The Underground Lake #2: The Lost Day, Part 2: The Mystery of Wormtail and Fudge
Peter Pettigrew is a mystery, wrapped up in a riddle, inside an enigma. A point that has always bothered me is when Sirius cornered Pettigrew that Wednesday and Pettigrew blew up the street. McGonagall describes Pettigrew as “hopeless at dueling (Prisoner of Azkaban, 208)” and “was never quite in [James and Sirius’] league talent-wise (PoA, 207).” So how did he blow up a street and kill twelve people? How did someone described as being so inept murder Bertha Jorkins, Cedric Diggory and Frank Bryce with Avada Kedavra, a spell that needs “a powerful bit of magic behind it (Goblet of Fire, 217)”? The answer is with Voldemort’s wand. IF YOU THINK HAVE FOUND ANY GLARINGLY OBVIOUS ERRORS HERE, PROCEED IMMEDIATELY TO THE LOST DAY ADDENDUM, WHICH SHOULD PERHAPS CLEAR UP ANY CONFUSION! How did Voldemort get his wand back in GoF? Voldemort reached in his robe pocket and produced a wand (GoF, 643-5) – robes supplied by Peter Pettigrew. We know that the same wand that killed the Potters killed Cedric, Bertha and Frank. Since Voldemort admitted to killing the Potters and we see Pettigrew kill Cedric and Frank Bryce, we know it’s the same wand. But consider this as well: how was a magical item so powerful and so famous never found, studied and/or destroyed? The answer is that it was taken. The only person in a position to take it was Peter Pettigrew. To those who argue that wands aren’t as effective when not used by their owner, my guess is that anyone doing evil magic could wield that particular wand (especially if in its use, Voldemort could benefit in some way) and do some damage. Voldemort’s wand was no doubt a pro at performing Unforgivable Curses.
But that raises one of my more important questions: when and how did Pettigrew get the wand? By giving us almost 24 hours, J.K. Rowling allows for so many possibilities. Though the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone movie shows Voldemort alone (grant it, in extreme close-up), I think things went slightly different in the book:
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION – #1
Voldemort is brilliant. Let’s make that clear. If Pettigrew, a sniveling brownnoser, came to him with the location of the Potters, Voldemort wouldn’t act without a plan. Not to mention, the information he knows about the Prophecy means that it could be Harry or Neville that will lead to his downfall. He has to have his bases covered (more on the Neville angle a little later.) He forces Pettigrew to accompany him to Godric’s Hollow to ensure it’s not an ambush or sting operation to lead Voldemort right to Dumbledore. When they arrive, Voldemort enters the house, kills the Potters, tries to kill Harry but he, Voldemort, is destroyed. Pettigrew panics. He realizes that when the Death Eaters discover that he led Voldemort to his death, he’s done for. Thinking it might help later, he seizes Voldemort’s fallen wand next to baby Harry and makes a run for it. As he exits the cottage, he realizes suddenly that someone (namely Dumbledore) will soon come to check on the Potters, and that Sirius also will come to check on him as was arranged earlier, discover what happened, put two and two together, and come after him. He’s got to destroy the evidence. He turns Voldemort’s wand on the house and blows it up.
If that could be called simple, that’s the easy answer. But for those JFK conspiracy theorists like me, what if there’s a more interesting answer? What if that answer is Cornelius Fudge?
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION #2
J.K. Rowling has made it clear that Fudge was not a Death Eater. But, we know Fudge to be inept and power-hungry. That is not a stable combination. One of the first things he says about himself when we meet him in Chamber of Secrets is: “Look at it from my point of view. I’m under a lot of pressure. Got to be seen doing something.” All he cares about is perception and how people will look at him. Let us assume that a Junior Minister of the Department of Magical Catastrophes wants to get on the fast track to becoming Minister of Magic. We’ve seen how many departments and committees there are in the magical world in Order of the Phoenix. We also know that everyone wanted Dumbledore to be the next Minister of Magic. Enter ‘Mr. Quick-Fix’ (a.k.a. Voldemort). If you are a dictator and are making a bid to rule the world, you have to start small and work your way up. It helps to have friends on the opposing side in a position to help you out. With Pettigrew as a spy close to the underground resistance (The Order of the Phoenix, if you will) against Voldemort and Fudge in the Ministry in a position not too high to call attention to himself but high enough to have a lot of clearance to confidential information, Voldemort could move covertly in a lot of his deviance by keeping his enemies so close. The Department of Magical Catastrophes is an interesting department to have on your side. A giant crater with 12 dead people is a catastrophe. Isn’t it clever to have someone on your side that can be first on the scene, in a position to control the investigation, eliminate or fabricate evidence, and control the amount of information reported to the ministry and the public, especially during similar catastrophes in the beginning stages of a world takeover? Who do you think was probably in charge of the investigation of Godric’s Hollow once it was discovered? A house and two people under the Fidelius Charm blown up magically seems like a catastrophe to me. Who could make sure no one looked for Voldemort’s wand? Who could control all information ascertained in an investigation like that?
Suppose after blowing up the house, Pettigrew meets up with Fudge. He’s freaking out. He doesn’t know what to do. Consider Fudge’s imagination, thinking of the prestige of being the first person at the ministry to know that Voldemort has fallen and be able to spread the news. Then, remember that it’s nearly twenty-four hours before Sirius discovers Wormtail. Or is he “discovered”? Voldemort is dead and no one knows why. You can make up whatever story you want. According to PoA, Sirius had arranged to check on Pettigrew/Wormtail. Arrangement implies that Dumbledore and Pettigrew probably knew of this impending visit from Sirius and that it was planned in advance. As Wormtail is talking to Fudge, explaining why he must flee, he lets slip that Sirius will know and will be looking for him. What does Fudge say? ‘Let him find you.’ They can set up Sirius to take the fall for betraying the Potters and Wormtail can get away. No one else, except Dumbledore, knows that Pettigrew is the Secret-Keeper. Everyone assumes it is Sirius. Fudge’s office will be in charge of the investigation so he can take care of it. They just need a good cover story and some evidence. They must scour the house for any clues that can be traced back to Peter Pettigrew. It will only cost a finger. The prize: freedom. Not to mention, capturing the man who will be known in the wizarding world as Voldemort’s biggest supporter will be a HUGE feather in Fudge’s cap. When Voldemort falls, no one ever need know about his connection to Fudge. The two of them blow up the house (I say two because if we infer that Godric’s Hollow is named for Godric Gryffindor, the cottage would most likely have to have at least SOME magical protection). And they get away with murder. They hope to be faster than Sirius. And they are.
It can be considered farfetched, but at the same time, possibly not so farfetched. Both of these arguments bring up questions: 1) Since Dumbledore knew that Pettigrew was Secret-Keeper, why didn’t he deduce that it was Pettigrew and not Sirius that betrayed the Potters? 2) And knowing this, why didn’t he lobby to have Sirius released from Azkaban? Using Legilimency, any number of wizards (assuming Sirius wasn’t a Legilimens) could discover that Sirius was innocent. Yes, many questions.