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Chapter 22 : Hot Legs
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“Hot legs, you're wearing me out. Hot legs, you can scream and shout. Hot legs, you're still in school. I love you honey!” – Rod Stewart, 1977
The next night, Peter Pettigrew frantically paced back and forth as he took an angry puff of his cigarette. When the smoldering tobacco started to burn the filter, he threw it to the ground and immediately reached into his robes to pull out another; he heatedly took a drag of the new cigarette and continued to stew as he occupied an abandoned classroom on the Second Floor.
His inner monologue whirred with panic and worry. Where was Luciana? Why hadn’t the bitch kept her bargain? How was Aeryn? Who had cursed her and why was she still confined to her Hospital Bed with some unknown ailment? And why didn’t Luciana tell him that Hogsmeade wasn’t an isolated attack? Why didn’t she mention that two small villages near Rome and Moscow were going to suffer similar fates the same day?
The Gryffindor took another angry drag and then paused a moment to collect his frantic thoughts.
“It’s about time!” he grunted as his shaking hand removed the cigarette from his mouth. “I’ve been waiting, you know.”
“Oh you don’t like to be kept waiting?” Luciana purred irritably as she slithered across the room to steal his cigarette. She put it in her mouth and subsequently blew smoke in his face. “You skipped your last Sunday summoning. We had a deal, Pettigrew.”
“And we had a deal that none of my friends would be hurt during the Hogsmeade attack!” Peter challenged with desperation. “You didn’t tell me any details but you said that as long as I kept feeding you information, they would be safe! But – but Aeryn, she’s still in the Hospital Wing and you promised me she would be untouched!”
“You were supposed to be here seven days ago and you failed to appear. I had to get your attention somehow,” she smirked playfully as she took another drag. In a fit of nervousness, Peter lit up another one of his own.
“You – you did it?” the boy stuttered in disbelief. “You cursed her?”
“Of course I did,” she confirmed as she exhaled her smoke, “and if you’d been here last week, you would have learned the counter curse to save her!”
Peter gulped and felt his insides constrict with guilt.
“Please,” he begged softly, “tell me the counter and leave Aeryn out of this. She’s – she’s innocent!”
“No one is innocent,” Luciana spat. “The war has just begun, Peter, and it’s time to choose a side. Thankfully you’ve chosen the right one.”
“How do I know that? How can I believe a word you say?” he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air in frustration. “First you leave me in the dark and then you curse my bloody girlfriend! How can I trust you at all?”
“How can I believe anything you say?” the Slytherin taunted as she flicked ash off the end of her cigarette and sat down on one of the empty desks. “You said you were going to be here every Sunday with helpful information and clearly you broke that promise ... and to be honest, since you're not really giving me anything helpful, you're breaking it twice.”
Peter felt his chest heave with annoyance and irritation as he inhaled sharply; something inside him finally snapped and he felt rage slowly start to fizzle throughout his nervous system. Luciana, however, continued to smoke her cigarette as she stared at him and waited for his response.
“That’s it!” he howled as he threw his cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with one of his scuffed shoes. “I’m done with these secret meetings and I’m done with cigarettes! You and your Death Eater friends can go to hell!”
With a swish of his black Gryffindor cloak, the Marauder turned towards the door and aimed to slam it shut when he exited. However, just before he reached for the handle, he threw a quick look over his shoulder at Luciana; she remained seated and her trademark smirk spread across her face as she exhaled a stream of smoke.
“Go,” she said with a flick of her hand, “see what I care. I’m not the one who’s going to lose everything.”
Her statement caused Peter to pause slightly as his face scrunched up with worry.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“If you walk out that door, my life isn’t going to be very different. I’m already a marked target, you see,” she drawled. “But what’s going to happen to you when a rumor about your secret dealings with Dark Magic runs around the Castle?”
“You wouldn’t,” he growled.
“I cursed your girlfriend,” she sneered back, “what makes you think I wouldn’t destroy your sterling reputation?”
Before he could react, the Slytherin fluidly slipped off the top of the desk and began to walk towards him. Peter’s heartbeat quickly petrified when she began to caress the side of his cheek - if Aeryn had done the same, he would have felt comforted, but Luciana’s touch was menacing and authoritative.
“This is how it works, Pettigrew,” she began with a sigh. “In order to receive the Dark Mark, you have to have two things: an innovative scheme to perpetuate the Mission and a willing protégé to expand our numbers. Now, I could have secured Snape as my apprentice before Lestrange did -”
“Lestrange is a Death Eater,” Peter confirmed with astonishment. “Snape too.”
“Yes, Snape too,” she laughed. “Who do you think created the unknown curse that stunned your girlfriend and best friend? Well, Avery cocked up the incantation, so Lupin didn’t suffer the full intended amount … but really, this shouldn’t be that fucking surprising.”
“Snape invented a curse that only Death Eaters would be able to counter … and Lestrange’s evil scheme was attacking Hogsmeade, Rome, and Moscow,” he said with a slightly dazed expression as he tried to take everything in.
“No, no, Rabastan only proposed to assault Hogsmeade,” Luciana leered, “and several other members piggy backed off his idea as it grew. You do realize this is an international movement, right? The Dark Lord’s ties don’t stop at England’s borders, he has eager members everywhere.”
She paused for a moment for let smoke raise out of her mouth and into her nose - showcasing a perfect French inhale - and then blew it to the side.
“Now where was I? Oh right, apprentices. So I could have chosen Severus … but then, I saw you in our first Defense class of the year. I watched you launch that curse at Davies - even though you tried to show the rest of the world that you were ashamed and remorseful, I saw right through you. You liked it.”
Her smirk grew astronomically.
“You took pride in catching him off guard and hitting him straight in the chest. You wanted to watch him writhe with pain because his cries of agony were something you controlled.”
As he remembered the particular incident, Peter’s face contorted with awareness of his wrongdoing … but as he recalled how good it felt to have the Dark Magic coursing through his veins, his face softened. He relived the power it gave him over others and as the color slowly returned to his face, his expression hardened to stone.
“That day, I decided to pursue you,” Luciana grinned, “because I knew you had the passion and immorality needed for the job. You were a fantastic challenge too - it’s not every day you turn a Marauder towards the Dark Arts. My mentor was very pleased!”
“Your mentor?” Peter questioned. “Who?”
“Ah, ah, ah,” she tutted as she waved her finger back and forth. “You haven’t earned that information yet.”
“And when will I?”
“When you’re worthy enough. I can’t let you know the entire Hogwarts chain of command when you’re still in training.”
“Fine. So you’ve got your protégé then,” Peter growled as his hands balled up at his sides. “What was your creative plot to prove your value?”
“It’s still in the planning stages, dear,” the Slytherin said with a sickening sweetness as she patted his cheek with her non-smoking hand, and in the process, revealed her blank forearm. Peter felt an imaginary icy hand crawl up his leg when he realized that the girl he pledged his loyalty to wasn’t even a fully dedicated servant.
“You – you don’t have a tattoo,” the Gryffindor gasped. “You aren’t a Death Eater yet!”
“I will be,” Luciana snarled as she roughly pushed him against the door, “when my strategy is solidified.” Peter gasped for air as her hold on him tightened and realized that he had hit a very sore spot. “And until then, you’re going to help me and report every Sunday with any useful information … and if you fail to show up one more time, I will fucking ruin you.”
Luciana heaved a couple of large breaths before finally calming down and reclaiming her earlier smirk. She quickly released her hold on him and Peter felt his body scrape against the wooden door as he fell to the floor.
“But I don’t think it will come to that,” she purred as she threw on her large black Slytherin cloak. “You can run, but you’ll come back. You’ll always come back.”
“You’re a psychopath,” he spat.
“Takes one to know one,” she grinned as she threw her cigarette to the ground and smothered it with her luxurious satin shoe. “Now go back to your little girlfriend and be a dutiful Marauder. She’ll be cured soon, don’t you worry. But next time, I want information – something I can use, for Merlin’s sake!”
Before Peter could get up off the ground, she slithered past him and shoved him to the side as she opened the door and exited the classroom. The boy sighed with anguish as he collected himself and stood up.
“Bitch,” he muttered.
Peter took another deep breath and brushed some dust off of his Gryffindor sweater before following Luciana’s lead. The weekend’s events finally shocked his system and his mind turned to mush as his feet took control and propelled him towards the Hospital Wing. When he entered the Infirmary, Peter brushed by several people, but did not feel their touch; he heard the worried chatter of other students, but tuned them out. He finally collapsed into a small visitor’s chair next to his girlfriend’s sickbed and rubbed his tired eyes as he adjusted to the bright light.
After a deep breath, Peter put a hand to his brow as he felt tears start to prickle the sides of his eyes. At first, he thought they were just due to his lack of sleep but as he continued to stare at Aeryn’s sleeping form, he realized they were trigged by an intense nervousness in the pit of his stomach. And for the first time since the Winter Ball, Aeryn became his priority and he felt a large sense of guilt wash over him.
How could he have been this stupid? Aeryn didn’t deserve to be cursed … and yet, here she was in the Hospital Wing, all because he had an obsession with Dark Magic and a certain Slytherin temptress. He began to frown.
When his guilt slowly started to fade, a doubtful glower replaced his earlier tears. He practically snarled as the image of Luciana’s bare forearm flashed across his line of sight; his stupidity had led him to betray his girlfriend, but it also forced him to choose a risky sponsor. He should have found out more before signing his reputation away! He should have someone more reliable – someone who already had the Mark! Someone who knew what they were doing!
But as he let out several heaved breaths, Peter knew that even if the offer presented itself, he wouldn’t have chosen anyone other than Luciana. The Slytherin was only 18 years old, but wielded a commanding presence that was way beyond her years. She demanded respect, played the perfect dominatrix, and was right – he would always come crawling back, no matter how hard he tried to resist her.
“Mr. Pettigrew,” a female voice said softly as she shook him out of his daze. Peter blinked several times and looked up from his seat to see his Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor put a hand on his shoulder.
“Professor Artro,” he acknowledged.
“I have some good news,” she smiled. “I have figured out a counter curse.”
“Oh thank Merlin,” the Gryffindor sighed with relief.
“It’s going to take awhile to fully flush the Dark Magic out of her system,” the Professor explained, “so I suggest you get something to eat in the Great Hall and then immediately go to bed.”
“But it’s only 2 -” Peter started as he looked down at his wristwatch.
“It’s 8 o’clock in the morning, Mr. Pettigrew,” she said with a soft laugh as she took out a sheet of parchment and a quill. “You’ve been up all night. Now go eat and sleep - Professor’s orders!”
“But my classes -”
“I’ll vouch for your absence,” the Defense Professor reassured as she handed him a signed note. “Now go. Miss Miller is going to be fine.”
Peter let out a huge sigh and nodded his head after getting up from his chair. He took one last glance at his girlfriend and then slowly trotted down to the Great Hall as his stomach started to grumble. When he walked through the large wooden doors, he immediately saw James and Sirius waving for him to come join them for breakfast at the Gryffindor table.
“How is she, mate?”
“She’s sleeping,” he answered sheepishly as he began to help himself to the freshly cooked food. “Professor Artro said she knew the counter curse.”
His response caused him to pause dramatically before taking a sip from his goblet. If Snape had invented the spell that only Death Eaters knew how to counter … could that mean Sabine Artro had a sinister connection to the Dark Lord and his followers?
“That’s brilliant!” Sirius beamed but then turned his attention elsewhere. “Isn’t that wonderful news, Gemma?”
The blonde lifted her head from the table, pushed back her ratty and practically dreadlocked hair from her face, and revealed the dark circles under her puffy eyes. The Seer looked exhausted and emotionally fried. Her hand twitched several times as she reached out for her pumpkin juice and took the smallest sip possible; her plate was unused and empty.
“Yes, dear,” she answered meekly as she put a hand to her temple and stared aimlessly at the table in front of her. Peter watched Sirius’ lips form a concerned frown, but he remained silent and periodically threw worried glances at her.
“So, she’ll be ok?” Lily asked softly from across the table as she leaned towards James’ side.
“I think so,” Peter said with a small smile.
He let his attention fall back to his food and shoveled some scrambled eggs and bacon into his mouth. When he started to refill his goblet with fresh squeezed orange juice, he spied Remus walking into the Great Hall and almost let his breakfast fly out his mouth when he remembered one of Luciana’s other details. But even though Remus had also been hit with a watered down version of Snape’s signature curse, he showed no sign of tiredness or fatigue. In fact, he wore a huge smile on his face as he adjusted his tie and joined them at the table.
“What’s got you grinning, mate,” James taunted when he also noticed Remus’ euphoric demeanor. “You haven’t stopped since you woke up yesterday.”
“Nothing,” the werewolf deflected as he poured himself a glass of water.
“Merlin’s beard,” Sirius said breathlessly. “It’s finally happened.”
“What?” Peter asked as his face scrunched up with confusion. “What’s happened?”
“Moony’s getting some!” the dark haired boy exclaimed.
“I am not,” Remus growled.
“Wrinkled uniform, hair askew, the same bloody grin that Prongs had on his face after he kissed Evans for the first time … Yeah, I’d say you’re shagging someone.”
“I’m not shagging anybody!” the former Prefect stated forcefully, but his expression turned timid and shy as he looked down at his lap. “I’m just … snogging someone repeatedly.”
“Who?” James said with an excited giggle and Lily rolled her eyes at her boyfriend’s girlish antics.
“I can’t tell you,” Remus explained as he anxiously pushed back some of his sandy hair. “You’re not even supposed to know I’m seeing someone.”
As a silence settled over them, Peter saw the guilty gleam in his friend’s eyes and recognized the agonizing look of someone holding an unknown burden – he sometimes saw it in his own face when he offhandedly caught his reflection in mirror.
“It’s Marianne, isn’t it?” he said in a low tone. Gemma’s head snapped off the table at the mention of the French Ravenclaw’s name and her bloodshot eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
“Merlin’s left testicle!” James gleefully cried out. “It is her! Oh Moony, you handsome devil you -”
“Shhhh, you idiot!” Remus said frantically as he reached out and put a hand over his mouth. “Stop making a scene!” After the Head Boy licked in the inside of his palm in retaliation, he yelped and then wiped his hand on his black uniform pants.
“Sorry,” James apologized with a slight grin.
“It’s fine, Prongs,” Remus said with a frustrated sigh. “But I was being serious. You can’t tell anyone about this. If her father finds out she’s seeing a penniless Gryffindor, he’ll punish her and come after me with all the resources he’s got. He’ll find out about my condition and have me expelled without hesitation.” He gulped as he moved to loosen his tie and Peter felt his arm hairs slowly start to raise in attention.
“Your secret is safe with us,” Sirius reassured. “But how long has this been going on for?”
“A day,” Remus answered with a small grin as he ran a hand through his hair again. “I thought I’d at least have a week of privacy before you lot read me like an open book.”
“Where?” Gemma demanded as she cut through the conversation. She earned stark stares from the rest of the group. “Where did it happen?”
“In the Hospital Wing,” the werewolf answered cautiously. The Seer’s eyes widened even more as the color started to drain from her face.
“In a white bed,” she said in a very dazed voice.
“That’s the only kind they have there, dear,” Sirius said as he raised a concerned brow.
“What did she smell like?” Gemma asked urgently as she reached her dirty hands across the table towards Remus.
“Gemma, what’s wrong with you?” Sirius pleaded as he tried to wrap his arms around her waist. She disregarded his sign of affection and instead concentrated on Remus’ very confused face.
“Was it sandalwood?” the Hufflepuff gasped. “With a touch of vanilla?”
“How do you know that?” the boy whispered in complete shock. “How can you possibly know that?”
“Oh shit,” she cursed as her hands flew to her face. “Oh fuck, oh shit -”
“Gemma, what’s wrong?” Lily questioned from across the table.
“My dreams,” she whispered softly with fear written all over her face, “they’re all coming true.”
Immediately, Peter saw her pull the biggest joint he’d ever seen in his life out from behind her ear and before anyone could stop her, anxiously ran out of the Great Hall to go smoke and calm down. Sirius quickly jumped up from his seat and followed her.
“What just happened?” James asked no one in particular.
“I have no idea,” said Remus.
“Well I’m happy for you,” Lily added after a couple seconds of silence. “I always knew you two would end up together, it really was just a matter of when. But you’re right, you need to keep this a secret … for both your sakes.”
As Remus smiled in agreement and went back to eating his breakfast, Peter felt the same icy hand creep back up his leg. Part of him knew that his best friend’s new romance was the perfect piece of information to give Luciana, but as he watched Remus’ smile grow, he couldn’t bring himself to spill the secret. After years of wallowing in his own self-pity, the Marauder was finally happy and Peter knew he didn’t deserve to have the feeling taken away from him. He’d have to find some other information to satisfy her.
Besides, how could he trust Luciana with the information anyways? She wasn’t even a Death Eater yet, she was practically an apprentice herself!
“You’re making a funny face, Pete,” James noted as he stuffed a sausage into his mouth. “Don’t tell me you have a secret too!”
“No!” he cried out as his nerves began to buzz with anxiety of being found out. “I’m not hiding anything. I’m – I’m just -”
“I was only teasing, Wormtail,” James answered with a chuckle. “I know you wouldn’t keep anything from us!”
If you only knew how wrong you were, Peter thought dreadfully.
Author’s Note: Secrets, secrets!
So this chapter was really hard to write because I didn’t want to give everything away (just so you know, the Hogwarts “chain of command” should still be pretty murky) but at this point, Peter isn’t completely evil yet and won’t give up his friends. But as you know, that changes XD
Please let me know in a review if there’s anything you think is unclear! I’ll try and answer your question as best I can – don’t want to spoil anything!
And thank you to NightStar, Ian126 and K.O. for their multiple reviews and everyone who started to follow the blog. I’m having a lot of fun with it!
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