The Sugar Quill
Author: inyron (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Four Sins 2: Selfishness  Chapter: Default
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Story Two: Selfishness

 

*****

 

The bed was warm and soft and comfortable. It molded to Peter's body as if by magic. Peter grabbed his pillow tighter and tried to ignore the sounds of movement and voices around him. It shouldn't be time to get up yet, surely he had another hour or two. But one of the voices dropped lower and took on a tone Peter knew too well. It was time to get up, or he would have to face another of Sirius' unfunny pranks. With a sigh he pushed the sheets off of him.

"I'm up, I'm up, don't even bother."

"We wouldn't want for you to miss breakfast, Peter."

"Yeah, we're going to need a lot of energy before Defense Against the Dark Arts today. Defense Against the Dark Arts. Great. Peter hated Defense Against the Dark Arts. More so than any of his other classes, even Potions, which he was hopeless at! He just didn't like the teacher, Professor Groate. He was new this year; Professor Quincy had left last year, apparently because of an accident involving Professor Kettleburn, Professor Sinistra, and a wild Chimera. Professor Quincy hadn't been bad at all, Peter reflected, but this Professor Groate seemed absolutely out to get him, he way he kept calling on him in class, a if he was expected to know the answer. His tests were particularly vexing too. He hadn't even managed to pass the last one, and most of the time he did pass his tests, even if the grades weren't the best. Remus noticed the look on his face. "Come on Peter, it won't be so bad. I'll help you study before the next test, and you'll do fine."

"That would be perfect, if there was a way we could actually not go to the class too."

"It won't be that bad."

"Yes it will."

*****

They all agreed afterwards that Peter had been right. Professor Groate had decided that an oral quiz would benefit the entire class. It wasn't so bad for Remus, who had actually studied, or James or Sirius, whose questions had been amazingly simple-everyone favored them! And he could have answered that werewolf question correctly - but of course, he had received what must have been the hardest question in the class. The defense curses were hard, and they had just started learning them this year, it wasn't his fault he had been to tired to start his reading last night, or the night before.

Walking through the halls after class, even James and Sirius were subdued, still a little bit in awe of the dressing-down Groate had given Peter (and James, after he had been caught mouthing the correct curse when Peter turned to get a better look). A couple of times, Sirius seemed likely to break the tension, but slouched again after a look from Remus. Transfiguration was next. Peter's favorite subject, although that wasn't saying much. But he did do the reading for this one. Most of the time. Or James and Sirius explained it to him. But in spite of the fact that he was interested in the material, he still didn't like Professor McGonagall. She was another one of those that fancied James, always smiling at him and calling on him. And once, Peter had overheard her talking to Professor Flitwick about them.

"Can you believe what Black and Potter did to the Slytherin Quidditch team? I only wish I had some proof to nail them with."

He was still mad about that one. As though that was all there was to it! As though he and Remus didn't exist. Peter did hold the bird for that one.

Transfiguration was easy today. There was no practical applications, just McGonagall talking on and on, and waving her wand dramatically every once and a while. Peter took this as an invitation to daydream, although to his credit, his thoughts were Transfiguration-related. If everything went well, in less than a year, he would be an Animagus. An unregistered, illegal Animagus. The thought made his stomach turn. He was so anxious to do it, to prove he could do it, when no one outside their little group- James' group- had ever tried anything like this. He would be so special. But the after part, that was what was worrying him. It would be fun, sure, but also kind of scary. Because Remus was a werewolf. And when he was an Animagus, he would have to spend time with him when he was in wolf-form. That was the idea, really, and Peter thought it was a good one. They hated seeing Remus going alone every month to all that suffering, and wanted to help. But on the other hand…

No, James had assured him there was no chance he'd get attacked or eaten in animal form, and James was always right. So he just wouldn't think about that scary snarling beast in the book in the library, he would just think about pale, harmless Remus. And what cool kind of animal he could be. Maybe a tiger. Or a lion. Then he wouldn't be afraid.

*****

Peter always managed to lose Sirius, Remus, and James during Hogsmeade visits. Somewhere between the owlery, the joke shop, Honeydukes, meeting friends from other houses, and telling horrific ghost stories next to the Shrieking Shack (that one was Sirius) they had decided third year to all just meet at the Three Broomsticks when they were done. Peter usually spent the time alone in Honeydukes. When he reached the Three Broomsticks the Saturday after his humiliation in Defense Against the Dark Arts, James and Sirius were at a corner table looking quite pleased with themselves. They called Peter over quickly.

"Peter, you'll never guess what I have!" James sounded very excited. He pilled out a bag from the joke shop. "They're called Dungbombs."

"Dungbombs? Are they anything like the Reeking Rags?"

"Better. Much, much better. They're new! They're experimental, not even on the market yet, but Mr. Realton said I could buy some." Of course. Mr. Realton liked James. He only scowled at Peter when he came in, but that was probably because he had once accidentally dropped a one-of-a-kind fake exploding snitch, and no one had ever seen it again.

"So they're better than Reeking Rags?" Peter hated Reeking Rags. Just last month, one of those Slytherins had put one in his bag, and he hadn't figured it out until after supper.

"Like I said, they're experimental. I think they explode. Hence the name, you know, bombs." James smiled and slid the bag over to Peter, who looked at him, surprised. "They're for you. Just a little don't-get-discouraged-gift. You know that you're not the only one who got your question wrong yesterday. Defense Against the Dark Arts is hard." Peter smiled. It was so great having James as a friend.

"Plus, we know there are a couple of Slytherins you're dying to test them out on."

"Test what out on?" Remus asked, coming up to the table. The three seated exchanged wicked grins.

*****

A month later, they were back in Hogsmeade, and the Dungbombs remained untested. Every time Sirius or James had indicated to him frantically that it was a good opportunity, he had just not had the nerve. He supposed they must be getting impatient with him, but he really did not want to get caught. Professor Groate had given him a detention just last week for talking in class.

He had only wanted to know the classification of a Griffin so he didn't look foolish in front of the class again. But Professor Groate had caught him. Caught him before he could find out the answer too. He was in deep trouble when it came to that class, and he knew it. His last homework assignment had been handed in half-finished. He had tried, he had, but then Aryeh had asked him to play Exploding Snap, and she was very popular, he couldn't say no. Lily Evans was there too, but not playing. They had all had a very nice time laughing and talking and having fun, except they kept asking him questions about James, which kind of bothered him.

By the time class came the next day, he had forgotten that he was going to ask one of his friends if he could copy, and had to hand it in like it was. If that wasn't enough, they had found out that the next test was going to be this week coming up. Remus had promised to help him study, but Peter doubted that anything but a miracle or some very good cheating could save him.

Lost in his thoughts, Peter clutched his bag of sweets and turned the corner slowly, knowing it was early and none of the others would probably be there yet. As the Three Broomsticks came into view, he saw that there was a whole gang of Slytherins huddled in a corner right next to it. Luckily, none of them saw him, so he was able to quickly duck back into the side road. He wished fervently that Sirius or James were here, as he heard them coming closer. Suddenly, he remembered the bag of Dungbombs, still on him. Thinking of the way they had been laughing the day of the Reeking Rag, he unexpectedly found his courage. Acting as quickly as he could, he rounded the corner, threw the package as hard as he could, and dived back around the side. Did they see him? Did it work? A most horrific smell hit his nose as agitated shouts rang out. One voice quickly drowned out all the rest.

"Mister Lestrange! Mister Wilkes!"

It was McGonagall. Merlin's beard, it was McGonagall. Did they see him?

"Which of you threw this? Just look at my robes! What is this? What is this smell?"

Peter opened his eyes to see Lawrence rounding the corner on him.

"You!" he shrieked. He ran up and grabbed a great bunch of Peter's robes. "Professor! Professor!"

In the meantime, Severus was speaking up against McGonagall. "It was Potter, Professor! I was in the store when he bought them. The shopkeeper said they were experimental, and he hadn't sold them to anyone else. You can ask him." He sounded very pleased with himself.

"Look!" cried Lawrence, dragging Peter in front of the teacher.

"One of Potter's gang!"

Professor McGonagall fixed her eyes beadily on Peter. "Did Potter throw this?" she asked.

Of course, they think James threw it and ran, leaving poor Peter behind, too slow, like always.

McGonagall sighed. "There's no use in covering up for him, Pettigrew. I'll just add your detentions on top of his. Now, tell me what happened."

It would be so easy to lie, to say James did it. He did buy it, after all. I wouldn't have had them to throw if he didn't buy them.

"Well?"

And he could just see James, running ahead, leaving him behind, not even looking back, not even bothering to check-

"That's it, Pettigrew!"

"It was James. James threw it, and he ran away. I saw him."

"And you didn't run away too?"

"No, I-I tripped." He was bad at lying, but so easily believed.

"I suppose Black and Lupin were there too?"

"N-no, Professor." Another scowl. "They didn't throw anything."

"Very well, Pettigrew. He will have to answer to me when I get back." She brushed her robes, then wrinkled her nose and headed towards the Three Broomsticks. Peter turned and disappeared into the ally before any Slytherin could follow. He headed straight back to the castle.

*****

Sirius was the next one back to their dorm room later that night.

"Peter!" He went over to Peter's bed and started to try to pull the covers off his head. "I don't believe it! McGonagall caught up with us in the Three Broomsticks, and she had quite an amusing tale to tell." He managed to rip the cover off, and Peter was surprised to see him grinning. "What a smell she had on her! You prat, did you know you got her with the Slytherins? You should have seen her robes! I didn't think they were supposed to stain like that. I guess they need a little more work." He noticed Peter's half-horrified and half confused statement, and laughed. "And you'll never guess what happened! That slimy git Snape told McGonagall they were James' bombs, so she came right up to us, and started shrieking hysterically. I can't believe you threw all of those without us there. It must have been spectacular." Peter still wasn't saying anything, and still had the same statement, so Sirius rushed on. "Don't worry. We didn't mention you, she has no idea you really threw them. James took all the responsibility, and got three detentions out of it. He and I are tied this week now. But it was worth it, just to see the look on her face- and that smell!" He laughed again. "I can't wait until those things go on the market for real."

"But James- he's not mad at me?"

"Don't be stupid Peter, it's Snape's fault. What were we supposed to do blame you? Well, I might of, but you know James. Of course he's not mad."

That didn't really make Peter feel any better, but Sirius had stopped noticing. He grabbed his hand and started pulling. "Come on. They're waiting for us at supper downstairs."

*****

After a couple of days, his stomach stopped hurting so much. He had apologized to James, who had waved it off. (What are friends for?) And James had gotten very easy detentions from McGonagall, easier than Peter would have. He would have probably gotten more than three, too. James didn't mind it, so he wouldn't either. It wasn't such a big deal.

He was very bored, and no one but a bunch of seventh years were in the common room, so he went to the dorm room and broke out the Every Flavor Beans he had bought Saturday. First, he separated all of the brown Beans from the rest and then started trying each of them out to find a chocolate one. It wasn't until Remus came through the door much later that he remembered he had studying plans in he library with every defense book he had neglected to read. Remus gave him a frown that was more concern than anything else.

"I'm sorry I forgot, Remus."

"Well, I got some studying done at least. But Peter, what about your defense grade? I don't mind staying up, if you still want the help."

"I don't think it'll make a difference," Peter said, dejectedly.

"Nonsense."

"Oh, Remus, I don't know… I try so hard, but I just don't think I can do it."

 

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