Before his father left him and his mother, he taught him a lesson. It was a lesson he never forgot and a lesson he was sure to practice.
It all started when his father started gambling and drinking. His mother was afraid of the man she married, and he was afraid of being thrown across the room every time he did something wrong. His father never really cared if he broke a leg or bled, because to his father, a little pain was a good lesson. But that wasn’t what he learned from his father.
It was during an evening game with his friends when he saw his father standing by a tree watching. His team wasn’t winning and he was sure his father knew that. When they took a break for water, his father called him over.
“Who is winning son?” his father asked, as the stale smell of alcohol escaped his breath.
“Harriet’s team,” he replied softly.
“Are you in Harriet’s team?”
“No,” he replied even softer than before.
“Then beg Harriet to take you,” his father ordered.
“But… I can’t leave my friends.”
“You what?” His father reached for his arm roughly and pulled him closer.
“I- I can’t leave my friends,” he repeated.
“But your friends are losing, do you want to lose?” The grip of his father’s hand tightened, and his dirty and untrimmed nails dug into his flesh.
“No sir,” he whimpered.
“Then make Harriet take you in his team!” his father shouted, shoving him backwards and causing him to fall on his back.
“It’s only a game,” he immediately replied in anger.
“It is not ONLY a game boy. Do you want to lose all your life? Do you want to be a loser? Do you like being a loser? Do you?!” His father had pulled him to his feet and slammed him against the tree.
From the corner of his eye, he saw his friends stopping to watch. They were whispering among themselves, not sure if they should help him. But what can three 10 year olds do to a grown man? He was certain he was on his own. And just when he was about to get hit in the face, he heard his mother scream.
“You stay away from him! Don’t you dare touch him!” she yelled as she tried to pull his father from him.
His father turned towards her and slapped her across the face. He was strong enough to send her flat on the ground, weeping.
“Don’t!” he yelled, struggling to free himself from his father’s grip.
“Don’t?” his father asked, and then he laughed, releasing his grip on him.
Immediately, he ran to his mother’s side, and tried to prop her up. Tears were streaming down her face as her lips bled.
“Why do you have to hurt her?!” The sudden anger made him bold.
“You wanna know why? Because losers deserve it.” His father spat on the ground and continued, “You mother is a loser, and so are you. I don’t want to be around losers.”
His father chuckled to himself and shook his head, before he left them. He hated his father even more then, but he knew he would have to face his father when he got home, so he sucked it up and tried to help his mother. By the time he had gotten his weak and weeping mother on the couch in their living room, he noticed something was different. His father’s shoes weren’t in the walkway, and when he headed up to his parent’s bedroom, he saw the wardrobe door wide open and the clothes on his father’s side were all gone.
When his mother entered the bedroom after him, she fell on her knees and wept even more. The picture of their family that once hung above the bed was also on the floor, with the frame shattered.
“He’s gone!” his mother wailed.
“It’s o.k, I’ll take care of you,” he immediately replied.
“You’re a boy. A boy who can’t even win a stupid children’s game. It is your fault he is gone!” his mother accused.
He knew she wouldn’t intend on hurting him, but those word stung. He was indeed a loser. How was a loser going to look after his mother? He was going to amount to nothing, and his father was right. That was why his father left, his father didn’t want to be around losers.
“No, I’m not a loser,” he said to himself.
“Mother, I’m not a loser. I’ll pick the winning team, and we’ll be alright.” He turned his mother to face him.
“No, Peter, you’re not a loser,” his mother replied, merely repeating his words without giving much thought.
“We’ll be alright, you’ll see,” Peter assured, as he embraced his mother, whose sobs continued.
True enough, Peter Pettigrew made sure that he was always on the winning team. He left the friends he used to play with for James Potter when he started at Hogwarts, and he left James Potter for the Dark Lord when a war was starting. And during all those times, his only motivation was to be a winner and not the loser his father said his was.