The Crossroads

Peter Pettigrew graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry a year ago. Thanks to his three best friends he has since found himself mixed up in the wizarding war, like it or not. His involvement has not gone unnoticed by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, who have a proposition for him. The question is: will Peter be brave enough to say no?

Author's Note: This is an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a while. I put off writing it for ages because it is sort of dark and depressing, but I finally decided that I should just write it down and get it out of my head. And so, here it is.

And, of course, I don't own Harry Potter.

Autumn 1979

Peter Pettigrew was exhausted. It was two days past the full moon and, for the first time in a few months, he had spent the night running around with his friends. Their adventures had been harder to organize since they had graduated from Hogwarts, between their duties for the Order and the fact that they had actual, proper jobs.

Peter had started working for the Department of Experimental Charms in the winter and, ever since, he had been exceptionally busy. He had no more work to do than he'd had the year before, when he had been struggling to study for his NEWTs, but this was different. At his job, he had nobody to rely on but himself. He had done his best to finish all his work at school by himself, but he had struggled. He was a Gryffindor, not a Ravenclaw. James and Sirius had helped him along for years, with everything from Transfiguration to Ancient Runes. One of the only things he hadn't had trouble with was Charms, which was why he had settled for his job as an assistant to somebody who was little more than an assistant themselves. At least he got to see some interesting things.

He got to see more interesting things when he was working for the Order, but he'd had less and less time for that lately. He knew Remus didn't have much time either, so he'd been doing his best to make it to be with his friend on the full moon. Peter knew that Remus was stretched just as thin as he was, but in a different way. While he had been spending all of his time at work, doing boring things for bossy people, Remus was struggling to find steady pay. Peter felt bad for his old friend, but he wasn't that surprised. After all, he had a hard enough time getting a couple days a week away from his job and the seemingly endless owls that came with it. Remus couldn't work like that. He needed a few days each month free, and not just in the way Peter felt like he needed days off.

And so, for Remus's sake, Peter had forced himself to go out the night before. He was burning out after six straight at his boss's beck and call, dealing with issues she dubbed emergencies (he sighed, thinking that she thought everything was an emergency), but he couldn't skip out on Remus two months in a row. He had told himself that he had spent plenty of all-nighters with his friends at Hogwarts and that running around always made him feel better then, so he had made himself apparate to Remus's.

While Remus was gone, waiting to change, James and Sirius had started talking about what they had been doing. Peter had listened as they talked about the adventures they had gone on, jealousy bubbling up inside of him. Neither James nor Sirius had to worry about money, having inherited sums Peter couldn't wrap his head around from their families. Not having to worry about work, they had thrown themselves into the Order unflinchingly. In school James had claimed he wanted to be an Auror and now, under Dumbledore's commands, he was able to do the sorts of things he wanted without the additional three years of training. He said he might go back to that plan and go through Auror training "later", after He Who Must Not Be Named had been defeated, but for now he didn't think it was necessary.

Sirius was much the same. He'd had all these wild ideas about what to do when they were in school. He had brushed off the idea of going to school to be an Auror with James and claimed that he was going to be some kind of activist or lawyer for Muggle rights. Peter had been convinced it was just to annoy Mr and Mrs Black (who, frankly, Peter didn't think were people you wanted to mess with), but he had stuck with it even after running away from home to live with James. In a weird sort of way, he too was doing what he wanted to do. In fact, Peter suspected Sirius preferred things this way, since his original plan would have involved more academia than action.

Peter tried to tell himself that it wasn't their fault that he was stuck at a boring job while they got to take part in duels, but he was still bitter. He didn't have the skills that his friends had, so he didn't get to go on the most dangerous missions. Even when he was sick Remus got to do things, since Dumbledore was trying to get in contact with other werewolves. Peter didn't have the wealth that his friends had either. Nor the charisma. He knew he wasn't as attractive as his friends either. When he thought about it all, it was depressing.

As they ran around under the full moon as Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs for the first time in a few months, Peter felt more at home than he had in a long time. After their years at Hogwarts together, he had figured out how to read the werewolf's actions well enough to avoid his snaps and snarls. There were still some times that he had to scurry and hide under Prongs or Padfoot, letting the bigger animagi keep the werewolf in check when needed. When they ran he would clamour onto the back of the stag and do his best to hold on for dear life, which was surprisingly difficult as a rat.

They only left Remus in the early hours of the morning, after he had undergone the transformation back to his usual form. Sirius left first, since he had an early morning meeting with somebody. He didn't tell them what specifically, just that it was order related.

Peter and James stayed longer. Peter helped Remus to his bed and Moony was out nearly as soon as his head hit the pillow. Peter made sure Remus had some water and potions for pain on the floor beside his bed before slipping out of his bedroom. He found James later rifling around in Moony's kitchen, his dark hair a mess.

"Look at this," James said, pointing into the open fridge as Peter came in. "This fruit is going, he's almost out of milk," he pushed some more things around, "and his freezer is in even worse shape." James sighed. "Moony needs to swallow his bloody pride and ask for help if he needs it." After a moment, he added, "I'm going to bring some food for him tonight or tomorrow. Or Lily will."

"Tell her hello from me," Peter said. He did his best to stifle a yawn, but failed, which made James laugh.

"Go take a nap Wormtail."

Peter nodded. "If you want, I can check in on Moony tomorrow," he said.

When James nodded, Peter knew that it was not only an agreement to what he said but also an acceptance that he would stop by later that night. "I'll make sure he eats something tonight. Bring him what's left of our dinner or something."

With a wave, Peter apparated out. The pressure all around him made it hard to breathe and he felt like he was somehow being stretched and compressed all at once. Even after two years, he found it hard to get used to the sensation. Thankfully it was over quickly and he found himself back in his flat, trying not to gasp for air.

He knew his flat was obviously the home of a single man. He had an old, beat-up plaid couch in the sitting room, beside a coffee table littered with old copies of the Daily Prophet he hadn't gotten around to tossing yet. He hadn't done much in terms of decorating, due to lack of funds, time, and ideas, but he did have a few framed photos up on the wall. From where he stood, it looked like most of the occupants of them were still asleep.

The early morning light was trying to force its way through the drawn blinds, but with the drapes closed Peter had to admit that it was pretty dreary in his flat. At the moment, he didn't care much. He had been up for close to twenty-four hours and needed to get to bed.

Standing in his sock feet, he double checked that his door was locked. Content with what he saw, he took a few steps towards his bedroom. Those few feet were as far as he got before he felt something hit his head and he was falling.

He had no idea how long it took before he became aware that he was lying on the floor, his back against the scratchy carpet that lined his entire flat. But that didn't seem right. He must've fallen on his face… right? And through his eyelids, he could tell that the overhead light was on. He knew for a fact that he hadn't turned that on, because he intended to go right to bed.

Things started to come back to him then. He had rounded the corner from his coat closet to the hallway to his bedroom when he felt a pain and collapsed. That meant that somebody – or something – had been waiting for him.

Doing his best to muster up his Gryffindor courage, Peter told himself that he had to open his eyes. He could do nothing to defend himself lying down like this. His wand had been in his back pocket (he could hear Moody's voice in his head, talking about some wizard he knew who lost a buttock due to that very thing) but he couldn't feel it.

He resisted the urge to gulp. Clearly, whoever had knocked him out had wanted him disarmed and to take him by surprise. Given the nature of things, he could only think of one group that would be targeting him: Death Eaters.

He could hear whispers coming from somewhere off to his left. They were whispering, so he couldn't catch what they were saying, but there were two very distinct male voices. One of them had a Northern accent, while the other's voice was much deeper. Peter wasn't surprised that he was outnumbered, but he felt his heart sink. How could you formulate a plan for this sort of situation? Before he could come up with anything, he heard heavy footfalls making their way to him. The noise stopped what must have been only a few feet away from his face. Suddenly, a foot made contact with his ribs.

Peter couldn't help but wince and let out an involuntary grunt of pain, which made whoever kicked him laugh. "About bloody time you got back. And don't try to disapparate, because you won't be able to." It was the accented voice. "Where did you run off to last night?"

Ignoring the pain in his side, Peter forced himself to sit up. As he expected, there were two male Death Eaters in his sitting room. The one near him had his wand pointing straight at Peter's face, while the other had his arms folded. His eyes were hidden by a mask, but his scowl could clearly be seen.

Doing his best to keep his voice steady, Peter said, "I was out with friends." In his head, he could hear the voices of other Order members giving him advice when he had first joined up. Assess the area and your enemies for weak points. Look for identifying features of the enemy. Cover your partner's back (oh, how he wished he had a partner right now). Never divulge secretes. And, if needed, stall while you try to figure out what is going on. "W-what are you doing in my house?" Damn it. His stutter betrayed his nerves.

The one nearest him sneered. "The Dark Lord knows what you're a part of."

Thoughts of the Order ran through Peter's mind. He forced himself to look the man in the eyes. (They were blue, he noted, and so light that the irises were close to colourless.) "I don't know what you're talking about." He was surprised by how confident he sounded.

"Lies," the man with the deep voice spat. When his partner looked over at him, he fell silent.

"We all know you aren't telling the truth Peter," the first man said. He crouched down so he was nearly at eye level with Peter. With a sadistic smile, he added, "You're one of Dumbledore's followers. You and your friends, blood traitors and the Mudblood and the wolf."

How did they know about Remus? Nobody knew about that outside of their group. Well, nobody but Snape… but no, he couldn't be. Ignoring the comment and doing his best to keep his face neutral, Peter tried to change the subject. "What do you want from me?"

The accented man spoke again. That meant that he was probably the one in charge or at least the one with more experience, Peter thought to himself. "Information."

"I won't talk," Peter said quickly. His eyes began to dart around, looking for his wand. He would feel much better if he had his wand.

"Do you need me to use a finger-removing jinx?" the man asked. He sounded thrilled at the possibility, which made Peter's stomach roll.

"I won't talk," Peter repeated, trying to tell himself that as much as the Death Eaters. It looked like the other Death Eater had his wand, from the way he was protecting one of his robe pockets despite the fact that his wand was in his hand. If only he could get over there and take it...

Before he could decide if it was worth the risk or not, the Death Eater hit him with a stinging hex on his feet. Peter watched as his feet swelled in his socks, feeling like he was being stuck by dozens of wasps at once. It would be harder to move when his feet were like this. He suspected that that had been the point of hitting his feet.

"We want to hear about your friends," the man with the deep voice said. He was still scowling. "You will give us information, but what else happens is up to you."

Peter paused. "What are my options?" he asked slowly. He wanted the stinging in his feet to stop. He wish he was good at wandless magic, like Dumbledore.

The deep-voiced Death Eater held up a finger. "One, you tell us what we want to know and we kill you." He held up a second finger. "Two, you don't tell us what we want, so we torture and kill you. Or –" Peter spotted wisps of dark hair under the man's hood as he raised a third finger – "you send reports to the Dark Lord."

Peter felt his heart beating hard against his ribs. Why would He Who Must Not Be Named want him? He knew that You-Know-Who had recruited among Hogwarts after the events at the end of his sixth year. He even knew that He Who Must Not Be Named had made an attempt to recruit Sirius, James, and even Lily in the past. Remus had dropped hints that the Death Eaters were trying to contact werewolves. But Peter?

"Why would he want me?"

The Death Eater crouching next to him rolled his eyes. "He wants information you can give him. People you're friends with, things Dumbledore is planning… information he needs an insider to get. Information he has wanted for a long time."

Was that why his friends had been asked to join? People claimed that Dumbledore was the only person that You-Know-Who feared and it made sense that you wanted to know your enemy. Peter was surprised that You-Know-Who thought he could be a double agent, which unsettled him. It meant that he was seen as useful, as having a skillset that others didn't have. In the Order, that wasn't the case. But, at the same time, did You-Know-Who expect him to turn on his friends? Was he seen as the best shot as being a traitor or was he the last hope?

The Death Eaters seemed to take his hesitation as a good sign. "What do you know about Albus Dumbledore's plans?"

"Nothing," Peter replied, not thinking.

"Don't lie to me." The Death Eater's wand was at his throat now. "What have you been doing for Dumbledore?"

"N-n-nothing," Peter stammered.

Before he knew what was happening, he was hit with a curse. All he knew was that, after what seemed like an eternity he was given a brief reprieve and the man changed his line of questioning.

"You were school friends with Potter, Black, and Lupin." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes," Peter breathed. Speaking hurt, but he didn't know what harm could come from confirming what the man clearly already knew.

His voice deathly quiet, the man said, "Tell me about James Potter and his Mudblood wife." There was an edge to his voice.

Peter wanted to ask why the men wanted to know about Prongs, but he didn't ask. "No."

As the effects of the next curse began to wear off, Peter knew he had to make an attempt to leave. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on his rat form. He had slipped into it so many times over the last few years, he was usually able to do it without a second thought. But his mind was foggy and he couldn't concentrate. Peter was vaguely aware of one of the Death Eaters asking the other, "What's he doing?" He tried to force his body to do what he wanted it to do.

Thankfully, the familiar sensation that began to accompany his transformation started then. He was about to let out a sigh of relief when he was hit with a curse that made his head spin. He opened his eyes, trying to get a look around him while transforming, and saw a flash of green light.

After that, he saw nothing.

Author's Note: So, Peter rather than turning traitor. I wanted to write something where he lived up to Sirius's statement where he should have died rather than betray his friends and it necessitated a kind of gruesome end, since Death Eaters aren't known for their gentleness.