But Too Well
Response to SBRL fqf challenge #95: Peter's point of view.
Feedback: The lynch mob will be forming to the right. Please try to keep it orderly, Ladies and Gents, everyone can have a whack. No, honestly, what sucked?
Thanks: Leslie and Max, without them everything is shite. Really. They are beautiful.
Apologies: To everyone, most especially Remus, for the tears. I couldn't make them go away. I tried but Peter enjoyed them just a little too much. The bastard.
From his hiding place in the firewood, Peter had a perfect view of the sofa where Remus sat. Remus had already heard the news of Peter's death, Sirius's guilt. Peter was sorry to have missed that. He would have liked to see Remus's initial reaction, to see his face as the news hit him. He could imagine it, see it so clearly; Remus would have held on, remained his stoic, and controlled self until Dumbledore left. Then he would have crumbled. The image in Peter's mind was delicious, tragic.
Peter had missed that, but he was there for the aftermath, the tears and the pain. Every cry, every gulping breath and every shudder of Remus's was there for Peter to see, to savor. He had reduced Remus to tears. In the eleven years of their friendship, he had never seen Remus cry. Now he had caused it. Not even Sirius had ever had that kind of power over Remus.
Running all the way to their flat had been agonizing for Peter. Hours scampering through the sewers, his maimed foot shooting almost unbearable pain through his entire body. It was worth it, though, worth it to see Remus mourning for him, loving him. It was all he wanted in the world, to see his lover broken, to know he was responsible for it.
His lover; it seemed wrong think of Remus that way. It implied too much. Peter knew he had never had that kind of claim on Remus. They had been together since their last year at school. Peter had spent four years falling asleep with Remus's hair in his face and waking up tangled in his arms and legs and their sweaty sheets. For four years, Peter had loved Remus, but 'lover' assumed that it was mutual. It wasn't. It never had been. Peter knew that. He knew Remus liked him, fucked him, but Remus never even pretended to love him. That was what had brought them all this low, two dead, one gone and the other two alone forever.
Remus loved Sirius. He had since their fifth year. He would until the end of time, or, at least, he would have. Now, well, now Remus would hate Sirius with as much passion as he had ever loved him. Hate him with all his heart and soul. If a rat's face could have allowed for it, Peter would have smiled.
Peter could remember with horrible clarity, the type reserved for events that change the world, or moments that destroy your hope, the day Remus and Sirius had become lovers. He never asked how it happened; who said what or who leaned in for the first kiss, but he knew that very day that it had begun. He saw it as soon as they walked into the common room, both smiling and slightly flushed, darting glances at each other. It was obvious to anyone watching that they were together. But Peter was the only one looking. Peter had been looking at Remus, noticing him, wanting him, for almost a year. Seeing those looks Remus gave Sirius was ever fantasy Peter had ever had, only twisted and corrupted and not for him.
For weeks he was couldn't believe that all of Gryffindor didn't see that they were fucking, that James hadn't even noticed. Now, he realized that James didn't see anything that wasn't about him. He couldn't be bothered to notice anything those people around him, beneath him, did. The passion and pain of his supporting cast was unimportant. At the time, Peter thought himself astute, that in his obsession he knew Remus better than other people did. What a joke; if he had really known Remus at all, none of this would have happened. If he had known what Remus was, he wouldn't have loved him, wouldn't have ruined everything.
Peter saw them all over each other. Touching hands under the table at meals, leaning into one another when reading, walking too close together all the time. Taunting him with the intimacies he could never have.
Once James finally caught on, or Sirius told him, Peter was never sure which it was; they became blatant about it. Peter would walk in on them snogging in the dorm room, curled together on the sofa in the common room, or one time fucking in the shack. Sirius took to holding Remus right up until Madam Pomfrey was approaching on the mornings after the full moon. There was hardly a moment they weren't touching, staring, whispering.
Even after all this time, Peter could hardly stand to think of it. The loneliness he felt during those months froze him. He was outside of everything. James and Sirius, Remus and Sirius, none of it left room for Peter. Of course, none of his friends saw a thing. He should have known then where he stood. He wasn't important to any of them; he was just there in the periphery. He had thought he was hiding his love and his suffering, but now that he knew, it was just that none of them bothered to look.
There was a small part of Peter that enjoyed watching Remus and Sirius together. He loved the way Remus smiled when Sirius touched him. He could pretend the smile was for him, save it, cherish it. He had never seen Remus so happy, and his jealousy was diminished, at least slightly, by the joy in Remus's face. Watching them kiss and that one time seeing them fuck, seeing Remus that passionate, glassy-eyed and wanton, moments like that left Peter light headed and hard, but aching with envy. No matter how happy he tried to be for Remus, and occasionally was, the jealousy was always there, sharp and bitter.
They came back for sixth year and everything had changed. The distance between Remus and Sirius was as obvious as their closeness had been. On the platform, Peter saw the tension in Remus. Sadness had replaced the joy. It was in the way he held himself, the way he leaned away from conversations; his smile had lost it brilliance. Sirius and he didn't touch.
This time there was nothing for James to notice, he already knew it was over between his friends. Sirius had told him at the beginning of the holiday that it wasn't going to continue. It had been a lark, and experience, not a relationship, not to either of them. Just sex. Something to keep him busy, keep his mind off his family trouble. A way for him to cope. Peter could read through the lines of Sirius's defense. Sirius had only been using Remus.
Neither Sirius nor James saw what it had meant to Remus, that it had been more than that to him. It had been love, Sirius had become his world. Only Peter saw it. Only Peter recognized the pain and longing that colored every expression, every gesture Remus made.
Peter was relieved that he wouldn't have to see the two of them fawning on each other anymore. He was glad that Remus was once again free. He had no way of knowing then that Remus would never be free. He had no idea the pain, the years of wretched loneliness that fact would bring him. He looked back on his stupid, youthful optimism with a jaded disdain that his sixteen- year-old self would have been incapable of understanding.
Remus had been discreet; he never let the others see his advances, his attempts to get Sirius back into his bed. Remus never told Peter or James of his propositions. Peter didn't need to be told. He could read the look of rejection on Remus's face every time his flirtations weren't returned, every time he was refused. This only happened a few times. A few times was enough to break Peter's heart, and to destroy Remus's.
Peter hated seeing Remus - strong, beautiful Remus - diminished that way. His jealousy meant nothing. Peter would have given anything for Sirius to take Remus back, to see Remus glow again. He would have traded his soul for Remus's happiness.
The irony there was a little too sharp not to sting, even after all these years. He couldn't make Remus happy. Nothing he ever did could accomplish that. He had traded his life, everything he was to try, but in the end, once he had destroyed himself in the attempt, he traded his soul, his finger and his friends' lives to see Remus broken. To see him crushed and weeping. At least it was better than the bland, passive, almost content look he had lived with for years. At least it was something. Something for him. There had never been a way for Peter to bring the joy back to Remus's eyes.
After they returned for sixth year, Remus was never happy again.
That was what did Peter in. He knew it. He had tried for years to make Remus happy, but never could. He wished Remus could know what that had done to him. How he had pushed Peter. His too calm, too sad eyes had tormented and goaded Peter into murder, and worse. Just as they had driven Sirius to tell Snape about the Willow. Peter hadn't understood that at the time. He hadn't known how Remus's half smile could drive a man to kill.
Peter remembered the lost look on Remus's face when it happened, when he realized Sirius had betrayed him. On the surface, their friendship continued, but Peter saw the change in Remus. He saw Remus lose hope. Saw him fall just a little bit farther. Peter hated Sirius then, hated him with more passion than he had ever known in his sixteen years - He laughed now – what the fuck did he know about passion or hate? He was just a child! Now he knew, now he understood hate, and what he felt for Sirius then was nothing compared to real hate; what he felt for Sirius now. What he felt for all of them.
As sixth year moved on, things changed. Sirius started dating, Remus stopped flinching and Peter fell more in love. Watching Remus the first time Sirius and his girlfriend cuddled on the common room sofa was almost more than Peter could take. Remus was so strong, so calm. Peter knew his heart broke that afternoon. He knew how much it cost him to sit with Peter and James and talk like there was nothing wrong in the world. Seeing that kind of strength and determination, suffering and sacrifice, drew Peter to Remus just a little more.
Time passed and Remus healed. Or at least, that was what Peter thought. Remus no longer strained to smile at Sirius and his girlfriends. His eyes gave up the lost, empty expression that hurt Peter so much. Peter saw all of this, filed it away, nurtured it and cherished it as he had his images of Remus's lust, until finally, finally he believed that Remus was free.
It was seventh year it finally happened. Remus saw Peter watching, wanting. He knew how Peter felt and one day, with a smile and a kiss, he accepted that love. God, Peter was so fucking happy. The happiest he had ever been in his life. The happiest he would ever be.
Those first few months every kiss was sweet, every touch a miracle. It didn't matter that their relationship wasn't anything like Remus's had been with Sirius, all fire and passion. Theirs was quieter, smaller, but to Peter it was no less meaningful, no less intense. He was too amazed that Remus had chosen him. He was too happy to question any of it.
Everything seemed perfect; James and Lily, Peter and Remus, and Sirius happy for them all. It was a delicious, golden blindness - Peter knew that now - but at the time he was too stupidly, fatuously in love to see beyond his own desire, his own hope.
Even four years, three murders and a thousand tears later he couldn't look back on those first few months with any anger. He couldn't regret his ignorance when he believed that Remus loved him. He cherished that time, even though its end had ruined him.
It was not that Remus changed; it was that Peter finally opened his eyes and stopped living in his own dream. It ended when Peter realized that Remus's smile for him, the little smile he wore as he leaned in for their first kiss, wasn't a smile of love or affection, it wasn't anything like the glowing, brilliant grin he had had for Sirius; it was a smile of resignation.
Remus accepted Peter's love, his devotion, his fucking worship, but all he could give in return, all he ever tried to give was friendship and sex. Anything else, everything Peter needed and lived for, was beyond Remus's power to offer. He had given it all to Sirius. There was no love in him for Peter. There never had been.
Remus never even tried.
The day Peter realized that, when he accepted that Remus would never really be his, was the day when he started to change. He stopped believing in his illusions, started seeing the way things really were. Peter understood that the relationship he centered his life around was Remus settling. Remus couldn't have the person he wanted, the person he loved, so he took the person he could have, the person who loved him. And Peter was grateful for it. He hated that more than anything else. He hated himself for not being able to make Remus love him, for not being able to stop loving Remus.
Even feeling the anger and bitterness grow in him over the years, Peter could never walk away. He thought about it, he imagined it, but he could never do it. No matter how much it hurt, how much he hated it all, he still loved Remus.
Over time, Peter began to hate all of them. Remus for not loving him, Sirius for ruining it, ruining Remus, and James for being so fucking happy and perfect. His friends, who were supposed to know him so damn well, never saw anything. But someone did. Voldemort did.
Peter never asked how Voldemort knew. He never really had to. It was all there - the hopeless love twisted to bitterness and pain and hatred and self-loathing beyond words - all of it was in his face, his voice, in plain sight for anyone who looked at him. Remus saw it. He knew what he had done to Peter, but he never said a word. Never tried to make it better, never even tried to love him or smile for him. Voldemort understood. He gave Peter a way out, a power stronger than his love, stronger than his hate. He gave Peter revenge. He fed that hate and loneliness. He gave Peter his freedom.
It was easy for Peter to cast suspicion on Remus, to make Sirius and James question his loyalty. They knew how Peter felt, or thought they did. Peter was subtle and sly, he never said Remus was the traitor; instead, he talked to them of his fear that Remus was leaving him, that he was out all hours of the night, that he had new friends who Peter never got to meet. He let them draw their own conclusions, knowing what those would be.
Then everything turned better than Peter or Voldemort could have hoped. Peter was given the Potter's secret to keep. He was handed the means to not only serve his master what he needed most, but also to turn Remus against Sirius. To make him see his love as dark and evil. To make him appreciate Peter – good, simple, loyal Peter.
It had all turned to shit now, but Peter didn't regret doing it. He had, for the first time, real power over Remus. The kind of power Sirius had always held. Peter couldn't make Remus happy, couldn't restore the life in his eyes the way Sirius's mere presence always did. Peter had caused Remus more pain than anyone ever had - he was more broken than Sirius or Snape or the fucking wolf who cursed him had left him. And Peter had done that. That was power.
He almost wished Remus knew so Peter could see the look on his boyfriend's face as he realized Peter's control over him. The shock on his face when he recognized what Peter was, when he finally saw what he had done, that would almost be worth life in Azkaban. But it would set Sirius free, and that, Peter would never do. Not for anything. Sirius may not have been the one to betray the Potters, but he was responsible for their deaths, for Peter's crime. Sirius and Remus were the same; they both took what they needed - comfort, understanding, compassion - from the person who loved them most. They destroyed those people who they couldn't love. It was a chain reaction. It ended with Peter. There was no one for him to turn to when Remus ruined him. No one loved him like that. Peter wrecked them all. Everyone who loved him, everyone he had ever loved, fell when he did.
Peter knew that he may well have to spend the rest of his days as a rat, but that was still better than spending them alone in Remus's bed, surrounded by friends who never noticed him.
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well; --Othello 5.3.352-254
Now, just think of Peter's reaction to the hug in the shack... hehehhe.. had to have hurt. Makes you feel a little better, doesn't it?