Summary: Peter Pettigrew tries to make the best of living at Spinner’s End, but Snape will have none of it.
Characters/Pairings: Peter Pettigrew, Severus Snape, no pairings
Word Count: 1,428
Can the Order post to Tumblr?: OK
If yes, your Tumblr username: N/A
I might have filled one of my own holiday exchange prompts. Don't let that stop you from doing the same one, dear secret fic/art santa!
Peter Pettigrew had never enjoyed a book in his life, but as his time at Spinner's End stretched from weeks into months, he’d considered cracking one open once or twice. He ran a stubby hand across the dusty spines, keeping his other hand – the gloved one – tucked close to his body. Severus Snape seemed to own a collection of the worst books in the world, Peter thought, and each book fell into one of two categories: horrific or boring as hell.
“Ugh,” Peter muttered, his fingers brushing some Treatise on the Properties of something or other. The next book had a bright blue binding, and Peter pulled it off the shelf.
“Mal-eye-FICK-ee-yum,” he said clumsily, certain he’d got it wrong somehow. He opened the book without thinking and was immediately assaulted by a series of gruesome drawings. With a gasp, he slammed it shut, and the book issued a plume of stale dust into his face.
“Miserable git!” he spat, coughing, and carefully slid the book into place.
It shouldn’t have been so terrible here. Hanging around Snape all day was awful, but it was a definite improvement on hanging around the Dark Lord. (Peter shuddered at the memory.) What’s more, he had regular food to eat, though the meals were tasteless and small. He wondered if Snape purchased the most disgusting biscuits on purpose, out of resentment, or if this was his usual fare. Snape didn’t eat much anyway, which was probably why he didn’t care if his houseguest raided his cupboard. Snape’s appetite was yet another strike against him. “You can’t trust a man who can’t enjoy a nice meal,” Peter’s father used to say, and he’d never found a reason to doubt it.
The kitchen had a single, tiny window, and Peter thought the room might be pleasantly shabby if the window weren’t perpetually shuttered. Snape had cast some sealing charm to keep it shut against entering (and escaping) rodents. Trying to crack the charm had become something of a hobby for Peter although he certainly didn’t enjoy it. Complicated spellwork always made him feel stupid. Furthermore, the ancient wand he'd found in one of the bookshelves was determined to malfunction. Peter supposed it belonged to one of Snape’s dead relatives and that it was kept more as a memento than out of any hope that it might be useful again.
He stood in front of the sink, peering up at the window, trying to figure out how a smarter man might solve this problem. He sometimes wished he still had his school books – a Standard Book of Spells would come in handy – but naturally, Snape had no need for such elementary resources.
“I’m not trying to escape,” he told the grimy window. “I just want a bit of sunlight!”
When reasoning with it didn’t help, Peter went back to zapping the window with every opening charm he could think of. You’re not a complete idiot, Wormtail. James had told him this once, in some forgotten context, and Peter had always remembered it. It was the nicest remark on his intelligence he’d ever received. Suddenly, a solution appeared to him that was so simple it was unbelievable he’d never thought of it before.
“Thanks, Prongs,” he whispered, then loudly spoke the words to a powerful cutting charm. He drew the old wand sideways near the windowsill, and his heart swelled as he felt a cool breeze emerge from the unsealed window. Chuckling gleefully, Peter pulled it open (which required a few huffs and puffs) and pushed the shutters out.
A bright sun and a blue sky had decided to grace the otherwise ugly setting. The kitchen window looked onto a depressing alleyway, and the rotting, watery smell rolled in from the sluggish river in the distance. As the cool but smelly air touched Peter’s face, he considered, for one long, heavy moment, escaping once and for all. He lifted his hand, the gloved one, by accident, and stopped. Seeing that hand, even covered, was a sobering reminder that he would never be free again.
Peter fiercely shook his head and turned away from the window. The sunlit kitchen looked much cheerier, but still it was filthy. Peter hadn’t been a very diligent housemaid. He bitterly resented every speck of dirt he had to clean because Snape was too lazy to do it himself. However, the dirtiness had an ill effect on his mood, just like the constant dimness. With a frustrated sigh, Peter shook off his bitterness and lethargy. He’d been miserable for far too long. It was a sunny, summer afternoon, and he was alive.
Snape was gone for much longer than usual that day. The kitchen shined with the lemon-scented cleaning spell Peter had used on every surface. It was the only household cleaning spell he knew, which made things quite difficult; the old wand didn't like casting the same spell more than once. Thankfully, he'd also found an old wireless, which made the work more pleasant. It caught a single signal from an old-fashioned wizarding music station. Celestina Warbeck was on heavy rotation, and this inspired Peter to sing along, and he laughed to think of Molly Weasley doing the same in her own kitchen.
“Mmm, mix a pinch of spice with a dash of charm, and a sprinkling of romaaaance!”
A door slammed shut, and Peter jumped, his mouth silently open. Celestina warbled on in the background, oblivious to the frigid presence which had entered the room.
“Wormtail,” growled Severus Snape through gritted teeth. “What do you think you’re doing?”
With a quick snap of his wand, the wireless shut off, and with another, the window closed and shuttered itself with an angry slam. Snape swept into the room, his sallow face twisted in disgust, and surveyed the unsealed window distrustfully. Silently, he jerked his wand again, and Peter was promptly disarmed.
“I just wanted a bit of fresh air!” Peter whined, grasping for the ancient wand as it flew out of his hands.
Snape, gripping a wand in each hand, turned on the smaller man in such a formidable way that Peter almost cowered.
“What’s what awful smell,” he snapped.
“I cleaned the place up. That’s the smell of a freshly – “
“One of those simple cleaning charms, no doubt,” Snape interrupted, “covering everything in a sickly strong odor to make up for its ineffectiveness.”
Peter gaped. “I cleaned your kitchen! How can you possibly complain? I would’ve made us scones too,” he added in an accusatory way, “but you didn’t have any fresh eggs or milk.”
“I don’t appreciate you rifling through my belongings when I’m out, Wormtail,” Snape sneered. His voice dripped with hatred, and Peter took a second to wonder (not for the first time) how a person could manage to be so unpleasant.
“Look,” he said impudently, and Snape’s eyes narrowed. “If you want to be miserable, suit yourself, but don’t expect me to –“
“You don’t deserve to be anything but miserable,” Snape spat.
Peter made a petulant sound. “What did I ever do to you? Besides that stuff that happened at school,” he said quickly, “but I reckon we’re a bit even on that score.”
Snape stared at him for a long, disturbing moment. Peter was startled to see deep, injured emotion in his black eyes along with the usual loathing.
“You’re too selfish and stupid to ever understand,” Snape hissed.
Peter had had enough of Snape’s ingratitude, moodiness, and cryptic insults, and he made a show of rolling his eyes.
“You need to let it go,” he scoffed, waving a dismissive hand. “Whatever the hell it is that makes you so determined to be a miserable bastard.”
Snape just glared, apparently too enraged to formulate a response. Peter thought he might know why Snape hated him so much. Perhaps he, like so many other supposedly loyal Death Eaters, was secretly furious that Peter had helped the Dark Lord return. Supposing his suspicions were true, Peter was determined to turn over evidence of Snape’s disloyalty. That would serve him right, he thought.
After an absurdly long stare-down, Peter sighed. “All right! All right, I’m going. I’ll be up in my bedroom,” he said, scooting around Snape and pausing near the half-open cupboard. “Perhaps you should open one of those dusty wine bottles you’ve got sitting by the stairs. You seem wound-up.”
Snape turned slowly like an angry, mechanical figure in one of those elaborate German clocks.
“And if you do,” Peter continued. “I won’t say no to partaking.” He gave Snape an infuriating grin, and then with alarming quickness, he snatched a package of biscuits from the cupboard and scurried from the room.
Snape scowled so hard that his eye twitched.
yaakov/Ravenclaw/48 points earned