Characters: Ron Weasley, Peter Pettigrew, Bellatrix Lestrange
Length: 1300+ words
Summary: Ron has a chance encounter with an old...friend.
The raspy whisper grated on Ron's consciousness, but living at the Burrow with a ghoul, six siblings and a mother who could shout them all down had taught him how to tune out noise when sleep was needed.
Still, Ron's barely-awake brain ignored the voice. There was a long pause while he became gradually more aware of the mass of pain that had once been his body.
He didn't answer, being more concerned with cataloguing his various injuries.
Right hand throbbing, probably sprained or strained. Hermione had tried to explain the difference once and he'd told her it didn't matter, it bloody well hurt either way.
Right leg pinned, likely broken, possibly crushed. He tried wiggling his toes--Oh, FUCK! All right, not doing that again. He amended his list to include a decidedly broken right leg with attendant sprains, strains and possible dislocations in knee and ankle.
"I can hear you breathing, Ron. I know you're awake."
Ten points for you, then, Ron though sourly. Low back pain, hopefully just pulled muscles. He took a deep breath--or tried to, at any road. A broken rib or two got added to his laundry list of bodily damage and a pounding headache rounded out the lot, indicating a head injury.
Carefully cracking one eye open, Ron surveyed the situation. Weak sunlight filtered through the rubble, allowing him to confirm that he was, indeed, trapped. Brilliant observation, Weasley. His internal critic mocked him, sounding like Snape. Perhaps bringing the wall down on Pettigrew hadn't been the brightest idea. At least, not while he was close enough to be hit when the roof of the barn followed the wall.
"Ron, do you have your wand?"
Oh right, my wand. He turned his head to the side. There it was, just out of reach. He groaned in frustration before he remembered he was giving Pettigrew the silent treatment.
"Well, we'll just have to hope that your family finds us first. I suspect we'll both be safer in their hands than in Bellatrix's clutches."
"I wouldn't count on that." Ron chuckled mirthlessly. "Mum never cared much for you when she thought you were a rat, Scabbers." He wasn't about to give away that the Burrow was all but abandoned. Mum had taken her clock and retreated to Hogwarts where she could be with the only one of her children over whom she had the tiniest shred of control. Dad spent most of his time at the Ministry or on damage control missions. The wards around the property were keyed to certain Order members who used the barn as a drop point for supplies and carefully coded information. Order members and--Bloody hell. Family. The wards weren't new, just strengthened and modified to allow Fleur, Lupin and Tonks access. Even Harry and Hermione hadn't been included, which was why Ron had come alone today, but no one had thought to exclude anyone that the wards were already keyed to admit. As Percy's, then Ron's pet, Scabbers had been considered part of the family at least as far as the wards were concerned.
"Can you reach your wand at all?"
"Oh yes, I have it here in my hand. I enjoy listening to you whinge like a little girl," he drawled sarcastically. The rat makes a good point, though. The barn had stood at the edge of the property. When it collapsed, it might have pushed them outside the wards. They'd be easier to pick off than Stunned Puffskeins. Ron stretched out his left hand as far as he could, but his wand was still several inches out of reach. "Trust me, you'll know when I have it. You'll suddenly come down with the worst case of boils you've ever had in your life."
"You wouldn't do that to an old friend, would you?"
"We are not friends," Ron grated.
"We were once. You talked to me and shared your Bertie Bott's Beans with me. You protected me from that mangy kneazle."
"I thought you were a rat."
"I was a good rat."
"Is that what you tell yourself? I killed fifteen innocent people, but I was a good rat. I let another man go to Azkaban for my crimes, but I was a good rat. I gave my friends up to Voldemort but I was a good rat!". Ron paused to ease the burning in his lungs. "You don't know the first thing about friendship," he said disgustedly.
"You don't know what it was like," Pettigrew protested. "The Dark Lord, he finds every little thing that tempts you, every weakness. He takes all your fears and dreams and uses them against you."
"I'd die before I'd betray Harry!"
"We all tell ourselves that. What he does to you...Death would be a mercy."
"I wouldn't sell out my friends for anything," Ron insisted.
Pettigrew lapsed into silence. Maybe he realised the argument was pointless. Maybe he was contemplating his choices with regret. Ron didn't care. He stretched, reaching for his wand again and again until the pain of his broken ribs made him lightheaded. Almost.
"How did you do it?"
"How did I do what?"
"How did you block my Animagus transformation?"
"Oh that. It seems I have a friend who is so brilliant it's scary. A friend who spent half her summer holiday creating a new spell and testing it so that you wouldn't be able to worm your way out of trouble by changing into a rat and scurrying away. A friend who knew without me ever having to say just how it ate me up inside that I ever protected the murdering traitor that got my best mate's parents killed. It's taken me months to learn how to cast in non-verbally, just in time to hit you with it before I blasted the wall of the barn."
Silence reigned once more while Ron shifted his torso by infinitesimal degrees to bring his hand closer to his wand. The slant of the light shifted as the minutes ticked by. How long before Hermione and Harry got worried enough to come after him? How long until Death Eaters came to collect Pettigrew?
He could almost touch the scarred wood of his wand when a new voice cut into the quiet afternoon.
"Well, well, Wormtail. Trapped like a rat are we?"
"Bellatrix, get me out of here before the Weasley woman comes home from the shops."
Merlin's balls, he whinges like that to everybody, Ron thought disgustedly.
"Idiot. The hovel has been deserted since September. We just wanted to see if you could get past the wards."
"Well, I couldn't. When I tried, the backlash brought down the barn on me. I can't transform, either, so they must have anticipated that I'd come here eventually."
"Oh, what a pity that you won't be able to scamper along the skirting board, trying to get a glimpse up Cissy's robes."
"Bella, please. I don't know how long the spell will last. It's something I've never heard of before. If the Dark Lord can unravel it, he could use it against McGonagall."
You bastard! Hermione didn't make up that spell so your slimy, no-nose master could turn it on us.
"Oh all right you fat, snivelling lump."
There was the sound of rock and timber shifting and Pettigrew's yelps of pain as Bellatrix freed him from the ruin of the barn. Ron waited for the green flash of light that would end his life.
It never fell. Pettigrew whinged as Bellatrix taunted and bullied him, but he never once hinted that he hadn't been trapped alone. Soon, they Disapparated, leaving Ron to wonder why.
Maybe Pettigrew resented being used as little more than an offering of woodlice to a bowtruckle. Maybe he was just being a good rat. Or maybe some small part of him remembered what it was like to have real friends.
Ron stretched one more time, ignoring the pain that made spots dance before his eyes and snagged his wand. Whatever the case, he'd have time to decide once he got loose and summoned help.
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