A Look Back at “What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7”: Chapter 8: “Life Debts and Where They Will Lead Wormtail”
For the past few months, MuggleNet staff have been going through What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 to see which predictions we got right and which ones we got wrong. We have previously discussed Chapters 1 & 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Now we’re on to Chapter 8: “Life Debts and Where They Will Lead Wormtail.”
Before Deathly Hallows came out, most of us were convinced that life debts would have a huge importance in the last book. Some of the MuggleNet crew were so convinced of this that they put a whole chapter about it in this book. So did they get anything right? Let’s find out.
The chapter starts out by introducing the concept of life debts. After that, it starts to discuss different types of life debts and where and when they show up in the series. The first thing that is discussed is life debts between friends. It lists a few instances and then comes to the first conclusion of this chapter, that life debts between friends will not have any importance in the last book. They were right. There was no mention of life debts between friends in the last book.
The chapter then goes on to discuss life debts between enemies, and this is where we get introduced to the reason for this chapter, Wormtail’s life debt to Harry. The book says that “Wormtail’s debt to Harry is big business…” and then goes on to discuss the finer points behind this life debt. A few sentences later, it says, “…the effect it will have on the final outcome of Harry’s war with Voldemort will be huge.” Well, I’m sorry to say this, but it wasn’t that important.
Let’s go over some of the theories for how Wormtail will pay off his life debt. The first theory about this is that Peter will turn on Voldemort and save Harry’s life. This isn’t entirely wrong. Wormtail never turns on Voldemort, but he does save Harry’s life in a way. Peter starts choking Harry when they are in Malfoy Manor. Harry says, “You’re going to kill me…after I saved your life? You owe me, Wormtail!” After that reminder, Peter’s grip around Harry’s throat loosens, and Harry is able to free himself. So in a way, the life debt forces Wormtail to save Harry’s life even if Peter was the one threatening it in the first place.
The next theory is that Peter “…will find himself bound by the impenetrable magic of the life debt. And so, without knowing why, he will save Harry anyway.” This theory is correct. Wormtail was shocked that his hand stopped trying to choke Harry. It seemed almost as if he had lost control of his hand for a moment. In Deathly Hallows, this moment is described as a “tiny, merciful impulse.” Whatever it was, Wormtail did not seem to have full control over himself.
With Dumbledore dead, will Peter feel stronger? The authors of this book surely thought so. “As Book 7 opens, he will stop skulking around in the background; he’ll gain a taste for more action.” Nope, he stays in the background for most of the book until he encounters Harry at Malfoy Manor.
The most interesting theory in this chapter is that Peter knows about the Horcruxes and how to destroy them.
We predict that Harry will be on the verge of killing himself when Wormtail will come to Harry’s aid. Forced by the magic of the life debt, Wormtail will quite unwillingly describe to Harry how it is possible to destroy the Horcrux without destroying the vessel that holds it.”
The authors were very convinced that Harry would be a Horcrux and made this theory about that. Would Harry have to kill himself to destroy the Horcrux? Yes, Harry needed to die to get rid of it, but Wormtail died about two hundred pages before that happened. If he knew about the Horcruxes, he did not tell Harry.
And so Peter’s selfish life will come to an end, as he is cast aside and killed by the master he chose because he has become a liability to him.
Peter does die. His silver hand ends up revolting and chokes him to death. This is all because he hesitated while trying to kill Harry. He wasn’t personally killed by Voldemort. The hand that Voldemort made for him did all the dirty work.
Honestly, I was a little upset that there was so much lead-up to the life debt being important in the last book. I spent years thinking about how this might play out, and in the end, we only got a page and a half with Wormtail and the debt. The life debt played out by Peter hesitating while trying to kill Harry and then killing himself. Way too much build-up with not enough results. This didn’t really change anything. They cut this scene from the movie, and it was barely even noticeable.
Are you reading along with us? What did you think about this chapter? Do you have any thoughts on life debts or Wormtail? Let us know in the comments.