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Old August 16th, 2006, 11:23 am
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DixieWitch  Undisclosed.gif DixieWitch is offline
Fourth Year
Join Date: 09th October 2005
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Re: True Courage: A Peter Pettigrew Tale

after waiting it is, chapter three!!
as a disclaimer, i don't own any of JKR's characters or her dialogue, just pettigrew's thoughts.

Chapter Three

“S—Sirius…R—Remus…” I find myself stuttering. It has been twelve years since I concealed myself as a rat, and watched the Weasley family grow and struggle through its meager times. Twelve years since I convinced Molly (with the help of Percy, who gave me up to his little brother Ron come eleven) to let me stay with the Weasleys. Twelve years since I made the choice that made my life a living Hades….
“My friends…my old friends…” I stammer, searching frantically for a way out. I see Sirius raise his wand arm and shudder. His face has lost its former charm, becoming a mask of death and starvation. Only his eyes are the same—the same burning dark eyes that stood before me on a sunny Hogwarts day and offered to be my friend. The same eyes that filled with tears of hate and hurt when his family disowned him. The same eyes that, twelve years ago, shone with the light of righteous vengeance, seeking justice on the man responsible for his best friends’ murder and proclaimed to a Muggle street that I had killed Lily and James, only to turn to shock and a numb disbelief when I, in turn, accused him of the same crime, cut off my finger, and blasted apart a street….
But Remus stays his hand. “We’ve been having a little chat, Peter, about what happened the night Lily and James died. You might have missed the finer points while you were squeaking around down there on the bed—”
“Remus,” I rasp, feeling sweat break out over my brow as I glance at Sirius, “you don’t believe him, do you…? He tried to kill me, Remus….” Indeed he did. Something I took in good graces, considering…. But still I feared. I had feared death. Cold and miserable as life may be, surely death was worse? I was beginning to think now that death might be paradise considering what Sirius and the Dark Lord would do to me if they got their hands on me, and the Death Eaters I had backstabbed were no different. But Remus…surely Remus would help…would believe…? He had always stood up for me when James and Lily and Sirius were not around, had defended me no matter what the cost. He had once trusted me explicitly with any secret, with complete confidence…and here I am, taking advantage of that trust. I don’t know who I am anymore…perhaps I am beyond saving.
“So we’ve heard.” Remus’ voice mirrors Sirius’. That above all clutches my heart with icy fear. “I’d like to clear up one or two more little matters with you, Peter, if you’d be so—”
“He’s come to try and kill me again!” I break in, pointing at Sirius. I see his lip curl, his teeth bare. He looks more like a dog than ever. I almost pity him, but self-preservation drowns it out. “He killed Lily and James and now he’s going to kill me too….You’ve got to help me, Remus….”
I meet Sirius’ gaze. His face has rearranged itself until he is wearing the expressionless mask he once donned as a teenager when he was seriously bothered. I can gather nothing from his eyes, which are as deep as the bowels of the earth.
“No one’s going to try to kill you until we’ve sorted a few things out,” Remus reassures me. I don’t trust him anymore, not when he uses that tone. Not when he is the only thing keeping me from death and he is on death’s side.
“Sorted things out?” I cry, again searching wildly for an exit…any exit. “I knew he’d come after me! I knew he’d be back for me! I’ve been waiting for twelve years!” Of course I knew. Did I honestly think Azkaban would hold Sirius? He once Apparated inside the Hogwarts grounds—true, on a pure fluke, but he still did it. And Sirius running on the adrenaline of revenge was nearly unstoppable—only Remus, Lily, Dumbledore, and the Dark Lord could have stopped him. Since he had none, he was relentless. And the dementors hadn’t affected him, leaving his mind free to work for twelve years. With his genius, he could have broken the entire of Azkaban out given another year. I ask myself—why are you blaming all this on Sirius? Why not just tell Harry the truth? I answer my own question—Sirius was the first to approach me about it, and I was too afraid…too afraid.
“You knew Sirius was going to break out of Azkaban?” Remus asks, incomprehension crossing his face. “When nobody has ever done it before?”
“He’s got dark powers the rest of us can only dream of!” I’m inventing as I go along now, wildly throwing out excuses on why Sirius is guilty. I can see the expression on Harry’s face start to change from open disbelief to a gentler form of confused denial. “How else did he get out of there? I suppose He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named taught him a few tricks!”
Sirius starts to laugh—a laugh far more horrible than any the Dark Lord could have summoned. It reverberates inside my head, filling my very being with its pitch and volume. It’s the kind of laugh that stays with you even after you die—the kind of laugh that drives a man insane.
“Voldemort, teach me tricks?” I flinch when I hear the name. I try to convince myself it’s all for the image I’m trying to project, but I know in my heart that it’s because I fear Him above all else. “What, scared to hear your old master’s name?”
Yes. “Don’t know what you mean, Sirius—” I start nearly hyperventilating, I’m so scared.
“You haven’t been hiding from me for twelve years,” Sirius cuts in viciously. “You’ve been hiding from Voldemort’s old supporters. I heard things in Azkaban, Peter…they all think you’re dead, or you’d have to answer to them….I’ve heard them screaming all sorts of things in their sleep. Sounds like they think the double-crosser double-crossed them. Voldemort went to the Potters’ on your information…and Voldemort met his downfall there. And not all Voldemort’s supporters ended up in Azkaban did they? There are still plenty out here, biding their time, pretending they’ve seen the error of their ways…. If they ever got wind that you were still alive, Peter—”
They would tear me limb from limb. It’s a good thing they don’t know I gave secret tip-offs as to the whereabouts of some of the worst of them….
“Don’t know…what you’re talking about…,” I’m running out of steam. I turn to Remus as a last plea for help. “You don’t believe this—this madness, Remus—”
“I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend twelve years as a rat,” Remus, levelheaded as ever, practically hands me another excuse to add to my many.
“Innocent, but scared!” I invent quickly. “If Voldemort’s supporters were after me, it was because I put one of their best men in Azkaban—Sirius Black!”
Sirius’ face contorts into the scariest expression I have ever seen him make—his face looks more skull-like than ever, his yellowed teeth bared, his once-handsome features twisted into a bestial scowl.
“How dare you,” he begins, every syllable dripping with rage, “I, a spy for Voldemort? When did I ever sneak around people who were stronger and more powerful than myself? But you, Peter—I’ll never understand why I didn’t see you were the spy for the start. You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you? It used to be us…me and Remus…and James….”
The sudden cracking in his voice surprises me. I had thought, foolishly, that Azkaban had driven all such emotions such as sentimentality and sadness and love away.
“Me, a spy…must be out of your mind…never…don’t know how you can say such a—” and a thought enters my mind—why are you keeping this up?
“Lily and James made you Secret-Keeper because I suggested it,” Sirius hisses, the ferocity in his voice so great and overwhelming I actually step back. “I thought it was the perfect plan…a bluff…. Voldemort would be sure to come after me, would never dream they’d use a weak, talentless thing like you…. It must have been the finest moment of your miserable life, telling Voldemort you could hand him the Potters.”
Now I’m mumbling under my breath, boiling with rage. He has no idea what really happened, how hard it was for me to take so much torture until I broke and told him, how long I suffered under his wand, how much more I tortured myself when I told him…he has no idea how hard it is to betray your friends, how hard it is to feel a part of your conscience die when you get the news that your best friends have been murdered….
“Professor Lupin?” a tiny voice behind me sounds, and I recognize it as Hermione’s. “Can—can I say something?”
“Certainly, Hermione.” Remus’ voice changes dramatically from cold and critical to warm and mild.
“Well—Scabbers—I mean, this—this man—he’s been sleeping in Harry’s dormitory for three years. If he’s working for You-Know-Who, how come he never tried to hurt Harry before?”
Brilliant child. “There!” I shout. “Thank you! You see, Remus? I have never hurt a hair on Harry’s head! Why should I?”
Sirius speaks again. “I’ll tell you why. Because you never did anything for anyone unless you could see what was in it for you. Voldemort’s been in hiding for fifteen years, they say he’s half dead. You weren’t about to commit murder right under Albus Dumbledore’s nose, for a wreck of a wizard who’d lost all of his power, were you? You’d want to be quite sure he was the biggest bully in the playground before you went back to him, wouldn’t you? Keeping an ear out for news, weren’t you, Peter? Just in case your old protector regained strength, and it was safe to rejoin him….”
I start mouthing like a fish out of water. I didn’t mean for this to happen! I feel like screaming. I didn’t mean for Lily and James to die, I didn’t mean for Sirius to end up in Azkaban, I didn’t mean to end up lying to the only friends I ever had to save my own skin! Don’t you understand that?
“Er—Mr. Black—Sirius?” I hear Hermione’s voice behind me, and listen intently. She was good at asking questions no one had yet answered….
“If you don’t mind me asking, how—how did you get out of Azkaban if you didn’t use Dark magic?”
“Thank you!” I tell her fervently, grasping the question with renewed fervor. “Exactly! Precisely what I—” Remus gives me “the look” that he used to give James and Sirius when we were in school—the look that, no doubt, he used as a teacher to silence a rowdy class. Sirius stays silent for a while; then he begins to recount his tale. I only half-listen, until—
“But then I saw Peter in that picture…I realized he was at Hogwarts with Harry…perfectly positioned to act, if one hint reached his ears that the Dark Side was gathering strength again….”
No…no, that wasn’t right, you’ve got it all wrong! I try to say, but my voice is gone.
“…ready to strike at the moment he could be sure of allies…and to deliver the last of the Potters to them. If he gave them Harry, who’d dare say he’d betrayed Lord Voldemort? He’d be welcomed back with honors….So you see, I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Peter was still alive….”
Sirius’ mind was as canny as ever. I’m still surprised Remus didn’t figure it out, either…but then I remember that he spent thirteen years believing I was dead and Sirius was my killer.
Sirius goes on explaining how he got out of Azkaban, and I only half-listen. I know how he got out.
“Believe me, Harry.” Jolted back to Earth, panic closes over my heart again. “I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.” Harry’s head finally nods. My chances are gone. I am going to die tonight.
“No!” I am not ready to die yet. Not yet, when freedom seems so close. “Sirius—it’s me…it’s Peter…your friend…you wouldn’t…” I don’t even believe what I’m saying. I know full well what Sirius will and won’t do. He kicks out, and I flinch, feeling the wind rush by as his foot misses.
“There’s enough filth on my robes without you touching them.” His voice is colder than ice, colder than anything I have ever heard the Dark Lord say. Voldemort’s coldness is the chill of evil; Sirius’ is the iciness of a friend who has been betrayed in too many ways. Even though I do not expect sympathy, I turn to Remus.
“Remus!” I turn my groveling towards the kindest of all the Marauders. “You don’t believe this…wouldn’t Sirius have told you they’d changed the plan?”
There is no warmth left in Remus’ honey-colored eyes. “Not if he thought I was the spy, Peter.” His wand hand is straying too close for comfort towards his pocket. “I assume that’s why you didn’t tell me, Sirius?”
“Forgive me, Remus.” Sirius’ eyes have gained the gleam of one who is about to accomplish his life’s mission.
“Not at all, Padfoot, old friend.” Remus is rolling up his sleeves now. “And will you, in turn, forgive me for believing you were the spy?”
“Of course.” Sirius rolls ups his sleeves as well. “Shall we kill him together?”
“Yes, I think so.” Remus points his wand.
“You wouldn’t…you won’t…,” No! I can’t die yet, I won’t die yet! I need to escape—to find someplace to hide and never again be found!
“Ron…haven’t I been a good friend…a good pet? You won’t let them kill me, Ron, will you…you’re on my side, aren’t you?”
Ron merely looks repulsed. “I let you sleep in my bed!”
“Kind boy…kind master…” something inside is telling myself to get up and take my death like a man, but something much stronger doesn’t want to die—my fear. “you won’t let them do it…. I was your rat…. I was a good pet….” Suddenly that doesn’t sound very convincing in my own ears at all, much less anyone else’s.
“If you make a better rat than a human, it’s not much to boast about, Peter.” Sirius’ voice leaves no room for argument.
“Sweet girl…clever girl…you—you won’t let them….Help me….” But she, like Ron, just backs away, horrified. My only option now is Harry.
“Harry…Harry…you look just like your father…just like him….” He does. It’s like James is staring out of Lily’s eyes, or Lily staring out of James’ face.
“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?” Sirius yells. I haven’t heard him yell like that since that day I yelled to a whole street he betrayed his best friends. “HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM? HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?”
“Harry,” knowing it’s my only chance for survival I whisper in his ear, “Harry, James wouldn’t have wanted me killed…. James would have understood, Harry…he would have shown me mercy….”
Remus and Sirius throw me away from him, wands still trained on me. I stare up at them, absolute terror clutching at my insides.
“You sold Lily and James to Voldemort. Do you deny it?” Sirius’ fathomless black eyes bore into mine. I can’t take it anymore. I burst into tears.
“Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord…you have no idea…he has weapons you can’t imagine…. I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant for it to happen…. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me—”
Basically, yes. But never about my friends, he never asked about my friends…until that one day when Snape came back bearing information about the Potters. That day was the worst of my life, and Sirius would never know it.
“He—he was taking over everywhere! Wh—what was there to be gained by refusing him?” The lives of my friends, that’s what, and I wasn’t even allowed that when I took the Mark.
“What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed?” Sirius asks, incredulously contemptuous. “Only innocent lives, Peter!”
“You don’t understand!” I try to make him understand, to make him see the position I was in, but what comes out is “He would have killed me, Sirius!” Well, of course. And Sirius, and Remus, and he did kill James and Lily.
“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” he yells. “BETTER DIED THAN BETRAYED YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!” Remus and Sirius stand shoulder to shoulder, harbingers of my doom, deliverers of my punishment.
“You should have realized, if Voldemort didn’t kill you, we would. Good-bye, Peter.” Remus, in his quiet, mild voice, condemns me and raises his wand. Sirius does likewise.
“NO!” Harry yells. He runs forward, shielding me with his body. “You can’t kill him. You can’t.”
I feel my spirits rise. Maybe, just maybe, Harry will believe my side of the story…when I get around to telling him.
“Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you don’t have parents,” Sirius snarls. “This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family.”
“I know. We’ll take him up to the castle. We’ll hand him over to the dementors….He can go to Azkaban…but don’t kill him.”
Even as icy fear clutches my heart when he says “dementors”, I am truly grateful to Harry. He saved my life, whether or not he wanted to. “Harry!” I hug him around his knees, the highest part of him I can reach on the floor. “You—thank you—it’s more than I deserve—thank you—”
“Get off of me,” he struggles out of my grip, disgust crossing his face. “I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it because—I don’t think my dad would have wanted his two best friends to become killers—just for you.”
Ah, of course. He still thinks of me as vermin. They all do. Remus and Sirius look at each other for a moment, then lower their wands.
“You’re the only person who has the right to decide, Harry, but think…think what he did….” Sirius says softly.
“He can go to Azkaban. If anyone deserves that place, he does….”
I realize I’ve been wheezing for the past five minutes, so constricted was my chest because of fear and emotion and gratitude.
“Very well. Stand aside, Harry.” Remus raises his wand again. Harry hesitates, and Remus says, “I’m going to tie him up. That’s all, I swear.”
Ropes shoot out of Remus’ wand, tying me up. Even though I know it’s pointless, I struggle against them anyway. Azkaban does not sound very good at all, no matter how alive I am. I don’t want to live a life of agony anymore…a life of soul-less misery.
As Remus helps Ron with his broken leg, I look over at Snape. Still out cold, with a trickle of blood running down the side of his face, he looks so different and yet so alike from a teenager I used to know—a bitter, hard, and ruthless teenager who had lived a hard fifteen years of life, who had discovered a very dangerous secret and had been saved from it by his mortal enemy….
“And two of us should be chained to this,” Sirius indicates me with his foot, “Just to make sure.”
“I’ll do it,” Remus walks over.
“And me,” Ron limps over. He is obviously still feeling very betrayed and wants to make sure I don’t escape from him…not this time. I look at Ron, and look back on happier times, when he was still a young boy and was crying to Molly about his teddy-bear-turned-spider. About times when he would keep me in his room and I would escape, and how he would run around the house trying to find me, laughing as he went. Now that he knows me…This isn’t like that time, his glare tells me.
Sirius conjures manacles out of thin air, then chains Ron and Remus to me. Then we all exit out of the Shrieking Shack, Sirius, Harry, and the comatose Snape in front, Hermione and Crookshanks, the cat that has been plaguing me all year, next, and then me, Ron, and Remus, going along the tunnel sideways, last. Harry and Sirius are speaking quietly, about something sentimental, I’m sure. We get outside, the beautiful full moon casting its silver light over all of us. Wait a moment…full moon…?
Remus goes rigid; then he starts shaking like a storm-blown willow. Hermione gasps. “He didn’t take his potion tonight! He’s not safe!”
Pure, unrestrained horror clutches at my heart and nearly stops it when I realize Remus is chained to me…and Ron. If another person dies on my account….
“Leave it to me—RUN!” Sirius yells at Harry and Hermione, throwing them back. Remus is starting to sprout hair and a snout, his hands curling into razor-sharp clawed paws, his eyes turning from amber to green. He rears, snapping his jaws, tearing off the manacle that binds it to me. Ron and I fall, and I watch in frightened interest as Sirius, in his black dog form, grabs Remus by the throat and drags him away. Remus’ wand is on the ground, just by me…if I can only grab it, I’ll be free. I dive at it, dragging Ron along with me. With a flick and a bang Ron lies unconscious—the blast it took to unchain myself knocked him out. Another bang and Crookshanks flies up in the air and lands several feet away—my revenge for the year.
“Expelliarmus!” Harry yells. The wand flies out of my hand. I transform as he runs towards me, shouting “Stay where you are!”
I’m off, running away into the night, getting as far away from here as possible. As I run, I hear several barks, some ripping sounds, growls, and whimpers. Sometime later there is shouting, running, and a bright light by the lake—but by then I’m already in the Forest and out of sight.


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Last edited by DixieWitch; August 16th, 2006 at 11:28 am.
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