|“|| Remus Lupin: You sold James and Lily to Voldemort, didn't you?|
Peter Pettigrew: I didn't mean to! The Dark Lord. You have no idea the weapons he possesses! Ask yourself, Sirius? What would you have done? What would you have done?
Sirius Black: I would have died! I would have died rather than betray my friends!
|~ Peter Pettigrew's confession.|
Peter Pettigrew, also known by his nickname Wormtail, is a major antagonist in the Harry Potter franchise. He made his debut as the main antagonist of Prisoner of Azkaban, the secondary antagonist of Goblet of Fire, a minor antagonist in Half-Blood Prince, and a supporting antagonist in Deathly Hallows. He initially appeared in Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets as Scabbers the rat only. He was originally one of James Potter's friends, but later joined the Death Eaters and betrayed James and Lily Potter in the process, thus setting their best friend Sirius Black up for the crime.
He was portrayed by Timothy Spall, who also played Beadle Bamford in the 2007 live action film adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Peter Pettigrew was born on May 14, 1960 somewhere in the British Isles, to a family of witches and wizards of low class in Muggle (non-magical) society, and raised in poverty under the watchful eye of his mother. His father kept him in his shadow by harshly criticizing his son for his fear and lack of capability to live up to his family's honor. Despite his parents' open hostility toward him, this lack of love largely shaped Pettigrew's paranoid self-confidence and desire of looking up to those more caring and powerful, yet misguided as him later in life.
By the start of his first year at the major wizarding school up in Scotland, called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Pettigrew was at first decided to be sorted into Slytherin due to his resourcefulness, but was sorted into Gryffindor instead due to the Sorting Hat sensing some potential in him rather than any actual inborn courage, a trait that the nervous young wizard may have never lived up to. Aside from his timid outlook, though, he gained great friendship with many fellow Gryffindors whom he idolized for their popularity and talent, including the gang of them that he joined known as the Marauders (consisting of James Potter I, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin), eventually latching himself onto them as if they were like cousins. After their discovery of Lupin's status as a werewolf inhabiting the mysterious Shrieking Shack in the nearby village of Hogsmeade that they nicknamed "Moony", Pettigrew studied in his third year with Potter and Black about secretly (and illegally) becoming Animagi (witches and wizards capable of morphing into animals at will), allowing them to support Lupin himself by safely accompanying him during his monthly transformations and keeping him under control. Pettigrew took the Animagus form of a fat gray rat with a wormy tail, from which his nickname "Wormtail" was derived, while Potter and Black took the Animagi forms of a tall red stag with pronged horns (Prongs) and a shaggy black dog with padded feet (Padfoot). In addition, the four friends allowed themselves to see where everyone in the Hogwarts castle was at a given time by creating their own map of the school that they labeled the "Marauders' Map", which made sneaking around and avoiding teachers much easier.
Although seen as a stupid and foolish boy later on, Pettigrew continued hero-worshipping Potter and Black as the latter two grew immensely popular, and lived vicariously through joining them in their trouble-making accomplishments. Many of the teachers, including Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore and his deputy headmistress, Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall, showed little respect for his intelligence and behavior while finding him around troublemakers, and the harsh pressure McGonagall put him under during their student-teacher relationship made Pettigrew a less than average student incapable of standing up for himself. During his fifth year, a mutual hatred sprang up between Potter and an unpopular Slytherin student, Severus Snape, who bestowed a lifelong grudge upon Black and Lupin for supporting Potter but viewed Pettigrew with even more scorn than the other three because of his pitiful ineptitude. Though he would not have been likely to cross a wizard so skilled and powerful without either of his two classmates backing him up, Pettigrew himself often tagged along in helping Potter and Black bully the annoyed Slytherin out of boredom. However, this campaign of ill treatment inadvertently came into ruin when a Muggle-born Gryffindor whom Snape loved since childhood, Lily Evens, tried to defend her friend, only to part ways with him and begin to date (and later marry) Potter after Snape inadvertently let slip the foul name for Muggle-born (Mudblood). This incident almost turned against the Marauders to get them expelled when Snape noticed Lupin disappearing during the full moon, and hoped to find out his secret. Seizing this opportunity to play a prank on him, Black informed Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow's branch defenses and enter the tunnel underneath the tree leading to the Shrieking Shack. When Potter found out what trouble his best friend got them into, Pettigrew watched nearby as the former went after Snape and saved him by pulling out of the tunnel, but not before Snape glimpsed Lupin finishing his transformation in the shack. Dumbledore swore all four boys (Pettigrew, Potter, Black and Snape) to keep such discovery a secret, but Lupin's supposed true nature was clear to Snape. By the start of his seventh year, Pettigrew went separate ways with his family and made a home for himself when his father died, since there was still little money to support himself. This left the weak wizard to fend for himself once a day, notably by stealing from his Muggle neighbors or other locals far and wide.
Following his graduation from Hogwarts, Pettigrew eventually joined his fellow Marauders in the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society founded by Dumbledore to stand up against the tyrannical rise of the psychopathic dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who aimed take over the wizarding world with a large conflict against its social order and shape it in his supremacist views with the aid of an army of followers which he named Death Eaters. At some point during this war, however, the timid wizard began working as a spy for Voldemort within the Order's ranks, having come to the belief that nothing could be gained from opposing the dark lord. Due to being considered a low-ranking soldier for his cowardice and general lack of usefulness, many Death Eaters held little respect for Pettigrew and suggested that he would most likely betray their master if his fear of them went too far. When Voldemort learned of a prediction regarding his own destruction at the hands of a child born at the end of July in 1980 to those who defied him three times and lived, he came to learn of two boys who matched the description, the most probable of which was believed to be James and Lily Potter's then-unborn son Harry Potter. Dumbledore eventually learned of the dark wizard marking the Potters for death as a result, and had the family go into hiding and keep their heads low enough for Voldemort via the legendary Fidelius Charm, which the father insisted that a godfather of Harry's like Black should be the Secret-Keeper of. However, Black believed that such a move would be too obvious for the Death Eaters and suggested that a "weak, taint-less thing" like Pettigrew should be selected as their Secret-Keeper instead, to which they agreed. As the result for being a Death Eater spy, Pettigrew betrayed the Potters' whereabouts a week after the Fidelius Charm was performed, and Voldemort went out to rectify the odds that had so unexpectedly been stacked against him on Halloween night a year later, but the eradication of the Potters had not went as smoothly as they had anticipated. Having murdered and simply stepped over the bodies of the parents, the psychopathic wizard prepared to kill the son as vowed only for his Killing Curse to rebound back at himself and obliterate his body, leaving his army shocked and distraught, as well as making Harry famous for being the first to ever survive one of the Unforgivable Curses.
Upon arrival at the wreckage of the Potter cottage in the wizard-famous West Country village of Godric's Hollow, Pettigrew deduced what happened and took Voldemort's wand (which he found among the rubble), hiding it in an undisclosed location out of fear of the British Ministry of Magic discovering his treason through inspecting it. Apart from the Potters, though, the only other person who knew that Pettigrew was the family's Secret Keeper was Black, who realized what the former wizard must have done after finding his home empty with no signs of a struggle. After tracking him down all night in hopes of avenging his friends, Black luckily found the alleged traitor being hunted down on a London street by a mob of Muggle locals for some unspecified crime. As part of his bluff to get away, Pettigrew screamed that it was Black who betrayed the Potters and (quickly pulling his wand out from his back pocket before his wizard opponent could draw his) killed twelve of his Muggle pursuers by blowing up the street with a Blasting Curse, creating a crater large enough for the sewer pipes underneath to show. Then, in the midst of the destruction, he faked his own death by cutting off one of his fingers and leaving it at the crime scene as he turned in to his Animagus form and fled into the sewer pipe. Black was thus left framed for Pettigew's Death Eater activities when the surviving Muggles who witnessed the event swore that to the Ministry that they saw him murder Pettigrew along with the twelve other victims on the spot and had their memories modified with an excuse from the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee that a gas-leak occurred before they could remember what really happened, and was sentenced to life in the wizard prison Azkaban without a trial. Pettigrew himself, on the other hand, was unjustly awarded the Order of Merlin First Class for his "confrontation" with his old friend, which, along with the finger they recovered, was posthumously given to his mother. As time passed, due to misconceptions, most of the wizarding community theorized that Black drew his wand and killed Pettigrew before the other had a chance of even drawing. Even the other remaining Marauder, Lupin, believed it was Black who betrayed their brotherhood.
Pettigrew went into hiding as a rat immediately afterwards in hopes of avoiding other Death Eaters, for he was afraid that many of them believed that he had betrayed Voldemort (since the dark wizard met his downfall on his information), and by staying with a wizard family, he would keep up on current news until he felt it was safe to return to his master. While looking for such a family to take him in, he luckily came in possession of Percy Weasley, who kept him as a pet and named him 'Scabbers' due to his mangy appearance, and remained in his custody until getting passed down to Percy's younger brother Ron. As such, it was made clear that Scabbers was an extraordinary rat, for he was unusually old for a rat of his species (which had a life expectancy of 3 years) because of continuing to live with the Weasley family for much longer. Although many of his former Death Eater comrades avoided Azkaban by claiming to be under the Imperius Curse, they all became unmotivated to return to their master or kill Pettigrew if his continuing existence became known. The most prominent evidence for their initial disinterest in revisiting their past and lack of faithfulness to Voldemort himself was how each Death Eater disregarded rumors of the Dark Lord’s survival as wishful thinking and instead took interest in potentially allying himself with the very person who had brought about his former master's downfall. Pettigrew thus began to hear many different theories regarding how Harry Potter survived the Voldemort's attack being made, the most persistent of them being that the boy himself was a great dark wizard. This assumption was one the frightened Animagus found hard to prescribe, but took comfort in such possible thought that he one day might get a second chance of world domination if he had Harry not only help return Voldemort to power, but also train him to become another, and greater, pure-blood champion. Because Ron eventually would eventually become best friends with Harry at Hogwarts, Pettigrew took it as an opportunity for himself to capture the young Potter and bring him to Voldemort as a welcome-back gift, which would dissuade the other Death Eaters from ever daring to claim him a traitor. But he never took this action during his time as Ron's pet, for Voldemort was not strong enough to protect him. Ron generally thought Scabbers as useless at first, since all the rodent did was eat and sleep. However, the boy did show his affections for the rat because of a strong sense of ownership and was very fond of him, thus keeping a promise to his family to always have company in such a long-living pet.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
12 years later, when Ron returned with Scabbers from his second year at Hogwarts, his father Arthur Weasley, the Head of the Ministry of Magic's Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, won a Grand Prize Galleon Draw for seven hundred galleons held by the Daily Prophet wizarding newspaper for his campaign of raids on several wizarding households to confiscate dark or illegally enchanted objects. The Weasleys used the money to take the family on one-month vacation in Egypt, where their oldest son Bill was working as a Curse Breaker for the Gringotts wizarding bank, yet used spared amount of which he used to buy a new wand for Ron, whose previous wand was broken by the Whomping Willow the year prior and has been backfiring on him since. The trip was enough to put Pettigrew under hard stress despite Ron calming him for it, but he was able to get through the picture taken on this vacation with the Weasleys, which was printed on the front page of the midsummer's Daily Prophet edition.
The timid rat Animagus assumed that no one would even conclude who he could be in human form when he returned with Ron to England for the redhead's third school year with Harry and their Muggle-born friend Hermione Granger, but was proven wrong. Eventually, the news of the trip reached within the walls of Azkaban, where Sirius Black was able to receive an issue of the Prophet from Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge during an inspection of the penitentiary, and recognize Pettigrew's animal form in the picture when the article told him how long the Weasleys kept this rat and saw a toe missing on Scabbers' front paw. Panicking and becoming thin at the realization that Pettigrew was grasping the opportunity to bring Harry to Voldemort if news that the dark wizard was regaining strength reached his ears, the convicted dog Animagus escaped in his animal form (now thin enough to squeeze through the prison bars) and swam across the North Sea to mainland, bent on getting the traitor away from his godson. The Weasleys soon learned of this breakout once they arrived home as the bad news drove the wizarding community on high alert in their belief that Black planned to murder Harry in a mad attempt to bring Voldemort back. At that point, Scabbers began to become thin himself, which Ron thought at first was due to the stress of the trip, and then fear of Hermione's new cat Crookshanks, who saw that Pettigrew was not actually a rat, while Harry thought that he was finally reaching the end of his lifespan. In reality, Pettigrew was actually agitated by the news of Black's escape from Azkaban, afraid that he would find his treacherous former friend and finally avenge the Potters. While aboard the Hogwarts, he and the trio shared their compartment with Lupin, who was recently appointed the school's new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and luckily did not recognize Pettigrew in his animal appearance as he was blinded by the belief that none of his friends would want to hide
He was eventually forced to reveal himself by Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, who were angry for framing the former for the murders. Wormtail told him them that he was forced to do it out of fear for his life, but Remus, knowing it to be a lie, then tried to attack him, but Harry defended him, which Peter replied that he owed Harry a life debt. But, before he can be charged for his crimes, Lupin begins to turn into a werewolf and, amongst the confusion, Wormtail escapes in his rat form.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
After his and Black's escape from Hogwarts, Pettigrew had no choice but to rejoin his master, hoping that his company would protect him from both Black and Lupin. He went to retrieve Voldemort's wand from its hiding place, then traveled to Albania after learning from the rats there of a place in the forest where the creatures feared to travel, due to a dark shadow that resided there taking over and killing them while building up strength. Once nearing his destination, the desperate Pettigrew stopped at an inn on the forest border for some food, where he unfortunately ran into Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry of Magic witch on summer holiday at the same hotel. Although she recognized him, Pettigrew was able to lure her into the forest and overpower her, right before handing her over to Voldemort. Under torture, Jorkins gave them information that helped Voldemort make plans for his rebirth, including the Quidditch World Cup being held in England that summer, the Triwizard Tournament that was going to take at Hogwarts in the following school year and the continuing existence of another presumed dead Death Eater: Barty Crouch, Jr., who was smuggled out of Azkaban by his parents and placed under his father's Imperius Curse to stop him from rejoining the dark wizard. Voldemort killed Jorkins, to make another Horcrux through Nagini, and disposed of her body immediately afterwards.
Voldemort and Pettigrew moved from Albania to return in England and settled in Little Hangleton, a small village in Yorkshire (in Great Britain) and the hometown of Voldemort's parents and grandparents (both paternal and maternal), using Riddle House as their new base. Pettigrew, who was a skilled potionist, made a potion that managed to give Voldemort a temporary and very weak childlike body. Pettigrew was going to play a very important part in Voldemort's rebirth.
During a night, Pettigrew asked his master if it was possible to prepare the rebirth potion and spell meant to give Voldemort his old body and strength back without involving Harry Potter. Voldemort said that his return was impossible without involving Potter and called out Pettigrew on his wish to keep the son of his betrayed dead friends alive, especially since he felt in debt with Harry after the latter stopped Sirius and Remus from killing him. Pettigrew was terrified of Voldemort questioning his loyalty and backed away from arguing against the plan. That same night, the muggle careteker and gardener, as well as war veteran, Frank Bryce, discovered their presence in Riddle House. Bryce was intercepted by Nagini, who immediately reported him to Voldemort, so Pettigrew went to meet Bryce and brought him to Voldemort, who killed Bryce.
Shortly after the Quidditch World Cup, during which Barty Crouch Jr. terrified other unloyal former Death Eaters by conjuring a Dark Mark in the sky, Pettigrew and Voldemort appeared in the Crouch mansion, where Barty Jr. had been imprisoned with the Imperius Curse by his father once again, and easily managed to free Barty from his imprisonment. This time, it was Barty Crouch Snr.'s turn to be the cursed prisoner: Pettigrew, Voldemort, and Barty Jr. put Barty Snr. under the Imperius Curse and forced him to keep working at the Ministry as he usually would, and would eventually come to show signs of physical weakness.
Pettigrew assisted Barty Crouch Jr. in assaulting Alastor Moody in his own house to take him captive, allowing Crouch to impersonate him with the polyjuice potion. Moody was kept alive for Crouch to use Moody's hair for the preparations of potion supply and interrogate him about his habits and personality. Moody was kept alive with the Imperius Curse.
Later Crouch departed to Hogwarts to assume his position of new Defense Against the Dark Arts' teahcer, as well as his father who was being a judge of the Triwizard Tournament. Following the Triwizard Tournament's first task, Crouch Snr. left Hogwarts to resume his work at the Ministry of Magic. He remained under Voldemort and Pettigrew's control, who had to keep the Imperius Curse strong, as Mr. Crouch's mind was strong and kept fighting for freedom. Eventually Pettigrew had to keep Crouch imprisoned in his own mansion full-time, away from Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic, resulting with Crouch no longer showing at work, declaring to be ill. In addition of taking care of Voldemort, Pettigrew became Crouch Snr's guard. Percy Weasley became a judge of the Triwizard Tournament in Crouch's stead, as well as having to take Crouch's place in his office in London, with Pettigrew having Crouch Snr. sending work notes to Percy.
Months later, the Wizarding World of the United Kingdom went speculating that Mr. Crouch was dying. Around the same time, Pettigrew was punished with torture for failing to guard Crouch Snr, who had been held hostage in his own mansion during th past months, as Voldemort feared Crouch would tell the true story of his son to Dumbledore and how he lost control over him after the Quidditch World Cup. However, weeks before, Crouch managed to free himself from the Imperius' control, resulting with him going insane and fleeing towards Hogwarts to tell Dumbledore about Voldemort and his son's plan. Furious, Voldemort was going to do worse to Pettigrew, and eventually kill him, if Crouch managed to speak with Dumbledore. Barty Crouch Jr. managed to stop his father and killed him in the Forbidden Forest, resulting with Voldemort sparing Pettigrew's life. Voldemort reminded Pettigrew that he had been very lucky that they got rid of their inconvenient prisoner without having their plan thwarted, and thus allowed Pettigrew to live and keep taking care of him until the Triwizard's third task.
During the third and last task of the Triwizard Tournament, Barty Crouch Jr. managed to deliver Harry Potter to Voldemort and Pettigrew, after sabotaging the game by eliminating two of the participants. However, Cedric Diggory was with Harry when they found themselves in Little Hangleton's graveyard. On Voldemort's order, Pettigrew murdered Cedric and conjured a spell to block Harry on the Riddles' grave. Then he performed the ritual on Harry to add the final components for his magical potion. Pettigrew added a bone from Tom Riddle Snr, Voldemort's father, and he sliced open Harry's arm with a large knife to add Harry's blood in the potion. A terrified and crying Pettigrew reluctantly sacrificed his own hand and the potion succeeded, restoring Voldemort to a physical body after years of waiting. Voldemort then used Pettigrew's dark mark to call many wizards who had been Death Eaters during Voldemort's glory days. Infuriated, Voldemort called them out on their false loyalties and reminded them how he does not forgive nor forget, like that none of them bothered to try finding him and even enjoyed their lives and positions in the peaceful Wizarding World, after his first defeat. Voldemort told them that his real loyal supporters are either dead, in Azkaban, or in Hogwarts, not considering Pettigrew a real supporter. Despite his disdain for Pettigrew's cowardice and loyalty by fear only, Voldemort gave Pettigrew a new silver hand, as a reward for his assistance. Pettigrew was never told that this new hand was also meant to give him a definitive punishment if he would ever hesitate in his villainous acts again.
Harry did not mention Pettigrew's status to Cornelius Fudge, when the latter was accused by Harry of being a liar. Fudge rejected all the accuses and names of Death Eaters who were present in the graveyard given by Harry.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Pettigrew does not appear in this installment. He is only seen in an old photograph found by Alastor Moody. The photo showed the original Order of the Phoenix, in a group moment, during the First Wizarding War against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters and creatures. Harry noticed Pettigrew and wondered if the photograph was made before or after he had betrayed the Order.
When finally Cornelius Fudge saw Voldemort with his own eyes and was willing to listen to Dumbledore, it was made apparent to the public that Pettigrew was still alive and an active Death Eater. As Sirius Black was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange, this came too late, and Fudge felt ashamed at this failure to judge a person guilty of a crime, although Barty Crouch Snr was also responsible for this, as he had sent Sirius at Azkaban without giving him a trial.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Pettigrew was sent to Severus Snape's house at Spinner's End to "assist" him. However, Snape treated Pettigrew as a mere servant and humiliated him as a revenge for their old rivalry days at Hogwarts. Pettigrew tried to fight Snape, but was too intimidated by the latter, who also had Voldemort's favor. Snape enjoyed seeing Pettigrew in his miserable condition for his mistakes, now despised by the people he betrayed, while many of his old friend died. In the same house Narcissa Malfoy made the Unbreakable Vow with Snape, with Bellatrix Lestrange serving as Bonder. Pettigrew did not hear its contents as he had been ordered out of the room by Snape after he was caught eavesdropping at the door.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Pettigrew was present during Lord Voldemort's meeting at Malfoy Manor, the headquarters of the Death Eaters, to discuss the plan to kill Harry Potter and taking over the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort gave Pettigrew the position of gaoler, guarding the Death Eaters' prisoners, including Garrick Ollivander and Charity Burbage, in the mansion's cellar. Pettigrew also forced Ollivander to make a new wand for him. Later, Voldemort killed Burbage and Pettigrew was told to keep Ollivander quiet. Pettigrew was not used to torture Thorfinn Rowle, when the latter failed to capture Harry Potter, as Voldemort used Draco Malfoy to punish the Death Eater.
Later Pettigrew also became Luna Lovegood's gaoler, in addition to Ollivander, when the Death Eaters took the girl away from Hogwarts to punish her father for supporting the Order of the Phoenix, who were then considered rebels, under Pius Thicknesse's regime.
Around Easter of 1998, during the Thicknesse regime and the height of the Second Wizarding War, a group of Snatchers led by Fenrir Greyback and Scabior captured Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dean Thomas, and Griphook, and brought them to Malfoy Manor. As Bellatrix was torturing Hermione about information regarding Godric Gryffindor's sword, Pettigrew dragged the other prisoners to the cellar containing Ollivander and Luna. After Draco was sent to the cellar to take Griphook to join Hermione in Bellatrix's questioning, Dobby arrived and apparated away from the cellar with Ollivander, Luna, and Dean, while Harry and Ron stayed behind to rescue Hermione and Griphook. Bellatrix and the Malfoys heard the sound of Dobby's magic and sent Pettigrew to investigate.
Pettigrew opened the cellar's door only to have Harry and Ron tackling him. Ron managed to take Pettigrew's wand, but Pettigrew attempted to kill Harry by strangling him with his silver hand. Harry reminded him of the life debt he owed him and Pettigrew hesitated in his attack. This single brief moment of mercy and remorse from Pettigrew caused his own silver hand to turn on him and strangle him to death. Pettigrew despaired and tried to free himself, and the shocked Harry and Ron tried to do their best to remove the hand from Pettigrew's neck. However, despite Harry and Ron's best efforts to restrain it, the silver hand was stronger and killed Pettigrew. Harry was horrified at Voldemort's treatment of his own servants, thinking how Pettigrew died for a single moment of mercy and remorse, things that Voldemort never understood and that got Pettigrew punished by paying with his life for it.
- WatchMojo.com listed Peter Pettigrew as #5 on their Top 10 "Most Evil Harry Potter Characters" list.
- His actor Timothy Spall also plays Nathaniel, Queen Narissa's henchman in Enchanted.
- In the movies he is portrayed as being slightly more sinister, less cowardly and somewhat sadistic: in Prisoner of Azkaban, immediately after being disarmed by Harry, he gives a cruel smile and sarcastically waves goodbye before transforming for his escape. In Goblet of Fire, he smiles ominously at Frank Bryce (presumably with intent of attacking him) as Voldemort orders him to step aside and let the Dark Lord finish off the unfortunate Muggle caretaker.