Chapter 1 : The Cost of Betrayal
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Thanks must go out to my skype writing group, without whom I probably wouldn't have written this so quickly. Guys, you are amazing! ILY!
If you were to ask me why I did it, I wouldn't be able to give you an answer. I suppose the simplest answer would be that I didn't want to die. But the truth is that it was probably from a combination of reasons. Like the fact that I didn't want to be in the shadows anymore. Or that I wanted to feel like somebody special for a while.
He offered me my every dream, my every whim. All I had to do was betray my best mates. It seemed simple enough. I wanted what he had to offer. I wanted the power and the fame. I just wasn't sure I liked the cost.
Perhaps I should start from the beginning...
They found me drinking ale in a pub in Ireland. I don't quite recall why I was there, just that I was. It wasn't any special pub. The ale was fine enough. The company was sorely lacking. I do remember missing my mates. Lily and James had gone into hiding and I hadn't heard from them in a while. Remus was off doing something for the Order. Sirius, well no one had seen from him since James had talked him into being secret keeper. I was still a little sore about that. It was far to obvious a choice. Of course James would choose Sirius. Who else would he have picked? Certainly not me. I could keep them safe.
I wasn't far enough into my drink when they appeared as if they were made of shadows. Three of them took up position around me. Glancing up, I saw Lucius standing there looking pleased that he had found me. I wasn't exactly in hiding. I, of all people, could disappear if I wanted to.
I had always been invisible, you see. People ignored me more often than not. Even at Hogwarts; especially at Hogwarts. Had it not been for James, Sirius and Remus, I doubt anyone would remember my name. I was okay with that. Or so I told myself. When I think back on my days at Hogwarts, I'm grateful for the friends I did have. We may have been troublemakers, we marauders, but we were the best of mates.
They had nothing to gain from being my friend and I had everything. It is true that I wasn't the smartest or the bravest Gryffindor at Hogwarts. But I like to believe I grew up some over the years. But seated between three Death Eaters – though they looked like any other person in the pub – I could feel myself slipping back into the boy I once was. What did they want from me? I couldn't offer them anything. And I certainly didn't want to.
“You're coming with us,” Lucius said, and his voice was almost hypnotic.
Lucius had always been like that, I remembered. People were drawn to him. Charismatic they would say. It was downright scary. I shuddered under his gaze. Like I had a choice in saying no?
My mind searched for some means of escaping. Fat lot of good that did. Before I could think 'turn into a rat' we were gone. They had Apparated in front of a ton of Muggles and didn't even bat an eye about it. The Ministry would not be impressed. Of course, I also know that the Ministry was filled with spies and traitors alike.
Who worked for who was entirely up in the air. Everyone looked the same. There was no distinguishing marks – well there were, but none we would ever see – between members of the Order of the Phoenix, Death Eaters and the general public just trying to survive. They all looked the same. Everyone was trying to hide under the radar. Like I had been trying, and apparently failing at doing.
A large manor appeared in front of us. I shrank in against myself and the man – McNair – who was standing behind me, his hands curled tightly around my forearms. This was the biggest and worst thing that had ever happened to me. Couldn't they have left me alone? I didn't know anything.
They pushed and shoved me up the path and into the house – if you could call this a house.
“Stay here,” Lucius said and opened the door we were standing in front of.
McNair and Avery stood on either side of me and I wondered if I would have any opportunity to run, to flee, to save my own skin. These thoughts were unbecoming of a Gryffindor. But I had always been the weakest of Gryffindors. Ask anyone, ask Sirius. He'd tell you I was the first to run and hide at any sign of trouble. Detention? No way, not me. I'd turn them all in if it meant I wouldn't get in any trouble. And again, I had to wonder why I was a Gryffindor.
“Scared Pettigrew?” McNair asked me, a taunting teasing tone in his voice.
I wasn't just scared. I was downright terrified. When I didn't answer they laughed at me. I expected it really. They had never been nice to me at Hogwarts, so I didn't expect them to have changed any. In fact, I was surprised I was still alive. If they had their way, they would have killed me instead of bringing me here.
Of course, I knew what lay beyond the door. The Dark Lord was beyond the door. Lucius was talking to him. Probably boasting that he had found me so easily.
The door opened again and Lucius stood there. He nodded towards me, and I stumbled forward. This was not how I pictured spending my evening. Couldn't they have at least waited until I had had a few more drinks in me? I'd probably agree to anything then. Of course, I was pretty positive coming face to face with the Dark Lord would sober me up instantly.
I tried not to walk into the room. I tried to fight against McNair and Avery, but they were taller and stronger than me. With my back to the room, and my feet pushing me forward, I knew I was only getting closer to the man I wanted nothing to do with instead of further away. Was fighting futile? At this point I was willing to try just about anything to avoid being anywhere near You-Know-Who.
“You have done well, Lucius,” Voldemort said, his voice silky smooth and yet ever so terrifying. “Peter.” He used my name and I froze. Maybe if I didn't move he wouldn't notice me. “Turn around.” There wasn't any anger in his voice, but it was a command I couldn't refuse.
I turned, trembling. My eyes on the floor. My whole body was sweating profusely. McNair and Avery moved away from me. There was nowhere I could go without one of them stopping me. If I ran I would be dead.
Something in the corner of the room caught my eyes and a new wave of fear washed over me. The biggest snake I had ever seen slithered through the room to coil around the Dark Lord's feet. So much for Plan B. That snake would eat me! Actually, I was pretty sure it would eat me regardless of whether I changed into a rat or not.
I was pretty sure my eyes were bugging out of my head from fear. How the hell did I end up in this mess? I should have gone with Remus when he had asked me. At least with him I would have been safe from this. Fear coiled around me, suffocating me like a boa constrictor. There was no way out. I was trapped. And I hated feeling trapped.
“Where are they?” The Dark Lord questioned me.
“I-I don't-don't know,” I stammered and tried to shrink in size to avoid his anger.
“Of course you do, they would have told you where they were going. You're their friend. Just tell me where they are,” he repeated and I knew I was screwed.
I was pretty sure my legs were going to give way on me for fear of what he would do to me. How the hell was I supposed to convince You-Know-Who I had no clue where Lily and James were? They knew as well as I did that there were spies in the Order of the Phoenix. To tell me was a risk they weren't willing to take.
“If you tell me, I will give you everything you have ever dreamed of. Power. Fame. Fortune. Women.” Of course, it was a nice proposal, except he was missing one thing that would probably sweeten the deal. My life. Of course he could promise me anything, but it wouldn't mean a damn thing if I ended up dead two minutes after telling him what he wanted to know.
“I don't know,” I repeat, my voice laced with a bit of anger.
“I expected more fight out of you, Pettigrew. I expected some fight from a Gryffindor.” There was a mocking laugh in his voice. “Tell me where they are.”
“I can't. I don't know.” My voice trembled. I sounded like a frightened two year old who has woken from a horrible nightmare. The only problem is that I am awake and the nightmare won't go away.
“You will tell me.” Anger fills the air and I shrank away.
I'm surprised I'm still alive. He hasn't cursed me. He hasn't threatened to end my life. There is nothing he could offer me that would make me give him what he wants. Even though his offer is sweet enough as it is. I'm left to wonder just how much it would take for me to betray my friends. They, who had been there for seven years keeping people from hurting me. Would I really give them up to save myself? The answer was simple enough: yes I would. I didn't want to die.
“Peter,” You-Know-Who said smoothly, “if you cannot tell me where they are, then you will find out and then tell me. If you do this, I will let you live.”
There it was. The one thing I would give it all up for. My life. It was to be spared and all I had to do was give him Lily and James. It was the cowards way, of course. But I didn't want to die. I was too young to die. There was so much of the world I haven't seen yet.
Meekly, I look up at him. His eyes are blood red. I retch and turn away. How can anyone look like that? What evil, unspeakable things does one have to do to be so far from human that even the mere sight of them makes me sick? I know now that there is nothing he won't do to get me to agree. If I deny him, he'll put me under the imperious curse. Which may at least be better for me in the end. I could deny I had anything to do with Lily and James dying. I could beg forgiveness from Sirius and Remus, they would understand. But of course, they would never understand. Not Remus and certainly not Sirius. They were too perfect. Too brave and strong to let fear stand in their way. Maybe if I were a bit more like them, then I could deny him. But I'm not.
I nod and it is the one thing I am certain I will regret for the rest of my natural life. They say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I think whoever come up with that asinine statement never had to stand in front of the Dark Lord. Because doing this was not going to make me stronger. It was going to destroy me. That boy I once was was going to die the moment I convinced Sirius and James. And once Sirius found out I betrayed our friends, he'd end my life.
Lucius escorted me off the property and told me to owl him when I had news. Who uses owls these days? They could easily be intercepted.
It had taken me weeks to find Sirius and convince him that this was the right thing to do. That he was far too obvious a choice as Secret Keeper. Who would come after the pathetic idiot of a friend, Peter Pettigrew? Certainly not You-Know-Who.
It took even longer for Sirius to make up his mind before going to James. Lucius showed up several times a week to check in on me. To make sure I was still doing what I was supposed to. I didn't care that You-Know-Who was growing impatient. Betraying your friends was never an easy task and I had to reassure them that this was for the best. It even meant convincing them that Remus joined with You-Know-Who’s pack of werewolves. It wasn't my best plan, but it had worked.
Sirius had fumed over the idea that Remus had betrayed them like that. Even confronted Remus. But in the end, it was enough to put Sirius over the edge.
It was the end of September when I was finally made Secret Keeper. You-Know-Who wanted to strike then and there. Convincing him that was unwise was a death wish, but I knew I had no choice. If James and Lily thought for one minute that I was going to betray them that night, they would flee. I needed them to believe I'd keep them safe. And I did. For a month I did.
October came and went, but not without the deaths of Lily and James Potter. My greatest betrayal. You-Know-Who died that night too and I was relieved. It meant that maybe, just maybe I could escape Sirius's wrath.
I wasn't so lucky.
Sirius found me in the middle of a Muggle street. Men and women ignored us. But I knew what Sirius planned on doing. My life would be over unless I ended his first. I had already betrayed them. I had already killed Lily and James. I may not have been the one to cast the spell that ended their lives, but I had killed them all the same. Now, now it was my turn and if it was my life or Sirius's, I'd have it be his. I wasn't willing to die.
“Why Peter?” Sirius questioned, sorrow in his voice and tears in his eyes. “They trusted you! I trusted you!”
“I had no choice!” Was all I called back before casting my spell. Thirteen people were in my way. Thirteen innocent bystanders. I'd murdered thirteen people. I didn't stop to think about what I had done. I didn't want to. I had to finish my plan. I needed them to think I was dead. It was the only way Sirius and Remus would ever leave me alone. I left my finger behind and went into hiding. I could hear Sirius's manic laughter before I apparated away. But I know he doesn't believe I'm dead. He'll never believe it. He knows my secrets as well as I know his.
And I know one thing is certain: Sirius Black will stop at nothing until I am rotting six feet under or in a cell at Azkaban for what I have done. I don't blame him. Not really. Because I know I need to be punished for what I have done. Just not yet. I'm not ready for it.
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