Exams weren't as big of a deal to Peter as he let on. It was impossible to live with the three best students in their year without picking up enough knowledge to at least pass. They seemed to expect him to fail them every year though and would give him extra help as a result. Peter let them, he wasn't going to turn down extra tutoring sessions with Remus, or James over-explaining a concept to him. Any bit of that information could take him from an Acceptable to an Exceeds Expectations, or even from the latter to an Outstanding.

James and Sirius were often impatient with his facade, but it was worth it whenever the test results came back and, despite what everyone thought, he had some of the top grades in the year.

He didn't survive becoming an animagus because he was stupid, after all. He'd had help sure, but so did McGonagall, and anyone who'd done it legitimately, with their classes and tutors.

Peter's intelligence was only lacking when compared to his companions, and it was to his advantage that it was.

"Pettigrew, you should have mastered vanishing spells by now." McGonagall turned her sharp eyes on him, she was the only teacher who didn't give him leeway for being stupid. He'd never really liked her as a result, but for some reason, she was the only teacher Sirius and James respected now that Professor Svalinn had cracked. Not that they'd ever show it.

"Sorry, I got nervous," Peter squeaked and tried again, getting it right this time so she'd leave him alone.

"Your wand movements were too fast," Remus whispered to him as she walked away. Peter knew this already, of course, but he thanked Remus anyway, sometimes his little tips were actually helpful.

"Your OWLs are next week," McGonagall said to the class her voice had an edge to it that made a few of the students flinch, "and your grades on those tests will determine your future. And if the performance of this class is any indication we'll have a whole generation of barmaids and dungsweepers on our hands this year."

Peter enjoyed watching the class try to look busy at her scolding. The problem was, however, that Peter didn't know what he wanted to do in the future. When he'd gone in for counseling he'd just made something up to sound good. He sure as hell didn't want to fight in some pointless war, that was for sure. He'd have to find some way out of it when James inevitably tried to pressure him into it, but he hadn't yet come up with a good excuse.

He'd overhear Sirius and James speculate about Dumbledore's Order thing and wonder why they cared so much. At first, he thought they were just looking for an opportunity to be a hero, and maybe it was for James, but vain heroics weren't really Sirius' style. At least not when said heroics put his friend's lives at risk. So what was the goal? Wasn't it safer for them to stay out of it?

But how do you tell James-knight-in-magic-armor-Potter that you don't care if You-Know-Who kills all the muggleborns in England?

Maybe he should just disappear after they graduate. Like move to London and not tell anyone where he went. If James and Sirius' protection put his safety at risk then it was best to get out when he could. Make new friends, there were other people in the world just as talented as James, and far less self-righteous.

He, honestly, had trouble imagining life without the Marauders. They'd been together for so long. Even in the summers, his parents would drag him out of the house to visit the Potters once a month. He'd known James for as long as he could remember, it would be odd to break that off.

But not entirely unpleasant.

James was useful, without a doubt, but he was more trouble than he was worth most of the time. Demanding, selfish, petty, he'd always been these things, of course, but when they'd been kids he hadn't had anyone to impress, everyone had already thought he was the best thing since broomstick seats. Now that he had something to prove he was even more obnoxious.

That's not to say he hated James. The stag was still useful, and nice when he was feeling patient. His bit of drama with Evans was always amusing, if only because Peter liked seeing her knock him down a peg or two. He'd learned a lot from James too.

But none of that was worth risking his life over.

"Wormtail? You okay?" A voice interrupted Peter's revere, causing a startled jump and an embarrassing squeak. He looked up to see James, a raised eyebrow and a concerned frown on his face. He was standing out of his seat with his bag over his shoulder, the class must have ended without his noticing.

"Y-yeah, sorry." He gathered up his books and followed the Marauders out of the classroom. James and Sirius started chatting, though Peter didn't bother to listen. He was busy trying to remember if she'd assigned homework.

"Did she assign homework?" Peter whispered to Remus behind James and Sirius' backs.

"It's McGonagall," was all Remus answered.

"But OWLs are next week," Peter whined.

"Yeah, I know."

They followed James and Sirius outside and sat under the shade of one of the trees. There was a nice breeze kept blowing Peter's hair in his face, he found it annoying, but somehow it made Sirius look like a Greek god, which was hardly fair.

The lake was mostly empty, though it was a popular hangout spot lately, actually, anywhere James and Sirius tended to hang out automatically became a popular hangout spot before too long. Most were still in class, or in the library studying for exams, no doubt.

Remus tried to get the others to work on the homework with him, but it was no good and Remus let it go. Peter joined him so he could get help with it himself.

He began to notice James and Sirius' voices get sharper and started listening in, suddenly curious now.

"I'm serious dude, you really need to tone it down." Sirius' voice was low, low enough that it implied that the conversation wasn't meant for Peter or Remus to hear. Peter looked back at Remus who hadn't seemed to notice. He didn't bring attention to it but kept listening.

"I don't need your permission to ask her out, Padfoot." James, on the other hand, wasn't keeping his voice down at all. He wasn't yelling, but he certainly wasn't trying to be discrete, making him much easier to eavesdrop on.

"I never said you did," Sirius stabbed back. Remus distracted Peter for a moment so he missed what Sirius said next, only able to guess from James' response.

"If she'd just agree to go out with me, it wouldn't be such a production. She so ruddy stubborn it's a wonder anyone even likes her."

Sirius' comeback was so quiet Peter only caught a few words of it, something about a pot and black, he wasn't quite sure what Sirius meant by it.

"What?"

"Nothing," Sirius sighed, like a bored Atlus in Hogwarts robes. "I'm just saying, maybe she'd be more inclined to say yes if you stopped hounding her every time you're in the same room together."

James just gave Sirius a deer in the headlights stare, as though his brain couldn't process what Sirius was trying to say.

"How's she going to agree if I never ask her out?"

Sirius groaned loudly and fell backward, laying on the grass swearing loud enough to cause Remus to look up. "Nevermind! Merlin, you're such a pain."

James, naturally, took offense to this but Peter was no longer interested in the conversation. He turned his attention to Remus who looked back at him, a curious eyebrow raised. Peter shrugged and returned to his essay.


A/N) Why do Peter's chapters all turn into character studies?