Chapter 3 : Et Tu, Brute?
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Some of the others had already arrived, and it didn't take long for the news to travel that Voldemort had been vanquished. Sirius had been in the middle of a drink when he had first heard the news. He'd been in the company of the scallywag, Mundungus Fletcher, who was trying to sell him a used Muggle pocket watch he had undoubtedly stolen.
“He's dead!” A wizard announced as he hurried into the small dingy pub, his wizard robes flapping behind him in his excitement.
“Who's dead?” A pretty blonde witch asked as she served drinks from a tray.
“You-Know-Who!” The wizard said with unchecked excitement. “Heard it from Franklin Dobbs who heard it from Gilligan Vance, who heard it from Bathilda Bagshot herself. Said it happened right there in Godric's Hollow at the Potter House!”
Sirius nearly choked on his Butterbeer at the mention of James and Lily’s home.
“You hear that, mate?” Mundungus said with a sloppy drunk grin. “Seems like ol' Potter saved the day.” Mundungus slapped Sirius on the back and began to cheer with the rest of the bar patrons.
But Sirius didn't feel like celebrating. A sick sense of dread began to overtake him. How had Voldemort found them in Godric's Hollow? The only people who knew about the hiding place were members of the Order and, of course, the Secret-Keeper. No one could tell Voldemort where the house was located, not even the inhabitants. Not unless…
Sirius got to his feet abruptly. His wooden chair clattered to the pub’s dirty floor with a thud. No one seemed to notice; they were all too busy celebrating Voldemort's demise. Sirius threw a few galleons on the bar countertop and pushed his way through the crowd until he was out in the cool October air. Without even having to think about it, he was on his motorcycle and heading toward Godric's Hollow at death defying speeds.
The moment he saw the smoke billowing in the sky, he knew, but that didn't stop him from hoping that he was wrong. Sirius brought the motorcycle to a safe landing. Before his feet hit the ground, he could hear Hagrid's distraught weeping coming from inside the house. Sirius walked toward the sound with feet made of lead. Hagrid's wails grew even louder the deeper he moved into the house.
“Sirius,” Dumbledore greeted him somberly. “Remus is with the others.”
“Where is he?” Sirius shouted, grabbing Dumbledore's robes in desperation. “Where is he?!”
“Sirius...” Dumbledore placed a hand over Sirius's. His blue eyes pierced the younger man's. They were full of sympathy and kindness. “Please calm down. This will not make the situation better. The boy will need you now.”
Sirius jerked his head. “Harry's alive?” he asked incredulously.
Dumbledore stepped out of Sirius's grip. “Yes. Shaken, but otherwise unharmed.”
He had been sure the child had met the same fate as James and Lily. The idea of Harry lying dead in his crib caused him to shake violently, but now the tension was ebbing out of his body. “Where is he?” he asked in a harsh whisper.
“In the kitchen with the others. Would you like to see him? If I remember correctly, you are the boy's godfather.”
Sirius nodded his head as the shock began to set in. “Where are they?”
Dumbledore moved a few inches to the left and blocked the entrance to the staircase. “You don't want to see them like this, Sirius. James and Lily wouldn't want--”
“Don't tell me what James and Lily want!” Sirius yelled. Then his voice softened. “Please.”
Dumbledore stood quietly for a second before he stepped aside. “They're in the nursery.”
Sirius's heart filled with more dread the closer he got to Harry's room. He stopped at the door and stared at the two figures lying beneath a blanket. Sirius felt tears sting his eyes as he imagined James and Lily's lifeless bodies underneath. Slowly, he moved into the room and knelt beside them. With shaking hands, he pulled the blanket down over their faces and let out an anguished sob. They could have been sleeping. The couple looked almost peaceful lying within inches of each other on the bedroom floor. Sirius began to cry in earnest as he realized that he'd never speak to them again. No more joking with James, no more funny little letters from Lily – nothing. They were dead.
Sirius reached over and touched Lily's face, sweeping his hand down her pale cheek. Her skin had grown cool already. Sirius placed his hand over James's chest and bowed his head.
“He won't get away with this,” Sirius whispered and stood to his feet.
By the time he had returned to the kitchen, Hagrid's wails had subsided to quiet sobs that were only interrupted by an occasional loud honking whenever he blew his dripping nose. Sirius's eyes swept the room, landing briefly on Remus's stricken face before stopping on Harry's. The boy was fast asleep, nestled in Bathilda's arms. His face was still flushed from crying, and a few crystalized tears clung to his thick black eyelashes.
Sirius didn't notice the lightning-shaped scar until he was holding the sleeping baby himself. “What happened to his head?” Sirius asked Remus who had been staring blankly into space. If Sirius didn't know better, he would have thought a full moon was approaching. Remus appeared paler than usual.
“You'll have to ask Dumbledore,” Remus croaked.
Sirius looked to the older wizard for the answer. His mind was reeling with questions. How had Harry survived when his parents, a skilled wizard and witch, had not? Was Voldemort really dead? Where was Peter?
“I can explain to you later, Sirius. Right now we need to focus on the boy--”
“I am focusing on the boy!” Sirius shouted. “I'm his godfather. I have the right to know.”
“And in due time I will tell you.”
“I want to know now!” Harry shifted in Sirius's arm and let out a tiny whimper.
“I know you're upset, Sirius,” Bathilda said in a stern but soothing tone, “But you'll wake him if you keep up that shouting. Albus will explain it all to us in due time.”
Sirius let the older woman take Harry out of his arms. He felt a surge of regret the moment the child's warmth left him, but he wanted answers. He wanted to find whoever was responsible for the deaths of his friends. The image of Lily and James cold and dead on the floor flashed in his mind's eye.
“Fine. If you won' tell me now, just tell me where he is. Where is that dirty rat?” Sirius's entire body vibrated with rage.
Remus stood to his feet, recognizing Sirius's temper. “Sirius, just remain calm, we don't know if Peter is responsible for this.”
“Then who is, Moony? Who? He was their bloody Secret-Keeper.” A sob escaped as he spoke.
His entire body went cold all at once as the realization hit him. It was his fault. Hadn't he convinced James and Lily to make Peter their Secret-Keeper? He all but forced their hand in it, telling them he would be the less obvious choice. Now his friends were dead because of him.
“Maybe Peter had no choice, maybe he–” Remus tried to reason before Sirius cut him off.
“There's always a choice. If it had been you or I, what would we have chosen, Remus? I know I would rather die than betray you or any of my friends.”
Lupin bowed his head. “Maybe Peter is dead,” he said, his voice low.
Sirius paused for a moment to consider this and felt a momentary pang of guilt. His guilt was short-lived as he realized Peter's death couldn't have been a possibility. “Ah, Moony, you always wanted to see the good in people, especially when it came to that little runt. Sorry mate, but we all put our trust in the wrong man.”
Sirius's eyes were ablaze as he stared at his friend, forgetting the audience they had. Even Hagrid had stopped crying and was watching the two with rapt attention. “Peter can't be dead. If he were, you and I would then become the Secret-Keepers. Unless you went to Voldemort–”
“Never!” Lupin said with venom in his voice.
“Then that only leaves one other.” Both men turned toward Dumbledore. The elder Wizard's only response was to lift a single bushy gray brow skyward.
“Just as I thought,” Sirius said, his tone resigned.
“But why?” Lupin said, his face filled with confusion.
“Isn't it obvious, Moony?” Sirius asked. And before anyone could stop him or protest, Sirius Disapparated, leaving them all stunned in his wake.
The tiny shack on the edge of town sat dark and empty. It had been abandoned since the night its owner had left it behind. A strong wind blew and threatened to blow the small building over. A short time later, a muffled crack filled the air and in an instant, Peter Pettigrew appeared hidden in the shadows. He looked around furtively before stepping into the darkened one room house. Peter didn't turn on any of the lights; he preferred the darkness. He preferred not having to face himself in the light. He had betrayed his friends, and now they were dead. Voldemort had died, too, and he was all alone. He had no friends and no allies. Within days of their master's death, nearly all of the Death Eaters had been rounded up by the Ministry of Magic. He was sure no one would hesitate to turn on him. Peter knew he was on borrowed time.
Over the last few days he had tried to work out his story. If he could convince Dumbledore and the others that he had been forced to reveal James and Lily's secret, then maybe he would be cleared. All he had to do was tell them that Voldemort and his Death Eaters had tortured it out of him, and when he refused to tell, they used the Imperius curse on him. Yes, he had it all worked out. If they asked him about the mark, he would say that he couldn't remember how it got there. Peter planned on taking all of this to Dumbledore soon. He just had to bide his time. Peter took out his wand and pointed it at the fire place. In a flash, a warm fire blazed instantly.
“I knew you had to come back sometime.”
Peter jumped at the sound of Sirius's voice. He turned toward the sound and froze as his friend seemed to melt from the shadows and materialize in front of him. “Sirius! Thank God you're here!” Peter said in mock relief. “Voldemort, he—he,” Peter's mind was racing as he tried to recall the specifics of his story.
“Save it, Peter. I know what you've done,” Sirius said.
Peter shivered and gripped his wand tighter as he met Sirius's eyes for the first time. They were red-rimmed and filled with loathing. “Sirius—”
“No, Peter, there won't be any lies,” Sirius said as he loomed over him like an angel of death. “I know it was you, and so does everyone else. They want to turn you in and give you a trial before the Wizengamot.”
Peter shook his head in desperation. “Please, no…Sirius, he…he…the Imperius curse! They forced me!” he sputtered as he tried to convince Sirius with the lies he told himself. “I would never…not to James or Lily. I loved them and the boy.”
“Sirius gave a short bitter laugh. “His name is Harry. And you have a rather odd way of showing it, Wormy. But I haven't come to take you to the Ministry. Oh no, no, I think not,” Sirius said almost to himself. “That would be too easy, too good for the likes of you, I think.”
Peter cowered at the stony quality of Sirius's voice, and for the first time that night, Peter truly looked at his old friend. There was a madness in his eyes. He looked as if he hadn't slept or bathed in days. His clothes were stained and filthy. His face was dark and unshaven, and his hair hung limp and greasy around his face.
“I think you should suffer as James and Lily suffered under your master's wand. As Harry suffered!” Sirius yelled as he raised his own wand and pointed it in Peter's face.
The two men faced off and shouted at once, “Expelliarmus!” To his surprise, Peter had managed to knock Sirius's wand from his hand, but he hadn't been lucky enough to escape the same fate as his opponent, for his wand lay several feet away.
Peter dove for the stranded piece of wood, but always the clumsy and uncoordinated one, he hadn't been quick enough. Sirius was already on top of him, and the two wrestled on the dirt-covered floor of the shack.
“How could you, Peter?! How could you do that to James and Lily?” Sirius cried. “They were your friends. They would have done anything for you!”
Peter wanted to tell him why. He wanted to explain his reasoning behind his actions, but they all seemed weak and selfish even in his own mind. So he said nothing. Instead, he made a desperate grab for his wand and was relieved when he felt the cool, smooth wood in his hands. Peter pushed Sirius hard, sending him stumbling back before he Disapparated. But before he could get away, Sirius made a lounging grab for him and latched on in mid-flight. The two began to grapple with each other again as Peter bounced them from one destination to another. At one point, he thought they had landed on top of Big Ben before bouncing somewhere else as he tried to focus on a single destination.
Peter's hand found Sirius's face and pushed with all his might. A few minutes later he had landed face down in an alley. He could see a light and realized that he had landed in London. Peter stood quickly to his feet. He knew it would be a matter of moments before Sirius would catch up to him. Peter took a staggering step forward and winced when he felt his left foot throbbing and turned at an odd angle. He realized that he had somehow managed to splinch himself before landing. Peter gripped the wall and used it as a support as he made his way toward the street.
Blood trickled down his arm from the wound on his hand. At some point during the grappling or in the process of Apparating, his finger had nearly been taken off. It was attached to his hand by a thin bloody piece of skin that reminded him of nearly headless Nick's half-decapitated form. Peter whimpered as he made his way to the public square.
“Help!” He panted once he was visible to the crowd. “Please, someone help me! He's after me, trying to kill me!” Peter held up his bloody hand and someone in the crowd gasped.
“He needs a doctor!” one Muggle man shouted.
“No I need—”
A loud crack filled the air as Sirius suddenly appeared in the middle of the crowd. A few people gasped in shock. Peter lifted his wand in his good hand and pointed it at Sirius, his hand shaking. “How could you, Sirius?” Peter shouted for all to hear. “How could you do that to James and Lily?!”
“How could I?!” Sirius roared.
“They were our friends! They would have done anything for you! How could you kill them?” Peter sobbed.
Sirius let out an anguished snarl and shouted. A red light jetted out of his wand, but Peter was ready this time with his own counter jinx. Bright lights zipped out of their wands and zoomed in different directions. Without realizing it, Peter hit a few Muggles standing by, killing them, but neither man stopped as they continued to blast each other with spell after spell. Peter saw the crazed look in Sirius’s eyes and realized he looked mad, madder than Mad-Eye Moody. There would be no stopping him. Peter knew Sirius wouldn't stop until he was dead. Desperate for a way out, Peter knew he would never beat Sirius in a duel. He had to do something or die.
With hardly any time to think, Peter pointed his wand at a group of Muggles that stood by and blasted them. He used the ensuing chaos as a diversion. Peter aimed his wand at his injured finger and quickly muttered a severing charm. The pain was quick but excruciating. When Sirius parted his way through the crowd, his robes flapped behind him in a righteous fury. Peter did nothing. He stood with his hands at his side as Sirius pointed his wand at him one last time.
There was a loud explosion and when the smoke had cleared, nothing was left of Peter Pettigrew except one lone finger. A few feet away, a gray rat scurried through the streets before disappearing into the sewers, safe from the harm above.