Dragons, Boggarts, and Ghosts: The Vital Intel Pettigrew Gained While He Was a Rat
When Peter Pettigrew escapes from Hogwarts, he nurses Voldemort back to health and even cuts off his own hand in order to assist Voldemort in his rebirth. But does he also provide something else just as important in helping Voldemort regain his powers? Does he provide information gained while he was masquerading as Scabbers?
Pettigrew was a pet rat in the Weasley family for 12 years, and for three of those years, he lived in the same dorm as Harry Potter, watching him and listening to his conversations. In Harry’s fourth year, Voldemort concocts a complicated and risky plan that involves Barty Crouch, Jr. impersonating Mad-Eye Moody and leading Harry through the Triwizard Tournament. This plan requires extensive knowledge of Harry’s friends, talents, and enemies. Who knows all that information? Peter Pettigrew.
When Crouch, Jr. gets to Hogwarts, his first task is to gain the trust of Harry and his friends. He clearly knew that Harry and Neville are friendly before he arrived since he targets Neville in their very first lesson. It’s possible that Crouch really did hear about Neville’s talent for herbology from Professor Sprout, but it’s also possible that he learned this from Wormtail and had concocted his plan ahead of time. Wormtail has obviously also told Crouch that Malfoy and Harry are enemies, and within his first day at Hogwarts, Crouch sees an opportunity to win Harry’s trust by turning Malfoy into a ferret.
After entering Harry’s name into the tournament, Crouch next has to get Harry through the first task. Crouch already knows that Hagrid loves dragons and that he even went so far as to raise a dragon in his wooden hut. He knows that Hagrid would do anything to help Harry and is not above breaking a few rules to do so. Hagrid, then, is the perfect person to get the information about the dragons to Harry without arousing suspicion. Pettigrew has also told Crouch that Harry is a talented flyer and owns the best racing broom, information that Crouch uses to develop a strategy for Harry to complete the task.
For the second task, Crouch needs Pettigrew’s information more than ever. Harry is procrastinating on solving the egg’s riddle, and Crouch needs someone else to push him in the right direction. He decides to give Cedric information in hopes that he will tell Harry, which could be a risky gamble. However, he already knows Cedric’s character from Pettigrew: When Harry fell off his broom during a Quidditch match, Cedric tried to call a rematch. Cedric is the kind of person who plays fair, and Crouch uses this to his advantage.
Even so, Crouch is still nervous. Does he know about Moaning Myrtle’s obsession with Harry and nudge her toward the prefects’ bathroom to help Harry figure out the egg’s clue? And does he talk to Pettigrew and learn that Dobby loves Harry so much that he will risk his life and his job to help him out? I don’t know, but both seem possible to me.
Crouch’s other worry is that Snape will figure out he’s stealing ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion. But he relies on Snape’s loathing of Harry to help cover his tracks. He knows that Harry and his friends did steal ingredients to make Polyjuice Potion in their second year and that Snape will quickly jump to the conclusion that Harry is the one doing it again. When Harry is about to get caught by Snape, Crouch says, “There’s nothing there, Snape! But I’ll be happy to tell the headmaster how quickly your mind jumped to Harry Potter!” (GoF 473). With this line, Crouch ensures that Snape will be hesitant about talking to Dumbledore about his suspicions, and Crouch gains Harry’s trust by throwing the suspicion onto Snape.
As Barty Crouch, Sr. struggles against the Imperius Curse, the whole plan begins to become precarious. Wormtail, however, used to be Percy’s pet rat and knows exactly how to manipulate Percy. He plays on Percy’s ambition by putting him in charge of the department, and as Ron says, “You know Percy, Crouch left him in charge, he wasn’t going to complain…” (OotP 71). This plan works perfectly until Crouch, Sr. escapes from imprisonment.
In the third task, Crouch needs very specific information about which obstacles in the maze Harry is likely to be able to handle. Crouch knows from Pettigrew that Harry has encountered boggarts and enormous spiders before, so he leaves those in the maze. He knows that Harry (with a lot of help from Hermione) has dealt with logic puzzles, so he takes a gamble on the sphinx. This information allows Harry to get through the maze, grab the cup, and be transported to the graveyard for Voldemort’s rebirth.
Pettigrew may seem like one of Voldemort’s most useless servants, but he has extensive experience hiding in the shadows and acting as a spy, gaining information nobody else can. When Trelawney makes her prediction, she truly does mean that this lowly rat is the only one who can ensure Voldemort’s rebirth.