Birth of a Traitor
Author's Note: Okay, now we see why writing without a beta is a Bad Thing. In the description of Remus' living room in Chapter One, I mention an end table and lamp, coffee table, book shelf and desk (presumably with chair) as the furnishings. Nowhere did I mention a sofa, even though the existence of the end and coffee tables usually implies such. Yet a paragraph or two later, a sofa has miraculously appeared for Remus to fling himself onto. And I just barely caught a major timeline goof in this chapter which required a fair amount of rewrite. *sigh*
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything connected with him. I'm just playing.
Birth of A Traitor
Peter Pettigrew was used to being underestimated. It was a trait that had served him well all the way through school, and even more so as an adult.
He was the shortest of the Marauders, the least impressive physically. He wasn't athletic or terribly charismatic. He didn't play Quidditch, a disadvantage in a school where ninety per cent of the students were Quidditch-mad. He had never quite outgrown his childhood pudginess, he had a bit of an overbite, and had undistinctive brown hair and eyes. More than once, people had looked right past him as if he was invisible, and he could say things and later people wouldn't be able to say who told them, just that they "heard it somewhere."
Academically, he was an underachiever. James was superb in Transfiguration, Sirius in Charms, and Remus in Defense Against the Dark Arts. But where they got O's in some classes, A's in most of the rest and D's in those that absolutely did not hold their interest, Peter racked up a steady string of E's across the board — even in History of Magic. He could have done better. If he'd wanted to, and been willing to invest the study time, he could have rivaled some of the Ravenclaws. As it was, the teachers had no reason to praise him, but they had no reason to complain about him, either, and he had plenty of free time to get into mischief with his friends. If Peter had an academic specialty, it was Potions, although he never displayed the classroom brilliance that Severus Snape or Lily Evans did. They sat in the front row of the dungeon classroom, sniping at and attempting to outdo each other. Instead he worked quietly in the back row, producing serviceable potions and writing homework essays that were consistently good, but not great. Only in his work for the Marauders did he display his true skill, producing NEWT level potions when he had not yet taken his OWLs.
When teachers and students saw him with the other Marauders, they assumed he was just a tag along, that they felt sorry for him and let him be part of their group because he shared a dorm room with them. He knew their Head of House, Minerva McGonagall, thought so — he'd heard her say so when she didn't notice him loitering in the hallway. But there was no dead weight with the Marauders. If you couldn't keep up, they'd leave you by the side of the road. Each of the Marauders had a specialty. Sirius usually came up with the most interesting prank ideas. James turned them into workable plans. Remus, with his werewolf's strength and agility, quite often wound up setting up pranks in places no normal human could reach, or used his acute hearing and sense of smell to keep guard in case some prefect or teacher came across them while they were making preparations.
Peter's specialty was making sure they didn't get caught. He laid plans within plans, contingencies for every possibility. There were escape routes, information drops so they wouldn't be seen talking to each other, ways of laying the blame on others, all products of Peter's fertile mind. Even when he'd only been a schoolboy, Peter could move silently, almost unseen, and when he learned to be a rat Animagus, all the secrets of Hogwarts were laid open to him. There wasn't a Common Room he hadn't visited, a girls' dormitory he hadn't sneaked into (usually when said girls were nowhere near the dormitory, alas, but at least he could say he'd been in there). He hid under beds and sofas, listened to gossip, planted evidence pointing to others, and removed evidence pointing to them.
He was training himself to be the consummate spy.
He did have his standards. He never stole anything aside from nicking food from the kitchen, although he could have. He never betrayed the secrets he overheard, except once when he heard some older boys planning to assault a younger one — in that instance, the assault was foiled when the Marauders came upon the perpetrators at exactly the right moment and turned the tables on them. He never peeked at the girls in the shower or when they were getting ready for bed.
After school, he had taken a regular job as line supervisor for a manufacturer of medical potions, more because it was expected than because he really wanted to, and signed on with the Order of the Phoenix along with the other Marauders. His skills served him well, and it made him happy that he was using them for a good cause. It never occurred to him that there might be another party interested in him for those same skills. Until his father died.
May 17, 1980 — Pettigrew House
Peter had a headache. He'd had it since shortly after breakfast, when his mother started making lists of eligible pureblooded girls he might be interested in courting. "After all, Peter, you're Head of the Family now. It's time for you to get married and have an Heir of your own. Especially with all this … political instability." That was as close as she could come to discussing the efforts of He Who Must Not Be Named to impose his will on the Wizarding world.
"Mother, Father's only been gone for two days. It's a little early to think about Heirs, don't you think? Besides, Martha's son will be born next month. He can be my Heir for a while."
"That won't do at all, Peter! I have nothing against Thomas Finnigan — he's a wonderful young man and he makes your sister very happy, although I do wish she'd just tell him she's a witch and get it over with — but it can't be denied that he's a Muggle. Not even Muggle-born, a full Muggle! We have no assurance whatsoever that her children will even be magical. And you know the taxes if the Estate passes to a half-blood will be ruinous; if you marry a nice pureblooded girl we won't have that problem. There are plenty of young ladies who'd be more than happy to join the family. And it's not as if you have any entanglements at the moment. It will be just as easy for you to fall in love with a pureblooded girl as anyone else. Perhaps more so, since you'd have so much in common already …"
Peter tuned his mother out. The next best thing to a Squib herself, she had been lucky, and knew it, to attract a pure-blooded husband from a good family, especially a tolerant one. She had always been concerned that her children might share her affliction, so she had made sure they had proper Muggle documentation, attended Muggle primary schools (but very high-class ones) and knew how to function as well in the Muggle world as they did in the Wizarding community. Just in case. When first Martha and then Peter had received their Hogwarts letters, she had practically fainted with relief. By that time, though, her children had friends and connections in the Muggle world and it would have been cruel to force them to break them, so they continued living in both worlds. She was still nervous, particularly after Martha met Finnigan and moved to Ireland to be with him, and that meant she was nagging Peter.
The nagging kept on until Peter went up to change into his formal robes; then guests started arriving for the funeral, so she at least had to settle for quiet mutters of "Oh look, there's so and so, isn't she pretty?" or "You remember Mrs. Thisandthat, she has a daughter about your age."
Then there was the final ritual returning his father's body to the Elements, since the Pettigrews had always been traditionalists in that regard, and the luncheon afterwards. Fortunately his mother was seated at the other end of the table for that, and Sirius, noting Peter's distress, had made it his goal for the day to keep her entertained and away from Peter. She was flattered enough by the attention of the Black Heir that she had gone along with it for a time, but after Sirius left, she was back at it, saying that Sirius was such a nice young man and wasn't it a shame all the Black girls were married already, that Narcissa was a pretty enough girl … Peter had met two out of the three Black sisters. Bellatrix was already leaving school just as he was coming in, and he'd heard nothing good of her since then. Andromeda was several years ahead of him, and he knew she'd married a Muggle-born wizard right out of school; it had been quite the scandal at the time. He had nothing against her. Narcissa was only a year ahead of him, and the notion of his mother matching him up with her, assuming Lucius Malfoy hadn't been successful in snatching her up, was horrifying. She was pretty, but selfish and empty-headed — the most important thing to her was what the other girls were wearing and how she could outdo them.
By the time the last of the guests had taken Peter's hand and murmured their final condolences and left, the headache had become a pounding migraine. He needed a drink. A large one. Now.
He was completely unprepared to find Lord Voldemort in his study.
So he did the only thing possible. He fainted.
Peter returned to consciousness to find himself stretched out on the sofa in the study. A face came into focus as he blinked. He knew who it was immediately, of course. He'd seen pictures of the Dark Lord from early in his campaign, before he'd managed to completely cow the Daily Prophet and the other papers into not printing pictures or his full name, thereby increasing the air of mystery and fear around him. The papers had accurately shown the man to be good looking, with aristocratic features. He had wavy black hair with just a touch of white at the temples, though there was a bit more of it now than there had been in the pictures, and dark eyes that at the moment were full of concern. What the photographs had not been able to convey was the sense of power that practically rolled off the man. It tickled along Peter's skin and took his breath away.
"Are you all right now, Mr. Pettigrew? I apologise for surprising you, but you'll understand I just couldn't associate with your other guests. Things being the way they are, you know."
"I … yes, I'll be all right now, but … why … what are you …?" He was unable to organize his thoughts into any sort of coherent question or statement.
"All will be explained, Mr. Pettigrew, as soon as I'm sure you are capable of comprehending it. Perhaps you might want to try sitting up, slowly now, you don't want to be fainting again. And perhaps a drink?"
Shortly Peter found himself back in possession of his faculties, sitting up with a drink of his father's favorite firewhiskey in his hand and gaping at his unexpected visitor, who had helped himself to a drink as well.
"Why … why are you here? What do you want?"
"Why am I here? To express my condolences on your recent loss, of course. Your father was a good man, and for him to pass while he was still so young … tragic." Voldemort sipped delicately at his drink, and Peter began to have nasty suspicious of the true cause of his father's death. It had looked like a stroke, but … "It's always a shame when the Head of a Family passes, but it's good to see that the Family's future remains in good hands."
"Uh … thank you. I appreciate your confidence in me." Bizarrely, Peter remembered his manners, even at a time like this.
"As to what I want, that should be obvious. I want you."
"Me?!" Peter practically squeaked. "But I'm not … I won't … You want me to take the Dark Mark?"
"Well, eventually. You'd have to earn it, of course. I don't let just anybody take service with me. But I'm looking forward to working with you. To see what kind of stuff you're made of."
"But we're on opposite sides! I've been working against you and everything you stand for!"
"I'm willing to overlook that little detail. I don't believe we're all that far apart ideologically. We're both concerned over the survival of our way of life. You're Head of your Family now, and I believe you'll come to understand things differently in the near future. I think we can find common ground."
"But … but … what about the Death Eaters? The rapes and murders of Muggles and Muggle-borns? I refuse to have any part of that."
"And you won't, I assure you. I won't deny that there have been a number of unfortunate incidents, but it's been all blown all out of proportion by the Ministry, I assure you. Just last week they reported an outbreak of food poisoning as a Death Eater attack. It was a tragic thing to have happen, especially at a large family gathering like that, but it was nothing of mine. It's to their benefit to create a climate of fear, you understand. If there is a cause they can use to justify it, they can release only the information they choose. If they control information, the control the press. If they control the press, they can control what people think, what they do … and make it possible for them to suck the life's blood out of the economy. The Ministry is corrupt to the core, my dear boy. You must admit that."
"That's true enough," Peter said, reluctantly agreeing with Voldemort.
"It will take a strong hand to take control and clean house. I'll admit I have a few bad apples in my organization, but my options were limited when I started, and that was what I had to work with at the time. That's why I'm recruiting bright young men like yourself. I'll need good men, reliable men, to bring order again. Once I have them, the more unreliable elements can be weeded out. Your skills can be of great service to me. I'll need people for my Intelligence and Security department, and I think you'll do quite nicely."
"What if I don't want to join you?"
"I don't think you quite understand, Peter … may I call you Peter? Since we'll be working together so closely? I think I shall … Peter, you don't have an option. Or rather, you do, but it's not the one you think." He took another sip from his glass, and gestured to Peter to take another drink as well, which he did almost automatically.
"Here's the way it's going to be. I want information. Particularly information on the Order of the Phoenix. You will provide me with it."
"I'd rather die than betray the Order!" Peter said hotly.
"But would you rather have your mother die than betray it? Your sister? So young, so pretty … it's a pity about her husband and baby, too, but the Muggle element … really, you'd think she would have better taste. But that can be passed over. They live in Ireland anyway, and they're not politically active. As long as you assist me, they'll remain safe. Protected, even. No one will dare touch them if I say they're not to be molested, not even the husband. All you'd have to do would be to write me a report about what's discussed in your Order meetings. It's not like your organization doesn't leak like a sieve anyway, I just want some independent confirmation of the information I'm already getting."
Peter became aware that there was a hint of something red in Voldemort's eyes as the older wizard caught and held his gaze. He couldn't tear his own eyes away.
"That's it, primarily, although there are a few other things that would increase your stature in my organization. You can have power, authority, wealth. Anything you want, really."
"Those are Slytherin goals. I'm a Gryffindor."
"Once you're out of school, do Houses really matter? You know you were only a Gryffindor because your family were traditionally of the House of the Lion. What you did in school says you should have been a Slytherin."
Peter didn't answer, only licked lips that were suddenly dry. How did Vol — how did He Who Must Not Be Named know of the conversation between him and the Sorting Hat so many years ago? The Hat had offered him Slytherin, but Black and Lupin, who had befriended him on the Express, had already been sorted into Gryffindor and Potter was likely to be, too. He didn't know anybody at the Slytherin table, and some of them had looked mean. At eleven, things like that had been important. So he had asked to be Sorted into Gryffindor, and the Hat had agreed. But he'd wondered, since then … had it been right to do so?
"Albus Dumbledore has somehow inserted an agent into my Inner Circle. Find out who it is, and you shall be richly rewarded. If you can give me a name, I can isolate the agent and use him for my own purposes. I need recruits. Your little band of Marauders will do quite nicely. You're all intelligent, talented, quite gifted and quite dangerous, actually. I'd much rather have all four of you working for me than against me. Black should have been with me all along, of course, and I'd like to rectify the current unfortunate situation. I realize that Lupin is a half-blood, but his other abilities make him potentially quite valuable to me. Potter is the stubborn one, and potentially of the greatest worth to me. His family is very influential, but he doesn't know how to use it properly. Bring them to me, preferably voluntarily, and you will be rewarded. Bring me Lupin, and I will give you a position of rank in the Ministry. Bring me Black, and I will give you enough wealth to reinstate the Pettigrews among the Great Families. Bring me Potter, and I will arrange a marriage for you with the most desirable daughter of my followers … Wait … What's this? You've already given your heart … to a Mudblood? To another man's wife?"
Peter finally managed to tear his gaze away from Voldemort's. He could feel his cheeks burning and he looked down at the glass, which was somehow empty now, clasped in his white-knuckled hands.
The Dark Lord laughed disdainfully. "This is your most shameful secret, isn't it, Peter? You're in love with your best friend's wife. Even though she's pregnant with his child. I'll make you this bargain, then. Bring me the Potter baby, and you shall have the mother."
"What … what about James? And the baby?"
"If I have his Heir, he will have to come to me, won't he? Don't worry, he will come to see the practicalities of the situation. A new bride from a more suitable family will see to that. And you will have the woman you want, as wife if you insist, although keeping her as a mistress would be more suitable. A pureblood wife to provide you with an Heir, a Mudblood mistress to provide you with your fun; many's the man that would envy you. I won't hurt the baby, of course — I don't wage war on infants. If it grows up powerful enough, I might even find a niche in my organization for it — one suitable for a half-blood."
Voldemort suddenly stood, looming over Peter. "All this is yours for the price of your cooperation. If you deny me, or attempt to tell anyone what has passed between us here this afternoon, you will find yourself standing over the corpses of your loved ones, wishing for death. And if I am feeling merciful, I shall grant it."
The Dark Lord reached down and seized Peter's hand, where he was wearing the signet ring he had put on for the first time that morning. He hissed something in a language Peter did not understand, and suddenly his hand was aflame with agony. He was on his knees before the powerful wizard, asking, begging for relief before his hand was released and the pain stopped. Voldemort spoke brisky, all business now, as if the preceding unpleasantness hadn't happened at all. "We will correspond by confidential owl. You will find a new owl in your owlery which is to be used only to send routine reports to me, after every Order meeting. If you find out other information you believe would be of interest to me, send a message by the owl requesting a meeting. I shall respond at my convenience. Your signet ring is now a signal device. You will find it impossible to remove. When it becomes warm, it is a sign that I wish you to come to me, and you had best do it without delay. The stone is now a portkey. You have but to touch it and incant, 'dominus' and you will be brought to a private meeting place."
"Of course. You are no use to me if everyone knows about you. In fact, it would be quite detrimental to your health. If you attend regular meetings of my followers or have any contact with them, Dumbledore's spy would see you and then you would be quietly eliminated … like poor Fenwick."
"Benjy Fenwick? He was one of ours! Your Death Eaters killed him!"
"Is that what they told you? No, Fenwick was one of mine. I'd never have wasted such a valuable resource. Regretfully, I was unaware of the agent in my ranks at that time, and Fenwick paid the price. I am unwilling to risk that happening again. You will remain a secret known only to me, and report only to me. Now go about your life, Peter, and know that you and those you love are protected. Do what I ask, and no harm shall come to anyone you care for."
Peter could only nod, tears of shame coursing down his cheeks.
October 11, 1981 — Pettigrew House
It was close to midnight when Peter arrived home. He'd stopped at a local pub for a brew and a bit of a think, made notes on scrap paper he had in his pockets, and was mildly inebriated when he staggered home. He made a slight detour from the path to a stone building that looked like a typical folly — a landscape building deliberately designed to look like a picturesque ruin. Given the relatively modest house and grounds, having a folly was a bit pretentious, and if anybody in town mentioned this to Peter, he said he thoroughly agreed with them — it was an atrocious thing, and he didn't know what his great great grandfather was thinking, but he didn't particularly care to take the money to tear the thing down and re-do the landscaping. In reality, of course, he found the folly incredibly useful. What it really was was the family owlery.
A nondescript brown owl flew down from its perch to greet him and held its leg out for him. He found an unused scrap of paper and wrote, "I have information." He carefully tied the note to the bird's leg with a bit of string, and it winged its way silently into the night. Peter watched it go, cursing softly to himself, then walked across the dark garden to the house.
Over the past year, he'd found it remarkably easy to forget about the bargain he'd made with the Dark Lord. Most of the time, he didn't remember it at all. It was like it was in a little box in the back of his mind somewhere, and he went on with his life as if it had never happened. Only when he had just come back from an Order meeting, or had other information, did it become something important. Then it nagged him, vexing him until he did something about it. After that, he could put it back into the box until the next time. There were times when he wondered if this was something Voldemort had done to him, some spell to make it easier for him to face what he was doing. Other times, he thought he was going mad, like one of those poor Muggles who had multiple people living in their heads. But most the time, he didn't think about it at all. The simple fact that nothing bad had ever happened that he could directly trace to information he'd provided made it all much easier. He'd even had the nerve, during one of his rare face to face meetings with the Dark Lord, reporting that James and Lily had gone into hiding because of the Prophecy, and had been surprised when the man laughed in his face.
"Prophecy? What care I for a prophecy? Because some unstable diviner has a verbal fit, I'm supposed to change all my plans, back off and hide in terror? No, any time there's a strong leader, opposition will form against him, and attempt to justify itself by claiming it was 'ordained'. If anything, this supposed prophecy just confirms that you're on the winning side, my boy. If your Dumbledore had any confidence in his own ability to succeed, he wouldn't be putting such credence in soothsayer's babble." Then Voldemort had dismissed the matter and turned his attention to other business.
Between physical exhaustion, the alcohol, and denial, when Peter woke up the morning after the casting of the Fidelius, he didn't even remember sending the owl.
October 12-30, Various Places
The next few weeks were busy ones for everyone.
First Peter quit his job, claiming that he needed to devote his time to Family business. His employer wasn't surprised, having expected this since Peter had come into his inheritance; he was grateful that the young man had stuck with the job for so long.
Then he had flung himself into the dual matters of finding help for Remus and arranging for his own disappearance; it was in the process of working on the latter that he discovered the key to the former. Peter had a Muggle birth certificate and school records, of course, and even had a driving license. He had never obtained a passport, however, and now felt it would be prudent to get one. He applied for a regular Muggle one, but that process took time that he feared he might not have, so he also put out enquiries in low places and eventually contacted a Knockturn Alley forger who specialized in Muggle paperwork, since the Ministry had very little interest in such things. While they kept their own records, they assumed that if you wanted Muggle documentation, you'd take care of it on your own. Hence the rather extensive clientele of people like Peter's forger, who provided the necessary document, which was completely indistinguishable from a Muggle one, in less than a week.
From the forger, Peter learned that he could, for a price, arrange for the creation of a birth certificate for one Remus Lupin and have it quietly inserted into the birth records of a small village conveniently near where Remus had actually been born. With the birth certificate in place, the other necessary identification papers could be obtained, all perfectly legally.
The forger suggested getting Remus' school records transferred into the Muggle system. It had never occurred to Peter that Remus might not have known that Hogwarts was perfectly capable of providing a transcript of Remus' school records which was mocked up to resemble those of a Muggle school, transforming Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology into Zoology and Botany, for example. Even OWLs and NEWTs could be transferred to equivalent grades on Muggle standardized tests. He asked Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress of the School, to expedite the paperwork, and she agreed at once. She had not known that Remus was in difficulty or living in the Muggle world, or she would have suggested it herself. Peter swore briefly at Remus' pride, which had not allowed him to ask the questions that would have led him to solutions to his problems, and asked Minerva not to tell Remus about it just yet, since they wanted it to be a surprise. Minerva smiled and agreed and provided the documents almost immediately; Remus had always been one of her favorite students.
With the birth certificate and basic identification, Remus could apply for a driving license if he wished. With the school transcript, he could apply for a regular job, or even go to university later on. Peter sent them to Sirius, along with the address for the mail drop, and considered his part of the job well done.
While he had been arranging for all of this, Peter had also acquired a flat in an unremarkable residential complex in an unremarkable suburb, using a reference provided by his former employer, and claimed that he was looking for a suitable position in the pharmaceuticals industry. The complex's main advantages were that it had concierge service for its residents, and was quite near a commuter train station. He paid for the flat for a year in advance and Confunded the landlord so he wouldn't ask awkward questions.
Then he started arranging for mail drops so that messages could be sent to him in secrecy. The first step, of course, was to make sure that postal owls couldn't reach him directly. This was something Sirius was able to help him with, since Aurors had to be able to prevent owls from reaching them when they were on stakeout or under cover. One owl at the wrong time could completely blow an operation. The spell was classified as "to be used only by authorized Ministry personnel", but there wasn't anything actually preventing Sirius from teaching it to Peter, since they both had a fine disregard for the rules.
Peter arranged for a drop box at the Owl Post Centre in Hogsmeade; again, this was common enough since many people preferred not to maintain their own owls. Several days a week, a contact of Peter's forger acquaintance would visit the drop box, and any mail would be forwarded under a false name to another individual who would put it in a Muggle envelope addressed to a small fictitious business and send it to a Post Office Box, where it would be picked up by a Muggle messenger service and hand delivered to Peter's apartment building, and the concierge would deliver it to Peter. If Peter wasn't available, the concierge would go up to Peter's apartment, open the door, and put the envelope inside. Technically, of course, the concierge wasn't supposed to do that, but a judicious use of minor Compulsion and Memory Charms, combined with a large gratuity, ensured that he would do it and not remember it. As far as he was concerned, Mr. Pettigrew would be picking up all his mail properly at the front desk.
If there was anything in the mail for James and Lily, Peter would take it to them and have a nice visit, and post any replies for them. But there were rarely any letters, since Sirius and Remus were trying very hard not to compromise Peter's security by sending "frivolous" mail.
A week after moving in, Peter had developed his pattern. He would rise, dress in his Muggle business suit, pick up his briefcase, and leave, at the same time as all the other young businessmen in the area. He would purchase tea with cream, no sugar, and a blueberry scone from the bakery on the corner, and consume them while waiting on the platform for his train. He would pick up the newspaper from a stand at the station and read it on the train. All this was totally unremarkable. Then he would disappear into the City, going into Diagon or Knockturn Alley, visiting the Ministry once, closing up Pettigrew House, and generally going about normal business. Some days he spent in a string of coffee shops, going over and over the same set of Help Wanted ads multiple times, or doing the crossword puzzle. He would return to his flat at the same time as the other office drones, pick up some takeout, read the mail, and watch the telly until bedtime.
By the end of the month, he was already heartily bored.
Sirius, in his leisure time when he wasn't on either Auror or Order business (which admittedly was not much), decided to approach the problem of Remus as if he were Remus himself, and do some research. He had only paid cursory attention in Muggle Studies classes, somewhat more in the Auror classes that taught how to move undetected among them, and realized that he actually had very little idea of what Muggles did for a living. For all he moved among them on a daily basis, he really never looked at them; they were just a boring backdrop to the more colorful Wizarding world. He understood some of them, of course — the sort of job where people sold food and books and newspapers were pretty much the same in both worlds — but Remus wouldn't be looking for that kind of job. Muggle city streets were lined with tall buildings and everyday thousands of Muggles went in and out of those buildings. Sirius had no idea what went on inside them. Muggle newspapers had advertisements for hundreds of jobs. Sirius had no clue what most of them were. What, for example, was an "actuary"? What was "insurance", and why would it need "adjusting"? Peter's package with the documents for Remus came, and Sirius decided to hold it for a while until he'd gotten a grasp on the whole job thing, and then he could present it all at once as a fait accompli.
This was going to take a lot of work.
James and Lily were having a wonderful time. After a year of hiding, sleeping in hotels, motels, stranger's houses, guest rooms, attics, and even, for one unforgettable night, a cave, it was bliss to have their own furniture in their own room again. Harry had his own room now, a nursery next to their bedroom, and there were house elves ready and more than willing to attend to him if he woke in the middle of the night. With those same house elves taking care of the details of housekeeping, James and Lily spent most of their time introducing Harry to the wonders of their own garden, jumping in leaf piles and throwing stones into the small pond. Turning over stones and finding bugs underneath was also a favorite activity. While he toddled about shrieking in glee at each new discovery, they walked the grounds of their estate hand in hand and got caught up with each other's lives.
Gradually, they found themselves falling in love all over again.
Remus worked. It was what he did. He unloaded trucks. He swept sidewalks. He spent a full two weeks doing demolitions for a homeowner who was renovating an old house, which had been broken up into flats, back into a single residence. The money was good, and the work was tiring. He didn't hear from Sirius, or James and Lily, or Peter. He was afraid that he had pushed it too far, that last night, that James was angry at him and that's why no one was contacting him. Perhaps none of them really did trust him. He had already determined that he was not even going to try to contact James and Lily, just to prove that he was reliable, but he hadn't expected to lose Sirius and Peter, too. But if that was the way it was, he would cope.
As the moon waned, the lone wolf mourned his pack.