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Extra Puzzle Pieces
None - Words: 9,709 - Rated: T - English - None - Chapters: 7 - Reviews: 8 - Updated: 20-02-2019 - Published: 02-06-2017 - Complete - by SJlikeslists (FFN)

Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine.

Will it be worth it?

It could have been a question about anything, but the only thought that flashes through Peter's head is that someone knows. He had been so cautious, but it had done him no good. Who is it? Who have they told? His head is a cacophony of swirling panic. He's been caught. They'll kill him. Somehow, he can't quite clear his thoughts enough to determine who the "they" in that thought is. It could be either - quite frankly, it could be both. His position is so tenuous that he literally has no safe haven. There is no trust - not for him, not anymore. He can remember what seems a lifetime of stress and worry ago what it was like to be secure in the knowledge of there being someone (several someone's to be precise) that had his back (even in ill-advised and poorly reasoned endeavors). He gave that up in favor of a deal to save his own hide. There had been a whole list of personal justifications at the time, but he knew that it boiled down to fear. He had no wish to die for a cause. Such a fate held no appeal for him - no matter what those who would name themselves his friends would say in contrast. They were all a flutter about right and wrong and personal responsibility and a dozen other comments that Peter found little more than trite nothings to try to talk yourself into believing that there was something noble about lacking any sense of self-preservation. He couldn't wrap his head around it. There was no point in martyrdom. He wanted his life - miserable as it had become.

He had been swept up in joining them in their Order because the four of them had always done things together. Maybe it had been that way for too long. They hadn't even asked him. Here they were all set to risk their lives - to die in what would likely be painful and unpleasantly creative ways. They had never even asked him if being a part of it was something that he wanted.

What sort of friends were they really if the thought to ask him what he wanted had never occurred to any of them?

That was the question he held to on the nights that he couldn't sleep while he thought over the words he had slipped in to a conversation with Sirius that pushed the other man's thoughts in the direction of mistrusting Remus. Sirius was easily worked on with his volatile temperament and tendency to act first and do his thinking through later. Remus was easily scapegoated. He held too much inside - too unwilling to let others in on things which he felt he should handle on his own. As long as he kept his comments suitably subtle, then his balance was maintained. No one turned suspicious eyes in his direction. He lived another day at the cost of the slow deterioration of the bonds between his friends and brothers. Everything in life had a cost. One just decided which things were worth paying.

He had been certain when it all began that his life was worth what he had arranged to offer in return for it. He had told himself that it still was with each new level that shifted into place within the scope of his "deal." He had reminded himself in the face of the blankness that settled over him in the moments after he had settled within himself to commit to another course of action that could only be termed a further betrayal.

He sank further back into the chair and found his fingers crumpling the parchment he was clutching. He was sure there was somewhere he was supposed to be; there was always somewhere he was supposed to be. There was always something he was supposed to be doing. There was always someone he was supposed to be ensuring had no reason to doubt his loyalty and dedication. That was his life now.

Was it worth it?

Living was all he had counted on securing out of this situation. Living, he thought, was likely shortly all he would have left. He could make do with that.

Or could he?

When has Remus ever not been loyal?

Sirius stares at the slip of parchment in front of him and tries to figure out what he should be thinking first. He has already worried about threats. Mysterious messages are not supposed to materialize out of thin air directly in front of you - not even in the wizarding world. There are wards and whatnot designed to keep nefarious things on the outside (because one ought to be able to relax just a little bit within the confines of one's own home), but the message is still resting in the palm of his hand. It is not an Order message. It is no form of communication with which he is familiar (which means no clues as to whom it could be from).

He is half inclined to think that it is from James given the somewhat stilted note upon which their last conversation came to an end. The other half of his inclinations remind him that this is absolutely not James's style. James will make his points all over again the next time that they see each other privately in person. Then, he will tell him that he doesn't want to hear anything else on the subject and declare the matter closed. Sirius will, of course, ignore that dictatorial bent but bide his time for an opportune moment to once again point out the fact that the circumstances fit. It is not as if he wants to be right about this. It isn't as though he likes being responsible for that look appearing on his best friend - his brother's - face.

He doesn't want Remus to be a traitor. He doesn't want Remus to be in a position of suspicion. He doesn't like any of this. He didn't go out looking for reasons to push another one of his brother's out of their circle of trust. Facts are simply facts. Remus is acting oddly (even by Remus definitions of the word). Someone is leaking out information. James and Lily are at risk. Harry is at risk. It doesn't matter how much the conversations pain James. He would never forgive him if something slipped their notice and his son got hurt in the process. Sirius would never forgive himself.

He wasn't going to ignore the signs just because it made all of their lives uncomfortable. They had to get to the bottom of this. He wasn't about to go marching up and accuse Remus to his face without more evidence to hand, but there was no purpose in taking further chances. It was easy enough to cut him out of pertinent conversations. If the leaks continued over matters that Remus had no means of being privy to, then he would be the first in line to reopen their lines of communication - even stumble out something that might cursorily resemble an apology if James insists that it is necessary to pull everything out into the open. He would argue that there would be no reason to upset their friend over nothing if it turns out that he hasn't done anything wrong. They can just forget that the topic ever happened as far as he is concerned.

No one will be happier than he to have it all turn out to be nothing - except that nothing isn't a possibility. Someone is leaking information. Someone is putting his brother's family in danger. He has to find out who it is. He has to put a stop to it. It has to be done, and everyone else is too busy looking for surety and blinded by ties to look at things from a rational and logical perspective (and isn't it ironic that he is the one that is advocating for logic and clear thinking over emotions and bonds). As long as James and his family are safe, then he will live with whatever he needs to do to ensure that that safety continues.

That does not stop the words from taunting him.

When has Remus ever not been loyal?

He crumples up the parchment in his hands and rests his head against his knees, but he can still see the words as clearly as if he was still staring at them. He doesn't have an answer to that question that doesn't consist of the word "never."

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