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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos

By ACI100

Year 3: The Blackest of Truths

Chapter 8: Unforgivable Curses & Unforgivable Friends


August 18, 1993

مركز سخمت لصحة والشفاء

1:43 AM

Sweat trickled down Ginny's brow and stung her eyes. Whether it was from the heat of the room or the stress of the night, she was unsure. There had been a great deal of both ever since the fiasco in the pyramid four days earlier and she could hardly tell them apart at this point.

Her family had extended their trip to Cairo, spending almost every waking moment of the past four days crowded into the small waiting room of Magical Egypt's primary hospital. It did not benefit from the same Cooling Charms as St. Mungo's and Ginny would have been bitter if not for the fact she was so worried about her older brother.

The way he had collapsed in the pyramid… it had plagued her ever since — both in her waking hours and in rest. Unpleasant dreams prodded her sharp as daggers every time she tried to sleep. Dreams of Ron's face twisted and contorted in a horrified scream of unadulterated agony as blood streamed from his ears thick and crimson, pooling on the floor all around him like a grotesquely-coloured waterfall. She would never forget the look in his eyes… no one looked like that naturally. Ginny didn't know as of yet what had happened in the pyramid, but it had been something far outside of the ordinary. None of the healers had been able to explain exactly what had gone on, but Bill had requested the hospital send for someone specific. A legili…something-or-other. Ginny had never heard the term, but it had something to do with the mind and her eldest brother thought it might be the secret to finding out exactly what had happened to Ron.

His expression had been pulled tightly across his face like a mask that was much too small for him when he requested the hospital reach out to this… whatever he was. The expression reminded Ginny of how he had looked the day he'd returned from the pyramid with a small team of cursebreakers after examining the ward that Ron had unknowingly been ravaged by. He had said nothing of it then, but the promise had been made he would share information when there was more to tell.

The… legili-whatever had arrived earlier that night. He'd been a dark-skinned man dressed in traditional Arab garb and had conversed softly with one of the healers in a tongue Ginny could not understand. Bill evidently could, for he joined in their conversation with little hesitation before the newcomer was led into the room where Ginny's injured brother rested.

Ginny's eyes felt heavy by now. It was like she was flying on a broom with the air stinging her eyes and the struggle to keep them open was ever-present, yet less raw and more pressing. She would not close her eyes — not tonight. Not with her brother potentially set to wake, and not with revelations of what happened hopefully on the horizon. The threat of cursed nightmares was almost as strong a deterrent. Ginny would not let herself rest, she could not.

Yet she did. She was in the pyramid again and she was watching as Ron stepped closer and closer to the place she knew he would fall. She tried to move forward, but the floor rose up around her legs and began to pull her down. It was like she was being pulled down by quicksand. She would drown if it took her under, but Ron would fall first. Ginny would see him collapse before she herself was taken beneath the earth and she could not bear it. A scream tore itself free from her lungs just as Ron's toe neared the line at which he would fall. It would happen at any moment but she suddenly seemed unable to close her eyes. Why now? They had been so heavy a moment ago! Why was it that now they would not obey? Merlin, she couldn't watch this again… anything but seeing this again.

"Ginny, wake up." She jolted awake all at once. The voice was not loud — only a hissing whisper — but it was right beside her ear.

She spun her head and raised her hands as if to ward off an attack, but she saw that only the twins were there. They exchanged glances. "Are you alright?" George asked.

"I'm… okay. Sorry… bad dream. Did I…?"

"Scream?" asked Fred.

"Yeah, you did," said George. "Bloody loud, too. My damn eardrum felt fit to burst."

"Wouldn't be a bad idea, that," said Fred. "Something that could make eardrums burst. Painful as all hell, but nothing a bit of magic couldn't fix. Nasty prank for wankers who deserve it and a decent weapon in case some scum decides to run around with a giant snake again."

"Hush, you." George turned to Ginny. "You sure you're okay, Gin?" She nodded and the twins exchanged looks again.

"There's news," Fred began. "Something about Ron. Only reason Mum hasn't come running to see her little girl after hearing her scream is because she's in the room with the others." He jerked his thumb towards the entrance to Ron's hospital room.

"We were sent to fetch you," said George. "Of course, we obeyed like the good and dutiful sons we are."

Ginny managed to crack a weak smile as she rubbed sleep from her eyes and followed the twins into the hospital room. It was the first time she had been inside of it since that first day, but little had changed. There were more vials now; more healers gathered in the room's far corner, conversing in low voices as they took notes on floating notepads of parchment. The Weasley family was gathered around Ron's bed. The man that had been called in earlier that day was nowhere to be found, but Bill seemed to be preparing to hold court and his expression was dark. Ginny had not seen him look anything like that since their Uncle Billius had seen a grim and died when she was still a little girl.

"That's all of us," said Fred, casting his impatient stare towards Bill. "Are you going to tell us what happened now?"

Bill looked between his parents. Molly's lips were thin, but their father rested a firm hand on her shoulder and nodded. "Tell them."

Bill ran a hand through his long hair as he seemed to collect his thoughts. "You remember how I went off to the pyramid Ron fainted in with a team of cursebreakers the day after he collapsed?" They all nodded. "Turns out the ward he stumbled into is an old and obscure one. Nobody whose mind has been altered by magic can pass through it. If they try, it'll do its best to break whatever spell is on them. The stronger the spell, the more violent the reaction."

He waited for the spark to catch and it didn't take long before it did, its raging hot flame spread through the Weasley family's ranks like a surging wildfire. "You're saying Ron was bewitched?" Percy sounded as though he could scarcely believe it. His eyebrows had retreated so far up his forehead they were in danger of disappearing into his hairline. Ginny thought he also looked rather pale, but the same could be said for almost every member of her family gathered throughout the room.

Bill's only response was a solemn nod. "Who did it?" asked Fred. There was a wild look in his eyes — it was manic, unhinged. "What was the curse?"

"Can you not guess the curse?" The look in Bill's eyes told them everything they needed to know. "The ward reacts more violently the stronger the spell. He's been out for four days; put the dots together."

"Surely not," breathed Percy, "you can't mean—"

"The Imperius Curse," said George.

Bill did not bother nodding this time; there was no need to. "Somebody used the Imperius Curse on him, yes. We have no way of knowing who did it, how long ago it was cast, or even what the purpose of it was. If whoever cast it was sloppy, Ron might remember, but anyone with half a brain would have commanded him to forget the whole thing ever happened. The ward managed to break the curse, but it won't undo that loss of memory."

"Is there no way to get them back?" George sounded desperate, even to Ginny. His brown eyes were wide and pleading and she could see the pain shaking his head caused Bill, but her brother would not lie to them.

"I'm sorry, but there's no safe way to find out."

"No safe way?" asked Fred.

"Never you mind," said Arthur. "It's magic that none of you will ever be learning if I can help it. I'll take your brooms and pawn them off if any of you try anything with magic like this."

Ginny could never remember her father speaking in such a way. Their mother was always the one to yell, posture, and make threats. It had never been their father's style, which only made the deliverance of such a threat all the more impactful.

"So that's it?" Percy sounded like he couldn't believe a word of it and Ginny was right there with it. The injustice of it all stung more than any tear. It cut across her skin like a molton razor and tore at her heart with the force of a restless dragon.

"No," promised Arthur. "We're going to get to the bottom of this somehow." He looked down to where Ron was still lying motionless on the bed.

They had all been assured he would wake up and that the odds were he would suffer no major long-term consequences as a result of the accident, but seeing him lying there in what seemed to be peace was like a sadistic kind of mocking Ginny could hardly stomach.

She wondered as she looked at him. He had been strange over the past year. He had done things she had questioned — things that seemed most out of character for him. He had been so… reactive. So prone to exploding at the barest caress of antagonism and so ready to hate everything that was clad in green and silver. Ginny had no delusions that he had been Imperiused to hate Slytherins — that would be ridiculous and could surely accomplish nothing — but she did wonder whether or not they were somehow connected.


August 19, 1993

Potter Manor

9:32 AM

Charlus had mostly managed to avoid the crushing stress and frustration in the weeks since Ron had left Britain, though he missed his closest friend dearly. The looming threat of Sirius Black still hung over him like a vengeful storm cloud, but he had become more adept at not letting it dictate every passing moment of each passing day. Immense frustration had settled in the pit of his stomach over his father's apparent inability to find him a tutor, but that was a whole other matter. James had said time and time again that he had somebody in mind and that setting up the arrangements would just take time. Charlus was unsure whether or not his father was only saying all of this to appease him or whether there was any degree of truth in his words.

He had spent as much of the time as he could sneaking off to secluded corners of the manor and practicing spells in secret. Charlus had managed to convince his father to allow him to cast magic over the summer and had spent a great deal of time practicing. That at least helped keep the restlessness at bay. It made him feel as though he was doing something; which was infinitely better than lazing around wishing he was making progress as impending dread closed around his heart with the force of an iron vice.

For all the time he had spent in the air, he had spent just as much reading — which was a thought he wasn't entirely sure how to feel about. The mere idea was so foreign to him that he hardly believed it was true himself, but his last two years at Hogwarts had shown him he would need more than the moniker of the Boy-Who-Lived if he was to ever have any hope of standing against Voldemort if she one day returned.

His summer had been an enjoyable one, overall, minus the days following Black's breakout and the brief bout of loneliness that had followed Ron's departure from Britain. The stress had been getting to him a bit, but he had been doing a better job of keeping it at bay and he was strangely proud of the fact.

Until the decrepit Weasley family owl flew through the window that morning and dropped what appeared to be a hastily scrawled letter in front of him before collapsing on the table, scarcely moving unless it was to take a desperate breath. Charlus spared the bird a glance and promised himself he'd help the old thing after reading the letter, but all thoughts of poor Errol were wiped swiftly away the moment he broke the envelope's seal.

He choked on his pumpkin juice and sent it spraying out from his nose. His father's head jerked up from behind an auror report he had been reading and his eyes sharpened when he saw the state of his son. Charlus's skin had become pale as the milk James had mixed into his morning tea and his eyes were wild and desperate. It was the kind of look he had seen on men in the battlefield during the Purity War, or of first-time aurors who stumbled into especially gruesome crime scenes the likes of which they had been mentally unprepared for.

"Charlus," James asked, setting his newspaper down beside him. "What's wrong?"

Charlus did not answer. He continued to stare uncomprehendingly at the letter from the Weasleys with wide eyes. "I need to go to Egypt."

"Charlus! What is it?"

Finally, Charlus looked up. "It's… Ron." He reached out with numb fingers and handed the letter to his father, who scanned it over quickly. His skin paled by only a shade, but he took the news much better than his youngest son.

"There's no need to panic," said James, though even Charlus could tell he was more worried than he had been letting on. "The curse is broken and they think he'll make a full recovery."

"That's not the point, Dad. Who cursed him? What if they try again?"

"Then I hope both of you will be ready this time." Charlus found that sentence odd. Both of them? He had not been placed under the Imperius Curse, as far as he was aware. There were no gaps in his memory, nor were there any unusual…

His eyes went wide as saucers. "The book… Harry."

James tensed. "What about him?"

"The thing about the Dark Arts… I remember him teaching me but he said he never did. I believe him. What if… what if I was put under the curse to blame Harry? Can the curse make new memories?"

There were a vast number of calculations going on behind James Potter's eyes as he contemplated every Imperius victim he had ever presided over in his position within the DMLE.

"It… probably could, but I think there would be better ways of doing it."

"Could it be the same person? Who put Ron under the Imperius Curse? Could he have bewitched me to blame Harry?"

James's finger was drumming very quickly on the table. "It could be… or not. There's so much going on these days that it's hard to know how many people are behind them."

Charlus could not help but agree. The stone in his first year, the chamber in his second, Sirius breaking out of Azkaban, the horrible mutilations written in the Daily Prophet, the drama with Harry… and on, and on, and on. It never seemed to end — there was so much from even the previous year that remained unresolved.

"Can I go see him, Dad? Can I—"

"No!" Charlus felt as though he had been slapped. His father did not say no to him often, let alone with such force. He had only ever heard him speak with such finality on a small number of occasions that he could remember. "Think for a second. Sirius is out of Azkaban. He threatened you publicly in that courtroom and who knows what he's doing or where he is. Half the ministry seems to think he's the lunatic going around and mutilating people; the Prophet is on board, too."

"You don't think so?"

James sighed. "No, I don't. Sirius was a lot of things and he was crueller than I realized, but I don't think something like that is his style. Regardless," he said, raising a hand to forestall Charlus's inevitable interjection, "I also can't predict his next move. If I could though, I would bet good money that he would be waiting for a chance to attack you. He can't get to you here, at Potter Manor, and the Burrow is having extra protections added to it whilst the Weasleys are in Egypt. Hogwarts… well, it's not as safe as I'd like it to be. Not from Sirius and not without Dumbledore, but the easiest way for him to attack you is going to be if you travel."

"But, Dad, I have to travel to get to Hogwarts!"

"The ministry is planning for a force of aurors to be at the platform and a few will even ride the train if I have my way. No, Charlus, I will not let you travel to Egypt. No matter what you say. That is final."

The rejection stung. He had not seen his best friend in nearly a month and then this happened and he couldn't be there for it? For all they knew, the healers could be wrong and the shock of breaking the Imperius Curse could leave Ron brain-dead. Charlus had heard of things like that happening during the Purity War. He would never see Ron again if that was the case, all because of Sirius Black.

Charlus hated him all over again. He had gotten better at letting the whole thing go in the last couple of weeks, but it came rushing back to him now in a wave of crimson fury that painted his vision red. The cups on the table began to tremble and Charlus realized to his horror that he was losing control.

His chair clattered to the floor from the haste with which he stood and rushed from the room, leaving a very tense and very tired-looking James Potter in his wake.


That night, at the home of Peter Pettigrew…

Stress swelled in Peter's chest as he stepped back into his flat. He had decided not to drink with James this time around, but was swiftly regretting that decision. He would have enjoyed a glass of liquid courage a great deal had he not had other, more urgent obligations he needed to rush off and attend to.

Indecision gripped him but he eventually raised his wand and summoned a glass and a bottle of fire whiskey. One glass couldn't hurt, he thought. It might even make him less cynical for what was to come. He thought Black was insane for the proposition laid out before the rest of them, but perhaps it would pan out better than Peter dreaded. It just seemed so… impossible. Despite it being done once before, the challenge their group had set themselves just seemed wholly and completely unachievable.

The drink went down like a charm and warmth spread from Peter's centre as though a burning pyre had been lit ablaze in the cavity of his chest. He could understand why James resorted to such measures in great times of stress. It really was an excellent cure, even though it only prolonged the feeling that would inevitably return.

James… bless him. He really was trying his best, but he was just so far lost he had no hope of ever finding the path. If guilt did not still pull at Peter's stomach with ruthless force every time he considered the actions he and James had spoken about earlier tonight, he would have laughed.


Some time earlier, at Potter Manor…

The fire crackled merrily in the background as James poured himself a glass. It was quite the contrast, Peter mused, almost mocking the sombre atmosphere in the room. No fire should have seemed so warm and welcoming when James looked so pale and grave.

Peter sat back and tried to consider exactly what this could be about. There was of course Sirius's breakout from Azkaban. James could ask what Peter had found when he and the other detectives were dispatched to Azkaban Prison earlier in the week, but there was no need. His position as a Senior Auror would have made such questions redundant. He had doubtlessly read the reports just like Amelia Bones, Mad-Eye Moody, Barty Crouch, and all the rest of them.

Perhaps if he was more perceptive, he might have asked whether Peter withheld anything from that report. It wouldn't be too unreasonable. He was hardly going to oust James and himself as illegal animagi, but James wouldn't think of asking about that. He would assume that if Peter had held anything back when writing the report, he would have shared a full, unedited version with him at his earliest convenience.

It was almost a shame how easy it was sometimes.

James himself did not speak until he had drained his first glass. "Have you heard?"

"Heard what?" James's eyes were still sharp, though Peter doubted they would be for long. For now, he could see the intensity behind them just fine. Whatever James had was big. The bit that concerned Peter was that he didn't know about it already. All the effort he had gone to over the years to be as informed as possible and somehow, he was completely and utterly clueless about what seemed to be a particularly notable occasion. It vexed him far more than it should have, but he did his best to keep his expression blank.

"Merlin," said James, refilling his glass and offering the bottle to Peter. "You might want some of this, Wormy."

Peter shook his head. "Not tonight, I'm afraid. I have somewhere to be after this and the both of us know that if I try to keep up with you, I'll end up a mess huddled on the floor." It was a mark of the situation's severity that James did not so much as crack a smile.

He shrugged and drained the next glass loudly before slowly taking a deep breath and answering Peter's question. "It's the Weasleys… well, Ron."

Peter's blood ran cold. "What about him?" he asked, eyes never leaving James as he took great care to make sure every inch of his face was as modulated as it possibly could be. "Is he all right?"

James hesitated and Peter knew. He knew at once that whatever this was, it was a result of last summer at the Burrow. One of his pins had dropped, it seemed.

"He's… going to be, they say." Another sip from a newly-filled glass. "He's in Egypt with his family… they were touring some kind of pyramid, and… something happened."

"Something?"

"A ward… ward that detects mind-altering magic and breaks any enchantments it can."

Ah… yes, that would most certainly do it. Shame the boy had just so happened to stumble upon what was probably one of the few wards in the world capable of undoing Peter's work. Typical… the odds of it were so slim it was difficult to believe.

"Is he all right? Those wards… I don't know much about them, but being jolted from the — from mind-altering magic can go… badly."

"The letter from Molly and Arthur said he was still out, but Merlin only knows now. The healers are sure he'll be all right. The spell on him was powerful, but it wasn't cast to its full potential, they say."

Peter did not know how to feel about the relief that washed over him. What would have happened had he been a touch more proficient with the Imperius Curse? Would Ronald Weasley have ended up as brain-dead as those who had had the curse broken in the first war after it had been cast by some of the Dark Lady's more skillful followers?

"Do they know what the spell is?"

James nodded as he finished the glass he had been sipping at. "Imperius Curse, they reckon. Can't find any remnants of it, but they're pretty sure that's the spell. Last they wrote, they were hoping to get a legilimens in to look and see if they could fish out any memories without doing too much damage."

Peter's heart gave a nervous jolt before he reminded himself how skillful one would need to be in the Mind Arts to even have a chance of breaking a memory lock or reversing something that was essentially akin to an obliviation. Even those who could do it… Peter doubted it would leave the victim unaffected. He knew little of the Mind Arts, but surely he was safe… at least for now.

"Is there anything we can do?"

James seemed to mull it over before leaning forward. His brain was becoming sluggish, it seemed. "Sirius."

Peter blinked several times and even tilted his head to the side to inspect James more closely. Surely, he wasn't that drunk already? "What?"

"Sirius… I think it was Sirius who put him under the Imperius Curse!"

Oh… this was too rich. There was no way James was going to lap this up so easily. "Sirius? When would Sirius have gotten to place the curse on Ron?"

"Hell if I know. Unless you lot found something out at Azkaban you're not sharing, we have no idea when he escaped."

Peter shook his head. "It's impossible to tell. He could have escaped at any time." His voice was laced with contemplation.

"Exactly! And where were Ron and Charlus for most of the year?"

"Hogwarts?" Peter didn't have to fake anything this time. He knew the conclusion James was coming to, but where Hogwarts fit into the mix…

"Exactly, Hogwarts!" He waited for it to dawn on Peter, but when the detective peered back towards him, confused, he slammed his hand down hard on the table between them. "The passages, Wormy! None of the professors knew all of the secret passages when we were at school. And Pad-Sirius… he could have turned into that damned dog and slipped through one of them at any time. A dog wandering the halls would have been weird, but even if he was seen, I doubt anyone would've raised the alarm. Far from the weirdest thing that school's seen."

Oh, Merlin… this was actually a viable cover story. James had done all of his work for him… it was perfect. "That… actually makes sense. Dammit!" Now it was Peter's turn to slam his hand against the table. "Charlus's best friend… If Sirius wanted to get to Charlus—"

"Bastard!" cursed James. "The twat could try all he wants. I'll kill the fucker before he gets to touch him!"

It took an immense amount of effort for Peter to stare back so sympathetically. "I'll help you, Prongs, any way I can, but… what about when they are at Hogwarts? We can't just be traipsing about the castle day and night with work and all the rest."

"I… have something in the works." James glanced around the room as though fearful they would be overheard. "You won't tell anyone about this, right? If Lockhart knew what I was planning… he'd lose it."

Intrigue rose within Peter like fast-rising smoke from an open fire. "Of course not. I'm all ears and my lips are sealed."

James leant forward even further. "I've sent a letter off to Remus — he's going to try and watch over Charlus at Hogwarts."

That… had not been what Peter was expecting. What exactly he had been expecting, he had no idea, but that was not it.

Remus… Merlin, he didn't even know what had happened to Remus — just that he had fled the country, intent on travelling, never to return. If James really was in contact with him… yes, Lockhart would not be happy at all. Not with his vehement writings against werewolves and their rights. If he found Remus anywhere near the castle…

"How do you plan on making that work? Him moving about the castle and watching over Charlus? Even if Lockhart didn't recognize him, someone would." He scrunched up his face. "Hate Snivellus all you want, he's not an idiot. He'd probably see through any disguise Remus came up with."

"See, that's the thing… Snivellus doesn't know the passages, either. Remus can use them the same way Sirius can, and if he's lurking about them often, I wish the mutt good luck getting into Hogwarts."


Back in the present…

He hated the guilt more than he could explain. How was he to know that Weasley would stumble across a ward that would leave any under the Imperius Curse in such risk? His plan wouldn't even have seen all that much harm come to him… he was well-protected. Peter had no intention to send him onto the front lines… all he needed was the boy's influence.


The Burrow… Thirteen Months Ago

July 12, 1992

6:38 PM

Standing felt like an immense and insurmountable task for Peter after finishing up dinner at the Burrow. For all her proficiency at making food that made Peter's mouth water, Molly really did an awful job of knowing exactly how much a person could eat before becoming little more than dead weight masquerading as a functional human being. It was a wonder that the Burrow's rickety old kitchen table did not sag or even collapse under the immense heaps of food Molly piled atop it on a regular basis. Even more incredible to Peter was that she had not produced morbidly obese children, but a number of star Quidditch players. It defied logic and made absolutely no sense to him, but he had other, more pressing matters to attend to.

Ron had been the first to finish his plate and Peter had needed to eat at top speed to ensure he finished next. Normally, eating at such speeds would not have been something Peter indulged in, but there were some things more important than the sanctity of his stomach and the maintenance of his manners.

It was times like this when Peter really wished he could perform the Disillusionment Charm. Blast James and Sirius for their natural abilities with magic. It had never ceased to infuriate him at Hogwarts and it had not relented in doing so since. How he had passed the examinations for a detective without performing the charm, he had no idea.

Well… he had some idea. Probably some sweet, honeyed words from both James and Dumbledore mixed with his aptitude for almost anything else the examiner had tasked him with demonstrating, but that was beside the point.

Silencing Charms and Notice-Me-Nots would have to be enough for this. He could have shifted into Wormtail, but if he ran into Ron as a rat and needed to transform… well, the boy screaming would complicate matters and Peter would rather avoid that as a general rule.

It really was strange to climb the Burrow's stairs and not hear them creak loudly beneath his feet with every step. It almost felt… wrong. It probably would have had guilt for what he was about to do not already been eating away at the insides of his stomach like a bucket of highly toxic acid.

He had done worse things before… that was what he needed to tell himself. He had done things for the Dark Lady to prove his loyalty and he had only ever felt guilty once.

So why now? He had no intention of hurting the boy, just… using him. Perhaps it was because of Charlus. There had always been a certain soft spot there that Peter could not ignore. Perhaps it was because it felt wrong doing this to one of his friends, or more likely, it felt wrong using one of his friends to wrong a boy he genuinely cared about.

It could also have been that Peter was more attached to Ron than he had realized after watching the boy grow up, but that was a thought that did not need to be considered. That would only make this all the more difficult.

He waited outside the bathroom for Ron to exit, redoubling the wards he had cast on the stairs' landing as he waited. His wand snapped up as soon as Ron opened the door; the boy didn't even have the time to widen his eyes.

"Imperio!"

His eyes glazed over, but Peter knew that would not last. Once whatever instruction he had been given had taken hold, they would be as normal as ever. That common misconception had always amused him. What would be the point in a curse meant to be subtle if everyone knew somebody was under its effects just by looking at them? He had to resist the urge to shake his head at the thought. Idiots, the lot of them.

"Recite your full name," Peter ordered, ensuring the spell had taken hold.

"Ronald Billius Weasley."

Good, Peter thought, it was time. "You will vehemently rise against anything and everything related to Slytherin House and Harry Potter in particular. You will go on and on about everything you know is wrong with them to anyone you care about. You will argue the point if needed, you will do everything to make your friends see it your way and you will forget that this conversation ever happened. You will remember leaving the table, using the loo, and returning back down to the dining room with the Potters and Weasleys waiting for you. You will also remember meeting Peter Pettigrew on the way out of the bathroom because he was using it after you. Do you understand?"

Ron nodded obediently.


Back in the present…

He had only meant for Ron to influence Charlus and set him against his brother. It would have caused him no pain and put him in no serious trouble had it somehow not escalated to bloody Polyjuice Potion. How three second years had managed to even get ahold of that, he would never know. James and Sirius would have worshipped the ground they walked on if they had gone to school with the trio.

So why was it that Peter felt so guilty? Why was it that, as he waited to see whether any of his other tricks and deceptions would unravel, he did not feel fear or dread, but an undeniable weight of guilt upon his shoulders?


Author's Endnote:

I know these chapters are shorter than you're used to, but I don't plan on 10k word chapters being the norm in year 3. Again, this story is the one I use to experiment. The pacing will still be robust, but not quite as ludicrous as it was in year 2. That was one of my experiments. It did drag at times and I want to try and avoid that going forward.

Next chapter is definitely the most significant iteration of summer and it will end with quite the bang, so I hope you guys are excited.

Please read and review.

Thank you as always to my lovely Discord Editors Asmoedeus Stahl, Mac Odinson, and The Darkling for their corrections/contributions this week.

A massive thank you is also extended to my Everyl-level patron, Jonathan Weasley, and my Psychic-level patron, ShadowWolf, for their incredibly generous support on that platform!

PS: The next chapter will be posted next Saturday, October 30th, 2021. Or you can read the NEXT TWO CHAPTERS RIGHT NOW by joining my Discord server. THE NEXT TEN CHAPTERS can be read RIGHT NOW by anyone who signs up to my P*T*E*N page.