Chapter 11, The Background Boy

Peter hated it when people shouted, as his friends were now. He hated arguments and always felt bad when people got upset; he felt he ought to say something to Sirius about letting Remus be, but the look in Sirius’ eyes told him that saying anything right now would be a bad idea.

Peter had never been particularly outgoing; his Father had died when he was little and his Mother had never really been the same since. Mrs Pettigrew was a small, plump, quiet woman and she didn’t like anything that was too noisy or where there were too many people. Thomas Pettigrew had been a large, burly man and a long-term member of the Law Enforcement Squads. He was killed protecting a family of muggles from a crazed wizard on the run for multiple murders, his sacrifice had bought them the few minutes needed for the Aurors to arrive and saved their lives.

Joan Pettigrew had done her best to bring her son up properly, but without the strict rule of his Father, Peter had become lazy. He got bored easily and because of the remote location of their home, rarely spent much time with other children. So Peter had spent much of his childhood finding ways to entertain himself and as a consequence of not liking the outdoors too much; he got bad sunburn, so he stayed inside near the biscuit tin.

Coming to Hogwarts had been a bit of a shock to him; he was suddenly surrounded by children his own age and they took an interest in him. Mostly it was a passing interest, before they realised that the chubby little blonde boy didn’t have much to offer in any way of entertainment. James had always been nice to him though; he invited him to sit in their compartment on the train that first day, and he always listened to what Peter had to say, even if it wasn’t particularly clever or funny.

Remus too always encouraged Peter; it had been his idea for Peter to go on the diet over the summer and he made sure that Peter came surfing with them. Remus always helped Peter with his work when Peter fell behind, and tried to cheer him up when he felt down.

Sirius had always been a bit different from the other two; Peter was never sure whether Sirius was going to bark with laughter or bite. He was impossible to judge; one minute he’d be laughing, the next he’d be sneering at Peter and telling him he was an idiot. But all of the best times of his life had been spent with all three of friends; becoming Animagi, discovering loads of secret rooms and passageways, learning how to impress the girls with his rather ridiculous surfing skills. Sirius had complimented him on a particularly impressive move when he had practically flown over the top of a particularly big wave, landed several metres behind having executed an elegant spin mid-air, and was just in time to catch the next one. Peter hadn’t admitted that he had lost control, been terrified as he flew through the air, only out of sheer luck staying on the board and been hanging on for dear life as the next wave swept him up.

He was quite happy with his life though, mostly; his friends helped him and included him when others would have left him alone, they also protected him from people like Avery who always tried to trip him or hex him. Not that they didn’t play their own pranks on him every so often, but then they played pranks on each other the whole time, so that didn’t matter.

There was a host of things he wished he could do though, although flying had never been one of them. Yes, he could admit that it looked cool and girls loved watching people like James and Fenwick diving recklessly after the Quaffle, but the idea of balancing on a stick a hundred feet above the ground made his stomach turn. Anyway, back when they had taken Flying Lessons in First Year, he had taken to the air like a stone to water.

Nope, Peter had far simpler wants in life; friends, food, just to be able to get through the exams, and maybe, if it wasn’t too much to ask, a girlfriend…

Girls though, they were a mystery to him; especially pretty girls. He always got tongue-tied around people like Lily Evans, Marlene McKinnon and Dorcas Meadowes; those were really the only pretty girls who ever spoke to him. Marlene, only because she was a Prefect and probably telling him off; Lily and Dorcas were in his house and he spent a lot of time around them so it was inevitable.

He’d talked to girls over the summer; they’d even laughed at his jokes, but coming back to Hogwarts was different. People judged him here and still thought of him as the chubby little boy who hung about with the Marauders. He wished he could have another summer like the one they had just had; he wanted to meet people who didn’t know him and if he ever got the opportunity he thought he’d like to go abroad. There he could start a new life as Peter Pettigrew who wasn’t “that little fat boy who hangs about with Black and Potter”.

But then, he didn’t want to leave his friends behind either; the world was such a fun place with them beside him. Out in the world, life would be different; they’d still see each other, but there was no way someone like Peter would end up working with people like Sirius, James and Remus. He sometimes wondered what he would have done if he wasn’t in Gryffindor and the Marauders weren’t his friends.

He wondered where Remus had gone; he and Sirius had said some pretty awful things to each other. He hoped they would have a play fight or something and it would just be alright again. That’s what Sirius and James did when they disagreed. But then Remus only ever did stuff like that at full moon; Peter thought it must be hard to live with the constant battle of having an animal in your mind, poor Moony.

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