Hello hello my darlings.
I am going to be quite blunt and straightforward here. This chapter is not pretty. This chapter is not nice. It is extremely sad, and nothing about it is pleasant. I am telling you this so you will be mindful when reading it, and make sure to think of yourselves before you do. There are mentions of minor character death, and just general grief and sadness. I repeat, please, proceed with caution. For some of you this may not be that bad, but it may be for some, so I thought I should at least mention this in the A/N.
That being said, I promise the next few chapters are much more pleasant.
Please leave a review and let me know what you think x
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, and only the story line and any OC's belong to me.
I have not heard from your Father for months now. I know you are still at school, but maybe this weekend one of your Professors would allow you to go home and check on him. These are extenuating circumstances after all, something I don't have to tell you I'm sure.
I would go and check on him myself, but my husband is out of the country for the work until at least sometime in June, and I simply cannot leave the children here. The only person nearby is a woman named Susan, but I fear she would sooner eat the children than return them safely to me. Something seems off about her. It is probably her unhealthy obsession with garden gnomes.
Even if I somehow made arrangements, I won't be able to get time off work. Now I know these all sound like fanciful excuses, and like I am rambling on incessantly, but I just wanted to let you know I am not flaking on you Peter.
However, if there is an emergency, I will gather the children and come as soon as I can.
I love you dearly, Peter, I hope otherwise that everything is going well for you, I hope you are enjoying your last years at Hogwarts; it truly is a magical place that Castle. Oftentimes I find myself wishing I was still a girl, and that I was still roaming those halls.
All my love,
Peter had received the letter bright and early on Saturday, the twelfth of March, nineteen seventy-seven. He'd known the situation with his Father was dire, but not this dire.
Peter briefly contemplated telling the other Marauders where he was going, but he recalled that he hadn't told them the truth about his home life in over two years; plus, they had the final Quidditch game of the season to worry about today, and he didn't want to ruin that for them.
McGonagall had been more than understanding; she'd even walked him to the edge of the wards and warmly sent him off with a tiny smile and a kind word of reassurance. (Of course all he told her was he was worried about his Father's well-being, and that he would like it very much if he could go visit him.)
Peter's stomach was tying itself in knots, and he was so nervous he was shocked he hadn't splinched himself on the way there. (To Peter's pleasant surprise, he was actually quite proficient at apparition.)
The humble abode and its environs looked bleak: many shades of monotonous hues that blended together and wept violently, their tears staining the sky and ground. Peter recalled a time where the grounds had been filled with fauna, with sweet smelling flowers and joy.
The ground was dry and cracked, despite the fact that it must have rained several times in the past week. The brick structure seemed to be sagging under some enormous pressure, and Peter could have sworn it looked like it was leaning to the right a little.
Ivy crackled across the front of the house—even covering the window that looked out onto the dirt road that Peter was standing on the edge of—the only thing that appears to be alive and flourishing; yet even it gave off a sombre tone, and it was nowhere near as vibrant as it had once been.
It was if the very life had been drained out of this area, but he supposed he shouldn't be surprised, stranger things had happened when wizarding kind grieved.
Peter's Mother had passed away at the beginning of July last year, and he'd felt guilty at the time when all he felt was relief—he had been glad when she finally passed on from this world. She'd suffered immeasurably in her last few months; she'd been diagnosed at the end of his Fourth year with Vanishing sickness, but it turned out that hers was a rarer strain, one the Healers had never seen before. One particularly nasty side effect that came with the rarer strain was chronic pain. Every day for months his Mother was in unrelenting agony, and his heart broke every day watching her undergo such pain.
In spite of everything that happened to her, his Mother still found it in her to smile and joke every day whilst she still could, even if most of her body had disappeared.
Peter cautiously made his way up the path that led to the house, leaning forward as he climbed the slight incline. His animagus instincts were screaming at him. Telling him to run as far away from here as he possibly could. The smell of death and decay swelled inside his nostrils, to the point where he could not smell anything else.
When he reached the front door, he paused, his fingers dancing through the air at his sides as he prepared himself for whatever he was about to see. The dull brown door had no distinguishing features aside from its black knocker in the centre just in front of his face, and the black door handle that his hand was now hovering over.
Peter rested his head against the door—in an attempt to steel his nerves—but was caught off guard by the fact that the door began to swing inwards. The door wasn't locked.
Fear surged through his veins as he stumbled forward, only to catch himself at the last moment and regain his balance. With wide eyes he glanced up, but the sight he was greeted with was a morbid one.
Peter's Father—who used to be a round, jolly man with rosy cheeks, and crinkles in the corner of his eyes—was sat in the middle of the room on the floor, a mere shell of who he used to be.
Peter almost didn't recognise him at first. For a moment he thought someone had broken in, but then he caught sight of the photo album on the ground beside his Father, and the dark lock of hair tied with a faded red ribbon clasped in his gnarled, spindly hand.
The wizard before him was a gaunt, skeletal creature, twisted with grief. Most of his hair had fallen out—and what's left hung like a stringy curtain across his face—his eyes were sunken into his skull, and his lips were cracked and dry. Peter would have thought he was dead if not for the ever so slight rise and fall of his Father's chest.
"Pa?" Peter croaked out, not wanting to go any further into the house. All of the furniture in the kitchen and living room had been smashed; the upper cabinets were hanging off of their hinges, the kitchen chairs and table were a pile of splintered wood. The stuffing from the sofa and armchairs had been pulled out, and all that's left was their bare structure. There were even a few bricks ripped out of the fireplace.
"Leave," the husk of his Father rasped out; his voice was a scratchy, unpleasant sound that grated against Peter's ears.
The last time Peter saw his Father during Christmas Holidays, he was quiet and had drawn into himself, but he still talked to Peter, he still smiled. Well, he tried to smile. It always looked like it hurt. Thus Christmas had been a sombre affair, and part of him wished that he had gone to the Potters; but he didn't, because it would have felt like he was betraying his Mother's memory if he didn't try to help his Father through her passing.
"Pa. I think we need to get help, you aren't well," Peter whispered, but he might as well have shouted because his voice boomed through the sordid space.
Peter then realised that rotting vegetables were stacked in a pile where the counter used to be, and he found it strange that there were no flies or maggots anywhere to be seen. No rats, no rodents. Then it struck him, this place, what used to be his home was so inhospitable that even they didn't wish to be here.
His Father's magic had contorted and twisted into something dark and miserable, killing everything it touched.
Even though he wanted nothing more than to run away, Peter took a couple steps toward his Father, only to realise that the man had closed his eyes.
It was if Peter no longer existed, and his Father's spirit was elsewhere, far, far away from this grim structure.
It's so quiet, and something inside Peter simply...snapped. Peter couldn't do anything. He couldn't fix this. Up until this point in his life, there had been no moment where he had ever felt so alone.
Weakly, he tried once more, "Pa?"
The overbearing quiet persisted, and it was then that Peter came to the stark realisation that he was too weak to do anything. He had seen his Father's fragile state during Christmas Holidays, he had seen how he was deteriorating, and he did nothing.
This was his fault. This was entirely his fault.
A worse revelation struck him then. He and his Father were the exact same; weak. Peter then admitted something to himself that he never thought he could.
I'm not as confident as Hermione, or as brave as James and Sirius. I'm not as smart as any of them. Not to mention as strong as Remus, in spite of everything he goes through. I'm most definitely not as fearless as Draco.
Peter stared at his Father, and soberly he told himself, I'm not as brave as them, and I never will be.
Peter hadn't stayed long thereafter, having finally followed his instincts and run. On his trek back to the Castle from Hogsmeade's apparition point, thoughts were swirling around in his mind about whether to let someone know what was happening with his Father.
Upon reaching the Castle gate's Peter came to the conclusion that he would anonymously pen a letter and send it to the Ministry from the Three Broomsticks tomorrow. He had no idea what department in the Ministry one would send such a letter, but he was sure he could figure it out. He would have asked one of the twins, but Hermione and Draco were far too smart not to catch on that something was amiss.
Peter still couldn't properly face up to the reason why he wasn't a part of the pack (because he felt as though he didn't belong, they were all shiny and brilliant, and he was just Peter); much less confess to the others that he had been lying to them for over two years.
He couldn't bear to see the looks in their eyes.
McGonagall greeted him at the gate to let him back onto the grounds, and with a concerned expression she asked how things had gone.
"Everything was fine, he just hadn't gotten around to responding to my Aunt just yet," Peter said with what he hoped was a convincing smile, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets. On his way out, Peter spotted a small pile of letters that were gathering dust on the doorstep: a few of them were from colleagues, one was from Gringotts, and the rest were from his Aunt—he hadn't touched a single one.
"Poor man, he must be heartbroken after your Mother's passing," McGonagall placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. The Professor had already privately expressed her sincere condolences to him at the beginning of the school year. "I don't know if you're up to it, but I hear that the Gryffindors are having a bit of a celebration out on the Quidditch Pitch as we won the Quidditch Cup, again," McGonagall said with a proud smile and a puffed chest.
Peter nodded slightly, "yea, I'd like that. Thanks for letting me go see my Father, Professor."
"Anytime, Mister Pettigrew," McGonagall said warmly, patting his shoulder before she turned back towards the massive gate in order to close it.
As Peter walked away, a stab of guilt prodded him in the chest for outright lying to McGonagall, but if he wasn't brave enough to be honest with himself, how could he possibly be brave enough to be honest with her?
Two days later, an anonymous letter was received by the Ministry of Magic, and it was brought up as a side note at a meeting of the Heads of Department the next day. Eventually, the Ministry of Improper Magic Use drew the short straw and visited the Pettigrew Residence. Only to find that it was too late, Peter Pettigrew's Father was dead.