Summary: Just a look into the dynamic between Peter and the other marauders.
Standard Disclaimer: Not mine. Never will be mine. Just playing with them.
Warnings (if any): N/A
Notes: This story has two subtitles: How it Began, and One... One because that's kind of what Peter is. Alone... the one... seperate... etc.
His hands were small and pale. Petter fidgeted nervously, his heart pounding in his ear, "R-Remus..."
"Just hold still, Peter. I'm almost done." Remus had his head bent over Peter's hand, his fair brow was furrowed in concentration.
Peter was a bit embarassed to be so close. Yes, they were best friends, and yes, they spent all their time together, but somehow Peter managed to be the one in the Marauder's who was least touched. It was because he wasn't pretty like Sirius, gentle and soft like Remus, or handsome like James. He didn't inspire people to touch him, and so they didn't. Sirius and James would fall asleep curled up together on some bed or other sometimes, and Remus often fell asleep with his head in Sirius' lap. Peter, on the other hand, always slept alone. Never had he been cuddled, no one had even so much as slept beside him.
"Stop squirming," Remus sighed, his lips tilting up into a soft smile.
Remus was always so gentle, Peter truly marveled at it. When they first discovered Remus' secret, Peter had been the most terrified. James was thoughtful, Sirius was rattled, but Peter was the one who sat down and sobbed. 'I could have been killed,' he moaned over and over, until Sirius finally smacked him in the back of the head and told him to buck up. He hadn't been able to stop crying, and he knew, when they finally faced Remus, that Remus knew he'd been crying. The gentle werewolf looked at him with sadness and regret, and somehow Peter felt as if in that moment he became something less in all their eyes.
He hadn't been somebody in the first place, though. He always felt like he was part of the Marauder's simply because he shared the same room they did and Sirius was far too impatient to wait for Peter to leave to discuss their pranks. So, by default, Peter was dragged in, and they kept him in so he would keep his mouth shut. Maybe that wasn't the reality, but it was how Peter felt a good deal of the time. He didn't fit, he was like a circle squished between three triangles. He tried desperately to blend, but no matter how he tried he still stood out.
"I told you to sit still," Remus chuckled, but then he brought the pricked finger to his lips and kissed it.
Peter stared, his stomach lurching, his heart skipping a beat. Remus' fingers were soft and warm against his finger. Maybe ... maybe he wasn't just a tag along? Maybe he truly was a friend. At least ... to Remus. Even if he could never fit with Sirius and James, he was just nothing like them, maybe he could fit with Remus a little. They both liked sitting in front of the fire, sometimes Peter would sit at Remus' feet, but most of the time Remus was cuddling with Sirius so he sat alone and watched them. Remus really liked pumpkin juice, and so did Peter. They had things in common, and that was the base of a friendship, wasn't it?
"Tell me again, how did you get slime under your fingernails."
Slime, this was why Remus was holding his hand and working so carefully on his small fingers. He felt embarassed to give his hand to Remus when Remus found him here, picking at his nails with a pin. In the end, Remus insisted on doing it for Peter and Peter didn't have the willpower to argue. There wasn't that much slime, just enough to make the ends of his fingers ache, but it was taking Remus quite a long time to get it all out.
"Sirius wanted to pull a prank on Malfoy,"
"Of course," Remus chuckled.
"and, he wanted to put a big pile of slime over the bathroom, after we saw Malfoy get in. He didn't want to get his own hands dirty, so he had me put the slime up."
"Why am I not surprised?"
"So, anyway, that's how the slime got in."
"Did Malfoy get slimed?" Remus leaned back and let go of Peter's hand.
Peter lifted his hands and studied his nails, not a single speck of slime was left. "Um... yes," he lowered his hands and shifted uneasily, "Thank you, Remus."
Remus patted Petter on the knee, "Where are Sirius and James now?"
"Sirius, I don't know? He took off when I did, after Malfoy's sliming. I think James is with Evans."
"Evans?" Remus sighed.
"Why... why don't you and Sirius like her?"
"It's not that we don't like her, Peter," always Peter. Never Pete, or Wormtail, always Peter. So formal... almost like he was trying to distance himself from Peter. "It's just that she doesn't like him, and I hate to see him coming in here with his heart aching everytime."
"So he should just give up?"
"Peter," Remus sighed, "He's been trying for so long now... and her opinion of him has not changed. I think it's obvious she's not going to change her mind about James."
"But, he's been trying so hard." Peter said quietly. He fidgeted, wringing his hands together, "He even stopped playing pranks with Sirius, and he's been civil to Snape in the halls, and ... he's trying so hard."
"It's a shame," Remus murmured.
"You would not believe how green Malfoy's hair is!" Sirius burst into the room with his usual flair.
Immediately, Peter became invisible. Remus turned away from him to smile easily at Sirius. His true best friend. Peter sunk down in his chair, looking at Sirius with some awe. How did he manage it? Whenever he was in the room, no one else could exist. He was loud, handsome, charming, and the center of Remus' world. Peter supposed it was because Sirius was the one who could truly play with Remus during the full moon. A dog and a wolf had a much easier time playing than a wolf and a rat, or a wolf and a stag. As a result, Sirius and Remus were able to bond more. That must be the reason, because even James was second when it came to Sirius, at least to Remus.
"Slime, Padfoot? Isn't that a bit much?" Remus' tone was gently chiding, but he wasn't really upset. Peter could tell by the shadow of a smile on his lips.
"Oh please, nothing is a bit much when dealing with Slytherin's, besides, I had a little left over." Sirius waved his hand airily and dropped onto the loveseat. He pushed his hand against Peter's arm, because Peter was on the other side of the loveseat, "Budge off."
Peter slid off the seat, and Sirius' legs took his spot. He knelt on the floor beside Remus, staring at Sirius. His eyes were wide, and hazel. Brown the others would say, but really they were hazel. It's just that they didn't like to associate a color like hazel to a boring person like Peter. That's why they insisted they were brown. Of course, they never said such a thing, this was just the conclusion Peter had come to.
"You had slime left over?" Remus asked incredulously, he leaned his arms on the cushion of the loveseat, directly beside Sirius' arms. "Just laying in your back pocket, was it?"
Sirius smirked, "Damn right. Where's Prongs?"
"Off with Evans."
"Off with Evans? And who told you that?"
Peter looked up, smiling nervously when James walked in. James robes were open, revealing the dark black pants and blue sweater he wore beneath. The sweater was the exact right shade to make his startling eyes stand out even more. His hair looked a bit mussed, but it always did. James had untameable hair, much to his delight, because messy hair was the way to a woman's heart, or so he'd told Peter. Peter chose to believe it, especially with all the girls who fawned over James.
"Peter mentioned it," Remus said easily. Peter ... even when Sirius was Padfoot, and James was Prongs ... Peter was still Peter.
"I'd like to know how he knew it," James fixed his deep blue eyes on Peter.
"Peter's been following you around again, Prongs." Sirius' foot slipped off the loveseat and lightly nudged Peter in the shoulder, "You know he's got a mad crush on you."
James snorted, "Don't even joke about things like that." His lip curled, "that's disgusting."
Disgusting because Peter was a boy? Or disgusting because it was Peter. Peter laughed, "Ahah... yeah... no." He didn't want them to know he was mildly hurt. He didn't want them to see, because they would either pity him, or make more fun of him. He wanted to be worthy of their friendship. He didn't want their pity.
"Seriously, how did you kno-"
"Siriously? You're rather fond of my name, aren't you Prongs." Sirius smirked.
"Are you ever serious?"
"I'm Sirius, yes."
James laughed, tossing his scarf at Sirius. Of course, it was far too heavy to make the flight and landed on Peter's head instead. Peter tugged it off and placed it on his lap. It smelled of cologne, James' cologne. His fingers curled in the soft material, flexing and testing.
"Lily has agreed to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend," James announced. With a toss of his head he moved to a nearby armchair and dropped into it. He patted his leg, "You look cold, Moony."
Remus smirked, then rose and gracefully moved over. He squeezed into the armchair beside James. He whispered something in James' ear, and James snickered, flipping his finger against Remus' forehead, "We do not."
It wasn't an odd thing to see. James liked to hold people, and he often chose Remus since Remus indulged him. It wasn't sexual, or anything like that. It was just human affection. When Remus wasn't around, James would often find ways to snuggle up to Sirius, although Sirius was far less indulgent about it. He figured it was weird for a straight man to constantly be wanting to snuggle other men, but more often than not he'd give in to James. When Sirius and Remus were both gone, James would sit alone. He never asked Peter to sit with him.
"She agreed to it? Did you blackmail her?" Sirius asked, his tone laced with amusement. He held his hands up and picked at his fingernails. "Hand me that file, Peter."
Peter grabbed the fingernail file in question and immediately held it out. Sirius began filing his nails, and this made James laugh loudly, "You're such a bloody poof!"
"I'm the poof? You're the one who can't keep his hands off Remus, or myself for that matter." Sirius snorted, unbothered, he continued filing his nails.
"There is nothing wrong with cuddling," James muttered under his breath.
"Nothing wrong with it, but it's usually a clear indicator of poofness."
"Poofness is not a word."
"I say it is, so it is."
They continued but Peter stopped paying attention. He glanced at Remus, who looked both amused and bored at the same time. Sometimes, Remus seemed like the father of their group. Tolerating childish behavior with a ready smile, and quick to admonish truly horrible behavior. Not that Remus had been doing much admonishing lately. Peter could understand why, it was like fighting a losing battle. Eventually you just had to give up, no matter how strong willed you were.
This friendly comraderie, he was witness to it but he would never be part of it. Peter felt quite empty at times. He admired James, Remus and especially Sirius but he would never be like them. He could never fit into their triangular world. He was a circle, and it was useless trying to bend himself.
He got to his feet and wandered to the painting. He glanced back, but they hardly seemed to notice that he was leaving, so with a sad sigh he slipped out of the common room.