Summary: Petter Pettigrew: Stupid boy, foolish boy, coward, hero-worshipper, and rat. Except there is always so much more. A look into Peter's life, because fanfic authors are quite like Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians - we see in four dimensions.

disclaimer: as per usual I own nothing. surprise!


In my eyes, indisposed,
In disguises no one knows.
Hides the face, lies the snake,
And the sun in my disgrace.
Boiling heat, summer stench.
'Neath the black the sky looks dead.
Call my name through the cream,
And I'll hear you scream again.

Black hole sun won't you come and wash away the rain?
Black hole sun, won't you come?
Won't you come?
Won't you come?

-Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun"

"You're going to kill me? After I saved your life? You owe me, Wormtail!"

Peter stills then, with his silvery, metal hand still on Harry Potter's throat. In that moment, it isn't Harry in front of him. It is James - oh James, the boy he'd idolised, who believed in him. The young man and brother he'd betrayed to save his own skin. That decision, the one he'd been rationalising ever since he made it that still haunts him all the time. The decision he can't ever change. He traded brotherhood for what? A silver hand? It hadn't been perfect, of course not, because nothing ever was or ever is but they were the best times of his entire life and he doesn't even notice his grip loosen until Harry wrenches free. He is weak and he's always known it - he can't bring himself to do this.

And then the most frightening thing of all happens - his hand, which the Dark Lord has given him, betrays him. It moves toward him without his will, reaching to wrap itself around his own throat.

Peter is acutely aware of his own vulnerability, his own weakness. He understands that he is awkward, not very confident, who feels lost a lot of the time even amongst his friends. Looking at him, he doesn't seem the type for things like betrayal. He'd certainly never see it in himself.

It's the paranoia that always gets him. It's the paranoia that does him in. The nagging sense all his life that even though they called him a brother, that he wasn't one of them. Paranoid that as time went on and they weren't spending every waking moment with him that they were just trying to leave him out. That when it came down to it he was just the rat they needed to get the job done at the Whomping Willow. If he were to look at it objectively, it wasn't like that, but that's paranoia, isn't it? Distorts reality. Makes you believe things that aren't true. Makes you believe in the extreme.

So it goes.

They didn't listen to him, see. He always told them they were so damned loud, so bright. He told them he would have sworn the Death Eaters were watching him. That he'd started seeing shadows where everyone else said there were none. But they dismissed him. They wouldn't listen, they took too many chances. And they dragged Peter down with them, even though they knew. They knew he was weaker, knew he was scared. And his fear overwhelmed him, his fear of death and and of pain. His fear of the glittering red eyes. They hadn't protected him. They put him at risk...and then they trusted him with secrets he didn't want to know.

It comes full circle, Peter supposes. He's not sure how, but he's sure it does. Sure it will. It has to. They were his friends, after all. His brothers. They failed him, he failed, the Dark Lord would fail. They would all die. Full circle. Looking in his reflection, things don't make as much sense as they used to. Time's funny that way, he supposes. Paranoia, too. Fear and loyalty and betrayal, words that he doesn't want to remember. Truth and beauty are wonderful words. And yet...when it all does come full circle, Peter is alone with the things he has done.

It does come full circle, in the end. Peter Alan Pettigrew, Wormtail, Scabbers the Rat, Spy and Betrayer... is betrayed by his own body. A fitting end, he supposes, as he struggles while he gasps for air that will not fill his lungs. As he struggles, ever more weakly and slowly because the life is draining out of him.

The last thing he sees is Harry Potter and Ron Weasley trying to save his measly, pathetic life and it is a small mercy, a sight worth seeing. He doesn't deserve it. He doesn't deserve anything. But he is given this, which tastes a little bit like forgiveness (or is that the taste of death? Hard to tell). Truth be told, he's kind of glad. Better this than facing the Dark Lord's wrath. Better this than anything else that might have awaited him.

Better this, that his last act is refusing to kill the son of his dead best friend, who lived as an orphan because of him. For one shining, glorious moment, Peter Pettigrew is proud of himself. It's like he has finally stood up to something, or someone, and that someone is him. Inadvertently, but still. The part of him that used to be Pete the Marauder, the part of him that was Pete the son of an Auror and a hero, the little part of him that the Sorting Hat saw all those years ago came out of the darkness and into the sun and the last sound he hears is a scream but that's okay.

Better this indeed.

His body is left there, on the floor. Later it gets mutilated by the other Death Eaters when they find it, hand wrapped around its own throat, a testament to his final betrayal. To them it is disgusting, but to him, it meant that even for one subconscious moment, he was not a coward.

Dead. It's a strange thing to be. For a while, he's alone with what he's done. Apparently there is a purgatory, which is better than eternity spent in hell. It's his lament for everything that he's done and everything he ever failed to become. But it's that small but persevering shining in the darkness part of Pete that saves him.

Pete does get to fly, eventually. It's all he ever wanted, to be the golden hawk instead of the awkward kid, the rat. He flies and it is so beautiful he cries, but not as much as the sight of his brothers, his friends, his tormentors, his sin...the sight of them waiting for him when he does. It is more than he ever could have dreamed. He doesn't deserve it, but he doesn't complain, either.

Damnit though, Sirius still teases him. Some things, it seems, really never do change.

"All my life I always wanted to fly. I always wanted to live like a hawk. I know you're not supposed to be jealous of anything, but... to take flight, to soar above everything and everyone, now that's living. But a hawk is no good around normal birds. It can't fit in. Even though all the other birds probably wanna be hawks; they hate him for what they can't be. Proud. Powerful. Determined. Dark. Odin is a hawk. He soars above us. He can fly. One of these days, everyone's gonna pay attention to me. Because I'm gonna fly too.

-Hugo, "O"