[identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bait_backup
*He’s known fear before, of course, known two-in-the-morning panic: when the professor’s just around the corner and you’re sunk up to your knee in the trick stair, the feeling that you are caught, that it’s over and you’d better give up and hope it isn’t too bad. But he’s known nothing like this. He can’t seem to sit in one place for long, and he’s been pacing around his apartment with his hands in clammy fists, at turns drawn to the newspaper and repelled by it, becoming more and more convinced that those few dry little lines hidden in the back of the paper will be all that’s left of him, that and an empty flat. A few books, a painting of a bridge he bought at a Muggle flea market, a spotted yellow kettle--is that all that’ll be left of him? Who will have the thankless task of going through his things, once he’s gone? And he lives alone--will they notice? He’s here alone now--couldn’t he be dead already, for all anyone can tell?

He knows, then, that he can’t stay here for another minute--he feels like he’s about to fly apart at the seams, hurt something, hurt himself, and he has never needed to see another friendly face as badly as he does right now. His first and automatic thought is to go to James. In fact, he’s sure that’s what he’s going to do even as he’s pulling on his jacket. But once he’s thought it all the way through, once he’s seen himself Apparating to the little walk outside the house, ringing the doorbell, hoping they're awake, being let in, keeping his voice down because Harry is asleep, and James’ wife will make him tea and he will sit at their kitchen table and tell them how he is so afraid he can’t be in his flat alone, tell the brave young marrieds that he is a coward-

By the time he’s zipped up his jacket he knows he isn’t going to James, and he checks the pocket for his keys and thinks he’s going to visit Sirius and Remus--but that, he knows in the next instant, is ludicrous. They’re married too, in their own queer little way, and they’ve kept that secret from the rest of them for so long, been in their own private world for years now, and he suddenly can’t imagine himself knocking at the door of their flat at two in the morning, being let in by a bleary-eyed Marauder in pajamas. He can't imagine patiently explaining it to Sirius, who has always scared him a little, and Remus, who if he’s to be perfectly honest with himself he has never liked as much as the others. Explaining how afraid he is, how certain they’re all going to go the way of the McKinnons, explain that he can’t do this anymore, and Sirius will scoff and Remus’ mouth will get that wry little twist it gets when he’s obviously too disgusted with Peter to smile but too politic, too fucking nice to say anything about it-

And maybe he’s known all along where he’d end up, and the rest has only been an extended exercise in self-deception. He knows where to go when the night is dark and full of monsters, who to run to, who will make it better. He Apparates there with a sound like a thunderclap, Splinches himself just a little in his panic, and waits there on the doorstep, ashen with wide-staring eyes and a bleeding forehead and hair that’s standing up where he’s been running his hands through it, waiting, waiting for her to come to the door.*

Date: 2011-09-06 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*With Dearborn upstairs snoring loud enough to wake the dead, Esmerelda has the enormous manor house to herself. It's late--very late--but she is sitting up next to the window in her dressing gown, reading the latest Transfiguration Today. The knock, then, comes as something of a surprise. She pulls her dressing gown tighter around her throat--wondering, idly, if this is the moment when the Ministry finally comes to raid, or if it's Antonin, or her son with some emergency--and the magazine is folded, at that thought, and she goes quickly to the door.

But when it swings open, there's no posse, no masks or badges, and only a bit of blood.*

Peter? What's wrong?

Date: 2011-09-06 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*Ah. So he's not stupid. He's put together the pieces. Well, time to move along the plan--slightly ahead of schedule, but that's nothing but good news to her.*

You poor thing. Come in, I'll fix us both a drink.

Date: 2011-09-06 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
Oh, no, it's quite all right. These are dark times, Peter--

*Once he's in the parlor where she was reading, she deposits him gently in a chair across a coffee table from her own seat, and moves to the bar. The thing can construct drinks for her, but it won't do to tell it to make his drink weak. The boy looks so panicked that more than a bit of alcohol will probably turn him into a drooling mess, and she needs him coherent. A few drops of calming draught will do the trick, and the taste of scotch and soda water will mask the flavor.

She turns, handing the dosed drink to him and sips her own.*

Dreadful stuff, really. I try not to read the paper too much these days.

Date: 2011-09-06 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*She fetches a handkerchief from the pocket of her dressing gown and moves to his side, offering it up. One hand goes to lightly touch his shoulder in a bit of motherly concern.*

Sweetheart. Dry your tears, have a sip of your drink, and start from the beginning.

Date: 2011-09-06 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
A tragedy, to be sure.

But why should anything like that happen to you? You're perfectly safe, you and your friends. Why shouldn't you be?

Date: 2011-09-06 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
If you're talking about the Order of the Phoenix, I know more than you think, darling.

Date: 2011-09-06 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*Well, perhaps it was too much, too quickly, but Esmerelda does not take well to being insulted. Still, he'll need more comfort if she's to eke more out of him. She perches on the arm of the chair and draws him to her breast.*

Oh, Peter, it's all right. It's nothing to be ashamed of. We all make bad choices sometimes. Let me help you.

Date: 2011-09-06 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*She strokes his hair.*

We can protect you. We can keep you safe. Even from your friends, if we must.

Date: 2011-09-06 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*Her voice is gentle, soothing, almost a whisper in his ear.*

The McKinnons, dearest. You don't think they'll forgive you for that, do you?

Date: 2011-09-06 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
No one blames you for falling in with that awful crowd at school. I knew Sirius before he ran off, he wouldn't understand what you're going through. And Moody certainly wouldn't, he's completely mad. He'd kill you before you even got a chance to explain.

We can keep you safe from all of them. And you've already helped us, and that's good, you see? You can help us, and we can keep you safe.

Date: 2011-09-06 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motherspider.livejournal.com
*She gives him a gentle little comforting sound, a bit of there there and some it's all right, and lets him compose himself for a minute before pressing onward. When his breathing is back to something like normal and he isn't clutching to her so fiercely, she speaks again.*

Is there anyone else I should know about? You mentioned someone before--the Prewetts?

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