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Chapter 1: Burn to Ashes
Burn To Ashes
The girl he misses was never his.
His thoughts drift about her more often than not, now that they’re in a war.
Bits and pieces remind him of smiles she sent, glances he made, touches she made to anyone but him.
They had all been scared shitless in the first war. Mostly because, deep down, they knew that they wouldn’t see the end of it.
He hadn’t joined the Order willingly.
Even then, Peter Pettigrew was a pleaser. He’d known from the start, that he wasn’t one for war. But thoughts of his mother, (oh, dear God...) and it was a duty. Gryffindor duty. (Why did that Hat put him in this place anyways?) And his friends were there. (ahhh... his friends.)
They were all Gryffindor-pride, die for your honour and doing what’s right.
And Pettigrew wasn’t.
But he was a follower.
So he followed.
He is eighteen, when he joins the Order.
He is nineteen, when he’s contacted by Voldemort. (See, even Voldemort knows he’s weak.)
At twenty, he gets the Dark Mark.
At twenty-one, he kills his own friends and takes the life of a rat.
At forty, he regrets it all.
“Did you finish the job?”
Looking into the red eyes, is like looking into hell, but he does it, knowing hell is waiting and this is just the beginning.
“Yes, my Lord, he will not be a problem anymore.”
Lord Volemort nods, “very well, Wormtail.”
Sometimes, he wonders what he has become. If the sanity, he so desperately holds onto, has already been lost between his hands.
“Do you think Meadows will return alive this time?” She asks in-between bites of her delicious pie.
He stops eating his third helping, frowns. “Can we not talk about this?”
He shrugs, “Dunno - just- it’s kind of morbid, in’it?”
“Maybe,” she sinks, reaches for the jug of water and adds, “but it’s the reality, eh.”
And that’s their difference.
The biggest comfort he has ever had is her. Sometimes, when madness isn’t so far away, he can actually convince himself that she is still waiting for him in that little cottage by the shore, with her suitcases packed and ready, cooking muffins for them to bring as they escape.
“The Order is bullshit most of the time, anyways.”
They are digging through pudding now, actual pudding as she says this off casually.
The spoon clatters against the plate loudly.
“The Order is not bullshit.” He glares at her and of course she glares back. She raises an eyebrow at him, “So sending people out on death-missions without telling them it, isn’t wrong?”
“We’re fighting for something we believe in.”
He does not know why he is so protective of the Order, when, he, Peter Pettigrew, is a Death Eater. Maybe the idea of Lily and James’s brave faces as they fight for nothing is more unbearable to him than he initially thought. He has thought himself to be clever - cunning even, but now he is not so sure. He knows who is winning - they all do. He knows which side it is that is losing people. But saying it out loud is something else completely.
“We’re also dying for it,” she remarks cooly, drawing circles on the glass with a fingertip. “Let’s face it; we’re losing people every single fucking day. And we still act like there’s a big chance we’ll win.”
“We’re doing what everybody else is too damn afraid to do.” He puts the fork and knife away angrily – still careful not to make a big sound, and leaves the room.
The unbearable truth, is that she is right – the fact kills him more than anything. The truth is, though, he is more like her than he ever thought possible.
There are words you never forget, looks that never leave you and eyes that always haunt you, there are sentences that are meant to be forgotten and moments to be stored in your heart for forever.
He gets that now.
“When you told me you loved me, were you lying?”
He has never seen a more vulnerable face than this and maybe that is what they mean, when they say that someday you look at the person next to you and you realise that this is the only person you can ever imagine yourself with, because this is how he feels. Her soul is bared in front of him and he steps forward without thinking and takes her face in his hands.
“I love you.” He whispers and she smiles and kisses him. The Dark Mark burns on his arm.
This is life for him.
“I give you everything ...” she looks up underneath him and kisses him deeply. Her breath hitches, “take what you need.”
He will never forget those words or that face.
Sirius’s face as he looks at him when she walks towards them, “You’re a goner, mate.” He claps him on his shoulder, but Peter already knows.
“I’m going to buy her a ring.”
The excited face of James as he tells them all the news. The chorus of “Finally!” echoes in the room.
She escorts him to James and Lily’s wedding, even though it will be the first time she meets them all as his girlfriend. She kisses him as the couple say their wows and have their first kiss as a married couple.
It is almost as if it were their own.
He asks her to marry him, she says, “Let’s wait a bit.”
Big green eyes that stare up at him. Holding a baby has never been his thing, but still, as he holds the baby he can feel the ties tying him to them all. He is not as alienated as he thought himself to be.
He wants this too.
All the happiness, the friendships, the loyalty and honesty - he wants it all. And he does envy James and Lily, and he does want Sirius’s charm, and he does want a family like them, and he does want Remus’s sureness.
Peter Pettigrew knows what he wants; it is everything he doesn’t have.
He buys her a cottage by the sea and gives it to her, says, “This is yours.”
She shakes her head and closes her hand over his, “this is ours.”
The war is getting worse and worse and there seems to be no escape. Both sides want something from him. She does not know anything and it is killing him. The Dark Mark is black and dark as the deep deep guilt that threatens to choke him.
The worst thing, is that he knows the only reason why he is still alive, is because of what he carries on his arm. Peter Pettigrew is no extraordinary wizard - he is no superhero like the rest of them. He is just playing for the gallery and as sad as it may be, he has always known that betrayal has been the only way to savior. And he does want to be saved.
But not without her.
Her love seems to grow and grow, it surrounds him and he seems to know, to know that time is running out. Looking into her eyes gets harder and it feels as if he has grown a thick skin and he can now not even feel the warm touch of her on his skin.
“Let’s get away.” She whispers against his neck one evening. He nods,
“Let’s do it, love.” He has decided it is time to leave it all behind. He needs to make this work, he needs to save himself with her. She smiles, kisses him slowly,
“I’ll pack our stuff,” she whispers slowly against his lips.
“The Order is sending another person out on a mission this weekend,”
He stands in front of the gates to hell and recites all he has seen and heard. “It looks like it will be Sirius Black this time.” A deep sneer emits from some of the people at the table and dread fills his stomach at the thought of causing his own friend’s death.
“He’ll be going to Belfast, where we know the security is low, it will be the perfect opportunity to take him out.” Even he, who is never told anything, knows that the Death Eaters as well as Voldemort, thirst for the blood of the notorious blood-traitor. They want to erase the shame.
They are not that different from them, after all.
“So Sirius’s been telling me about this mission he probably is going on ...” she starts the next day at dinner and his heart skips a beat.
“So, I was thinking that he’s already put his life at risk so many times and I haven’t. I’ll offer to take it instead." They are sitting in the living room as she tells him this.
"It’s this weekend, which means I won’t be home. We’ll leave after that, okay?” She smiles and munches on on her mince-pie. See? Even the cold ones, the smart ones get pulled into the net of people, even they seem to care.
“I – I don’t think you should go.”
It blurts out of him and what is this? We thought we were over this. His traitorous heart is beating so fast it will surely jump out of his chest. He rests a shaking hand upon it, to calm it.
“Why?” she looks at him puzzled. He looks away, pulls at his collar.
“Just ... Just promise me you won’t go on this one. Any other mission but this.” He gets up and walks slowly out of the room, his heart thundering in his ears.
She catches up to him, pulls him back. “What do you know?” she whispers fearfully. It is as if she knows he is hiding something. That look in her eyes tells him everything. Somehow this brings comfort to him; a person knows him - this person knows him better than anyone, better than his old mum who still sends him leftovers every week.
“Nothing,” he croaks, “I just have a very bad feeling with this one.” He walks away and she lets him., her face is a fiery mix of emotions. Fear, confusion, hope, defiance. In time this is what will haunt his dreams.
“We want you as our Secretkeeper.”
Their trusting looks are unbearable.
On Saturday, she tells him she is going to see the cottage. He nods and kisses her lips soft lips,
In the middle of the night Saturday-night, Sirius apparates into his bedroom. One sentence, and he knows she never followed his words. “Something has happened.”
They get into the midst of the battle, he forgets the roles and everything. He just runs for his girl and apparates her away to the cottage where they stay.
The alliance to Voldemort has been questioned, so this becomes his test.
“Kill the girl. Burn everything you had with her. Cut the ties.”
It seems that it does not matter that he has just given his friends up to the Dark Lord. To kill his life is what is asked of him. He prays for forgiveness and then takes off to their cottage.
She is sitting in her favourite armchar in their livingrooom, drinking a cup of tea and reading a book. Their suitcases are standing by the door. There are even muffins lying in a basket.
He looks up into the blue sky and curses himself. He lights the house on fire and watches as it is turned to ashes. He stands alone, watching as all his hopes and dreams stumble to the ground, the light of them shining out against the darkness of the night. There is this sense to the air, sound fills it, it echoes around the grounds, and he falls to his knees, the tears streaming down his face. The light illuminates his face and the warmth seeps under his skin, underneath his bones.
It is beautiful.
For a moment he believes. But soon - too soon - is the house reduced to ashes and the darkness wins in again and engulfs him fully. He goes home. Locks his doors like he always does and turns on the light of every room.
He then begins baking muffins - mountains of muffins, even though he does not know how.
“The Order is bullshit, anyways.” she used to say.
He agrees. Silently.