The Right Hand of Light

 

 

In the right light, his own hand could blind him.

Peter Pettigrew leaned against a headstone in the damp summer night, watching the half moon breaking through the smoky clouds. There was nobody within eyeshot, although he could hear a deep, low drum beating sporadically in the distance. It was Macnair, he knew, and he would have to go soon.

He flexed his shimmering steel fingers, watching the play of light with fascination. This was his life, in five digits and a silver palm.

He'd had it for barely a month, but he'd needed barely a day to realize the power it gave him, the shining surety behind his spells, the glorious strength in the lightest touch. It was his brilliant angel, seamed to his wrist; it was quicksilver running through his veins; it was the light of power, the only reason he'd ever needed. It seemed forever since he'd had a normal, weak hand, since he'd slammed the knife down on his own wrist.

When I give you a gift, Wormtail, you shall live for it. What I give you will be better than anything you could possibly imagine. Do you understand?

His master's voice, in memory. Now he understood.

He raised his right hand, outstretched, to the level of his eyes, his palm pointing towards a dead tree fifty feet away. He didn't have to close his eyes anymore; he could simply concentrate, gathering the magic that ran in his blood, pouring it into his hand as he would into a wand, forcing it into the silvery metal until the thrum of power shook him to his bones. And with his eyes open he could watch it, watch the ghostly white threads of pure energy gathering like a cloud, gliding like wraiths around his fingers, until his hand shone like the full moon.

A memory slashed through him like a knife: Sirius Black, almost sixteen, astride his gleaming black motorbike, wearing only a pair of black leather trousers, his wand planted on the handlebars, chanting the last words of the charm to make it fly. The light had gathered just like that, and run into the pistons and the gears and the shocks and the wheels and the shining things along the body, until, with a sputter of engine and a thrum of magic, it had lifted off the ground and hung in midair, trembling with energy.

He shook his head sharply, opened his eyes, and barked the single word that would release the power.

A jet of blinding white light shot across the field, struck the dead oak square in the trunk, and blasted it into matchsticks. The fragments scattered for yards with faint silver flames clinging to the wood, and the charcoal stump sparkled in the moonlight. A haze of smoke rose off his hand with the smell of rain on a spring night, and he lowered it slowly, his face expressionless.

I have to forget about them.

He'd been standing a safe distance away, between Remus and James, trembling with anticipation like the rest of them. And, barely minutes later, Sirius had been doing figure-eights in the air, roaring past them as close as he dared with loud whoops, his hair whipping in the wind, and they'd been laughing even as they ducked.

I have to forget about them.

Not that he regretted. He couldn't. If he had, his master would have known, and he would be dead, not walking healthy and blessed with a terrible weapon. And he was no longer afraid. He had spent long months in insecurity, cradling the twisted body against his chest and wondering whether that tiny form could really protect him, could really save him from Black and the dementors and the Aurors and himself and everybody else who wanted to destroy him. But now the creature he'd guarded had come to life, had grown from its infancy into a terrible and true master, who could protect him, who could hold his hand. And there was a strength in his arms and back now, the kind of strength mothers with heavy babies have--but no baby had a voice that could reach under his skin and toy with his greatest fears. That Voldemort alone could do.

He ran his hand over his head, reminding himself. His hair had fallen out within days of the spell, and sometimes black lines would form runes on his skull that he could never understand. He'd lost weight, even with regular meals, even though he sometimes ate voraciously. And he'd been unable to transform--his right hand stubbornly maintained its shape, no matter how much he tried to force it to become a paw. He was no longer Wormtail, in all but soul.

Small price, he told himself.

He had never been strong, he had never been powerful, he had never been any good with a sword or that much better with a wand held in combat. He had always been the one too easily frightened, too easily cowed, the one who stayed in the shadows behind the wolf and the dog and the stag and laughed at shattered bottles and soaked prefects. But now he was strong, and he was on the right side, and he was walking in the light, and he didn't have to be afraid, and every night he told himself that because maybe then he really could believe it with all his heart and soul.

Who really cares for a rat, anyway?

The drum sounded again, demanding in the stark silence.

And someday... he promised himself quietly as he went on his way. Someday I will see blood on this silver, pure blood in this light. Sirius Black's, Remus Lupin's, Severus Snape's...Harry Potter's.

 

 

Light is the left hand of darkness
And darkness the right hand of light

--Ursula K. LeGuin

 

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