Don't Waste It
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Note: I'm always fascinated by what the unusual suspects would do if they had a second chance.
Severus Snape was the kind of man who spent a great deal of time wishing that he could change the past.
Peter Pettigrew (lately called by his Hogwarts appellation of Wormtail by everyone he came into contact with and wasn't that odd. Given that he was single-handedly responsible for bringing the Dark Lord back, you'd think he'd get a little more respect) wasn't sure what made him think that, precisely, but think it he did. Snape didn't go around talking about how much he wanted to change the past and he only actually even mentioned it if he was trying to bother Peter. He spoke a great deal of Sirius in the days since his death (and Peter had been upset by this for all that he had set Sirius up to rot in Azkaban) and now his fixation seemed to be on Remus.
Snape spoke of the past often but sadism seemed to be all that those reminiscences were about. Maybe it was because he didn't know Snape all that well for their long acquaintance but he didn't think the other man was particularly unhappy, either. Not happy, exactly, but just…Snape.
And yet somehow Peter just got the feeling that he did secretly obsess over it. But what would a man like Severus Snape want to do over? Becoming a double agent? Joining the Death Eaters? Ending his friendship with Lily? Having a friendship with Lily in the first place? Attracting the attention of James and Sirius? Peter rather hoped it was that one. Snape was in a position to make his life very miserable for quite some time and he took full advantage of it. Peter could only imagine what he was like as a teacher. It was nice, sometimes, to relive the memories of him making Snape's life miserable. Not that he ever did much, though more than Remus, but he was still there so it still sort of counted.
Whatever it was, there was little doubt that Snape had it planned down to the last meticulous detail with such dedication that it would undoubtedly go off without a hitch. Except possibly getting Lily to fancy him, if that was what he was after become come on. This was Snape. Girls didn't go for blokes like him.
Peter, on the other hand, hadn't ever given the question much thought. What was the point? He firmly believed that, as far as he had fallen, he had made the only real decision available to him at every turn. Sure, other people might have had a different view of that. Sirius, in particular, had been very opinionated. "THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!" But then, that was Sirius for you. He never was very tolerant of others.
And yes, that might have been an option for other people. Peter very charitably never doubted that it was what Sirius himself would have done as he never was one to ask of others what he was not willing to do himself. But Peter? That just wasn't him. He might have been a Gryffindor but he had come to believe that it took a special kind of courage to admit that there were some things you just were not capable of. And anyway, school houses were a million miles away.
He had also, trapped as a rat for twelve years, gotten very good at seeing the bright side of any situation. Yes, he had been ignominiously strangled by his own silver hand in the Malfoy's prison but he hadn't murdered the child of two of his closest friends. You might even say that he died protecting Harry. Not on purpose but that wasn't really the point.
And clearly someone up there either liked him or – more probably – took pity on him and was offering him a second chance at life.
"You need only tell me where you want to go," the mysterious figure of light told him.
Did he want another chance at life? Well, yes, actually even if it only ended up exactly the same way. He didn't really like being dead. It wasn't so bad in and of itself (or so far as he could tell in the ten minutes or so since he'd died) but it was rather disconcerting. He was sure that he would get used to it in time but why bother if he didn't have to?
And maybe things could actually change.
He didn't want to go too far back. He thought he would die of boredom if he had to relive his childhood or his old school days. And he didn't know if he could really pretend to be so much younger than he actually was without attracting all sorts of unwanted attention or mistakenly being labeled a genius or not ending up friends with the others. There were benefits to avoiding that situation, certainly, but he still remembered his Hogwarts years fondly.
He certainly didn't want to deal with the war or being forced to turn traitor or living as a rat. And the last thing he wanted to do, though he maintained there had been nothing else he really could do, was to revive the Dark Lord again.
So that really only left one option.
"How about a week or so before I became a double agent?"
There. That sounded so much better than 'traitor.'
Peter waited for an answer. And when he blinked, he got it.
He had to blink a few more times to make sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.
He, James, Sirius, Remus, and a heavily pregnant Lily were sitting around the kitchen at what he believed to be James and Lily's house. It had been so long though.
Everyone looked much better than he had seen them last. Of course, since James and Lily had been dead at the time, Sirius had spent over a decade in Azkaban, and Remus had been virtually alone and still a werewolf during that same time, that was hardly a surprise. And Remus and Sirius were looking much less inclined to kill him, too. Things just kept looking up, didn't they?
"Sirius, I don't think that you understand how this 'godfather' thing works," Lily said, rolling her eyes. "You don't just get to tell people that you're going to be the godfather of your child. They have to actually ask you."
"Why?" Sirius asked blankly. "I mean, everyone knows it's going to be me."
"It's called being polite, Sirius," Remus told him.
"Yes," Lily agreed, nodding. "Some of us like to believe that we have something called 'a choice in the matter.' Let me cling to this delusion for just a little longer."
"I am all for letting people cling to delusions, Lily," Sirius replied. "Just ask Prongs. I didn't burst his bubble about you when after six years of failure any sane man would have given it up and look where we are now!"
"I was not delusional!" James protested. "I just knew what I wanted and went after it. Her. You know what I mean."
"Sometimes the delusion becomes so strong it sucks other people into it," Remus said sagely.
James groaned. "Not you, too!"
Remus just shrugged. "Six years, mate."
"And I will not have people thinking I'm rude," Sirius sniffed. "As it happens, James already asked me."
Lily turned suddenly narrowed eyes onto her husband. "I know he didn't because we agreed that we would discuss things before making important decisions."
"To be fair, the choice of a godfather is only actually important if the both of us die," James tried to defend himself.
"I know I haven't actually done anything particularly dangerous since I got pregnant-" Lily started to say.
James' eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. " 'Haven't done anything'-" he repeated before breaking off and shaking his head. "What do you call that time you nearly took Malfoy's head off?"
"He was the one who was nearly beheaded and not me," Lily answered primly. "Besides, I went out for ice cream and not on a raid. But that's not the point. This is a war and we can't stay completely out of it, even when Harry's here. We're fighting for him, after all. And even if we tried to stay out of it, we could still get killed. Godparents are a much bigger deal nowadays than they used to be."
"You know, Lily, I'm almost getting the feeling that you don't want me raising your child," Sirius said, pouting.
"Is it so bad to think that I would rather raise him myself than entrust him to literally any other person on this planet?" Lily asked rhetorically, neatly side-stepping Sirius' concern.
"I'm not saying that I'm half-hoping that something does happen so that I may accept your challenge and prove what a great godfather I can be," Sirius assured them.
They all stared at him.
"Nobody was actually thinking that you were," Remus said finally. "Although now I'm starting to wonder."
Sirius ignored that. "But I want you to know that I would prove you so wrong that it would be embarrassing."
"We'd be dead, though," James pointed out. "So I don't think embarrassment would be high on our priority list. And that would be a good thing anyway. The you being a great father figure part, not the bit about us being dead."
"Embarrassment is a big deal for everybody," Sirius insisted. "Except possibly for Moony. I don't think he's even capable of getting embarrassed."
"If you stopped and thought before you did things then you'd find that you, too, can lower the amount of time you spend embarrassed," Remus told him.
"Oh, I don't spend any time embarrassed," Sirius said, surprised. "I thought you knew that. Bu I recognize that others are less sublime than me and so was trying to be tactful. And…now I ruined it. Way to go, Moony."
"Yes, that was rather clumsy of me, wasn't it?" Remus agreed wryly.
James, meanwhile, was trying not to laugh. "Sublime?"
Sirius shrugged. "If the ten-galleon word fits…"
"Don't think I'm going to get distracted by this, James Potter," Lily said sternly. "You can't just go around asking people to be our son's godfather without telling me!"
"Clearly he can," Remus pointed out. "It was just really not a good idea, was it?"
"Hey," James said, holding his hands out in front of him defensively. "I don't even remember this!"
"So you named Sirius our godfather while you were pissed?" Lily asked incredulously. "In some ways, that explains quite a lot."
"Hey!" Sirius objected.
"But on the other, you have no idea how much it terrifies me," Lily continued as if she hadn't been interrupted. "What if you had started asking random strangers at the pub?"
"Well of course I wouldn't expect any of us to be held to that," James replied. "But I wasn't actually pissed at the time. Well, I'm pretty sure…" He looked to Sirius for confirmation.
Sirius laughed. "You were as sober as a twelve-year-old. Which you were."
Now Lily was confused. "How can you possibly have given away our child's godfathership to Sirius when you were twelve? Were you guys experimenting with de-aging potions?"
"No, it's just…Well, you explain it," James ordered. "I don't even remember it and I'm not entirely sure that it even happened."
Sirius almost looked insulted. "Of course it happened! Would I ever lie to you?"
"Yes," Remus and James said simultaneously.
"Now that's just hurtful," Sirius huffed. He glanced Peter's way. "At least one of you still believes in me!"
If he had really been twenty then he would have chimed in his agreement with Remus and James but for now all he wanted to do was watch them. He was out of practice with their quick-paced banter anyways.
"What happened?" Lily prompted.
"James had done something extremely stupid – I can't tell you what because even back then he made me swear not to tell you – and so McGonagall and Filch were after him," Sirius explained. "He really desperately needed an alibi and I was the only one who could have given him one."
"I'm sure I could have found somebody else," James argued.
"What do you know? You don't even remember this," Sirius pointed out. "And you had better hope that you couldn't because otherwise what you did was stunningly irresponsible."
"I'm willing to bet that it was anyway," Remus spoke up.
"Now, I was happy to help Prongs out but I was a Marauder and so I had to ask for something in return. Since he was completely at my mercy, I knew that I could ask for anything short of him giving up on Lily and he'd give it to me," Sirius reminisced fondly.
"I do so love hearing about your years of obsession," Lily quipped.
"And the first thing that popped into my head was Rumpelstiltskin," Sirius said, a bit sheepishly.
"You asked for my firstborn?" Lily cried out. "And James agreed?"
James hid his face behind a pillow.
Sirius winced slightly at that. "Well, his, really. At that point I rather doubted that it would be yours."
"Thanks a lot," James muttered, glaring at him.
"Oh, that's the part you have a problem with?" Lily asked, shaking her head.
"And I didn't actually want a baby – my brother was enough for me, thanks – and so I just asked for godfather rights. James didn't actually seem all that concerned about it," Sirius concluded.
"Twelve!" James repeated. "And I didn't think he'd actually try to hold me to it."
"I wasn't going to," Sirius told him. "But then you went and lived the dream. Good for you, mate."
James couldn't help grinning at that.
"Why not just wait until he asked you?" Remus wondered.
"I knew he'd have to clear it with Lily and, well, you saw her reaction," Sirius answered.
"It's just…you don't exactly scream 'I'm ready for children'," Lily said delicately.
"I don't like children, no, but this wouldn't be a child," Sirius insisted.
"Not really convincing me…" Lily said quietly.
"It would be a Pronglet. Prongslet?" Sirius wondered.
"They both sound equally ridiculous," Remus declared.
Sirius scowled. "Well, I wasn't asking you."
"You asked the room at large and I was in the room," Remus countered.
"So you see, Lily, I'm kind of in a bind here. And it's not like you have any male friends that you're closer to than Sirius. You can have the godmother," James offered.
"How magnanimous," Lily said sarcastically. "We're asking Alice."
"Brilliant idea," James said cheerfully.
"I'm just saying that if we had to pick one of your friends – and I'll agree that I'm closer to them than any of my other male friends – then I think we should have picked Remus," Lily declared.
Remus paled. "I…couldn't handle a child, Lily. I really couldn't. I'm too dangerous."
"Only on the full moon and you're not around then," Lily argued.
"And neither is Sirius," James added.
"That's what a babysitter is for," Sirius retorted.
"Exactly," Lily said, looking pointedly at Remus. "I'd say that babysitter could even be Sirius but he would obviously be busy, too."
"I love how I'm good enough to watch your child when you want free childcare but not forever," Sirius huffed.
"Me, too," Lily agreed. "It's very convenient."
"I wouldn't have the sorts of financial resources to deal with him," Remus continued. "You know of my difficulty finding work."
"Merlin, Moony, you don't think we'd leave you on your own with that, do you?" James burst out. "We'd already help you out if you'd just take the bloody money. And with our child's welfare to consider, you'd have to accept the help."
"Well none of this matters because I'm the godfather whether Lily likes it or not," Sirius said quickly when Remus appeared to be weakening.
"It's not like I think you would be an utter failure," Lily said earnestly. "In fact, you're about halfway down my list of people who should be given custody of our child in the event that James and I cannot be the ones to raise him."
"Although with godfather status you've obviously been promoted," James announced.
Lily sighed. "Obviously."
"How many people do you have on your list?" Remus asked, interested.
"As many people as I can think of," Lily said grimly.
"I know that you're concerned, Lily, and that virtually everyone on that list will also be in danger but…don't you think that's overdoing it a little?" Sirius asked hesitantly.
Lily shook her head. "I'm taking no chances. If there's no one available to take a child, they always go to the family. There is no way in hell my baby is ending up with my sister. I was actually trying to figure out if I should list Severus as a possible guardian."
The reaction was intense and immediate.
"Not my godson!"
"Lily," James said slowly once he had taken a few deep breaths, looking at her like she was a crazy person. "You remember that he's a Death Eater, right? And he called you that horrible word? And he hates me? And he's, well, Snape?"
"I am aware of all of those things," Lily answered him calmly. "I'm not saying he'd be high up on the list. He'd probably be the very last person, actually. But if it literally came down to Severus or Petunia I really do think he'd be better off with Severus."
"No offense, Lily, but in that case your sister must be a huge bitch," Sirius said bluntly.
Lily didn't look at all offended. "She doesn't like magic."
"Lots of people don't-" Remus started to say.
Lily cut him off. "I think it's pathological."
James glanced over at him. "Hey, Wormtail, what's got you so quiet?"
Peter closed his eyes briefly at the name. But unlike everyone else over the years, this hadn't been meant to taunt. "Oh, nothing. I've just decided that I'm done with the war."
Sirius choked. "D-done? You can't be done with this war."
Of course Sirius would say that. "What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed? Only innocent lives, Peter!" Well, if he wanted to spend the next few years (and possibly the rest of his life. Peter didn't think his departure would change things all that much but you never knew) trying to save the world then that was his choice. Sirius never could respect others' differences but Peter could.
"Sure I can," Peter said steadily.
"I'm not sure that I quite understand," Lily told him.
"The D-" Peter quickly cut himself off. He'd grown used to calling him the Dark Lord but only Death Eaters did that. "You-Know-Who only ever attacks in Britain. Maybe if he wins he'll move on to other countries but he hasn't won yet."
"So you're just going to leave the country?" James asked, surprised.
Peter nodded, pleased. He wondered why it hadn't occurred to him the first time around. Probably he'd been too scared to start all over somewhere else and too busy trying to be Sirius' type of brave to openly run before he'd been caught up in that web of lies and betrayal. Well, enough of that and even the worst country had to be better than twelve years as a rat.
"I don't really speak any other language but I'm sure I'll manage," he told them. "I've heard that the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands speak good English. And if not, there's always the United States, Canada, or Australia."
"That probably is more effective than just going into hiding," Remus mused. "I mean, getting out of the country might be difficult but if you can manage that then you're set."
Peter nodded. "I'll manage. If nothing else, I'm sure Dumbledore could think of a way."
And then, because they were his friends and he hadn't wanted them to die and Harry was right that he did owe him something…
Maybe this would keep the war from ending but it wasn't his job to end it over the corpses of his friends and he wouldn't even be there anyway so what did it matter?
"Maybe you and Lily should think about leaving, too," he suggested. "If not right now then if it gets too dangerous here. You know, with a new baby and everything…"