Chapter Two

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Note: Okay, so I decided to expand it just a little.

Peter was nibbling delicately at his brownie when Sirius popped up right in front of him.

Peter jumped. "Sirius! You can't just do things like that!"

Sirius glanced around carelessly. "It would appear that nobody's noticed. Not surprising, really. Everyone looks extremely high."

"High?" Peter repeated blankly.

Sirius' attention turned to the baked good in Peter's hand. "What are you eating?"

"A brownie," Peter said as it if were obvious. And it was, really.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I figured that. But I'll bet you anything that this is a special brownie and while normally I'd be all for you loosening up, you don't even know what getting high means and so this is probably not intentional. See, I can be a good friend sometimes."

The added inflection meant that those words weren't really directed Peter's way and so he ignored them. "I should hope it's a special brownie. I paid eight guilder for it. And it does taste weird but I'm not sure that I'd characterize the taste as 'good.'"

"Just give me that," Sirius said, snatching the brownie out of Peter's hand and popping it into his own mouth.

"Hey!" Peter protested.

"I'll pay you back," Sirius promised blithely. Peter knew better than to actually expect him to, though. Why someone with as much money as Sirius was constantly 'borrowing' things from those with significantly less never failed to astound him.

Peter crossed his arms. "What are you even doing here, Sirius?"

Sirius adopted a wounded expression. Peter had forgotten just how good Sirius was at that. It probably had something to do with his Animagus form.

"What?" he asked innocently. "Can't I just stop by to visit one of my best friends in his new home?"

"You could," Peter agreed lightly. "But that's not why you're here."

Maybe it wasn't fair to be so annoyed with Sirius when Peter was doing him the favor of not being involved with the war and then playing a part in getting him sent to Azkaban (only a part, of course, because how was he supposed to know that the Aurors wouldn't give him a trial or even check his wand before throwing him in Azkaban for life?) since Sirius had no way of knowing that. Still, Peter did find his hackles rising.

Sirius sighed. "You can't just run away and hide in Amsterdam, Peter. I mean, if you're going to hide then you probably couldn't have picked a more fun spot but you just can't."

"I don't see why not," Peter said crossly. "I'm not hurting anybody, Sirius, and you really don't need me."

"We need everyone we can get!" Sirius argued. "And even if we didn't, that's not the point."

Peter rolled his eyes. "Oh don't let's make this about a principle!"

"But that's what this whole thing is about!" Sirius burst out. "It is a matter of principle and we all have to stand up for what we believe in."

"I don't believe in much of anything, Sirius," Peter admitted ruefully. "Least of all myself."

"So you're fine with Voldemort just murdering everybody in sight?" Sirius couldn't believe it. "You don't care if there's a mass muggle genocide and all of our friends are fighting and dying to stop it?"

"Of course I care, Sirius," Peter snapped. "I'm just…this isn't me."

"What isn't?" Sirius challenged. "A decent bloke?"

Peter shrugged. Sirius hadn't thought he was for years before his death. "If that's what you want to think."

"Wormtail, that's not what I want to think," Sirius said earnestly. "I'm not asking for any miracles here. I know that you're not as…well, you know. I don't want you to get killed."

Yes, Peter did know. And that was exactly why Sirius shouldn't be asking this of him. But Sirius couldn't conceive of a world where people felt differently from him and it always was his undoing.

"I won't get killed here," Peter replied.

"You're letting wizarding Britain down, Peter," Sirius said disappointedly, sensing that the argument was lost.

Peter thought of a graveyard and a pub in Albania.

"No," he said. "I don't believe that I am."

"Explain to me how you can have cheerfully helped them move in and yet you're still trying to convince me to go back?" Peter asked, his left eye twitching.

"Well, James and Lily have a baby now," Sirius said reasonably. "And Voldemort personally wants to murder their son. It's only reasonable to get out while they can. And if they were going into hiding anyway, why not beyond his reach here in Holland?"

"Right," Peter said, nodding. "So all I need to do is find a girl and get her pregnant and you'll leave me to it, too."

"Actually, he said that you'd need to have your child personally targeted by Voldemort first," James reminded him.

"I'll get right on that," Peter said dryly.

"Giant wooden shoes!" Sirius exclaimed suddenly as he spotted a pair of tourist clogs. He grabbed Remus' arm. "Come on, Moony! Sit in them with me."

"But…I…" Remus protested half-heartedly as he was dragged off.

"It's not that I don't appreciate getting away from Voldemort," Lily began slowly. "It's just…there are a lot of curtains here. And you can't even just avoid one area because they appear to be everywhere."

"Over four hundred," James informed her. He coughed. "Or, er, so I've heard. From Sirius. Under duress."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Of course it was. And it's not that I'm a prude, although to be honest just walking by and suddenly seeing a half-naked woman doesn't appeal to me, but I don't want Harry to see this kind of thing."

"Lily, we've been over this. He's barely a year old," James said patiently.

"And he won't always be a year old," Lily retorted. "Who knows how long Voldemort is going to live? Maybe he'll be around forever."

Peter shuddered. "I'll be forced to take drastic measures then."

James laughed. "Don't let Sirius here you say that. He'll tie you up and take you back to England tonight."

"And we don't even know if being exposed to those images could have some sort of effect on Harry's development right now," Lily added. "Plus it really makes me feel like a bad mum."

"Lily," James said, taking the hand that wasn't busy holding Harry. "You fled the country to keep your son safe. You're a terrific mum."

Lily smiled at that. "I'd like to think so. But that's no excuse to let him see such things at his age."

"There's always the countryside," Peter suggested. "I haven't been out there very often myself but from what I understand there is a lot more windmills. And cheese!"

"Cheese is good," James said seriously.

Peter waited anxiously on Halloween even though he knew that things had changed and the Dark Lord wasn't just going to be presented the location of the Potters. He also stayed away from Lily and James just in case. But there were always the Longbottoms.

Halloween came and Halloween went and nothing happened. Some Muggles were killed but the Dark Lord had not been defeated.

Since both prophecy children remained hidden it was really no surprise, he supposed, but it was disappointing. He still didn't want Lily and James dead but a world with the Dark Lord in it, even a world where the Dark Lord didn't even know his name, made him nervous.

And so, halfway through December, Peter snuck into a Muggle business after hours to use a typewriter and then anonymously sent off a letter with a nondescript postal owl.


I tire of this war that's raging. I have seen the Dark Lord for what he is and I know that he must be stopped for he is a madman who will surely kill us all. I wish to be free of him and I cannot be so while he is still alive. Circumstances prevent me from attending to this personally but I do hear things and some of them may prove useful to you.

As you may be aware by now, the Dark Lord is not currently mortal. If you kill him he will be weakened and no longer a threat for years and years, just enough time to lull the rest of the wizarding world into a false sense of security, but then he will be reborn from the ashes. I do not know what means he employs to keep himself alive but there are certain objects that I believe hold significance to him and that may be of some use.

There is something in a cave. It's not very much to go on, I'm afraid, but the Black house elf may be able to tell you more.

There is something in Hogwarts. That's almost as helpful as the previous one, I'm afraid, but it's the best I've got and you're the headmaster so I'm sure you'll think of something.

There is a diary in the possession of Lucius Malfoy. The Dark Lord's wrath should he discover that such an item was destroyed would be truly terrible to behold. The diary contains the means to unleash Slytherin's Basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets (the location in the bathroom Myrtle died in) so be cautious.

There is a cup in the possession of Bellatrix Lestrange.

There is a ring in a shack. Putting it on would prove lethal.

Maybe all of these items are important and maybe none of them are. Maybe I'm just grasping at straws trying to find a way to bring him down. But if this can help, if even just a little, then it will be worth it.

But just in case, you might want to consider secretly tampering with the bones of Tom Riddle Sr. It may come in handy in case this does not work as we wish it to.

He didn't sign it.

He didn't think that it could be traced back to him, either, especially since he hadn't been around and was so clearly uninterested in the war. He had also written the letter from the perspective of someone who had clearly been in the Dark Lord's service (and he only called him You-Know-Who out loud) while as far as anyone – even the Dark Lord – knew Peter had never been among his followers.

It was perfect. Or at least it would be if any of this was worth anything.

He knew of the diary, of course, because he had been there to witness Lucius' fall from grace and the terrible wrath that the Dark Lord had unleashed upon him. The Dark Lord had tried to take Lucius' son Draco as payment but after Dumbledore had died he had forgiven that debt.

He knew of the cup as Bellatrix had not been able to stop bragging about being entrusted with it. Oh, she didn't say anything to most (it wouldn't be much of a hiding place then) but she could not resist telling Narcissa and he had just happened to be around at the time.

He knew of the cave because he could remember, way back before James and Lily had died, the Dark Lord ordering Regulus' House Elf to accompany him and when the House Elf had returned it had been babbling about a cave before Regulus had spirited him away.

He knew of the ring because the Dark Lord himself had mentioned it once in the year before his rebirth. He had mentioned it when discussing their own inglorious abode and alluded to another object of value hidden in the humblest of places.

He knew of the object at Hogwarts because on the night that Dumbledore had died, the Dark Lord had not been able to resist gloating that he had hidden something right under Dumbledore's nose and the old man had gone to his grave never realizing it.

And maybe those objects of import weren't at all related to this strange immortality. But maybe they were and they were really the only clues he had. He would just have to wait and see.

Peter was torn from slumber by the uncomfortable feeling that he was drowning. Blinking and fumbling for his light, he soon realized that no, actually Sirius had just shot water at him out of his wand.

"What was that for?" Peter demanded. "And what time is it?"

"Who cares?" Sirius asked cheerfully.

"The bloke you just woke up!" Peter cried out. He heard what sounded suspiciously like a baby crying. His eyes narrowed. "Sirius…"

"Yes, yes, James and Lily are here," Sirius said, nodding. "I would have come earlier but I just heard about it myself since Remus just transformed back. He would have come himself if he had been feeling up to it but, trust me, he's very excited."

"What happened?" Peter growled.

Sirius winked at him and then pranced downstairs.

Grumbling, Peter pulled on his robe before stumbling downstairs after him.

"Sirius, you know I love you but Lily and I talked it over and we agreed that if this is not, on a scale of one to ten, at least a fifteen then I'm going to have to hex you," James greeted him.

"Fifteen?" Sirius asked, laughing. "Try twenty. Or a hundred. Or a million!"

"It could just be me but I think that there's a sizable difference between those numbers," Lily remarked.

"It's all of them!" Sirius exclaimed.

"You bloody drama queen," Peter accused. "Just tell us."

"Voldemort is dead," Sirius said cheerfully.

There was a stunned silence.

Peter was the first to recover, having already been through something like this once before. "Are you sure? Dead dead? As in, there's a body and everything?" He hoped that this was the case although even if it wasn't his friends weren't dead and he wasn't going to have to spend twelve years as a rat so it was still a tolerable state of affairs.

"I don't know what other kind of dead there could be," Sirius told him. "And yes, there is. Rita Skeeter somehow found out about it shortly after it happened and took a picture of some of the Aurors kicking the body. I wish I could have been there…"

"I'm surprised you weren't," Peter told him. "That sounds like your kind of thing."

Looking miserable, Sirius nodded. "Oi, you two are being awfully quiet over there."

Peter looked over to see the little family embracing tightly. Lily had tears in her eyes and James' hands were shaking.

"I just…I can't believe he's really gone," James breathed. "I always knew that one day he'd be gone but I never thought I'd live to see it. I can't wait to get back."

"And that monster never got anywhere near Harry," Lily said, gently kissing the top of her child's head. "Or Neville, for that matter."

That reminded him. "We should still be careful," Peter warned. "I doubt his followers – at least the really devoted ones who won't pretend that they were never on his side – will let it go so easily. You might still be a target."

He wouldn't, though. Not this time. He hardly noticed when he began to grin. Lily and James would probably be fine. And if they weren't it wouldn't be his fault, not at all.

Lily nodded. "Good point."

"So what happened?" James asked. "Who finally did it?"

"Dumbledore, of course," Sirius said as if anything else was inconceivable. And coming from an age where everyone expected a seventeen-year-old child to do the honors, Peter could concede that Dumbledore was a far likelier candidate.

"Really?" Lily asked, surprised. "But he never tried to kill him before."

Sirius nodded. "Yeah, he always alluded to something that would make killing Voldemort complicated. I guess he got it sorted out, though."

"Thank goodness!" Peter said, putting his hand over his heart and briefly closing his eyes.

"Wish I knew what it was," James said wistfully.

Sirius snorted. "You wish? I'm the one with the little brother who apparently knows all about it."

"Regulus?" James looked started. "But isn't he a Death Eater?"

"Not anymore, apparently," Sirius said, shrugging. "Not that he bothered to tell me any of this."

"Now that he's not evil anymore, you really should think about taking to him," Lily suggested.

James coughed. "Now, Lily, I see no reason to reach out to people who you were once close to just because Voldemort is dead so they aren't Death Eaters anymore."

"Severus isn't my brother, James," Lily said pointedly.

"Right. Well, I never knew him that well but if he had anything to do with killing Voldemort then that probably makes up for the rest," James reasoned. "Besides, maybe this way he'll tell you what happened."

Sirius' eyes lit up. "If you'll excuse me, I really should see how the family is in the wake of this stunning turn of events…" He started to head for the door but paused just before reaching there and turning back to Peter. "I hope you're happy."

"Why wouldn't I be happy?" Peter asked, honestly confused.

"We won and Voldemort's dead and everything's great and you did nothing," Sirius complained. "You might as well not have even been there for all the help you were. Oh, right, you weren't. And you didn't even 'thrice defy him' first!"

Peter shrugged. Sirius would never understand and now that the war was over he really didn't need to. And he'd rather be a living 'coward' than a 'dead hero' any day.

"I can live with that."

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