Pink Green Blue

Slaughter Dew by Hourglass nomineeHourglass winnerandromeda311

Rating: PG-13. Created: September 28th, 2007. Updated: September 28th, 2007. Read Reviews (11)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

slaughter-dew

The first time it happens, he is fourteen.

Sitting at the Gryffindor table, Peter thinks of murder - of picking up the knife and shoving it straight through Sirius Black's eye, of watching him bleed and convulse and die right before his eyes, in pain and -

He shakes it off and rearranges the napkins to hide the shaking in his fingers.

--

It's nothing, he tells himself. What he sees, what he thinks, the powerful impulses - they don't affect him and they aren't from his head. They can't be because if he's thinking like that, then he's a bad person and maybe even a crazy person. So, it's nothing, he tells himself, and ritualizes every move he makes.

If he does it right - twenty-five steps from the door of the Great Hall to his seat, right in front of the window, closest to the wall; room for fifteen people between his and the end of the table either way; his plate arranged into a perfect pentagon, because fives are safe numbers - if he does it right, then the images don't come. He doesn't think about murder or death or rotting flesh or blood or suicide. If he does everything right and sets everything up just the way it's supposed to be, then it really doesn't affect him at all.

James steals a strip of bacon from his plate - four! - and he thinks about James choking on it. Hastily, Peter snatches another piece and rearranges his food.

"Jeez, Wormtail," Sirius mutters, "It's not like you ever eat bacon anyway."

--

There are fourteen Slytherins in the group when they come to talk to him about their movement. Fourteen is wrong, he thinks, because fours aren't safe, don't they know that? Only things in fives can be relied on, so he joins them and listens. For their own safety, yes, so they don't see the pictures too.

(He doesn't think anyone else sees the pictures he does. What's wrong with him?)

--

He pulls five books off the shelf and arranges a fan of safety around him, before opening one - Potions - and beginning his homework. Lily comes in and sits next to him, looking at the books. She picks one up and says, "I didn't know you were taking Ancient Runes. I always wanted to take that class, it sounds so fascinating. I could never fit it into my schedule, though. What's it like?"

So he lies, because he doesn't want to admit to her that he's never taken a moment of Ancient Runes in his life, but he only has homework in four classes, and that's not right, it has to be five or he might think awful things again. He doesn't want Lily to think he's crazy, so he tells her that it's wonderful, just like she wants to hear.

She asks him to write his name in Ancient Runes, face lit up with energy and anticipation. For a moment, he panics, but then James comes by and reminds her that she promised to study with him today. She apologizes, laying the book back down, and leaves him (the book is out of its fan and he has to fix it because it's wrong that way, can't she see?), but not before telling him that she'll have to talk to him about Runes later. If James notices, he doesn't say anything.

Peter rearranges the books and doesn't bother to look up his name.

Lily doesn't ask him about it again.

--

When he counts Lily, there are six in the group - including Frank, because he's still a part of them, even if he's not really a Marauder - and that's too many. He could just not count Lily because Lily's not a real Marauder, but if he does that, then he can't count Frank, and then there's only four. So he has to count Lily, and besides, she's around all the time anyway. He has to count Lily, which means he has to not-count someone else.

He can't ignore Frank, and Moony's the whole reason for the Marauders. James is the Leader, and where would they be without Sirius? So, it's Peter he has to leave out, and so begins to distance himself, for the safety of everyone else, even though no one else needs the safety of five.

When he counts himself, there are fifteen in the group of Slytherins. For safety, he tells himself, so he won't think about killing them again.

--

They graduate and Frank leaves, so Peter can come back. No one seems to notice that he's been gone, which is okay because they're safer without him and his impulse-images. They just act like he never left, and he feels so at home, so safe in his cozy group of five.

And then Lily finds out she's pregnant, and there are six again, even while it looks like only five.

The baby isn't safe while he's around, because he's the disposable number six, the crazy Peter who thinks about killing his friends. And it takes him exactly thirty-five steps to reach Lucius Malfoy's door from the gate.

It has nothing to do with himself, he says, and everything to do with keeping them safe. Safe from himself, or just his perception of himself, he wonders, and isn't so sure.

Maybe there's nothing special about fives, but it's become an excuse as much as a safety net.

(If there's one too many people with them, he doesn't have to be there, because he can slide off and never be noticed. If there's one too many, he can run to a different safe haven of fifteen, fifteen in the group that accepts him with open arms and realizes when he isn't there and doesn't pick on him the way they do. And if there's one too many, he doesn't have to think about attacking Sirius or Remus or James or Lily or the baby, because he doesn't have to think at all.)

(And he can take their mark on his arm and walk out the door - five steps from the foyer of Lucius Malfoy's house to the door - and he can commit their murders, he thinks, if he tries. And the Dark Lord understands the safety of five, and gives him a family to kill, a family of a mother and a father and her two sons. It's okay, he says, because they weren't safe anyway. It's okay, he says, and vomits all over himself the moment Sirius opens the door.)

--

"You sure you'll be okay?" Sirius asks, half-concerned, half-suspicious. "You don't need anything? I can get Lily to make you an antidote to whatever you took that made you throw up."

But he shakes his head - I'm fine, Padfoot, really. Just a bit of food poisoning, I drank some old milk, you see, and -

Sirius doesn't really believe him, he doesn't think, but doesn't push the issue. Peter wonders why he went to Sirius in the first place, why he thought Sirius would be able to save him. But now he feels disgusting and contaminated, with vomit on his shoes and blood under his fingernails (which Padfoot surely noticed, right?) and the dirt of someone else's death in his clothes.

Being dirty has never been a real problem before, but now it's torture, because he can still see that dead woman's eyes, glassy and terrified, and nothing he does can stop him from seeing them turn bright bright bright green, from turning her hair to red, from seeing Lily, pretty sweet Lily who never did ask him about Ancient Runes again - dead by his hand.

He takes a shower in Sirius's bathroom, and washes until the image leaves. It takes five scrubbings, and he is safe.

--

Lily and James die at 9:21 PM, and it's their fault because they should have known they weren't safe, being three and all. They should have known.

He shakes it off and rearranges his spellbooks, before grabbing his wand and leaving in a self-destructive fury.

(He never tells anyone, ever, but that night, he silently begs Sirius to kill him. Don't go with the Dementors, he thinks, come after me. Because, counting all the Muggles, he's killed fourteen people and fourteen is wrong. Don't go with them, he thinks at Sirius's still form, kill me instead. Because then it will be Peter's fault he's dead, because he knew he should have gotten one more Muggle in there, one more to make a five.)

(Don't go with the dementors, Padfoot. Come for me.)

Sirius lets them take him, and for the next twelve years, Peter's trapped in a spiral of fourteen.

--

There were supposed to be five captives in the room at Malfoy Manor. Harry, that Weasley boy, the pale girl, the old man, and the black boy. There were supposed to be five.

But there are two, only two, and Peter knows his safety net is gone.

Panic sets in.

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