"I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend twelve years as a rat."
-- Remus Lupin
Severus Snape threatens Remus Lupin and Sirius Black with the Dementors, Harry, Ron and Hermione disarm Snape with a spell, Lupin and Black tell the truth about Harry’s parents’ deaths, Scabbers reverts back to Peter Pettigrew, the truth comes out about all the players in the drama, revealing that Pettigrew was responsible for the Potters’ deaths, and Harry keeps Lupin and Black from killing Pettigrew.
Calendar and Dates
The entire action of this chapter takes place later on the same evening (6th June) as that of the previous chapter.
- Time Line: The End of PA - essay by Hollydaze
- Chart showing the events of the evening of 6th June (NB the chart shows this date as 9th June in error):
Interesting facts and notes
This chapter, together with the preceding chapter, has provided readers with much of the information we know about Animagi to date [J K Rowling later wrote a chapter for the Pottermore Presents e-books about Animagi.]
He clicked his fingers, and the ends of the cords that bound Lupin flew to his hands.
"He's got a toe missing," said Black.
This is actually an interesting and subtly presented bit of information about Animagi. If an Animagus has some physical disability in human form - at least, in the nature of missing a part of his or her body - that disability is reflected in the Animagus form. Peter Pettigrew is missing a finger, so his rat form is missing the corresponding toe on his front paw.
"...he stole the passwords into Gryffindor Tower for me... As I understand it, he took them from a boy's bedside table."
Implicit in this statement is an interesting degree of communication between Sirius Black and the remarkable Crookshanks, as well as of Crookshanks' own understanding of humans. Sirius could have figured out what the password list was when Crookshanks brought it to him, but the detail that it came from a boy's bedside table must have been conveyed by Crookshanks. (After all, Crookshanks' human companion is a girl, not a boy; Sirius had no reason we know of to suppose that Crookshanks got the passwords from a boy, nor to guess the detail of the bedside table.)
All we can really deduce from Sirius' remark is that he and Crookshanks were able to communicate with one another; the details of how this took place are still a matter for speculation. Having said that, I will proceed to speculate.
Note that Crookshanks was able to understand what the list of passwords was, although we are not told how he knew. This may suggest that he can understand human speech, but not necessarily. Possibly as a part-kneazle he has some Legilimency-like ability to perceive human thoughts and/or emotions, as kneazles are noted in FB as having an uncanny ability to read human character, but this is only a hypothesis, not a fact. If Crookshanks were to have such an ability, it might also account for his ability to communicate with Sirius, particularly if Sirius were in Animagus form at the time and his mind in the accompanying altered state of consciousness.
Another factor presented later in the series are Voldemort's remarks to the Death Eaters on the subject of Wormtail in GF33, regarding his "curious affinity with rats". Implicit in those remarks is the information that Pettigrew could communicate with rats to obtain information involving rather complex concepts. It seems a reasonable deduction that Pettigrew's rat Animagus status is a factor in his ability to communicate with real rats.
"Force him to show himself," said Lupin. "If he really is a rat, it won't hurt him."
So it is possible to force an Animagus to return to his or her human form. This spell requires the use of wands, as shown in the text, but requires no incantation, and we do not know what the spell is called.
It was like watching a speeded-up film of a growing tree.
Despite the fact that Animagus transformations have occurred "on stage" twice before at this point in the series (PS1, PA6), this is the first detailed description we have had of the process from an onlooker's point of view.
"Voldemort's been in hiding for fifteen years, they say he's half dead."
This is actually a FLINT in the first U.S. edition; Lord Voldemort had been in hiding only since the incident in Godric's Hollow when Harry was a year old, and Harry is now only a few weeks short of his fourteenth birthday. The number should be twelve, not fifteen.
"They could tell that my feelings were less - less human, less complex when I was a dog...but they thought, of course, that I was losing my mind like everyone else in there..."
From Kennilworthy Whisp's remarks in QA1 and observations of Animagi throughout the series, we observe that Animagi retain their faculties of reason even when in non-human form. This remark by Sirius is the first indication that the transformation brings with it a somewhat altered state of consciousness despite the retention of the capacity for intelligent thought.
"Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done?"
See Steve's remarks on this passage in his comments in the Reader's Guide to Chapter 1 of Philosopher's Stone.
"The Dark Lord...you have no idea..."
This is the first time in the entire conversation that Pettigrew has referred to Voldemort as the 'Dark Lord' rather than the more neutral 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named'. He and Sybill Trelawney - and Harry when quoting Trelawney's prophecy - are the only people in the book who use either term to refer to Voldemort.
Interesting that Pettigrew only slipped into this form of referring to Voldemort after he knew that he had no chance of talking his way out of the accusation of being a Voldemort supporter.
"YOU'D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!"
In light of this information, consider Mad-Eye Moody's litany of the names of the members of the Order of the Phoenix killed during the first war against Voldemort - the period when Pettigrew was both a member of the Order and spying for Voldemort (OP9).
Exceptional character moments
The depth of Snape's and Sirius Black's mutual dislike is shown, as Snape prepares to turn Sirius over to the Dementors without further ado, despite the protests of four other people present.
Pettigrew's confession, which has to be squeezed out of him point by point despite the damning fact that he's been alive and in hiding all this time.
Harry's determination - to the point of blocking Pettigrew with his own body - that his father's best friends shouldn't become killers just for Pettigrew's sake.
Harry is shown thinking of Sirius Black as 'Black' throughout this chapter. Only in the next chapter, after he has been convinced of Sirius' innocence, does he begin thinking of his godfather by his given name.
Ron taking the revelation of Scabbers' true identity as a personal insult. For this, he became estranged from Hermione for so many weeks.
"Well, hello, Peter," said Lupin pleasantly, as though rats frequently erupted into old school friends around him. "Long time, no see."
[One of MLW's personal favourites, particularly on the Jim Dale recording of the book. Is Remus Lupin seriously cool, or what? -- MLW ]
"I don't know how I did it," he said slowly. "I think the only reason I never lost my mind is that I knew I was innocent. That wasn't a happy thought, so the Dementors couldn't suck it out of me … but it kept me sane and knowing who I am … helped me keep my powers … so when it all became … too much … I could transform in my cell … become a dog."
"I've heard them screaming all sorts of things in their sleep."
"I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend twelve years as a rat," said Lupin evenly.
"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" roared Black. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld (Pottermore):
Tumbler (jonsnowhite): Animagi by J K Rowling
Harry Potter Wiki:
Dwelling on Dreams podcast blog: Animagus Forms, and The People Who Have Them
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) feature: