Chapter 8: Can I Tell You a Secret
Christopher sighed. "Snape," he said again slowly. He was staring at Severus' face. "Snape. Huh," he said. "That name reminds me of something..."
Snape's eyebrow twitched. "Yes, well, we do happen to have Potions class toge-"
"Snape," Christopher went on, staring at the ceiling. He raised a finger. "Snaaaaaaaaape?" he drew it out. He paused for a long time. Then he said, "Severus Snape."
"Oh, so you do rem-"
"Oh, sorry," Christopher said, scratching his head. "Never mind, now that song's stuck in my head. Jesus," he said, leaning towards Severus and looking rather disgruntled. "I can't look at your face, I'll never get it out of my head now."
And Christopher turned and walked away with his hands in his pockets (a signature look, this was called the 'Pettigrew slouch' by Lily's roommates and was subject of many loving sighs).
Lily sighed heavily, and rubbed her chin.
You see, it was a well-known fact that Lily Evans was not good at making friends. Back in muggle school, she often became distracted during conversations, she could never manage to get on any sports teams, and luckily escaped the nickname Carrot-head—but only because everyone called her Airhead instead.
In the entirety of her life, she had only managed to make two friends: Severus Snape, and now Christopher Pettigrew.
They were both smart. They were both rather antisocial.
Lily thought that they would have got along. She had thought, introducing them to each other would be a great idea!
(It was not a great idea.)
Their first meeting had gone terribly.
"We can all be best friends now!" Lily said, clapping her hands together. "Haha. Hahahaha. Ha."
Severus had stared at Christopher's back very suspiciously.
"I don't like him," Severus hissed, clutching his books closer to him. "I don't know what games he's playing or what drugs he's on but the least he could do is acknowledge fellow students properly. You shouldn't trust him," Severus said, narrowing his eyes. "There's something up with him."
Isn't there something up with all of us, Lily thought.
There was also more that Severus wasn't saying, but she didn't press it. Sev was knowing for being irritable sometimes, and very stingy with his deductions. He was like uh… a really irritable Sherlock Holmes sometimes. She didn't want to press him.
Later, Lily asked Christopher what he thought about Severus.
"How did you think it went?" she asked. "I don't think he likes you too much, but don't worry about it!" She laughed. "He hates everyone. At first. At least. Or for a very long time. Or forever. Until death. And beyond maybe. Depends on if you're religious."
"Uhhh," Christopher said, shoulders sinking into that signature terrible slouch. "Who?"
"What?" Lily yelped. "Jeez, didn't I just introduce you to him?" She grabbed his arm and he stumbled slowly behind her, yawning all the way. "Snape!" she said when he looked at her blankly. "Severus Snape!"
"Dumbledore," Christopher said, as if on reflex. "Oh right! Yes, yes Snape." Christopher tilted his head. He pressed a hand to his head and Lily could see some sort of frustration in him.
"Do you remember now?" she asked.
Lily had gotten used to these lapses; with Christopher, they were kind of unavoidable. If anyone ever asked, he said he got lost easily. Potter and his gang always thought Christopher was joking, but Lily was apt to thinking he was mostly telling the truth.
He got lost in the world and in his head, whatever was inside of it. It helped him reorient himself if she touched his hand, or did some magic, or said Hogwarts and a bunch of other names. "Key terms," Christopher called them.
"Uhhh sure," Christopher said, scratching his head. "Sure."
Lily thought that meant he sort of remembered.
"Yeah," Christopher sighed. "The brain's not working today sorry," he said, tapping his head. "It's goldfish mode today," he shrugged. "At best."
"Oh," Lily said. "I'll just ask you again tomorrow."
"Okay," he said and let Lily drag him down the hallway.
"Let's go to the library," Lily declared and turned to smile at him.
Half-asleep and kind of dazed, Christopher smiled too. It kind of amused Lily; everyone thought Christopher was terribly emotionless, but actually he was probably one of the sweetest people Lily had ever met. Well, he did have a mean side. The mean side made him funny.
(Lily and Christopher were often seen walking into walls. Or arguing about inane things, like socks, or oranges, or differential equations. Amongst upperclassmen, they were known as the Dunderhead Duo, and were sometimes spotted in the hallways arguing over which one was the airheaded one. Lily insisted that it was Christopher; Christopher said no, it was Lily.
Ironically, they both were equally likely to forget what they had been arguing about within a few minutes.
Note: If asked, they will deny this. )
Lily had to deal with all this talk about boys, including Chris and although sometimes it bored her to tears, other times it was sort of interesting.
"Let's rate them! The Gryffindor boys," said Mary excitedly.
Lily put down her book and turned around in her chair to stare.
"Sirius Black is super sexy," Marlene said. "He's a ten out of ten, no doubt," she said.
"James is a ten," Alice said, "not Sirius, for certain."
"No way, Sirius Black is sooo much hotter," giggled Mary. Mary was shy in front of everyone else, but in the dorm she became fairly raucous. "Don't you think?"
"I mean, he's pretty and all, what with his good genes," said Alice, "but if we're between Black and Potter I prefer Potter."
"You do like the good-boys," said Marlene with a smirk.
"No," said Alice, offended. "Not always. I just think Potter has better hair. And besides, doesn't he look like a prince?"
"He's your top pick then?" asked Mary.
"No, no," said Alice, and blushed. "Er."
"I bet it's Christopher-not-Peter-not-Chris Pettigrew, isn't it," said Marlene deviously.
Alice turned more red.
"Knew it," said Marlene.
"He's just, he's so nice," Alice said, hands on her cheeks, "and mature, you know, whereas Black and Potter, they can act like toddlers, you know? And the other guy, you know Loopy or whatever, he doesn't talk at all, he just runs away, so that's a total zero."
Not talking and running away? Well, that sounded like Chris too, but Lily kept her mouth shut.
"A-and besides, Pettigrew can be so polite. A real gentleman, you know. Sometimes, anyway. But then, he's also so mysterious." Then Alice looked at Lily, and blushed more. "Oh, don't say anything to him, please!"
"Of course she won't," said Marlene, "this is girls talk, you know, what goes in the dorm stays in the dorm. Even if you are his best friend, or whatever," Marlene said with narrowed eyes.
Lily swallowed. "Sure," she said.
Sometimes Christopher held the door open for Alice and other people or-whoever was behind him actually- and sometimes he appeared to not notice and left it to slam in their face.
Apparently, Lily marveled, this had some sort of magical effect where he was not the white prince on the horse nor the dark dragon delinquent, but rather a mysterious layering of them both, and therefore attracted a lot of attention despite his rather inconspicuous appearance.
"But I also can't tell you about him," Lily said, clutching her pillow. "Like I can't tell him about you-but I also can't tell you about him. Friend pacts. You know." This was a lie, of course. Lily would tell Chris everything about them if she wanted to.
"You two have secrets?" Mary gaped.
"I'm so jealous," said Alice.
Marlene flipped her long blonde hair. "Well, one day we'll get it out of you," she said.
"Who do you like then, Marlene?" asked Lily. Lily was actually curious. She shouldn't have asked.
"Oh wouldn't you like to know," said Marlene. "You'll find out soon enough," she said ominously.
Indeed, Lily would.
"I can't wait for when we are third years," Marlene said with a horrendously loud sigh and a flip of her hair. "Right? Right?" she said, being exceedingly obnoxious in Lily's opinion.
"Sure," Lily droned. "Ah-huh. Sure."
"Hm," said Christopher, looking at the walls. "I guess…"
Marlene looked briefly irritated. It was just a flash and then a brilliant smile. "Then, I can start wearing all sorts of makeup and stuff," Marlene said, and pouted. "You know they have all those age limits on the stuff they sell at the boutiques. You can't even order it by owl! So annoying. And the spells are risky until we're better at charms. I can't wait until I'm older. Then I'll look so much better."
"You're plenty adorable the way you are," said Christopher, with a smile. He turned and kept walking, not seeming to realize that Marlene was frozen, mouth agape.
"Urgh," Lily made a noise. She hadn't realized until they hung out more, but the more they hung out the more Lily realized how often Christopher opened his mouth and put his foot inside. You idiot, Lily thought to herself. This is why everyone thinks you are a huge flirt.
Christopher realized both Lily and Marlene had stopped walking, and walked backwards to meet them. He looked confused.
"What did you say?" Marlene asked.
"Why, I said you're adorable," Christopher repeated, with raised eyebrows.
Marlene smiled a very shark-ly smile for a skinny little girl. Christopher looked a little alarmed.
"...Right?" Christopher said. "I mean, we're eleven…"
"Yes, we are already eleven!" Marlene practically shrieked.
Oh bother, thought Lily.
Marlene grabbed Christopher's arm (Lily noticed he flinched, a little), but he let Marlene drag him forward. "I totally agree, Chris. I'm so glad you're so honest, so mature, unlike other boys our age. We don't need to wait until we're thirteen or fifteen or whatever to do anything, I mean, we're already basically grownups anyway, it's not like we're little kids anymore. It's time that we all begin to date, if you know what I mean," she said, and winked at Christopher.
Christopher stopped walking this time. "Huh?" Then he looked at Lily. "But we're only eleven," Christopher said. "We are only eleven, right."
Lily sighed and almost slapped her own face. "Yes," she said.
Christopher stared down at the arm that Marlene was practically hanging off. Marlene was looking up at him, batting her eyelashes.
Lily watched slow realization dawn on Christopher's face. "Oh no...I meant," he said, looking at Marlene. Then he looked so hopelessly confused, and frustrated that he just shook his head. "Er, nevermind." He exhaled heavily.
Marlene smiled prettily at Christopher.
I better save him, Lily thought. Lily tore Marlene's grasp away, grabbing Christopher's arm for herself.
"Huh?" Marlene blinked. "Where are you going?"
Lily had grabbed Christopher and they were already half way down the hall. "GottagodosomethingyeahyeahwhoknowshahaBYE!" Lily yelled.
"Bye," Marlene's voice echoed in the distance.
At a rather far distance, Lily let go of Christopher's arm and they collapsed against the wall, panting heavily. "Why," Lily panted, "did you have to," she groaned, "say that?"
"What, that she's adorable?" Christopher said, high pitched and airy. For once his eyes were wide. "How was I supposed to know she'd take it that way!"
Lily groaned even louder.
"We're only eleven! Dating is like, dating is like, urgh," Christopher groaned and leant further into Lily's side. "I meant, because we're all like eleven, you know, you people are all small and ya know, midget-y, you know, she's a cute kid you know? You're adorable, James is adorable, hell, Snape is adorable-you're all plenty adorable the way you are, that's all I meant, you know? Ugh no, you don't know, you can't know, ughhhhh," he said, looking depressed. He slammed the back of his head into the wall.
"Ow," Lily said, for him.
"I didn't mean to, to flirt you know, you know?" Christopher said.
Lily was internally relieved. "You're a weirdo," she said, crouching in front of him.
He had sank to the floor and hugged his legs.
"I know," he said. "So are you," he said and smirked.
"Cookie?" she asked, and held out one of the cookies they had made together a few nights ago, in the kitchens.
He ate it straight from her fingers, and, they shared a laugh when a piece of chocolate chip fell and got all over his pants.
Detention was a mildly interesting affair. "Yo…" Christopher said, upon opening the door with his foot and seeing James and Sirius already there. "Wie geht's?" he said, hands lazily in his pockets.
James squealed and squashed Sirius's head in his hands. Sirius looked annoyed, both at James for squashing him and Christopher for just being there.
James started to chatter. Filch arrived a minute later, grouching and frowning, and ordered the three of them to clean the dirty Quidditch trophy room.
Christopher was vaguely annoyed that he had to do detention. Well, he always ended up having detentions, because he didn't do his homework. It kind of amused him, because if he didn't spend his time doing homework in the first place, why would they assume he would spend his time doing homework when he now had detentions all the time anyway?
Ridiculous education systems, he thought, and once again pondered dropping out of Hogwarts. The magic was uncomfortable and gross, except for Lily's and maybe a couple other peoples'. He did fine in practicals but he kind of sucked at controlling magic anyway. He didn't do the homework, usually. Dumbledore apparently didn't care though, and at least he passed the midterms and important stuff.
He could totally drop out though. Probably. Wait. But would they even let him? Was that illegal, or something? Bad for the magic or something? Huh. But then, where else could he go. Well. Anywhere. He also had no money, but well, that wasn't a new scenario or anything. He could probably get by, stealing. Doing other unsavory shit. But would it be worth? And who even cared... and what if the magical world had trackers? He sighed and continued cleaning.
A good half-hour passed before Christopher spoke up.
"...Have you never cleaned before?" Christopher asked the two.
He hadn't noticed, but then it became very hard not to notice, even for an idiot like Christopher. James and Sirius both crowded around the water pail, staring at the rags confused. They kept looking over at Christopher and trying to copy him, or something, because Christopher kept feeling their eyes on him. Christopher was pretty sure James had been scrubbing the same trophy for half an hour, and Sirius seemed like he thought if he dropped soapy water from the rag and frowned long enough, the stains would dissolve themselves.
They turned to him, James looking like a deer in headlights, Sirius looking like a peeved puppy.
"Uhhhh," James said.
Sirius just looked annoyed. "What do you think."
"Nein? Jesus, freaking Ouran high school rich ass fucking kids," Chris mumbled to himself. They continued to look at him. Christopher sighed. "Goddammit." He put down the bucket, and called out to them. "Could you come here? And I'll show you."
They wandered over, James looking bashful and curious, and Sirius looking a little indignant.
Christopher waved them closer, and crouched on the ground. They crouched around him.
He almost couldn't believe he was having to explain this to people, but then again, he couldn't really blame them. After all, he did have some lives where he was rich.
Unfortunately, this was not one of them.
"So, you're gonna clean a lot faster if you actually use the soap in the bucket," he said. He felt like a really phony youtuber doing a parody tutorial. "Yeah, so you take this rag thing and you dunk it in the water, and oh yeah, wring it out properly, ya know…"
"How do you know this?" Sirius asked, with curious grey eyes.
Christopher snorted. He ducked his head and murmured more in what sounded like a mix of Spanish and Korean, then went on swishing the rag around the bucket.
"What'd ya say?" James was eager as always.
Christopher lifted his head and looked at him with those dull eyes. "Well... when you don't have an army of house slaves, someone's gotta do the cleaning," he said, a little sweat rolling down his forehead. He lifted his arm to rub it off on his t-shirt sleeve.
"Are you poor?" Sirius blurted.
Christopher stopped. "What?"
"I've never met a poor person before," Sirius grumbled, and of all times, appeared to be blushing.
"Uh," Christopher said, not sure what to say. He didn't know why Sirius was blushing now of all times, and chose to ignore it. "I'm not rich, is all," he muttered, at least in English this time. Though it had a weird Australian accent, Sirius noted.
"Really?" James said. "That's pretty cool, mate, like a real pirate! Real pirates don't have house elves, there's no house, a ship right."
"Ay, Bambi," Christopher said, shaking his head a little fondly. He murmured something under his breath, which Sirius thought might be Arabic, strangely enough. Nah, must have heard wrong.
"What? Are you gonna try it?" Christopher asked Sirius.
Sirius blinked. "I," he said, and frowned. "Merlin's balls, my old hag would be pissed if she knew I was doing this," Sirius muttered to himself. He made a face at the rag.
"It's real dirty ain't it," Christopher said, with an American twang. "For a pureblood boy," he said, and smirked at Sirius. "Though your mouth is pretty dirty already."
Sirius didn't really know how to respond. Usually, people didn't joke about his status, or his family. It somehow, seemed like people were afraid to acknowledge exactly how out of place Sirius was in the Gryffindor house. Now that he was sorted there, it seemed like, everyone thought he'd been destined to be there all along. His family said he'd always been rotten. James and a bunch of other Gryffindors said he's always been the "right sort". But Sirius didn't feel it, and he didn't feel like he knew what he was doing, not before and not then and not now either.
"Whyn't you prove her wrong. Here," Christopher said, lip twitching.
He took Sirius' hand.
Sirius startled. It was one of the first times Christopher ever initiated contact. In fact, Sirius felt, it was the first time that Christopher had ever touched Sirius' hand.
"Ah, gracias," Christopher said as he took Sirius' hand, wrapped his fingers around it, and showed him how to scrub with the rag.
"This is really boring," said James sadly, staring at the rag.
"Well that's what it takes to be a pirate," said Christopher dryly. "Boring tasks. Lots of chores. Cleaning." He spoke like he knew.
"Let's not be pirates," said James.
"I think it's okay," said Sirius. "This cleaning thing. Kind of relaxing…What," he said, when he realized James and Christopher were staring at him.
"Can I actually marry you," said James. "Like. Can I actually marry—"
A wet rag hit him the face.
("It's interesting," said James to Christopher, later that night. They were brushing their teeth. James let the toothbrush rest on the sink, looking down at it. "I wonder if he thinks I'll hate him for his family."
"Maybe," said Christopher, carefully.
"I won't, if you're wondering," James said. He started to brush his teeth again, and foam came out while he talked. "I don't think he knows but my family is pretty stuck up too. I mean, we're related, you know. My mum's a Black."
Christopher almost choked.
""Waz up?" James got out through foam in his mouth.
"Are we related," Christopher said, very seriously.
They served many detentions, James and Sirius for pranks, Christopher for not doing his homework. And also sometimes because the teachers thought he was also in on the pranks. And he was, sort of, in terms of knowing about it and such, but usually he was too lazy to join in on the actual doing of the prank. He was also too lazy to argue with the teachers who blamed him. Thus, they served many a detention together, cleaning rooms, sitting and watching clocks, and doing whatever the detention entailed.
One night in the middle of the spring term, they were assigned to clean the trophy room again. An hour into it, the room was dead quiet as they scrubbed at the trophies. Sirius looked up, and realized Christopher had been on the other side of the room with his back to them, sitting in the same spot for a long time. He looked at James, and James stood up, quietly, and tiptoed over.
Chris was dozing with his head against the side of the cupboard. The moment James took a step towards him, he snapped awake, shook his head, and continued scrubbing. James turned back.
Ten minutes later, there was silence from Christopher's side of the room, again.
Sirius looked over, and Chris's head had fallen, leaning on the cupboard, his hand loose at his side, wet rag dripping on the floor. Sleeping.
This time James and Sirius just looked at each other, and kept scrubbing at the trophies.
When Chris roused, James grabbed the rag out of his hand just in time to stop Chris from rubbing his eye with soap.
Chris jumped, and looked up, wide eyed, and blinked.
"Detention's over," James said. He grinned and held out his hand. Sirius was leaning against the cabinets, hands in his pockets.
Christopher didn't really say anything, still numb with sleep. Sirius held out the bucket and Christopher dropped his rag in it. James took his other hand and tugged him to his feet.
"Oh," Christopher said, stopping. "It's clean."
Sirius could never get it out of his head how relieved Christopher looked. It was a very strange look, a mix of exhaustion, relief and resignation.
One time, Sirius remembers, sitting at the dinner table, maybe he was six or seven- anyway, before he realized he really truly hated his parents- when Walburga the pig had her arm all wound up to whack Kreacher.
Then there was an owl at the window, from Sirius' uncle or something-he couldn't quite remember- and Walburga said "Oh, the mail's come" and turned away, leaving Kreacher standing there staring.
Sirius could never describe what Kreacher looked like at that moment, except to say that Christopher's face, then, looked just like that. Not in facial structure—obviously- or even expression. But the way he looked at the room, at Sirius and James-at something they could not see and was inside his head-like it was going to whack him in the face...
Until he was faced with a reality where the whack didn't come, nothing came at all, and somehow the acceptance of that seemed more impossible than the acceptance of whack itself, and so it was as if the whack had come whether it did, or it did not. And yet that sort of whimsical play of fate, of whether one is whacked or not, seemed to be accepted as just another fact of existing- and so to be resigned to it, the state of perpetual limbo, yet exhausted by it and relieved by it all at once, that was the face that Christopher held at that moment.
"Are you coming?" James pulled Sirius out of his thoughts. Christopher was already wandering ahead, it seemed, the door propped open by James' scuffed shoe.
"Yeah," Sirius said, slowly, and followed them out.
"Chris," James whispered, one night, as the door creaked open.
There was a sigh. Christopher slouched into the room, looking dead on his feet.
"Where were you," James grumbled, rubbing his eyes. He sat up in bed, holding the curtains open so he could peer in the dark. "You're always disappearing."
James thought it was terrible, since it was the Potter family that had the invisibility cloak, not Chris.
"Sorry," Christopher sighed quietly.
To James' surprise, Christopher tip toed over and sat on the edge of James' bed, back to James.
"Bad dream?" James asked. He sat up more, scooting to press his back against the bed frame.
"I'm fine," Christopher whispered, slouching more. He turned to look at James, and even the dark, James could see the shadows around his eyes, his face, the lines of his neck. "Bad dream?"
James was very quiet. Christopher turned around for real, and James beckoned him further into the bed. The curtains had dropped around them, leaving them encased in darkness. A small pillar of moonlight slipped through, a white bar across James' face.
"Can I tell you a secret?" James whispered, staring Christopher in the eye.
It was the same look in James' eyes that Christopher had seen before, in rare moments of earnestness and power that surprised Chris into waking.
James lifted his hand, and his fingers brushed Christopher's palm.
"I can feel your magic."
A/N: Hey guys! Happy New Year! It's really thanks to everyone's continuing support that this chapter is here for you today! Even though I take very long to update, when I see a review I am always so happy that people are reading this still, and it really helps me get my fingers moving again lol. Sorry if there are some errors/typos! I don't have a beta reader and I do my best looking it over, but there are always errors.
All of you guys asking for Snape interactions inspired the scene at the top. One of you asked for Lily's perspective and that also factored in! I really really love getting feedback and thanks so much for everything :) Wouldn't have been able to write this without you guys. It's hard for me to reply because college, but PLEASE PLEASE REVIEW, I read every single one of them over and over again! My life sustenance.
What do you think about Chris's relationships with everyone now? Who do you want to see more of? Who do you like Chris with so far? ;) We'll be moving onto second year soon!