Is Peter Pettigrew Dead?

by Dave

I was reading through the series for the fifth time when something odd occurred to me. Throughout OotP, Pettigrew fails to make a single appearance, be it in visions or in the closing scene at the Department of Mysteries. In fact, he isn’t mentioned in OotP at all! Why on earth would a character who has been essential to the plots of the last two books, and whom we know to be indebted to Harry, simply disappear? One distinct possibility (I’m actually shocked that I’ve never seen the theory elsewhere) is that he is dead.

We are all well aware of the connection between Peter and Harry: because of Harry’s intervention when Sirius and Lupin attempted to kill the little rat (no pun intended). Of course, it has been questioned many times when, or even if, Pettigrew will repay his debt. Using subtle hints from the book, I find there is a distinct possibility that he already has.

As what I am saying is based mostly on subtle hints, there is not a lot of solid evidence, so I will give what I have first. We saw the initial hint of the connection forged on pages 8-9 of GoF as Pettigrew attempts to persuade Babymort to use another wizard by saying there is no necessity in the elaborate plan to capture Harry Potter. While he insists, of course, that this has nothing to do with concern for Harry, we all know, as he constantly reminds us (the reason is later explained by Snape), you cannot lie to Lord Voldemort (unless of course you’re an accomplished Occlumens).

The scene where I believe Pettigrew may have intervened takes place in the graveyard. Read the following excerpt carefully:

Ten feet from Cedric, Harry dived behind a marble angel to avoid the jets of red light and saw the tip of its wing shatter as the spells hit it. Gripping his wand more tightly, he dashed out from behind the angel–

Impedimenta!” he bellowed, pointing his wand wildly over his shoulder at the Death Eaters running at him.

From a muffled yell, he thought he had stopped at least one of them, but there was not time to stop and look… (GoF, pg. 668)

Now, of course, I could be overanalyzing things — I do have that unfortunate habit — but something stood out to me here when I looked at it a second time. We have seen the Impediment jinx many times throughout GoF and OotP. Just to review (I will use only human examples), we have seen Madam Hooch use the spell on Harry, Sirius Black use the spell on Snape, and a Death Eater use it on Harry, Hermione, and Neville. However, if you go back and read these scenes, there is no mention at all of any of the targets screaming. Yes, I am aware that Ms. Rowling may simply not have mentioned this, but if you have spent as much time with these books as I have (and likely, many of you have spent more), it is very rare for anything of this type to be left out. One of the great pleasures of reading these books is how much she details action and sound.

There’s always the possibility that Harry’s jinxes are much more powerful than those the others used, but let me remind you that Madam Hooch is a fully grown and fully trained wizard, and we know from Lupin that Sirius and James were among the most powerful students at the time we saw them. Also, as was specifically pointed out, Harry never looked back to see what had happened.

I can’t say I would be shocked to find out that Pettigrew had cursed one of the other Death Eaters as Harry ran. Of course this is not something Voldemort would take sitting down. More than likely, as this is Pettigrew’s second betrayal, his punishment may have been death. Then again, there’s always the possibility that he was killed simply because he had outlived his usefulness.