Title: Four Corners
Author: Silver Queen
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any associated characters and/or merchandise.
Summary: One person is not one thing. Everyone has different sides. A look at the houses that could have been. [drabbles First up; Peter Pettigrew
On the morning of his eleventh birthday, Peter Pettigrew got a very strange letter. Everything from the paper to the writing to the fact that an owl, an owl, flew into the kitchen with the letter tied to its foot. Peter squawks and ducks low in his chair, dropping his toast, as the bird makes a low pass and lands on the table. It snatches his toast and munches it as Peter's mother bravely darts forward and unties the letter.
After that, the owl flies off, and leaves them staring at each other. Peter's mother sighs. "Your father said this might happen," she says glumly.
"Dad?" He doesn't really remember his father. Janus Pettigrew had died a long time ago. All Peter really remembers was a birthday party and a man with blonde hair setting fireworks. And laughing.
Peter's mother nods. She hands Peter the envelope. "Just read it, and you'll see."
He takes it with care, handling the thick unfamiliar paper with slightly buttery hands. The writing is in green ink, and there is a wax seal on the back. He looks at his mother, but she is stone faced, and offers no support. He swallows. He doesn't want to open it, but does.
Mr. P. Pettigrew,
We are please to invite you to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
He looks at his mother after reading it. She hasn't moved. Not a facial muscle has twitched. His half piece of toast sits heavy in his stomach and his mouth is dry. He takes a swallow of orange juice. "What does it mean?" he asks.
"Your father was a wizard," she says. "I meant to tell you, but…" she doesn't say anymore but he knows. She never speaks of his father. This is the longest conversation they have ever had about him. "He went to this… this school. He said you might get a letter."
He looks at the letter again. It's strange, unfamiliar, out of place in the sunny morning breakfast in their kitchen. He feels like the world has started turning the wrong way.
"You don't have to go," she says in a rush. She doesn't want him to go. Peter closes his eyes because the room is swaying. He feels like he's on a bridge. Like when they had gone hiking at school last year and there had been this tiny little bridge that was little more than planks of wood to stand on and ropes at the side to hold on to. And the big kids had started rocking it and the whole thing had swung and he had screamed and held tight because he was going to fall…
He takes a deep breath and the swaying stops. He looks at the letter again. And at his mother. And thinks 'magic'.
Then he says firmly, "I'll go." And wonders, just what is going to happen next?
It's the morning after the full moon and they're sitting in the common room waiting. James, on the plush red chair, hands flat against the overstuffed arms, looking for all the world like a king holding court. Sirius, lounging on the couch, sprawling, eating crackers filched from somewhere, seeming relaxed, but his eyes are dark and empty. And Peter, hunched by the fire, yawning; it's too early for him and he's cold.
The other two are silent, and Peter huddles by the fire, trying to draw more warmth from it. If Pettigrew's had ever had a touch of the sight, he might have seen another fire, years in the future, in another place not quite a castle. They didn't though, so he doesn't, but tonight, really, sets in motion everything that will lead to it.
Remus enters, looking achingly tired, sees them and is on guard. Peter wants to tell the others to let it be, but one look at them and he knows it's useless. So he sends Remus a sympathetic look and draws closer to the fire.
"Grandma was ill again, huh?" James says casually, watching Remus carefully. Remus slumps, because it's the same kind of casual the James uses with Snape. Not really casual at all.
He hunches his shoulders under his threadbare robe. "Yeah, she was," he mutters, knowing he's been found but not having the courage to stop hiding. Peter sympathizes, he does, but he can't stand against Sirius and James either. Not together. Together they're invincible.
James eyes narrow. Sirius is still lounging, but no longer looks relaxed. Peter envies how he can look threatening, lying down and propped up on one elbow. "Funny how she's always sick on the full moon," Sirius says, but it's not funny, 'cause Remus looks –
There aren't really any words that Peter knows that can describe how Remus looks at that moment. Kind of like the other shoe that he has been expecting has finally dropped and it hurts worse than he could have ever imagined.
Peter can't really believe James and Sirius are looking at Remus like this. Like he could really be a –. He wishes they wouldn't. They've known Remus for three years. He's their friend. He can't possibly be.
He finds himself speaking. "For Merlin's sake, stop it!" His voice is a little shrill. James and Sirius look at him, them at each other, not quite believing. Peter feels indignant that they don't believe he could stand up against them.
"Don't you –"
They both speak at once, stop, stare at each other, then at Peter again. He squirms a little under their gaze. It's worse than being stared at by McGonagall after they've pulled a prank. At least then he can hide behind the others. Now he's alone.
"Guys," he says, voice returning to its normal pleading. "This is Remus. He's our friend. And he's cold and tired…"
Remus, his arms wrapped around his stomach, is hunched over and hasn't moved since he entered the room. He's shivering like mad, probably more out of fear than cold. Peter thinks that this is what is so terrifying about Sirius and James, that they can look and not see Remus anymore. One day, he'll learn to do that too.
James looks at him, really looks at him, and slumps over. Sirius stays hard and edged and alert, but he doesn't say anything.
"Merlin." James runs his had through his messy hair. "Come sit by the fire, Remus."
Remus moves in a vague, sleepwalkers shuffle. He sits by the fire, but apart from the rest of them.
There's silence. It's too early for the rest of the house to be waking up, and they're alone.
James is the one who asks the question that is the reason they're down here. "Are you a … really a… werewolf?" he chokes out, forcing out the word.
Peter thinks it's perfectly ridiculous; it simply can't be true, but Remus… Remus nods. Peter recoils, just a little but Remus sees. He doesn't look betrayed, doesn't look disappointed, just sad. Peter feels ashamed, because this is Remus, even if he is a –
"You're still Remus," he says, and there is conviction in his voice because he's forcing himself to believe it. Remus looks at him and Peter smiles and tries not to think of that face twisting and contorting into a monster.
His pronouncement snaps James back to himself. He sits up straight again. "Look, I've been doing some research…"
Peter listens and looks at Remus, who smiles slowly. He thinks, for once in his life, he might have just done something right.
The black letters are more and more common now. They're brought in at breakfast with the morning post and a somber silence fills the air of the Great Hall. At first, Dumbledore had intercepted the letters, called the student away to his office later, and broken the news gently. Now there are too many for him to do that. Each letter makes the Headmaster shrink further, but he always watches to see who gets them.
This morning is no exception. Three owls, standard ministry use post owls, glide into the hall, clutching the dreaded black letters in their talons. A hush falls as each student wills it not to land at their table. The owls fly slowly, like they've been hit with impedimenta. It could just be the fear that clogs the air.
James and Sirius were halfway through describing their last prank to many admirers, Remus was eating slowly, nearly nodding off to sleep with exhaustion. Peter was just listening, smiling, watching. They fall silent, respectfully, as the owls flew. Then one lands in front of them.
They stare. It watches them, hooting softly. James sucks in a terrified breath. Sirius' eyes flicker side to side, away and back. Remus, already pale with tiredness, goes white enough to rival the ghosts. Peter trembles.
Remus reaches out a shaking hand to take the letter. Peter knows it is his worst, second worst, nightmare for his mother to be hurt, to die, because people were targeting him. Peter watches as Remus turns the letter over, looks at the name, and gets up and leaves the table. He walks quite calmly through the doors, and turns to go back to Gryffindor tower.
In silence, James, Sirius and Peter collect their things and his, pick up the letter and follow.
Mooney is in their dorm. He's sitting on his bed, waiting for them to come it. He looks quite composed, and Peter envies him that. He would be a wreck by now, if it had been him.
"What does it say?" Remus asks. He sounds so perfectly calm, like they could be discussing anything at all. He folds his hands in his lap.
James, who somehow has morphed into the responsible one these last months, opens the letter. He takes a deep breath, reads it and says, "You want that word for word? Or just the general gist of it?"
"Just the general gist," Mooney says, still calmly. Still sounding as if they're talking about homework. Incongruously, Peter thinks of his DADA essay. It's due second. He hasn't done it yet.
"Alright," James says. He looks shaken. "I'm sorry, Mooney. There was an attack… the whole village. It's all gone. Just a random muggle killing. They probably didn't even know your mother was there." James talks awkwardly, speaking too fast, leaving pauses for too long.
Mooney just nods. Lies down. They look on helplessly. The distance between them is huge. This isn't something that can be fixed. Not even by studying hard and become animagi.
"Don't worry, Mooney," Sirius says, putting his hand on his friends shoulder. "We'll always be safe at Hogwarts."
"Thank you, Sirius," Mooney says, not moving. "But I'd like to be alone for now."
They sneak back down to the common room. They don't feel like going to class, so they stay sitting in the plush red chairs by the fire.
"We won't always be safe at Hogwarts," James says suddenly. He looks at Sirius gravely. "We're in our last year. And even Dumbledore can't keep us safe forever."
Peter doesn't really like this new James. This responsible James. This James that spends so much time with Lily. And he especially doesn't like this practical, brutal side of James. But he listens. Because Dumbledore can't keep them safe forever. And they're leaving Hogwarts at the end of the year.
What in Merlin's name is he going to do?
The street is crowded with muggles, talking, laughing, going about their daily business. The number of them is overwhelming. They'll slow him for a while, but Peter knows he doesn't have long. His palms sweat as he shoulders through the crowd.
Sirius scares him. Has always scared him. There's something wild in his eyes, something that brings the feral Padfoot to mind far more than Remus does Mooney. It's something that asks how far Sirius is willing to go.
Peter knows how far Sirius is willing to go. Once it made him proud, because he was a marauder, and Sirius would have gone to the end of the earth for him. Now it terrifies him. Because that's exactly how far Sirius would have gone for James too. And it's how far Sirius will go for revenge. And Sirius doesn't have anything to loose. Not now.
Maybe this is what it was like for Snape, he thinks, then banishes it. He can't think of Snape. He can't think of anything but now. Otherwise he will not survive.
He's made a mistake. Another on top of the pile, hill, mountain of mistakes that are his past. Voldemort was a mistake. Always, always a mistake. He pushes that thought away too and forces himself to breathe.
He's taken the wrong road, he realizes, and panics. He wastes precious, precious seconds staring at the alley way. He hasn't been to London in far too long. This is a dead end. He's trapped. Like a rat.
He forces down the urge to giggle. It rises in him like the bubbles in the Befuddlement Potion he did for his OWLS. The one he'd added crushed bicorn horn to, by mistake. It had gone green instead of read and bubbled and the examiner had frowned and muttered something about trolls. James had really laughed at –
He swallows and draws his wand, holding it carefully behind his back. Can't let the muggles see. The urge to giggle gets stronger. He feels faint denying it. The world swirls alarmingly and then –
Sirius is there. Sirius in his larger than life glory. Sirius ready to kill. If Peter had known how terrifying it was to be on this side of Sirius, he would have held against Voldemort. Held, and held, and held, and held, and died.
Then it hits him. It's as strong as a stunner between the eyes. He nearly laughs with relief, sobs with remorse, and somewhere between the two finds the calms he needs to act.
Sirius draws closer, opens his mouth, draws breath –
And for once in his life, Peter is faster. "LILY AND JAMES, SIRIUS! HOW COULD YOU?" Terror makes his voice sharp and high pitched. Sirius is confused. It makes him slow. He goes for his wand, but Peter is ahead of him.
The cutting charm is quick. He doesn't aim for Sirius. He's never out dueled Sirius, never out dueled anyone and Sirius is better than most. Even now, in this ridiculously uneven playing field, Sirius would still win. Maybe more so. Maybe the advantages aren't Peters at all. Sirius is more dangerous in grief.
He aims for his finger. Nobody sees it drop. Peter doesn't even feel any pain. It will come later; it always does, with the regret. For now, he's strangely exultant; he, Peter, least of the marauders, will be the one to fool them all.
And then he's halfway to animagus, and the world explodes. Then he's Wormtail, sees the sewers and is gone.
He thinks its just madness that makes him hear the crazed laughter.