Disclaimer: I do not own anything you recognize in this story. That privilege belongs to the one and only JK Rowling.
--Ottery St. Catchpole, The Burrow--
A short, skinny, red-headed boy searched furiously through his small bedroom. He'd searched high and low, in the corners, under his desk, and even in the small hole in the wall next to his door. Ten-year-old Percy Weasley pushed his horn-rimmed glasses further up on his nose as he searched under his bed for the fifth time that morning.
"He's got to be here somewhere," he muttered. Percy stood up and looked around his room for a moment, his brow furrowed in thought. Two pairs of loud footsteps sounded in the bedroom above his, and were quickly followed by a crash... and silence.
Percy rolled his eyes pompously and sighed. Twins are awake, he thought.
With another heavy sigh, Percy smoothed his robes and headed downstairs for breakfast. He arrived in the kitchen to find his other redheaded siblings loading their plates with eggs and sausages. His father was busy reading the Daily Prophet, while his mother finished fussing over breakfast.
Percy walked around the table and sat in his normal spot between Bill and his mother. He quickly scooped a small amount of eggs onto his plate before Charlie had the chance to realize there were any left and take them for himself. Percy looked around the table once again and waited for his mother to finally sit.
"Mother," Percy began, "have you seen Scabbers anywhere?"
Molly Weasley finished cutting up Ginny's breakfast and began to open her mouth to reply when a shrill cry erupted on the other side of the table.
"Fred! George! Honestly, can't we get through one meal without the two of you causing trouble?" Molly yelled.
It seemed that the mischief-making twins had somehow sneaked spiders into Ron's eggs. The terrified six-year-old ran screaming from the table and up to his bedroom. Bill and Charlie sniggered into their plates and Ginny chanted "spider, spider!" over and over. Arthur Weasley seemed to be trying hard not to follow his oldest sons' examples. Percy merely rolled his eyes into his eggs, which he had been pushing around his plate with a fork.
After a few more minutes of this, Percy decided he'd use the time to ask his father. Percy pushed back his plate, stood, and walked around the table to where his father sat reading the paper.
"Father," said Percy, "have you seen Scabbers anywhere? I've looked all over and I still can't find him."
Arthur folded his paper and sat it down on the table. "Well, where did you last see him, Percy?" he asked patiently over the shrill yells of his wife as she continued to berate the twins.
"Last night. Before I went to bed, he was asleep on my pillow. But when I woke up this morning, he wasn't there! It was like he disappeared."
Arthur patted Percy on the arm fondly and said, "Tell you what, Perce. After breakfast, you and I can go upstairs and see if we can't find Scabbers. Hmm?"
Percy smiled, and thanked his father before heading back upstairs to try to find his beloved rat.
Five years previous, Percy had been outside helping Bill and Charlie degnome the garden. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had met his downfall just two days before, and the three eldest Weasley children were more than thrilled to be outside without their mother checking up on them every two minutes.
As Percy walked further into the garden, he found a gnome terrorizing a poor, defenseless rat. The gnome had it by its bald tail, swinging it back and forth, laughing madly. It hadn't even noticed Percy come right up behind it. Percy kicked the gnome, which caused it to drop the rodent and run into a nearby hole for sanctuary.
Percy knelt down and reached out a small hand to the trembling, slightly cross-eyed rat. The rat cautiously inched towards the five-year-old, sniffed his hand, and let Percy pet it. After a moment, Percy picked up the rat for a closer look. The rat was unusually fat, had beady, watery blue eyes, brown fur, and looking closer to its front paw, Percy saw it had a toe missing.
"You're hurt," Percy murmured to the rat. He stood up with the rat in hand and quickly made his way back to the house, forgetting all about the gnomes.
Percy entered the kitchen and found his mother chasing around a small blur of red around the room. Fred (or maybe it was George, Percy could never tell) had stolen Molly's wand and had been running around the room turning things different colors. One of these things just happened to be Percy's newborn baby sister, Ginny. Molly finally caught up with Fred (or George), retrieved her wand, and turned Ginny—who was currently a bright shade of purple—back to her normal color.
Molly turned breathlessly to the offending twin. "George! What have I told you about taking Mummy's wand? Bad George!" she scolded.
George merely laughed and ran off to find his twin. Molly sank tiredly into a recliner with a sigh. Percy saw his only chance before the twins would undoubtedly cause something to break or explode.
"Mum, I found this rat outside, the gnomes were being mean to it, and it has a hurt foot. See? Can I keep it and make it better? Can I?" he asked in one breath.
Molly glanced at the rat with a raised eyebrow and looked at her son's hopeful face. Who could say no to that? she thought to herself fondly. And besides, it's better than some other things he could want to keep.
The week before, Charlie had relentlessly begged Molly and Arthur to get him a dragon, and refused to eat when they said no. This only lasted a few hours until Molly made a batch of homemade biscuits. And just two days before, Fred and George had tried to smuggle a vast variety of potentially lethal insects into their bedroom.
"Oh, I don't see why not Per—" But Molly was cut off by the sound of glass breaking in the kitchen. She stood—Percy had to jump back to avoid being knocked over—and ran quickly into the kitchen.
"Fred! George! No! Dinner plates are not frisbees!"
Satisfied that his mother would allow the rat, Percy swiftly made his way to his bedroom. He put the rat on his perfectly made bed and knelt down next to it.
"You can sleep on my bed. There's loads of room!" Percy said to his new pet. The boy looked closer at the rat's missing toe; it seemed to have happened very recently—it was freshly healed. Percy thought for a moment.
"Hmm... I think I'll call you Scabbers. Is that okay?"
The rat squeaked in response.
Taking it as a yes, Percy grinned and ran back down the stairs to the kitchen. Here, he retrieved some leftover toast from breakfast and a small bowl of water for Scabbers. When he returned, the rat was curled up on Percy's pillow, fast asleep.
From that day on, Percy took Scabbers everywhere. But now, he was missing.
Arthur had made good on his promise, and helped Percy search for his pet. Their search, however, turned up nothing; Scabbers had just disappeared.
Meanwhile, the rat called Scabbers scampered through the forest. He'd snuck out of Percy's bedroom while the boy had been asleep. He'd been planning this for months now, and had finally put his plan into effect. Scabbers paused for a moment to catch his breath. He was just as fat in his Animagus form as he was in his human one.
Peter Pettigrew, nicknamed Wormtail, had been lucky to enough to find a wizarding family that day nearly five years ago. His plan had worked; Sirius was in Azkaban, he, Wormtail, was alive and free, and the Death Eaters were so far none the wiser.
His plan now was to find Harry Potter. The boy had royally screwed things up for Wormtail that Halloween. How a defenseless fifteen-month-old child could defeat the Dark Lord, Wormtail did not know. What he did know, however, was that the Death Eaters were none too happy with him. If any of them were to find out that Wormtail had lived that day... Well, he just didn't want to think about what they would do to him. But now it was time to make amends. When Wormtail brought Harry Potter to the Death Eaters, they would have no other choice but to welcome him back with honors.
Wormtail grinned as only a rat could grin and looked up to the sky.
He wondered briefly how Remus was fairing without Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs as company. Memories of the adventures the four of them had at Hogwarts came flooding back to his mind.
But that's the past, he thought furiously to himself, pushing back the memories. Once I give Harry to the Death Eaters, the past will matter no longer.
A howl in the distance broke Wormtail of his thoughts. Curious, the rat followed the noise to an incredibly familiar cottage at the center of the forest.
How the did I end up here? Wormtail thought bewildered.
Slowly and cautiously, Wormtail made his way to Remus Lupin's cottage.