It was unnerving how many times one word could change definitions in only one lifetime.
In my first year at Hogwarts, all those years ago, innocent was what we all were. Well, perhaps not so much me and James. I don't think we've ever been all that innocent. But most of the first years. They were innocent. Not knowing much about the world, with big, eager eyes, ready to know everything they could about the spellbinding new world they were about to enter.
A few years passed. Innocent became what we claimed to be to the professors, simply to avoid detention. Innocent was what they never believed that we were.
How times have changed. How I long for those times when the worst thing that could happen, should you be convicted, was that you would be forced to file papers or scrub trophies.
Still more years passed. We graduated from Hogwarts. Joined the Order. Fought Voldemort. And innocence became what we all suspected each other of lacking. Shame we all suspected the wrong people.
It was this lack of innocence that got my best friend killed.
Pettigrew! How could I never have suspected him? The filthy coward. I should've known that he would go running to what he thought was the winning side. Instead, I suspected Remus. How could I have? Remus was- probably still is, although I suspect I will never know- the most trustworthy man I have ever met, aside from Dumbledore. The good boy, brave as could be, still managing to stay sensible even under our misguided influence.
And now, all these years later, innocence is perhaps the most infuriating word I have ever heard. Innocence is the only thing tethering me to sanity now, stuck in a damp cell in the middle of the North Sea surrounded by all these… these… I can't think of a word monstrous enough to describe them. Yes, my innocence is what's keeping me sane. But it's also what is driving me mad. How could I be the one imprisoned in here, when it was Peter who committed the crime? How did no one remember that James was my best friend? How did no one argue that I would never, could never have hurt him?
Why did we ever let that rat join us, anyway? Hah, I remember, clear as day. It was a bad memory, after all. The Dementors didn't want it.
I'd been with James and Remus. We were sitting in the courtyard, practicing Charms. No, not practicing, performing. We were way too cool to practice anything.
Then the little rat came running. Some Slytherin was after him, and he was panicking. James and I cursed the bully- after all; he was picking on a fellow Gryffindor. And he was a Slytherin. They're all bad, the lot of them.
The stupid git had been in awe of us- who wasn't?- and had begged to join us. Why had we agreed? He clearly wasn't one of us. He wasn't our type. But we agreed, because we felt sorry for him. And because he'd agreed to do all of our homework for a month. Except Moony, he'd wanted to do his himself.
My best friend's life for a month without homework.
How I loathed Pettigrew. He hadn't just been a stupid traitor, he'd also landed me in Azkaban for something I would never, ever do. I didn't care about that. There wasn't much for me out there, anyway. James had been my only family. No, I didn't care about Azkaban. But I did care that I was here, and that cursed rat wasn't. He deserved to be. He deserved worse, far, far worse.
I take back what I said about Azkaban. I hate Azkaban. The Dementors, the cold, and worst of all, the boredom. There was absolutely nothing to do here. You couldn't reminisce, because your memories were gone. You couldn't draw or write because anything pointy was taken firmly away from you. All you could do was stare and memorise every marking on every cursed wall.
That's why I welcomed a visit, even from the Minister.
It was entertaining, disconcerting him with my normality. It was entertaining seeing his face as I asked for the newspaper. I didn't really want the paper. What would I do with it? I wasn't interested in the news of the day. I was in Azkaban, what the hell would I want with it? I simply welcomed a chance to send a veiled retort his way about how unbearable Azkaban was and how paranoid the stupid Ministry was. No, I didn't care about the newspaper.
But that changed as soon as I saw the picture on the front cover.
A happy family, waving from their vacation in Egypt. The Weasleys, according to the article. I'd heard of them. Pure-blood, but hated as any Muggle born, for they were blood traitors. This, I deduced, automatically meant that they must have been decent people.
It wasn't the Weasleys I was interested, though.
It was the rat on a boy's shoulder.
Ronald Weasley, read the caption. He looked Hogwarts age. I wondered if he was friends with Harry…
But the rat. The rat. It was him, I was sure of it. Pettigrew. While I was wasting away in Azkaban, he was living with a happy wizarding family, blame free.
I would get him, somehow. Seeing his picture stimulated an urge to escape, to exact my revenge. Yes, I would escape Azkaban. I would kill Peter Pettigrew.
He's at Hogwarts.