[identity profile] looneyloopy.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bait_backup
*Four years ago, a brand-new motorbike had roared down the quiet streets of Rolvenden Layne, a tiny village west of Dover. Three boys had watched a fourth test out questionable flying enchantments, one up on a broom, the other two sitting on a low wall, sharing chocolate bar between them. It was early summer, the last before they were to start their final year at Hogwarts; a well-cared-for prefect badge and a new (and inexplicable) Head Boy badge sat in two of their bedrooms.

The Layne had been the site of test pranks the summer previous, and in the coming weeks would be host to impromptu camp outs with a ramshackle tent and purloined alcohol and night swimming in the lake. They were good nights, full of laughter and dares and secrets, and none of them had wanted to acknowledge how precious, and how fleeting, it would all be.

A year had changed everything. They'd all been swept up in the war, and there was no time for pranks and camping and stealing bottles of whisky when the barman at the pub wasn't watching. But the pub - The Ewe and Lamb - was still important to the boys. The site of so many adolescent adventures, of so much laughter back when they could afford to pretend the world wasn't pulling apart at its seams, it's still somehow comforting now.

Remus is late, as he is often late, by about ten minutes. There's never any particular reason that he's late - it's always he'd forgot to feed the cat, or couldn't find his socks, or the owl had come home just as he'd been about to leave. But he is late, all the same. He's rarely flustered by it, though, and tonight is no different; the others are long used to it. The barman knows them all by sight, and catches his eye as he slips in the door, nodding toward the stairs.

"Up at the usual spot, John."

John. He'd given that name the first time they'd come here at sixteen; they'd all done with fake names and felt daring for it. Remus smiles faintly in thanks and heads up with a stifled grimace, muscles still too sore for stairs. It'd have been nice if Peter had taken that into consideration when choosing a table, but there's no sense fussing about it. They've all been upset, distracted, since news of the McKinnons' deaths; it's understandable.

He finds Peter, as advised, at the table that's been theirs these four years. It's tucked in the back corner, just obscured from view by a timber pillar, perfect for scheming. The obscurity feels safe now, still, and Remus wishes uselessly for a moment that all they had to worry about was getting caught drinking underage. He gives Peter a tired but warm smile as he sits, bones protesting.*

Late, I know, I'm sorry.

Date: 2011-09-17 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
*Peter makes only a dismissive noise--it's nothing--and puts down his cider to greet Remus with a handshake. He knows better than to hug, not now.

He catches the stiffness in Remus' stride, the slight strain to his smile--but he wouldn't have to. Two years of anticipating the full moon, of planning their adventures (right here at this pub, sometimes) and he still carries the lunar calendar in his head. There's still a part of him that starts when he writes the date on his parchments at work, that thinks it's coming up now, what's the plan before he reminds himself that that part of their lives is over now. And Padfoot can help Remus one-on-one, and Prongs can, but Peter? What good's a rat in a cellar with a wolf?

And then his mind catches on that: a rat, a rat, a rat and his smile twists into something pained and awkward just before he speaks, almost desperately.*

All right, Moony?

Date: 2011-09-17 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm all right. Same old.

*He speaks quickly, almost-but-not-quite brushing it off; the very last thing Peter wants to talk about right now is himself. That's part of why they're here in the first place. He needs a friendly face and a distraction and it's that week and he was feeling nostalgic so here they are, and if Remus doesn't raise another subject soon he might scream.*

You know.

Date: 2011-09-17 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Well, you know how she is about him. It's stupid.

Date: 2011-09-17 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
*He opens his mouth to say that it does matter, it is stupid of her, there's no use mourning Death Eaters when the rest of them could go at any moment. But Lily has always frustrated him, annoyed him in a way he's a bit ashamed of, and he doesn't want to get into it now, not with the way Remus is looking at him. So he just sighs sharply and passes his hand over his face, and what comes out is the absolute truth, and a bit raggedly.*

It's all just really fucked. I miss--well, you know. Don't you?

Date: 2011-09-17 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Yeah.

Fuck, man

It's stupid but I wish things could go back to--you know--

*To the way it was before, when they'd camp out near here and go swimming and plan the next year's adventures. To when James was a prankster and not a Head Boy, a Marauder and not a father. When Sirius was landing girls left and right instead of settling in with Remus like it was the most normal thing in the world. When they were never more than half a dormitory away. When the worst they had to worry about was detention, or getting caught after lights-out or in the Forest, or being hexed by the Slytherins.

When Peter wasn't a traitor.

But he can't put words to any of this, and he's alarmed to find a lump welling in his throat, so he just swallows hard and puts his head into his hands.*

--you know.

Date: 2011-09-17 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
I did.

*That's good, though, a safer subject, one that doesn't make him want to slam his face into the table just to stop him thinking about things. One that'll serve as an outlet for the tangled mess of awful he's feeling, the sick weight he's carrying around with him now. Peter swallows a gulp of cider hard past the lump in his throat and sets it down on the table, a little too hard.*

It's fucking absurd. I don't know what they're playing at.

Date: 2011-09-17 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
*And right there, with that little we're, the subject sours.

What bothers him isn't what Peter privately thinks as The Gay Thing--although that gives him pause, to tell the truth, and more so about Sirius than about Remus, who is an odd duck in many ways and who knows, maybe even predisposed to that sort of thing because of his lycanthropy. You did hear stories. But Sirius? Who had landed more girls in a week than Peter had in his adult life? It was just bizarre.

But it isn't that, not really. It's more that there's this big thing now between Sirius and Remus, some big important secret thing, and James is off starting a family, and Peter knows but he and Lily don't and there's a baby and bills and secrets and all it means is that they've splintered. The Marauders have cracked like a dish into two pairs and Peter. Things aren't like they were, they'll never be again, and he's not two feet from one of his best friends but he feels more alone than ever. He can barely speak.*

Yeah.

I mean, what can you do.

Date: 2011-09-17 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
*Unconsciously, he wilts under the frown, and when he replies it's a little defensively--almost sullen.*

He registered, didn't he? I'm not even sure. Haven't seen much of him around.

Date: 2011-09-17 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'd like that. I feel--

*As if there's even a word for how he feels.*

A bit useless. It'll be good to get out and, you know.

You mean Ollivander? Or--

Date: 2011-09-17 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'd like that.

*And that's the truth--but if it turns into some kind of third-wheel thing he may scream.*

Don't you think the Ministry will have thought of that, though? Like--watch the customers, and things, especially adults?

Date: 2011-09-17 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
But won't they see through that in an instant? All of us breaking our wands at once, and whoever else is giving that a go?

Date: 2011-09-17 10:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
*He's too distracted by the question to be all that miffed about it. Peter just frowns, mulling it over and thinking aloud.*

Well, Sirius already refused to register so that's a red flag right there, straightaway--

Well, you'd have to find out first if they're watching Ollivander or putting pressure on him. I don't know.

Date: 2011-09-18 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
That's not a bad idea, honestly.

...Although, shit. Ollivander would see through that in a heartbeat, don't you think?

*He can't help smiling, too.*

He's, ah. Something else.

Date: 2011-09-18 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Not sure.

*He puzzles over it, frowning. He remembers the man clearly, of course, from when he was presented with his own wand: fir, Ollivander had said, is a wood of extraordinary resilience, suited to a survivor. He'd almost looked through Peter with those pale eyes of his, and hadn't elaborated.*

He seems pretty...Neutral? Singleminded? Not sure what the word is. But I don't see him being a loyalist.

Date: 2011-09-18 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
Makes sense. If you think it'll work. I'm up for it.

Of course I am.

Date: 2011-09-18 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rattrapped.livejournal.com
I suppose it is.

*But the idea of it working--of him having a wand, to fight with, and being expected to fight--is a little frightening on its own, and instead of acknowledging that he is instantly and bitterly ashamed of it. But he raises his glass anyway, and meets Remus' eyes and smiles.*

Cheers.

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