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How Peeves the poltergeist wreaked havoc at Hogwarts

With his wicked eyes, wide mouth and evil cackle, Peeves the poltergeist was a ‘seamless blend of humour and malice’, according to J.K. Rowling. Here are some of the ways Peeves wreaked havoc at Hogwarts.

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‘Ickle firsties! What fun!’

The first time Harry Potter met Peeves, he was floating cross-legged in the air, ready to swoop and pelt the unsuspecting first-years with walking sticks. Percy Weasley warned them to watch out for this pesky poltergeist – he could only be controlled by the Bloody Baron and, to Percy’s astonishment, ‘won’t even listen to us Prefects’. Oh, Percy.

‘GOT YOUR CONK!’

The new arrivals at Hogwarts had plenty to get their head around, with common room passwords to memorise, Quidditch rules to remember and spells to learn. Added to that was the risk of an invisible Peeves sneaking up behind them, grabbing their noses and screeching, ‘GOT YOUR CONK!’ Just what you need when running late to Potions class…

‘Naughty, naughty, you’ll get caughty...’

Sneaking around the castle corridors at night was doubly tricky when there was a poltergeist ready to pounce. Especially one who took great delight in telling tales – and the more desperate you were for him to keep quiet, the louder he became…

‘Peeves cackled. ‘Wandering around at midnight, ickle firsties? Tut, tut, tut. Naughty, naughty, you’ll get caughty.’
‘Not if you don’t give us away, Peeves, please.’
‘Should tell Filch, I should,’ said Peeves in a saintly voice, but his eyes glittered wickedly. ‘It’s for your own good, you know.’
‘Get out of the way,’ snapped Ron, taking a swipe at Peeves – this was a big mistake.
‘STUDENTS OUT OF BED!’ Peeves bellowed. ‘STUDENTS OUT OF BED DOWN THE CHARMS CORRIDOR!’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

‘Heard you talking about poor Myrtle...’

Gossiping was a dangerous habit when there was a menace like Peeves waiting – or hovering – in the wings. And he had no qualms in making social situations as awkward as inhumanly possible:

‘Rude you was about poor Myrtle.’ He took a deep breath and bellowed, ‘OY! MYRTLE!’
‘Oh, no, Peeves, don’t tell her what I said, she’ll be really upset,’ Hermione whispered frantically. ‘I didn’t mean it, I don’t mind her – er, hello, Myrtle.’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

As if embarrassing Hermione and making Moaning Myrtle even moanier wasn’t enough, Peeves chased after the sobbing ghost, pelting her with mouldy peanuts, yelling, ‘Spotty! Spotty!’ Talk about adding insult to injury.

Guests dancing at Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘Why, it’s potty wee Potter!’

When Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick were discovered in a Petrified state, rumours abounded that Harry was to blame. Unsurprisingly, Peeves was happy to perpetuate the myth:

As the teachers bent over Justin and Nearly Headless Nick, examining them, Peeves broke into song:
‘Oh Potter, you rotter, oh what have you done?
You’re killing off students, you think it’s good fun –’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

And Peeves, being Peeves, wasn’t going to let it go either:

‘He kept popping up in the crowded corridors singing ‘Oh Potter, you rotter ...’, now with a dance-routine to match.’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

‘Loony, loopy Lupin!’

Peeves tended to show a degree of respect towards the teachers, so it was something of a surprise when he started taunting Professor Remus Lupin while stuffing the nearest keyhole with chewing gum. Fortunately, Lupin took it all in his stride; with one deft ‘Waddiwasi!’ the chewing gum was in Peeves’s left nostril and he zoomed away, cursing. Reason to love Remus #108.

‘Little squirts! Wheeeeeeeeee!’

Being yelled at by an angry Professor McGonagall would stop us in our tracks; not so Peeves. Upon Ron’s arrival for his fourth year, he was left drenched from Peeves’s water bomb, before the cackling poltergeist soaked some second-years. He was warned off by McGonagall in the end, but somehow we doubt he cared:

Peeves stuck out his tongue, threw the last of his water bombs into the air, and zoomed off up the marble staircase, cackling insanely.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

‘Give her hell from us, Peeves.’

Peeves took Fred Weasley’s parting order very seriously, and for that we salute him. For once he was harnessing his destructive energy towards someone who deserved it, tormenting Dolores Umbridge:

Peeves smashed lanterns and snuffed out candles, juggled burning torches over the heads of screaming students, caused neatly stacked piles of parchment to topple into fires or out of windows; flooded the second floor when he pulled off all the taps in the bathrooms, dropped a bag of tarantulas in the middle of the Great Hall during breakfast and, whenever he fancied a break, spent hours at a time floating along after Umbridge and blowing loud raspberries every time she spoke.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In fact, even Professor McGonagall quietly endorsed Peeves’s behaviour:

Indeed, a week after Fred and George’s departure Harry witnessed Professor McGonagall walking right past Peeves, who was determinedly loosening a crystal chandelier, and could have sworn he heard her tell the poltergeist out of the corner of her mouth, ‘It unscrews the other way.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

‘. . . wheeeeeeeeeeee!’

During the Battle of Hogwarts, Peeves threw himself into defending the castle with his usual gusto, ‘...dropping Snargaluff pods down on to the Death Eaters, whose heads were suddenly engulfed in wriggling, green tubers like fat worms.’

Even amidst the grief and celebration of Voldemort’s defeat, Peeves put his own final, mischievous stamp on proceedings:

‘We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the One,
And Voldy’s gone mouldy, so now let’s have fun!’

As Ron noted, it: ‘Really gives a feeling for the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn’t it?’

From Peeves, we wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Lord Voldemort is killed by his own rebounding spell in a battle against Harry in the great hall from the Deathly Hallows.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.