And first person!! And present tense!! What on earth has gotten into you, Dan?? Or should I ask whose brain have you gotten into, because I see you've written a Wormtail fic here. All dark and gory and such. Very nice!
"Whatever's wrong with me, I can't even get my eyes to open." You've gotten the panicky feeling down cold. I get this frightened, helpless sensation from him right there. After he drinks whatever it is that was given to him, he becomes more lucid. Which may be worse for him, judging by his reaction. He knows he's in for some serious trouble.
"Who am I kidding? Of course he doesn't." No, Snape isn't going to help you out more than he's ordered to.
Wormtail is suffering greatly, yet he's thinking pretty clearly at this point. I can imagine that if someone is an underling for the Dark Lord, they'd grow accustomed to this kind of treatment on a regular basis. He's focused on his situation and already trying to think of ways he can get out of whatever mess he's landed in. It reads like he's been here before, like he's used to this kind of pain and knows that inevitably, they want him for something, so he doesn't have to fear for his life. I can totally buy into that mindset here. Very slimy. Very rat-like. I can picture his beady eyes darting around, calculating, working through his (very limited) options (if any).
You mention the hole that he crawls into when things get bad, both literally and figuratively. I can see that as a running theme here. He's constantly looking for his escape, even when things seem like the worst. He never stops trying... it's probably in his nature to keep trying, until he's truly dead. I bet he figures that if they wanted him dead, he wouldn't still be having a conversation with Snape.
I like how you placed the event by giving him a chance to think through the last thing he remembers. It's a great way to show us where we are in the story, without announcing it over the narrative loudspeaker. Wormtail is focusing on his survival, he made it through whatever task he was given, and he can't remember what happened in those three hours... and then the panic sets in. He's not afraid of Snape, he's not concerned with his present condition really, but he's scared to death of the Dark Lord. That's his button. Push it harder! Let's see what else happens!
"He's not the only one who has secrets."
This is a great line. I am amazed by how much strength Wormtail has in this situation. He's beaten, bloody, bits of his life are missing from his head, and he still thinks through his situation, and he still uses what he knows to his advantage. He doesn't lose himself in a frantic panic like I thought he would. There's some fortitude to this guy. And he knows exactly who he's talking to. He keeps pushing to find an angle he can use. This is very interesting to me.
All the little details of his memories, floating in and out of the scene are really great. The mention of the telly in Lily's flat, the flour canister, they're great reminders of who people thought he was.
"There's something familiar about the pattern, but I can't quite place it."
Oh, but we will. Won't we? The taunting voice of Snape guiding him through the blankness of his mind... and something emerges from the vague lights... I really like what you did, the way you showed the tiny remnants of his memory.
When I first read this, I wasn't sure if Wormtail was being swept away inside his mind, or if it was really happening. You didn't mention the couch he was sitting on, so I assumed that it was all in his mind still. I was back on track with the line, "I realize that I'd forgotten..." and all became clear again. It was kind of eerie reading it, almost like I was lost in his mind too.
I really like how you brought the whole story around, back to a new beginning. I didn't need the explanation at the end. I think you did a great job with this. It was a really interesting, and chilling example of how relentless Snape can be, and how resilient Wormtail must have been to survive under such pressure.
Author's Response: Hi, pix!
First person, present tenseâ¦ using it was a blessing and a curse. I mainly love the air of mystery it creates. The character whose point of view youâre writing is living in the moment, they donât know anything that the reader doesnât also know. Thereâs no foreshadowing, no moments of âif I had only known then what was about to happenâ¦â
Wormtail knows from the moment he regains consciousness that heâs in trouble. Heâs basically defenseless, with no idea where he is or how he got there. He trusts Snape only because he really has no other choice. And like he says, theyâre supposed to be on the same side. That said, Snape definitely isnât going to come in for any group hugs. ;)
I do think that Wormtail, in particular, was used to harsh treatment. He was made to cut his own hand off, for peteâs sake. After knowing what he did to his best friends, Iâm sure that none of the other Death Eaters trusted him, let alone liked him. So, yes, heâs used to having to think on his feet to keep himself alive.
Crawling into a hole is both metaphorical and a practical thing. The practical aspect is that Wormtail is performing a type of Occlumency without necessarily realizing that heâs doing it. When he crawls into a hole in his mind, heâs shielding his thoughts.
Iâm glad you liked his thoughts as he tries to figure out whatâs happened. He is completely terrified of Voldemort, as any sane person would be. Itâs not that heâs completely unafraid of Snape, itâs just that Voldemort is so much scarier. In a way, I think that makes him seem a bit stronger than he would otherwise be. His fortitude mostly represents a will to survive thatâs kept him alive through the first war and fifteen years of aftermath.
Yep, just when Wormtail thinks heâs gotten the best of Snape, it turns out that he just didnât understand the game he was playing. Snape tricks him into allowing the exploration of his mind and uses the opportunity to identify his one, small mistake when he erased Wormtailâs memory and replace it. But once Snape is on the inside, he canât stop himself from reliving Lilyâs death through Wormtailâs memory one more time. Because truthfully, Snape never stopped living in that moment. Always.
Iâm really pleased that you enjoyed this! Thanks so much for taking a moment to let me know!