They had had to push Sirius down onto a chair and threaten to curse him before he admitted what he'd done. He hadn't tried to fight them off. Maybe he recognized when he was in a rage and didn't want to hurt them, Peter supposed.
But Sirius was in a rage with Snape, not them. Never them.
"You bloody idiot," James said. Peter was still holding Sirius down on the chair, one arm on his shoulder and one on his waist. Sirius wasn't trying to get up, though.
"He's the bloody idiot!" Sirius said, as if something else, not physical, was holding him down. "He went! Probably arrogant enough to think he can hold off a werewolf on his own..."
"No-one can do that!" James snapped, his face slowly turning white. "Bloody hell, Padfoot! You could at least have told us..."
"We should get him out of there," Peter said. He stopped holding onto Sirius. "You know what could happen..."
There was a long pause, while James thought.
"If he gets bitten, we'll have werewolf Snape to deal with," Peter said, and gave a forced laugh. Very forced indeed. James and Sirius barely looked at him.
"He won't get bitten, he'll get mauled," James said. His hands went to his hair, playing with it nervously. "What the hell were you thinking, Pad...Sirius?"
Sirius looked at him. He looked quite hurt, actually, more than angry. Peter had never seen him angry with James. "What do you think I was thinking?"
"If you mean about Regulus..."
"Of course I meant about Regulus!" Sirius shouted. He jumped from the chair, knocking it right over, and Peter had to move out of the way. "Of course I meant about Regulus! Severus Snape has as good as killed my brother, James!"
The room was quiet.
"HE AS GOOD AS KILLED HIM! DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND-"
"Shhh!" James hissed. "You'll wake everyone up!"
Peter nodded vigorously.
Sirius was quiet for a moment, then began talking in a whisper. "You two don't understand..."
"I think we do," James said firmly.
"Not just about Regulus. There's more. Even more," He looked up at the two of them. "You're not going to rescue the bastard..."
"I don't think Snape is worth saving either," James said. "But Moony is, in case you've forgotten, Sirius."
That shut him up. He picked up the chair and sank down into it. Peter heard him swear under his breath.
"I haven't forgotten..."
"Exactly. He's our friend, Snape isn't, but if Snape dies Moony will," James said fiercely. He paused for a second, as if not sure he ought to speak his mind, but he did. "How could you be so thick? Regulus might be your brother, but Moony's your brother!"
A second silence fell across the room.
"I know," Sirius finally muttered. "But..."
"You wouldn't believe me..."
"Don't tell us, then," James snapped. "Now, what are we going to do?"
"If you're not going to save him," Peter said suddenly, wondering what this was going to lead to, the words pouring from his mouth. "I'm going to go and do it."
Both of them stared at him in shock.
"No you're not," James said, finding his voice first. "How could you?"
"It's too dangerous for you," Sirius said. "I mean, no offence, Peter, but you're not..." He trailed off. Then he said. "We won't be able to get him out of there..."
"We could try," Peter said. Then, more determinedly, "I could try."
Sirius swore again, not under his breath this time. "I didn't know...I wouldn't have done this if I thought..."
"...that we'd wind up in danger," James finished. Sirius nodded. "More danger than usual, I mean," James added, evidently trying to lighten the situation up, or try and show Sirius he wasn't as angry anymore. "Anyway..." He picked up his robe, which was thrown over a chair (looking untidy in an attractive sort of way, like James always was), and dug in the pockets for his wand. Sirius pushed his hair from his eyes.
"James, this is my fault. I'm coming with you. I didn't think...I'd have thought of a better way...that didn't involve you."
James nodded. "I won't be able to stop you coming." He gave a small grin. "Come on. We can watch each other's backs."
As they headed for the portrait-hole, Peter took his chance, ran out and stood in front of them.
"Let me come."
James and Sirius exchanged a look.
"We don't want you to wind up hurt, Wormtail," James explained.
"Or dead," Sirius added, a small bit of guilt in his eyes.
"I promise not to..."
James shook his head. "Sorry. But we just can't let you...we'd put you in danger."
Sirius shook his head. "Sorry, Wormtail. But no."
Peter gave up and stood aside to let them pass. There were a few hastily exchanged goodbyes, and then they were gone. Peter stood alone in the common room. Could he really go after them? But not doing so seemed out of the question...
There were footsteps behind him. Lily Evans was coming downstairs. She was yawning. Then she spotted him.
"I heard yelling. Woke me up..."
She looked at him, puzzled.
"Was it you?"
Peter shook his head.
"Was it Black and Potter? Where are they?" When Peter didn't answer she went on. "Sneaking about in the middle of the night? I swear, all this is going to catch up with them one day. I'm going to dock points from them when they get back, I really am."
She sat down on a chair. "I might as well wait for them. No point in going back to bed now."
She picked up a book left lying there. Peter watched. Then he said, nervously. "They have gone out. But it's for...a very important reason."
"Oh really?" Lily said. "They just have to go and charm all the tables to move away whenever anyone sits at them? Or whatever they're planning now?"
"I'll mention the table idea to them," Peter said, smiling. She didn't smile back. "But it is important. Really important. I'm going to go and find them in a minute, actually..."
"Then I'll have to dock points from you, too," she said. Then she looked up from the book, as if something had just occured to her. "Where's Remus? Has he gone out too?"
She looked a bit suspicious, but didn't try to argue with him. She sighed. "You lot have been acting incredibly weird lately. Weird and mean...in Potter's case anyway. He's just like Snape, you know."
Peter's heart skipped a beat or two. She didn't know exactly what was going on, did she? Had she heard? Was she playing with him?
She continued. "First Black goes mad in Divination...then..."
"Didn't he tell you?" she said conversationally. "We'd been looking at crystal balls all lesson, no-one was interested...the lesson was just about to end and then he turned to me, because I was nearest, and he looked insane...he whispered to me that Snape was going to be a Death Eater and destroy everything..." She trailed off at Peter's expression of horror. "He does that all the time. The other week he said that his mother was going to kill him..."
She looked at Peter. "He wasn't being serious...was he?" She giggled at the inevitable pun. "I mean...his mother isn't following You-Know-Who or anything...is she?" She stopped for a second. "Er...is she?"
Peter didn't want to get into this. "Listen...Lily...did he really say that? About Snape..."
"You don't believe him, do you?" she said. "I know he's a filthy little prat, but..."
"That explains a lot," Peter said, talking to himself. "Lily...Lily, is Sirius actually good at Divination?"
"He's average. Our teacher likes him, though. But only because he's named after a star."
Peter looked around for his robe, and picked up his wand from the desk.
"Where are you going?"
"To get the others out of trouble!"
"Whatever they're doing, they're smart enough to get out of it themselves, you know," Lily said with a sigh. "You shouldn't hang around with those two, Peter. They'll just get you into trouble."
But he wasn't listening. He raced to the portrait hole, and flung it open. Lily watched, shaking her head. Peter was about to leave when he thought of something.
"Er...Lily, we've actually got ourselves into something more dangerous this time. If we're not back soon, alert someone, alright?"
Lily's jaw dropped. "Wait..."
"And," Peter added, speaking quickly. "James does actually like you. I mean, he is showing off, but he...well, he isn't making fun of you or anything. And he's stopped throwing curses at people now, so you could...er...I mean..."
He jumped out and closed the door before Lily had a chance to react. She stared at the door in horror for a few minutes. Then she went out herself, to find a teacher, so they wouldn't all wind up dead.