Finally confronting Pettigrew

Remus, Sirius, Harry, Ron and Hermione interrogate Ron's former rat

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

‘Well, hello, Peter,’ said Lupin pleasantly, as though rats frequently erupted into old schoolfriends around him. ‘Long time, no see.’

‘S-Sirius ... R-Remus ...’ Even Pettigrew’s voice was squeaky. Again, his eyes darted towards the door. ‘My friends ... my old friends ...’

Black’s wand arm rose, but Lupin seized him around the wrist, gave him a warning look, then turned again to Pettigrew, his voice light and casual.

‘We’ve been having a little chat, Peter, about what happened the night Lily and James died. You might have missed the finer points while you were squeaking around down there on the bed –’

‘Remus,’ gasped Pettigrew, and Harry could see beads of sweat breaking out over his pasty face, ‘you don’t believe him, do you ... He tried to kill me, Remus ...’

‘So we’ve heard,’ said Lupin, more coldly. ‘I’d like to clear up one or two little matters with you, Peter, if you’d be so –’

‘He’s come to try and kill me again!’ Pettigrew shrieked suddenly, pointing at Black, and Harry saw that he used his middle finger, because his index was missing. ‘He killed Lily and James and now he’s going to kill me, too ... you’ve got to help me, Remus ...’

Black’s face looked more skull-like than ever as he stared at Pettigrew with his fathomless eyes.

‘No one’s going to try and kill you until we’ve sorted a few things out,’ said Lupin.

‘Sorted things out?’ squealed Pettigrew, looking wildly about him once more, eyes taking in the boarded windows and, again, the only door. ‘I knew he’d come after me! I knew he’d be back for me! I’ve been waiting for this for twelve years!’


‘You knew Sirius was going to break out of Azkaban?’ said Lupin, his brow furrowed. ‘When nobody has ever done it before?’

‘He’s got Dark powers the rest of us can only dream of!’ Pettigrew shouted shrilly. ‘How else did he get out of there? I suppose He Who Must Not Be Named taught him a few tricks!’


Black started to laugh, a horrible, mirthless laugh that filled the whole room.


‘Voldemort, teach me tricks?’ he said.


Pettigrew flinched as though Black had brandished a whip at him.


‘What, scared to hear your old master’s name?’ said Black. ‘I don’t blame you, Peter. His lot aren’t very happy with you, are they?’

‘Don’t know – what you mean, Sirius –’ muttered Pettigrew, his breathing faster than ever. His whole face was shining with sweat now.

‘You haven’t been hiding from me for twelve years,’ said Black. ‘You’ve been hiding from Voldemort’s old supporters. I heard things in Azkaban, Peter ... they all think you’re dead, or you’d have to answer to them ... I’ve heard them screaming all sorts of things in their sleep. Sounds like they think the double-crosser double-crossed them. Voldemort went to the Potters’ on your information ... and Voldemort met his downfall there. And not all Voldemort’s supporters ended up in Azkaban, did they? There are still plenty out here, biding their time, pretending they’ve seen the error of their ways ... If they ever got wind that you were still alive, Peter –’

‘Don’t know ... what you’re talking about ...’ said Pettigrew again, more shrilly than ever. He wiped his face on his sleeve and looked up at Lupin. ‘You don’t believe this – this madness, Remus –’

‘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.

‘Innocent, but scared!’ squealed Pettigrew. ‘If Voldemort’s supporters were after me, it was because I put one of their best men in Azkaban – the spy, Sirius Black!’

Black’s face contorted.
‘How dare you,’ he growled, sounding suddenly like the bear-sized dog he had been. ‘I, a spy for Voldemort? When did I ever sneak around people who were stronger and more powerful than myself? But you, Peter – I’ll never understand why I didn’t see you were the spy from the start. You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you? It used to be us ... me and Remus ... and James ...’

Pettigrew wiped his face again; he was almost panting for breath.

‘Me, a spy ... must be out of your mind ... never ... don’t know how you can say such a –’

‘Lily and James only made you Secret-Keeper because I suggested it,’ Black hissed, so venomously that Pettigrew took a step backwards. ‘I thought it was the perfect plan ... a bluff ... Voldemort would be sure to come after me, would never dream they’d use a weak, talentless thing like you ... it must have been the finest moment of your miserable life, telling Voldemort you could hand him the Potters.’

Pettigrew was muttering distractedly; Harry caught words like ‘far-fetched’ and ‘lunacy’, but he couldn’t help paying more attention to the ashen colour of Pettigrew’s face, and the way his eyes continued to dart towards the windows and door.

‘Professor Lupin?’ said Hermione timidly. ‘Can – can I say something?’

‘Certainly, Hermione,’ said Lupin courteously.

‘Well – Scabbers – I mean, this – this man – he’s been sleeping in Harry’s dormitory for three years. If he’s working for You Know Who, how come he never tried to hurt Harry before now?’

‘There!’ said Pettigrew shrilly, pointing at Hermione with his maimed hand. ‘Thank you! You see, Remus? I have never hurt a hair of Harry’s head! Why should I?’

‘I’ll tell you why,’ said Black. ‘Because you never did anything for anyone unless you could see what was in it for you. Voldemort’s been in hiding for twelve years, they say he’s half-dead. You weren’t about to commit murder right under Albus Dumbledore’s nose, for a wreck of a wizard who’d lost all his power, were you? You’d want to be quite sure he was the biggest bully in the playground before you went back to him, wouldn’t you? Why else did you find a wizard family to take you in? Keeping an ear out for news, weren’t you, Peter? Just in case your old protector regained strength, and it was safe to rejoin him ...’

Pettigrew opened his mouth and closed it several times. He seemed to have lost the ability to talk.


‘Er – Mr Black – Sirius?’ said Hermione timidly.


Black jumped at being addressed like this and stared at Hermione as though being spoken to politely was something he’d long forgotten.

‘If you don’t mind me asking, how – how did you get out of Azkaban, if you didn’t use Dark Magic?’

‘Thank you!’ gasped Pettigrew, nodding frantically at her. ‘Exactly! Precisely what I –’

But Lupin silenced him with a look. Black was frowning slightly at Hermione, but not as though he was annoyed with her. He seemed to be pondering his answer.

‘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. Dementors can’t see, you know ...’ He swallowed.

‘They feel their way towards people by sensing their emotions ... 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, so it didn’t trouble them. But I was weak, very weak, and I had no hope of driving them away from me without a wand ...

‘But then I saw Peter in that picture ... I realised he was at Hogwarts with Harry ... perfectly positioned to act, if one hint reached his ears that the Dark Side was gathering strength again ...’

Pettigrew was shaking his head, mouthing noiselessly, but staring all the while at Black as though hypnotised.

‘... ready to strike the moment he could be sure of allies ... to deliver the last Potter to them. If he gave them Harry, who’d dare say he’d betrayed Lord Voldemort? He’d be welcomed back with honours ...

‘So you see, I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Peter was still alive ...’

Harry remembered what Mr Weasley had told Mrs Weasley. ‘The guards say he’s been talking in his sleep ... always the same words ...“He’s at Hogwarts”.’

‘It was as if someone had lit a fire in my head, and the Dementors couldn’t destroy it ... it wasn’t a happy feeling ... it was an obsession ... but it gave me strength, it cleared my mind. So, one night when they opened my door to bring food, I slipped past them as a dog ... it’s so much harder for them to sense animal emotions that they were confused ... I was thin, very thin ... thin enough to slip through the bars ... I swam as a dog back to the mainland ... I journeyed north and slipped into the Hogwarts grounds as a dog ... I’ve been living in the Forest ever since ... except when I come to watch the Quidditch, of course ... you fly as well as your father did, Harry ...’

He looked at Harry, who did not look away.

‘Believe me,’ croaked Black. ‘Believe me. I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.’

And at long last, Harry believed him. Throat too tight to speak, he nodded.

‘No!’

Pettigrew had fallen to his knees as though Harry’s nod had been his own death sentence. He shuffled forward on his knees, grovelling, his hands clasped in front of him as though praying.

‘Sirius – it’s me ... it’s Peter ... your friend ... you wouldn’t ...’ Black kicked out and Pettigrew recoiled.
‘

There’s enough filth on my robes without you touching them,’ said Black.


‘Remus!’ Pettigrew squeaked, turning to Lupin instead, writhing imploringly in front of him. ‘You don’t believe this ... Wouldn’t Sirius have told you they’d changed the plan?’

‘Not if he thought I was the spy, Peter,’ said Lupin. ‘I assume that’s why you didn’t tell me, Sirius?’ he said casually over Pettigrew’s head.

‘Forgive me, Remus,’ said Black.

‘Not at all, Padfoot, old friend,’ said Lupin, who was now rolling up his sleeves. ‘And will you, in turn, forgive me for believing you were the spy?’

‘Of course,’ said Black, and the ghost of a grin flitted across his gaunt face. He, too, began rolling up his sleeves. ‘Shall we kill him together?’

‘Yes, I think so,’ said Lupin grimly.

‘You wouldn’t ... you won’t ...’ gasped Pettigrew. And he scrambled around to Ron. ‘Ron ... haven’t I been a good friend ... a good pet? You won’t let them kill me, Ron, will you ... you’re on my side, aren’t you?’

But Ron was staring at Pettigrew with the utmost revulsion.


‘I let you sleep in my bed!’ he said.


‘Kind boy ... kind master ...’ Pettigrew crawled towards Ron, ‘you won’t let them do it ... I was your rat ... I was a good pet ...’


‘If you made a better rat than human, it’s not much to boast about, Peter,’ said Black harshly. Ron, going still paler with pain, wrenched his broken leg out of Pettigrew’s reach. Pettigrew turned on his knees, staggered forwards and seized the hem of Hermione’s robes.

'Sweet girl ... clever girl ... you – you won’t let them ... help me ...’


Hermione pulled her robes out of Pettigrew’s clutching hands and backed away against the wall, looking horrified.


Pettigrew knelt, trembling uncontrollably, and turned his head slowly towards Harry.


‘Harry ... Harry ... you look just like your father ... just like him ...’


‘HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?’ roared Black. ‘HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM? HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?’

‘Harry,’ whispered Pettigrew, shuffling towards him, hands outstretched, ‘Harry, James wouldn’t have wanted me killed ... James would have understood, Harry ... he would have shown me mercy ...’

Both Black and Lupin strode forwards, seized Pettigrew’s shoulders and threw him backwards onto the floor. He sat there, twitching with terror, staring up at them.

‘You sold Lily and James to Voldemort,’ said Black, who was shaking too. ‘Do you deny it?’

Pettigrew burst into tears. It was horrible to watch: he looked like an oversized, balding baby, cowering on the floor.

‘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 –’

‘DON’T LIE!’ bellowed Black. ‘YOU’D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!’

‘He – he was taking over everywhere!’ gasped Pettigrew. ‘Wh-what was there to be gained by refusing him?’

‘What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed?’ said Black, with a terrible fury in his face. ‘Only innocent lives, Peter!’

‘You don’t understand!’ whined Pettigrew. ‘He would have killed me, Sirius!’

‘THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!’ roared Black. ‘DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!’

Black and Lupin stood shoulder to shoulder, wands raised.

‘You should have realised,’ said Lupin quietly. ‘If Voldemort didn’t kill you, we would. Goodbye, Peter.’

Hermione covered her face with her hands and turned to the wall.

‘NO!’ Harry yelled. He ran forwards, placing himself in front of Pettigrew, facing the wands. ‘You can’t kill him,’ he said breathless- ly. ‘You can’t.’

Black and Lupin both looked staggered.

‘Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents,’ Black snarled. ‘This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die, too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family.’

‘I know,’ Harry panted. ‘We’ll take him up to the castle. We’ll hand him over to the Dementors. He can go to Azkaban ... just don’t kill him.’

‘Harry!’ gasped Pettigrew, and he flung his arms around Harry’s knees. ‘You – thank you – it’s more than I deserve – thank you –’

‘Get off me,’ Harry spat, throwing Pettigrew’s hands off him in disgust. ‘I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it because I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted his best friends to become killers – just for you.’

No one moved or made a sound except Pettigrew, whose breath was coming in wheezes as he clutched his chest. Black and Lupin were looking at each other. Then, with one movement, they lowered their wands.

‘You’re the only person who has the right to decide, Harry,’ said Black. ‘But think ... think what he did ...’

‘He can go to Azkaban,’ Harry repeated. ‘If anyone deserves that place, he does ...’

Pettigrew was still wheezing behind him.
‘Very well,’ said Lupin. ‘Stand aside, Harry.’


Harry hesitated.
‘I’m going to tie him up,’ said Lupin. ‘That’s all, I swear.’

Harry stepped out of the way. Thin cords shot from Lupin’s wand this time, and next moment, Pettigrew was wriggling on the floor, bound and gagged.

‘But if you transform, Peter,’ growled Black, his own wand pointing at Pettigrew, too, ‘we will kill you. You agree, Harry?’

Harry looked down at the pitiful figure on the floor, and nodded so that Pettigrew could see him.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling