While looking through old fic ideas I found this and naturally I had to write it. So, here it is. Angst ahoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
- - -
"He will see you now."
Bellatrix sneers at you as she says this. You do your best to ignore her dark eyes as you walk past her and into the Dark Lord's chambers. The room is quaintly accommodated. There is none of the silly decoration or odd instruments you once observed in Dumbledore's office back in your days at Hogwarts, although the silliness of that office will always be infinitely preferable in your mind to the sparseness of this room.
"Wormtail." The Dark Lord is sitting in his chair, his eyes boring into your skull, your mind. You know of his skill at Legilimency, and you only hope that he cannot pick up on the fear you feel in every last bone. "It is done?"
"It is," you say. "Siri– Black has completed the transfer. I'm the Potter's Secret Keeper."
"And obviously so," remarks your master. "The power of the charm prevents anyone from falsely claiming to be someone else's Secret Keeper. You may not have known that, but I am too well acquainted with Fidelius to not have encountered that particular clause."
"Yes, my lord. I am their Secret Keeper."
"Again with the validation. You are very obviously their Secret Keeper. Now, my dear Wormtail, I want you to tell me their secret."
You remember the time James's cauldron spilt in Slughorn's class fifth year and it soaked into Remus's shoes. Remus had boils on his feet for weeks. He'd been angry at first, but soon his feet had become a topic of discussion in the dormitory, and you'd all spent many nights laughing at the spectacle that was Remus Lupin's left foot. Later that year James had tutored you through Transfiguration, and the only reason you'd ever passed your O.W.L. was because James had taught you just as much as McGonagall ever had. And Lily had been your partner in N.E.W.T. Charms. Silly Peter Pettigrew, the bumbling clumsy no-good boy who always was blessed with the company of the talented and popular.
"I'm sorry, my lord."
"No, no, it's perfectly natural," says the Dark Lord in an unnatural hiss. "They were your friends once, after all."
Were your friends.
Not any more.
"Yes, master. Of course." Take a deep breath, hope for luck or courage or divine intervention. "The Potters… I'm sorry. The Potters reside at the Potter estate in Godric's Hollow."
The deed is done. For the first time in your service you see the Dark Lord smile, and you've never been more terrified than you are right now.
"Good, Wormtail. Very good. And tonight is Halloween. How fitting. I hope I don't ruin their holiday."
You can't say anything.
"Don't look like that, Wormtail. Perhaps they were good friends. But they're our enemies now. You've done what's right." You nod. "Good. Now go. I have preparations to make."
You bow once and turn. You don't look at Bellatrix as you step out of the door, and for several moments you walk down the hall in silence. Just as you're about to turn the corner towards the exit, a bony hand grabs your elbow.
"Yes. Snape?" Somehow you resist the urge to call him Snivellus.
"It's done? You've told him where Potter is?"
"Yes," you say, and now you realize that it truly is done.
"I see." Snape's face is as unreadable as it always is, but you think there's a hint of displeasure or disappointment etched into his features. "You are a good Death Eater. I hope we are all fortunate enough to deserve the same kind of friendship you gave to the Potters."
You hate it when Snape leaves you speechless. Sirius and James were always better at witty comebacks, and Remus was always better at civilized small talk. You used to just sit there and glare at him, and this is no different, although you're too tired to care about glaring.
"Good evening, Pettigrew," rings out Snape's voice as he turns his back on you and leaves you for the confines of some brighter room in this confounded castle. "I hope you sleep well."
You'll never understand Severus Snape, but that's reasonable. You're having enough trouble understanding Peter Pettigrew as it is.
When you finally make it outside the castle walls you don't stop to enjoy the scenery, although the snow-covered hills of whatever forsaken country the Dark Lord calls home can hardly be called scenic. The mountains are not beautiful but imposing, and even the trees look ready to gobble you up. But there's no time to be scared of foliage. You need to focus. Apparating has always been difficult for you, and it's even harder when you don't know precisely where you are at the present moment. The Dark Lord trusts few servants with that piece of information.
You hear the crack as your feet hit the floor of your shoddy flat. Everything's neat. You've always been rather neat, perhaps to make up for all the other qualities you're lacking. James can afford to have messy hair and Sirius can afford to have messy clothes and Remus can afford to have messy health because they're all brilliant, but you're just you so you've got to be perfect in other regards, no matter how insignificant.
You take a seat at your dining table. There's only one chair, since you almost never have company. On the rare occasions you do see your old friends it's always at Sirius's or James's or even Remus's, and you don't talk to Death Eaters when you can help it. You consider visiting Mum. The last time you did that, though, you'd been stricken by the severity of her disease, the fact that she had trouble standing steady. It made you resent her, in a way, for not being able to even stand, for not being good at something, but that resentment quickly ebbed into a bout of self-loathing. It wasn't your mum's fault that you were a spineless coward who would sentence his friends to death because he was so scared of death himself.
You tire of sitting. You're tired of everything right now, so you get up and lie down on the ratty sofa. A strange sense of peace has come over you now that it's done. You remember a story Remus told you, that men that slept in jail were always the guilty ones because they knew they were caught. Then you thought it was some stupid fake truism but now you can't fight off sleep, and as you fall into the world of dreams a smile comes over your face.
"Peter? Peter? God damn it, Peter, open the door."
You snap awake. It's Sirius. You wonder if James and Lily and their baby boy are dead yet.
"Peter? I haven't heard from you. I'm worried."
Apparently not. Just a matter of minutes. You sit up and calmly regard the door, as if it's a peculiar creature you've never seen before in your life.
"Peter? Peter, open it. I'm coming inside in two seconds, I don't care if you're completely starkers. This isn't funny, Peter."
You stand and walk to the door. You can hear him scuffling his feet outside. Your fingers run over the wood of the door, and it's almost like you're reaching out to him. It occurs to you that this might be the last time you hear Sirius speak to you, or at least speak to you as a friend.
"All right, Peter, I'm counting down to three. Three…"
You walk away from the door and into the kitchen. With uncanny deliberation you open the pantry and close it behind you. Your maneuver has worked. His "two" is significantly more muffled.
You time it perfectly. Just as the crack of his spell sounds out, so does the crack of your Disapparation. Sirius will never know you were there at all.
No one pays you any mind inside the Leaky Cauldron. You like it that way. Here you can wait. Gossip spreads fast, especially in bars. You learned that all too well seventh year at the Hog's Head. But it's best not to think about that.
Some memories just won't go away, though, and this memory, along with the visit from Sirius, has given you the urge to hear James's voice, just once more. By now it's probably too late.
When Tom asks you what you want, you just ask for water. Now is not the time for a drunken night of pity and sorrow. You need to be clear-headed. You know that the murder is only part of it. You're more worried about the aftermath. It's a full moon, so Remus is out of the equation, at least temporarily. Sirius, on the other hand, is another problem, especially if he goes to Dumbledore and tells him of the switch.
You need to stop Sirius before he can do any damage. You explore dozens of possibilities in your mind, each more cunning than the last. Over these last few months you've discovered that you do have your own brilliance, that there is not an untalented Marauder. Your talent is survival.
Someone stumbles in the door. You don't know him, but you can tell he's about to change your life.
"Everyone!" the man announces. People stop to gawk at him. "Everyone, please listen! I live in Godric's Hollow. Earlier this evening You-Know-Who attacked the Potters."
"Not Lily and James!" Tom states.
"Yes," says the man. "They're dead."
Everyone gasps. You don't bother. Someone has the presence of mind to ask, "What about the boy? Harry?"
"He's alive. I saw Rubeus Hagrid come and get him, take him away on Sirius Black's flying motorcycle."
"You-Know-Who didn't finish the job?" Tom asks, doubtful.
"No. The thing is, the whole house… it's just in flames. What I've heard is that You-Know-Who tried to kill the boy. He just couldn't. Something backfired. He vanished."
This, more than anything, provokes a reaction in you. Discretely you roll up your sleeve. The Dark Mark is glowing white against your skin, and you notice that your forearm feels like it's been dipped in ice. The job is done, but it looks like you're still going to die a very painful death. So much for that.
"Oh my God, you were friends with them, weren't you, Peter?" Tom asks. Everyone looks at you sympathetically. "I'm so sorry."
You realize that you do appear quite miserable, although maybe not for the reasons they're assuming. You nod, and the way everyone regards you, the pity with which you're being viewed, just disgusts you. You want nothing more than to shout out at them, tell them what you've done, tell them to stop looking at you like that.
"I've got to leave," you say.
And you do. You don't care for their sympathies. As you step out into the night your mind races. James and Lily are dead, and for nothing. You're going to die. You're going to die. Oh God, you don't want to die. Lily and James. Lily and James!
There's a Muggle street nearby, and you think about just stepping in front of one of the cars and ending it all. Then you realize that everything really will have been for nothing if you do that, that perhaps you can still survive this. Only Sirius knows about the switch. Only Sirius. If you can just do something to stop him from telling someone, or discredit him, or, God help you, kill him, then you'll be fine. Lily and James are dead. What's one more? You killed them. The Dark Lord was just your weapon of choice. This time you might as well put on your brave face and do it yourself. Maybe you can get Remus too. Make it a clean sweep.
You stop to vomit in a waste bin nearby the sidewalk. When you're done you think about your options. The game has changed. You'll have to think on the fly now. Something has to be done about Sirius.
I'm sorry, Sirius, you think, since you know you'll never get the opportunity to tell him.
You step back into the Leaky Cauldron. You don't care that people are staring at you.
"I need a room," you tell Tom. "I need a room with a window overlooking the street. Please."
"Of course, of course."
You give him your entire coin bag, as if somehow that repays every debt you owe. You don't listen to his protests. You take the key and trudge up the stairs. You hurry into your room and grab a chair, placing it directly in front of the window. You know Sirius too well. You know he thinks with his heart, never his head. You know his next move, and because of that you know your own next move.
You sit and wait for Sirius Black to find you and kill you.
At some point during the night your overactive memory is at it again.
Just like that, Wormtail, James said when you finally got the motion right. The pin cushion turned into a mouse. I told you! You can do it, Peter. You can do it, and if you can't do it, I'll be here to help you until you can. That's what friends do, right? We help each other.
You don't bother to wipe away any tears that might fall. It'll help to have a tear-stained face when the time comes to face Sirius. It'll make your sorrow more believable.
Thanks, James. I really owe you, don't I?
You don't owe me anything, Wormy. We're friends.
One friend down, one more to go. Really, though, it's more like two. When you take out Sirius, Remus will have nothing left to hold onto. He's as good as dead.
Necessary measures, you tell yourself. It's them or you. Them or you. They wouldn't have lived long, anyway. They're not survivors. They're fools. They're willing to die, and they'll get what's coming to them. You have no intentions of dying anytime soon. You're a survivor.
Traitor. Murderer. Survivor.
They're just names. Names don't matter in the end. All that matters is that you're alive. And you will be. They made their choice. They could've chosen to live, to live with you. If they were real friends they wouldn't have abandoned you like that. They wouldn't have chosen to die, even though they knew deep down that you weren't as brave as them, that you were terrified to die, even for a cause you really did think was right. They should've known that. They should've decided to live, like you did. They shouldn't have left you in the dust.
It's light. You see a disturbance in the street. People are making way for one man. One man is running down the street with wild fury, knocking bystanders down as he goes.
Oh Sirius, you sigh.
You rise and ready yourself. Your cheeks are still red. Good. You try to look angry. You are angry, so that's no problem. Showtime.
You fly out the door and down the stairs and through the Leaky Cauldron. You explode out onto the street, and Sirius spots you immediately.
"Peter! Peter, you –"
"SIRIUS!" you scream with all the agony you've contained for far too long. You direct all your hatred towards him. You scream with the hatred you feel for yourself. "Sirius, how could you? Lily and James, Sirius! Lily and James! How could you?"
He's shocked, but he picks up on your game too soon. You know this is the end. This is the last time you'll see Sirius Black. There are innocent people crowding around, but you can't help that. What's the difference between two lives and twenty?
It's time. He's reaching for his wand. He was always a better duelist than you were. But you're a survivor. This is the time you outsmart Sirius Black.
You grimace as your finger is severed, but it's a sacrifice you have to make. The finger falls to the ground. You mutter the spell under your breath, and you put all of your concentration into it.
Just relax, Peter. James steadied your hand as you attempted a Patronus. Just believe you can do it. I know you can. You can do this, Peter. You can do this.
The area erupts in white light. You transform. Sirius was the one who taught you how to transform.
There's blood everywhere, but Sirius is still alive. With your beady rat eyes you can see him, but he doesn't see you. He laughs. He laughs and you know Sirius Black is dead. For all intents and purposes Peter Pettigrew is dead. Wormtail, though, is still alive.
You crawl away and past a body and into an alleyway. As you take refuge behind a dumpster that damned voice won't get out of your head. That damned voice won't go away.
We're part of the Order now. Your hands were all together. Everyone was smiling. You lot are my family now. I'll die for any one of you. I know you'll do the same.
You said you'd do it, you think. You said you'd die for me, James. I just made you keep your promise.
That stupid smile on his face. That stupid smile won't go away.
I'll die for any one of you.
You promised, James.
I know you'll do the same.
The rat scurries away into the shadows.
- - -