In Chapter 19, we learn the true story about Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Let’s go!
So many things are happening in this chapter, but let’s start with the first one: the confrontation between Sirius Black and Severus Snape. Oh man, they really hate each other, and have from the time the were kids at Hogwarts. Snape went in to deliver Lupin’s potion and saw the Marauder’s Map open, showing everyone heading down the Whomping Willow passage to the Shrieking Shack. And Snape is not in the mood to listen to any explanations. He hates Lupin, he hates Black, and he’s ready to see both delivered to the dementors. Hermione even tries to get him to hear them out, to listen to what they have to say.
“KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!” Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. “DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”
Yeah, that’s not going well.
Black agrees to come quietly as long as they bring Scabbers back to the castle with them, but Snape says they can just call the dementors now. Harry decides to intervene, stepping in front of the door. He knows that Lupin couldn’t possibly be there to hurt him – he’s been alone with Lupin several times throughout the year and nothing has happened. He yells at Snape that he is only holding a schoolboy grudge. Snape doesn’t take that well at all.
“SILENCE! I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!” Snape shrieked, looking madder than ever. “Like father, like son, Potter! I have just saved your neck; you should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he’d killed you! You’d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black – now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!”
Yeah, Snape completely losing it is pretty terrifying. Harry doesn’t hesitate though. He casts a spell that not only disarms Snape, but throws him across the room, knocking him out. Hermione freaks out, saying that they will be in so much trouble now that they’ve attacked a teacher. Really, Hermione?! That’s what you’re worried about here! You’re in so much trouble right now anyway, sweetheart.
But now that they won’t be interrupted again, it’s time for some proof. How did Black know about Scabbers in the first place? He saw the photo in the paper about the Weaselys winning the money to go on their trip to Egypt. Scabbers had been sitting on Ron’s shoulder in the photo and Black recognized him. He also saw that the rat was missing its toe – remember, the only thing they found of Pettigrew was his finger. Black’s story is that when he cornered Pettigrew, it was Pettigrew who caused the explosion, yelling as loud as he could that Black had betrayed the Potters, before transforming and disappearing into the sewer with the other rats.
It makes sense, in a way. Scabbers has lived for a very long time for a rat. And he’s been ill, not since Crookshanks came along (like Ron thinks), but even before that – around the time that Black escaped. Crookshanks, who could tell immediately that something was wrong with Scabbers, also knew that the big black dog wasn’t a real dog. It was Crookshanks who kept trying to bring him Scabbers, who stole the list of passwords, and who helped Black get into Hogwarts.
The whole story about Black being the secret-keeper for the Potters’ hiding place? He decided to change it at the last minute to Pettigrew because he didn’t think anyone would suspect it. Black and Lupin never told each other because they both thought the other one was the spy. Black feels guilty for the Potters’ deaths because he should have been the one protecting them, not because he betrayed their hide out. Enough of that, though. It’s time to prove that, once and for all, Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew. Luckily, there is a spell for that, which Lupin and Black cast together.
It was like watching a speeded-up film of a growing tree. A head was shooting upward from the ground; limbs were sprouting; a moment later, a man was standing where Scabbers had been, cringing and wringing his hands. Crookshanks was spitting and snarling on the bed; the hair on his back was standing up.
Peter Pettigrew, I presume?
Yep. Pettigrew maintains his innocence, claiming to be terrified of the repercussions of Black hunting him down. Terrified of Voldemort’s followers finding him. That was why he hid all those years as a rat. Except, no. He hid because he had sold out the Potters and wanted everyone to think he was dead so he would be safe. He was happy for Black to take the fall for it.
Black also explains how he was able to survive and escape from Azkaban. It had to do with knowing his innocence, which wasn’t a happy thought so the dementors couldn’t steal it, and being able to transform into a dog. Apparently, dementors can’t actually see, so they didn’t see that there was a dog instead of a person. They could just feel the thoughts and emotions of the creature in the cell. Black was able to slip out of his cell and swim to the mainland in his dog form. It was also how he managed to hide in the Forbidden Forest as just another creature.
Finally, after all the words back and forth, Harry realizes that Black is telling the truth. Pettigrew, realizing that his old friends are now going to kill him, appeals to everyone in the room to save him.
“Ron . . . haven’t I been a good friend . . . a good pet? You won’t let them kill me, Ron, will you . . . you’re on my side, aren’t you?”
But Ron was staring at Pettigrew with the utmost revulsion.
“I let you sleep in my bed!” he said.
“Kind boy . . . kind master . . .”Pettigrew crawled toward Ron, “you won’t let them do it . . . I was your rat . . . I was a good pet . . .”
Oh, that’s really creepy, when you think about it. This grown man, disguised as a pet rat, has been living in Ron’s bedroom, sleeping in his bed, for most of Ron’s childhood. Ew ew ewwwww!
Pettigrew maintains that he couldn’t have done anything else. Voldemort was gaining in power and there had been no point in trying to fight him. That’s why he switched sides. He was afraid to be killed. But now, Black and Lupin are going to kill him for what he did. Harry, once again, intervenes, saying that they can’t kill him. He doesn’t think his dad would want his best friends to be murderers. Instead, Pettigrew will go to the dementors, to Azkaban. They tie him up, bandage up Ron’s leg enough for him to walk, float Snape into the air, and head back up through the tunnel, ready to tell the world the true story.
See you next time for Chapter 20!