He'd always wanted to be the hero. The savior, the rescuer.
He'd always wanted to be admired. Loved, needed.
He was trying his best to do just that, the night he accepted Malfoy's invitation. Just trying to live up to his friends' legacy.
Or that's what he told himself.
"Pettigrew!" a bodiless shout fell into the shadows of Knockturn Alley, where Peter was searching for the elusive Mundungus Fletcher.
And following the click-clack of expensive shoes, came Lucius Malfoy, hair slicked back and not a strand out of place.
"Fancy meeting you here," the man greeted politely, holding out a hand.
"Yes," Peter squeaked uncertainly, "fancy that."
"How've you been, I dare say we haven't talked quite often enough."
Peter was confused by this display of geniality. They'd only gone to Hogwarts together for one year, which was spent in animosity familiar between their opposing Houses.
"Busy, you know," Peter insisted, while also inching around the blonde obstruction of light.
"Doing what exactly, you could hardly be shopping for groceries down here," Malfoy commented, the first hint of coolness edging into his calm voice as he blocked Peter's sidestep.
"I'm just down here running errands," he claimed quickly, "for a friend."
"Who, Black?" Malfoy guessed shrewdly, gray eyes glinting at the name, "I imagine you are quite limber from all those years of bending backwards for that shameful blood traitor."
Peter almost rose up loyally, and retaliated against such allegations. He almost insisted the Marauders were the best of friends, and he knew that Sirius would return the same favors any day.
But there was a small part of Peter that told him there was no point in arguing with Malfoy. It was the small bit of Peter that agreed with him.
So he nodded.
"Peter," Lucius said kindly, "aren't you bored of being in Black's shadow?"
Peter kept silent.
"How about Potter, or Lupin? You've been stuck behind them for so many years I doubt now is any different."
He paused with a confident smirk.
"Don't you want to be something more?"
That caught Peter's attention.
"Because," he continued, fully aware of Peter's intense stare, "you have such promise to be Great." the blonde man spoke as he examined the polished snake head of his wand, "such potential to be Powerful."
Peter the Great?
Greater than even the Marauders?
"Yes," Lucius drawled on, as if reading Peter's thoughts, "you could be so much more than those friends of yours."
A fleeting expression of greed passed over Peter's face, causing Lucius's groomed eyebrow to rise in triumph.
Peter nodded, much to Malfoy's apparent pleasure.
"Then I'll see you at the manor tomorrow night?"
Peter almost told Malfoy that Friday nights were for dinner at James and Lily's, that it was the newest of several pacts made by the Marauders, all sacred.
Peter the Great, he repeated to himself.
So he nodded for a final time that night.
He'd always wanted to be the strongest. The best, the elite.
He'd always wanted to win. To succeed, to dominate.
That's what he was doing the night he got the Dark Mark.
Or that's what they told him.
Peter bobbed his head nervously, peering over his shoulder with frequency.
"Peter," said the silky voice, "please pay attention."
Again his head bobbed, but this time with rapt attention.
It would not to do displease the Dark Lord.
They stood in a circle, the seventeen of them. Peter could only name three, and that was still a rather treacherous number.
The Dark Lord liked his secrecy.
"You wish to be initiated into my select group of followers?"
The question only had one answer, given by their mere presence.
"Tonight is a test of your loyalty," he told them softly, "do not disappoint me."
And without the order being given, they naturally fell into a queue.
The first in the line was a very attractive woman. She stood with her regal features arranged into the utmost look of pride. Her bare forearm was held out as she proudly bore her flesh. She cast them all a superior look when she tossed thick, shiny hair over her shoulder.
Instead of the anticipated shrieks of pain, the woman celebrated her union with the Dark Lord with insane laughter, her eyes glittering as she observed his mark on her skin.
Peter wondered if he would be Greater than Sirius's cousin as well.
If the Dark Lord kept his promises, he knew he would.
As the initiation continued, uncertainties presented themselves to Peter, many in the voices of Remus or Lily.
What would Lily think?
She'd think you'd become stronger.
Braver than Sirius, more skilled than James, more ambitious than Remus.
Peter the Great.
"Hold out your hand, Peter," Voldemort crooned mockingly, his wand seeming to glow in his right hand.
Slowly and reluctantly, Peter did as he was told.
As the pain seared across his forearm, the sick smell of burning flesh filling his nostrils, he grimaced in pain.
His master put the tip of the wand to Peter's forearm, and from the union was born a smell of burnt flesh. Peter grimaced as he watched black ink spill from the strip of wood, and he watched frightfully as it spiraled into the pattern of a serpent scaling a grinning skull.
"Welcome Peter the Great," Voldemort hissed, throwing Peter's throbbing arm back to his side, "Welcome."
He'd always been the disappointment. The louse, the nuisance.
He'd always be looked down upon. Shunned, forgotten.
He was trying his best to deny that, the night he sold Lily and James to Voldemort.
Or that's what he told the other rats.
Peter accepted his life as a rat from the moment he transformed on the still-smoking street.
He escaped into the gutters deftly, unnoticed in the mass hysteria his own wand had caused.
Three friends dead because of him.
He would get away from it all, perhaps in the sewer systems of downtown London he might gain leadership of his fellow rodents. Perhaps he would finally find his place as Peter the Great.
His plans were foiled by the foul smell of sewerage, intensified by his animal senses.
So he took to the country, a nice isolated farm that lay secluded in the middle of a small clump of trees. The family that watched over the farm were obviously wizards, that much was obvious by the smell of the soil. It had a certain sweetness to it that even Muggles would notice, but pass off as flowers or 'the good country air.'
And on the farm he lived for several weeks, thriving, actually, on the vegetation they cultivated.
Until one afternoon, when he was basking in the sun after a particularly large meal of tomatoes when a little boy came thrashing through the low garden.
"Mum," the boy yelled, his glasses glinting in the sunlight, "look what I found."
Peter was clutched by the excited boy and adopted into his family of redheads.
And soon enough, his new friends passed him off to his younger brother, who, if possible, complained more of his incompetence and laziness.
No matter who or what he was, he was a disappointment.
Which made him wonder, what this had all been for?
What had he murdered and lied for? What had he sacrificed everything for?
To be unappreciated and hated all over again?
Because the promises had all been of wealth, power, and followers. They had been of his wildest dreams.
He was supposed to be given a position of authority, where he would speak and others would listen.
Instead, the only sound he made were occasional squeaks when he was sat on by an unsuspecting brother or when he was startled by a sudden movement.
And, as fortune would have it, his owner-ungrateful, little git he was-ventured to Hogwarts, where he became a roommate with none other than James's son.
The one Peter had betrayed.
Irony of ironies, wasn't it?
He had always been used. Manipulated, tricked.
He'd always been inferior. A servant, a worker.
He returned to that position because there was nowhere else he could go.
Or that's what he told his impulses.
Peter holds Voldemort with shaky hands, as the strange fetus-like creature drinks from the bottle.
He sleeps each night, awoken by fresh cries of hunger from his once Great master. And each night he pines desperately for the dreamless, undisturbed sleep of a rat, where old school friends do not come back to life. Where he is not guilty.
However the luxury is gone, and he is forced to sleep as Peter
Not Peter the Great, or even Peter the Good.
But just Peter.
"Peter, fetch Naigini, I am ready to feed."
Peter whimpers as the cold voice washes over him and he approaches the large serpent, who eyes him evilly.
She cannot wait for the day when she may eat him. They all know it. But for now, while in favor of the weakened Lord, Peter is safe.
He milks the snake, her slanted eyes never leaving his trembling lip as he does so.
"Peter, I am growing impatient," the high-pitched voice claims.
So he hurries with the magically warmed bottle, and reluctantly crouches down next to the small creature with disgust on his face. Slowly he wraps the thing in his shaky arms, cradling it as a child and he watches it nurses greedily.
After Voldemort is nourished, he often reverts to his favorite activity.
"Why do you fear me Wormtail," he asks, the pretense of first names and friendship long past.
"Am I not as beautiful as your friends, Wormtail, am I not good enough for you?"
"Stop it," Peter says to his knees, quiet as he can.
Voldemort has always been evil, he has always played off of Peter's fears.
And Peter fears the twisted, ugly form that depends on his clumsy hand for care. He fears that this is what he has become. He fears that if he could see his soul, it would look like the vulnerable, scaly infant from hell that is the essence of cruelty.
He fears that he did this to himself, to his friends, to his family on the promise of a liar.
The promise that was never meant to be fulfilled.
The promise that he might be Great.
The promise that he might be worth something.
And now he knows better.
A/N: Whoa, something different for me, yeah? Well, this came after much conversation with the lovely Cuba, much writing and much rewriting. And after holding onto this piece for a good few weeks I think I'm finally happy with it.
I'd appreciate any criticisms you can give me, because I'm eager to see if anybody agrees with the Peter portrayed in this oneshot. Every character explored in this was a new one for me, so obviously I expect that mistakes were made and am open to any suggestions.