(minor revision to wording of this chapter, May 3rd, 2016)
Disclaimer: I still haven't turned into J.K. Rowling. I still don't own Harry Potter. I haven't turned into Leslie Charteris either, and nor do I own Simon Templar (aka 'The Saint').
Note: The following is set in a crossover alternate universe where the existence of Simon Templar impacted events in wizarding society during the 20th century. This chapter takes place on New Year's Eve, 1979, and, as with the earlier chapters, the scene is a small fortified residence adjacent to a goblin-run lead-mine. This installment once again peers over the shoulder of this universe's Peter Pettigrew. Some characters and events have diverged (or are in the process of diverging) considerably from the canon universe. In this universe James Potter married Selene Tilde Tombs, a grand-daughter of Simon Templar. Selene is tall, blue-eyed, blonde, and muggle.
Further Note: This piece is background/supporting material for the universe of the 'Saint Potter?' story. This piece is rated 'T'.
Shortly after seven o' clock in the evening, the man arrived. He came out of a snow shower, and though he had a walking stick and looked old, with a face whose creases and lines spoke of many years of a good deal of living, he looked old without looking elderly. Peter Pettigrew was the one delegated to respond to the knock at the door, wand in hand as a purely precautionary measure. The man's exact age was something that Peter couldn't put a finger on – it looked like it ought to be more than sixty, but at the same time, it didn't seem possible it could be much more than fifty, if that. And the face was rugged – it probably could be called handsome even, despite the greyed hair that it was framed beneath. And then there were dancing blue eyes, filled with an eternal devil-may-care mirth – eyes which actually reminded Peter quite strongly of Selene's when she was in a particularly mischievous mood.
It seemed almost certain to Peter that this was a wizard previously unknown to him, although the man's muggle winter attire – chosen clearly for efficacy against the elements – and apparent lack of a wand argued against that.
The gaze of the other swiftly took in Peter, lingering for a moment on the wand.
"Well hullo there." the other said to Peter. "If I recall correctly from the wedding photos, you would be Peter Pettigrew, am I right?"
The voice was friendly and would have been enough on its own to put most off their guard, but Peter refused to lower his and to put James and Selene at undue risk. He knew that in theory Selene's grandfather was expected to call this evening, but he also knew that Selene's grandfather was a muggle whereas this man had a practically supernatural air about him. Perhaps something had happened to Selene's grandfather and this was some polyjuiced impostor wearing his visage to try to get close to the Potters. Instead of relaxing Peter tightened his grasp on his wand.
"And you would be?" he responded, trying to sound tough and efficient and polite all at the same time, and not sure how far he succeeded on any of those counts.
"I would be Selene's big bad grandfather, Simple Simon." the other said. "Well, not-so-simple perhaps these days, but it would be frightfully immodest of me to give myself too many airs-and-graces."
"Can you prove it?" Peter demanded, not sure that this was perhaps the most intelligent thing to ask, but feeling strongly that the situation called for more than just taking this strange visitor at his word.
"I suppose a small demonstration of my friendly intentions might be in order – especially if with all these constant moves, Selene doesn't keep so much as a family photograph album to hand about the house for her doorman." the other seemed completely unoffended by Peter's stance. "Hold this for me please." He passed Peter the walking stick, to Peter's free hand, then took a few careful steps back away from the door and completely ignoring Peter drew a gleaming throwing knife from somewhere about his person. Peter swallowed, and raised his wand slightly more, but the visitor continued to not look in his direction, his eyes ranging about the vicinity of the front of the residence.
"The capital letter 'D' of 'DO' in that safety notice over there." the visitor said to Peter, without looking at him. And then the knife flashed, spinning end over end more than half a dozen yards, through the occasional flakes of snow, to thud into the very centre of the space inside the indicated letter on the signboard, affixed to the trunk of a tree. The visitor wandered across to retrieve his knife with an air of considerable satisfaction.
"Showing off, grandfather?"
Peter had been so focused on the visitor that he hadn't heard Selene come up behind him. She sounded amused.
"It seemed the politest way to try to show who I was without overly harming Peter here." the man had retrieved his knife, after inspecting where it had struck, and headed back across to the front door now. "He made half a dozen basic errors I could have taken advantage of to flatten him, but he's one of your and James' friends and his heart's certainly in the right place, so simply breezing in past him seemed inappropriate." He tucked the knife away and retrieved his walking stick from Peter. "Thank-you for holding that for me."
It took half an hour of Peter watching Mr. Templar chatting away to James and Selene in the environs of the sitting room for him to assure himself that even if Mr. Templar was probably dangerous (in fact the longer he spent around the man, the more certain Peter became on this point) he was in fact entirely friendly and someone that Selene had indeed known for years – and whom James had met too, on several occasions. There was a certain amount of talk about the (as yet remote) expected baby, with Mr. Templar contributing a few accounts he had heard from friends on the topic of child-rearing. (He gave the impression that he himself hadn't actually been much of a 'hands on' parent.) And, whilst on the topic of family and friends, he had delivered a piece of sad news which meant nothing to Peter or James, but which did to Selene as it concerned one of her grandfather's old friends, whom she knew.
"Sad news from Florida." Mr. Templar said, his face solemn. "Peter – that's Peter Quentin – has lost his fight at last with the local moonshine and lowlifes of the area. He and Pat were in their local, when a spot of trouble with a couple of roughnecks forty years their junior who were making themselves objectionable to the bartender broke out. Peter brawled with them, and managed to lay them out and secure them for collection by local law enforcement, but the excitement and the subsequent celebratory 'something medicinal' proved too much for his heart, and he dropped stone-dead in the midst of his triumph. Pat said," he added gravely, "at the funeral, which I discreetly popped across to, that it was a way he would have thoroughly approved of going."
"Florida will be a quieter place without him." Selene said. "How's Aunt Pat taking it?"
"She's putting on a brave face, and soldiering on." Mr. Templar said. "As she has always done, in the face of unexpected crisis. As all We-Who-Once-Raised-Holy-Hell with Scotland Yard have always done. 'Daddy Haskins', however, who must have been at least a decade our senior, lives locally and has bestirred himself from his retirement to assist Pat in what ways he can. Despite his long membership in the ranks of the Trans-Atlantic brotherhood of the forces of Law and Order, 'Daddy Haskins' is a remarkably thoughtful and decent bloke."
After which, the conversation moved on to other things.
For a while, though, Peter Pettigrew pondered this mysterious other 'Peter'; a namesake who by the sound of it had lived a long life (by the standards of a non-wizard) to the full if he were anywhere near a contemporary in terms of age with Mr. Templar, and even at the end of it had still gone down in the midst of battle.
He was jolted out of his internal musings to discover that within a couple of sentences, Mr. Templar had pivoted the conversation into the direction of matters magical, and was enquiring as to Lord Voldemort, Death Eaters, and the state of the current war raging in magical Britain in general?
"So tell me: these 'Death Eater' witches and wizards. How's the war against them going, and where does a regular bloke like me best stick his oar in?"
"You're hardly a 'regular bloke', sir." James said.
"I prefer 'regular bloke' to the word many magical folk would use in this context." Mr. Templar said. "I mean 'muggle'?" his face contorted. "See: I find it impossible to keep a straight face, when using it, and I absolutely refuse to use it to seriously attempt to describe myself outside of any honest-to-goodness absolute crisis situation, where it might help to put another fellow off-guard. So: as I was saying, bring me up to speed on this war, and suggest areas where intelligence or actions might be particularly lacking. I know from our letters that it all seems to be going swimmingly for the 'not bad' guys at the moment, but until they're actually over wars have a funny habit of turning around unexpectedly at times, and without more information, I have the strangest sense that this one is not yet anywhere close to finished with…"
Author Notes: (minor correction for typing error, 12th April, 2016)
And so this little set of pieces about Peter Pettigrew and his stay with James and Selene during Christmas, 1979, wraps up with Peter meeting Selene's grandfather, Simon Templar, for the first time, and Simon Templar determinedly launching himself (despite his age and his being a 'regular bloke', as he puts it) on the course which will ultimately see him collide with Lord Voldemort in Godric's Hollow on the night of Hallowe'en, 1981.
Peter Pettigrew and Simon Templar are assumed not to have met one another before this piece; Simon Templar was busy with something else and was unable to make it to Selene and James' wedding (which Peter did attend), and until now, he and Peter Pettigrew have never both been visiting James and Selene at the same time. James and Selene have occasionally mentioned the one in conversations with the other, however, and as indicated in this installment, Simon has seen James and Selene's wedding photos during a previous meeting, and recognises Peter from them.
The Simon Templar of this universe is assumed to be that of Leslie Charteris' original stories, who it seems to me, at least in terms of years since the date of his birth, must be getting on a bit by the 1970's.
Simon Templar occasionally humorously refers to himself in 'Saintly' canon by nomenclatures such as 'Simple Simon'.
The 'Pat'/'Aunt Pat' referred to is Patricia Holm of the Saint stories.
I'm not clear on what happened to Peter Quentin and Patricia Holm in the canon of 'The Saint' past the late 1940's, where they popped up occasionally in stories set in the USA. I've assumed, for the purposes of this universe, that they settled in Florida at some point in the 1940's, possibly before or after the events of The Saint in Miami. The 'Daddy Haskins' briefly referred to in this chapter is the same sheriff Newt Haskins who first features in The Saint in Miami.
As indicated in the 'Christmas Eve' chapter of this piece, in late 1979 the fortunes of Lord Voldemort are apparently in decline in his guerrilla war against the Ministry (and other more or less official groups, such as the Order of the Phoenix). Selene's grandfather has a faint uneasy feeling, however, that all may not be as it seems…