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Pettigrew ficlet - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Pettigrew ficlet
Another PoA outtake. I'm afraid I have to declare Blood in the Earth dead. I can't get back inside of it.

This was going to be a half-hour fic, but it got involved and I had to switch computers a couple of times, so it's more like an hour-and-a-half.


Peter Pettigrew transformed in one nameless Hogwarts corridor or another. Undoubtedly, he would remember where he was soon--his mind was better as a man than it was as a rat--but for the moment, he just let himself be lost, sinking as far back into the shadows as he could, ready to transform back at the first sign of movement.

But he had to get off his front paw. Now.

He hadn't meant to cut quite as deeply as he had, just to let enough blood out to mark Ron's sheets. But the damnable cat had come in while he'd had the knife, and it had startled him. Only twelve years of practice had kept him from crying out.

The cat--Crookshanks, they called it--had ducked his ill-tempered kick, which was probably a good thing. It would have caused quite a row if the cat ended up injured. Instead, it had just jumped up onto the Longbottom boy's nightstand, hissed at Peter, and grabbed a piece of scrap paper, for what purpose Peter could barely guess (and didn't want to). There was something wrong with that cat.

As a result, the cut in his hand was nearly bone deep and had gushed at a rather alarming rate. He'd wrapped the hand in one of Ron's socks before trying to mark the sheets--it wouldn't do to have them soaked. A cat wouldn't leave that much behind after eating a poor, sickly little rodent.

He'd waited for the bleeding to slow to a steady ooze, then unwrapped his hand and put the sock into a secret stash that James had made back when the four of them had shared this room. It looked like no one else had found it over the years, and Peter briefly considered transforming again and making it into a small nest, surrounded by the old bits of boys' life that were still there, growing more dated by the moment--a fossilized chocolate bar (certainly Remus's), risque magazines nicked from Flourish and Blotts (his own), James's book of Quidditch bets (he'd had quite a business going seventh year, when the Canons had made an unlikely run at a title). There was also a pile of crumbling dog treats that they had often fed to Hagrid's puppy to keep him quiet when they went pranking. Sirius said they tasted awful even when he was transformed.

It was a good space, a nice smelling place full of good memories.

But it wasn't a very big space, and he knew he would make noise there. Sooner or later, Ron or Harry would hear him, find the nest, and find him. Since there was no way to get inside without an opposable thumb, that would be a bit too much of a mystery to risk.

So instead, he'd transformed, limping down the staircase on his injured paw, the pain driving him more and more mad with each step, making a great effort to hop through the portrait hole after little Ginny Weasley, who always fed him bits of cheese from her plate. He wished he could say goodbye to her, or to Ron and Percy, in some meaningful way--they had been kind to him--but that would defeat the purpose somewhat.

Blast the cat, and blast Sirius for deciding to come back to Hogwarts--to come after him--rather than doing what any sane man would, and running to the other side of the Earth.

His hand gave a twinge, and he blew on it lightly. This didn't do much good. It just awakened a network of small nerves around the wound, and made them sing arias. He needed a wand, quickly, and he hadn't thought to borrow one of the boys' before he left. That had been stupid. The cat had distracted him.

You were always stupid. A foolish little prat who did everything wrong. And now, you blame it on the cat?

The Dark Lord's voice in his mind was high and amused, and followed by sharp laughter.

Peter sniffed and shivered. Yes, it had been a stupid mistake, but then it might have called more attention to him if a wand had gone missing, or if, heaven forbid, someone practiced Priori Incantatem with a wand he'd borrowed and returned. No. He would have to find one to steal someplace. One of the teachers' wands. They would have more than one, a back-up someplace, in case of an emergency. One they wouldn't think to look for, perhaps.

He transformed back and limped down the hall, looking for a pool of light coming from under a doorway. There was only one here. The faint flicker of candlelight came out in a fan. The door was open.

Peter checked the hallway in both directions, then looked cautiously through the door. The room was filled with little cages, some carrying interesting creatures, most empty at the moment. The desk was too high for him to see over, but someone's feet, clad in badly scuffed shoes dangled to the floor.

Peter ran as quickly as he could, ignoring the pain in his paw, into the shadows under the bookcase, planning to just wait for whoever the teacher was to leave so he could search the office.

It wasn't until he was settled that he noticed how familiar the scent of the room was. It wasn't one of the smells of the Burrow, or of the Gryffindor Common Room or the dormitory, though he associated it with both of the latter. It was... older. Ancient, to his rat's mind. One of the first smells he had known. One of...

"'ay there, Professor Lupin!"

Peter looked toward the door. A huge, hulking form blocked the faint gray light of the corridor. Hagrid.

And had he said...?

"Hullo, Hagrid," Remus Lupin said.

Peter's heart sped up, and his nerves stood on end. He had jumped from a cat who might have been maniacally obsessed with him into the office of a man who would recognize him immediately, understand what his survival meant, and set the wheels of his damnation in motion.

Someone who had been part of his past.

Someone who was part of him.

He thought briefly of trying to get closer, to have a look at him, but sanity asserted itself in time, and he curled up, nursing his injured paw.

"Didja hear?" Hagrid asked. "Professor McGonagall gave the all-clear on Harry's new broomstick. Wasn't from Sirius Black after all, they reckon. Nothing wrong with it at all."

Peter perked up his ears. Of course the broom was from Sirius. Anyone who knew Sirius would know that. It was just his style--flamboyantly generous. When Peter had been in a good frame of mind as a boy, he'd thought of Sirius as Father Christmas's manic apprentice. In a less good frame of mind, he thought of Sirius as a spoiled nobleman, tossing trinkets from his fine carriage to the scrambling, filthy peasants in the road. Either way, there was no question in his mind that the obnoxiously up-to-date, state-of-the-art racing broom had been a gift from Sirius, and of course it hadn't been hexed.

I could have hexed it myself when they brought it back. They'd hvae just assumed that they missed one.

He shuddered. The Dark Lord wanted Harry dead. Peter had assumed that Lily and James would find a way to prevent that when he'd given the relevant information. He did not want the boy's blood on his head.

Somewhere high above him, Remus Lupin sighed. "I suppose not," he said, not sounding at all convinced. "It just seemed... so like him."

"He ain't who you thought he was," Hagrid growled.

"I know," Remus said quietly. "It just occurred to me that... I wondered."

"Wondered what?"

There was a pause. Peter could imagine Remus's eyes going distant. He would have his arms crossed. Perhaps he was looking out the window. "Nothing," he said. "Thoughts that have crossed my mind now and then. Wishful thinking, I suppose."

"Yeh're not missing the ruddy traitor, are you?"

"I miss all my friends, Hagrid. James, Lily, Peter. And Sirius. I wish things were quite different than they are."

"Hmmph."

There was a great creak as Hagrid plopped himself down in a chair. A swirl of moleskin pooled on the floor not far from Peter.

"I know it's foolish," Remus said. "It always has been. Andromeda Tonks has chastised me more than once over the years."

"Yeh don't think he's clean of it, do yeh?"

"No. I simply... prefer to think of happier days. It's been a wrench not to tell Harry whatever good I can remember. I don't like to hear him hate as he does."

Peter's heart raced at this. If Remus believed Sirius shouldn't be hated, then perhaps... if he were to wait for Hagrid to leave...

"Begging your pardon, Professor, but no one deserves hatin' more than that murderin'"--Hagrid called Sirius a name that he never would have used around the boys when they were children visiting him--"and you shoudn' be takin' on so. Yer worth a hundred of 'im. Always were, I reckon."

There was a kind of soft, sniffing sound, Remus's non-laughing laugh. The corner of his mouth would be turned up. "I think there are differing opinions on that, Hagrid."

Peter twitched his tail nervously. It was possible. Would Remus protect him? Would he try to explain? Would he--?

"Load o' codswollop," Hagrid said. "An' anyone who knows yeh'll say so."

"Thank you."

Peter took a step out from under the bookcase, but just then, Hagrid stood up, his thundering foot landing not six inches from Peter's nose.

Just in time. Were you about to do some new foolish thing?

He curled back into the shadows. He had been about to do that. Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

"Well, I'll be getting back," Hagrid said. "Just figured yeh'd want to know about the Firebolt. Lessons to plan, yeh know."

"Yes. Something pleasant to do."

"I picked up a bit o' murtlap balm from Madam Pomfrey. My fourth years got a bit careless with some flobberworms. Gonna let 'em soak in it overnight, soothe 'em a bit. Yeh need anything fer yer lot here?"

"They seem to be well. But I'll keep you in mind. My second years are handling doxies tomorrow."

"Right, then."

Beneath the bookcase, Peter was standing with is paw outstretched. If he stayed, he could at least try to talk to Remus. He could make up some story. Or he could stay until Remus left, and look for a wand. But murtlap balm... he could heal his foot while the flobberworms were soaking and Hagrid was sleeping, and no one would be the wiser.

Hagrid turned and headed for the door, his shoes making the floor tremble with each impact. Remus didn't move from his desk.

Peter stepped tentatively out into the room, standing between the door and the desk, looking back and forth.

The wooden chair behind the desk creaked, and there was a louder sniffing sound. "Is someone there?" Remus asked quietly. Peter looked up. Remus had stood up, and his eyes were focused on the bookcase where Peter had been hiding only a moment ago.

Just me, he thought. Just your old mate, Peter. Remember? The dead one? Wouldn't you be glad to see me, if you've been missing us all?

Remus went to the books, started to examine them, ran his hands through the air... looking for an invisibility cloak. Probably wondering if it was Sirius Black standing there, that notorious mass murderer, better remembered in happier times.

Before their world had been shattered.

By me. By little Peter, the one who's lied and cheated to keep Sirius in prison. The one who betrayed James and Lily. The one Remus Lupin will recognize in an instant.

And don't forget... the calm and controlled man standing there is a mask. There's a wolf inside. And what do you think it would take to bring it out?

Peter backed up slowly, trying not to draw Remus's attention away from the place his sense of smell had picked out. He reached the edge of the door and ran into the corridor, overtaking Hagrid, catching the hem of his moleskin coat, and hurling himself into an ample pocket.

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Comments
webbapettigrew From: webbapettigrew Date: March 30th, 2004 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Peter. As his self-named Alpha female, I feel for him. His redemption is imminent, I believe, just based on all the red herrings JKR throws at us whenever he's around. I will bet that he has a lot of guilt.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 30th, 2004 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you pickled all the red herrings around Peter, you'd have a deli-licious feast.

I agree... Peter has all the signs of a future redemptee.

As an Anakin Skywalker fan, however, I know this will lead to not the fandom screaming, "Woo-hoo! Peter was redeemed!" but instead to saying, "That's not fair. He should have been crushed into the ground and left bleeding while Harry howled triumphantly over his corpse."

Oh, well. People are weird.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 30th, 2004 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not me. Well, I am weird, but in my case it goes in the direction of wanting even Riddle brought to change his mind.

Haven't worked out how to write that one, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 30th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually once had someone comment in my guestbook at Vader's Mask that I had to be psychologically disturbed to run a site that explored Vader's better nature (you know, the part that was there for Luke to save). I deleted the entry. It annoyed me. Someone else said that she ignored Return of the Jedi because it "should have" ended with Luke killing Vader--discovering that the whole "father" thing was just a ruse--and getting the girl, while Han goes off quietly into the sunset (possibly setting himself up as a villain in the sequel).
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 30th, 2004 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good grief.

I'm not actually that surprised, but blech.
volandum From: volandum Date: March 30th, 2004 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd argue that whereas Anakin has a background apart from his Vader form, and this background is ever-present in him, and able to reassert itself for his redemption, Peter is always like that, and doesn't have the powerful beliefs that allow him to be changed beyond his will. Essentially, he knows what he's doing, and I don't think that he's got as good reasons for what he's doing as Anakin has.

That said, there must be cause for giving Peter a chance: unfortunately, I'm so short-sighted to feel that most of them, when explored, should be somehow romantic.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 30th, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heck, I'm short-sighted enough to believe they're exactly what he says--he's scared out of his ratty little mind.

I don't tend to think of Vader and Anakin as separate creatures, or of Peter and Wormtail as separate creatures (or Smeàgol and Gollum, for that matter)--just continuous people who had some breaking point in their lives, some test that they failed badly. I do think Anakin's reasons are more compelling than Peter's, and that his upbringing was what made him believe he could never turn back and was therefore stuck on the dark side (so hey, why not make use of it?). At the same time, I think that Wormtail as a Death Eater is probably more likely to be merciful than Vader as a Sith Lord. Vader might feel very bad about doing something brutal and might hate himself for it even while he's doing it, but it wouldn't stop him. Wormtail was pretty much content to stay under the radar and be an affectionate pet until his hand was forced.
volandum From: volandum Date: March 31st, 2004 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Firstly, I'll say that you can probably better understand these characters, with your better experience. I didn't mean to consider the people as separate entities in their different forms, just to suggest that in the different forms different aspects of their character were dominant.

While Wormtail the Death Eater might be more merciful [and rather less competent] than Vader as the Sith Lord, I'd also argue that he would be less predictable. Besides, his position is not one which allows for much mercy, or indeed much independent thinking; whereas Vader has more options at his disposal - the first "practical application" of the Death Star being a possible exception. To be honest, I think that Wormtail's character isn't really strong enough to be appealing; staying under the radar might be good practice, but it doesn't make for a fascinating story that often - his "failed test" is itself pretty insignificant. Could you identify the point at which he failed his test badly?
liwy From: liwy Date: March 31st, 2004 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually once had someone comment in my guestbook at Vader's Mask that I had to be psychologically disturbed to run a site that explored Vader's better nature (you know, the part that was there for Luke to save). I deleted the entry. It annoyed me.

Weird. That's just weird. When I first saw your site, I thought your stories did an excellent job of filling in the gaps of canon, in contrast to the near-abruptness of that whole story arc in the Trilogy.
calico321 From: calico321 Date: March 30th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's good to see into Peter's psyche a bit. Lots of great insight. :)
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: April 2nd, 2004 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Awesome ficlet, Fern. I loved it. You amaze me the way you can get into various characters heads so well.
gehayi From: gehayi Date: April 2nd, 2004 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful. Your Peter is a magnificently complex person. I can believe that he did betray his friends--while believing that he misses them, has regrets and grieves for the dead. He seems to want to own up to what he has done while fearing terrible punishment at the same time.

I pity this Peter. Traitor he is, but not irredeemable.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: May 6th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
This was fantabulous!
I foudn it in my recs folder (i apaprentl yptu itthere instead of a to-read list. well, I must be apsychic).
I jsut hope youre' nog going to laugh now because besides jsut having me captivated inthis story (and hatehatehating! Hagrid. yo udid agreat job of his blunt viewpoints.) you jsut had me fascinated by the workigns of Peter's mind. And I liek this kind pf peter. Theo ne that tires to fuly remember stuff fro mback the nand immediatley finds wasy to shake it off.

Anywroad, I've been stupid enohg to lethet hign getto me 100 % and thenI wrtoe something myself. *blush* It's ben five minutes so it's far too fresh and un-edited and so forth to share but let me jsuttel yo uthis was fully because of yoru story and I'm glad I found it here.
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