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24 Hours By: Shichan Goddess Hour 2: Hour of Contemplations “For of all sad word of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: It might have been!” ~John Greenleaf Whittier The cold seeped through his thin Auror robes and he inwardly shivered. The floor was hard, the packed dirt giving no mercy to his extremely sore and uncomfortable bum. He could just hear the nasty little critters mocking him by running over his feet. James gave a snort of revulsion before crawling over to his cot. That would provide at least some protection against the cold and the disgusting creatures. He wondered, amused, if Wormtail had any relations in this hellhole. His alert, hazel eyes wandered the cell. He was suddenly very thankful that his glasses had made it through the ordeal untouched, for without them, he was, quite honestly, as blind as bat. His eyes rested on the slim redhead whose back was turned towards him. Her waist long hair glittered in the pale light; reds and golds reminding him strongly like the Gryffindor that she was. It reminded him of fire, wild and untamable…untouchable. She shifted in her sleep, and turned to face him. He drew a surprised and awed breath. He had forgotten how beautiful she truly was. Especially in sleep, when her features were calm and serene—not the usual scowl that was directed his way. She looked like an angel, and James amused himself with the irony of appearances. In sleep, no one could have believed that she truly was a dragon when awake. A small smile played on his lips, soft and slightly sad. He was honored to have witnessed such a moment of serenity and ethereal beauty, but bitter. He brought to mind her sparkling, vibrant, and usually furious emerald eyes that looked to him in disdain. Her eyes sparkled like the stars when she looked at him. Cold, and just as far from his reach. She would never be his. He recalled all the idiocies that he had done during his stay at Hogwarts in a vain attempt to impress her, and groaned. It was no wonder that she would never look twice at him. She was beautiful, fiery, and incredibly annoying. Loud-mouthed, humble, and always ready for a good argument. Not that he’d ever tell her that. James snorted. The day that he told Evans that she was beautiful would be the day that the pigs came to his house via floo powder. In control of his emotions and contemplations, he smirked to himself. The red head sprite began to mutter to herself as she slept. ‘Crazy as a loon,’ He thought, and wondered absently what she was dreaming about. **************** It had started off as a pleasant enough dream. She had been sunbathing on a lovely beach, the sand soft between her toes and the water warm. She was of course, not fazed when a large white bunny hopped into the picture muttering to itself about being late. She was however, a little bit shocked when a massive snake slithered past her, and her landscape slowly faded and morphed into one that was completely different. A manor. A large manor, with the fire blazing. Pictures waved at her from every wall, but for some reason she could not make out the details of what lay in them. Someone was sitting next to her, her red hair spilling over both of them like a waterfall. She was comfortable. Cared for. Loved, even. But the perfect picture was ruined by the apprehension that was thick in the air. It stifled her. And then… The *screams.* ***************** “Damn it, where the hell are they?” Sirius Black growled as his eyes surveyed the empty pick up point. His light blue eyes, usually shining with mirth, even in these dark times, were unusually hard and turbulent. He silently willed them to make their appearances, swallowing a lump in his throat. Remus sighed, running a shaking hand through his light brown hair, weary and worried. “I don’t know, Sirius. But the Order is expecting us. We’ll have to go.” “But-” “We can report this to Dumbledore, and then come right back to check. They’re probably just running late. Perhaps Lily finally hit James hard enough on the head to make him pass out and is hiding his body as we speak.” “That’s not funny, Moony.” Remus shrugged and tossed him a tired grin. “It could happen.” Sirius sighed. “That it could. All right, lets go.” He grumbled, and began walking briskly out from the clearing. ***************** A rather plump rat poked its nose out of the foliage and watched as his two…friends walked away. He cowered as he felt the burning sensation on his arm increase. He felt…something akin to regret, he supposed. The Sorting Hat had been wrong, placing him in Gryffindor. But of course, it never knew that the Dark Lord would come into power. Power corrupted all. Including himself. Perhaps, just perhaps things would have turned out differently had he been a little bit stronger. A little bit braver. A little more confident. But he wasn’t. And he had submitted to the Dark Lord’s will. A tiny twinge of remorse was quickly squished down, and only a broken, terrified, and weak man remained. Peter Pettigrew, proud Marauder and Gryffindor in the olden days…was dead.

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