1995-06-27: Smelling Out a Rat

Participants:

Peter_icon.gif Tiana_icon.gif

Scene Title Smelling Out a Rat
Synopsis Sometimes you meet the strangest people in Knockturn Alley…
Location Knockturn Alley, London
Date June 27, 1995
Watch For Peter's Dilemma
Logger Holly

Summertime. There's a song somewhere that sings all about it. In fact, there are probably several such things. Still, none of them ever mention just how annoying the season really is. Especially in Britain.

It's so unbelievably hot here, not like Tiana's homeland. Blistering hot and positively full to the brim with children. Isn't it bad enough she taught the ungrateful little brats all spring? Gave them a Potions exam they'd never forget? Apparently not.

Still, as she pulls her Cooling-Charmed cloak around her closer, Tiana has to admit that the little demons have their uses. Such as providing a distraction to a pair of wary Aurors who'd been eyeing her since her Apparition into Diagon. Seizing the moment, she steals down a narrow staircase and descends into Knockturn.

Ahhh, much better.

—-

Peter often finds himself here. Rats are as useful as children, he's found - it was they who led him to Lord Voldemort, after all. They know things.

And there are plenty of them down here.

Perhaps he just misses their companionship. It wouldn't be a far stretch to say that the ratlike man appreciates their company. And he doesn't stand out much, considering that all the people in this place have some oddity about them, and the grey cloak he's wearing isn't out of place. Most people don't give him a second glance. "Ah— " he mutters nervously as a cat streaks by his feet. It makes him jump, because, naturally, cats and rats do not get along. That damn half-kneazle almost did him in far too many times for him to be comfortable around the beasts at all.

Eventually, he crouches down near an old wall that's covered with some sort of slime. Mildew, mould, whatever the hell it is, it's gross.

—-

Tiana, too, feels at home, though for less…unsavory reasons than Peter. Not everyone who travels the cobbled roads of the underbellies are 'evil', but they all have some element of darkness to them. It's what Tiana relishes. The feeling of being…not at home, but something akin to that. These places draw her like moth to flame, and so when her work or her 'work' brings her to them, she doesn't even dream of resisting.

Now, the wolf is on the hunt. Several false leads have ruffled her fur in the past few weeks. Now it's time to step it up a level. Even as she prowls the Alley, her nose and ears and eyes work at levels no mere human could hope to achieve. So it's this that catches Peter's muttered 'Ah—' as familiar, putting her on higher alert. She lifts her face just a little, sniffing the air and giving herself a headache sorting through the myriad of smells until…there!

A low rumble rises in her throat and she makes her way towards that wall, following a scent she can just barely hold on to. Ugh, someone needs a bath.

—-

One hand presses against the street, a sort of watery ooze squishing out from between his fingers. It's got a greenish tint to it. Perhaps a discarded potion, perhaps something more mundane and much less sanitary. Peter doesn't seem to mind the scent, though, as his face lowers toward a crack in the wall, and he speaks to it, softly, attempting to coax its inhabitants out into the open. A moment of their time, that's all he'll need.

Perhaps it's because Peter's own sense of smell has become quite well-attuned that he doesn't really mind all the scents of garbage and decay. As people will attest, the 'man' is closer to rat than human now, having spent so damn long with the critters. His eyes are black and beady, his comforts lay in strange places. He's nervous, nose always twitching, testing the air, avoiding his own cowardice by alerting himself before it can catch up with him. And he's just gotten the scent of werewolf.

"Oh — Oh, oh…" he whines, cowering down into his robe. Too many people around. He can't escape through the hole in the wall without someone noticing him for sure. And he can't run, because that would draw too much attention to him. Where! Where is it!? He can't see. Maybe it's Remus - Oh, dear god, no. Don't let it be Remus. Sirius won't be far behind, and then— Oh, he doesn't want to think of that. Not at all.

Finally, he makes the decision to slowly rise to his feet, the muddied hand pulling the cloak around him. Maybe, if he's very lucky, the werewolf will just pass him by. He's no reason to fear them! They are all creatures of shadow now.

He pretends to be very interested in the lines on the wall.

—-

Tiana is more stubborn than most would give her credit for. It's how she's managed to survive all that she has; absolute refusal to give in and die. This particular trait serves her well, here. She doesn't just pass him by. As soon as she draws near and feels the absolute wash of filthverminfear, she knows she's got him.

Moving quicker than one would believe her capable, she reaches out to grab the rat by the shoulder, fingers twisting in the fabric of his cloak should her hold grab true.

Her body, so much leaner than his own, nevertheless exudes power, a power she utilizes to force him back into that wall, simply by walking towards him. Leaning towards him, Tiana's lips twist into a smile that would have several of her weaker students pissing themselves with pure fear.

"Hello, Peter."

—-

AAAAH. OH. Now might be a good time to piss himself with pure fear! Except he's done that many times in his life, and one would think that he's developed some self-control. It doesn't matter anyway. He still smells like he's been rolling around in sewage. Maybe he has. The sound he makes is sort of a Ttsv! …a hiss, a squeal, a nervous syllable that tapers off until he's looking at the woman with wide, frightened eyes.

"Oh, you — you know me, that's good. That's… Good. Hello. Maybe there's… Was there something you needed? Because I was just… M-hm-hm…" He looks toward the crack in the wall, then quickly back up to Tiana. "You— Seem to have my cloak. Okay, if that's… If that's how you like to talk, then you can hold onto that, if you want. It's okay, I wasn't really— Do I know you?"

—-

"You should."

Tiana doesn't seem like she cares much whether he knows her or not. If he's too stupid to remember, she doesn't have to enlighten him. Using her greater height and presence, she attempts to bully him with no more than a predatory stance. Who knows, the rat just might pick up on it. "I am looking for Fenrir Greyback." And she lets that sink in a moment. "He and I have some business that should be concluded as soon as possible."

Well, that's one way of putting it…

—-

Here's what's going to happen. Tiana and Greyback are going to gang up and kill him.

In fact, it seems like just about everything has the potential to lead to Peter's death, which is why he joined up with the most powerful man alive. The fact that he doesn't know where Greyback is is almost as frightening as the thought of what he and Tiana are going to do to him when they form a pack and maul him until the only thing left of him really is his pinky. Poetic justice.

"Oh god. Oh Merlin, I don't know." This is muttered quietly to himself, as he looks away, almost introspective. Those watery eyes glance back at Tiana within a few seconds, though. "But— I can help! I can get him for you! I'm— I'm very useful. Just, if you'll let me go, I have a way of finding people, but I can't do it it you're… I need to be able to move around." Run away, is more like it. As soon as she lets him go, he's totally never coming back. Ever. But wait. On the full moon, she'll find him and eat him! What to do!? WHAT TO DO!?

"Why— why would you think I— Why would you come to me? Why would I know? He's not - he's - He's— I don't know where he is, anyway, so please let me go!"

—-

"If I let you go now, I will never see you again." Tiana is no fool. But then the rat goes into hysterics. Joy.

With an expression that plainly says 'Why me?', she uses her free hand to slap the small man right across the face. "Cease your inane and irritating babble, you foul little beast," she growls through clenched teeth. That said, she suddenly seems to become…almost pleasant. Too pleasant. "Where I come from, we have a saying; like Peter hunts the wolf." Leaning in very, very close, she continues, sotto vocce.

"You will help me find him, rat. I know you will because you are frightened; of me, of him, of everyone. I can smell it on you; you reek of it." She winkles her nose in distaste. "You will help me because if you do, I will give you the secret to safety even from Voldemort himself."

There's a low chuckle then, throaty and frankly just a little bit terrifying. "And I know you will do well for me. Because if you fail, I will find you. I have your scent now, you see. I will know if you betray me and I will hunt you down, kill you slowly and then leave you on the Ministry's front step. My gift to them." Thrusting him back against the wall, she releases his cloak and grins even wider.

"In fact, you might say that in such an instance, Wolf will hunt Peter."

—-

How could she know? Is she reading his mind? No, it's just too obvious. Maybe it's not too late for him to leave the country… But then Voldemort would be angry, and no one makes Voldemort mad and lives. "C—caught me between a — " He looks behind him, then looks at Tiana. "R-rock and a hard place, hah!" The nervous chuckle that follows is certainly not very humourous. He cringes, hands curled up over his chest and under his chin, as if this will shield him from her inevitable attack.

Fact: Peter was a Gryffindor, so every once in awhile, he says something stupid. He thinks it's brave. But in general, it's a mistake to let someone know - quite blatantly - that you intend to not do as they ask. That's exactly what Peter does.

"Hah- Sirius can't find me! Remus can't find me! You'd never find me among all the— The— "

Mistake.

What I meant, was— was if I…" He could spin this. He could talk to Fenrir, tell him that he's being… Called out! Challenged! The big dumb oaf never could back down from something like that. That way, he's not really betraying the Dark Lord. He's putting the whole fault on Greyback. "And— and if you find him, you leave me? Leave me alone??"

The last statement causes him to cower back into the wall again. For some reason, he gets the idea that she'll succeed where his former friends failed. Maybe he should take the chance - run now. Get into that hole in the wall and vanish forever.

—-

"You are a very stupid rat. Did you know?"

Rhetorical questions aside, Tiana folds her arms over her chest, one brow lifting into an expression that dares Peter to make a run for it. "Your former friends have something that I do not."

"They have a conscience. They have morals." Okay, so that's two things. "This is what keeps them from finding you and tearing you into kibble. I, however, have no such failings. I will use every means at my disposal." An almost conspiratorial smile tugs at her mouth then, as if Peter is in on the secret. "And I think you know that I will."

"If I find him based on information you bring me, I will take you somewhere safe. If I find him without you, or if I find you have lied to me… Well, let us simply say that there will not be a single place on this planet where you are safe."

—-

Maybe if he doesn't answer, there's no deal. Morals? Conscience? Sirius and Remus don't have those! Well, maybe Remus does. Sirius never really did. They never liked him, anyway! They wouldn't have protected him. It's why he had to do what he did!

He can't argue with the fact that he's stupid. He's pretty street-savvy, though. It's… About the only reason he's still alive. "Ssafe " Oh, it would be nice to be safe. To live in his own little bubble. But Tiana - she's a werewolf. She has no power, she isn't responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, and Peter can safely disappear into his nest of Death Eater accomplices and only there will he be safe.

"Okay— Okay, I'll find him. I'll — I'll tell you where to find him as soon as I know. I promise!"

He starts to back away. When he's out of her arm's reach, there's suddenly a rat there instead of a man, and who cares who's seen! It's not as if it didn't all come to light in that blasted trial, anyway. He bolts for that filthy hole in the wall, and he'll keep running until he's exhausted.

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