Chapter 1 : Swing Low
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He didn’t close his eyes however; he didn’t allow himself because that would be cowardly. He’s made his bed, now, he must sleep in it. It’s not as if he hated what he made, it was necessary.
By all rights, he was ready for this. He saw it coming like the dawn that comes after the night. He had been steadily slipping each day further into their grasps. More secrets spilled from his lips and each day he was more comfortable doing it. Just small stuff, like where someone he barely even knew lived or where someone’s favourite hangout was. He never looked at the Prophet the next morning because he feared what he may see.
He did know that he was not going to die, he would not die. Never mind the blood that was on his hands. He tried not to think of that, however, every night he spent scrubbing himself till he was pink. It was the only way he could face them every Saturday night. They’d smile and hug him, not knowing that he had very much turned into the rat he was.
He let a small, cruel smile cross his lips. It felt foreign to him, especially since his face was usually lined with open laughter. But this was neither the time nor place for such thoughts. That man was gone now. He had to be because there was no place in the darkness for him. So he let the cruel smile linger on his pale lips and gripped his wand tighter, ignoring how it twitched or how his palms felt cold and clammy.
The body before him was pulled away and the jeers of his comrades could be heard over the din of his own mind. Their laughter was malicious and he saw one of them kick the dead body in the head. He kept his face stoic though and watched with apparent disinterest. This was his test- his crossing over and by god he was going to do it well, that was the Marauder way.
The moon shone through the only window in the stone room. He found himself looking out at it, wondering if they were looking at it too. Did they feel what happening tonight, the change in the air? He pushed the whimsical thought away; everything was not the same under the scarlet moon.
It never could be again.
They were all fools. Childish fools who thought that that nothing could touch them as if death would not follow them. Like they had forgotten Eleanor’s disappearance or seeing Mary so still and broken just months out of Hogwarts. He didn’t forget. He couldn’t. The gaping holes where their lives should have been filled him with dread. He could not ignore that everyday there was something new to fear and another person to mourn.
Optimism could only last for so long. But when each day you wonder if your best mate is still alive that was when the silver lining comes off. That was when this becomes real. This was war and it leaves no survivors. No one untouched. They could not afford their laced covered dreams and aspirations. There was no silver lining. No light at the end of the tunnel. People died and yet they all pretended that they could handle it.
But there was only this. This terrible consuming darkness inside oneself. He promised himself he would not be scared of the darkness so instead he embraced it. Letting it inside and trying to become, for the moment, what that darkness dictated. So he listened to the voice that said it was impossible. It couldn’t be done. That is what moved Sirius or James though; it even moved clever, practical Remus. They had to prove that is was possible, that they could do anything. They didn’t know their limitations. They were god damned children. Barely even 21 and they thought they could change the world.
Was it his fault that he was the first to admit it? He looked up into the faces of his new brothers. They smiled, or at least he imagined they smiled behind their metal masks and dark cloaks. Someone was talking again, their voice deep and scratchy, congratulating him before pushing him forward and out of the room and into another.
The windows were covered with thick fabric, keeping out any natural source of light. The carpet below was soft and he felt his feet sink in with each bumbling step towards the fireplace where a few men stood, the backs turned away from him. Their low voices carried in the room and he felt himself shudder involuntarily. It never seemed more real than this. His choice and deception so near at hand. Even in that room where they stripped his wand, interrogated him, and he said those two unforgettable words there was nothing so real as standing here in his presence.
“My Lord, it has been done. He has proven his worth.” Scratchy voiced man spoke from behind him. He never knew quite who it was; their faces had all been covered with metal masks. The man he pledged allegiance, the one to whom he’d been passing information on to for months now was looking at him.
His eyes appraised him and he felt a shiver pass through him as if a part of himself was being transferred to this man in that moment. He did not expect him to have been here tonight, he thought his recruitment would have just been a blimp in the grand scheme of things. He was- he stopped and gulped, just a nobody, a simple nobody trying to survive.
“Very good,” he said. His voice was quieter than he expected, forcing the listener to strain themselves to hear him speak, yet that very quiet demanded people’s attention and forced them to pay attention. “Tell me, was this your first?”
It was. He had never killed another man before. Oh, he had imagined it, but those imaginings were usually for killing the evil villain or fighting off a troll to save the princess. He didn’t expect it to be in cold blood in a faceless room with faceless people.
He certainly didn’t expect it to be someone he knew. But they had dragged in Henry Jorkins, a Hufflepuff in their year. As he looked at him, he could still see Henry in the Great Hall at dinner screaming at everyone to shut their gob so he could study. Only Henry would have tried to quiet the whole hall at dinner time.
Eleanor flashed through his mind and he wondered if she had been in Henry’s position once, if she had looked up and, upon seeing someone she recognized, had she thought she was saved? He wondered if she’d been the one brought out, would he have done it. Something told him he would have but then- he’d never be able to face Sirius again knowing what he knew.
He pushed the thoughts away; it was not the place for such questions or doubt. He had made his choices. Life wasn’t all in black and white. The right answer was never just right, but rather covered with different shades of colours.
Who knew that the ‘right’ side would kill just as many as the wrong, that they sent people to Azkaban without trial, or let it be a public spectacle when a person’s soul was sucked out. They were meant to be good. Those savages. There was no honour in it. The only think that mattered now was what was more right and did he want to die? He didn’t he didn’t he didn’t.
“Yes my Lord,” he replied and bent his head as a few mirthless laughs drifted throughout the room.
“Silence,” Voldemort said, lifting his hand to his companions. There was an immediate stillness. He was amazed by that simple action, of how the quiet hissing of a voice could evoke such compliance. “This is our brother now and he has served me well. Come here boy, it is time.”
He walked over, stumbling as he moved closer to this pale faced man. His hands were trembling and sweaty as he neared. This was it, his reckoning, his deliverance. He could not change the world. He could not be in the so called light. The distinction had been lost ages ago in the winds of time.
He could be this though.
Voldemort laid his hand on his forearm.
He could be this. He could be the connoisseur of knowledge, someone who was both in the light and dark, ducking from one side to the other and binding them together.
A burning pain shot through his arm.
Maybe one day he’d get the knowledge from them and he could then save all those he loved. They’d thank him then when he could warn them of the danger. They’d say, good job Peter, you did what we could not. He knew he saw things differently than them, but he also knew there were no simple answers.
He always thought it was a no brainer that the prince had to save the princess. What if by saving the princess he’d lose everything in the process? They never show that part in the fairytales. They covered it up, they pretended like the answers were so god damned easy to make. Sirius with his pretend hate of his family would ignore how he cried every night because of his brother or James who tried to follow in his parents huge footprints but he truly only ever wanted to be a husband and father. Not a hero dressed up in clothes that were too big for him.
The pain had stopped, leaving a tingling feeling in his wake and he looked down at his arm, a dark tattoo shone brightly for a moment before it faded into his skin. The Dark Lord squeezed his arm, almost like a father would before he waved them away, dismissed without another word. He knew they would be in touch. They always were and he had to learn to perfect his game. Remus had started asking questions.
“Oh, and Peter,” Voldemort with a voice edgy like a sharp knife said as Peter was on the threshold of the door. “If you think you can save them, you are sadly mistaken.” Laughter trailed after him as he walked blindly out of the room, wondering how he had known. But then, maybe it didn’t really matter. This was necessary, he would not die.
Before he knew it he was back in his flat, the stillness and darkness was here just like it had been before and the moon that shone brightly was the same moon he saw earlier. It was as if nothing had changed, and yet, Peter knew that it all had. He crawled into his bed and pulled the red and gold duvet around his shoulders and watched the waning moon.
He knew he made the right choice, it had to be. There had been no other way to live and so he would flit between both sides and when this was over he hoped he could just become that boy again who believed in dragons and knights and kings. Where answers were simple and no one had to choose between life and death. Until then though, he’d brandish those thoughts away, they played no part in the life he lived because no matter how many books he read or daydreams he had, they would not save him now.
No one could escape this darkness that invaded England like a foul disease, sucking the light out like a vacuum. Those were childish hopes and dreams, better suited for times of peace where you could afford to make those mistakes. They would understand one day, one day they’d get why Peter, their brother, made his choice, it wasn’t betrayal, not really. Just survival.
Only survival. He repeated this to himself, over and over again. He let it run through his mind that he wasn’t treacherous and as he drifted off into an unsettled sleep a lone tear fell down his blotchy face but he brushed it away roughly, there could be no regret, no desire for something different. They would have killed him, they would have killed-
He would not die.
Note: Well, here we go! I've been wanting to write Peter Pettigrew for ages but was a bit overhwelmed with the idea of trying to capture him and his betrayal. I hope I did the moment some justice. Would love to hear some feedback on this. :P
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