I stunned him.

Putting him in a full body bind, and checking him for traps before I took his wand and slipped it into my pocket, I waited until he woke up to begin my interrogation.

He'd have been a fool to announce his intention to attack me, but some of the purebloods had strange ideas about the meanings of honor.

Sitting in the darkness in a chair, I leaned forward, and stared at him for a long moment. The bugs showed that the moonlight barely showed my figure and the whites of my eyes. Ordinarily, I didn't cut an imposing figure, but with him lying over the floor, and me looking over him, I looked a little more intimidating.

Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything about my voice. Trying to make it sound deeper just made me sound stupid. I'd have to wait for puberty and growth spurts for my voice to change at all. I doubted that I'd ever get the kind of husky voice I wanted, not unless I took up smoking for a few decades, and in a world without Panacea, I wasn't that stupid.

"You've come here for me," I said quietly. "To kill me?"

He shook his head frantically. Apparently he'd heard rumors about some of the things I'd done to people who'd tried to kill me.

"Then why?" I asked. "What can I possibly have that someone like you might want? I don't have any of the wealth, none of the breeding, not many of the connections...so what do you want?"

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"You don't know?"

"I know what I need to know," I said. "I don't know about you... maybe you aren't that important."

His shoulders sagged, as well as they could in the full body bind.

"I'd hoped..." he said. "That's why I stayed."

He'd had months to get out of the country. If he wasn't planning to join Voldemort and the others, he'd be a liability to them. That would mean that he'd have the Death Eaters searching for him at the same time as the Ministry. Nowhere in the Wizarding world would be safe.

As a dog, he might be able to blend into the muggle world, but then he'd have to contend with dog catchers and bobbies.

"Why would you do something so stupid?" I asked. "You'd gotten away. If it was me, I'd have left the country months ago."

"No you wouldn't," he said, his voice hoarse. "I've read about you, about the things you've done. You could have left any time you wanted."

"Not while the Trace was around," I said.

It wasn't strictly true. I could have used my abilities to rob stores, to continue to live like a homeless person until I was able to get across the bay to another country. I might even have been able to try to get asylum with the French.

"And it's gone, isn't it?" he said. "I may be a little mad, but I'm not stupid. A Minister for Magic attacks you and yours and she's dead the same night. She was working for the Death Eaters, and you've killed how many?"

"I was in Hogwarts the whole time," I said. "I've got dozens of witnesses, including aurors. Everyone knows that I didn't do it."

He grinned.

"And yet I don't hear you saying that you didn't."

"Maybe it's just more useful to have you believe that I did," I said.

"You've killed more Death Eaters than anybody," he said. "And the more of them they throw at you, the more you kill. You hardly need to make things up to be intimidating."

"The Death Eater thing...pure luck," I said.

He laughed, and it was a bitter, horrible sound. :

"Nobody's that lucky."

"Why are you here?" I asked tiredly. If he wanted to pursue conspiracy theories, there wasn't anything I could do to stop him. I hadn't learned the memory charm yet, after all.

"I want to work for you," he said.

"I kill Death Eaters... isn't that what you said?" I asked. "And everybody says you are one. Why shouldn't I just turn you in to the Ministry?"

"I'm not," he said. "I mean, it was my fault, but I didn't...I'd never..."

"What happened?" I asked.

"I thought I was being so clever," he said. "They wanted me as the secret keeper. I thought no one would suspect Peter... so we switched."

"Peter Pettigrew?" I asked. "The man you murdered?"

"I didn't!" he said, lunging against his bonds. "He did it! He cut off his own finger and left it after killing them all. If I'd killed him there would have been more left of him than just a finger."

"How did he escape then?" I asked. "The aurors had an anti-apparition charm over the whole area by then."

"He was an animagus, like me. We all were... to help a friend."

"Remus?" I asked.

Remus had told me about the way the others had all become animaguses to help me. It hadn't mattered in the case of the others, who were dead, but he'd wanted me not to be surprised by a helpful black dog suddenly appearing.

He looked down and closed his eyes.

"James was a deer, Peter was a rat...it suited him. It should have warned us, but it didn't."

"So James Potter was a deer, and he thought it was a good idea to go play with a werewolf?" I asked incredulously. "Was he really stupid or something?"

"He never bothered him," Sirius said. "Besides, the books said that werewolves don't bother other animals."

"How would be sure that was true that until he tried it?" I asked. "It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that you just guess at. It'd be like turning yourself into a pie to hide at a pie eating contest. Things could have gotten really messy."

"Well, they didn't," he said, and there was a hint of irritation in his voice. Apparently he tended to idolize Harry's father, and having someone speak ill of him was upsetting.

"So Peter cut off his own finger...blew up a bunch of muggles and escaped down the sewer."

"I'd have thought you'd have gone after him than be here bothering me," I said.

"That's what I've been spending the last few months doing," he admitted. "Trying to find him. But nobody's heard anything about him. I haven't been able to find a single thing about him."

I doubted that this man was exactly the world's greatest detective. He certainly was no Armsmaster, or even Batman. Still, finding a single rat in a population of ten thousand would be almost impossible.

If he was telling the truth, Pettigrew was likely long gone. If he was bright, he'd have slipped off to America or to Australia, places where at least he spoke the language, and where he could make a new life for himself.

Of course, given what I knew about pureblood psychology, he likely hadn't done that,.

"You think he's still a Death Eater," I said, staring at him. "And that he's going to come after me."

"Yes," he said, staring at me. "You really are a seer."

I didn't have to be to follow a chain of logic.

If he was obsessed with the memory of his friend, and he believed that he had to avenge those killings, then it was obvious that he was planning on seeking that revenge.

Using me to find the Death Eaters wasn't a particularly hard leap to make, even if it wasn't particularly bright of him..

"Do you have any proof of this?" I asked.

"I thought you'd just know," he said. "Everybody says..."

I closed my eyes.

"Seers see the future," I said. "Not the past. I don't even do that. I see the present."

His face crumpled. "I don't have any proof."

"Harry will want some," I said. "Before he accepts you."

"Harry?" he asked. He stared at me, and while the light was dim, I thought his face paled. He shook his head violently. "No. Harry can't know about me!"

"Why?" I asked.

"I got them killed... almost got him killed. They mutilated him because of me...because of my arrogance. The sight of me... he should have to see that."

"I shouldn't have to see it," I said sharply. "Or smell it. Harry's part of my crew; if you work for us, you'll end up working with him too."

"He'll never believe me," he said.

"I'm not sure I believe you," I said. "But even if I did, how are you going to be any use to us?"

"I can teach you how to be animaguses," he said desperately.

"McGonagall can teach us that," I said.

I'd considered it, but if I learned it from McGonagall, I'd have to register, which would make it worse than useless. Also, there was the possibility that I'd end up with something useless, like a deer or a rabbit.

The ideal form for an animagus would be something really really small, like Rita Skeeter's bug form. I'd prefer not to be a beetle for obvious reasons, but something that small would be perfect.

With my luck I'd get something like a four hundred pound sow, or a horse.

What could you possibly do with a horse form? Trample somebody?You'd never use it?

"You'd have to register," he said, reflecting my thoughts. "And I'm good at it."

"Still," I said. "It's a problem. I believe that you are not my enemy... and maybe even not Harry's. However, who knows what the Death Eaters did to your mind when they had you."

"They never had me!" he insisted.

"Would you remember if they had?" I asked. "Rita Skeeter tried to kill me recently, in front of the entire Ministry. You think she was normally that stupid?"

He stared at me.

"Can you really be sure that somewhere in your travels there isn't a moment where you don't quite remember what happened?"

"What?" he asked.

"I'd imagine that you have a lot of those moments," I said. "Maybe the Death Eaters actually caught you, and then they let you go. You'd never even know about it until you woke with your bloody knife at Harry's throat."

"How can you trust anybody?" he asked, staring at me.

"I can't," I said. "That's why I'm still alive, and half the muggleborn in my class aren't."

That was an exaggeration, of course, but the effect was what mattered.

"So what do we do?" he asked.

"You can trust me," I said. "And I'll figure out a way to be able to trust you. Or you can go bark up another tree."

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"Turn into a dog," I said.

His form shifted, and I pointed my wand at him. His form shimmered, and a moment later I picked up the rock that was left.

That was a decided disadvantage of being an animagus; the Wizards loved to transform animals into other things, and they had all sorts of spells that helped them do that. The only way to avoid it would be to turn into something rare enough that no one had bothered to come up with that kind of spell.

My mosquitoes detected a strange movement in the air that should not have been there. It was coming from several directions, and yet there was no sight, sound or smell to alert them. The mosquitoes moved closer, and they could feel the slight body heat radiating from several people.

It wasn't Black; I was almost sure of it. Most likely it was Voldemort's Seer.

Well, I hadn't come unprepared.

For a moment I hesitated; it was possible that these were aurors coming after Black. What I was about to do was decidedly lethal.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out an object that I'd shrunken to the limits of what I could shrink. Setting it carefully into one corner on the floor, I reversed the spell.

In front of me was an innocuous looking barrel. The barrel was packed with old fashioned gunpowder, but the slats on three of the sides had been made impervious with a spell. This meant that when it exploded, all of the force would be directed in one direction.

I set the cards on top of the barrel, and then I began to run, ducking into the tunnel. Behind me, the bugs began to play a game of exploding snap.

I hated the randomness of the game, but I had other ways of dealing with the intruders if it didn't work.

Apparently they were using the human revealing spell, because parts of the room suddenly exploded, letting more light into the room.

There were six of them, and they were cautious.

I'd thought they might be, which is why I'd been willing to risk it on a game of exploding snap. They'd suspect that I had some sort of trap, and so they'd each be waiting for the others to take the first move.

As I ran through the tunnel, I could hear what the bugs heard; an argument made in low tones among men who doubtlessly knew that they'd been determined to be expendable.

Slap. Slap.

The bugs had to slap the cards down with a certain amount of violence, which meant that I'd had to use nightmarishly large bugs. There had been some in the bowels of the castle that I hadn't even been able to identify, including some spiders the size of a grown man's fist.

In an effort to confuse the people watching, I'd set up a little green felt on the top of the barrel, and I'd dressed the spiders up in cute little gamblers outfits. I'd hoped that the incongruity of the scene would slow whoever saw it down for long enough.

They entered the room cautiously. I could hear spells being cast; presumably to detect magic and curses.

Slap, slap.

"Hey," one of them called out. "There's two spiders here playing cards."

"We don't have time for that," another, irritated voice said. "She's gone down the tunnel. One of you go around the other side and head her off. Kill her when she comes out."

Well, that was a problem.

Slap, slap.

A sudden thought occurred to me. I hadn't been anything near an explosives expert in the other world. Would a hundred pounds of gunpowder be enough? It was what, the equivalent of half that of TNT?

"Seal off the roof," I heard one of them say. "There's people that say she might be an animagus. She might try to double back and get around us."

As one of them began to magically repair the roof, I had a sudden, more horrible thought. I'd planned the blast around the fact that the roof had holes; explosions tended to follow the path of least resistance.

Slap, slap.

That route was now the tunnel I was in.

"Can somebody stop those stupid bugs," I heard the commander snap.


I created the strongest shield I could possibly manage, and had it fill the entire width of the tunnel behind me.

"Hey, there's a string on fire," I heard a voice say.

"Put it out!"

Everything turned white around me, and suddenly I couldn't hear. I gagged as I found myself suddenly buried in earth, and for a moment I blacked out.

I woke buried in the earth, and for a moment I didn't know where I was. The bugs and worms around me were already trying to dig me out, but I was gagging and struggling to breathe. I was drowning in the dirt and muck.

The dirt above me suddenly vanished, showing a gristle face.

He was saying something, but I couldn't hear what; my ears were still ringing horribly. It didn't matter what he was saying. He'd seen my bugs, and he couldn't be allowed to get back to his master with that kind of knowledge.

He gasped suddenly as a fly flew into his mouth. He choked and gagged, staring at me as I stared up at him.

More and more bugs flew into his mouth as I tried to dig myself out of the dirt.

"Expecto Patronum," I said.

For a moment I thought the bugs were going to turn on me. Each time I used the spell it got harder to control. I'd thought the last time was specific to Umbridge, but apparently not.

It took me a moment to get the bugs under control, and then another to do what had to be done. He would have screamed, but his throat was already clogged with insects, and he was already dead, he just didn't know it.

A moment later he did. Dismissing the bugs was harder this time as well.

It took me almost two minutes to finish digging myself out, and I realized as I did that I'd probably broken something.

There was fire on the horizon, and in the distance I could hear the shouts and anxious screams of people. The explosion looked as though it was far more powerful than I'd expected; I'd need to talk to an expert before I did something like that again, and I'd want to be much farther away.

I disillusioned myself, and then I summoned the Death Eater's broom. I turned his bones into powder with a small blasting spell, and then I sent them flying into the wind. A moment later I was flying toward Hogwarts.

I suspected that I'd broken my leg, and there were a lot of other injuries. Some of them might even be internal.

If I'd known the memory charm, I could have had Madam Pomprey heal me and then taken care of it. As it was, I'd have to rely on the incomplete healing from the others, and hope that I didn't have anything terribly serious.

I patted the Sirius Rock in my pocket.

Figuring out what to do with him would take some time, but I'd have time.

In the meantime, I was finding it harder and harder to stay conscious, so I focused on just making it to the school. Hopefully they wouldn't find me unconscious on the lawn on a stolen Death Eater's broom.

That would just be embarrassing.