contact the Order or Nymphadora?
He made sure to stand tall and walk slowly as he approached, letting them have the chance to take in his friendly stance. As he got nearer, the red could be more seen easily through the thick leaves on the trees, and they appeared to Remus to be oddly fluttering between branches every few seconds. Something in his stomach flipped.
They had to be Aurors of course, he had no doubt; same blood-red coloured robes, and you couldn't get that exact colour unless Ministry approved for a reason. Maybe it was an illusion to set approaching Death Eaters in the mind that they were simply birds. In that case, he'd ask to speak to the spell-caster, it was a poor job.
But then his stomach flipped again, even after the offered logical answer, and Remus knew something was wrong. He was nearly there now, and still no one had called down from the trees. His gut was never wrong, as Tonks and his mother had always said.
Remus rounded the trees and nearly turned around to puke. These were Aurors alright -just not ones that could be of any use to him. Apparently the Death Eaters had taken captives, and these had been among the unfortunate. Hung from the towering branches like streamers for a party, the bodies of the red-robed witches and wizards blew in the gusts of wind every few moments, eerily presiding over the clearing and making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
Did he dare see these faces?
Curiosity, Sirius and James had repeated in their school days, killed the werewolf.
Moving down the line with morbid fascination, he tried to keep back the bile rising in his throat. Mad-Eye, -oh lord, please don't let her be here- Kingsley, -please no- Adams, -he wouldn't be able to live if- Bailey, -only three more- Perrin, -He felt rather guilty for being relieved, but-Owens.
Mousy brown hair once more shaped a heart face, red robes clashing with her combat boots and eyes bulging above the rope slung around her dainty neck. It was sickening, it was horrifying, and Remus felt the bile finally spilling out of his mouth as he turned his head to heave onto the grass beneath her. Dora was dead, his Tonks -Nymphadora-, and he'd never ever told her-
A laugh sounded through the clearing, and Remus lifted his head from the emerald field of grass at his feet.
Peter choked on his laugh when he saw exactly who knelt under the Aurors. The hair hadn't been a clue at all, not anymore. They were all getting old, and Remus' hair appeared in the weak light to be almost entirely grey. When he looked up, though -that was the hit to the stomach. James had always said the werewolf's amber eyes made him look like a girl.
And now his ex-friend was crying under the swinging corpse of a dead woman, who Peter had just hung by himself, not six minutes ago. It looked as if he'd killed another loved one.
His pulse raced, and his grin grew again.
"Hello, Moony." He spoke into the silvery near-darkness, a lisp curling his words. His friend's -enemy's- eyes widened, and Peter saw him slowly begin to raise himself from the ground, knees cracking.
"Wormtail. Peter, did you do this? Did you kill Nymphadora?" His voice was deadly calm as he spoke, and Peter remembered this. This underlying passion and anger at the world; now directed at him. They both started to circle the other, Remus moving to the trees and Peter to the bodies.
"Nymphadora, Remus? Know this one, ah, personally, do you?" He questioned, reaching up to caress the woman in question, smirking as he ran his hand up her calf and Remus' wand raised higher. His hand only shook a little in the process.
"Don't touch her."
Hand stretched to the Auror's thigh. "She's a half blood, Remus."
Remus jabbed his wand at Peter violently, shooting a spell across the clearing. "DON'T TOUCH HER!" And there was the anger; there was the hatred. Peter grinned, and his heartbeat skipped; he dodged.
They weren't as quick as they used to be, but more evenly matched than in school. Though Peter knew fewer spells, the ones he did know were more dangerous than anything Remus was willing to cast. They paced around the circle of grass, dead bodies swinging above them and occasionally being brushed by stray spells. 'Nymphadora', as Remus had called her, hung off to the right, no longer touched by either hands or spells. Peter made sure to keep away from her for the moment.
The light of the incantations lit up the immediate sky above them, streaking green and other colours in the now dark woods. Peter and Remus ducked together as a branch from above was hit with a slicing hex and fell, splitting a rope on its way, knocking down a black Auror -Peter didn't know his name- to the ground.
Remus looked murderous, but Peter wasn't afraid. His master had taught him spells and given him gifts -a flex of his silver hand at the reminder- the other man couldn't even dream of, oh no. More painful, more satisfying things.
Peter couldn't remember being like this until Voldemort, actually. Couldn't remember what his ideas and feelings had been in school, and couldn't fathom why he'd ever willingly consorted with so many disgusting blood traitors and filth. Now he had real confidence, given to him by the knowledge that with one little -flick- of his wrist and a flash of green, anyone could be disposed of at his whim. Even Remus.
But the werewolf was moving too fast, too much, everywhere at once, and Peter's head was spinning as he tried to fire off spell after spell. The clearing and trees were spinning, and still Remus' spells came at him. He'd have to stop this now, before he lost the upperhand completely. But how to stop Lupin?
His precious "Nymphadora" or some such silly name -Remus seemed very attached to her.
Yes, the corpse would work perfectly, he thought as he eyed the space above her.
Raising his wand arm as if to launch another spell, Peter pretended to stumble backwards as the curse rolled from his lips, wand arching upwards -past aiming at Remus- as the Death eater convincingly tried to catch his balance. The jet of light that shot out of the wand as Peter fell was purple and thin, but when it struck through the canopy of trees above them it was deadly.
It struck its mark, and Peter internally praised his Lord for the aiming lessons. Diving quickly to the side into the bushes, Peter watched as a large branch came screaming from the black sky towards the ground, bodies still attached and flying ahead of it like warning flares in their red robes. Remus' wand was lowered as he watched in horror. The mousy brown haired woman struck the ground with a resounding thud, the other bodies and tree branch -the thing almost as thick as a car- crashing around her in a shake that made birds fly from the forest with almighty squawks of protest.
Silence filled Peter's ears after the leaves settled on the ground and birds quieted, and he sidestepped his way over bramble, coming to a halt with his wand pressed against Remus' back. The werewolf made no move to defend himself, and Peter was quick to grab the wand hanging limply from the other man's hand and snap it in half across his knee. He wouldn't take any chances.
Still, Remus only stared at the puddle of bones, red robes, and ratted brown hair lying not fifteen feet from him, half obscured under the large mass of splintered wood. His ex-friend didn't even react when the ropes flew out of Peter's wand, stringing themselves across Remus' limbs and forcing him to the ground. Bound. Helpless.
Peter hadn't expected it to work this well; it made him the tiniest nervous. 'Too easy, too easy, too easy.'
He was also beginning to realise that this was it. He was about to kill Remus, his childhood friend. Sure, he'd betrayed Lily and James, but he'd been frightened -and he hadn't actually conducted the murders. Just assisted.
This, this however would be on his hands. Here was his old friend, lying bound on the ground and staring at the woman he mostly likely loved -he'd killed her too, but it didn't matter like this- and Peter was going to kill him.
He'd be the last Marauder. Wormtail. Alone.
He'd been alone for years, his mind whispered, eerily reminiscent of his Lord. Yes, they'd abandoned him when they left school -betrayed him, not the other way around. Everyone got what they deserved. Everyone had underestimated poor, stumbling little Peter Pettigrew and now they were all paying the price. There was nothing wrong with this, killing Remus; it was justice.
It was justice.
And so as Peter's mind dwelled on those years of living in the shadow, or following three popular boys like a lovesick puppy, he didn't feel any pity at all for the man lying down at his feet, pride broken. His lips curled upwards in a mocking, twisted smile and he bent, bent down a few feet away where this Dora lay, and making sure he had Remus' golden gaze locked on him, he pressed his grinning mouth to her cold, lifeless blue ones.
"What soft lips the young have, eh Remus?"
And this was the other man's breaking point, he knew. This was the unthinkable to him, the disgusting and grotesque. Peter winked and bent again to smooth his lips over the woman's pale forehead. Remus looked ready to be sick, and he began to finally struggle against his bonds, still seething in silence. Not for long.
"It's too bad she was a halfblood -or an Auror for that matter. We could have had some real fun before the end." He went on, "To die so young… reminds me of Lily, this one."
"You bloody bastard!"
Peter arched an eyebrow curiously. "She wasn't pregnant, was she? Or perhaps already a young mother, as Lily was? I admit, it would be… ironic."
"Sore spot, Remus?"
"Don't talk about her."
"Lily was prettier, anyways." Peter let his eyes darken, tongue caressing his lip. "Always did have a bit of thing for redheads, you know."
Remus literally growled, his arms twisting against the ropes. "You bloody little rat! You betrayed them, you betrayed us! And now, now you've killed her! The one thing... Dora… I never tol…"
Peter beamed, eyes lighting up. "Never told her, did you? That's typical of you Remus -so noble, so caring, so stupid." He kicked the girl, "I've got an idea. Let's tell her now, shall we?"
"Stop it, Peter. Don't you dare."
The blond haired man kneeled down, wand still pointed at Remus, one eye focused on the Auror. "Dora, Dora, I've got a secret! Can you guess it?" Blank, blue eyes stared up at him, "Nooo?"
Peter shoved the woman roughly, then playfully bent down again and whispered loudly in her ear like a teenage girl. "Remus here, the werewolf, the coward; he loves you. Isn't that sweet?"
Peter glared, weaving his fingers into the mousy brown hair and jerking the corpse's head upwards to stare into his eyes. "Do you love him too, Dora?"
"STOP IT!" Peter could see the ropes fraying at Remus' elbows, arms rubbed raw from straining at them.
"She does love you! How lovely! What a brilliant happily ever after. Remus, you lucky man!"
"No, I'm just making up for your wrongs." A twirl of Peter's wand, and the ropes retightened around Remus, making the man on the ground wince in pain, eyes still fixed on the dead witch.
"My wrongs?" He choked out, "MY wrongs, Peter? Look what you've just done -you've killed all these people! For what, a crazed tyrant who couldn't give a damn about you?"
"Shut you mouth, Lupin. I am my Lord's most faithful servant; the one who came back to him, the one who brought him back to life!"
But Remus never could resist contradicting him, Peter remembered, and the amber eyes in front of him were heating up -but still staring at the girl's body, yes-, mouth opening for some surely scathing reply. Peter cut him off. "And if I weren't appreciated, why would my Master have given me this--?"
Before Remus could open his mouth further, Peter had scrambled to his feet and lunged at the helpless man, arm outstretched. His hand wrapped around Remus' throat, and the silver and brown haired Order member looked confused for a moment, looking away from the corpse and up into the eyes of his captor. Peter could tell the exact second he realised what was going on, for his hands desperately started jerking in their bonds, eyes wide and mouth silently screaming.
The werewolf was helpless though. The silver hand had already touched him, weakening him, burning him, killing him. Still, he struggled.
Peter squeezed one last time as Remus' jerky movements started to grind to a halt, limbs going lax, and he stood up and looked down on his now dying old friend. Remus' eyes, dropping low and looking hollower by the second, were again fixed on the corpse of the girl. Pitiful.
"Look at you, Moony. You always were too weak when James and Sirius weren't there to protect you. Not much of the Big Bad Wolf in you, heh? Undertsandable. I was weak too, still am, always will be. But I'm not a coward anymore. No."
Remarkably, the half-dead Remus managed to choke out two words. "You are."
"What would you know of it, you halfbreed scum? Nothing." He released the ropes. "Now why don't you crawl over to precious Dora and say your last farewell -you always were sentimental like that." Peter smirked as Remus actually tried to do so, muscles collapsing before he even raised himself from the forest floor.
"Too weak? Well, that can be helped. Wingardium Leviosa." The girl's corpse lifted from the ground, twisted legs freeing themselves from amid the leaves, and the body came to a rest besides Remus, floating gently to the ground. The dying man clutched at the cold hand, but said nothing.
"No last proclamations of love and honor, Moony? Shame, and here I was trying to be thoughtful and kind. Would you just like me to end it quickly, then? A swift Avada and be done with it?"
A hoarse voice nothing like the man's normal one rasped from the werewolf's throat. "Yes."
"Ask me for it, Moony. Be polite."
Remus tilted his head from where it had been staring up into the sky, watching the few remaining Auror's swing, and he looked unblinkingly into the woman's blue, empty gaze. "Please, Peter."
Peter knew the last thing his old friend saw was blue and green.
"So, Albus, you're saying something… something about Harry, is wrong?" Lily asked, staring down at the baby in her arms, hospital sheets still soaking with her sweat from the delivery. How could anything be wrong with her perfect little baby?
"Not necessarily wrong, my dear. You must understand that the prophecy itself is only the medium for his destiny. A warning, if you will, of the possibility. Besides, it may not even be little Harry -it spoke of two boys, after all."
"It isn't him," she whispered in such a low voice only the baby heard. "Albus, he has ten fingers, ten toes, my eyes, James' hair! He's just our -my- little baby."
"Lily, you must try to understand-"
"There is nothing to understand. You've got the wrong baby."
"The prophecy said two-" Insistent blue eyes, twinkle absent stared at her, a low sound of frustration escaping the man's twisted mouth at her denial. The Headmaster's voice was soft, mindful of the fitful bundle in the woman's arms.
"I don't care what some crackpot, desperate woman said in an interview, Dumbledore. Harry can't possibly be destined for something like that." Lily hissed, clutching Harry tightly.
"Miss Evans, I-"
"Mrs. Potter, sir. I am no longer your student, no longer yours to manipulate. If you'd be so kind as to leave, this is a day for my family. I will Owl you in a few weeks."
"Lily, we don't have a few weeks! Voldemort could come crashing into St. Mungos in five minutes, for all I know!"
A shrill cry broke through the tension filled air, sending Lily into a frenzy, patting and cooing over her crying child. James, who had been until now been silently standing in the corner watching his wife defend their son, stood up straight. He moved toward Lily, wrapping a protective arm around his wife and son, and looked at Albus Dumbledore.
"If what you're saying is true Albus," Lily stiffened in James' arms as he spoke, and she could feel the rumbling of his chest against her side. "Harry might die."
"Lily, hush. Albus -Albus you have to have been mistaken."
"I'm sorry, James, Lily. Please Owl me as soon as possible. My best wishes to little Harry and your family -congratulations." Lily watched as the old man backed from the room, almost being shoved aside as Sirius, Peter, and Remus crowded back into the small ward.
"What was that about?" Sirius asked, touching his godson's tiny hand reverently.
"Nothing -a mistake," James answered cheerfully. Lily just looked down at Harry, adjusting her hold on him. He had quieted down when Dumbledore left the room.
"Odd, that. What'd he say?" Remus asked, arm slung around the stockier Peter's shoulders, leaning casually against his friend and looking worse for wear due to the previous full moon.
"Something about a prophecy some would-be-professor spouted at him. Nothing to worry about -just a bunch of rubbish."
"Prophecy?" Peter questioned, eyes oddly lit, and Lily unconsciously moved Harry away from him. "What kind of prophecy?" He seemed excited, looking at Harry with an unwavering stare.
"Rubbish," Sirius brushed the topic away easily. "Anyway, what's the tyke's middle name, Lily? I think Harry Sirius Potter has a ring, don't you?"
And although Lily smiled down into Harry's crinkled green eyes and brushed the tiny stands of jet black hair away from his forehead -while James playfully hit Sirius- she could feel something was incredibly wrong.
A/N: This was my baby for maybe three months, and now it's all grown up. I think this is the longest one-shot I've ever written, and that's rather sad. But anyways, your verdict is?