With Fate at His Beck and Call
Why? Why was he the one who had to do it? That was a rhetorical question; there was no one in the vicinity whom he could have asked it. Even when there had been, he had not asked it. One did not ask the Dark Lord to modify his plan to one's own convenience.
…But why was the he one who had to do it?!
Again, a rhetorical question, as he knew the answer perfectly well: He was the only one who could.
Gritting his buck teeth, he scampered on. He was the only one who could enter the Ministry of Magic undetected, something that was a crucial factor for this mission. He was the only one with… the equipment… to do what needed to be done. Oh, he should have known there would be a catch when he received it! There was always a catch! …always.
There so much security here. It was unnerving. Very, very unnerving. He understood better than ever how it was that Sirius had managed to slip past the Demetors only because of his animalistic form. This mission would have been impossible without such a form. Again, a reason he had been chosen for the task.
Every once in a while he did have to transform back into his human shape because some doors simply wouldn't open to rats. Whenever he did transform he did so nervously and skittishly. One would have thought that, after twelve years of living only in his Animagus state he would revel in his human form. Well, 'One' would have been dead off. He had liked living as a rat and pet to the Weasleys. Well fed, well cared for, given that they could only afford the one rat, he had enjoyed that lull in his life – free from dark magic and guilt. He didn't care if it was as shameful as Sirius had said: he did make a better damn rat than a human!
Sirius… hm… There was another issue. In fact, it was now the issue at hand for, after an excruciating amount of time (he did not know how long; watches didn't come in rat-size) he had made his way quietly though the chambers of the Department of Mysteries, so that Peter Pettigrew saw the Veil just ahead of him.
Now that he was here he felt his Adams apple sinking into his stomach, for he himself was in his human form now. He had to be, to get him out.
The room he had entered was rectangular, with step-like stone benches running upward in a stadium-like fashion. Pettigrew found himself now on the top row of benches, and looking down at the scene below. In the center of the room there was a raised platform on which stood the object of his mission: an stone archway that looked so old and cracked he felt nervous at the very idea of touching it, and hanging within it was a black raged curtain so thin that he could almost – almost– see through it. Almost.
Now I could have checked the time, if I'd only thought to bring a watch…
He hadn't been at the battle where Bellatrix had knocked Sirius behind the veil. He had been considered too menial for the task. He didn't suppose that it was any great secret that he was glad of it, really. He hadn't wanted to see his old 'friends' much more than they might have wanted to see him. Then again, perhaps they would have liked to get their hands on him.
His mouth quirked into something akin to a smirk. At least, he told himself it was a smirk. He knew that he was a little too nervous to really be a smirk and James had always teased him about how easy it had been to read him and to tell that he was nervous- Enough. The sooner I get this done, the sooner it'll be over.
Puffing a little as he went, be lowered himself step after steep step. His feet made loud thuds with every short drop he took. The veil was the only thing in this room. Thus the room was very good for acoustics. He rolled up the sleeve on his right arm. It wasn't made of flesh and blood, but of a silver substance molded by the Dark Lord himself.
He should have known there would be a catch. How thick did one get? Had he really supposed that He Who Must Not Be Named himself would just hand over such a powerful and wonderful arm to him? Even if it was for services dutifully rendered? Still, even a little over a year ago, when he received his new arm, he could never have imagined what it – he – was to be used for. He had never imagined that he would have to do this. With a final heave he raised himself onto the platform.
They would have liked to get their hands on me. Eh?
Rather tentatively he braced his natural arm against the stone archway. What if it were to cave in, and he were to fall into the abyss beyond? Like Sirius. He swallowed hard. Pettigrew never had been a great lover of the phrase 'You make your bed. You sleep on it.' With that last thought he thrust the silver limb through the arch and past the curtain.
Suddenly a gust of wind picked up. The archway teetered, but held. He was hearing too many voices! Too many! He groped blindly beyond the veil, not daring to extend more than his enchanted arm into the scene behind the curtain. The curtain itself was billowing before his face, as if trying to tempt him into leaning forward and looking for himself what lay beyond that thin-worn cloth. Pettigrew felt that he brushed against something, and jerked, not sure whether to grab it or not. Then, one voice caught his ear. A familiar voice. To the right! His arm lurched, and he seized upon a mat of what could only be hair. With this extraordinary arm of his, every sensation was unnatural – either too strong or utterly mute. He wasn't sure whether or not one even could recognize someone else by his hair, but on instinct he pulled and with one final heave off of the teetering, groaning archway, he half dragged, half threw, Sirius Black back into this world.
With something between a stumble and a lunge, Black hurtled out through the veil, only to be yanked backwards again, Pettigrew still holding his hair in an iron grip. A moment passed, but Black simply stilled and hung by the roots of his hair. Pettigrew swallowed hard as he set him down on the floor.
"Oy, Black!" he rasped. A moment passed. Not really knowing what else to do, he stood up and gave the man a kick. Still no answer. He crouched again, and stared at the skeletal face of one of his 'old friends.' A mop of greasy hair had fallen into his mouth and perspiration was glistening all over him. It did not seem that 'the other side' had agreed with Sirius very much.
Pettigrew hovered a moment more, flexing his right arm, just to make certain it was still undamaged from its plunge into that other world. "Sirius?" A twitch. No more. But a twitch. Pettigrew leaned in a little. "…Padfoot?" There was a deep intake of breath from 'the dead man.' It was as if Pettigrew had uncorked some sort of plug within him. The room that had only moments before been filled only with echoed steps and wheezes was now heavy with a man's steady, loud breathing.
Sirius licked his lips and mouthed something. Pettigrew leaned in until his ear was just over Black's mouth, and he could feel the moisture off his now uncorked, foul wreaking breath. "…Harry…"
There was no question: Pettigrew really hated this assignment. He leaned back into an upright squat, and looked about the room. 'The Death Chamber,' the specialists had called it. If only life was that simple. But few who were connected, even indirectly, to the Dark Lord, had as simple and end to life as 'death.' Torture, madness, or a veil in the Department of Mysteries. Not death.
Pettigrew flexed his arm again on instinct. "Well Sirius," he said, still looking about him. "You'll be seeing him soon." It all tied together. The return of the Dark Lord and the methods used. His own new arm. The 'death' of Sirius Black. The return of Sirius Black…and the methods used. This was what made the Dark Lord so terrifying and so tantalizing. His power was not merely of wand and spell. He gave all who knew him the impression that Fate itself was at his beck and call.
Pettigrew took one last long look at the limp form of Sirius Black, before he shot out his silver arm, wrapped it around Black's narrow torso, and heaved him over his shoulder. He teetered for a moment, but held firm. It was a good thing Sirius was so weak. No banquets on golden plates at the end of that tunnel.
Still Pettigrew had to swallow the prospects of what faced him over the span of the next few hours and next many hallways. Sneaking into the security-frenzied Ministry of Magic and hauling his old school friend out of would-be-death had been relatively easy. Now he had to get back out. The steps alone made him grimace.
"You will perform this task alone, Wormtail. As a rat you can avoid detection on your way to the room in question and on your return the path will already be familiar to you."
Pettigrew puffed a little as he slipped from one hallway to another, displaying a rat-like slickness one would not have expected from a man of his bulk. Again, 'One' could go stuff it.
"Yes, my Lord."
"I have already explained to you the function your arm will perform in this matter."
His arm tightened around Sirius's waist as the limp body almost slipped off his shoulder.
"Y-Yes. …My Lord, if-"
"You are going to ask me why I am having you go through the trouble of dragging back my enemies? In this case the only casualty of the battle from a month ago?"
"Wormtail, Wormtail, use your head! Think. Have you ever been desperate out of your mind to save a life you hold dear, besides your own?" There was a moment of telling silence, swiftly filled with a hiss-like laughter. Pettigrew swallowed. It certainly was an ironic question to pose to him of all people. "…Well then," the Dark Lord continued once he'd lapped up enough of the man's uncomfortable quietness. "If such a frenzy can come over men at the very fear of losing something, what about once lost, hm?" Pettigrew had made the mistake of looking up into his master's face then and was met by a pair of happy red eyes. "What desperate, wonton craze would come over those best and finest of men if a single one of them had the chance to mend that delicious hollow in his soul that only loss and death can fashion?" The Dark Lord's questions were almost always rhetorical, as he himself knew everything, without ever having experienced anything. And that was why he had to be followed.
That was why Wormtail, formally Peter Pettigrew, carried Sirius Black, formally 'deceased,' to the open arms of Lord Voldemort.
Please tell me what you think of this story, and whether it's worth having a continuation, or is just neater as it is.