"HERMIONE!" Ron shouted loudly, "HERMIONE!" It was too late. Harry and Ron were forced into the cellar by Wormtail, whose face was sneering at the fact that the last Potter was captured. Finally. Wormtail threw them in and stalked over to the corner of the cellar. Surprised he hadn't left, Harry and Ron listened to what he was snarling to something - someone - in the shadows.
"Well, it seems like you haven't snuffed it yet. Not like poor Padfoot or you're little Lily-flower. Imagine how surprised Sirius was when he discovered you weren't where he was going." Ron and Harry glanced at each other. This man knew Sirius? His body was still hidden in the shadows. It couldn't be Lupin, right? Was it someone from the Order?
"Imagine how unperturbed they'll feel when you have the decency to snuff it, and you don't end up where they went," the man retorted. His voice was weak and rasping but still held an enormous amount of defiance. He was strong, but there was an underlying amount of hopelessness in his voice, and Wormtail knew it.
"Crucio!" Wormtail snarled at the comment. The man, his gasps of pain echoing throughout the entire cellar, thrashed around but refused to scream. Harry had to admire his strength, as did Ron. Wormtail ended the curse as the man curled into a fetal position.
"Not so brave now, friend, are you? I'm the one on top now," Harry growled at the taunting voice Pettigrew used and the bloody fact that the rat was talking about bravery. The man uncurled himself slowly and snarled,
"Okay, Peter, we've seen how brave I am; how about you give me your wand, and we'll see about you." Ron and Harry glanced at each other. Both wondered the same thing. Who was this man? He seemed so adamant against Wormtail, and his simple, not bothered by the way he had been cursed. It said he had been under the cruciatus curse for a long, long time.
"Always the Gryffindor, are you? Even with a wand you couldn't escape. Malfoy tells me you don't even try to sit up anymore. You just lay there. Weak..." Pettigrew was laughing manically and enjoying himself entirely too much. He hadn't seemed the type to enjoy torture, and Harry's opinion of him dropped even further.
"I'm stronger than you are, you spineless fool. I don't care what you say. If everything you've said is true, if all my friends are... dead, then I've nothing to lose." Ron and Harry exchanged glances at the man's heart-broken tone.
"You are a fool, Prongs. Whom other than a fool would care more about their friends' lives than their own? And I'm hurt you no longer think of me as a friend." At the name Prongs, Harry and Ron let out a sharp gasp. It couldn't be... According to Lupin and Sirius, Prongs had referred to the long dead James Potter. This entire thing was a subterfuge. James Potter was certainly dead. Sirius had seen his body.
"You're the fool, Wormtail. How dare you pretend to still be my friend! You stopped being our friend the moment you turned to Voldemort!" the man exclaimed. "At school I thought you were so sweet, so innocent, and now, you're responsible for Lily's death. For Harry's death." Ron and Harry turned to each other. Was it possible? Everything this man said told them that this was James Potter. He thought Harry to be dead... Strange. Everyone knew Harry was alive. If he didn't know about Harry then how long had he been here? No. No! It was all acting. This man was probably a Death Eater. They already knew Voldemort had no problems cursing one of his own.
"Crucio!" Wormtail used the curse a few more times before turning and leaving the basement. Harry and Ron raced over to the prisoner. Ron blamed it on Harry's nobleness thing. Even when everything told them this man was a Death Eater, Harry still wanted to make sure he was okay. He was slumped on the ground, his limbs splayed out painfully on the floor. The man was moaning softly, and he didn't acknowledge the two boys' presence. Harry touched him softly, trying to see how hurt he was. Immediately, the sounds the man had been making ceased.
"Leave, Death Eater," the man ordered, his voice soft and dead, as if he was only going through the motions now that Wormtail had left.
"I am no Death Eater," Harry stated coolly. The man painstakingly twisted himself to face Harry and out of the shadows. With revulsion he saw one of the man's arms was broken grotesquely, the bone poking out of the wound and dusted with dried blood and dirt. It was terrifying to look at, but the man seemed to barely notice it. That didn't make sense; surely, they wouldn't hurt one of their own that bad. Was it possible that this man truly was a prisoner? The man's face was bruised and dirty, but Harry and Ron's weren't much better. It was his eyes... In his eyes there were no emotions except resign. They looked… dead. His voice when Wormtail had come in had been a ruse. This man was truly defeated.
"Do you really think that I'd fall for that? Wormtail's getting mental in his old age. I'd say the same thing for Voldemort, but he's always been mental." Again, the man's defiant words didn't match his lost expression.
"D'you know there's a taboo on the name?" Ron said.
"What's Voldemort going to do? Find me? It's been sixteen years, if the others in here gave me the right date. The worst he can do is finally kill me, and I came to terms with the inevitability of my death years ago." Ron and Harry exchanged horrified glances. Sixteen years to be held under torture. Someone trying to trick them wouldn't say they had been here an unbelievable amount of years, would they? It didn't make sense. Though, if he was truly a prisoner, Voldemort was smart enough to realize that this man wouldn't turn, if it had been so long. Also, the man was speaking so calmly about death. It seemed as if the man just truly did not care anymore. The expression in his eyes could not be faked; Harry knew that much. How much had it taken to destroy this man's will to live?
"Do they want you to join?" Ron asked in revulsion. The man let out a bitter laugh.
"No." Ron and Harry looked at each other, bewildered. Why did they have this man if not trying to get him to join? "A… long time ago, I was very… important to the right side. They - your side – keep me here, as you know very well, just to see me broken, weak. It's pathetic how the Death Eaters take pleasure in it, especially Pettigrew." Harry felt a bit of inappropriate amusement that this man thought he and Ron were Death Eaters. It was also terrible. For this man to think the Boy-Who-Lived was a Death Eater, he had to have been speaking the truth about how long he had been in Malfoy Manor. Ron narrowed his eyes and asked,
"Why do you have a grudge against Wormtail?" The man once again laughed cynically.
"He indirectly killed my wife and child; along with sending my best friend to Azkaban." Harry swallowed, hard. This had to be a trick. Someone was impersonating the long dead James Potter. Harry, trying to get the Death Eater to slip, asked,
"D'you mean Sirius Black?" He ignored the aching pain in his chest that came from even mentioning Sirius' name. The Death Eater just stared at Harry and Ron, a dead expression in his eyes. Ron coughed awkwardly and prompted the man into saying,
"I do. Malfoy told me he was sent there; I didn't believe him until he showed me Sirius' Azkaban picture."
"He was killed recently," Ron stated, obviously trying the same plan as Harry. Both of them knew Sirius pretty well. If this Death Eater said something wrong about Sirius, then they would know he was a fake. Then again, Pettigrew had also known Sirius well.
"I know," the man said, his dead eyes darkening ever so slightly. Otherwise, his face showed no grief over his supposedly 'best friend's' death. "Pettigrew told me that he went mad in Azkaban and died there."
Hi! I've had this idea for a long time, but I hate making summaries so I hadn't added it for a while! Please tell me if this is worth it!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter!