a/n: please, before complaining, note that the lowercase is a stylistic choice. you're free to dislike it, but i honestly don't find your clever comments about my possible lack of a shift/caps lock key to be amusing.

one day Peter looks down at his morning toast and wants to scream.

he used to relish it, to take big bites like a boy ought to, like a good schoolboy, but he's not a schoolboy anymore, he thinks, even though he still sleeps in a dormitory and goes to class and takes holidays when his parents put up with him. he's not a schoolboy, because schoolboys don't nibble around the edge of their toast. that's something that rats do, and that's what Wormtail is, and sometimes Peter fears that he's becoming more and more Wormtail and less and less simply Peter, average wizard who doesn't quite know what to do with himself yet. he was probably going to figure it out one day.

this isn't the first time he's realized the impact Wormtail is having on him. he refuses to think of himself as Wormtail, because it's not true. they're different. Peter is a schoolboy. Wormtail is a rat. from time to time he sees his nose twitch, his own nose, not Wormtail's, and he thinks rat. he looks in the dirty old mirror, right back at his watery, grayish eyes and all he can do is not cry because there is a rat in the mirror, not bright-eyed Peter, not good old Pete. just Wormtail.

sometimes he has nightmares, nightmares where he gets smaller and smaller until he fears he'll disappear. he calls out to James and Sirius and Remus, but they're not them, they're big and towering and the fear grows until it's bigger than Peter is. he's always been small, but it never bothered him until Wormtail came along. maybe there were bullies, once upon a time before Hogwarts, but then he came here, he came home and he had James and nobody could ever dare to mess with James. nobody would bother trying for someone as small and useless as Peter, so they just glower at him and maybe call him a name or two but now sometimes he's too small even for James to see him, even if he's wearing his glasses.

he wants to tell them about this, about Wormtail and the nibbling and the eyes and the nightmares and being small but he doesn't think they'll listen. sometimes he thinks he's the only one affected by it, and he's almost sure he's the only one who notices it, anyway. Sirius has always been rather wild and rough but caring and fierce, loyal beyond loyalty just like a dog, and so maybe if he gets a little more reckless and wild and distrustful it's not because of Padfoot. that's what they think, anyway, but he knows better because he can see, even with his cursed watery eyes, the look that Sirius gets sometimes where he's not really Sirius, just Padfoot. at least people like dogs, though. girls like dogs, and that would be enough for Sirius. girls and the Marauders and rock music and the motorcycle he dreams of buying, that's all that Sirius seems to care about. James is different. he's always been sort of nobler, Peter guesses, and nobody will care if that reaches to a fault. everybody says that he changes because he's growing up but Peter sees Prongs now, he's the new James, and sometimes Peter thinks that the snot-nosed toerag that helped him once upon a time is gone forever. until James grins, because stags can't grin and then Peter knows that he's still underneath all of the grimness.

Peter wishes he could stop being Wormtail, just stop. but Padfoot in all of his mad loyalty could finally break and Prongs, Prongs would be disappointed and stern and Peter can't stand for him to be that way because that's not how he's supposed to be so even though Peter isn't terribly loyal he sticks by Moony. still, every time he feels himself shrink out of sight and everything becomes big and scary and scavenging is all he has he wants to cry.

Peter's mum always told him that rats cry blood, but he knows this isn't true. they don't cry at all, because he doesn't cry at all and he's a rat now. Peter has given up, given in to the animal instinct. resistance was pointless, and even though Prongs will be disappointed and Padfoot will be furious and Moony will just shake his heavy head there was nothing that Wormtail could do because he's just a rat and that's all he'll ever be.