One single word

Warnings/notes : Peter-focused ficlet, hints at James/Lily, slight Sirius/Remus if you insist on seeing it, somewhat weird, takes place in the past.

Disclaimer : The wonderful world of Harry Potter was created by J.K. Rowling.

written at 12th november 2003, by Misura

italics indicate flashbacks

**********

One step.

That didn't mean anything, did it?

Easy enough to take another one, to walk down the corridor, away from the Gryffindor common room.

"You going out, Pete?" Sirius looked up, momentarily distracted from his chess-game with Remus.

He nodded, shrugged, knowing a verbal reply wasn't really required.

"Ah." Sirius turned away, frowning at the perilous position of his pieces.

Remus winked at him, looking smug.

He didn't begrudge Remus and Sirius their closeness.

He wasn't jealous of James having found Lily.

It was nice to see the people he considered his friends so happy.

"I uhm can't come with you tonight." James blushed, an unusual enough occurence for Sirius to inquire into it further, regardless of his friend's obvious embarrassment to talk about it.

"It won't be as much fun without you. What's keeping you in? Surely not studying." Sirius grinned.

"Perhaps it's not a 'what' but rather a 'who'." Remus suggested.

"Awww, Jamie, you're breaking my heart." Sirius drawled, when James' blush deepened at Remus words. "You'd rather be with some chick than with your friends?"

"No, it's not like that at all!" James protested. "Just ... tonight."

Sirius chuckled. "That's how it starts, my friend. Ah well, we'll make sure she won't get her hooks in you too bad. Have fun then and tell us how it went later." Swinging an arm around Remus' shoulders, he headed for the door, not even bothering to look back as he called.

"You coming, Wormtail?"

The stairs were deserted at this time of night.

He didn't meet anyone, of which he was glad.

The darkness was interrupted by the light of flickering torches from time to time, forming shadow-monsters on the walls.

His feet hardly made a sound. Though he thought that maybe his heartbeat might be audible from quite some distance.

If someone would be listening for it, that was.

"You're always so quiet ; I hardly notice you're in the same room sometimes." Sirius remarked jokingly.

Remus mumbled something, not loud enough to be understandable.

"Sorry, Moony, what did you say?"

"Probably that *anyone* would have difficulties getting a word in while they're in the same room with *you*." James snorted, shaking his head.

"Hey! I don't talk *that* much." Sirius objected, looking to Remus for support. "Do I?"

Remus merely smiled, raising his hands in a gesture that said he wasn't about to burn himself on this subject.

There was a cold draft here that caused him to shiver, clutching his robes more firmly around him to keep his body warm.

A few seconds before he reached the door, it swung open on his own.

He had been wondering about that, if he'd have to knock and what he'd do if someone else than the person he'd come to see would come.

The threshold was low, the glow of the fire that burned inside promising warmth and comfort.

One step.

Not that much to do, was it?

Nothing decisive, nothing binding.

He could still go back.

He would always be able to go back.

"The four of us will be there for eachother, whatever happens. We're the Marauders. That's never going to change." James declared solemnly, his eyes sparkling.

Remus nodded, an expression on his face of someone who can't quite believe that what's happening is for real.

Sirius, of course, had to ruin the moment by snickering.

One step, to take him over the threshold.

Eyes like a snake's, so unlike any Griffyndor's, looking up at him, a smile in them and perhaps a hint of triumph, of victory.

"Peter."

Voice like a cat's, purring. An aristocratic hand, waving him to a chair.

"Welcome."

One word.

That shouldn't mean so much.

~The end.~

A/N : So, what do you think? Should I never be allowed to write anything for this fandom again or wasn't it quite that bad?