Chapter 1 : Coal-black Eyes
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“Wake up, Pettigrew!”
The words sound distant and muffled but they still send a tremor up my spine. I can’t remember the last time anyone called me anything except Wormtail. Or maybe I just don’t want to remember. Regardless, that voice scares the shit out of me. I try to pull it together and respond, but everything feels disconnected and fuzzy. Something’s not right. That’s really the only thing I’m sure of. Something’s gone horribly wrong and I need to pull myself together and figure out what. But it’s hard. Moving, breathing... even thinking is hard.
“Snap out of it, Pettigrew! We don’t have time for this.”
The words are louder now and I’m starting to panic. The speaker sounds impatient, demanding... angry. The voice is smooth and condescending. It doesn’t take very long to place it. My first instinct is to run away as fast as I can. To transform and find a nice, safe hole to hide in. But there’s no point in trying. Whatever’s wrong with me, I can’t even get my eyes to open. We’re supposed to be on the same side now, but that doesn’t make me feel much better.
Is he trying to poison me? Probably not. If he really wanted to hurt me, he would have just used his wand. Slimy git’s never had any reservations about things like that. I feel something cold and smooth pressing against my lips, followed by some sort of harsh liquid flooding my mouth. The stuff burns all the way down, whatever it is. I can feel it spreading through my veins before I’m even finished swallowing. The burning sensation gradually gives way to an intense buzzing, like I just drank a dozen cups of strong tea. My body comes to life with more aches and pains than I ever thought possible. I suppose passing out again is pretty much out of the question.
My eyes snap open of their own accord and my head throbs as a painfully bright light assaults my senses. I reflexively throw my arm over my face and the motion unleashes another wave of agony across my upper body. It feels like every joint and muscle has been ripped apart and put back together with hot nails. A loud groan escapes my parched lips. If my companion feels the slightest bit of sympathy for me... bloody hell, who am I kidding? Of course he doesn’t.
“Feeling better, are we?” The oily drawl does little to conceal the underlying sarcasm, not that he’s really even trying.
“Sod off, Snape.” The act of speaking feels like exhaling shards of broken glass. Whatever happened to me, it tore my throat up as badly as the rest of me. Merlin, what happened? It’s as good a question as any to start with, and it seems like I’m not the only one who wants to know.
“Tell me, Pettigrew, what’s the last thing that you remember?”
I collect the tiny bit of spit my mouth is able to produce and swallow, choking back another groan of pain. I’m sure the bastard has a glass of water just out of reach, but he’s going to let me suffer for a while first. I’m not ready to give in and beg just yet. The longer I can play his game, the less I’ll have to reveal. When you spend time around the Dark Lord’s thugs, you learn to share as little as you can get by with.
The Dark Lord! I can feel my brain slowly, reluctantly start to reconstruct the events that led to... whatever happened. He’s been acting really strangely since whatever it was that happened at the Ministry. I don’t think it’s just because that idiot Malfoy lost that prophecy he wanted, either. He gets angry a lot faster. One wrong word and you’re writhing in agony on the floor or worse. It was actually a relief when he sent me... Wait, that’s right! The Dark Lord ordered me to go to a house in some run-down part of Cokeworth on a street called... shit, what was the street? It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. Either we’re there or we aren’t.
I ease my arm away from my face and stare at him through squinted eyes. He looks pretty much the same as always, just blurrier. Greasy black hair hanging around a face only a mother could love. It’s funny how the stupid, inconsequential things never changed after James and Lily died. They’d still be able to spot Snivelus at fifty paces. It’s me they wouldn’t recognize.
I manage another painful swallow and try to speak a little louder. “Where are we?” Might as well try to get some information out of him before I tell him what he wants to know.
Snape rolls his eyes, as though he’s indulging a petulant child. “You’re exactly where you’re meant to be. The question is how you came to be here.”
So I made it, somehow. I squeeze my eyes closed and try to remember what happened after the Dark Lord ordered me out of his sight. It feels like there should be something there, but there isn’t. I try again, focusing on the moment I lost sight of his burning, red eyes as he turned his back to me. I bowed and made my way to the door and then... nothing. Just emptiness until Snape’s voice woke me up.
“I don’t know,” I mumble, feeling rather naked all of the sudden. “The Dark Lord told me to come here and then... I don’t know.”
“A pity.” Snape’s voice is saturated with mocking sarcasm, but there’s a hint of something else. Curiosity? Worry? After what I assume is supposed to be a dramatic pause, he goes on. “When I was told that you would be staying here, I expected you straight away. After several hours of waiting, I was starting to suspect that you’d chosen to make a new life for yourself among your filthy, disease-ridden little friends.”
A nasty sneer spreads across his face, like he was relishing the thought. The best comeback I can think of is, “You were waiting up for me, Snivelus? I’m touched.”
Snape continues as though he didn’t hear me. “Just as I was about to inform our master, you appear on my doorstep. Based upon your injuries and the condition of your clothes, it would seem that your journey was most interesting.”
He stares at me expectantly, but what am I supposed to tell him? I don’t have a bloody clue how I got here or what happened along the way. Without bothering to open my eyes, I shrug my shoulders. Maybe the stupid git will leave me alone for a while if I pretend to fall back to sleep.
Or maybe not. Suddenly his hand clamps down painfully on my shoulder. When I open my eyes, his gigantic, hooked nose is inches from my face.
“Don’t ignore me, Pettigrew.” His voice drops dangerously as he hauls me halfway to a sitting position. “You arrived here nearly three hours after you left our master’s side. How do you plan to account for that time, should he ask you?”
A cold lump forms in the pit of my stomach, extinguishing the burn of that potion I just drank. Shit. Shit, shit, shit! The Dark Lord already thinks I’m a worthless coward. If he thinks I tried to run away... Shit!
OK, Peter, calm down. There’s got to be a good explanation for this. You turned up on Snape’s doorstep, beaten all to hell...
“Somebody attacked me! I was on my way here and I got attacked and I had to take a roundabout way so I didn’t lead them to your door.”
The stony expression on Snape’s face doesn’t change one bit. “And you’re able to recall these events?”
“Well, no, but how else do you explain this?” I steal a glance at my clothes and it pretty much confirms what Snape was saying. I look like hell. “I must’ve taken a curse to the head or something.”
Snape merely continues to scowl. “And you remember where this attack took place?”
“Or who attacked you?”
“Or what you might have offered them in exchange for your life?”
“Wait, what?” I really don’t like where this conversation is heading. “Who says I offered anyone anything?”
Snape stands up so he can look down at me. The sneer on his face is as cruel as I’ve ever seen. “Do you think I’m a fool, Pettigrew? You’re a mediocre wizard in every respect. You’ve spent your life clinging to the coattails of better men. Now you turn up on my doorstep looking half-dead and you expect me to believe that you escaped how? By virtue of your superior dueling skills?”
When I don’t answer, Snape leans in close again. I can smell the remnants of his lunch. “Who did this, Pettigrew? Was it Lupin? Moody? Any one of them would relish the chance to end your pathetic existence. What secrets did you reveal to convince them to spare your worthless life?”
The cold ache in my stomach is rapidly spreading through my chest now, turning to panic. It doesn’t matter whether he’s right or not. The Dark Lord won’t care. He doesn’t trust me anyway. I try to think of something... anything to say. When I finally manage to talk, everything runs together in a long, blubbering mess. “But the Dark Lord doesn’t share anything with me, he doesn’t trust me, he doesn’t even like me, what would I tell them?”
A smirk settles on Snape’s thin lips and cruel amusement fills his dark eyes. “If you’re confident in that assessment, perhaps we should simply summon our master and inform him of the day’s events. Explain to him how you only used his unimportant secrets to barter for your life.” His voice is soaked in cloying, false sympathy. “I’m certain he’ll understand.”
Snape reaches for the cuff of his sleeve and I feel like my chest is going to collapse. I reach out and wrap my fingers around his sleeve, clinging desperately to his wrist. Panic is oozing from every pore of my body and I’m sure he can smell it.
“No! Don’t! I don’t even know what to tell him! My memory is a complete blank!”
Snape abruptly rises, ripping his arm free of my shaky grasp. He stares down at me with a look of pure disgust. “That is your problem, Pettigrew. It only becomes my problem if I fail to inform our master.”
The feeling of desperation has my brain spinning faster than I thought possible. My mouth opens and words start to spill out, almost of their own accord. “But what if you’re wrong! What if you summon him and this all turns out to be nothing? I’ve seen what happens to people who bother him without being sure. Lately, it’s not pretty.”
Snape’s face doesn’t betray anything, but his fingers halt at the hem of his sleeve. I can feel his coal-black eyes boring into me, and in my mind I retreat. It’s a weird, instinctive thing that my brain started doing at some point. It feels the same as when I’m a rat and I run into a hole and hide. Snape’s brow furrows just a bit, like he didn’t expect whatever just happened, but the expression is gone a moment later. “Given the choice between sharing information that might be incorrect and keeping our master in the dark, I think the choice is clear.”
I haul myself up off of the couch, feeling every muscle scream in protest. Snape takes half a step back and draws his wand, holding it between us. I raise my empty palms and do my best not to beg. “I’m telling you, Severus, I can’t remember anything that happened. My memory is empty... missing!”
A spark of interest slips into Snape’s eyes and he can’t quite hide it. His wand remains at a menacing angle, but his voice becomes slightly less hostile. “So you believe that your memory has been tampered with?”
That would explain a lot, I suppose. Because getting my bollocks kicked in is definitely not the sort of thing that would have just slipped my mind. Unfortunately it doesn’t help with my immediate problem. The Dark Lord doesn’t forgive things like this. For all the mercy he’ll show me, not remembering is as bad as if I’d been shouting his secrets in the middle of the Leaky Cauldron. Rather than volunteer any more information that Snape will just twist and use against me, I shrug my shoulders. “What does it matter? We both know he won’t care.”
Snape lowers his wand ever so slightly. That spark of interest is back again. There’s obviously something about this that he wants to know. The oily drawl of his voice makes my skin crawl. “It might be possible for me to determine what happened to your memory. Perhaps even recover bits and pieces, with your assistance.”
I’m no stranger to how Legilimency works. Dolohov’s tried it on me a couple of times and so has Rookwood. It feels like icy water has gotten behind my eyes and it’s trying to get inside my brain. Both times I managed to do my trick where I crawl into my hole and it kept them out. If anything, I feel worse about Snape giving it a go. Although they never admit it openly, the other Death Eaters are scared of him. More scared of him than Bellatrix, even. They say that he can find things inside other people’s minds, make them forget things and remember stuff that didn’t really happen. Avery and Mulciber even think he could fool the Dark Lord, although that doesn’t seem possible to me. No matter, I don’t want him poking around inside my head. He’s not the only one who has secrets.
I take a tentative half-step away from Snape, causing his wand to jerk apprehensively higher. “Why should I trust you? How do I know you won’t just use everything you find against me?”
Snape looks completely unconcerned. “It doesn’t matter whether you trust me or not. If I find that you’ve betrayed the Dark Lord, I will spare him the trouble of killing you. But if I’m able to find that you did not, I will report that to him as well. The alternative is I summon our master here and he will make his own determination. I refuse to keep this... situation from him.”
His own determination. I know what that means. I’ve seen how the Dark Lord goes about determining things. The process typically ends with somebody begging for death. Still, I hesitate. It just doesn’t add up. “Why would you help me? What’s in it for you?”
I can see the anger and frustration leaking through Snape’s carefully crafted facade. Something I’m saying must be hitting a little too close to home. “What does it matter? I’ve offered you a chance to avoid an agonizing death-”
“And I’m refusing.” Snape looks taken aback. My heart is still pounding in my temples, but somehow I’m sure that this is the best chance I’ve got to make it out of this alive. I didn’t come this far and sacrifice this much just to die for Snivelus Snape’s benefit. “Unless you tell me why you’re doing this, I’ll take my chances with him.”
His black eyes lock onto mine again, but this time I don’t feel him probing around the edges of my mind. Slowly, begrudgingly, he nods. “Fortunately for you, Pettigrew, I have a personal interest in what secrets you might have divulged. My service to the Dark Lord requires that I maintain certain appearances.”
And like that, it all falls into place. “You’re worried that I told someone about you. About the information you give to the Dark Lord. About your true loyalties.” A giddy sort of warmth spreads through my veins. If the Dark Lord kills me, Snape will never find out what happened today. He needs me alive.
Snape waves his hand dismissively, but the motion is awkward and abbreviated. “You overestimate your own importance, Pettigrew. Better men than you have tried to convince Dumbledore of that. Men who never invited death to the doorstep of someone who trusted them and considered them a friend.” There was a time in my life when Snape’s comments would have stung, but I made my peace with what I did a long time ago. He’s trying to keep a nasty sneer plastered on his face, but the tone of his voice doesn’t quite match the expression. There’s a slight quiver to his words, like he’s struggling to maintain control. It’s time to play my hand.
“Better men wouldn’t know the things I know, Snivelus. Better men haven’t seen the things I’ve seen. I have a different offer for you. Swear that you’ll never share any of this with the Dark Lord. Swear that whatever you find inside my head never leaves this room. In return, I’ll let you search.”
I’m feeling rather pleased with myself. Three minutes ago I was as good as dead. Now I might have something that I can hold over Snape’s head for a long time. He regards me for a moment before crossing his arms. “It sounds almost as though you’re suggesting the Unbreakable Vow. A pity you’ve forgotten to bring along a Bonder.”
That last sentence was dripping with condescension. I really enjoy wiping the arrogant look off of his face. “I don’t need an Unbreakable Vow, so long as I have this.” I tap my temple with my finger. “You go back on your oath and I’ll make sure that he sees this memory before he kills me. How do you think the Dark Lord will feel when he finds out that you agreed to keep this from him?”
Snape fixes me with a glare that could burn the hide off of a dragon, but I don’t even flinch. I’ve beaten him and he knows it. Even though James, Sirius and Remus will never forgive me for what I did, I’d like to think they would have enjoyed this, seeing poor, pathetic Wormtail get the best of Severus Snape. Finally he huffs out a breath and mutters, “Very well.”
“Very well, what?” There’s no way I’m going to let him weasel his way out of this.
Still glaring at me, Snape speaks very slowly and clearly. “Very well. I swear that I will never inform the Dark Lord of the events that have taken place this day, nor will I share anything I might learn from studying your memories. Now, may we proceed?”
A smile crosses my lips, one that’s actually quite genuine. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Snivelus. What do I need to do?”
He appears to swallow any number of insults before speaking through clenched teeth. “Open your mind to me. Do not resist when I enter your thoughts.”
We both take a seat on Snape’s couch and I stare into his coal-black eyes. I can feel him pressing against my mind, but it’s different from what I felt when Dolohov tried to force his way in. With Snape, it feels like a cool fog seeping into my mind from every direction at the same time. My instincts are still screaming at me to retreat but I manage to fight the urge. It almost seems like I can hear my rat form squealing in terror, like I used to when those bloody Weasley twins would pick me up by the tail and slip me into their mother’s flour canister or their sister’s underwear drawer. I shove that all aside as Snape’s voice gently drifts through my mind.
“Focus on the moment you awoke in my sitting room. Now, try to go back. Slowly. Carefully...”
Everything is still dark, but suddenly there’s a light shining next to me. It’s almost like Snape lit his wand inside my mind. In the dim wandlight, I can make out random colors and patterns, but nothing distinctive. Strange, garbled sounds echo softly around me, but I can’t make any of them out.
“Keep moving back. Pay close attention to everything you see and hear. Explore and observe...”
I do what Snape says and suddenly the colors grow stronger. Bold reds and fiery oranges with jagged blue-white borders. The sounds are louder, too. Sharp, scraping noises and deep, guttural groans.
“I believe this is when you were attacked. Focus, Pettigrew. Find the hidden details. Put the fragments back together...”
Squinting my eyes -- at least I imagine that’s what I’m doing -- I try to find something. Some familiar shape in the rapidly alternating colors. Some pattern to the horrific cacophony. Looking at the dizzying blur, it dawns on me that maybe I’m just too close to something, like that time I pressed my nose up against the muggle telly at Lily’s parents’ house. I try to move backward and I’m pleased to find that everything recedes into the distance.
It’s easier to study the pattern from back here. All of the blurring colors sort of blend into a noisy white circle, surrounded by blackness. Maybe there’s more to this picture. I keep moving farther away, trying to see whether there’s anything else that stands out against the dark background. A bit farther along, I realize that the edges of my field of view aren’t quite as dark as the rest, like there’s a ring of very dark brown all around the blackness. There’s something familiar about the pattern, but I can’t quite place it.
I keep moving farther and farther back. The white circle is little more than a dot in the distance now. Suddenly something appears around the dark brown ring. Everything seems to be surrounded by a dull, white background. Threads of crimson run through the white, like tiny branches of a tree that’s just outside of my field of vision.
“Keep moving back, Pettigrew. You’re close to finding something...”
I move farther and farther away. The next thing I notice is a sallow-looking oval shape surrounding the dull, white background. There’s definitely something familiar about this pattern. Thick, black stalks protrude from the greasy-looking oval at irregular intervals, jutting outward. Farther and farther. It’s all becoming clear now. No. Wait. It can’t be! How in the hell...
“Well done, Pettigrew. I see we have a small oversight to correct.”
I’m staring at a pair of coal-black eyes, surrounded by heavy, sallow lids and burning with rage. Snape’s eyes. I feel my blood run cold with mortal terror. I try to scream, but my voice doesn’t work here. I turn to run, but Snape is standing beside me, brandishing his wand.
“Allow me to tidy this up,” he drawls. Snape waves his wand and the terrifying eyes full of cold hatred disappear. I know they were just there, but suddenly I can’t remember anything about them.
“What the hell is this, Snape? What did you do to me?”
“Only what should have been done long ago. Come, Pettigrew, we have more memories to visit.”
Again, I try to turn and run, but it’s no use. Snape sweeps away in the opposite direction and I find myself being pulled along in the wake of his billowing, black robes. A moment later, I’m standing in a cold, dark room. A few lamps flicker along the walls, causing the floor to dance with pale shadows. I see myself standing, struggling to control my fear, as a cloaked figure towers over me, silhouetted by the moonlight leaking in through a gap in the room’s thick curtains.
“I understand you have information for me, Wormtail.” The chilling hiss of the Dark Lord’s voice fills the room, soft but pervasive.
“Yes, Master.” My trembling voice sounds childlike. “The Potters are hiding in a cottage in Godric’s Hollow.”
There’s a long pause where the only sound in the room is my own, halting breath.
“And the address?”
I realize that I’d forgotten how terrified I was in that moment. I couldn’t even betray my best friends without cocking it up somehow. Or maybe part of me was holding out a tiny bit of hope that I wouldn’t do it. In the memory, I stumble over my words, trying to recover. “The address! Yes, Master, the address. I’m sorry, Master. Here it is.”
The Dark Lord’s long, skeletal fingers emerge from the depths of his robes and retrieve a scrap of parchment from my shaky hand. His red eyes stare at it for a brief moment before it incinerates in a flash of fire and a puff of smoke. Then he turns to face the window. “When you were first brought before me, Wormtail, there were those who counseled me to kill you immediately. They were convinced that you would never betray the people who gave some semblance of meaning to your pitiful and empty life. But I knew otherwise. I could see the yearning in your eyes, your hunger for the protection that only absolute power may offer. You were drawn to me, just as you sought the protection of Potter and his friends when you arrived at Hogwarts. This is simply who you are.”
He allows the words to hang in the air, letting his point soak in. Even then, I knew I wasn’t meant to answer him. The words don’t bother me that much anymore, but it hurts a little to realize that these were the last moments that James and Lily were alive and Sirius and Remus didn’t hate me. Now Remus is the only one left, and even he’d kill me if he could.
“Come, we have business in Godric’s Hollow.”
I watch myself lay my hand on the Dark Lord’s outstretched arm and the memory disappears in a swirl of motion. A moment later, I find myself standing in front of James and Lily’s cottage in Godric’s Hollow. I watch in mute horror as the cloaked figure disappears into the cottage. James’s voice cries out, followed by a muffled bang and a flash of green light through the drawn curtains. I wait for what feels like an eternity, knowing what’s happening inside. A deafening explosion suddenly tears a chunk of the roof off of the house, followed by an almost eerie silence. The muggles in their costumes continue to scurry about. Thanks to the Fidelius Charm, they haven’t seen or heard a thing.
A second cloaked figure hurries up the walk toward the ruined cottage and I suddenly realize that it’s me. Cold dread fills my chest. I know what’s about to happen. I don’t want to see this again. I don’t know if I can take it.
“Please, Severus, don’t make me see this again!” I cry out, but my words are lost in the night as I’m pulled along with the memory. No words can adequately describe the feeling as I pass James’s lifeless body. I was convinced I’d made my peace with what happened that night, but that was before I had to look into his eyes again. They're still and empty. That glint of mischief, that devilish little spark that made James James is gone. Forever. I never wanted to see that again. But I know it gets worse.
The memory pulls me slowly up the stairs. I watch myself trudge down the hallway, looking dazed. There’s an open door on the right with debris scattered around the floor outside of it. Oh, god, no. I know what’s inside that room. I don’t know how I can possibly face it, but I don’t have any choice, do I? Slowly, the memory turns the corner and there she is. Lily Evans, the kindest, smartest, most caring person I’d ever known, lies dead on the floor. Little Harry has pulled himself to his feet inside his cot and he’s bawling his eyes out as he reaches for her lifeless body. In the memory, I lean against the doorframe, shellshocked. I don’t know how much time passes before a noise from the front of the house snaps me out of it. I watch myself reach down and pick up the Dark Lord’s wand, then I transform and scurry away.
That’s where the memory ends, at least it’s supposed to. But it doesn’t. “Snape? What the hell is going on, Snape? This isn’t right! I don’t belong here anymore!”
As if on cue, he appears beside me. But it’s not him. At least not the real, present-day Snape who brought me here. This Snape crumbles to the floor, clutching Lily to his chest as he breaks down. Something isn’t right. I remember hiding between the balusters as Snape climbed the stairs and then I sneaked out of the house. I never saw this. It isn’t my memory. It’s-
I spin around to find Snape standing beside me. Not the memory Snape who’s grieving over Lily’s death, the real one. He’s staring at himself and Lily on the floor, and I watch a tear slide down his cheek. Slowly, he raises his gaze to meet mine. His eyes burn with a hatred unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. His body seems to vibrate with rage. I’m in big trouble.
The world suddenly explodes into a multi-colored shower of sparks as every muscle in my body convulses in agony. I feel nothing but fire, coursing through my veins and covering every square inch of my skin. I can’t see or hear or think. The pain is my whole world and all I want to do is run away but the pain is everywhere. And then in an instant, it’s gone.
I force my eyes open and I’m lying on the floor of Snape’s sitting room, back in the present. He’s standing over me with his wand pointed at the middle of my chest.
“It was you.” I manage to spit out the words between frantic gulps of air. “You attacked me! It was you all along!” Snape slowly nods his head. His dark eyes are filled with loathing and his lips are twisted into a furious sneer.
“You killed her. Crucio!”
The fiery agony returns with even greater intensity. I’m vaguely aware of the sound of my own screams echoing around the room as I writhe on the floor. Why doesn’t he just kill me? I just want the pain to stop. Please, for the love of god, just kill me!
The pain ceases again and one last shout escapes from my lips before I embrace the cool flatness of the floor. Snape’s boot slams into my chest, knocking the wind out of me and rolling me over onto my back. I open my eyes and find the point of his wand inches away.
“You killed her.” He repeats those three words again and I flinch, expecting another curse, but it doesn’t come. “Aren’t you going to say something, you pathetic coward?” I have to think of something to say. Something that will get him to stop.
“It’s not my fault! I just did want the Dark Lord told me to do! Please, not again!”
Snape is still staring at me with murder in his eyes. He’s gripping his wand so tightly that his knuckles turn white. “Not your fault? NOT YOUR FAULT? Even your lies are pathetic!” He doesn’t sound like himself. The smooth, oily drawl is gone, replaced by harsh, raspy bursts, saturated with grief and hatred. “Her life was over the moment you revealed her location. You knew this! The Dark Lord does not feel mercy or remorse. He is elemental. You caused her death as surely as if you cast the curse yourself! Crucio!”
White-hot nails stab at every pore again, and I feel the back of my head slam against the floor as my body twists and turns. I have to get away! I have to escape the pain! Please, somebody just kill me!
The pain ceases again. With my last bit of energy, I try to grab my left forearm. Summon the Dark Lord. Tell him everything. He might kill me, but at least the pain will stop.
With a heavy thud and a sharp stab of pain, Snape kicks my right arm away, then steps on my hand. “Trying to summon our master, Pettigrew? Hoping, perhaps, that he’ll end your suffering?” I nod feebly. There really isn’t anything else I can do. “There, there. The day will certainly come when the Dark Lord will relieve us of the burden of your company.” He leans down, fixing me with a half-insane stare. I can see the beads of sweat on his face, surrounded by curtains of greasy, black hair. “But not today.”
He straightens up and aims his wand at the middle of my chest and I instinctively close my eyes and try to curl into a ball.
“Pettigrew? Can you hear me?”
The words are soft, vague. I try to turn toward them, but my entire body feels like I got caught in a Hippogriff stampede. I try to think of where I am or how I got here, but I’m drawing a total blank. Reluctantly, I force my eyes to open just a bit.
Severus Snape’s sallow, mirthless face greets me. He stares at me like he might stare at a cauldron that’s emitting a particularly unpleasant odor, displeased but unable to completely suppress his desire to find out what went wrong. Tilting his head slightly, he asks, “Tell me, what is the last thing that you remember?”
After nearly three months, I finally posted something new! I'm hoping to get back in the swing of writing more. Wish me luck!
First off, as always, thank you to my beta reader, sophie_hatter! I always learn something when she proofs my chapters, like the apparent British aversion to saying "I guess" instead of "I suppose", or the fact that the Brits call balusters "spindles". Or maybe that's just her. ;)
Second, thanks to blueirony for taking a look at this while I was writing it and giving me some good feedback on making it easier to follow. In case I didn't do a good enough job with that, the idea is that Snape takes his revenge on Wormtail after the Dark Lord sends Wormtail to Spinner's End for safekeeping before the start of Half Blood Prince. Then he erases the assault from Wormtail's memory. But Snape being Snape, he needs to make sure that he hasn't left any traces that Voldemort might find inside Wormtail's mind. So he tricks Wormtail into letting him check. It's left for the reader to imagine how many times Snape indulged his need for vengeance.
Lastly, credit goes to GingeredTea for the description of Snape's use of Legilimency as feeling "like a cool fog." If you've not read her story Devlin Potter: Riddle and Rescue (M), I highly recommend it!
Thanks for reading! If you could spare a moment to leave a review, I'd be very grateful.
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