The Underground Lake #37: Where in the World is Wormtail?
I’m back, folks. What is there to say in this case but, “sorry for my absence”? However, know that in my little hiatus I have crafted several entertaining entries that should keep you talking for a bit. So let’s not cry over spilled milk and get at it, shall we?
I believe the title explains it all. Therefore I submit for your entertainment and consideration: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS WORMTAIL?
WELL, NOT QUITE…
In preparation for the hopefully landmark upcoming entry, “Underground Lake #40 – UNDERGROUND THEORY” (I’ll let you all pontificate on that for a bit), I revisited all my entries from Season One of the Underground Lake. I found an interesting piece woven throughout the whole thing: “in Book Six, we will discover what precisely Wormtail has been up to.” Well, not quite, it seems.
If you will recall, I had previously stated that it seemed odd to me in Book Five that Wormtail – after exploding onto the scene in Book Three and subsequently taking a spectacular (and still not paid off) role in Book Four – should be completely absent in Book Five. Now at this point, if you have not already, I must ask you all to go back and read The Underground Lake #15: Legion of the Lost Day Part 2 – The Adventures of Peter Pettigrew (that’s a really long title). Without it as a quick reference, the points I intend to make presently will, well, not make much sense.
LET’S ADDRESS THE OBVIOUS…
Now, let’s take this step-by-step. I asserted in the above piece that TFPWWNBN did not know that Peter Pettigrew was alive and, in fact, no one – save Sirius, Lupin, and the trio – actually saw him in non-Animagus form in Prisoner of Azkaban. This part is still, of course, true. In PoA, no one but those people actually saw him alive. However, post-Book Six, we know that TFPWWNBN obviously knows that Wormtail is alive as they are now living as the most heinous pairing of “The Odd Couple” in recorded history. (Though Bosom Buddies may be more appropriate, what with TFPWWNBN traipsing around in Neville’s imagination in his grandmother’s clothes.)
I contend still that in “Spinner’s End” (Chapter Two, HBP… as if you needed me to tell you) is still one of the most cryptic chapters. On a personal level, I was quite nonplussed to have one of my more clever theories as to Peter’s whereabouts shot down in such a disgusting fashion. Not only is Wormtail not off on some daring secret mission for Voldemort as I suggested, but he’s shacking up with TFPWWNBN and has been ordered to “assist” The Former Professor which, as far as we see, consists solely of snooping behind doors and fetching elf-made wine. He only actually gets almost three pages of “screen time.” It’s pathetic and disappointing, really. No new development in Book Six disappointed me more than that. Then I recalled my thoughts in the article above: “recall what I know about JKR…” and then it hit me. His conspicuous absence in Five went duly noted by me. By bringing him in for three pages, and just three pages, JKR is reminding us that she hasn’t forgotten our little rodent friend. Instead of dismissing him as we are led to believe, she is giving us perhaps the biggest DING! in canon. The great question – Does Voldemort trust TFPWWNBN? – is answered: no. Why? Because Peter is living with him… and that’s not all.
NEW MILLENIUM ODD COUPLE
Why is this new millennium odd couple so intriguing? Let’s take each piece. First, we see where TFPWWNBN lives when he is not at Hogwarts. We learn that since the end of Book Five, Pettigrew has been living with there with him. The fact that The Former Professor treats his presence with such nonchalance means that he has been staying there for quite some time (as in immediately following the battle at the Ministry and possibly even before that). But let’s take another bit: Bellatrix. Bellatrix states a curious phrase that pleases TFPWWNBN: “He… lately, we…” and then stops herself. Those three words, those magical three words. In context, we realize the implication. Between the events at the ministry and Spinner’s End, there has been some falling out between Bellatrix and Voldemort. How? Why? It could be that he blames her for the losing of the Prophecy. She had been charged with its safe return (though again this supports my theory that Voldemort didn’t really need or care about the Prophecy, as she couldn’t have been able to touch it to hand it to him). She failed in her mission, as did the rest of the Death Eaters. And again, of all the notable Death Eaters, which two are absent at the Ministry? Peter and TFPWWNBN.
As mentioned in previous editorials, Voldemort doesn’t trust Peter. He knows full well Peter is only around because he has nowhere else to go (it wouldn’t do well for a dead wizard to be seen traipsing about the wizarding world). The easy answer is that he sent Peter to live with TFPWWNBN because he wanted The Former Professor to watch him and he simply wanted Peter out of the way. However, there is another option: He could have sent Peter to live with TFPWWNBN so that Peter could keep an eye on TFPWWNBN. (To confuse you all EVEN MORE, “The Former Professor Who Will Not Be Named” [a.k.a. TFPWWNBN] will henceforth be known simply as “The Former Professor” or “TFP”; the other was just too exhausting to type. However, this rule still stands: his name shall not be uttered on this column until JKR has given us a viable answer to why he killed Dumbledore). Recall Bellatrix has dropped a few notches in the totem pole as first in the favor of Voldemort. In her place, it seems, TFP has risen to the top. This is a tenuous position. Several people have been Voldemort’s right hand, and things don’t usually turn out well for them (Barty Crouch, Jr. lost his soul, Wormtail lost a hand, Bellatrix lost her self-respect – you know they’re doing it… EWW!). The problem is TFP has denied his master previously and is an OFFICIAL member of the Order of the Phoenix. He is an extremely skilled Occlumens. How much can Voldemort really trust his new right hand?
Enter Wormtail (courtesy of the Department of Redundancy). Wormtail, with his gifts of eavesdropping and snooping, can keep close watch on TFP. Not to mention, if TFP tries the rough stuff, Wormtail need only transform into a rat and scurry away to Voldemort. People underestimate Wormtail. He was powerful enough to (with help) resurrect a dead wizard. He was powerful enough to blow up an entire street, killing a bunch of muggles. He was clever enough to stay transformed as a rat for 12 years when I imagine that Animagi must use a lot of magic and concentration to stay transformed.
So, let’s run with the theory that Wormtail is spying on TFP. Can that be it? No. Here you have two people living together who essentially hate each other. Interesting how enemies usually have one basic element in common: love of power. You see, both TFP and Double-P (there’s another nickname for you, if Peter Pettigrew were a rapper) are triple agents. Essentially they are out for themselves. They have a Survivor alliance. They want to be in the final two. Let me rephrase: They want to position themselves to be on the winning side. Like Renault in Casablanca, the prevailing wind is coming from the forces of evil. TFP recognized that Dumbledore was on his way out. He mentions it in “Spinner’s End,” discussing Dumbledore’s slowing reflexes. Knowing of Voldemort’s plan, he realized by year’s end that Dumbledore, the last and best hope for the resistance, was “on the fall off” as we say in my house, and he realized it was time to make his aggressive move to the other side.
Where does Wormtail fit in this? He’s a floater as well. Seduced by the power of the Dark Lord, he made an aggressive move 16 years ago that massively backfired. History is repeating itself now, and he has once again positioned himself on the side of evil. So I guess the final question is this: can he redeem himself?
The Wormtail Redemption
Everyone has been hung up on Dumbledore’s words about how Wormtail owes Harry a life debt for saving him from Sirius and Remus. That is a magical bond, we are told, and it will come into play soon. Will some overwhelming feeling beyond his control compel him to save Harry? Will he pull a Darth Vader and hurl Voldemort into some big bottomless pit? Or, will he pull a Gollum and accidentally fall into the veil while holding the last Horcrux causing a chain reaction that makes Voldemort’s eyeball explode… wait… I’m mixing my series again. I digress.
I wish I knew that Wormtail was really up to something. I believe he is. I hope he is. Otherwise him living with TFP is just plain creepy.
‘Til we meet again for the next installment – “What If We’re Wrong?” – remember this: THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION.