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Peter Pettigrew (aka Wormtail)

"Hero-worshiped Black and Potter. Never quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather sharp with him ... Stupid boy ... Foolish boy .. .He was always hopeless at dueling..."
     -- Minerva McGonagall (PA10)

"If you made a better rat than a human, it's not much to boast about, Peter."
     -- Sirius Black (PA19)

"Your devotion is nothing more than cowardice. You would not be here if you had anywhere else to go."
     -- Lord Voldemort (GF1)

Scabbers by the tail by Mary GrandPréAKA: Wormtail, Scabbers.
Born: 1959 or 1960 (year based on James's dates-DH16).
Died: March 1998 (DH23).

Eyes: small, watery (PA19).
Hair: thin, colorless, unkempt with a bald patch (PA19). Later described as a "balding man with graying hair." (GF)
Build: small, not much taller than Harry or Hermione (PA19).
Distinguishing features: rat-like face and a pointed nose. In Books 1-3 he was missing the index finger from his right hand (PA19). This same hand was demanded by Voldemort for his "rebirthing potion." (GF1, GF32) Later it was replaced by a glove-like magical shining silver hand (GF33).
Voice: squeaky (PA19).
Complexion: pasty (PA19).

Wand: Chestnut and Dragon Heartstring, 9.25 inches, Brittle. Used by Ron after Pettigrew's death.
Hogwarts: Gryffindor, 1971 - 1978.
Skills: Animagus.

Profile
Pettigrew entered Hogwarts at the same time as Sirius Black, James Potter, and Remus Lupin, a group of friends who came to call themselves the "Marauders." He was not as skilled a wizard as his friends, and seemed to hang out with them largely because he idolized them (PA10). With them, though, he learned to become an Animagus (turning into a rat and earning the nickname “Wormtail”), helped write the Marauder’s Map (PA17, PA18), and joined the Order of the Phoenix (OP9).

Peter was a person who was easily influenced by those around him, allying himself with whomever was the strongest. Once he was out of school, Pettigrew became an easy target for the Dark Lord as he searched for a way to strike at James and Lily. Peter was coerced into becoming a spy for Voldemort. As he put it,

"Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord... you have no idea ... he has weapons you can't imagine ... I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen ... He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me ... He -- he was taking over everywhere! Wh -- what was there to be gained by refusing him? You don't understand! He would have killed me, Sirius!" (PA19)

The Potters and their friends didn't know this, of course, and continued to trust Peter so completely that on Sirius Black's advice, he was made James and Lily's Secret Keeper. A week later they were dead, when Peter betrayed their hiding place to his master. Pettigrew then cleverly framed Sirius Black for the betrayal and his own murder. Peter Pettigrew was "posthumously" awarded the Order of Merlin, and Sirius Black was sent to Azkaban without a trial (PA19).

"Scabbers" November 1981 - June 1994.
After tricking Sirius, Pettigrew transformed into a rat and stayed that way for twelve years, living as Percy and then Ron’s pet, Scabbers, in order to hide from the Death Eaters who thought he had betrayed Voldemort.

As Scabbers, Pettigrew was not fond of Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, and with good reason. Crookshanks is part Kneazle, which means that he can sense duplicity. He saw right through Peter's disguise and tried to attack him whenever he got a chance.

Discovery and Flight
By 1993, Crookshanks wasn't the only one who had figured out that Peter was still alive. Sirius Black had chanced upon a photograph of the Weasley family and recognized his old "friend" at once. Black became so obsessed with tracking the traitor down that he was able to resist the influence of the Dementors long enough to escape. In June of 1994, Pettigrew finally had his reckoning with Sirius, Remus Lupin, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Severus Snape in the Shrieking Shack, and Scabbers' true identity was revealed. Sirius and Lupin would have killed him, but for Harry's intervention. Harry wanted to clear his godfather's name and insisted that Peter be held for trial instead. Pettigrew now owed Harry a "life debt."

The Servant of Lord Voldemort
Unfortunately for Sirius, Peter was able to escape when Lupin's transformation into a werewolf distracted his captors. The first thing he did was to go searching for his dark master, Voldemort. Amazingly, he found him, existing bodiless with a snake named Nagini -- in Albania.

Even with a new servant, the next step wasn't clear until Pettigrew ran into Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry witch who was on holiday in Albania. Although she recognized him, Pettigrew was able to lure her into the forest where she fell into the clutches of the Dark Lord. Under torture, Jorkins gave them information that helped Voldemort make plans for an attack on Harry Potter.

On Voldemort's instructions, created the potions his master needed to gain a temporary body. Pettigrew milked the venom from Nagini that was used as part of the potion. He carried Voldemort's weak, small body on the long journey back to Britain, where they took up temporary residence in the Riddle House outside of Little Hangleton. Voldemort called Peter by his Marauder name, "Wormtail."

When Harry Potter was captured, it was Wormtail who killed Cedric Diggory, Wormtail who bound Harry, Wormtail who set up the cauldron over the fire, and Wormtail who cut Harry's arm to draw for blood for the potion. Wormtail then cut off his own right hand to add to the potion. From that horrible mixture, the Dark Lord was reborn in his old body. He cast a spell which created a new shining and powerful hand for Pettigrew (GF33). Voldemort used the Dark Mark to call the rest of his wayward Death Eaters to him.

From this point on Wormtail was something of a lowly servant to Snape and the other Death Eaters (HBP2, DH1). He met Harry again in Malfoy Manor and tried immediately to kill him, but when Harry reminded Wormtail of his life debt, Wormtail hesitated – and that was enough for the hand created by Voldemort to sense the failing, turn back on its owner and betray the betrayer (DH23).

Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew. PETTIGREW on FILM
In the movies, Peter Pettigrew is played by Timothy Spall. Spall says "I relish Pettigrew. It's nice to play a character so reprehensible and weak. He's a rat - I'm now a pin-up in all sorts of pet shops!" (Independent, 12/28/2004)

 

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Primary editor: Lisa Waite Bunker. Previous editor(s): Steve Vander Ark, Michele Worley.
Original artwork of Wormtail Now (detail of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs Now) © Marta T., used with permission.
Original artwork of Peter as Scabbers by Mary GrandPré © Warner Bros., used with permission.
Original page date 20 March, 2001; Last page update 9 January, 2008.