The Sugar Quill
Author: the silent speaker  Story: A Time to Laugh  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer and author's notes: I want to thank Moey for beta reading, and I want to especially thank Jo Rowling for creating a universe to play in (without permission, and of course with no intent to make a profit)

Disclaimer and author's notes: I want to thank Moey for beta reading, and I want to especially thank Jo Rowling for creating a universe to play in (without permission, and of course with no intent to make a profit).


A Time to Laugh


Sirius Black strode down the Muggle street with a look on his face that boded extreme unpleasantness should he find his quarry. From time to time his nostrils flared, as though he were trying to actually sniff out his old friend, and his usually handsome face unconsciously twisted into an ugly snarl. Then he grimaced. His sense of smell wasn't actually as sharp as a dog's when he was in human form, though the experience did tell in interpreting the scents he did register. Since most people simply didn't realize how much their noses told them, Sirius was able, even without having a sense of smell above the ordinary, to get far better use out of it than most, but he'd be deluding himself if he thought he could actually sniff Peter out. Still, there was that one corner of his brain which remembered being a dog and insisted he ought to, hence the sniffing. And hence the snarl when, as always, it didn't work.

No matter. He didn't need his nose to tell him he was close, not after tracking Peter for the better part of a day. When he caught up, he would have some very sharp words for his friend, and after he finished having off Peter's hide in strips, he would bring him to Dumbledore. There were others who would want their turn with Peter, too, but first and foremost Sirius wanted answers. Answers that only Peter could give, and that might crush Peter under the weight of having to give them.

James and Lily were dead. Peter had been their Secret-Keeper under the near-foolproof Fidelius Charm, and James and Lily were dead. There wasn't even a sign of any struggle in Peter's flat, which was the first place Sirius had looked, right after giving Hagrid his motorbike so at least baby Harry could be taken to a new place of safety. All of this could mean only one thing: Peter had gotten careless, and Death Eaters had gotten Peter. Under their tender mercies, Peter had told the Secret he was supposed to be Keeping. And now James and Lily were dead.

"Sirius! Sirius, get over here!"

That was Peter's voice, just around the corner, and he sounded distraught. Good. He must have heard the news; it was all over the British Wizarding community by now. Voldemort was gone, broken, defeated by Harry somehow, but before that he had killed James and Lily. Peter would have had to know as soon as he heard that it was his carelessness that had cost two of his closest friends their lives. The groundwork for Sirius's tirade must already be laid.

He turned the corner, and there Peter was. He was upset; he had clearly been sobbing. It was the least he could do, Sirius thought with no sympathy, considering that it was his fault that James and Lily were dead in the first place. He also, Sirius irrelevantly noticed, had a thin ring of blood around his right little finger. Why would they have cursed him there? That's not even his wand hand. Sirius dismissed the thought. Meaningless cruelty was perfectly in character for his dear cousin, to say nothing of Voldemort himself, and whatever it was, this wasn't the time. A cut on Peter's finger wasn't important now.

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

That gave Sirius a jolt. He thinks I told? Peter had been the Secret-Keeper, there was no question about that. Sirius had been there when Lily had cast the charm, ensuring that Voldemort could not find the Potters unless Peter personally told him where they were, nor Death Eaters with the same clause. Why was Peter talking as if Sirius had betrayed them?

A Confundus Charm, Sirius decided, combined with a Memory Charm. The Death Eaters must have made Peter believe that Sirius had been the Secret-Keeper. When Peter heard of James and Lily's deaths and Voldemort's downfall he would have drawn the obvious conclusions. Knowing Bellatrix Lestrange, there was probably a touch of Imperius Curse thrown in; she was vicious like that. Poor Peter wouldn't have stood a chance. The Imperius Curse might have helped get him out where they could get him, too; it had holes, but it could work as a provisional theory. If Sirius was right, the most important thing now was to get him to Dumbledore, to get the curses broken. Chewing him out for endangering James and Lily could wait until they had found out exactly what he had done, and what he had no way to prevent himself from doing.

"How could you betray Lily and James?"

It was a clever tactic of the Death Eaters, too, Sirius admitted. Once they found out that Peter was the Secret-Keeper, they had to know Sirius would go after him. By making Peter think the reverse was true, they could pit Peter and Sirius against each other. The two of them might destroy each other before the truth came out, whereas leaving Peter with the knowledge of his betrayal would only send him straight to Dumbledore. With James dead, that would destroy three out of the four of them, leaving only Remus still for the Death Eaters to deal with. Just luck that they hadn't figured out some way to involve Remus and get all the Marauders at once.

Remus, he suddenly thought. The only one unaccounted for and the last one standing and Peter went willingly, oh Remus how could you?

No. Remus could be dealt with later. First things first, and first thing Peter. Get him to understand what had happened, get him to Dumbledore, and together they could find Remus. And if Remus had led the Death Eaters to Peter, together they would make him pay.

He held out his hands so Peter could see he wasn't holding his wand. "Peter, listen "

Too late he saw the flicker of movement as Peter went for his own wand. He grabbed for the wand at his side, but too late. Peter had too much of a head start, and his wand was behind his back before Sirius could get his wand half out. A terrible blast knocked Sirius backward, and when the smoke and dust had cleared enough to let him see again, there was a huge hole in the street and no sign of Peter. At least a dozen Muggles lay sprawled on the ground, the last victims of Voldemort's war. Too late Sirius realized what Peter's plan had been from the start. Too late for James and Lily, too late for the Marauders. Too late.

He framed me. That rat bastard, that bastard rat, he set me up and so perfectly he had me doubting myself with it, right up until the very end. All these dead Muggles, and I'm here and he's not, and it wasn't Remus, it was him all along, it was Peter and he fooled us all and faked his death and got away clean leaving one finger as a souvenir, and who'll believe now that the rest of him is in the sewers waiting?

Sirius began to laugh, hardly aware that Aurors and Obliviators were Apparating in, too late. They arrested him, and he barely noticed. Sirius laughed. It hurt too much to cry.


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