Four Seasons in the Life of Peter Pettigrew
Summer has always been terrifying for Peter.
It should be the best part of the year - no homework or deadlines or strict, disappointed teachers. It should be all about the sun and the freedom and having as much fun as possible with the best friends in the world. But it isn't.
Sure, Peter had had bad summers before.
He had spent weeks worrying that the friends he admired so much would abandon him in their time apart. Had spent months left alone to contemplate the realisms of having a werewolf roommate, and months more several years later trying desperately to master a difficult transformation in the name of helping said creature of darkness, said friend.
Peter had been as aware of the attacks on Muggles as any student at Hogwarts, coming from a muggle home. His mother was woefully ignorant of the situation, so he fretted for her, and had since fifth year - when Jamie Hargreaves' parents were killed.
But nothing like this. This is new and unavoidable and terrifying.
Not two years out of school, and Peter can't go a week without hearing of another classmates death. Benjy Fenwick was blown to pieces at Christmas. Caradoc Dearborn never returned from his mission in Wales. And, Oh God, they even got to Dorcas.
Dear, sweet Dorcas Meadows, nineteen years old, dead. The only girl to ever see Peter as more than James Potter's shadow. The only person who didn't think less of him for being scared, and not being able to cover it up with a smirk or a bravado or even a stoic calm, like the other Marauders.
But the Marauders are gone now, aren't they? James is living with Lily and little Harry, playing happy families in the midst of all the fighting. Sirius and Remus are living together, though why, Peter cannot fathom. And no one has time for Peter anymore.
The war is taking it's toll on everyone. The Order are outnumbered to an absurd degree, and they know it more and more, as people vanish in the night or explode in the street.
But Dumbledore keeps sending them out on these increasingly dangerous missions. Wise, omnipotent old Dumbledore, who doesn't really know any more than the rest of them, but has somehow been placed in charge of all of their lives. And what a lot of good that did to Benjy Fenwick and Caradoc Dearborn and to the McKinnon Family - murdered in their home bloodily and brutally not a week ago.
And poor, sweet little Dorcas.
Peter has never been as brave as his friends. Sometimes he thinks they should know that, should be able to see it in his eyes when he lies to them and tells hem his mother is sick. He half wishes they will see it, and he wont be stuck in this horrible, terrifying position anymore.
No, Peter has never been as brave as his friends, and when they come to recruit him - like he knew they would, just like they did for James and Lily - he can't find it in himself to refuse them. His cursed, traitorous mouth agrees to help them, feed them information, and his Gryffindor Spirit curls up in his stomach and dies a painful death.
I'm not James, Peter reminds himself. I'm not courageous and brave like he is. I'm not as unyielding and loyal as Sirius, as committed and determined as Remus. I'm the rat, the lookout, the Spy.
But Peter is still terrified. He isn't on either side of this war, he is in the middle. And he doesn't want to be caught in the crossfire. But he doesn't know how not to be. Not after what they did to Dorcas, what they'd do to him if they found out.
So he sits and listens and grins as James and Sirius explain the plan, that old Marauder glitter in their eyes. He looks directly into the trusting hazel, then the exhilarated grey, and begs for them to see.
To see how much he misses Dorcas. To see that he isn't like them, he's a coward and a rat and they should know better than to trust him with this. To see just how terrified he is this summer, and how it is so much worse than they think it is.
But they don't, and he smiles.
' Of course I'll be Secret Keeper, Prongs. You only had to ask.'