Inspired by the song 'Runaway Train'
It had all seemed so easy at first. So easy to give him what
he wanted... A few details, a place, a time... He had always liked things to be
easy. Making an effort was not something he did very well. He tried and tried,
but he never seemed to get anywhere.
He'd had to ask them for help in the transformation, and it
had galled him inside. Just once, just once, he'd wanted to do something on his
own, completely on his own.
Was that why he'd done it?
Some perverse desire to tell them all someday and then say, "And I did it without your help?"
It was more complicated than that. He'd tried to make it
seem simple to Sirius in that dark shack, a simple matter of fear. But he
should have known better. Sirius had not been placed in Gryffindor for nothing:
he'd prized bravery above all things. To make so much of his fear had been
stupid, so stupid, it had just increased Sirius’s contempt. He'd never been
stupid, just a little slow, a little unsure.
Like that boy now... Longbottom... afraid that he had
nothing inside him, no fire to match that of his dormmates. Oh he could
understand that feeling all too well. Listening to his friends talk long into
the night, he wondered why they had chosen him. Surely it couldn't just be that
he shared the same bedroom? It had to be something more than that. But he never
asked... the question went unanswered... and it ate him up inside. Watching
Remus' intellect, the way he steadfastly endured his painful menses; watching
Sirius surrounded by adoring girls as he read out yet another hilarious song
about Snape; and finally, James, watching James in Quidditch, his skill and
grace, borrowing his Potions notes, watching the way everyone smiled at him,
approved of him... All of them had a light inside them.
He didn't feel that light. He felt dark, empty, hollow from
need, from lack of talent.
Even as an animal, he was a rat. He couldn't help Remus; all
he could do was stop the Whomping Willow. It was James and Sirius who
restrained the howling monster, who calmed him and led the way through the
Forbidden Forest. He'd hated those visits – the Forest was still dangerous for
him; he'd been on a different scale from the
rest of them... Even as an animal.
An animal of dark places, looking for the light.
He'd shone so brightly. He'd been different back then.
Charming, inscrutable, though the spells he'd cast upon himself, the potions he
took, were already beginning to mark his body.
"You feel powerless, don't you?"
"So small, so weak, so useless, they don't let you do
anything, do they?"
"I'll make you powerful, Peter... So powerful that
you'll finally be able to stand up to them. You'd like that, wouldn't
Yes. Oh yes. To see the looks on their faces...
"So why don't you just say yes?"
"What kind of friends are they? What have they ever
done for you?"
Friends... My friends... They're good to me. They've always
helped me, always saved me...
Because they never thought I could do anything on my own.
"This is how you do it, Peter..."
"Need a hand there?"
"What's wrong now?"
"I don't think you'd be able to manage it
But I did manage it! I did!
"You're a burden to them. You've always been a burden.
The only reason they include you is because they feel it's their duty. You see
that, don't you, Peter?"
Peter is Greek. It means 'rock'. I'm their rock. The steady,
They think that I'll never change. They think that I'm
always going to be their acolyte. (I thought this was better than follower or
hanger-on, it gives a feeling of ‘worship’.)
"Better stop before Wormtail wets himself..."
He didn't mean it like that. Even when the words were harsh,
they were my friends... They'll always be my friends...
"No, Peter. They will die, sooner or later. Probably
sooner. Nobody defies me for very long. The Potters' time is running out. The
blood traitor is reckless and will probably be killed very soon... or trapped,
just like you were. And I don't think we really need to
worry about your other friend doing much, do we?"
Remus... you wouldn't kill him. How could he harm you? He
wouldn't harm anyone... Not while he's Remus...
"Such a shame." The dark eyes narrowed, and the
wand was lifted. "I'm sure your friends will be devastated... or maybe
not. Maybe they'll sigh in relief and silently thank me for getting rid of you.
You *are* a dead weight, aren't you? To them, anyway. I could have found such
an interesting job for you..."
"Would you like to serve the greatest wizard the world
has ever known?"
"Lord Voldemort needs a servant. My other Death Eaters
are all too proud, but you would help me, wouldn't you?"
Help you... But what about my friends?
"Where are your friends now, Pettigrew? Shouldn't they
be coming in about now to save you?"
No. I came here on my own... I was supposed to bring Sirius
"Shouldn't they be looking for you?"
Yes. They should be looking for me. Where are they?
"It seems you're all alone."
James... Remus... Sirius... help me. Help me! Don't let him
kill me! Where are you?!
"One last chance, Peter." How soft and
encouraging, that voice.
"Either be my servant... or die. It's not that hard,
even for a rat like you."
"I'll show you things, Peter..."
"Everything you ever wanted to know about the Dark
"They won't be able to look down on you again."
Such kind, welcoming eyes...
"Better stop before Wormtail wets himself..."
The mocking laughter in Sirius' face... You thought you knew
everything about me.
You were wrong.
"Good boy, Peter."
Sometimes, it only takes a little pressure for the key to
A moan shivered in the darkness.
Why did he think of these things? Why couldn't he just press
them back down in his mind, as he had done when he was in his other form? As a
rat, life had been so easy, so simple. Eat, sleep, nibble Ron's socks
occasionally… keep an eye on Harry. It was like watching James grow up all over
again. He didn’t dream of killing him, despite what Sirius had said... how
could he kill this beautiful boy whom he'd known since birth, his eyes
twitching as he dreamed? Harry was the only link he had left to that happy
past: sighing as James had done over Binns' sleep-inducing essays; flushed with
triumph after a Quidditch match; crying silently in his sleep… What had he been
Oh, he knew.
James. James and Lily. His dead parents.
Dead because of him.
He doubled up, gnawing on his lip. Why couldn't he sleep?
These thoughts went round and round in his head. He was exhausted from them,
but his body refused to relax.
Harry, who had looked at him with such hatred.
Harry, who had saved his life.
Wormtail hadn't told his master that. He didn't dare.
Life-debts were serious things. Look at what Severus Snape's life-debt had
caused him to do - with ill grace, but nevertheless, he'd done it.
'If a man saves one life, it is as if he has saved the life
of the whole world...'
Harry had saved the world already, but it wasn’t grateful.
Deep down, Wormtail knew that the wizarding world almost hated Harry for that.
He understood the feeling. He understood how Severus Snape felt. Because James
was dead, he could never really discharge his debt. Not unless it so happened
that he directly saved Harry.
Two of them indebted to Harry Potter, both of them the most
unlikely people in the world to be in that position. It was the kind of
situation that Dumbledore would have appreciated, probably did appreciate.
"Peter, I think it's time to tell you..."
No, he wouldn't think of that now. That soft, understanding
voice that haunted him, the voice he had come to think of his conscience. And
yet the memory rolled over his mind as he lay on the bed, eyes wide open. He
couldn't stop it, and deep down inside, he didn't want to. It was like looking
back on another life.
"Peter, I think it's time to tell you the secret. I
wasn't sure before this, but your friends insisted."
Dumbledore looked to his left - Sirius and Remus were
engaged in an intense game of wizard chess. Sirius was taking risks and making
great forays up the board... but Remus was winning. Remus glanced up at the
words and smiled. He was white, as always, and a the moment, his chessmen were
smirking at Sirius's. The black pieces glared and whispered to Sirius, tactical
"Of course we insisted," Sirius said without
looking up, listening intently.
"Absolutely. Unfair to keep you in the dark so
long," added James, who was sitting by the fire, relaxing after another
narrow escape from Lord Voldemort. His smile was easy and you would never have
guessed that his life was in danger.
"I hope you don't mind, Peter?"
He blinked, looking at Lily Evans - Lily Potter, he reminded
himself. She was heavily pregnant, almost in her ninth month. The midwife at
St. Mungo's had been amazed that the baby was still alive and not even
particularly affected by all the stress his mother had
undergone during the last week. She'd insisted on keeping
Lily overnight for observation, and Dumbledore had dropped by to see how the
mother-to-be was coping.
"No, no, of course not," he stuttered. "I
understand completely. Can't have too many people knowing... knowing what you
"Peter," said Dumbledore, "are you sure you
want to know this? It will place you in grave danger. You will be a target just
like your friends." His light blue eyes held Peter's, their usual twinkle
completely gone, letting him know that this was very serious indeed.
But at that moment, Peter didn't care about danger, about
the future, about being a target of You-Know-Who. He just wanted to know why on
earth Lily and James of all people were being targeted;
he wanted to be included once more in his friends' conversations. He
wanted the Marauders to be together again. He lifted his
"I'll face the consequences," he said proudly.
They smiled at him, all of them.
His finest hour...
He'd learned so many secrets that day: the Order of the
Phoenix, the members, their job, Dumbledore's fears of what Voldemort wanted.
Secrets that he'd intended to keep until death...
But death was so cold, so frightening, so final...
"There's something I have to tell you..."
"I'm their Secret Keeper."
Don't tell me this...
"I think it would be better if we swapped places...
there's no way he'd go after you... they've been trying to get me for
Sirius, don't make me choose...
"James and Lily have already agreed."
"But I said that I'd ask you, just in case you didn't
want the responsibility..."
The dark eyes held him. Was that a challenge in their
depths? Did Sirius expect him to say no? Anger clouded his vision.
You really have such a low opinion of me?
"Of course, Padfoot... how could I refuse?"
He let out a shuddering sob.
"It must have been the finest day of your miserable
life when you told him you could hand him the Potters..."
You were wrong, Sirius. I never got to tell you just how
wrong... and now you're...
Tears streamed down the thin, bony face as the small man
curled up on his bed, trying not to make a single sound. If the man in the next
room heard him, he would not be pleased... he needed his sleep more than ever
It had been a hard evening for everyone…
"Go into the next room, Bella, and wait there. Wormtail!"
He hurried into the corridor. "Master..."
"Prepare some food." There was blood on his
master's face. "Bella will need her strength for this punishment."
Bellatrix Lestrange's face shone white in the gloom, and her
eyes were wide, sparking with panic. He instinctively backed away from her. She
was a woman of strange moods, but always in complete control of herself.
If something's happened... I don't care. They would have
killed me. They would have killed me...
But something's happened...
"Master..." she whispered. "I did not know...
the Animagus Black distracted me..."
Sirius? Sirius had been in the Department of Mysteries? Why?
The answer came immediately: Harry.
"Of course he did, Bella," said the Master calmly.
"He probably guessed what you wanted – he
was your cousin after all, a brilliant mind as Wormtail told me once..."
Was your cousin? Was?
"Still, he is dead now, one less guardian for the
boy... Go to the room."
"Yes, Master." She turned and disappeared.
He stood frozen.
His voice had disappeared from his throat, and he turned,
eager to reach the sanctum of the kitchen as tears began to burn in his eyes.
He froze. "Yes, Master?" Could he see? Was he
rummaging inside his mind right now?
"Make sure that the food is well-prepared. It has been
a long night."
"Of course, Master." He bowed his head so he would
not have to look into the terrible all-seeing eyes.
He turned and walked towards the moonlit doorway, holding
himself still, fighting down the pain which had begun to burn inside his heart.
He had betrayed the man. He had put him in Azkaban. Sirius
had wanted to kill him. No doubt he had thought of him as the worst kind of
humanity right up until the end. He had promised himself that if Sirius died in
this war, there would be no tears.
So why did the tears come? Why did sobs build up in his
throat? Why did this knowledge hurt so much?
Sirius, bright and laughing, careless and fun-loving...
He remembered seeing the cottage explode, running forward,
trying to find his Master... finding James and Lily instead. They had been
flung close together in death. Lily was face down on the ground, but James was
He retched, putting a hand over his mouth as he stirred the
soup with his wand.
Padfoot... swallowed in darkness.
Prongs... covered in blood.
He ran then, terrified. James was dead. His master was gone.
It felt like the world was tumbling around his ears, and his one thought was to
run home, home to his mother, home to where it was safe.
Sirius would come after him, he knew that. Sirius would know
what had happened. He would die...
After all this, he was not going to die!
He was a rat after all. His survival instinct, never really
asleep, woke with a jolt. A plan began to form crystal clear and cold in his
mind. He Disapparated, thinking hard, appearing near his home in London, then
quietly walked through the streets.
Sirius was waiting for him. Reckless and unpredictable
Sirius was following his plan exactly. He was too upset, too furious, to think.
That was Peter's only advantage and he took it.
As Sirius opened his mouth, he yelled, "How could you,
Sirius?! How could you? Lily and James, Sirius! Lily and James..."
There were tears streaming down his cheeks. He wasn't really
yelling at Sirius of course... he was yelling at himself. How could you, Peter?
How could you do such a thing?
Taking his wand, he sliced off his finger, and blew up the
rest of the street behind him. He heard the crying, Sirius screaming his name -
but he didn't care. He'd killed his hero. He was going to put one of his best
friends in Azkaban.
Nothing mattered anymore.
The transformation squeezed and pulled at him as he saw the
rats fleeing towards the sewer. He didn't look back at Sirius, but he
remembered the laughter.
That ghastly, mirthless laughter
echoing around the ruined street. Echoing around his mind.
A constant companion that would be with him unto death.
And Remus... what of Remus?
But it didn't matter if they'd all been alive, if James had
managed to survive... there would still be no way back.
It was the only thing inside his head as he ran with that
crowd of unthinking animals. No way back... no way back... you made your bed,
now sleep in it.
He was a dead man.
He was a living rat.
All he had to do now was survive... eat, drink, sleep...
A simple strategy.
But his mind would not be comforted or calmed by this new
life. It wept and screamed names - James, Sirius, Remus...
That was the time of darkness when Wormtail and Peter fought
against each other.
"It wasn't my fault," Wormtail always said
angrily. "It was me or them... I would be dead now... they didn't come to help
me... they didn't think I could do anything!"
"They were my friends, my friends!" Peter wept.
"How could you? How could you? They'd still be alive right now-!"
"But you'd be dead."
"They cared about me..."
How it hurt, how exhausting it had been, the two sides of
him fighting, a never-ending war that formed hellish nightmares when he slept
and tormented him daily when he was awake.
Eventually – he didn't remember how – he found himself lying
in a garden full of gnomes. He would have wept, but rats couldn't cry. They
could only lie in silent misery, squeaking slightly every now and again...
"Is it dead yet?"
"Dunno. Poke it."
He squeaked in indignation as a chubby finger touched his
belly. Why couldn't they leave him alone?
"Darn, it's still alive."
So sorry to disappoint you, he though sarcastically.
"What are you two doing now?"
"Nothing!" came the innocent chorus.
"I'll believe that when I see it - what's that?"
"A rat. But it's still alive."
"Have you done anything to it?"
"We only just found it!"
Gentle hands slipped under him and picked him up. He found
himself staring into spectacled eyes.
James, is that you?
He squeaked feebly, trying to move closer.
"He's in pretty bad shape, but I think he'll
"You're going to keep it?!"
"Him, and yes."
He began to make out the boys below him now, strangely
similar, with flaming red hair. They looked impressed despite themselves.
"Mum'll never let you!"
"Yes, she will, she lets Percy do anything, he's
"Nobody is perfect, she just knows that I'll be
responsible unlike *some* people."
One of the boys blew a raspberry. "Boring!"
He began to get his breath back lying in the warm hands. The
voices had subsided. Something interesting was going on around him. It reminded
him so much of... no, he wouldn't think of them! He was dead to them. And they
were dead to him.
"Boys, you aren't fighting are you?!"
"Mum, Percy found a rat!"
"He says he's going to keep it!"
He was lifted and shown to anxious darting eyes. He was
reminded of his own mother. Always so nervous, so eager to please... But these
eyes were different. Strong and quite fierce. Like Sirius' eyes...he quailed.
"Percy, dear, are you sure? I mean rats are..."
"Some of the cleanest animals on the earth," came
the prompt reply. "I'll take care of him, Mother. I'll make sure that he
doesn't chew on anything, or run around the house unsupervised. Anyway, Bill
and Charlie have Hermes, Fred and George have a puffskein... This one's
A poor family... with red hair... memory stirred.
"Well, alright dear..."
"MUM! THAT'S SO UNFAIR! YOU NEVER LET US KEEP ANY OF
THE ANIMALS *WE* FIND!"
"That's because you want to experiment on them!"
'Mum' snapped back. "Take the poor thing inside, Percy, and feed him up.
He looks famished."
"Yes, Mother. Come on, you."
Wind blowing through his fur, then the blessed warmth of a
house, and familiar smells that brought up so many memories, he began to squeak
"You've really been through the wars," Percy
murmured. "Don't worry, I'll take care of you."
"It's a rat, Ron."
"What's a rat?"
"It's like a large mouse."
"Can I see?"
"Yes, but you mustn't touch him. He's very weak and I
need to wash him."
Bright blue eyes peered down. They were innocent and clear
and likeable. He wished for the first time in ages that he could smile.
"He looks sick."
"He'll get better."
"Are you gonna take care of him?"
"Can I help?"
"What are you going to call him?"
For the first time he sensed hesitation. "I don't
know... I hadn't thought about that..."
"He has to have a name!" Ron was very insistent.
"We can't just call him 'rat'! That would be silly."
"No, I know, Ron..."
"Can I name him?"
He wished that he could grin, but all he could do was wiggle
"I don't know."
"But you said you haven't thought of a name."
"I was thinking of calling him Peter after Peter
"Peter Pettigrew? You mean that guy who died fighting
"Yes, that's it."
"You told me a million times."
"Not a million, Ron."
"Well, almost a million. And you can't call a rat
'Peter'. That's a boring name. He looks... looks..."
The blue eyes stared at him very hard, so hard that he found
himself shrinking away from them.
"Scabby! He looks scabby!"
"He's probably got a very bad flea problem. Don't tell
"Only if you let me name him."
A slight sigh that only he could hear. "Alright."
"What?! Oh no, Ron, not that..."
"You said I could, you said I could!" The freckled
face beamed down at him. "Anyway you like it, don't you, Scabbers?"
He squeaked. Anything but Peter. Peter Pettigrew was a hero,
and he was no hero. He was Wormtail. Wormtail, the traitor and the coward.
"See, he likes it!"
"Yes, Ron. I'm going to give him his bath now."
"Can I watch?"
"If you're quiet."
Blessed, blessed sanctuary, noisy but happy. Always nuts and
cheese to eat, bits of vegetables, even a heavenly bit of turkey on Christmas
Day. He'd grown fat and happy. Hermes had aged, the puffskein had been squashed
by Bludgers, but he'd lived on. Nobody had counted the years he'd been with
them. Nobody had realised that
he was living far longer than any common rat. They'd just
assumed that he was magic, although he'd taken pains to seem as ordinary as
possible apart from the life span.
And even though he enjoyed this life, the life of Scabbers
the Rat, Wormtail always whispered, 'They'll
find out... someday they'll find out... and then Sirius will be taken out of
Azkaban and you'll be there instead... enjoy it while you can... but never
are nobody's friend. Nobody will ever stand up for you.'
Watching these children play, fight, laugh and cry, he
wanted to warn them... life is not a playground... life is not all smiles and
harmony, security and comfort... it will play tricks on you... it will hurt and
twist you until you don't even recognise yourself...
But he didn't. He was only Scabbers. He let them grow up,
grow away... until Percy grew too busy to take care of him, almost unrecognisable
from that kind boy who'd saved him from death,
and he turned into Ron's pet...
And then came the day on the platform, by the Hogwarts
Express... He heard a small, quiet voice and turned in his cage to see...
No, not James, James didn't have green eyes.
His heart gave a great lurch.
At that moment, Scabbers made a promise to himself. He would
always be on Harry's side – he would watch over him, protect him...
Wormtail smiled bitterly to himself. Another promise that
he'd broken… there must be hundreds now, lying behind him like pieces of
shattered glass. But he'd started well. It had been wonderful to bite Crabbe's
finger, almost like being a Marauder again, and this
time he was able to do something, to defend his friends
instead of it being the other way around. It
had been wonderful to be back in Hogwarts. The smells, the sights, the sounds,
such happy memories... It didn't feel like anything had changed. Slytherins and
Gryffindors were still at war, Peeves still delighted in being a nuisance, Nick
was still the Gryffindor ghost... it was a shock to hear that Severus Snape had
become Potions master – judging from his
treatment of Harry, he still nursed a grudge against James...
Why didn't he go to Dumbledore? Why didn't he slip up there
by one of the secret passages and tell him everything? Dumbledore would have
forgiven him. Dumbledore would have been the only one to give him a second
But he was afraid. He had always been afraid, it was the one
constant thread between Peter, Scabbers, and Wormtail, the dark silt of fear
lying at the bottom of everything. And so, like Harry, Scabbers kept quiet...
telling himself there was no reason to go to Dumbledore... even when he knew
that Harry, Ron and Hermione were planning to go after the Philosopher's
Stone... even when he knew that Harry was a Parselmouth and that he was
suffering doubts over it... he told himself that he was just a rat, what could
And so Scabbers had let life carry on until that time in
Egypt, another unforgettable evening...
The shock in Arthur Weasley's voice was unmistakable,
awaking Scabbers as he dozed on the windowsill. Opening one eye, he could see
that Arthur was reading 'The Daily Prophet', a day late since they were in
"What is it, dear? Something to do with the
Ministry?" asked Molly, who had been dozing herself.
"Dad, did you shout?"
Scabbers was scooped up onto Ron's narrow but warm shoulder,
which afforded a much better view point. Arthur was looking pale and worried.
"Nothing to do with me... there's been a break-out from
Ron sat down so heavily that he almost fell off and clutched
with his claws, causing a sharply hissed protest.
"Scabbers! Do you mind, this is the only T-shirt that
fits me!" Ron gently unhooked the pink claws and turned back to his
father. "Does it really say that, Dad? I mean... might be a mistake in the
writing or something... this is Azkaban."
"It's Azkaban alright," said Arthur heavily,
handing the paper to Molly. "And a particularly dangerous one, too. Sirius
"Sirius Black! Bloody hell! I remember when he was
captured!" said Bill, sitting down and stretching out his legs. "They
didn't even give him a trial, did they?"
"Bill, they found him laughing in the middle of a
ruined street with dead Muggles lying all around him and Peter Pettigrew's
finger at his feet," said Molly severely. "It's not as if they didn't
have enough evidence... a family like that..."
"Yeah, but if the Lestranges were given a trial, then
why not Sirius Black?" Bill pursued. "I mean, you met him, didn't
you, Dad? You said he seemed alright, one of the few good seeds..."
"I'm surprised you remember that, Bill, but yes, I did
meet the young man, and he was charming, liberal, devoted to his friends...
still, you can never tell," Arthur sighed, "and your mother's right,
the Black family was exactly the type of family to support
Voldemort. It’s almost certain that his younger brother was
a Death Eater..."
"But Arthur, if Sirius Black has escaped, that
"Yes," Arthur said softly, cutting her off.
"He'll try and finish the job he started thirteen years ago."
Ron didn't ask. Peter was grateful for that. He was feeling
sick enough already. Sick with terror. He wasn’t Scabbers anymore. He felt as
if that identity had already been shattered. Sirius... why had he broken out
now? He could imagine him using his dog form to actually break out, but why?
Had he somehow discovered where he was? That had to be it: and Arthur was
right, Sirius would try and finish the job he'd started thirteen years ago...
He felt trapped... trapped like a rat. Why hadn't he gone to
Dumbledore? Why hadn't he said something? The sense of doom came back all too
quickly. He was going to die... it was only a matter of time now. He should
have known that this safety, this happiness,
couldn't last forever. He should have listened to Wormtail,
to his survival instinct.
There was no way back.
"It must have been the finest day of your miserable
life when you told him you could hand him the Potters..."
How would you know, Sirius? You weren't there…
"I must admit, Peter, I find it hard to see why an
innocent man should choose to spend thirteen years as a rat..."
Yes, it must be difficult for you. If you had the choice,
you'd be a human all the time. But it's so difficult to be a human... so
difficult to live up to human expectations... so much easier to be a simple
rodent. I should have been the werewolf, not you. Maybe things would have been
better for all of us...
"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY
YOUR FRIENDS AS WE WOULD HAVE FOR YOU!"
You don't know what death's like, Sirius. You've never faced
it as I have. And even if you did come face to face with death, you would
laugh. You don't fear anything.
"You should have realised... if Voldemort didn't kill
you, we would."
Kill me then. Let it end here. I have nothing left. Not even
your friendship. I am nothing...
Harry... Harry, what are you doing? You don't believe me, do
you? You don't seriously believe that James would have stopped them.
"I don't think my dad would have wanted his two best
friends to become murderers... just for you."
You believe me. Poor Harry. You still haven't learned the
lesson which is embodied in Remus: that no human is completely good or
completely bad. You believe that your father was a saint, bold and brave and
virtuous. Just as you believe that Sirius is an innocent victim, and Remus a
martyr. You will learn, Harry Potter. But I can't say any of this... all I can
do is thank you... and pity your innocence.
It's been eroded, but it's still there. It shines at me in
this dark shack, this symbol of the past which Remus, Sirius and I share. I
wonder how much longer your innocence will last.
I won't be there to see it crumble. And for that, I am
Harry... what was Harry thinking? What was Harry feeling? He
remembered the long look which had passed between the godfather and child, a
look of understanding, a look of recognition... for Harry was even more similar
to Sirius than James had been. Harry, unlike James, knew how it felt to be
rejected by your family, constantly criticised; he knew what it was like to
stand against the people who had raised you.
Harry must be devastated.
Peter felt the tears oozing out of his eyes again as he
leaned against the windowsill, looking into the overgrown garden of the ancient
For what must be the hundredth time, he wished that he'd
chosen another path. He wished that he'd been clever enough to double-cross Voldemort,
as Snape was surely doing. He hadn't said anything... his silence had often
caused Snape suffering. At least now it could do him some good.
He finally understood why Sirius had laughed that day in the
street. Sometimes, there were only two choices: to laugh or cry. And Sirius had
chosen to laugh. He had laughed at the ruin of his life. He had laughed at
death. Peter's lips curled and he found himself silently chuckling.
Only Sirius could have done that.
For one last time, he would follow Padfoot's example. He had
promised himself he would not cry, and it was time he started to keep his
He laughed a little in the night air. It lifted him away
from himself, his aged aching body, his tormented mind, his tarnished soul. If
anyone were listening, they would think him mad. As Sirius would have said: so
Easier to be mad than to be sane. Easier to be mad than to
deal with the pain. One white night of madness and laughter for his friend, for
all those white nights in Hogsmeade, in the Forbidden Forest, under the light
of the full shining moon.
Ghastly hollow laughter echoed around the garden...
It was Sirius' laughter.
It was his laughter.
He would never be free of it.
As dawn broke, Peter Pettigrew raised his head. He hadn't
slept. His eyes were red and sore from his white night. His throat was hoarse
The pain of Sirius' death still gnawed inside him, combining
with the older, deeper pain of James' absence. Despite his betrayal, despite
Sirius and Remus's hatred, he still wanted to be their friend somewhere. He
would mourn James and Sirius for the rest of his life, and he still missed
He hated himself for that. Yet he couldn’t help it.
For they had been his friends.
His only friends.
It felt like the door of the past had truly shut. With only
James gone, it had still been within reach, but now... it wasn't just that
there was no going back. He could actually see the end coming. Closer and
closer, quicker and quicker. His master's desperate desire to kill Harry Potter
seemed to override everything. He didn't really understand why. He only knew
that the Master had given up his original purpose long ago. He was obsessed by
Peter shivered. It would come to no good. The Master had
tried so many times to kill Harry... and he had failed. As a baby, at eleven,
twelve, fourteen and fifteen, Harry had escaped death. He had tried to make his
Master see this must mean something, but it had been no good.
His arm burned and he clutched at it in sudden, physical
pain. The mark showed clearly against the grey skin. The mark of his betrayal.
He would never be able to forget. He would never be able to mourn openly. Wormtail
was a traitor and must remain so, the loyal servant of his Master. He would be
that servant until the day he died.
Whilst Peter Pettigrew...?
He didn't know.
Did Peter Pettigrew even exist anymore?
Yes: only Peter Pettigrew would mourn Sirius Black by
What did that mean?
Sighing, he straightened up, pushing back his greying hair.
Sometimes he dreamed that he was back on the Hogwarts Express. But his friends
weren't with him. They were in the next compartment. He wanted to join them and
he often tried to get up, but he could never get the door open. He tried to
call through to them, and sometimes they responded, but he couldn't hear what
they were saying, though when he left them alone their conversation was
perfectly clear. Then he would realise that this wasn't the Hogwarts Express at
all – this was a different train, a runaway
train. He would see his friends run
past, and call out to them, rattling the door. But the door
never opened. He would sit back down and find himself split into two, Peter
Pettigrew and Wormtail, sitting in one carriage facing each other. Sooner or
later, the train would crash, and only one of them
would survive this crash. But which one?
That depended on where this train was going.
He'd get up, open the door easily and glide through the
carriages to the driver. He'd ask where they were going. The driver would turn
around. It was his Master. He would hand him a piece of paper. It was always
the same piece of paper. Always the same two words. His heart would lurch and
he would awake with his mouth dry, his heart pounding, the words floating in
front of his eyes.
Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning
So tired that I couldn't even sleep;
So many secrets I couldn't keep;
Promised myself that I wouldn't weep
One more promise that I couldn't keep
It seems no-one can help me now
I'm in too deep, there's no way out
This time I've really led myself astray
Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I'm neither here nor there
Can you help me remember how to smile?
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile?
How on earth did I get so jaded?
Life's mystery seems so faded...
I can go where no-one else goes
I know what no-one else knows
Here I am just drownin' in the rain
With a ticket for a runaway train
Everything is cut and dry:
Day and night, earth and sky;
Somehow I just can't believe it...
Bought a ticket for a runaway train,
Like a madman just a-laughin' at the rain;
Little out of touch, little insane,
It's just easier than dealing with the pain;
Runaway train, never coming back -
Runaway train, tearing up the track -
Runaway train, burning in my veins;
Runaway, but it always stays the same...
DISCLAIMER: All Harry Potter characters and situations
belong to the
Mistress of Magic, J.K. Rowling. This story is based on the
editions of the Harry Potter saga. The song 'Runaway Train'
to the band Soul Asylum.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Ha ha! Well, whaddya think? I don't think
there are many stories about Wormtail... haven't come across any yet, but I
didn't want this story to be influenced by anything except canon and the Wormtail
discussion thread... he's more difficult to write than he seems... sometimes I
feel sorry for him, and sometimes I hate
him... I think that comes across in this story.
The story does deliberately switch without warning from
present to past, because I think that he half-lives in the past. It's certainly
better than the present. Most of the time when he speaks, it's without speech
marks because he's speaking inside his head... He never really expresses
himself out loud. And the switching from first-person to third-person without
warning is also deliberate - because I think Wormtail's sense of identity is
really messed up... Perhaps he sounds a lot like Gollum, but there has been
discussion on the thread about the similarities between Peter and Sméagol, so I
thought I'd play on that and see what came out. I've loved this song for years,
but it only just came to me that it suited
Wormtail/Peter/Scabbers quite well. I'm quite proud of the ending
for this story as tying in with the train motif. I always knew I wanted the
story to end with those two words, but I wasn't quite sure how I was going to
do it. Still, it's worked out well.
Many thanks to Megan, my beta, who pointed out some confusions
and helped me prune this story!