Summary: Peter Pettigrew's story of why he joined the Death Eaters, betraying his three best friends and the promises they made. Takes place in Robin's Unbroken Universe.
Author's Note: Blame Robin. No, really. This is part of her Unbroken Universe, after all, so if you haven't read those (starting with "Promises Unbroken"), some of what happens here won't make much sense. For some reason, I was inspired to write this--maybe because she's finally started working on "Promises Honored", maybe because of all of the wonderful conversations going on at her Yahoo!Group, maybe because of all the Harry Potter hype because of the sixth movie. Regardless, I'm rather pleased with how this turned out, and Robin has kindly given me the thumbs up to include this in the world she's created. So here you have it. Peter's story of why he betrayed his friends.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, and I don't own the UU either. The former belongs to JK Rowling and a bunch of other people, and the latter belongs to Robin, though she graciously allows me to play in her corner of the sandbox.
Summer was just starting to reach London. Peter's tiny flat was stuffy, even with the two windows thrown wide and a small Muggle fan rattling and squeaking in one of them. He was too tired to attempt a cooling charm. It had been another long day at work, shuffling around from department to department within the Ministry, filing papers and carrying memos.
He'd had the job for almost two years now. He should have advanced within the first six months, but none of the departments had really wanted him as a permanent employee, despite the fact that he was good at what he did and didn't waste time like some of the other clerks did. At most, he might stop and say a brief hello to Sirius or James if he was passing through the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, but he never dawdled.
It was because he was shy, he knew. He did his work, and never left any sort of impression on the department heads or secretaries he interacted with. Bartemius Crouch didn't even know his name, even though Peter had corrected him every day since he had started working at the Ministry, three weeks after his Hogwarts graduation.
It left him feeling tired and worn, spending all day running around the Ministry, never being seen. He couldn't remember the last time someone had actually called him by name. James and Sirius had been so busy chasing down Death Eaters lately, and Remus had been traveling, leaving Peter to sit at home with only the Wizarding Wireless to keep him company.
There was a Quidditch match on, Puddlemere United against the Chudley Cannons. Peter only half listened, remembering a time where he could have gone and sat with Lily to watch James play, Remus or Sirius showing up if they had time. Now, he would just order take away and nurse a Butterbeer in his musty, old chair, not bothering to turn on the lights as night settled in.
He was just about to order dinner when someone knocked on his door. He glanced at the clock. It was later than he had thought, but perhaps it was James or Sirius having just gotten off work, or Remus back from wherever he'd gone off to this time. He grabbed his wand, just in case; Sirius and James had drilled that into his head on countless occasions, even in Hogwarts when Peter was more wary of pranks than deadly spells. He smiled at that thought, already preparing himself for whatever his friends might surprise him with.
He regretted not having a peephole on his door, nor a security chain. He probably should have asked who was there, first, but he was tired and the Butterbeer he'd had on his empty stomach made him complacent. He also didn't consider himself much of a target; after all, he was just a nobody within the Ministry, and certainly not a threat of any kind to You-Know-Who, even if two of his best friends were. Most people didn't even think to associate him with them.
"Hello, Petie," Bellatrix Lestrange greeted him, a feral grin on her face. Before Peter could even think of slamming the door shut or trying to shoot off a spell, Lucius Malfoy had disarmed him and forced his way into the apartment. Peter could only shrink back, trying to put as much room between himself and the two Death Eaters now standing in his living room.
"Do stop cowering, Pettigrew," Malfoy sneered. "We're not here to kill you." The words weren't very reassuring for Peter, and he glanced around, trying to find something to use to defend himself.
Maybe I could call the police, he thought, eying the Muggle telephone next to him. Or throw the phone at them.
"What do you want then?" he managed to get out, cringing as his voice squeaked.
"Our Master has an offer for you, Petie. You've caught his attention," Bellatrix said, inspecting the pictures along Peter's mantle. She ran a finger along it, wrinkling her nose as it came away dusty, before picking up a picture of the Marauders from their Hogwarts graduation.
"Me?" He mentally cursed as he squeaked again.
"Even a simpering idiot like you has his uses, Pettigrew," Malfoy said, not moving from his spot just inside the door. He looked as if he didn't want to taint himself with the insides of the Muggle flat.
"And what makes you think I'd be interested in serving him?" Peter asked, trying to force as much disdain into his voice as he could. He was shaking; he was playing with fire by even saying those words, barely defiant as they were. Despite Malfoy's reassurance that they weren't there to kill him, Peter knew he probably wouldn't survive the night. He only wished he could have said goodbye to his friends.
"Crucio!" Bellatrix's spell caught him off-guard. Even if he had been expecting it, nothing could have prepared him for the agonizing pain searing through his body. He didn't know how long it lasted except that it felt like an eternity and his throat was raw from screaming when it finally stopped. Bellatrix was crouched over him when he finally managed to force his eyes open, and a cool finger brushed down his cheek. He tried to flinch away, but her thin fingers grabbed on to his chin, and she leaned close enough that he could feel her hot breath.
"You should be flattered, Peter. The Dark Lord finds you useful." The words twisted inside of him, a different sort of pain than the Cruciatus curse. "He could make sure you go far, Petie. No more lowly office boy, for you," she continued, voice soft and gentle.
Visions of himself as a department head flashed through his mind before he could stop them. People greeting him by name, respecting him. Being strong and successful, like James or Sirius...
James. Sirius. Remus. His friends. His brothers.
"No," he rasped. Bellatrix's eyes flashed, and he cringed, waiting for the next wave of pain. It never came.
"We thought you might say that, Pettigrew. Too stupid to know when to give in," Malfoy said, smirking down at Peter. "That is why we came prepared with a second offer."
"Such a dangerous job, being an Auror. You must worry about my dear cousin and your friend Jimmy. Especially with the baby on the way," Bellatrix said, sounding casual as her fingers tightened around Peter's jaw painfully. She leaned close to his ear, her voice dropping to a whisper. "You can protect them, Peter. You have that power, you know."
"What?" he asked, startled by the offer.
"The Dark Lord is not asking much of you, Peter. A tidbit of information here, a minor detail there. You are so very good at remaining unnoticed. Who would ever suspect you of spying?" She had released his jaw again, brushing her fingers down his cheek in a lover's caress.
"Spying?" His mind was racing to try and keep up with the conversation, the lingering effects of the Cruciatus Curse leaving him light-headed and confused.
"You are a slow one," Malfoy sneered. "Of course spying, Pettigrew. You're worthless, otherwise."
"The Dark Lord has offered amnesty for your friends if you agree to serve him. You have access to all sorts of information within the Ministry, valuable information. No one save Lucius and I would know that you were a spy, and you could sleep easy at night, knowing your friends would be too."
Peter's thoughts raced. He knew Bellatrix was lying about the information Peter could gather. No one ever trusted him with anything terribly important. He wouldn't actually be giving the Dark Lord anything of value, and if it meant James and Sirius wouldn't get hurt...
"We don't have all night, Pettigrew. We've an appointment with the Aurors after we're through here. We wouldn't want to keep Potter and Black waiting," Malfoy said, his tone bored.
Bellatrix was in his face again. "Well, Peter? What will it be? Agree to serve, and your friends may just survive the night, and every night after this. After all, they don't know they're walking into an ambush tonight, and you know just how sticky that can get."
Peter's mind raced quicker than his heart. James and Sirius were walking into a trap, and he was being given the chance to protect them, all for a few bits of useless information that You-Know-Who probably could have gotten from any of the other Death Eaters working in the Ministry.
What we are is brothers, and as such we remain, loyal to one another until the end...
James' words drifted back to him. Ever since they had first met, the others had protected him. Now it was his chance. His stomach twisted painfully.
"Yes," he whispered, turning his face away from Bellatrix. Her fingers grabbed his chin again, forcing him to look at her grinning face once more.
"You've made the right choice, Petie. We'll be coming to collect you tomorrow to meet with our Master," she said, before pressing a kiss to his lips. She was off him before he could react.
"Your friends die if you try to run or hide," Malfoy informed him, dropping Peter's wand onto his coffee table. Bellatrix blew him a kiss before the pair Disapparated.
Peter's stomach twisted again, and he barely made it to the bathroom. His head throbbed and his body ached, and a small part of his brain was screaming at him for being so weak, for agreeing to join the Death Eaters, for betraying his friends.
No! he shouted back. I'm protecting them! This is the only way!
'You promised, Pete,' James' voice filtered through his mind. 'Faithful until the end.'
I'm doing this for you, he replied.
'We would have died for you, Wormtail,' Sirius added. Peter dry-heaved into the toilet again.
'You should have been stronger, Peter. We were family.' Remus' voice sounded resigned, and Peter couldn't fight back the tears any longer.
"I'm sorry. I'm only trying to protect you," he whispered to his empty bathroom. "It's not breaking our promise. It's not." The words sounded weak even to his own ears. A heavy weight settled over him as he huddled on the tile floor long into the night, alone with the silence.
"You wished to see me, Headmaster?" Peter settled into a chair across from Professor Dumbledore's desk, feeling rather like he had the numerous times he and the other Marauders had been called in to the Headmaster's office after a prank.
"Call me Albus, Peter. You are no longer a student," Professor Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling. "Lemon drop?" he offered.
"No, thank you. I don't mean to sound rude, Professor, but I've a meeting this afternoon, and Mr. Crouch will be furious if I don't have everything ready for him."
"Ah, yes, how is your new position as Undersecretary for the Department of International Magical Cooperation going?" Dumbledore asked. Peter resisted the urge to fidget.
"It's going well, sir. Not much different than what I was doing before, to be honest," Peter said, forcing a chuckle. The Headmaster had always made him feel slightly uncomfortable, and Peter had more to hide these days than he had as a student.
"Wonderful. I am sure your responsibilities will increase as you get settled in. With the current atmosphere, your department is an important one. As such, I would like to make you an offer."
"An offer?" His stomach jumped to his throat.
"I am sure you are aware of the ongoing battle against Voldemort. You may even be aware of an organization to resist him," Dumbledore said.
"The Order of the Phoenix," Peter said, eyes widening. "You can't mean...?"
"And why not, Mr. Pettigrew? You are brave and loyal, and uniquely suited in your new job to assist us," the Headmaster said. "You would be an asset to the cause."
Peter had to fight to keep from grabbing his left arm. Even after five months, it still throbbed painfully, a constant reminder. He thought for sure Dumbledore knew the truth, but the old man was smiling expectantly at him. Peter had to swallow hard before he could find his voice.
"I'm not sure I would be very much help," he protested weakly. He didn't want to be put into this position, knew the Dark Lord would tear the knowledge from his mind that Peter was a member of Dumbledore's secret organization. He had managed so far to soothe his conscience by not passing any vital information, but this would be too much of a betrayal.
"You do not give yourself enough credit, Peter. You do not have to give me an answer now. Think on the matter. Discuss it with your friends. I am sure you will make the right decision in the end," Dumbledore said, voice full of confidence.
"I... thank you, Headmaster. I'll let you know soon," Peter said, forcing himself to his feet. If he stayed any longer, he knew the head of the Order would figure out the truth. He didn't wait for Dumbledore's dismissal, fleeing the office as quickly as he could.
Once he cleared the school grounds, he Apparated back to the Ministry. He made his way to the cramped space he called his own and sat down in his chair, burying his face in his hands.
"Oh come on, Wormtail, it can't be that bad." Peter startled at the voice, looking up to see James and Sirius with twin grins.
"What are you two doing here? Don't you have Death Eaters to catch or something?" he asked, forcing as much humor into his voice as possible.
"Lunch, Pete. We're kidnapping you," Sirius said, coming around the small desk to bodily lift Peter to his feet.
"I've got a meeting this afternoon, Padfoot. Mr. Crouch will kill me if I'm not ready for it," Peter replied, trying to twist out of Sirius' grip.
"He kills you, we get to arrest him," James said with a grin. "No excuses. We haven't seen each other in ages, and Arabella's in charge while Moody's off in Germany. She gave us a whole hour to eat."
"I'm not getting out of this, am I?" Peter asked, resigned. Sirius and James both shook their heads. "Alright, fine, let me just leave a note." He scrawled something mostly legible on a piece of parchment, leaving it on top of his desk before letting his friends drag him out into Muggle London.
They settled into a back corner of a pub, James casting a silencing charm around them, and Peter found himself resisting the urge to fidget again as the two Aurors fixed him with equally intense stares.
"Well?" James asked.
"Well what?" Peter asked in confusion. Sirius let out an exaggerated sigh and James rolled his eyes.
"Well what did you tell Dumbledore?" James clarified. Peter couldn't help but flinch just a little.
"Oh... I told him I would think about it," he said, looking down at the napkin he was shredding. He had torn it into such small pieces that it looked like a pile of ash, waiting to blow away in the wind.
"Thinking about it? What's to think about, Wormtail?" Sirius asked.
"Look, I'm not like you two," Peter snapped. "It's fine for you to join the Order, you're already fighting against You-Know-Who as Aurors. What can someone like me do?"
"You're good with people, Pete. You always have been. And now that you're working for Barty, you can keep an eye on him. Make sure he's not mucking things up with other countries," Sirius replied.
"And you hear things, because no one thinks to pay attention to you. How many times did we get the password to the Slytherin Common Room because of you, eh?" James asked, trying to lighten the mood a bit. Peter forced a smile.
"Look, I appreciate what you guys are trying to do, but I'm not really cut out for this sort of thing."
"It's not like Dumbledore is asking you to go out and fight Death Eaters, Wormtail. He knows he can trust you, and that's what he needs. People inside the Ministry who are willing to fight, maybe not with wands, but fight never the less. You can do that," James said.
"We need everyone we can get, Wormtail. And we can sure as hell use you more than most," Sirius added. "The Death Eaters don't even need to know you're in the Order. They don't know who most of the members are, anyway."
"And besides, Pete, you've got us to watch your back. You really think we're going to let the Death Eaters get one of our friends?" Peter took a sip of water to force down the lump in his throat.
"Say yes, Peter. Remus is already in, and it's not right without all the Marauders involved," Sirius wheedled. "We need to stick together." He weighed his options carefully. He knew You-Know-Who would find out he was offered the chance, and if he refused, Peter was sure the Dark Lord would use it as an excuse to break his deal. He thought of Harry, three months old, not nearly old enough to remember his father if anything happened to him.
"Alright," he finally said. James and Sirius crowed with delight, reaching across the table to pump his hand and pat him on the back.
"Knew we could count on you, Wormtail," James said, raising his glass in a toast.
"To the Marauders, united once again!" Sirius said, raising his own glass. Peter plastered a smile on his face and clinked his glass with the others'.
Traitor, his mind whispered.
He didn't bother to argue with it.
The knock on his door startled him from his light doze. It was frantic sounding, and a moment later, he heard Remus' voice.
"Open up, Peter! It's me!" Peter levered himself out of his chair and unlocked the door. Remus didn't hesitate to enter, clearly upset.
"What's wrong, Moony?"
"It's Sirius. He's..." Remus' voice cracked, and Peter felt the world pulling out from under him as Remus paced across the small living room. It reminded Peter of the wolf, caged and hungry, the lingering smell of human flesh in the air, driving him crazy.
"He's what?" Peter asked, trying not to let the fear take hold. "What's happened, Moony? Is he alright? Are James and Lily...?" He couldn't finish that thought.
"They're fine, but Sirius is gone. I went to check on him, but his flat was trashed. They took him," Remus said, collapsing down into the chair, burying his face into his hands. Peter could only stare.
"No," he finally managed to whisper. "No!" He was moving before he realized it, out the door and past the Apparation wards Sirius and James had put up sometime in the spring. He'd only been to the little flat twice, just after Sirius had rented it, and once after he had officially gone into hiding.
He stood in the door, looking at the mess. Sirius was never the cleanest individual, but even this was beyond his skills at mess-making. Remus came up behind him.
"We think they took him sometime in the night. The neighbors didn't hear anything, but they're Muggles, so they wouldn't have known what to listen for anyway," Remus said, voice low. Peter could only nod. "Moody and Arabella are out looking for any leads," he added.
"James and Lily? What about them?" Peter asked, voice wavering only a little. "And Harry?"
"The Fidelius is still in place. Sirius won't betray them, Peter," Remus said, voice stern and reassuring.
"How did they find him?" He already knew the answer to that question. There was only way the Death Eaters could have found Sirius' hideout.
"You know Sirius, always taking risks. Moody says Sirius was always sneaking off when he should have been staying inside," Remus said. Peter didn't believe it, and he could tell Remus didn't either. Sirius may have liked to toe the line, but where the lives of his friends were concerned, he never would have acted so foolishly.
"He was an Auror, Moony. He knows how to cover his tracks. How not to be seen." He didn't want to say the words, wanted to believe Sirius had been clumsy, but he couldn't discredit his friend like that, not when they knew he had been taken by the Dark Lord and was probably being tortured at this very minute.
"We'll find him, Wormtail. We'll get him back," Remus reassured him. Again, neither of them believed the words.
"This shouldn't have happened," he whispered. "I should have..."
"Should have what, Peter? There wasn't anything we could have done. You said it yourself. Sirius is an Auror. He knows how to handle himself. He'll be fine."
Peter nodded, knowing it was what was expected of him. He had gotten very good at reacting the way others expected. He wanted to scream, wanted to tell the Dark Lord to go to hell, that their deal was off. Sirius had been kidnapped, and even Peter couldn't convince himself that he wasn't being tortured even as he and Remus stood there talking about it.
He should have known better. You-Know-Who would do anything, say anything, to get what he wanted. And what he wanted was a spy who was close to Dumbledore, close to the other Marauders. Someone who was weak and would never even imagine of resisting, even when faced with the facts of his own betrayal.
He was in too deep now. Sirius was kidnapped, but maybe he could still protect James and Lily, still protect baby Harry, still protect Remus. He had to believe that he was doing the right thing, even as he wanted to run away, to yell at Remus not to bother comforting him, that it was all his fault.
He had promised his friends that he would always be loyal, no matter what. He hadn't realized how much keeping that promise could feel like a complete betrayal.