Houses Competition: Year 2, Round 8
[Prompt]: "Let's find out exactly how deep your betrayal runs shall we?"
Word Count: 2297
Tags: OOC Peter Pettigrew, Alternate Reality/Universe, Jily
The Secret Keeper's Secret
They were in the nursery when they heard the little gate of their front yard creak. James' hand flew to his wand as he turned to face the door of the nursery, Lily right behind him, little Harry sleeping in her arms, snoring delicately into her neck.
Seconds later, they heard the front door open and James was almost out of the door, wand ready, when Lily placed a hand on his shoulder, squeezing pleadingly. He looked over his shoulder at her, and then at their sleeping son. Lowering his wand, he wrapped an arm around her and just as footsteps reached the door of the nursery, they disapparated.
The second their feet found the pavement again, they began to walk briskly, heads down until they entered The Three Broomsticks. It wasn't as crowded as it usually was, so Madame Rosemerta was quick to notice their entry.
The looks on their faces must've been indicative of something because she floated a mug of Firewhiskey and hot chocolate, their usual order, towards their table, no questions asked. James nodded gratefully at her as he leaned into his chair, as Lily, holding Harry tightly to herself waved at her half-heartedly.
The couple sat quietly for a few moments, Lily absent-mindedly humming a tune for Harry, though he was fast asleep.
"I should let Professor Dumbledore know," James said quietly, and started to get up when Lily stood up to follow him as well.
"Lil, you should stay here—"
"Hell, no. If you think I'm letting you go anywhere alone after what just happened, you don't know me very well," hissed Lily.
"I'll be fine," said James indignantly. "The passages to Hogwarts are known only—"
"No," said Lily firmly. "Take me with you. Or you send a Patronus."
"Patronus, it is," sighed James, reluctant to have his wife and son outside of the safespace that The Three Broomsticks was.
Quarter of an hour later, Dumbledore and the Potters were in a private room at the Broomsticks, discussing the implications of Voldemort finding their little home at the Godric's Hollow.
Elsewhere, Peter Pettigrew was filled with regret. He had been serving Voldemort for months now, but that had not made him love his friends any less. Truth was that he'd only defected because he hadn't seen any point in continuing to support him, and that was all it had been. Maybe the dark side held some amount of appeal to him, but that had never changed how he felt about the people he loved. He still thought of them as friends, and he couldn't quite recall the desperation that had made him tell Voldemort the Potters' whereabouts.
Now, he was pacing up and down his living room, wringing his hands in painful anticipation. He was hoping against hope that by some miracle, they would survive; because hadn't they fought and gotten away unscathed thrice before?
He froze in his tracks when he spotted a silver bird soar into the room, shimmering delicately; a phoenix. He recognised it immediately as Dumbledore's and stared at it for a few seconds, waiting nervously.
"Mr. Pettigrew," said the phoenix. "I'm afraid I need to have an discussion with you. Please see me at Hogsmeade immediately."
Peter's heart sank as he watched the bird fade away. For a second, he considered running away because how was he supposed to justify what he'd done? Maybe he could blame it on the Imperius Curse, but there was no telling with Dumbledore. But running away would place the blame directly on him, and then he'd have Dumbledore on his tail.
He made a split-second decision and vanished from his little home with a pop.
Peter, nervously twiddling his thumbs took a seat next to Dumbledore, who was sitting across from a thoroughly shaken Sirius Black. Sirius's eyes hadn't left Peter's face from the moment he had entered.
"Professor," greeted Peter, nervously.
"I understand that you were the Potters' Secret Keeper," said Dumbledore calmly. "A last minute change, Mr. Black tells me?"
"I– Yes, Professor," said Peter slowly, eyeing Sirius warily.
"Where were you, Wormtail?" asked Sirius, ignoring the pointed look Dumbledore was giving him; this did not go unnoticed by Peter.
"At my grandma's place," mumbled Peter, unsure as to why he hadn't just said that he'd been home; which wouldn't have been a lie.
"Really?" sneered Sirius. "Weren't you supposed to be having tea last night at James'? You cancelled last minute, I heard."
"Mr. Black…" warned Dumbledore.
"Sirius, something important came up and—"
"Oh, did it? Was it Voldemort?" spat Sirius, angrily, now out of his seat, towering over Wormtail.
Peter flinched and backed away, shaking his head, hand going to his wand tucked in his belt. "It is not what you think! It's so much more complicated—"
"I think it's pretty simple, Peter," said Sirius. "You were the Secret Keeper. There was no other way Voldemort could've gotten to James'."
…Could've gotten to James'…
"Ar-Are they dead?" asked Peter, swallowing thickly.
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" Sirius laughed, a dark a humourless laugh. "Why'd you do it?"
"He-He threatened me," lied Peter. He always had been a pathological liar. "Said he'd kill gran and—"
"You could've told us. Warned James," said Sirius, clearly not buying Peter's lies.
"Let's find out exactly how deep your betrayal runs shall we?" said Sirius and grabbed Peter's arm, grip firm as Peter squirmed uncomfortably. Forcefully, he pushed the sleeve of Peter's robe upwards till the Dark Mark was visible.
"We trusted you, Peter," muttered Sirius, voice deathly quiet, staring at the mark on his hand.
Peter yanked his hand from Sirius's grasp and turned away from him, arms crossed tightly against his chest.
"You could've at least thought about Harry," came James' voice as he entered the Broomsticks, shrugging out of his cloak.
"James!" exclaimed Peter, feeling a mixture of both relief and shock. "You're alive! Where's Lily and—"
"Asleep. You needn't know where. Won't be making that mistake again," said James bitterly.
"I-I'm glad you're alive," said Peter, looking at the floor.
"Why'd you do it, Peter?" asked James now standing in front of Peter, arms crossed.
"I had to. The Dark Lord—"
"Voldemort," corrected James, cutting him off.
Peter flinched, and continued. "I had to tell him. H-He would've known I was keeping something from him otherwise."
"Mr. Pettigrew," Dumbledore interjected, and the deathly calm in his voice was enough to silence the three friends.
"How long have you been in Voldemort's service?"
"Almost a year now," muttered Peter.
"He's… He's too powerful!" cried Peter. "Professor, his relentlessness and cruelty make him unstoppable!"
"And so you changed sides," noted Dumbledore. "I must say, Mr. Pettigrew, that does seem so like you," he said harshly.
"But–" added Peter. "I– I didn't really regret it too much. Not until last night," he said, looking at James. "You have to believe that I didn't want you dead. You are still my friend, Prongs."
"Then, why tell him at all!" said James angrily, almost yelling. "So much could've gone wrong, Peter! What if I didn't have my wand with me? What if Lily and I hadn't been in the same room!? What if I hadn't heard the gate creak?!"
Peter shuddered, because those were only few of the scenarios that had gone through his mind as he waited nervously in his home. He had considered all of this, felt nauseated even, at the thought of being delivered the news of his friends and their son's deaths.
"I told him," started Peter slowly. "Because I was scared. The second I knew, I'd told him because he can read minds. I was so afraid that he would know I was hiding information from him. Information that he so desperately sought… I regret it."
"You're a coward," spat Sirius. "I say we ship him off to Azkaban immediately."
Peter's eyes grew wide with fear and he drew back, the blood draining from his face. He started to shake his head and felt his knees weaken as he thought of the dementors. The cold and the mere thought of being anywhere near the grimy, ghost-like creatures scared the living daylights out of him.
"No. Please," he said, voice shaking, a guttural plea.
Dumbledore eyed him, his blue eyes speculative as he considered the cowardly little man in front of him. His eyes went to the two friends, Sirius still fuming, arms crossed, staring at Peter like he was going to bite his head off. James still looked like he was in shock of this betrayal, an almost sad and confused expression on his face as watched his quivering friend.
"Mr. Pettigrew," he said at last. "Am I to understand that you regret your decision?"
Peter nodded vigorously, staring at Dumbledore, the smallest bits of hope creeping back into his eyes. Dumbledore tilted his head at him and looked at the others.
James gave Peter one last look before following Dumbledore back to the table. Sirius started to move, but eyed Peter suspiciously before raising his wand and murmuring, "Incarcerous."
Peter dropped to the floor, bound in ropes, meters away from the table they were sitting. He watched them talk in hushed voices, Sirius clearly disagreeing with whatever Dumbledore was saying. James had his head bowed, listening quietly to Dumbledore, occasionally looking sideways at Peter.
Everytime he did that, Peter could clearly see the flash of pain in his eyes, and no matter how hard he tried, Peter could only look away. Something akin to shame was starting to stir in his gut as he lay on the cold wooden floor.
A part of him is still relieved because he wasn't sure how he would've reacted had he been summoned to deliver the news of their deaths. He allowed himself to picture little Harry, cooing as he tried to swat Peter's tail as he dodged it playfully until Lily had to intervene because Padfoot took the game too seriously.
He felt his eyes moisten and tried to reason with himself in his head; what drove him to do that, he couldn't remember anymore. He couldn't remember what triggered the change in him that made him think, even if for a moment, that getting his friends killed would be something he could live with.
Lost in thought, he didn't feel the binds slipping off of him until James cleared his throat. He stood up hastily, in front of Dumbledore, who was looking at him with the most scrutiny in his eyes than Peter had ever seen. Behind him, James was looking at Peter, a small frown on his face while Sirius continued to glower at him.
"Do you still plan to continue to serve Voldemort?" asked Dumbledore.
"Not if… Not if my friends have to die for it," said Peter slowly, and Sirius only raised his brows sceptically while James merely cocked his head to the side, trying to gauge his friend.
"Would you be willing to be a double agent, Mr. Pettigrew? For the Order?"
Peter inhaled sharply. The thought of double crossing Voldemort terrified him to no end, but he'd meant what he'd said. He didn't think he could live with himself if he had any role to play in the deaths of friends so close to him that he considered them family.
"Yes," Peter said slowly, trying not to think too much of the possible outcome of what he was agreeing to.
"I still don't think we should trust him," muttered Sirius.
"Mr. Black, I do not trust him now, no. I'd say no one should trust him," said Dumbledore sagely, eyes still on Peter. "But I do believe he deserves a chance to attempt to win it back."
Sirius grumbled incoherently, a string of curses in all likelihood. James nodded in agreement of Dumbledore, and Sirius looked at James, still shaking his head in disapproval.
"Thank you, Professor," mumbled Peter and his eyes flickered to James.
"Well, Mr. Pettigrew. I suppose that is decided then," said Dumbledore, almost like they'd agreed on which restaurant they were to have supper at. "I shall now take leave of all of you."
With a final look at Peter, Dumbledore walked out of the Broomsticks, leaving the three of them.
"Thanks, Prongs," said Peter sincerely, breaking the silence a few minutes later.
"Peter, this isn't forgiven or forgotten. Yet," said James slowly with a slight shake of his head. "My wife could've died. My son could've died, tonight. I think the fact that they're both alive is the only thing that makes me think you are redeemable. If something had happened to them, I—"
"I wouldn't've been able to live with myself," said Peter quietly.
"So you say," muttered Sirius.
"Needless to say, we'll find a new place now," James said, running his fingers through his hair agitatedly. "And you aren't welcome there, anymore."
Peter nodded, not completely surprised at the statement.
"I also told Dumbledore that we're animagi," said Sirius, giving Peter a cold look. "I thought it best we don't keep it from him. In case, you decide to pull some nonsense."
"I wouldn't think it of you, but we don't really know you very well after all, do we?" cut in James, a rueful note in his voice.
"You're sorry, yeah," sighed James. "I hope you can prove it."
With that, James wished Peter a good evening and left the pub, Sirius at his heels. Peter stood where he was for a few minutes, trying to compose himself. He was still terrified, but maybe, just maybe, things would work out for the best. Maybe he'd have his friends back, and maybe being a double agent might ultimately help the Order, having someone on the inside.