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I am so happy that you are back again! *Shakes your hand.* Please come sit down. Become at ease. Put your feet up. Comfortable? Good. Only the best for you of course. Welcome to She’s In Love With The Rat, Chapter Thirteen! Enjoy the read! And I shall see you again at the bottom of the page!

This chapter is proudly dedicated to cait_hp_fan who leaves the most wonderful reviews in the world! You rock!

Chapter Thirteen

For Pete’s Sake

I have never known silence like the one that had settled over 319 Remington Crescent. It was so loud that I thought it would damage my ears. Stillness too. Nobody moved. I was scared to even bat an eyelash as I stared up at Peter; still in shock. My boyfriend is drunk. My boyfriend is drunk and just told off his father. My boyfriend is drunk, just told off his father, and he did it in front of all his father’s important guests.

Oh my god. I kept still. Maybe they won’t see me if I stay perfectly still. Maybe if I just stay still time will turn itself back.

Peter was the first one who moved again among the table of frozen statues. He smiled a dopey smile and raised his glass a little higher, where it trembled in his shaking hand.

He slurred out some sentence that made no sense and then attempted to sit down in his chair. I say attempted because he went to sit but the chair was further away than he thought, and he fell hard to the ground, shaking the table, and taking his glass with him. He looked up at me and started giggling uncontrollably as droplets of wine from his glass formed crimson drip marks on his shirt. I still couldn’t move. I don’t know if it was fear or embarrassment that was keeping me still. It was probably a lovely combination of both. The guests started moving their eyes; glancing at each other in their discomfort.

Suddenly Lucius Malfoy’s father broke the silence saying to Mr. Pettigrew,

“I think Ralph, that your son has been sampling the wine.” He hiccupped loudly and his red face also told me that he had also been “sampling” the wine. Mr. Pettigrew didn’t seem to hear this comment, but it did break him out of his trance of supreme anger. He pushed himself roughly from the table; his shredded napkin fluttering to the ground. He marched over to where Peter was on the floor, grasped his arm (in what I deduced to be a vice like grip) and hoisted him to his feet.

“I am sorry,” he said gravely to his guests. “My son is obviously very disturbed tonight.”

He left it at that and dragged a laughing Peter off through the door that led to the living room. Every eye turned and looked at me, like I had an explanation for the event that had just occurred. I muttered an apology for reasons unknown to me, got up from the table and hurried off through the door that Peter and his father had just gone through. Peter and his father were not in the living room, but I could hear loud voices coming from the opposite door. I was about to go listen when I heard a voice behind me.

“That didn’t exactly go well.” I turned around and found Aaron staring at me. He looked insanely calm considering what had just happened. In fact it sounded like his voice was trying to mask a smile.

“No it didn’t,” I agreed harshly. “It’s hardly something to make a joke about.” Aaron flicked a piece of his sandy colored hair out of his eyes and came to stand next to me.

“Classic Peter,” he said in a wistful sort of voice.

“Oh really,” I scoffed. “Does Peter always get drunk and yell at his father?”

“No,” he admitted. “However he does do the most atrocious things to try and gain father’s attention.”

“Are you kidding?” I gasped, my voice becoming slightly shrieky. “This isn’t some clever ploy Peter performed to try and get his dad’s attention. You don’t see this as a cry for help? Peter wants nothing more than acceptance from his father. And your father clearly worships you so Peter has a lot to compete with. He’s hurting bad.” Aaron’s face contorted a little as his face reddened not unlike his father.

“Hey,” he said sharply, pointing his finger at me. “Spending an evening with my family doesn’t make you an expert on what they feel or think.”

I shouted back, “Well clearly spending your whole life with them hasn’t made you one either.”

He was about to yell something else but was cut off by his father reentering the room. Peter was not with him.

“Dad…” Aaron started. Mr. Pettigrew held up a hand.

“Don’t,” he said, in a calm firm voice.

Then he turned his gaze to me. It was an unwelcome and accusing look. “Take your boyfriend and get out.” I sensed pain and humiliation in his voice but it was still hard and steady. I nodded, fearing that I would start to cry. I could feel my eyes start to prickle so I looked at Mr. Pettigrew and Aaron for another half second before sprinting out the door into the large main hall.

Peter was there, sitting in a chair that was against the wall. His face was flushed and his reddish eyes looked up at me as I came over to him.

“Well I hope you’re happy,” I muttered, knowing he probably wouldn’t even remember the conversation in the morning. “We’ve been kicked out.”

“Sing me a song,” Peter murmured suddenly.

“Peter,” I said in a steady and commanding voice. “We’re leaving. We’re going back to my house and I’m putting you to bed.”

“No,” he replied in a whiny voice, banging his fist on the chair arm. “I don’t wanna leave. Sing to me.”

This was ridiculous. I grabbed Peter by the arm and pulled him to his feet.

“We’re leaving,” I said again.

“Fine,” he whined. I sighed as we started to make our way back to the living room where the fireplace was and where I assumed the Floo powder was also located. Peter was not a very attractive drunk. He was sluggish, annoying, and heavy as I nearly dragged him to the fireplace. I found the pot of Floo powder and managed to grab a sizeable handful, though most of it fell through my fingers onto the rug.

I pulled Peter closer, threw the powder down; calling out my address as I did. Green flames jumped up around us, and then my drunk boyfriend and I left Remington Crescent far behind.

********

Peter let out a little yelp of surprise as we tumbled out of the fireplace into a heap of presents. My house was dark; clearly It’s A Wonderful Life had come to its conclusion. I could hear some movement above my head telling me that people were still awake. I glanced at the clock; it was only 10:30. Mum always makes us go to bed early on Christmas Eve.

“Look at this!” Peter nearly shouted from behind me. I whipped around to find him holding up a shiny silver present with snowmen dancing across it.

“Put that down,” I whispered harshly, knocking it out of his hands. Peter leaned forwards and put his arms around my waist.

“I do love you,” he whispered back into my ear; I could feel his smelly breath slipping along my neck.

“Sure,” I replied, patting his hand. I hate drunk Peter. I managed to push him off me and he gleefully snatched another present from under the tree.

“For Pete’s sake!” I gasped, grabbing his hand like he was a small child. “We are going upstairs.” I turned; prepared to start leading my boyfriend on the treacherous journey up the stairs when I crashed into a dark form standing behind me. I uttered a small scream, but the figure put a hand over my mouth.

“What is wrong with you two?” it asked. That was James’ voice. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Hey its Prongs!” Peter exclaimed, grabbing James into a tight hug. James took one whiff of Peter’s breath and pushed him away.

“Had some drinks did we?” he asked, and then looked at me for explanation.

“Can we go upstairs first?” I asked, casting a nervous glance over at the stairs thinking mum and dad would suddenly appear. “I would rather our parents didn’t see him like this.” James nodded and between the two of us we managed to get Peter up the stairs and into James’ room without much of a disaster. He did trip once causing me to think we were done for, but we got to the room safely and I found that I could breathe again.

Sirius, who was staying in the room with James, popped out of bed the second we walked in.

“Wha?’ he started to ask, but one good look at Peter answered the question.

Once we had Peter in bed, James had given him a couple of sips from a vial “He’ll appreciate it in the morning,” and Peter was sleeping, we got to talk about what had occurred. I told them everything. About the portrait, about what Peter drank, about what he had said to his father…everything.

“Wow,” Sirius said. “I can’t believe he finally said what he wanted to say.”

“It was a disaster,” I muttered, taking off my heels and laying across the other bed.

“I’m proud of him,” James said suddenly. “He’s been dying to tell his father how he really felt about him for years. Now its out.”

“But everything is a mess,” I replied sadly, staring at the ceiling.

“Maybe things have to get messy before they get better,” James answered. Wow. Sometimes my brother says things that actually make beautiful sense.

“How did everything go with Lily?” I asked curiously. “She didn’t get drunk did she?” James laughed.

“No, of course not. She had dinner with us and watched the movie,” James said, smiling so wide.

“Mum and dad adore her don’t they?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure they do.”

I didn’t want to back to my own room and sleep so I pulled some blankets to the floor and lay down in my dress; too tired to change. James fell asleep in the other bed; Sirius on the window seat. I stole a pillow from James’ bed and buried my face in it; trying desperately to fall asleep.

Sleepless time just crept by. The clock in the corner of the room chimed twelve times. I looked up at Peter’s sleeping form and sighed.

“Merry Christmas Peter.”

********

“Good morning, good morning!” Mum’s voice ripped through the sleep that somehow managed to find me.

“What are you all still doing in bed? Don’t you know its Christmas morning? Katie, what are you doing on the floor?”

I rolled off my stomach to find Mum standing over me. I couldn’t find an appropriate explanation as to my position. Mum tried another question.

“What is Peter doing here?” I let out a small groan before pushing myself to my feet, realizing that I was still in my party dress.

“Its sort of a long story,” I grumbled. “Not exactly Christmas morning talk.”

“Later then,” Mum said, giving me a look. “But first there are some presents under the tree that are screaming to be opened.” I was glad and grateful that she didn’t pursue the subject. James and Sirius patted their rumpled hair, wished me quiet Merry Christmases, and followed Mum out of the room.

I looked over at Peter in his bed; he was starting to stir. I went over to his side and sat down on the bed. He let out a small moan; putting a hand to his head.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Well,” I said gently. “Mum wants us downstairs to open presents but let’s just say that last night was a total disaster.”

“I think I’ll stay up here,” Peter said, lying back down. “I don’t think there are any presents under there for me.”

“Ok,” I agreed. “But once we’re done down there I’m coming back up here so we can talk.” He leaned in close to me for a kiss, but I blocked his mouth with my hand.

“Not until you do something about your breath,” I giggled.

“Can I use your toothbrush?” he asked, his eyes pleading.

“Ew, but fine. Mine is the neon green one,” I grinned; looking at Peter still in his party clothes. “And by the way, you can steal some of James’ clothes.”

I squeezed his hand and left to change into some more comfortable clothes. Once I had changed, I gathered my hair into a sloppy ponytail and rushed down the stairs.

I smiled when I saw Mum and Dad and the boys huddled next to the Christmas tree. Mum had bought Charles an adorable little Santa outfit; tiny hat and all. They all smiled back cheerfully and I noticed that they avoided the subject of Peter, at least for the time being. The Christmas music played, the wrapping paper flew, and there were hugs all around. I received some pretty fantastic presents. Clothes, books, and James gave me some awesome color changing quills. We had a nice Christmas breakfast, but I excused myself a little early so I could get back upstairs to Peter.

When I got back in the room, Peter was out of bed; standing by the window in some of James’ clothes.

“You’re looking better,” I said, happily.

“I’m sure I won’t be feeling too well after you tell me what happened last night.” He sat down on the window seat and ran his hands through his hair.

I sat next to him; deciding to not waste any more time before telling him. I told the story in a calm voice and Peter didn’t interrupt. He kept his eyes closed the whole time; biting his lip. I finished the story and took a deep breath. He banged his fist hard on the window seat and jumped to his feet.

“I can’t believe I did that,” he gasped. “This is it. I’m out. I’m out of my family, for good.”

“It might not be that bad,” I tried. “Maybe if you give your dad sometime to cool down he’ll listen to what you have to say.”

“My father doesn’t listen to me when he’s not mad,” Peter mumbled miserably. Suddenly his frown flipped into a determined grin.

“You know something?” he declared. “I’m happy. I’m glad he’s mad. I’m glad that I interrupted his perfect little party. Because I hate him. I hate him so much.” I wrapped my arms around him and he buried his face into my shoulder.

“What are you going to do now?” I asked. “Where are you going to live?” He shrugged.

“I don’t even know,” he replied. “Better anywhere than there.” I gave him a sad smile.

“Hey,” he said brightly. “It’s Christmas morning, you should be beaming.”

“Actually, I do have a present for you,” I answered, remembering the package under my bed. I went back into my room and dug it out from the mess permanently situated under the bed. Peter had followed me, so I turned to him and handed the package over.

“Merry Christmas,” I said lovingly. Peter dug into the bag with the gold tissue paper and pulled out a thick wad of paper bound in a flimsy, plastic cover.

“It’s a book?” he said, his voice inflected with question.

“Yeah,” I answered. “Well, sort of. It’s my book. I wrote this. It took me five years. But its mine.”

“Really,” Peter said excitedly; flipping though the pages. “I love it.”

“You haven’t even read it,” I argued, smiling.

“Well, I know its amazing already,” he replied, kissing me. “You and I both know that you are an amazing writer.”

“I see my toothbrush has served you well,” I laughed, kissing him back. I noticed at that moment a crumpled piece of paper at Peter’s side.

“What’s this?” I inquired, reaching for it. Peter managed to grab it up before I could get my fingers on it.

“Its just something…I wrote,” he mumbled. “I left the Christmas present that I wanted to give you at my house and I think we both know that going back there is out of the question. So…I wrote a couple lines of nothing while you were downstairs.” I didn’t ask for permission before taking the paper from Peter and smoothing it out. I squinted at Peter’s cramped handwriting.

When the spiders scurry in the night,
When hairy legs brush the wood,
When leaves are dry and wind is snappy,
Look, my darling, that is life.

Though the evening sky is sketchy
And little bristly plants sting your feet
Shall we not view or appreciate this life?
If we must die, let’s live in all life while it is still offered.

I looked at Peter with shining eyes. I didn’t have to tell him that it was beautiful and wonderful. I didn’t have to say a word.

********

Later in the afternoon dad and the boys, including to my happiness Peter, went outside to play in the new fallen snow. I, on the other hand, hung back with Mum in the kitchen. I had to speak with her. After what I had seen happen with Peter and his father I knew I needed to talk to her. I didn’t want to end up like that. I wanted things to get better. I wanted us to be able to share with each other. Mum was huddled over a cookbook when I finally mustered up the courage to begin the conversation.

“Mum?” She looked up from her cook book and smiled a large, white smile.

“I thought you were going out in the snow with the boys,” she said.

“I was,” I stammered. “But I wanted to talk to you.”

“Of course,” she answered, looking back down to the book. I slid onto one of the barstools that lined our high counter and stared at the top of her head.

“Last night,” I started, my voice shaking. “I saw a dysfunctional family at its finest . I saw how the relationship between Peter and his father is completely destroyed. They don’t even want to be around each other. Their relationship fell apart because Peter didn’t feel appreciated. He felt insignificant because his father favored his brother. You favor…James and it makes me feel…unappreciated.” I stopped there. I watched as my mother stared firmly at her cook book.

Then suddenly she looked up at me, her eyes full of tears.

“You feel unappreciated?” she asked, her voice quaking.

“Yes…sometimes. And I don’t want to end up like Peter and his father.”

“You think we are going to end up like that?” Mum asked, sounding slightly frantic.

“No…maybe…I don’t know,” I said, tears rising in my voice. “It’s just how I’m feeling.”

Mum came around the counter and took my hands in hers. She stared straight into my eyes as she spoke.

“Katie, I love you so much. I don’t want you to feel that I favor James. I just always felt that James, not being my biological son, might feel like an outsider in our family. I just wanted him to feel welcome. I wanted to show him all the love he might have felt that he missed from his first mother. I don’t want you to feel that way. I want to change. Tell me what I have to do to change.” She was wringing my hands and tears started to fall down her cheeks.

“I don’t know,” I choked through my own tears. Of course there must be something. I swallowed my sobs. “I guess the fact that you always seem to criticize me and you never criticize James.”

“I don’t criticize you, I am simply attempting to help you,” Mum defended herself. “I only do that because I love…” She stopped there and stood up. She put her hand on her chest and let out a gasp of surprise.

“Oh my god,” she said quietly. “I’m my mother!” She put her hands to her hair and I was fearful that she would tear it out.

“What?” I said, confused at the sudden change of subject.

“My mother,” Mum nearly shouted. “My mother always used to criticize the way I looked or acted and she always used to say she did it because she loved me. But it used to bother me so much.” She came back to me and pulled me into the most secure hug I have ever experienced. “I am so sorry, I’m so sorry” she breathed in my ear. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I said, my face smashed into her hair. I don’t know how long we sat there in each other’s arms but I also know that I will never forget the things I was feeling at that moment. I felt relief, happiness, and a wonderful sense of completion.

********

Mum and I spent the rest of the time the boys were out in the snow talking…really talking. Talking about important stuff. Real stuff. I told her what exactly had happened with Peter last night. I also told her things that I never thought I could share with anyone. We laughed and cried at silly memories while Charles stared at us in his Santa suit. We were still talking when Dad, James, Sirius, and Peter rejoined us. While we had been talking, Mum had been preparing a fantastic Christmas feast. The aroma was filling the kitchen and I just realized at that moment how fast the day had slipped away. Mum declared it dinner time and herded us all into our fancy dining room. The dinner was, of course, fabulous. No one got drunk and we were all in high spirits. Mum and Dad were happy to have Peter and he came off very well I thought. Afterwards we adjourned to the family room for hot coco and pie.

“So did you guys watch It’s A Wonderful Life last night?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Of course we did,” Dad said happily, blowing the steam away from his mug.

“I’ve never seen it,” Peter said from the corner.

“Are you serious?” I gasped, appalled. “It’s a total classic.”

“I think,” Mum said, in a serene voice. “That it is our job to introduce Peter to our Christmas tradition.”

“Does it have a happy ending?” Peter asked.

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” James and I replied.

********

The rest of the break flew by the way only Christmas break can. It was some of the happiest days I remember. Things with Mum were beyond great, and my fantastic parents let Peter stay the whole time. We were a frantic flurry of trunks, clothes, books, and parchment as we attempted to get out the door. When it was 10:35 we all piled into the car and sped off to the station.

The Hogwarts Express was right where it should be; gleaming in the station. I kissed Charles on the cheek, and Mum hugged me tight.

“Love you,” she murmured. She then turned to James and hugged him. Then she took Sirius in her arms and after hugged Peter as well to my surprise. I hugged Dad (overall a lot of hugging) and waved to everyone as the four of us headed to the train. James immediately located Lily. I swear they have tracking beacons installed in each other’s brains. They started hanging all over each other as we searched for a compartment. There were many free ones, considering a fourth of the school was…at school. We all sat down; though we did lose Sirius who had caught sight of Claire. James and Lily smiled as Peter and I and we smiled back as the train started to move. I swapped break stories with Lily and told her what Peter had gotten me for Christmas.

“You guys are so cute,” she squealed. We continued talking and soon we obtained food from the candy cart being wheeled down the aisle. An hour into the trip we all started to drift off; and my head dropped on Peter’s shoulder and my eyes drooped.

********

The churning of the train awoke me some amount of time later. I arose to find Peter and James gone and Lily staring out the window.

“Where did they go?” I asked groggily.

“James went to talk to Sirius I think,” Lily said; the cool light from the window bathed across her features. “But I don’t know where Peter is. He disappeared awhile ago.”

“Wanna help me find him?” I said, pulling Lily to her feet.

“Fine,” she groaned. We started down the hall, checking compartments and asking people if they had and Peter sightings. After the ninth person shot us down I started getting worried. We got to the back of the train and a little Slytherin girl ran by.

“Are you looking for Peter?” she asked, looking like she was masking a secret smile. We nodded and she pointed to the last compartment.

“He’s in there.” Then she rushed away. Ok, that was weird. Lily gave the girl a bemused look and I followed her to the compartment.

What I saw there, I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Peter was in there for sure.

He was there kissing a girl.

My boyfriend is kissing another girl.

********

And Chapter Thirteen is complete. I know what you’re thinking. Why the cliffhanger? I can’t really say myself. I am a fan of the cliffhanger though and this is quite a monster. I hope you enjoyed this and I hope the cliffhanger does it’s job and I see you again real soon.

-Kira

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