The Sugar Quill
Author: B. Nonymous (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: ...That I Am Up To No Good  Chapter: Default
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...That I Am Up to No Good

...That I Am up to No Good.

Author's Note: Usual disclaimers apply - I'm just having fun. I'll apologize now for using a plot device I swear I've seen somewhere else, but with a different Sugarquill-approved pairing. Please read I Solemnly Swear... first. Thanks to Mrs. Nonymous (Lily to my James) and Night Zephyr for beta reading!

Peter, still gritting his teeth, walked down to the first locked door in the hallway. The Marauder's Map showed a "Ron Weasley" dot in the far corner of the bedroom. Suddenly, a bubble appeared on the map's picture of the door. It simply read, "Alohomora."

"Alohomora," said Peter as he waved his wand. The door opened.

At one time, the room had probably served as either a guest bedroom or servant's quarters. It was now stripped bare: no furniture, no carpet, and nothing on the walls except a small number of blood stains. A red-headed boy, the boy who originally knew Peter only as a pet rat named Scabbers, was curled up in the corner. He may have been unconscious, but Peter first waved a Silencing Charm on the door.

As a barely visible wave of magic coursed across the walls, Ron Weasley rose with a start. He immediately recognized Peter, and tensed his fists.

"I'm... so sorry," trembled Peter.

Ron looked as if he had been roughed-up, but not permanently harmed. The blood stains closest to the corner looked fresh, and probably came from him. His nose had a drop of clotted blood underneath it. He angrily shouted, "Where's Hermione?! Where's HARRY?!"

Peter walked over to the boy. In his outstretched hands were Ron's wand and the Marauder's Map. Peter held the map in his silver hand - his gift from Lord Voldemort.

"The girl is next door. Harry...," he paused, and his voice got softer and more fearful, "... is being guarded by six dementors."

Ron took the wand and pointed it at Peter.

"Why should I trust you... SCABBERS?!"

Peter looked down in shame as he replied, "You have no reason to. I only ask that you do. And that you remember what Harry did for me that night in the Shrieking Shack."

Ron did not believe him. "You had plenty of other chances. Why NOW?!"

Peter stuttered, looking at the map as if it were his only lifeline. "B.. B.. Because an old friend reminded me that it's never too late."

Ron bit his lower lip and looked at the parchment, but still pointed his wand at Peter. After he recognized the map for what it was, Ron started accessing the same part of his mind that he used during games of chess. He looked at the map, showing "Hermione Granger" in the room next door. He could not see "Harry Potter" anywhere on it.

"Where's Harry?" he asked, and immediately went back to biting his lower lip.

"In the parlor, off the map for now," Peter was still stuttering, "The.. the dementors don't show up on here." He looked at the map, "They have no souls, y'know."

"Where's your boss?" It was Ron's turn to stutter, ever so slightly, "V-Voldemort?"

Peter still cringed at the sound of his master's name, but answered softly, "My master is out to k-kill some Muggles and Mudbloods."

Ron's face flushed, and he muttered under his breath, "Hermione."

"My master has special plans for the girl... but we have to move quickly. They'll be back soon!"

"Tell me the plans..."

Peter hesitated, then quickly grabbed his wand, pointed it at Ron, and uttered, "Finite Incantatem."

Ron started to utter, "Expelliarmus," but realized what Peter was doing.

"They're going to use Imperius on us, aren't they?"

"Yes. I had to be sure, though. Now hurry! We need the girl's help."

Ron put his wand-hand down, but still held it at the ready. "Her name is Hermione," he drew out each syllable in her name, "and we sure as hell do need her help."

They carefully walked out of Ron's room, and toward the door for Hermione's room. Like Ron's, the map showed that Alohomora would open the door. Peter magically unlocked the door and Ron charged in.

The room was in far better condition than Ron's. It had a bed, and Hermione was sitting on it, reading a book. She was startled by Ron's entrance.

"You!" shouted Hermione, looking angrily at Ron. Ron made out the words, "Cruciatus Curse" on the open book's left-hand page. Her face dropped to impassivity as Peter walked in behind him, wand drawn and pointed.

"Finite Incantatem," Peter said. Unlike Ron, Hermione shuddered after the spell had been cast.

Hermione, now looking confused, said, "What... what happened? Ron?" She dropped the book and got off the bed, but did not approach Ron or Peter.

"They put you under the Imperius Curse, didn't they?"

"Oh no! What have I done? I remember Harry... dementors... oh my, what did I do?" She recognized Peter, but before she could say anything, he handed back her wand.

"We need to free Harry," said Ron, "and Scabbers... I mean Wormtail, is going to help us."

"He works for Voldemort," said Hermione with increasing panic. "HE made me shout out Harry's name. I lured him into their trap. I wouldn't do it on my own."

"My master would have used Crucio on you to get Harry. I couldn't do that," said Peter, looking down again in shame. "My master liked the idea of having both of you under Imperius, so I guess he kept you under the spell."

"We have to get Harry, and get to Dumbledore. Sca.. Wormtail, do you have all of our stuff?" asked Ron.

"I have Harry's wand, James's cloak," Ron and Hermione looked at Peter with a mix of pity and shock when he referred to Harry's Invisibility Cloak that way, "and I think that's it."

"Do you have the cakes?" asked Ron anxiously.

Hermione tutted and rolled her eyes, but then remembered just what sort of cakes Ron had brought with him.

Peter, however, was horrified. "We need to get Harry!" he squealed.

"We also need to escape. Those custard creams are our ticket out of here, if we can get outside," Ron seemed sure of his veracity, and so did Hermione.

"What is it?" asked Peter, almost in a panic.

"Long-lasting Canary Creams. We eat them, turn into canaries, and we fly out of here. Can we get Harry now?"

"We have to get past the dementors. How do we do that?" Peter again squealed, starting to wonder if he should have betrayed his master.

"With a Patronus, but Harry's the best at that," said Ron.

"Mr. Pettigrew," said Hermione, "can you carry Harry's wand as a rat?"

"Yes, but... I'm not going in THERE by myself."

"Sirius Black said that the dementors don't notice animals as much. That's how he escaped Azkaban. You can give Harry his wand as a rat, get out, and then we can distract the dementors. Hopefully Harry's not hurt...," said Hermione, looking at Ron, wondering how he got his bloody nose.

"My master performed the Cruciatus Curse on Harry before he left. I don't think he's otherwise harmed."

"You'd better hope he's in one piece, Scabbers, or I'll hex you five ways to yesterday," threatened Ron, pointing his wand at Peter.

"The cakes are in the study at the end of the hall. I... I'll go give Harry his wand back."

Ron quickly ran to the study to retrieve their supply of the latest product of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Hermione watched, wand drawn, as Peter set Harry's wand and the Marauder's Map on the floor, turned into a rat, grabbed the wand with his teeth, and walked down the dark hallway. Hermione took a few steps forward to pick up the map. She looked at it and noticed that the dot labelled "Peter Pettigrew" was now turning a corner, and heading off the map. She also noticed the dot labelled "Ron Weasley" was moving quickly toward her own dot.

Ron took a quick breath, "Got the creams. Three of them. I hope Sca... Wormtail can stay in my pocket when we change."

"He can't, Ron. If it's like the Animagus transformation, only your own things change with you. Mr. Pettigrew will still be a rat," replied Hermione (without a trace of irony).

"But if we bring him back, we can prove Sirius was innocent," whispered Ron.

Peter Pettigrew was the key to proving Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, innocent of the murder of thirteen Muggles. Peter himself actually committed the multiple murder, with a single explosive curse. Sirius had escaped the wizarding prison, Azkaban, just before Voldemort's return to power. The timing of his escape helped the Ministry of Magic to remain in denial about Voldemort's return. All Death Eater attacks and crimes for the past year and a half had been blamed on "Sirius Black and his followers."

Ron and Hermione both knew that proving Sirius innocent would affect a lot of change in their lives. For one thing, it would give their best friend Harry something he never had: a parental figure who actually cared about him. For another, it would allow the Order of the Phoenix, a secret anti-Voldemort group headed by Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, to go public with its work. And finally, it would heal a rift between Ron's brother Percy, who toed the official Ministry line, and the rest of his family.

. . .

Peter always felt more in charge of his feelings, especially his fears, as a rat. He was so small, nobody would ever notice him. As he scurried between two dementors guarding the opening into the Riddle Mansion's parlor, he also remembered other times he experienced as a rat.

"Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?"

He had escaped as a rat after shouting those accusations loudly enough for witnesses to hear. The truth was that Peter actually had given away the Potters' location to Voldemort.

Currently feeling a slight dementor drain on him, he remembered that his accusation had subjected his old friend Sirius Black to twelve years of even worse emotional darkness. In spite of that remorse - dementors always made people recall their worst memories, his rat form kept him from extreme sadness. It also kept his fear in check.

He finally saw James's son, collapsed on the floor, looking like he was already dead. His left hand was on his forehead, covering a curse scar shaped like a lightning bolt. Peter knew his master had given the boy, Harry Potter, that scar. Peter managed to find Harry's other hand, and make sure the wand was touching at least a few of Harry's fingers. When he let go of the wand, Harry muttered a few words while twitching.

"Mom... Yes, Aunt Petunia. I WON'T! ...Ginny... why did it have to be you?!"

Peter dared not stay, lest he lose what little nerve he had left while listening to Harry relive the worst moments of his life. Before he turned around, he noticed that Harry had managed to grip his wand. Encouraged by this, he turned around and scurried out of the parlor.

. . .

Hermione noticed the "Peter Pettigrew" dot rapidly heading toward them. Once it turned the corner into their hallway, they saw a change in the shadows, and they correctly deduced that the rat had turned back into the man.

"Harry has his wand. He looks almost dead," said Peter, very nervously.

"Hopefully that's just the dementors," Hermione worried.

"Hermione, can you summon a Patronus?" asked Ron.

"It's very advanced magic, Ron. I tried during Defense Against the Dark Arts class last year, and you saw how that turned out."

Ron shuddered. Hermione's attempt only produced a blocky, yet vague, shape. It then opened to flutter, as if it were a bird. Professor Figg knew that almost everyone in the fifth-year class would be unable to do the charm successfully.

"Think about the happiest thought you can. I did some practicing over the summer with Fred and George. Start thinking about happy thoughts now, so you can hold on to them when the dementors come," said Ron.

Peter looked absolutely pale. He wanted to tell them both that he had never conjured a Patronus, nor even tried to do so. He hoped that he could perhaps use something else to help, as he looked at his clenching silver fist.

All three of them started walking down the hallway. They were all looking at the Marauder's Map, waiting for the "Harry Potter" dot to appear as they approached the main hallway of the Riddle Mansion.

"We'll never get him out, will we," whimpered Ron, uncharacteristically.

Hermione looked up, and saw two dementors rapidly breezing toward them. She shouted, "Ron! Look up!"

It was too late. Peter tried to hold one of them back with his silver hand, but it was only partially successful. The other dementor attempted to lift Hermione up to the black-hole of despair that served as a dementor's mouth.

Ron managed to collect himself just enough to try one incantation, "Expecto Patronum," he said, and an indistinct figure floated toward the second dementor. Hermione managed to squirm out of the dementor's hands, but she fell to her knees, crying, her thoughts drifting darkly.

I have to warn Harry, it's a Basilisk...
"Mudblood!"
"Hermione, Neville's right - you are a girl..."
"Undiluted bubotuber pus!"
"Oh Ron, he asked me first. I wasn't sure if you would remember this year..."

Peter had managed to put himself between the dementors and Harry's friends. He, too, was on the floor in tears.

"Daddy's dead, Peter"
"Not so tough without Potter and Black, are you Petey!"
"It's because I'm Muggle-born, isn't it Peter!" "No Deidre, it's not that."
The burning sensation of the Dark Mark.
Sirius Black Escapes Azkaban
"You should have realized, if Voldemort didn't kill you, we would. Good-bye, Peter."

Ron was the only one left standing. The two dementors seemed distracted by Peter, for some reason. Ron then remembered that Hermione had almost received the Kiss. The kiss...

Ron grabbed Hermione's hand to lift her up. He shook her, making sure she was aware of her surroundings. Suddenly, Hermione blinked, and looking into Ron's eyes, she said...

"I should've done this a long time ago, Ron."

At the same time, Ron looked into Hermione's eyes, and also spoke.

"I'm sorry for being a big prat, Hermione."

Because Ron said his thirteen syllables faster than Hermione said her eleven, they managed to punctuate their sentences in identical fashion - with a mutual embrace and a passionate kiss.

The experience of a first romantic kiss can do strange things to people. For Ron and Hermione, however, this kiss could not have been better timed. The air literally glowed around them afterwards as they pointed their wands at the two dementors, who now had their four other companions behind them. Flush with the twin joys of discovery and revelation, Ron and Hermione uttered the spell in unison.

"EXPECTO PATRONUM!"

Out of Ron's wand flashed a familiar-looking figure. A knight, looking nearly identical to the knight on the giant wizard's chessboard from their first year, began to attack two of the dementors with a sustained fury. Every time the dementors came closer the knight beat them both back with his sword. The knight's horse whinnied, then drove them off into the darkness outside.

Hermione's wand produced a much clearer, yet surprisingly blocky shape. Ron almost lost his concentration when he saw what it was: a large copy of Hogwarts - A History. But Hermione's Patronus opened up, and out of the pages came figures - one at a time - from over a millenium of school history. Godric Griffindor appeared out of the first page, brandishing his sword, identical to the one on Dumbledore's desk. He disappeared, but another page opened, and Wendolyn Treacle, the first headmistress (her predecessors were all men) of Hogwarts, blasted the same two dementors back with beams from her oaken staff. Finally, a younger-looking Albus Dumbledore stepped out of one of the later pages. His eyes twinkled as he waved his wand to send two of the dementors into total retreat.

While Ron and Hermione managed to ward off the first four dementors, the two furthest back continued to approach. Peter was still curled up on the floor, crying, and muttering indistinctly. Ron and Hermione, exhausted, began to feel hopeless again, but from behind the dementors came another glow.

The remaining dementors collapsed. A charging stag leapt between each dementor, and attempted to gore each with its massive antlers. Both dementors joined their companions outside, the stag laying chase. After a pause, the stag returned toward Ron and Hermione. It continued past them, however, and stopped at the sobbing figure on the floor.

"P.. P... Prongs?!" gasped Peter, realizing that the dementors had gone.

A thin figure emerged from the darkness, wand aglow. It said, "As much of him that's left, Wormtail." The figure paused, but stepped forward; it was Harry.

"Thank you for returning my wand," said Harry, touching the stag briefly before it disappeared. "Did you drive away the others, too?"

"Harry!" Hermione shouted as she ran up to him and gave him a warm hug.

"We drove them away, Harry! Did you see what we conjured?" asked Ron excitedly.

"I wish I had, Ron," Harry said, before he lost his balance. Hermione kept him from falling, but Harry was even more spent than Ron and Hermione. He also had the gaunt look of an Azkaban prisoner, even though he had only spent a few hours under dementor guard.

"Ron, we need to get out of here... all of us." She looked at Peter.

"He's coming back here. I can feel it," Harry said while rubbing his scar with his left hand. His right hand held his wand over Hermione's shoulder.

"Wormtail, can you get us outside without being seen? If you can, then you can turn into the rat, and we will watch over you as we fly home."

Peter stood up. He turned to Ron to answer, but his silver-handed right arm shot up, as if under someone else's command, and wrapped its fingers around Harry's throat.

"I can barely control it," cried Peter shrilly.

"You're killing him!" screamed Ron.

"It's a Loyalty Charm, isn't it?" asked Hermione.

"It must be. I can hardly keep it from crushing his throat," replied Peter, his face wrenched in pain.

Peter's left hand was rummaging around in his robes. He found a large knife. He remembered both how he cut off his own finger to leave a clue to frame Sirius, and how he also severed his original right hand to please his former master. He mustered up the courage to repeat the act to spite that same former master.

"WAIT!" shouted Hermione.

"Hermione?" asked Ron, obviously mortified that Hermione would not let Peter cut off his own hand to save Harry.

"If he cuts it off, he can't control it. It may end up killing Harry! We need to eat the creams now. We can fly out through the chimney if we need to."

"Harry," asked Ron, "can you eat this?"

Harry coughed, but managed to squeak out, "Yes," to Ron.

Ron unwrapped one of the Canary Creams. He put it in Harry's open mouth. Harry took as big of a breath as he could manage before starting to chew the small cake. Two seconds after he swallowed, a cloud of smoke and feathers replaced what was in Peter's magic hand. Once Peter saw the small canary, he slashed his arm with all of his strength, and he let out a bloodcurdling scream as the blood-coated silver hand dropped to the floor.

"GO! Before he comes back!" cried Peter.

"But we need YOU to clear Sirius!" shouted Ron.

Harry-as-canary flew circles around Peter, vaguely reminding both Ron and Hermione of Ron's owl, Pigwidgeon.

"Take the knife. Three canaries can't carry an injured rat. Please trust me again, Ron. The knife has enough of my blood on it that Dumbledore will know it was me. Please! I will try my hardest to reach Hogwarts!"

"Ron! We have to go! Before You-Know-Who gets back."

"You promise, Wormtail!"

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good, Ron. Now go!"

Harry seemed happy with this, because he zoomed to the parlor, up the chimney, and returned back. He perched on Ron's shoulder, chirping in his ear.

Ron gave Hermione her Canary Cream. They both looked at each other with a slight longing, then ate their respective pieces. Both turned into canaries just as Harry had. Harry led them up the parlor chimney, and the three of them flew off into the night.

Peter looked at his severed hand on the floor. The pain throbbed, but his overwhelming emotions kept it in check. He managed to perform a cauterizing charm over the stump on his right arm. He actually started to laugh, thinking about what he was going to do next. He drew his wand, walked toward the garden entrance of the mansion, and looked out toward the stars.

He continued out the door and turned around, facing the house again. He looked up, crying and laughing and pointed his wand at the house. He shouted something to the sky before he cast his spell:

"Lily and James! How could I!"

. . .

The door to Professor Dumbledore's office opened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked in, escorted by Professor McGonagall, Remus Lupin, and a large black dog. After the door shut, the dog transformed into Sirius Black. Sirius put his hand on Harry's shoulder. Ron and Hermione were holding hands, but each looked more tired than happy.

"Welcome back, you three. We were all very worried about you, of course," said Dumbledore.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione each sighed heavily as they took in the comforting layout of the Headmaster's office. Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore's phoenix, flew around the three, and then rested on Harry's left shoulder. Fawkes nuzzled Ron, and looked to Hermione as if to invite her to touch him. His song soothed them, and everyone else in the room.

Once satisfied that everyone was calm, Dumbledore continued, "As to the matter of how you three escaped, I think I already know how. Would you all please direct your attention to the Muggle device on my right?"

Dumbledore motioned to a Muggle television set. It was showing a news report. Hermione gaped at the small twenty-inch set.

"I thought that wouldn't work here at Hogwarts."

"This is war, Miss Granger. We will exploit any source of information," counseled the Headmaster. He pressed a button on a remote control, and both image and sound started on the television.

"Fire squads reported to a three-alarm blaze in Little Hangleton. The cause of the explosion, in an abandoned manor, appears to be a natural gas leak."

"Mr. Black, do you recall any spell that the Muggles may have mistaken for a natural gas explosion?" asked Dumbledore, the famous twinkle unmistakable in his eyes. He pressed another button to turn off the television.

"I don't believe it," muttered Sirius.

"Wormtail, you finally came through, didn't you," said Lupin, a bit louder.

"He gave Harry his wand back, Professor," shouted Ron to Dumbledore.

"And he released me from the Imperius Curse," said Hermione, "...but was the one he put it on me too."

"It was strange," explained Ron. "He looked at the map, and said that an old friend told him it wasn't too late."

"He saw my Patronus. It was like..." Harry shuddered, but as he had before, Fawkes somehow seemed to give Harry added strength, "my father convinced him to help us."

"That's because he probably did, Harry," said Lupin.

Sirius reached over to Ron, and asked, "May I see that?" motioning at the Marauder's Map.

Professor McGonagall looked at the piece of paper that Ron was handing to Sirius. "Is that what I think it is? I thought Filch confiscated that years ago."

Hermione spoke up, eager to explain the mystery to her favorite professor.

"His," she looked at Ron with playful accusation, "brothers stole it from Mr. Filch. They, in turn, gave it to Harry during our third year. We've lost it a few times since then, but we've managed to get it back each time."

"Did Wormtail use this?" asked Sirius.

"He gave it to me just before he gave Harry his wand back. He also gave me... this," replied Ron, showing the bloody knife that Peter had also given him.

Sirius shook his head in disbelief. He looked at Lupin with a sense of loss and wonder. Lupin started to say what Sirius could not.

"We created that map, the four of us. We put a little of ourselves into it. The map sometimes talks back," he sighed. "Most of the time it discourages people from using it. But if it was one of us using it, it would egg on whomever was holding it. I'll bet we... in the map... told him to help you three."

Sirius looked at the map, and the lines showing Dumbledore's office squiggled away. They reformed into letters and words.

Mr. Prongs sends Mr. Padfoot and Mr. Moony his greetings, and hopes that Mr. Wormtail, his mischief managed, will be joining them soon.

Mr. Wormtail misses his friends.

The whole room looked to see the message from Prongs and Wormtail. Professor McGonagall sniffled, holding back tears. Hermione started to cry, but with a smile, and with Ron holding her. Harry gaped, mouth open with a happy, but astonished, look not unlike Lupin and Sirius.

"Ladies and Gentleman," said Dumbledore with a touch of his radiant power, "Voldemort will be leaving no stone unturned looking for Mr. Pettigrew. We must do the same, and get to him first."

Stay tuned for the final installment of this series, Mischief Managed. (It might be a bit, though, 'cause it'll be even longer than this installment.)

//
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