Peter Pettigrew pulled his tattered cloak tighter around his short, fat frame as he tried to keep warm on this unnaturally cold Halloween night. He had been standing in a church graveyard for what felt like an hour, waiting for his master to appear. A loud crack broke the silence causing him to jump and squeal as he turned to the source of the sound. He watched a branch finish its fall from the leafless tree, landing with a thud to the ground. His heart pounded in his chest. Sweat formed on his brow. A stray cloud moved in front of the moon causing the bright night to momentarily go dark. Whimpering, he pulled his cloak tight once more, cursing his misfortune. He hated what he was about to do. He was about to kill his best friend. But he was a coward and he had picked his side like he had always done: the strong side.
"Not having second thoughts, are we?" a soft, sinister voice spoke from behind him.
Peter let out a fearful squeak at the sudden sound before he slowly turned around to face his master. "Never, my lord." He whispered, bowing his head.
His master let out harsh laugh before fixing him with a cold stare. "You never were good at lying." Peter quickly averted his gaze, all but confirming his master's statement. "And yet here you are. About to give me something I desire above all else. Something even my most competent servants have failed to do."
Peter continued to gaze at his feet, unwilling to meet his master's eyes. "I live to serve you, my lord."
Another harsh laugh. "And your service will be rewarded! Now tell me, where are the Potter's?"
He hesitated a moment, but one look into the face of his master stopped any thoughts of backing out. "This way."
Peter, his eyes still downcast, led his master out of the small graveyard and down the empty street. His feet seemed unnaturally loud in the silence of the night as he plodded along, a stark difference to his masters nearly silent feet. He tried walking lighter, but it seemed to only make it worse. He quickened his pace when he felt his master's eyes on the back of his head, and he knew his patience was wearing thin.
Potter cottage slowly came into view as the two men walked around a bend in the street. It was a comfortably sized, two-story house with a small gate and hedges surrounding the front yard. Large cobblestones decorated the walls on the outside and smoke rose into the air from the lone chimney.
Peter stopped once he was in front of the house. His friend's house. He was shaking now. When had that started?
The living room windows were open, and light streamed out onto the yard. A tiny head of hair bobbed across the window followed by his friend, James, a huge smile on his face as he chased tiny Harry around the room.
A tear rolled down his cheek.
"No time for hesitation" his master said next to him. "Tell me their location."
"The Potter's location is Potter's Cottage, Godric's Hollow" he whispered out, his head bowed in defeat.
"Yes!" his master all but hissed as the house appeared for him, its hidden enchantment removed from his eyes. "You have done well, Peter. Now watch as your master purges these traitors from my world!"
Peter felt a pleasant sensation wash over his body and then a gentle, but commanding voice telling him to look at the house. He did as it commanded and then the pleasant sensation vanished, and a feeling of horror replaced it. He tried to look away but found he was completely frozen in place. He couldn't even close his eyelids. The soft steps of his master walked around him and then the squeak of the gate opening, and he watched his master stroll up to the door, his hand loose at his side, slender fingers holding his wand at the ready. A quick flick of his wrist and the door blew off its hinges and he walked into the house.
"Lily, run! Voldemort is here!" he heard James yell as spell fire lit up the living room. There was a loud boom, and the large living room window blew out in a million pieces. More flashes of light lit up the front yard until an all too familiar sickly green light flashed out the window followed by a thud of a body hitting the floor and he knew James was no more. His master calmly walked across the room towards the stairs. A moment later more spell fire could be seen from the upper-level windows. It ended quicker this time but with the same sickly green light and a lighter thud of a body.
He was not alone in waiting for that final flash of green light. It seemed that the whole world was holding its breath. Not a single sound could be heard as everything waited for the moment to happen. And happen it did. The green light flashed from the windows once more, lighting the area in its sickly hue only for it to be angerly overwhelmed by pure golden light so bright it burned his eyes that he couldn't close.
The silence was finally broken as a terrible scream tore through the night followed by an explosion as half of the second level was blown apart from the inside. Wood and stone tumbled all around the yard and a cloud of dust lifted into the air. A warm breeze suddenly came from the south, blowing the dust away leaving the ruined house for all to see. Leaves rustled on the trees and ground. An owl hooted somewhere nearby.
Peter was mashing his fists into his eyes trying to relieve the pain from the bright light that scorched his retinas. It took a few moments of furious rubbing before Peter realized the spell that was holding him in place had stopped. Stumbling forward, eyes blinking rapidly, he made his way down the path and through the broken-down front door. Turning into the living room he moaned in grief as he looked down at the lifeless body of James. Moving quickly past him, lest he get sick on the floor, he all but ran up the stairs.
The top floor was a wreck. Debris was everywhere and the cool night air streamed in through the destroyed wall. Making his way into the bedroom he saw two piles of clothes. The first belonged to Lily, her red hair spread out around her face, the wind gently blowing a few strands. Her eyes were closed, and she looked oddly peaceful. Next to her were the fine, black robes of his master but there was no body to be found. It's as if he had just vanished. Even his wand was left behind.
He turned his attention to the bed and the still form of Harry. The sharp intake of his breath seemed louder than it should be in the stillness. Tears ran down his face and he fell to his knees, resting his head on the bed as his body shook. His best friend and his family where dead because of him.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there before a human moan snapped him out of his stupor. He slowly raised his head and looked at Harry once more and saw that he was not dead, but unconscious. Eyes widening in shock, he quickly stood and glanced between the baby and what was left of his master. How could this have happened? Harry let out another moan, turning his head so that he could see his face. A line of blood had gone down his face from a cut on his forehead.
"How are you alive?" Peter whispered to him as he looked over at Lily this time, squinting his eyes to see if he could see if she wasn't dead but seeing no movement. He hesitated a moment before walking over and kneeling. Reaching out and putting two fingers on her neck to feel for a pulse but finding none. Frowning, he looked around the ruined room taking in all he could. He was not a smart man. He knew this. It was why he made friends with James so fast. It was why he turned on him. James was powerful, but Voldemort was more.
Except now he was dead. He looked at the pile of robes and frowned. Or gone? Harry moaned again, drawing his gaze. Did he defeat the dark lord?
Anger sparked in his chest as he stared at Harry. His life was in jeopardy because of this child. The friends he turned on would kill him for his betrayal. His new master that he sold his friends out for was now gone because of him. The other followers of Voldemort would kill him for this. All his careful planning to stay safe and alive was ruined because of this boy.
A crack of wood made him jump but broke him out of his internal tirade. His grief was quickly turning into anger at his misfortune. He had half a mind to finish off the baby in his master stead.
But no, despite the predicament he was in, there was still a part of him that wouldn't go that far. He had betrayed James once, he wouldn't spit on his grave and kill his son.
He had to get moving though. Waiting was risky. Every minute he stayed here increased the chance that someone would show up and he was terribly incompetent in a fight.
He may not be powerful, but he could think. A plan quickly formed in his head.
He strode over to his master's wand and pocketed it. He then turned to Lily's body and with a quick movement of his wand, levitated her body off the floor and followed it out of the room and down the stairs to the living room where he laid her next to James. He looked at his two friends for a moment before giving James a nod and heading back up the stairs. Grabbing a blanket at the end of the bed, he wrapped Harry up in it and then scooped him into his arms. Harry seemed to relax, his face softening and the moaning stopped.
Returning to the living room, he said a quick goodbye to the prone bodies before shifting Harry to his left arm, his wand held ready in his right. He took a deep breath and focused his mind. With a muttered word and a few complicated motions with his wand, a controlled burst of blue flame erupted from his wand, bathing their bodies in the supernatural hot flames. The bodies turned to ash in seconds, the floor beneath them burning away just as quickly.
It took less than ten seconds to burn all traces of their bodies. His arm was unsteady and sweat had formed on his brow from the exertion of the spell. Once he was sure no traces of them remained, he quickly walked out of the house before bathing the house with a simple fire starter spell, only ending it when the cottage was a raging inferno. With a final look, he twisted to the side and with a small pop, vanished.
Albus Dumbledore was a very busy man. Managing the most prestigious school in England (and the world in his humble opinion) was no small task, and not his only position he held. As the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and leader of the Order of the Phoenix, it was safe to say that he was spread thin at the best of times. With a civil war raging on top of it all? He was downright exhausted.
Despite all these responsibilities and distractions, he was still able to sense when the charm he cast over the Potter's home was destroyed. The charm that would make them impossible to find. A charm so powerful that even as the caster of it, he didn't even know what it was hiding for as soon as he completed the casting, that information vanished from his mind.
But now he could remember where the Potter's were hiding, which meant that the one weakness of the spell, the person trusted with keeping the secret, had betrayed them. Putting his elbows on his large desk, he slowly lowered his head into his hands, his body slumping in weariness.
How did it come to this? While he did not know who James and Lily chose as the secret keeper, he couldn't imagine them picking anyone other than James' best man, Sirius Black. Has the war really caused friends as close as those two to turn on each other?
He scoffed at himself. Of course, it was possible. He had done the same to his closest friend all those years ago.
And what of the prophecy? Did he interpret it wrong? He was so confident that it was referencing the Potter boy that he had completely dismissed the possibility that it could be talking about the other child that fit the parameters of the prophecy.
But now it looked like he was wrong. And not for the first time.
The rustling of feathers broke through his haze of thought, and he turned his head to the side and looked at his phoenix familiar. Said phoenix tilted its head to the side and let out a short trill. "You are right, Fawkes. Time is working against me."
His mind recovering from the shock of the Potters demise, he quickly brought his wand to his hand and with a lazy, but precise movement, a silver phoenix burst into existence. "The Potter's have fallen. Your son may be next. Take precautions." He said to the phoenix and then with a final flick of his wand, the phoenix zoomed straight through the wall of his chambers.
He slowly stood, trying to shake the weariness from his bones, and then looked back at Fawkes and reached out his arm. "To Godric's Hallow my friend." The phoenix gave another trill before gliding to his arm and gentry grabbing it with his talons. With a flash of fire, they both vanished.
Alice Longbottom was rocking in her chair when Dumbledore's silver phoenix burst through the wall and stopped in front of her. With speed and grace, she was on her feet, her wand at the ready to deal with the threat. A moment later her body slowly sagged, as if a great weight had been laid upon her as the voice of the headmaster said his message. With a burst of silver, the phoenix dispersed into the air.
She stood there unmoving as she replayed the short message sent to her. She couldn't believe it. They had just seen the Potters two days ago. How could they be dead? They went into hiding! They should have been safe!
And then her jaw clenched tight. Sirius Black betrayed them. He was their secret keeper, he had to be. How could he betray them like this?
Sparks flew from the end of her wand, breaking her out of her anger. "FRANK!" she yelled as she ran through their home to the study. He must have sensed her distress as he was already moving quickly down the hall, wand in his hand.
"What?!" he said calmly, his eyes darting behind her and then looking her over.
"The Potter's are de-" her voice caught, grief threatening to overtake her again. She shoved it down instead. "Sirius betrayed them."
Frank's eyes widened, his stance relaxing at the terrible news. "Are you certain?"
She nodded. "Dumbledore just messaged me."
He sighed and moved closer to pull her into a hug only to be shoved back by her free hand. "He said that we may next. That Neville may be next."
"What? Neville? Why him specifically?" Frank asked confused. He could understand Alice and himself being targets but their son? He had no fight in this war.
She shrugged. "You know Dumbledore. He plays things close to the chest, but he is rarely wrong." Frank conceded the point.
"Where too?" He asked instead.
She stiffened slightly, anger returning to her face. "You and Neville should go to Hogwarts. It is the safest place in England."
"And where are you going?" He asked slowly.
"Lily was my friend." She whispered. "Sirius will be brought to justice."
"Frank!" She snapped, causing him to pull the hand he was reaching out with back. "I am tired of being on the defensive. I am going. And I will bring him in."
Frank sucked on his tongue for moment, trying to decide if he could talk her down from this path. He knew she wasn't thinking clearly. Lily was her best friend, and she would respond to grief with anger. But Sirius was no slouch at fighting. Alice may be a trained Auror and knew how to fight with the best, but Sirius was powerful too, and while he may not have formal training, he was cunning.
"We go together." He finally said. Alice opened her mouth to respond but he held up a hand to stop her. "They were my friends too." This stopped her short.
"Fine." She said, slightly defeated. "Hogwarts will take too long though." And it would. While they would be welcome, the walk from the gates to the castle was not short.
"To my mother's then?" He asked. "The family manor is the next best thing."
She nodded. "Very well."
Frank slowly approached her and wrapped her into a hug. He could feel her fight off the sobs that where desperately trying to get out. "We will give them some justice." He whispered into her hair, placing a kiss on top of her head. He felt her head nod into his chest.
She pulled back, her eyes watery. "Let's go."
Sirius Black was bored. Sure, there was a war raging across the country and his life was in danger but that did little to change his current situation. Current Situation being locked up in his house siting on a plush chair and staring at his cold fireplace. He did not like being couped up like this. His outgoing and energetic nature did not do well when he was told to lay low for a few days. If it hadn't been James that told him to stay put, he would have already ignored whoever had given him those instructions and went somewhere.
But James was the exception. Or maybe it was Lily that made him listen. His lips quirked a smile thinking of the stern talking to he received two days ago from her. Okay, it wasn't James that made him listen. It was Lily. To be fair, she was scary when riled up.
His smile was short lived. He was still stuck in his house with nothing to do but stare at the fireplace. He was told to wait for news so wait he would. He just hoped it would come soon. He wasn't sure how much more of this solitude he could take.
Albus appeared in front of the Potter cottage in another flash of fire, Fawkes still perched on his outstretched arm. His eyes quickly widened as he took in the raging inferno that was the cottage. Sensing that his master would need his arms, Fawkes quickly hopped to his shoulder. With a nod of thanks, Dumbledore pulled out his wand and began casting a spell at the cottage. His left hand rose next to his wand and an opaque bubble formed between the tip of the wand and his hand. It slowly expanded until it was the size of a large ball and then he flicked it at the fire. The bubble rapidly expanded until it engulfed the entire house and the fire.
The fire immediately began to die down as the bubble prevented any oxygen from entering its boundary. Within in minutes, the fire was nothing but black coals. Satisfied, he ended the spell and the bubble dissipated with a pop.
With the more pressing matter dealt with, he began casting a barrage of spells around the yard, street, and what was left of the cottage. Slowly, a rough, and confusing, picture was forming in his mind of what transpired here.
Four magical signatures remained. Three he recognized. James and Lily where the strongest and most prevalent. To be expected as this was their residence. Voldemort's was also here. Less strong but the dark residue of his magic was hard to miss. Magic done with the intent to harm always lingered the longest.
This last signature was the one that currently held his attention. The fire was made by this last person as was the outgoing apparition. He also sensed a more intense residue inside the house from this person. He continued to try and make some sense from what he was finding but the picture was murky at best.
Deciding that he found all he would this way, he took a more hands on approach and started slowly walking around the cottage. He found scraps of the front door and part of the frame on the pathway, and carefully walked over the glass strewn front lawn.
In the back he found the scraps of the top floor that was blown out during the fight. Here he spent a few minutes casting some more charms trying to piece the puzzle together more. Again, he found nothing substantial, the magical fire having ruined most everything, which was the casters intent no doubt.
Only after finishing a full circle around the premises did he enter the cottage. He slowly worked his way through what was left of the home, using magic as needed to prevent the walls and floor from caving on him. As he went, he cast spells of finding, hoping he would find some magical items and more importantly, wands. Despite being made from wood, wands were almost indestructible. It wouldn't make sense for them to be delicate with how much they got used and it would take something more destructive than magical fire.
He quickly found James and Lily's wands and as he suspected, were unharmed but had a little soot from the fire on them. However, there was no sign of the wand he really was hoping would be here: Voldemort's.
He continued to pick through the wreckage, pocketing anything valuable or sentimental to preserve for the future. A foolish part of his heart hoped that Harry was somehow still alive and that he could give him these things to remember his parents by.
After fifteen minutes of carefully picking his way through the wreckage, he had amassed a handful of photos, some worse off than others, a few enchanted items, and James' dragonhide overcoat. Deciding he found all he could, he made his way out of the house and walked to the edge of the property to leave.
Not knowing exactly where Sirius would be, Alice and Frank started at the most logical place: his house. They apparated a few blocks away, in a dark alley they knew of in the area. With a few flicks of their wand and a tap on exposed skin, a silver looking liquid quickly spread over their skin. Once their bodies were covered, the spell took on its final form. Alice looked at Frank in time to see his silver covered face disappear, making him appear see through. If she looked close enough, she could make out the outline of his body. The spell may make you appear see through to anyone who looks, but it could not change the fact that you were a solid body.
"Let's go." She said softly before turning around and walking out of the alley, Frank in tow. While he may be all but invisible, she could still sense him behind her, his aura brushing up against hers calmed her nerves.
Halfway to his place, Frank began muttering under his breath, his wand making slicing sounds through the air as he cast a plethora of spells checking for traps and alarms. Alice didn't help, as this was Frank's expertise while hers was direct combat magic.
They traveled the last two blocks without triggering, or even detecting, any spells. They were less confident when they reached the stairs and she let Frank take the lead. The walk up the front stairs was much slower as Frank continued his barrage of spells but they still came up empty.
"Seems clear." Frank said softly, almost amused at how typical that would be of Sirius. "The door only has an alarm spell."
Alice remained tense. "Then we go in with a standard entry." Frank hummed his agreement, easily falling into their Auror rolls. Alice was the more talented offensive magic user and thus he fell into the supportive roll.
Frank casted a quick spell to open the door and they rushed in, wands at the ready. The alarm spell went off, filling the house with an obnoxiously loud wailing. They made it a dozen steps before they were met with spell fire. Frank was more than up to the task of dispelling the attacks and Alice went on the offensive.
Alice would admit, under duress, that Frank was right about Sirius being more than he appeared. If she had came alone like she wanted, she would have been hard pressed to subdue him without causing harm. Even with the two on one disadvantage he was putting up quite a fight. His creative use of spells and being on homefield was prolonging the fight longer than she would have guessed.
Still, they were two highly trained Aurors that had worked together for years, and the numerical advantage was not to be ignored. A misstep was all it took for her to trip him up and Frank followed quickly with a stunning charm. Sirius crumpled to the ground in a heap, his wand clattering to the ground a few feet from him.
Alice wasted no time. She strode over to him and quickly pushed up the left sleeve of his shirt revealing only unmarked, pale skin. She heard Frank walk behind her. "It doesn't mean anything." She deflected his unasked question.
"I didn't say anything."
She huffed. "Let's talk to him."
Sirius woke with a start. A moment later he remembered what had happened and tried to move but found himself bound to a chair. He struggled for a few moments before giving up and finally looking at his assailants.
"Frank? Alice?" He asked, shock visibly on his face. "What-."
Alice didn't let him finish before slapping his face as hard as she could before shoving her wand in his face. "Why'd you do it Sirius?!" She all but growled.
Sirius was momentarily stunned at the pure venom in her voice, his cheek stinging. His eyes moved to Frank who was standing off to the side, his arms crossed but his wand still in his hand. "Why did I do what, Alice." He bit back.
She shoved her wand into his neck, causing him to grunt in pain. "They were your friends!" Her voice was beginning to break. "Fuck, Sirius. James was practically your brother!"
Frank watched as Sirius' eyes widened in horror as it began to dawn on him why they were there and new that he hadn't been the secret keeper. "Alice." Frank said softly, trying to break her out of her anger.
"I should kill you right now for what you did to them." She gritted out, her wand tip smoking against his skin. "You deserve far worse."
But Sirius wasn't listening, he was so numb that he didn't even feel as her wand tip burned his skin. They couldn't be dead. He saw them two days ago. He showed up at their place unannounced as always and stayed for dinner. Roast chicken and potatoes. Harry had banished the potatoes at him when he teased him for having potatoes on his chin.
"Sirius!" Alice's voice finally broke through his stupor.
He focused his eyes back on hers. "I wasn't their secret keeper." He said softly.
Alice froze at his response, noting how his voice sounded dead. He was lying, he had to be. They wouldn't choose anyone else to be the secret keeper.
"Sirius, you expect us to believe that James would choose someone else?" Frank questioned.
Sirius' face turned murderous. "Peter."
Alice let her wand fall away from his neck and leaned back from him. "Why in the bloody hell would they choose Peter?"
"I told them too." Sirius said, slumping in his chair and sounding utterly defeated. "I thought I would be the obvious choice and be easily targeted. I wasn't sure I would be able to keep their secret if I was captured. No one would ever expect Peter. It seemed perfect at the time." He trailed off.
Alice finally took her eyes off him and turned to look at Frank. He knew the question in her eyes. "I believe him. The Sirius I know would never betray the Potters." He said firmly.
She stared at him a few more seconds before finally slumping, the adrenaline from the night quickly wearing off. Frank quickly banished the binding around Sirius and knelt to his wife, pulling her into him as the tears she had been holding back came rushing out.
Sirius didn't move even though he had been freed. The realization that his best friend was gone had yet to truly set in. In fact, he knew it wouldn't until he could see their bodies. To see with his own eyes that they were truly gone.
"I need to see them." He finally croaked out. Frank looked at him and nodded before whispering something to his wife. A moment later they broke apart and stood up together.
"Okay." She simply said.
Peter appeared with a loud pop just outside the fence of his home. Or rather the home of the muggle widow he was currently controlling with the imperius curse. A spell so insidious that if he was found to have cast it would sentence him to Azkaban Prison for life. But he knew he wouldn't be caught. This was a muggle. No one cares about muggles.
So, he strolled right through the well-kept fence, up the manicured path, and let himself in the front door as if he owned the place, which he might as well have. It was a modest two-story house out in the country and far enough away from prying eyes that he felt safe enough to sleep at night. And the nights when nightmare plagued him? Well, the widow was a good enough distraction to drive the terrors away.
But there would be none of that tonight. He needed her for a different purpose tonight. He made his way to the living room where he knew she would be reading or doing something. She would normally watch the tele but he had been there too long and his magic seeped into everything in the house, causing most electronics to stop working.
Sure enough, he found her curled up on the sofa reading a magazine. "Marissa!" He said sharply, causing her to jump in fright. "I need you to take care of this child for me." He said as he all but shoved Harry into her arms. She looked like she was ready to refuse so he tugged on the strand of power connecting her to him, obliterating any resistance she was feeling.
"Okay." She responded dreamily, the extra power he pushed into the curse making her feel loopy.
Satisfied with her response and that she would do what he wanted, he turned on his heel and quickly walked to the front door. Moments later, he was strolling out past the fence before turning quickly and vanishing once more into the night.
Peter appeared outside a truly massive wall, the only break in it the heavy iron gate with gold gilding spikes on each point. He had arrived at Malfoy manor, the home of his master. He quickly walked to the middle of the gate where the Malfoy family crest was engraved in the iron. Placing his hand over the crest, the iron gate clicked open, and he sided in and walked swiftly down the long, pristine path towards the towering manor.
Voldemort had made Malfoy manor his base of operations and there was always a flurry of activity to be found in it. Wanting to be remain as unnoticed as possible, he threw his hood over his head and kept his eyes downcast as he made his way through the massive entry doors.
Chaos met his eyes, as his fellow followers were running around in panic. Shouts could be heard coming from multiple areas of the manor, and there was a tinge of fear in the air. There was only one thing he could think of that would cause this sort of mayhem: news of their lord's demise.
If they somehow knew already, he would need to move quickly. Already he could see the signs of violence as the dominating presence of Voldemort was gone. Any fool with a semblance of ambition was now posturing for position. There would be death before the night ended.
After dodging a half dozen followers without incident, he made it to the stairs that would take him far below the manor and into the dungeons. He all but ran down them, his breath came out in strained puffs and his feet pounded noisily on the stone. His heart was pounding so hard he could hear it.
He was so focused on not passing out that he missed the light footfalls of someone coming up the stairs until it was too late. With a yelp, he tried to stop but he was a unathletic, fat man and slammed right into the newcomer.
"Sorry!" He said quickly, trying to distance himself but froze when he saw who it was.
Bellatrix Lestrange did not freeze. Before he could even think, she had her wand out and a spell had already left her lips. Excruciating pain roared through his body, causing him to fall to the stairs writhing in pain. What felt like minutes, but was actually seconds, the pain stopped. "Be happy I didn't just kill you." Her voice ice.
Tremors shook his body as he lay on the stairs, unable to move. The sound of her retreating steps music to his ears. He gave himself another minute to recover and then shakily rose back to his feet. Honestly, he was lucky she was in a hurry. She had a reputation of taking her time with those that displeased her and she already didn't like him. That really could have went bad for him.
With unsteady feet, he made it do the dungeon level of the manor but he didn't enter through the heavy wooden door reinforced with iron. Instead, he went down a short hall and into a guard room. Inside he went over to the far wall which had floor to ceiling wooden shelving that were laden with torture equipment, manacles and other restraints, and other items for used in the imprisonment of magical's.
Careful not to touch the torture equipment, he began searching through the restraints for the item he needed. He found what he was looking for a minute later and quickly reached to grab them. A pair of magical handcuffs jumped at his outstretched, trying to cuff him in place but he swatted it away and snatched what he needed.
It was a pair of simple iron bracelets engraved with two rows of symbols he couldn't quite read but knew enough to understand what they would do. Magic suppressing bands were a fairly simple enchanted item but none the less were quite effective at what they did. Slapping this on a magic user would cause their magic to all but stop working for a time.
On someone as powerful and skilled as the dark lord they wouldn't last a minute. For the more average magical they could last as long as a month. For an untrained child? Well he wasn't sure but he was hoping it would last years. Slipping the pair into his pocket, he retreated where he came from.
If he thought he was out of breath going down the stairs, it was nothing on the climb back up. Sweat dripped down his face and his breathing was loud and labored. It was oddly quiet at the top of the stairs, the only sound his raspy breath and his thundering heart.
He paused just inside the entry way and slowly peered around the corner. The hallway was empty, and he quickly waddled his way down it, wiping the sweat off his forehead as he went.
Nearing the large foyer, he began to hear the shrieking voice of Bellatrix and the eerily calm voice of Antonin Dolohov arguing back and forth. He prayed they weren't in the foyer because he would never get out if they were.
He glanced at the large windows letting in the moonlight, the immaculate grounds stretching down a gentle slope, and wished he could just go out one of those, but he knew they wouldn't open for him and if he forced his way out he would get trapped in the enchantments.
Instead he continued down the hall at a steady pace, only slowing when he neared the entry way. Bella and Dolohov's voices grew louder as their argument intensified. He could hear the other followers shouts of agreement or dissent to whatever was being said. His fear that they were gathered in the foyer proved unnecessary when he peaked around the corner and saw only cold marble floor. Their voices coming down a different hall, which he thought led to the large ball room.
Seeing his goal so close, he all but sprinted to the large entry doors, desperate to get out of this place. He was halfway across the expansive foyer when he was found out.
"Pettigrew?" A female's voice called out causing him to halt mid stride. The sharp click of heels on marble closed in on him and he slowly turned around to face the voice that accosted him.
A tall, beautiful women with sharp, aristocratic features was walking with purpose towards him. Her long, blonde hair was flowing gently behind her and her custom silk robes were doing much the same. Narcissa Malfoy, matriarch of the very manor he was in.
Realizing he was staring, he quickly bowed his head in greeting to hide his blunder. "I great you, Ma'am."
If she noticed him staring she didn't show it. Instead she closed the rest of the distance, stopping a polite distance away. "Where are you sneaking off to, worm." She said with distaste, as if just speaking with him was sullying her.
Panic was quickly rising in him. He was not a good liar, and the Black's, of which she was a daughter, were well known for being able to tell when you were lying.
"Finished a task given to me by our master." Hopefully half-truths would be enough to fool her.
Her eyes widened slightly at his response. "You have news of the dark lord?"
He knew what she was asking. What he was implying was counter to the current argument happening a few rooms away. But he didn't really care what chaos who sowed as long as it allowed him to escape with his life. "He has dealt with an enemy and needed my assistance in retrieving something." He half lied again. "Now I must be going. You know keeping him waiting is not wise."
Her lips pressed together tightly as she stifled her response. Taking that as his que, he turned on his heel and made his way to the door. His hand was on the ornate handle when she spoke again.
"Does the dark lord live?" She asked softly, but loud enough for him to hear the underlying question.
He opened the door and put one foot across the threshold before answering. "He's told us he could not die." He turned his head to look into her eyes. "You should remember that." And he slipped through the door, letting it click shut behind him as he walked back towards the gate.
Narcissa stared at the large front door after Peter had left through it. He hadn't lied, but she knew an omission when she heard one and Peter had omitted a lot. Her real problem was that she still didn't know where the dark lord was.
She had felt the change at the same time as everyone else. A small but very noticeable presence in her mind vanishing in an instant, leaving her feeling slightly lost but at the same time more like herself than she had felt in longer than she could remember. It was a strange feeling, and one she noticed others were feeling too.
The second and more obvious change was the dark lord's personal mark on each of them. The magical tattoo depicting a skill with a snake coming out of its mouth had severely faded from the vibrant black it once was.
The change had left the followers in a state of confusion. The inner circle, Voldemort's most trusted followers, were trying to calm the dissent but were failing miserably as they slowly turned on each other. Her husband, Lucious, was an inner circle member himself, was staying out of it and had told her to do the same.
When she pressed him on this decision, he simply said he had contingencies in place and that this was how he wanted to play this. She wasn't thrilled at being left in the dark but trusted her husband's judgement on the matter. Instead, she asked what she should do, and he said to prepare the manor to evict everyone.
This was something she was more than happy to do as she loathed having to host the dark lord's followers in her home. With a smile on her face, she had left her husband and went to do what he asked when she found Peter sneaking around like the rat he was.
But now she was uncertain of things. Peter knew more than he was letting on, that much was certain. More importantly, she had a feeling that what he knew could help her accomplish the task Lucious set for her.
Deciding on a course of action, she quickly went after Peter. With a wave of her hand, the door opened for her, revealing that he was already halfway towards the large iron gate. With another wave, she tapped into the manors magic and locked the gate to all but her immediate family and at a quick, but controlled pace, went after him.
Peter didn't notice Narcissa following after him as he closed the last distance to the gate and his escape. Without slowing down he shoved hard on the gate, expecting it to open like it always did, only for it to not budge an inch. His arms crumpled under the weight of his momentum and his body painfully slammed into the hard iron. His head smashed into an iron bar, dazing him and causing him to lose his balance and fall onto his rear.
By the time the ringing in his ears subsided, Narcissa had closed the gap and stopped just before his outstretch feet. His eyes slowly moved up her body until he saw her outstretched hand, the wand in it pointing directly at his face.
"Where are you meeting dark lord, worm?" She asked, her voice leaving no room for error.
Unfortunately for Peter, he missed her deadly tone as his eyes were still focused on the wand pointing at him and his head was still ringing from smashing into the iron gate. He took too long to respond for her liking.
"Crucio." He realized his mistake a moment before the spell hit his body and unimaginable pain wracked his body. When it ended, he was crying and gasping for air.
"Where are you meeting the dark lord?" She asked again and this time her heard her threatening tone.
Not wanting to feel that pain again, he quickly gave her the answer she wanted. "The Potter's home."
She let her wand drop a bit, surprised at the location given. The Potter's were said to have gone under the Fidelius charm. How did he find them? And more importantly, did he fail? The Potter's had foiled him before. Had they done what was considered impossible?
Peter started trying to stand, causing Narcissa to refocus on him again, her wand leveling back onto him. "Where is it?"
Not even bothering to lie, he answered quickly as he rose onto his shaky legs.
She knew what she wanted to ask next but was worried about the answer. She knew that even asking this would get her put under the Cruciatus curse if the dark lord found out, but she had to know if he was gone. It would be worth the risk to get ahead of the others.
"Is he dead?" She was surprised that her question came out as a whisper instead of her normal volume. It seemed even her subconscious was aware of the risk of asking this question.
When Peter didn't respond right away, she put him under another Cruciatus curse, causing him to shriek in pain and fall to the ground.
"Last chance, worm."
When he didn't answer again, she began to cast another, but he finally broke his silence.
"I don't know!" He wailed pathetically.
"What do you mean you don't know?" She snapped. "Explain yourself! Or I will torture you for so long you will have to live the rest of your days in St. Mungos wearing a diaper."
His already pale face whitened further, looking truly grotesque.
"I don't know!" He said again, not thinking through his answer.
"Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait!" He said quickly, waiving his hands in front of him to get her to stop. When she quirked a brow at him, he relaxed now that she had stopped the spell. He took a few panting breaths before trying again. "The dark lord killed the Potter's but then vanished. I do not know where he went. I swear that is the truth!" He all but begged.
She looked closely at him for a few moments before decided that he was telling the truth. She lowered her wand arm to her side before continuing. "I would like to verify this myself. Where is their house?"
With a deep sigh he told her, happy that he moved Harry already and that his omissions went unchallenged. She looked at him for a moment longer before waiving her hand at the gate, which cracked open, and with one last look of disgust, spun on her heel and walked back to the manor.
Peter leaned heavily against the gate, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest. Unable to move, he watched Narcissa's retreating form until she slipped back inside the manor at which time his heart wasn't threatening to leave his chest. With one last breath, he walked out the gate and apparated away.
Albus was still standing on the street, his eyes looking at the wreckage but not focused on anything. His mind was currently running through his options, few that they were. The young Longbottom boy was now at the center of his plans to defeat Voldemort and his protection was of the upmost importance. He would need to speak with Frank and Alice and maybe even get Augustus involved as she resided at the Longbottom ancestral home which had much stronger defenses.
His more long-term plans would remain mostly unchanged as swapping one child for another was no big issue. Losing the Potter's would be a much larger blow to his efforts as he wouldn't be able to replace the pair of powerful magic users in this desperate time.
But the most pressing issue was finding out more information. This attack was so unlike the Voldemort he had been fighting all this time. If this was to be the new norm, he would need to change his own tactics to deal with this change.
The Longbottom boy would be safe for the time being. His warning would be enough to get him to a safe location. Information was what he needed.
Mind made up, he opened his mouth to ask Fawkes to take them back to his study but stopped when he felt a surge of magic a dozen feet down the walk. With inhuman speed, his wand appeared in his hand, and he assumed a ready stance.
Three figures popped into existence a moment later and none with a wand at the ready, utterly unprepared for what may meet them when they arrived. Albus, recognizing all of them instantly, frowned at how unprepared some of his best fighters were. He could guess why they were here, and he could write off their unpreparedness by the grief they all were certainly under, but this was wartime. Instead of a friend they could have bumped into a cadre of enemies.
With a couple flicks of his wand, he had Sirius bound in ropes and Alice and Frank hands and arms were locked to their sides, unable to move. He watched them shout out in panic, Alice and Frank unable to do anything while Sirius desperately struggled against his binds. If the situation wasn't so somber, he would find their struggles quite entertaining.
He let them panic for a few moments longer to let the gravity of the situation weigh on them before walking into their line of sight.
"Albus?" Sirius said, pausing in his attempt to free himself, surprise on his face. Alice and Frank shared the look.
"Mr. Black. Mrs. and Mr. Longbottom." His voice was serious, and they immediately felt like they were back in school being scolded by a professor. "May I ask why three of my best fighters apparated to an unsecure location without any precautions?"
All three averted their eyes, knowing that they were careless. Instead of their ally imparting a lesson on them, it could have been enemies. Judging that they had learned their lesson, Albus freed them with another few flicks of his wand.
Without saying a word, he turned to face the wreckage of Potter Cottage once more to give the others a chance to take it in. Once again it was Sirius who found his voice first.
"Are you sure." He said, his voice barely above a whisper. Albus didn't answer, recognizing the rhetorical question for what it was.
Alice began to cry, Frank following suit shortly after. Sirius took a few unsteady steps forward before falling to his knees in the grass. His body began to shake as the grief finally overwhelmed him. Silent cries lead into wails. Albus felt his eyes water as Sirius' cries broke the silence of the night.