Author’s Note: This is an
attempt to understand how Peter Pettigrew’s inner demons might have led him
astray. I wanted to know what the voices in his head were telling him, and this
is what I got - Peter on a very bad day.
We really shouldn’t be doing this. The others seem
to have forgotten, but I vividly remember the scolding we got from Professor McGonagall
three days ago for getting caught in the middle of the night looking for the
Slytherin common room. I’ve never seen her that angry before. Just three days
ago! What are they thinking? But they won’t listen to my perfectly justifiable
“Ow! This is impossible! Peter, get off my foot!”
Sirius’s voice hisses in my ear.
“Where do you expect me to step?” I
whisper desperately. “It’s not like there’s a lot of room under this thing!”
“Everything will be fine,” Remus’s
voice whispers in my other ear, calm as always. I wish I knew how he manages that. “If we just move together.”
Sirius snorts. James keeps walking slowly forward,
clutching hard to the edges of the Cloak under which we’re all hiding. Stupid, stupid. We shouldn’t be out here.
“Ow! Peter! That’s it!” Sirius ducks down and out from
under the Cloak. He instantly pops into sight.
Remus whispers hoarsely in warning. At least Remus is usually cautious.
“This is ridiculous!” Sirius says. Why won’t
he keep his voice down?
“No one is
going to be nosing around at this hour, not even Filch. We know these passages.
If we hear someone coming, then we can get under that thing. We’re not
as small as we used to be, you know.”
Remus sighs. I clench my teeth against a protest. I
know it won’t do any good. No one ever listens. James tugs a bit on the Cloak,
pulling it off Remus and myself, and pushes back the hood so we can see his
head floating in mid-air. He’s smiling, as usual.
“You weren’t complaining about it
being cramped under there when we had Lily along.”
Sirius grins, completely unashamed.
“Well, that’s different. She smells better than you lot, for a start.”
James points his finger at Sirius.
“Just remember who’s girl she is, will you?”
But James is still smiling. He always
smiles at Sirius’s jokes. He doesn’t even show jealousy where Lily is
concerned. I know I would. He really trusts her. He
really trusts Sirius. He trusts all of us. But would he still be smiling if I talked about how nice Lily
smells? Sometimes I don’t understand
James at all. I mean, it’s only been a month since his father died. But he’s
still up for gallivanting around and causing mayhem. If I hadn’t seen him
crying the day the news came, I would have guessed he didn’t care that his
father just got killed. Remus says it’s just his way of coping. Says James is
trying to cling hard to the good things left in life. I guess Remus thinks part
of what keeps him going is his friends. Us. But James didn’t
come to me that day, did he? He went to Sirius. I only walked in. I cried for him, too. But I don’t think he noticed.
“Take that thing off, will
you?” Sirius gestures in the direction of James’s invisible body. “Your head
has a very disconcerting habit of bobbing around. It makes me nauseous.”
James grins, then takes off the Cloak
and bundles it into a pocket of his robes. “Moony, you’ve got the Map, right?”
Remus nods and pulls out a thick piece
of parchment. He taps it with his wand and says, “I solemnly swear that I am up
to no good.”
We all watch as the lines squiggle
Sirius is grinning like a madman. “Now
that’s beautiful. We did a good job.”
“I should hope so,” says Remus mildly,
“After all the work we put into it.”
Two years of work. Almost
as long as it took to master the Animagus transformation. We’re proud of
this Map. Even me. I helped. Maybe
not as much as the others
as usual but I did help.
Enchanting it with the ability to give instructions on opening some of the
passageways was my idea. Just in case anyone else has to use it, I said. But
sometimes... sometimes I forget things. They knew.... I’m sure they knew why I suggested it.
Remus taps absently at the spot on the Map where
four dots are clustered together, labeled with our names. There’s no one
nearby. Filch is in his room, on the other side of the castle. Sirius was
right. I hate that he’s always
“This is the only area we haven’t thoroughly
explored,” says Remus. He sounds tired. He looks tired. The full moon was only
two nights ago. He really ought to be taking it easy. I know he’s only doing
this to help keep James’ spirits up. Would he do this for me?
James notices. James always notices. He frowns slightly,
a look of concern on his face. “You sure you’re up to this tonight, Remus?
Madam Pomfrey said you’d need a lot of rest after those cracked ribs.”
“I’m fine,” Remus says quickly,
looking chagrined to have shown weakness at all. He’s always trying to be
strong like that.
I wish I knew how he does it.
Even Sirius looks upset now. He’s frowning fiercely.
“That was my fault. I never should have suggested trying to leap that pit. I
should have gone first. I should have taken that fall.” His voice is full of
anger at himself. That’s just like Sirius. He may egg us on to recklessness he sure knows how to push but he always feels
responsible when things go wrong. Sometimes I don’t understand him either.
“Rubbish,” Remus says calmly, waving away Sirius’s concerns.
“It’s no one’s fault. Besides, we can’t all jump like Prongs here.”
James shrugs with a lopsided smile.
“It has its advantages. Okay, Moony. If you say you’re all right. Lead the way,
Remus glances at the Map again, then walks forward, falling into step beside James.
I mumble to Sirius, “Sorry I stepped
on your foot.”
He grins. “No problem. I’m used to
What’s that supposed to mean? But I
bite my tongue. Sirius is always cracking jokes. Even at our expenses. Though mine more often, I
think. It’s just the way he is.
Though sometimes I think he gets carried away. Severus Snape shoots death
glares at all of us every time we walk by, thanks to Sirius’s little ‘prank.’
One of these days I’m sure he’s going to corner me somewhere when the others
aren’t around. I need them. It’s not fair.
No one would dream of cornering James or Sirius. Even Remus.
But I need
them. I hate that.
We’re in a dark corridor now. I don’t remember ever having
come this way before, which is pretty surprising considering how many years
we’ve been sneaking around this castle. James takes the Map from Remus, and
Remus lifts up his wand.
Sirius does the same. The more light, the better we can see any statues or markings on
the walls. James is a stickler for detail, and he always wants to be sure
everything gets shown accurately on the Map. As we walk, he runs his wand tip
along the parchment, muttering quietly, and the lines extend to outline the
corridors we’re in. It’s a hard spell, and James is easily the best at it.
Sirius and Remus can both do it, but they don’t let me try it anymore. Not
after last time.
It’s cold down these hallways. I wish I’d brought my
own cloak. Or worn thicker socks. I try not to shiver,
but Sirius notices. He
always notices my weakness.
I clench my teeth. “A little.”
“Here.” Sirius holds a hand out in
front of him, and quickly conjures up a ball of green flames in the cup of his
palm. He smiles, and holds it out to me. “Take that. Might
keep your hands warm at least.”
At first I don’t want to take it. Why didn’t I think of that? It seems that they’re always
looking after me like this. It makes me feel like a little boy, sometimes. I hate it. But it is cold, and
Sirius is just looking at me like an idiot, as usual. He never understands. So
I take the fire ball, and it floats a few inches above my skin. The warmth
tingles through my hand and up my arm. It’s a very good fire ball. Sirius’s
spells usually are.
“There’s a room here,” Remus
says quietly, pausing and illuminating the wall with his wand. “The door’s
“Let’s check it out then.” Sirius steps forward without hesitation and pushes the door
wide. Remus frowns for a moment at his recklessness, but James just grins and
follows after Sirius. Remus shoots me a wry smile, then shrugs and goes in as
well. What choice do I have?
The room is rather large, and full of odd shapes
that loom eerily in the shadows cast by wand light. I don’t like it here. There
seem to be tables all over the room, and strange bundles covered in white
sheets placed on those tables. I huddle next to Remus while James and Sirius go
nosing around excitedly.
“Look at this!” James exclaims,
pulling a sheet off a table to reveal an assortment of small wooden boxes.
They’re all decorated with gold and silver gilt, some of them with interesting
“There’re some candlesticks and stuff
over here,” Sirius reports from the other side of the room.
“This must be where they store some of
the castle’s enchanted objects,” says Remus, looking around curiously now. “Be
careful not to touch anything. If it’s been stored here, it might be
Sirius grins. “Aw, Moony, you’re no fun.”
But he doesn’t touch anything. Even Sirius knows better than that.
“We shouldn’t be here,” I mutter.
“This is probably off-limits.”
“Relax, Peter,” James says calmly,
peeking under another sheet. “The door was open, wasn’t it?”
“Probably because of Peeves or
something,” I say stubbornly. “Look, if we get caught again -”
“We’re not going to get caught!”
Sirius interrupts me sharply. “Just relax. You’ve got to learn to have fun.”
I try not to glare, and occupy myself instead
with shuffling around the edge of the room, inspecting the walls by light of
the fire ball in my hand, looking for any sign of other doors. It would be just
our luck if Filch popped in through some secret passage, ready to haul us all
off to detention. I’d ask for the Map, just to keep a look out, but I know
they’d call me a worry-wort. I
suppose it’s better than the things Snape calls me. If only he’d say it in
James’s hearing, just once! James would make him sorry. He’d do that for me. Because I
can’t do it for myself. I hate that.
There’s a shape up ahead,
maybe a door. But the green firelight glints off metal, reflects off a shiny
surface. On closer inspection, it’s obviously a mirror. Very
tall, with a gold frame. I step up to it curiously – and squeal as I
leap away. The fire ball falls out of my hand and starts gliding along the floor
toward one of the tables... and the flammable white sheets.
James jumps forward and points his
wand at the fire. “Extis!” The
fireball poofs out in a haze of green smoke, just before it might have ignited
the table leg. “Be careful, Peter! What’s wrong?”
I point a shaking finger at the
mirror. “I looked... different. There were... it was...”
“What? This mirror?”
James steps forward, frowning. Sirius and Remus are coming over now, and I try
to calm myself down. Why
did I have to squeal like that? Why did I drop the fire ball? Why?
As soon as James reaches the mirror, he freezes. His
eyes widen as he stares into his own reflection. It’s just a normal reflection.
“I don’t understand,” I wail softly.
“It was different when I looked in it!”
Sirius peers eagerly over James’s
shoulder, blue eyes bright with excitement even in this dark room. “Do you see
anything weird?” he asks hopefully.
James has gone very pale, and his
mouth moves soundlessly for a moment.
Remus frowns. “Are you all right,
“It’s...” James whispers, “It’s... I
see me and... and Lily... and my dad.”
Sirius sounds even more excited. “We can only see you. I wonder what it does?”
James is still staring wide-eyed at
whatever the mirror is showing him. Remus moves closer to the mirror and starts
inspecting it carefully.
“Look.” He points at the top of the
golden frame. “There’s writing here.” He holds his wand close for illumination,
then reads the strange words very slowly, “Erised stra
ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.” He bites his lip, brow furrowed in
concentration, but his eyes bright. Remus loves trying to solve puzzles. “I
don’t recognize the language.”
“Well, it’s a mirror isn’t it?” Sirius
shrugs. “Mirrors show things inversely. Try reading it
How does he work things out so
quickly? I shouldn’t be startled by it anymore, but I am. Sirius is always
figuring things out first. I wish
he could teach me how. If he doesn’t have the
answer, then James or Remus will. I never do. And they know it. And James and Remus always take these kinds of things in stride.
Remus smiles approvingly at Sirius and
inspects the words again. “Hmmm... it looks like the letters are spaced
oddly... because of the filigree on the frame. But here...
‘I show not your face but your heart’s desire.’ That’s it.”
desire?” Sirius says thoughtfully, then turns
back to James. “So? What are you seeing then? What’s happening?”
James hardly seems to have noticed
anything we’ve been saying. Looking at his face more closely, I’d almost think
he was on the verge of tears.
“I see.... I’m with Lily. I’m taking her to meet my
dad.” His face is pale, and his voice drops to a hoarse whisper. “He’s giving
us his blessing.”
Remus looks suddenly sad and
sympathetic. After all, James’s father isn’t going to be giving his blessing on
anything anymore. It’s no surprise he’s seeing these kinds of things, so soon
after the funeral.
But Sirius just grins. He slaps James
roughly on the shoulder, which successfully breaks James’s trance with the
“His blessing, huh?”
Sirius’s grin broadens. “You’re hearing wedding bells already? She must be an
even better girlfriend than we thought!”
James doesn’t get at all angry that Sirius
interrupted his vision. James never gets angry with Sirius. He’d be angry with me if I
did that. He just
smiles, blushing slightly, and murmurs, “She’s perfect.”
“Well,” Sirius drawls, “so I guess
this means I don’t have a chance of stealing her away?”
James guffaws. “Not unless you want to
fight over it.”
Sirius cuffs James playfully on the
shoulder, growling in the back of his throat. I wouldn’t be surprised if he
transformed into Padfoot right now. He’s always looking for an excuse to rough
around. At least he won’t fight with a little rat. His sense of fair play won’t
“Remus,” James says abruptly, breaking away from the
minor scuffle with Sirius, his black hair sticking up in the back like it
always does. Why do the girls like that
so much? “Remus, you take a look in
the mirror. Go on.”
But Remus just stands there and shakes
his head, his gray eyes glimmering faintly in the light of his wand. “I don’t
need to,” he says softly. “I know what I’ll see.”
James’s happy expression suddenly
looks sad again. He’s always mercurial like that. One minute sad about his
father, the next minute laughing with Sirius, and then all concerned for Remus.
What did Lily call it? Charisma. No, sometimes I don’t
understand James at all.
“A full moon,
and no werewolf?” James asks softly, staring at Remus.
Remus nods, his expression closed off,
but his eyes full of naked longing.
“Don’t fret.” Sirius grins. “We love
you just the way you are, Moony. Fangs and howls and
berserker rages and all. You devilish hound, you.”
What’s there to be said about a rat?
smiles wryly. “Thanks so much. What a wonderful image I seem to have.”
“Go on, Peter.” James urges me now. “Take a
I hesitate, abruptly nervous. But
James nudges me, and Sirius has got that look on his face that says he wants to
be entertained, and I’d better got hopping. Besides...
I’m curious. Your heart’s desire, it says...
I step in front of the mirror, and
meet the eyes of my reflection. Only it’s not me, not exactly. I look older. Taller. Stronger. Handsome. More handsome than Sirius, even.
And there’s Sirius right there, behind me. And James, and
Remus. And even Lily in the background. And they’re all looking at
me.... with envy. I’m wearing fine red robes... Ministry robes. I’m the Minister
of Magic! And there’s... there’s Albus Dumbledore! And he’s bowing to me...
with respect. I’m a powerful wizard now. I don’t need Sirius or James or Remus
to protect me anymore. And there! There’s Severus... hiding in the corner. He’s
afraid of me. They’re all afraid of me. Because I’m strong
now. Not little, not frightened, not helpless.
Not a rat.
I want it. I want that. How? How? How?
“Peter? What do you see?”
I close my eyes. I feel like I’m
shaking. Surely they saw it? It was so clear, so clear. Surely they saw? Surely
“Come on, Peter,” Sirius cajoles.
“What did you see?”
I didn’t see anything. Maybe... maybe it didn’t work... maybe I... I did something wrong.” They’ll believe that. I’m always doing something
I open my eyes, and see Sirius scowling. “It’s a
mirror! How can you do something wrong?”
They don’t believe me. They’re looking
at me... like they always do. But I can’t tell them. I can’t.
“I don’t know!” I wail. “It was just
all... all foggy and stuff... weird shapes.”
“Well, let me have a look,” Sirius says,
and steps in front of me, blocking my view of the mirror.
I stumble back, deaf now to what the
others are saying, blind to the room around me. All I see is that vision...
“Peter? Let’s go.”
I look up and see Remus, tugging
gently on the sleeve of my robes. James and Sirius are already heading for the
door. Remus frowns at me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I mumble. “I’m fine.”
I walk out before he can ask any more
questions. Remus is always trying to be sympathetic. I don’t know how to deal
with it. I don’t understand him.
Back in the corridor, James has the Map tucked away
somewhere, and he’s talking in an animated undertone with Sirius. “I wonder how
long that mirror’s been there?”
“Well, we probably won’t be able to get
back into that room.” Sirius shrugs. “I reckon the door was unlocked by
mistake. It probably is off-limits.”
Of course it is. I said so. They never listen.
I watch them as we head back to Gryffindor tower.
James... eyes sparkling behind his glasses, hair wild, smile bright. Always so cheerful. Always so friendly. Even to me. And Sirius... longer black
hair almost as wild as James’s, but always more refined, eyes lit with a
devious spark. Always so full of energy. Always so full of life. I wish I had his passion. And Remus... smiling gently, gray eyes thoughtful, looking weary in
spite of himself. Always so strong. Always
How does he do
These are my friends, and I love them. I know I do.
I don’t really want them to be afraid of me. Do I? They’ll look after me. Forever? Why do I need their envy?
James... everyone’s hero, Quidditch champion,
everyone’s friend, and Lily loves him...
Sirius... the brightest student, always
wasted, like he doesn’t have a care, handsome, and he doesn’t
Remus... and he fights that monster
inside him, and he’s still the kind one, the patient one, the trusting one... and I don’t deserve it, do I?
I can’t be more than them. I can’t be. I’m just
Wormtail. They’re my friends.
I’ll never have that kind of power, anyway. I’m not a
good wizard. I never will be. I can’t make myself that man in the mirror.
They’re my friends. Moony,
Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. I don’t need more than that. Do I want it?
Remus’s hand touches my
shoulder briefly as we climb through the portrait hole. The Fat Lady is telling
us off, but I barely hear it.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Remus asks
“I’m fine.” I say. You can’t help me. I can’t
even help myself. I can’t make myself that man in the mirror. Who can?