Chapter 1 : A Rodent Revealed
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My seconds are numbered.
Stuffed inside the pocket of a school-boy's second-hand robes, I'm frantically searching my mind for an escape plan. As usual my brain fails me. Panic and adrenaline are coursing through me; ideas are not. Each time I try to climb out of the darkness the boy's hand pushes me back. Escaping that way is not an option.
All I can think of is how did I end up here? How did my life come to this? It all came down to one choice I made a long time ago.
"You're one of them helpin' Dumbledore, ain't ya?"
A masked man had me by the neck, his wand pointed at my throat. He was a Death Eater Dumbledore had asked me to trail for the Order. I'd watched him with no success for several hours and decided to call it a night. I'd transformed back to my human form at what I thought was a safe distance but the man hadn't been travelling alone. His companion had seen me appear and quickly acted. He had bound me from the waist down using a leg locker curse, preventing me from changing to my rat form. He then pinned me against a wall in a dark alley, the light from one wand the only thing keeping us from the darkness; it illuminated the fear in my eyes.
I shook my head in answer to his question and a pathetic whimper escaped my lips.
"Don't lie to me. You think I didn't notice you creepin' away there? You've been spying! I'll show you what we do with spies. Cruc-"
I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for a pain that did not come. The man I had been watching had spoken, thankfully interrupting the cruciatus curse I was about to be subjected to.
"It's him. Let's go, we'll take this one with us," he jabbed his thumb in my direction.
Before I had time to think I felt the squeezing uncomfortable feeling that could only mean one thing: I was being apparated.
A grand drawing room greeted me when the motion stopped, one I was soon to become very familiar with. Candles were the only source of light besides a fire flickering beneath an ornate marble mantelpiece.
The room was filled with cloaked figures similar to those who had brought me here. I knew then that death was imminent and I was paralysed by fear. No fight or flight instinct took over my body and willed me to survive.
And then I was offered a lifeline.
The Dark Lord knew who I was and who I worked for, of course he did. He knew that I could be of use and told me my knowledge could be used in exchange for my survival. What choice did I have? There was nothing to be gained by defying him: he was the most powerful dark wizard I had ever known. It was obey or die and I chose to live.
At first it was simple. Just snippets of information passed to him about the Order: what did they know of his plans and which of his followers were being tracked.
Then came the biggest test of my betrayal; to tell him where James and Lily Potter were. Dumbledore already knew that the Dark Lord would be going after the Potter's, though he would not tell us why or how he knew. They were to be moved to a safe house within days and had chosen Sirius as Secret Keeper for when the time came to move. I needed to change that.
There's a disturbance. I can hear Harry shouting. I've started gnawing at the robes that surround me; my razor sharp teeth slowly forming a hole not yet big enough for me to crawl through, to escape out of.
Suddenly I'm thrown backwards. The boy is moving. There’s more disturbance, my small ears picking up sounds beyond the pocket. Harry yelling again and the cat, that God forsaken cat, hissing and spitting. Then the Weasley boy is still again. I start chewing again, a new hole this time as the other is lost and I don't have time to waste searching for it.
The clever girl, Hermione, yells making me jump. She's shouting to someone below. Relief and hope fill my racing heart; whoever it is will take one look at Black and send him to the Dementors. I'll be free to wait for my Master once more. I wait to see if my saviour is one I know.
"Where is he Sirius?"
My relief falters. The voice is one I am familiar with; it's Moony. But who is he looking for? The next few words he speaks confirm it; he's looking for me. How? How could he possibly know? Surely I've misunderstood. I resume my chewing at the pocket processing his words: he suspects there was a switch all those years ago...
"What if they suspect you Padfoot?" I asked Sirius, my tone heavy with worry but not for the reason he thinks. It is the success of my plan that I have concerns for.
"Then they can torture me," he replied simply. "I'll die before I break the fidelus charm."
"Wormtail might have a point," Prongs said slowly. "You'll be the first person they come for. It's no secret how close you and I are. You can thank Regulus for that."
"Don't speak of him. He is no brother of mine," Sirius hissed.
"But," I said quickly, eager to complete the next phase of the Dark Lord's mission for me, "James is right. I mean, wouldn't they be less likely to think it was Moony? Or even...me?"
I watched as the pair processed the thought I had planted in their minds. It was a full moon so Lupin wasn't there, the only member of our group that would raise an argument. He had grown suspicious of my behaviour lately; I could see it in the way he looked at me.
"He's right," Sirius concluded. "It shouldn't be me. It's too obvious. Moony will be away for another few days and you and Lil need to move quickly. Wormtail should do it."
James looked unsure but a firm nod from Sirius was all it took to convince him.
"You'll do it Peter?"
James' eyes bore into mine, a twinge of guilt threatened to expose me but I ignored it. I needed to do this, for the Dark Lord and my own safety. I nodded and James smiled at me in return.
One week later James and Lily Potter were dead.
The girl is yelling now. She knows that Moony is a werewolf, suspects that he has been helping Sirius get into the castle. Their voices lower and Moony is now telling them how he saw the three leaving Hagrid's with another person, he has not yet mentioned me by name but I am certain he knows I am still alive.
The hole is big enough for me to fit my elongated nose through now. Panic continuing to rise in me, I chew quicker. The heavy black fabric is the determining factor between life and death, for my old friends will surely kill me if I do not escape.
Entirely focused on my efforts, I have stopped listening to the conversation. I do not hear Remus asking Ron to see his rat, I simply feel a hand grab me around my shrunken middle and pull me out into the dust-filled air.
This is it. Held up in front of two Marauders I know my time for hiding is over. My best hope now is escape. I thrash around only to have the boy grab my tail. Ignoring the pain that shoots up my spine, I continue to struggle. I twist my head to try and bite the hands that hold me to no avail. The boy pulls me close to his chest but his protection will not help me now.
I hear my name, one I had not heard for years until Sirius had escaped.
"...an Animagus, by the name of Peter Pettigrew."
Moments later, Padfoot lunges at the boy; at me. I scramble up Ron's chest and neck, squealing unashamedly. My long claws sink into his soft skin easily and I use it to climb further up and away from Sirius. I manage to get a few bites in but soon Ron is holding me tightly again, his injured hands have become my prison.
He yells that my name is Scabbers but it gives me no hope. It is too late now; they know who I am. It does not stop my attempts at escaping though, Ron stands up and loses his balance giving me my best chance yet, but his grip remains firm as he falls back onto the old rickety bed.
I'm vaguely aware of Moony telling the young witch the Marauders biggest secret and another memory is forced to the front of my mind though my life is flashing before my eyes in painfully slow motion.
Come on Peter, if James and Sirius can do it you can too," Lupin said kindly.
"I'm useless. I'm not as clever as them and we all know it. You three might as well go off without me every month," I replied.
Lupin and I were sitting on our beds in the dormitory we shared with James and Sirius. They had managed to turn into their Animagus forms over two weeks previously and I was still struggling. The most I had achieved was a large set of teeth and a long pink tail-hardly a good disguise.
"You're not useless," Lupin reassured, "I've got complete faith in you. We've one week to go before the next full moon, I'm positive you'll do it by then. Come on, have another go."
I screw my eyes up in concentration. James and Sirius said to fill my mind with anything to do with rats (they knew this would be what I would eventually become after the tail incident). I imagined fur covering my body, sharp claws and a long nose.
I opened my eyes and was greeted with a view of an incredibly large Lupin. He jumped up grinning.
"You did it Peter! You did it! You're a rat!"
Thus began our monthly adventures.
Remus is at the end of his story now. All that remains is for Sirius to tell the tale of how I convinced them to change James and Lily's Secret Keeper. How he hunted me down when they were killed...
A new voice distracts me once more and I look up to be greeted with a face I would recognise anywhere. Greasy black hair, pale skin and an overly large nose; it could only be Severus Snape. Could Snivellus possibly be the one to get me out of this?
I listen intently, still for the first time all night. Snape refuses to listen to Lupin and Sirius' pleas of innocence. He and I both clinging to his schoolboy grudge; he for revenge and I for survival.
Now Lupin is bound and there is talk of Dementors coming for Siruis. My heart is racing; beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings. My mind is forming plans for when the boy holding me returns to the castle, I'll leave as soon as he sleeps; return to the sewers once more.
Not for the first time this night Harry is shouting, this time at Snape-who yells back.
Three simultaneous shouts of the disarming spell is all it takes for the small bubble of hope I had to burst. Snape is slumped against the wall, crimson blood falling against his almost translucent skin.
I scramble around once more, a fresh surge of desperation is brought on as Sirius speaks to Ron; demands that he hands me over.
Ron clutches me closer, unbeknownst to him he is condemning me to death rather than saving me. His voice is as frantic as my thoughts as he defends me; tells Sirius and Lupin that I could not possibly be Peter Pettigrew; that I've been in his family for years; that my missing toe was simply a result of a fight with another of my kind.
The talk continues, arguing back and forth. My old friends are trying to convince Ron, Harry and Hermione that I am who they say. Sirius is now telling them of the night he discovered James and Lily were dead. He had come for me the next day.
My back was against a brick wall and I was staring at a face that I recognised and yet was completely unfamiliar. His face was pale, his eyes bloodshot and stubble created a dark shadow around his mouth. Sirius' expression was crazed; grief, anger and regret all evident on his usually grinning face. That day there was no trace of a grin, no trace of friendship and no trace of understanding.
"HOW COULD YOU PETER? LILY AND JAMES?"
There were people staring and I knew what I had to do. The Dark Lord was gone and I now faced death at the hands of a friend. Transforming was my only option but I needed to ensure my name would only ever be associated with innocence.
"You were the Secret Keeper, Sirius. You betrayed them, it's your fault they're dead."
My words were enough to fuel his rage, he hurled a curse at me just as I cast a spell that caused a huge explosion before my eyes. With no thoughts for the Muggles or Sirius who could have well been hurt, or worse, as a result, I quickly cast a severing spell on my finger before transforming into my Animagus form.
The pain in my paw was excruciating as I made my way to the nearest drain hole in the cobbled street and watched from there, licking my wound.
I watched Sirius laughing manically, watched as he was taken away by Aurors and watched as Muggles were either declared dead or questioned and obliviated.
I was free, though condemned to a life as a rat.
Finally, Lupin demands that Ron hand me over so they can prove who Scabbers truly is, once and for all.
This is it. I'm handed over like a wrapped gift in a sick, slow game of pass the parcel. My exposure is imminent.
A flash of blue light from two wands hits me and I'm subjected to a sensation that I haven't felt in twelve long years. I'm just able to remember how to stand on two feet and glance toward the only available exit when Remus speaks.
"Well, hello, Peter. Long time no see."
Hello! This is the first story I've written in present tense so any and all feedback would be good. Some of the lines are taken from JKR's Prisoner of Azkaban:
"Well, hello, Peter. Long time no see." (Paraphrased. Chapter 19)
"Where is he Sirius?" (Chapter 18)
"An Animagus, by the name of Peter Pettigrew." (Paraphrased chapter 18)