Weekly Archive
October 13, 2002 - October 19, 2002

RE: TBAY: Arthur Weasley With Imperius Curse and Small Craft Advisories


Says the writing spray-painted on the wall of Hypothetic Alley.

The Alley is eerily deserted these days. Many of the shops are closed and locked, hastily hand-written signs ("Early storm closing," "Back for OoP," "Gone fishing...INLAND") hung in their windows. Old newspapers and discarded chocolate wrappers skitter across the cobbles, borne along by the disturbingly cold wind which has been picking up speed ever since sometime in September. Other than the howling of the wind, the only sound to be heard is the frantic hammering of those few intrepid shopkeepers who have already begun to prepare; they stand on rickety ladders, nailing thick protective boards up over their windows and doors.

Down at the shore itself, stalls have been left abandoned, the docks are desolate. Cigarette butts and grease-spotted wrappings litter the bases of the bins along the promenade, each one cheerily labelled "KEEP THEORY BAY TIDY!" (People have been far less willing to pick up the trash ever since the construction of the Safe House at the far end of the Bay.) A child's bucket and spade sits beside a half-completed sand castle on the empty strand.

Hoarse shouts of workmen drift down from the seawall above the promenade, where a host of citizens is gathered together, hefting huge bags of sand up onto the woefully inadequate barrecades. They yell and gesture and groan as they bustle, every last one of them casting frequent nervous glances above them, to the weather station flagpole on the headland high above the Bay.

Ever since September, there has been a flag flying from that pole.

A single red flag, with a black square in the center.

Small craft advisory.

Hurricane watch.


Veronica walked along the strand, her head bowed over message number 37121. She was so engrossed in her text that she failed to notice the wild-eyed madwoman stumbling in the opposite direction until they had physically collided.

"Repent!" screamed the madwoman.

Veronica staggered backwards, staring. The woman was coated with grime and covered with scratches. Her clothing was ripped and tattered, her hair matted into a single snarl. Her eyes rolled wildly in their sockets.

"Repent!" she screamed again. "The day of reckoning is at hand! Oh, can't you smell it on the air? Can't you hear it in the wind?"

Veronica took another step backwards, but the woman reached out and caught her sleeve in one claw-like hand.

"Didn't you hear about the BBC interview?" she shrieked. "Oh, it is later than you think! It is later than you think!"

"Let go of me!" cried Veronica, tugging at her sleeve. "You—" The filthy remains of a set of battered featherboas around the woman's neck caught her eye. She stopped and stared.

"It's coming!" howled the madwoman. "Batten the hatches! Weigh the anchors! Lower the—"

"Elkins?" gasped Veronica.

The woman stopped. She blinked twice. Her grip on Veronica's sleeve loosened. "Is that really you, Elkins?"

Slowly, the woman let go of Veronica's sleeve. She raised her hand to her eyes, then turned quickly away.

"I..." she muttered. "I...did go by that name. Once. A long time ago. But that was before...before...OH!" She cried. "It's coming! The Author! She is coming back to claim what is Hers! She will divide the Righteous from the Unrighteous, and the Faith-ful from the Subversive! She will—"

"Elkins," said Veronica sternly. "I have been trying to find you. I did try to send you an owl, but it seems to have gone to Dicentra instead..."

"Owl?" Elkins shook her head slowly. "Oh, no," she muttered. "No owls reach old Elkins these days. No, no, no. Elkins is unplottable, you see. Every bit as unplottable as OoP." She laughed shrilly. "Unplottable, yes! Yes! Unplottable! Or so they said!"


"I..." Elkins shook her head again. "No, no, listen, listen to me, don't listen to me, just listen. You really mustn't be out here like this, you know. Not now. Not these days. It's just not safe here anymore. There's a storm coming, you see. Such a storm. Such a big storm." Her head rolled on her neck, and an insane grin spread across her face. "A Perfect Storm," she whispered.

Veronica shivered, then took a deep shaky breath.

"Elkins," she said firmly. "I am not worried about the storm. The storm does not concern me. Because I know, you see, that Arthur Weasley really was under the Imperius Curse."

"Arthur Weasley?" Elkins raised her head, something flickering in her eyes. "Imperius Curse?"

"Yes. I've been trying to—"

"There's..." Elkins swallowed hard. "There's quite a bit canon for that, you know. For Arthur Weasley. With Imperius Curse."

"I know. I've been trying to talk to you about it. Where on earth have you been? What happened to you?"

"I..." Elkins shuddered helplessly. "I've been having terrible dreams," she whispered. "Terrible, terrible. So terrible. I dreamt that it was two weeks from now, and Bloomsbury and Scholastic had both released the Order of the Phoenix simultaneously, as a 'Halloween Surprise.' And...and...and...and our membership soared to over ten thousand, overnight. There were three hundred new messages being posted every hour. And nobody was snipping. And Yahoo kept crashing. And...and...and..." She took a deep breath, then burst into tears. "And none of the FAQs were done!" she wailed. She dropped to her knees and covered her face with her hands, rocking back and forth and sobbing uncontrollably.

Veronica glanced down at the SYCOPHANTS badge pinned to Elkins' lapel. She sighed.

"Yes, yes, yes," she said soothingly. "There, there. Pull yourself together, Elkins. We all knew that it had to happen sooner or later. We've known that for years. It had to happen sometime. No good worrying about it, right? What's coming will come, and..."

"And we'll meet it when it does?" choked Elkins, sniffling.

"Yes. That's right. So, take deep breaths. Try to relax."

Elkins nodded slowly. She took a few deep breaths, wiped her nose on her sleeve, and then hiccuped. Veronica shook her head.

"Dicentra sent me this old post of yours about Arthur Weasley with Imperius," she explained, handing the scroll down to Elkins. "But I'm a bit confused by it. Some of the canon seems to be missing. Do you think that you could help me with it?"

"Help you?" Elkins repeated numbly. "I...let me see." She took the scroll and unfurled it, her hands trembling. She squinted down at it. "Ah, yes," she said hoarsely. "Message 37121. Yes. Canonical evidence for the supposition that Arthur Weasley was a victim of the Imperius Curse during the war. Yes. Yes, yes, it's all coming back to me now."

"Is it all there?"

"Well, let's see now." Elkins reached up to straighten her bent and mangled spectacles. "Evidence that there really were genuine victims of the Imperius Curse. Yes, that's right. Mulciber was said to specialize in the Imperius. Both Hagrid and Sirius talk about the terror of not knowing who was really trustworthy back then. So it certainly does seem that there were real Imperius victims, as well as all of those DEs..."

"Yes," said Veronica quietly.

"And then we have Ludo Bagman's trial. That the DEs bothered to target Bagman suggests that younger ministry officials were often chosen as targets for persuasion or other forms of coopting..."


"And then there's all of this canonical suggestion that Arthur Weasley might hold a particular grudge against Lucius Malfoy. That could just be due to political differences, of course, as well as to lingering schoolboy rivalries. But it could also be because Lucius falsely claimed the same excuse to which Arthur had a truly legitimate claim."


"And then there's Crouch/Moody's DADA class..."

"Oh, I really like that part!" Veronica interjected. "I love the symmetry (as you described it) of that scene. It says so much about Moody!Crouch that he brings attention to Neville in regards to Cruciatus (which for some reason is always Crustaceous in my head), and Harry in regards to AK. It just adds a nice parallel that if Arthur had been enslaved at some point by the Imperius that he call on Ron."

Elkins blinked, then smiled. "That's always been my favorite part too," she admitted shyly. "It's the lynchpin of the entire theory, really." She glanced back down at the scroll in her hands. "And then there are those hints of a Weasley vulnerability to Imperius..."

"It does make sense that some families might be more vulnerable to the Imperius curse," said Veronica. "After all children of alcoholics are more likely to be alcoholics. Perhaps there is a gene that some have that make them less able to fight off that curse. That would explain why Ron has a more difficult time with that curse in DADA class."

"It could be," agreed Elkins. "Also, Ginny succumbed quite readily to Riddle's diary, which would seem to be a similar type of magic, don't you think? Mental domination. You really do have to be careful with this one, though," she warned, looking up owlishly from the scroll. "This one can get you into some trouble. A lot of people balk when it comes to this piece of canon, because they don't like the idea that such a weakness might be genetic, rather than a matter of pure personal willpower. They find that notion very thematically shaky. And many people also point out that none of the students in Harry's class has very much luck with the Imperius Curse..."

"Yes, Susanne said that," said Veronica. "She provided this canon, from Chapter Fifteen:

Lavender Brown imitated a squirrel. Neville performed a series of quite astonishing gymnastics he would certainly not have been capable of in his normal state. Not one of them seemed to be able to fight off the curse, and each of them recovered only when Moody had removed it.

"Susanne has a point," admitted Elkins.

"Yes," said Veronica. "But Susanne also gave us this bit of canon, from the same chapter:

"Yeah, I know," said Ron, who was skipping on every alternate step. He had had much more difficulty with the curse than Harry, though Moody assured him the effects would wear off by lunchtime.

So while it's true that nobody other than Harry could resist the curse, Ron is still the only person that JKR specifies actually suffering from lingering after-effects after the class!"

"Why, yes!" Elkins flashed a slightly startled smile. "Yes! Well done!"

"But as for myself," Veronica continued thoughtfully. "I think Moody is the key to this whole theory. Why was it Arthur who had to help out Moody the morning the kids left for Hogwarts?"

"An excellent question!" exclaimed Elkins, sitting up straighter. "And why is Molly so quick to rebuke the Twins for making fun of the paranoid old coot? In fact, I think that I talked about that somewhere in this post..."

She looked down at the scroll in her hands, then frowned. She turned it over. She shook her head.

"Now that's odd," she said. "I could have sworn that...OH! Oh yes, I see now. This is only the short version. That's why you couldn't find all the canon in it."

"That's the short version?"

"Yes. There's a longer one that I posted later on. One with more canon. And options on Missing Weasley Child and Seventh Son, as well. And even a Filicide!Arthur option, if you like that sort of thing."

"I don't," said Veronica rather severely, frowning at Elkins' bloody featherboas.

"I'm sure that I have it here somewhere..." Elkins fished about in her pockets, then pulled out an even thicker document. "Ah, yes. Here it is."

"This one also adds Arthur's reluctance to expose himself to the Veela's charms at the QWC," explained Elkins, handing it up to Veronica. "And evidence of a Voldemort-related skeleton in the Weasley family closet. And—"

"And Moody?" asked Veronica excitedly.

"And Moody."

"Moody and Arthur's relationship interests me," said Veronica. "It could just be that they are old friends, but my gut tells me there is something more here. Perhaps, as I think you suggested (forgive me if it was someone else), it was Moody that investigated his case. I personally don't see Moody doing much investigating; I think perhaps he "caught" Arthur, or the person doing the spell, and broke the spell. Still, I think Moody was involved in clearing his name, thus the deep respect on Arthur's part."

"Hmmmm." Elkins thought about this for a moment. "Well, I do think that Moody was probably an investigator," she said. "Certainly Snape seems utterly unsurprised at the idea that Crouch/Moody might be searching his office. And when Crouch/Moody congratulates Harry and Hermione on having the right mindset to become Aurors, he's talking about investigative thinking, isn't he? Detective work.

"But still," she added. "Even if you're right, even if all that Moody did was to bring Arthur in for questioning—you know, without actually AKing the poor man or Crucio'ing him or using the Imperius to make him come quietly—well, that in and of itself would have been enough to earn Arthur's gratitude, I should think. After all, we know how some Aurors were behaving themselves back in those days. So whether Moody actually investigated Arthur's case or helped to break the curse or merely apprehended him, it still works out."

"True," said Veronica.

"Of course," added Elkins. "This canon is the one that tends to bring all of those 'Arthur Weasley Was Himself Once An Auror' people out of the woodwork. I've never cared for that one myself, although its adherents are lovely people, and they do scout up some interesting canon. Still. Imperio'd!Arthur just makes more sense to me."

"There's no reason he can't be both," pointed out Veronica. "He could have been an Auror and under the Imperius Curse."

"Oh, I suppose so," said Elkins irritably. "I just don't like Auror!Arthur, that's all. It doesn't work for me at all on the grounds of characterization. But whatever. If you like Arthur as an Auror, then that's okay. De gustibus, and all that."

"I have another piece of evidence for Imperio'd!Arthur, I think," offered Veronica shyly.

"You do?" Elkins brightened. "What is it?"

"Well," said Veronica. "Another idea, perhaps part of the reason Arthur never advanced far in the MOM, apart from his love of all things Muggle, is that he is still partly ashamed of what he might have done--even though he wasn't conscious of his actions."

Elkins thought about this for a moment. Then, suddenly, she smiled. She rummaged through her pockets, pulled out a small canon, and laid it down on the sand with an ill-concealed air of triumph.

"How's that?" she asked.

The canon read:

"There is work to be done," he said. "Molly... am I right in thinking that I can count on you and Arthur?"

"Of course you can," said Mrs. Weasley. She was white to the lips, but she looked resolute. "We know what Fudge is. It's Arthur's fondness for Muggles that has held him back at the Ministry all these years. Fudge thinks he lacks proper wizarding pride."

"Now why is Molly so quick to leap to her husband's defense like that?" asked Elkins excitedly. "She sounds just a wee bit defensive there, don't you think? She's very keen to pin her husband's lack of promotion on his political beliefs, and on Fudge's. But why must she feel the need to say as much? And why bring it up right after Dumbledore has asked if he can count on them? And why is she white to the lips? What is she really responding to with this statement?"

"She's responding to what she fears might be Dumbledore's implication that Arthur cannot be counted on because he was once under the Imperius Curse," answered Veronica promptly. "And to the unspoken implication that his lack of advancement in his job might be due to his unfortunate past, rather than to Fudge's political bias."


"Imperius Curse," said Veronica simply.

"Imperius Curse," agreed Elkins.

They smiled at each other.

"Oh!" Elkins jumped. "I nearly forgot! I have a new Imperio'd!Arthur canon as well." She reached into her pockets again. "Actually," she admitted, "I outright stole this one from Eileen Lucky_Kari. But since we're on this topic... Ah. Here it is."

She pulled out another small canon, this one from PoA, and lay it on the sand beside the first. This one read:

"Forget it, Harry," said George bracingly. "Dad had to go out to Azkaban one time, remember, Fred? And he said it was the worst place he'd ever been, he came back all weak and shaking.... They suck the happiness out of a place, dementors. Most of the prisoners go mad in there."

"Curious, isn't that?" asked Elkins. "Why does someone in Misuse of Muggle Artifacts visit Azkaban? That doesn't really seem part of his job description, does it? And George's phrasing is rather ambiguous as well. It's possible that he's just recounting something that their father once told them happened, rather than an actual memory. Did the Twins actually see their father come back all weak and shaking? Or is George just saying that Arthur said that he came back weak and shaking? Is George reminding Fred of an actual event, or of being told an anecdote? Could Arthur have altered the details slightly, so that he could tell the Twins about Azkaban without actually admitting that he'd ever been imprisoned?"

"Why would Arthur want to tell his children about Azkaban at all?" asked Veronica.

"If you had children like the Twins," answered Elkins grimly, fingering her PRATTLESNAKES badge. "Wouldn't you want to impress upon them the horrors of Azkaban?"

"Well...maybe," conceded Veronica dubiously. "Maybe I would. But Arthur was acquitted, surely. So would he ever really have been guarded by dementors?"

"Yes, quite likely he would have, because in the Penseive scene, Barty pleads with his father not to send him back to the dementors, even though he is not found guilty until the end of the scene. So it would seem that prisoners are held by the dementors even while awaiting trial. And that means that even though Arthur was eventually acquitted, he still could have spent some time in Azkaban, the poor man."

"LAW CAMERA," murmured Veronica.


"Lovable Arthur Weasley Controlled And Manipulated by Evil Riddle Anagram."

Elkins' jaw dropped. "You acronymed Imperio'd!Arthur?"

"Twice. I also came up with DARE DEVILS - Dear Arthur Ruthlessly Enslaved by Death Eater Villains to Instigate Lamentable Situations. It's all in the letter I sent you. The one you never got."

"Sorry," said Elkins. "Yeah. Um. Sorry about that. I was, er...I was..." She looked down at herself and winced. "Um," she said. "I'm really rather a mess, actually. Aren't I."

"You are, rather," said Veronica, not unkindly. "But what I really wanted to know is: why does this theory not have a vessel? Why does it not have a name? Why couldn't I find it in any of the Alleys?"

"Well, nobody ever really cared enough about this theory to turn it into a vessel. Usually poor old Imperio'd!Arthur just gets treated as a food item. Teacakes, you know. Crunchy canony goodness. A filling and nutritious breakfast. That sort of thing."

"Well, what good is that?" demanded Veronica crossly. "I want to see this theory sailing out there in the Bay! Why isn't it?"

"It's not my fault that no one ever made it into a ship! I couldn't do it myself, you know. It just isn't done. So I waited and waited for someone else to make it into a vessel. I hinted and I hinted. For months on end. But no one ever took the bait. Unless, that is..." Elkins looked away, blushing slightly. "I mean, know. If you...that is, only if you really wanted to, of course..."

"I don't know how."

"No?" Elkins blinked. "Oh," she said. "Well, you just need to pick a nautical metaphor to represent the theory. You need to literalize it, you know. Concretize it. Give it flesh. Sort of like Voldemort's rebirthing ritual. Except, er...less nasty, of course. Usually." She picked herself up off of the beach and started brushing the sand off of her knees. "So if you'll just give me time to work the terribly complicated and involved Literalysis ritual..."


Elkins smiled slightly. "Actually, I was lying about it being complicated and involved," she said. "Look out in the Bay."

Veronica turned and looked out to sea. Far out in the harbor, a large trimaran bobbed and lurched in the uncharacteristically choppy waters.

"Why a trimaran?" she asked.

"Oh, I don't know. Because a trimaran is a ship with three hulls? For those three Unforgivable curses in the DADA class? Symmetry? Although really, I'm not altogether sure whether three of something can technically be called symmetry. But..." Elkins sighed. "Yeah, okay. The trimaran's lame. Sorry. It was the best I could come up with. After all, you can't expect miracles, can you? Given that only two pages ago I was a gibbering lunatic, I think that I'm doing rather well, myself."

"No, no," Veronica hastened to reassure her. "It looks fine, Elkins. Really. I'm very impressed."

"You most certainly are," agreed Elkins grimly.

"What?" Veronica blinked as Elkins advanced on her. "What?" she cried. "Ow! What are you—"

"I'm impressing you. There." Elkins stepped back, tilted her head to one side, and then nodded. "Perfect. You make a lovely Captain."

"What?" Veronica raised a hand to the hat that Elkins had just shoved onto her head. "I..."

"The trimaran's yours, Captain. I bequeath it to you. Now, you'll want to remember to add those two new canons." Elkins gestured down to the two new canons lying on the beach. "And to tighten the screws on some of those old ones as well. Especially the Weasley Vulnerability To Mind Control. That's where you're weakest, you know, especially once the CRAB contingent comes out in force. You'll also want to—"

"Wait! Hold up! I'm not sure that I want to—"

"Too late. This is an Imperius Curse theory, after all. So its Captain really has to have been ushered into service against her will, don't you think? It's only proper."

"But isn't this really your—"

"Look," sighed Elkins. "I'm really not very good at Captaining, to tell you the truth. It just doesn't suit my persona. TBAY!Elkins is a mad subversive theorist with histrionic tendencies, not an authority figure. Whenever people try to make her into an authority figure, things get ugly. Trust me. You so totally do not want to go there."


"The trimaran wound up rather larger than I intended, but I think that it will have to be, just to house all of those crewmembers that I just know you're going to be recruiting."


"You'll do a great job. I just know it. Just don't forget to man the canons. And save me a stateroom, if you would. And a seat at the Captain's table. And listen...let the Filicide!Arthur and the Auror!Arthur and the Seventh Son people have their own quarters, okay? Even if you don't much like their versions of this theory, inclusivity is always a wise policy. Just look at how well it worked for the Good Ship LOLLIPOPS!"


"I'll bet Richelle will do a great job of keeping her fellow FEATHERBOAS-wearing Filicide fans in line. She may be bloody-minded, but she's also compassionate. Watch out for the Big Bang Destroyer. Imperio'd!Arthur is pretty Bangy, but you still don't want to let yourself get tied too closely to the Destroyer, because then you'll have to worry about Cindy and her Big Paddle. Oh. And don't serve too much PIE."


"PIE. Percy Is Evil. I absolutely adore Percy. So if I hear too much Evil!Percy talk coming from this ship, I'll be forced to come back and scuttle it. Understood?"


"Oh," said Elkins. "Right. And one last thing, Captain. I'd see to those lifeboats, if I were you. Just in case, you know. Just in case. Because there is a storm coming."

"Yes," sighed Veronica. "So I've heard."



Posted October 13, 2002 at 4:18 pm
Topics: ,
Plain text version


RE: Peter Pettigrew Is Ever So Brave

Ani wrote:

Likewise, if Peter were the token Slytherin or Hufflepuff, well *grumble*

Grumble indeed!

I quite agree, Ani. Even leaving aside for the moment the fact that people are sorted at the tender age of eleven, and that life does have a way of wearing us down (especially in times of war), I think Peter's a pretty good Gryffindor, myself. The only one of the Sorting Hat's stated criteria that he does not fulfill is chivalry.

Let's look at what the Sorting Hat has told us about those criteria, shall we?

What are the characteristics of House Gryffindor?

From PS/SS:

"brave at heart"

From GoF:


Hmmm. Funny, isn't it? I don't see "integrity" anywhere on the list. Nor do I see a single mention of "pride," "stoicism," or "courage." I don't see "wisdom" either—although I did see that mentioned as a Ravenclaw characteristic. I don't see "loyalty"—that's Hufflepuff. Nor do I see any clause about "those who do not betray their friends to the enemy." Ironically enough, the closest thing to that criterion that the Hat has ever cited has been attributed to House Slytherin.

So why all this dismay over the Sorting of Peter Pettigrew?

Becky wrote:

Remember, moral bravery is not the same thing as bravery.

No. It isn't. In fact, we don't generally call it "moral bravery" at all, do we? That phrase sounds quite strange and awkward to a native English speaker. It sounds all wrong.

It sounds wrong because in idiomatic English, when we speak of moral bravery, we do not generally refer to it as "bravery" at all. Instead, we tend to refer to that quality as "moral courage."

There's a subtle but important connotative difference between the two words. "Bravery" implies physical courage. It is not often used to refer to moral or spiritual integrity. When we willingly risk physical harm, injury or death, for example, we call that "braving danger." But when we stand up for what is right, when we act on our sense of moral integrity, then we call it "having the courage of our convictions."

Naturally, the two concepts are very strongy aligned. Still, I do find it interesting that the Hat should consistently choose to use the word "bravery" in its songs, while never once employing the term "courage." The Hat also stresses "daring" and "nerve," both of which similarly refer to a very specific—and very physical—form of courage.

The conclusion that I reach from all this is that the particular type of courage that the Hat (and therefore, one assumes, Godric Gryffindor himself) most strongly values is the ability to face danger and to withstand pain. It is a conception of courage that seems perfectly in keeping with an eleventh century sword-wielding warrior mage. It is a warrior culture's conception of courage, and not necessarily one that coincides all that well with that of our own 20th century culture.

Now we do, I think, tend to assume that moral courage is also quite important to House Gryffindor. There are indications that it is. The Gryffindor characters we see in canon themselves place a very high value on that sort of courage, and there are also a few characters (Hermione and Neville) whose allocation to House Gryffindor only seems explicable if we assume either that the Hat prioritizes values over proclivities, or that it is looking not only for physical bravery, but also for moral courage, the "courage of ones convictions," the willingness to stand up for what is right. It is the sort of courage that Dumbledore himself prioritizes. It is what he rewards Neville for, and it also lies at the heart of his "what is right vs. what is easy" speech.

But is it a primary consideration of House Gryffindor, that sort of courage? Is it what the Hat itself prioritizes?

It doesn't look to me as if it is. It looks to me as if moral integrity ranks somewhere down below "bravery," "daring," "nerve" and "chivalry."

Peter's doing okay by those standards, I'd say. He's a middling good Gryff. He's not very chivalrous, true, but bravery? Daring? Nerve? He's got quite a bit of those, even if it is often masked by the fact that he has absolutely no pride.

But then, "pride" has never been cited as a Gryffindor criterion either.


Ani wrote:

Courage comes in all forms, and while I well not try and argue that Peter's been overly brave, I will point out (again) that he argued (kind of ) with Voldemort's plan twice, and he was scared, but he did it anyway, so he does have courage.

Oh, I'll happily argue that Peter is brave! A moral coward, but physically brave. And with Nerve and Daring to spare, too.

<Elkins pins her S.Y.C.O.P.H.A.N.T.S. badge proudly onto her chest. Having thus donned her mantle as the spokesman for the Society for Yes-Men, Cowards, Ostriches, Passive-Aggressives, Abject Neurotics and Toadying SYCOPHANTS, she mounts her soap box and begins to speak>

Brave? You want to know if Peter Pettigrew is brave?

Well, okay. Let's just look at what he's done, shall we?

Animagus Adventures

Barb already cited Peter's animagus adventures as proof of his bravery:

I also believe it took some bravery to learn to become an animagus in secret in order to accompany a werewolf.

I agree. Even leaving the werewolf issue aside for the moment, it took a hell of a lot of nerve just to risk trying the animagus transformation, I'd say. In PoA, Lupin says:

'Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong -- one reason the Ministry keeps a close watch on those attempting to do it. Peter needed all the help he could get from James and Sirius.'

I don't even what to think about what a "horribly gone wrong" animagus transformation might do to you, do you? Ugh. Scary. And while Sirius and James may have been brilliant students, they weren't actually professors, were they? They were teenaged boys who often did foolish things that thoughtlessly endangered the lives of others: the Prank, taking Werewolf!Lupin out for his midnight strolls. Peter himself was not a brilliant student. He was following their lead, even though he found the work difficult, and even though he knew that if they led him wrong, the results would likely be absolutely disastrous for him.

Bravery? Daring? Nerve? Oh, yeah.

Barb wrote:

If he failed and reverted to human form, he could have been killed by Remus.

Even if he knew that he wouldn't fail (it's possible that once you successfully become an animagus, it becomes so intrinsic to your very essence that you would never actually flub the transformation), it still took some guts, I'd say, to run around a forest in the middle of the night with a giant black dog, a werewolf who needs to be "controlled" by his larger animal friends, and a stag, sharp hooves and all, when you're stuck in the body of a little rat.

I mean, forget about being eaten. I would have worried about getting trampled!

I also would have worried about owls.

Not to mention snakes.

::slightly twisted smile::

Spying for Voldemort

So then what does Brave Peter do?

He spies on his friends for over a year, passing information from the inside on to Voldemort. Not very nice, no, but I'd say it certainly took daring. It certainly took nerve. Especially once it became clear that Sirius and James suspected someone. They knew that there was a traitor in their midst. That must have been pretty nerve-wracking, I'd imagine. What would have happened to him had he been caught out? I wouldn't have the nerve for that sort of work. Severus Snape did. So did Peter Pettigrew.

Snookering Sirius

Let's see, what then? Well, he was left in a pretty tricky position after Voldemort's fall at Godric's Hollow, to be sure. He knew that Sirius was going to be coming after him; as far as he knew, the entire Ministry would be on his tail; and if Sirius is to be believed, then the other Death Eaters were likely to be gunning for him as well. So did he run and hide? Did he throw himself on Dumbledore's mercy? Did he go crawling to the Ministry to cut a deal, perhaps? Maybe hand over a few DE names in exchange for clemency, or for a reduced sentence?

No. He didn't do any of those things. Instead, he quite ruthlessly and efficiently framed Sirius for his crimes and then faked his own death. That took nerve too. And daring. And a good deal of bravery, as well, because he chose a plan that necessitated him facing down Sirius in person. As it happened, he did succeed in pulling the timing off just right, but so many things could have gone wrong with that plan, most of them lethal. Pettigrew could have thought up a different plan, perhaps, one that didn't require him to stand there in the street face to face with an enraged Sirius Black. But he didn't bother to. That is because Peter Pettigrew is a Gryffindor. He is BRAVE! He LAUGHS in the face of danger! Ha HA!

Oh, yeah, and he also severed his own finger. But that doesn't impress me all that much, honestly. After all, for all we know, he could have anaesthetized himself quite thoroughly beforehand. Unlike the hand, which I will get to later.

Biting Goyle

Now we come to Pettigrew in the canon. By the time of canon, he does seem to have been a bit degraded, I'd say, by all of those years spent in rat form. As Scabbers, he primarily strikes me as profoundly depressed. (He does little but eat and sleep, and exhibits a fondness for chocolate).

Still, he does bite Goyle on the hand on the train in PS/SS, which may not seem like much, but when you consider their relative sizes does show a certain amount of spunk, I'd say, especially since adolescent bully boys are really not known for their tenderness towards their enemies' pets. I wouldn't have wanted to mess with Goyle if I'd been Scabbers. Just think of how much bigger Goyle was! And how high off the ground (from a rat's perspective) he must have been, once Goyle started whipping him around, trying to get him to let go. Indeed, he ends up getting slammed into a window for all his pains, which even given JKR's tendency towards exaggeration when it comes to physical comedy involving battered animals (bouncing ferret, anyone?), still had to hurt.

Brave? Well, yeah.

Waiting Game in PoA

From the very start of the third book, Pettigrew knows that Sirius has escaped from Azkaban. He knows that Sirius is probably coming after him. He knows this.

So, does his nerve fail him? Does he flee Hogwarts? Does he scarper off to Albania to seek Voldemort's protection right away?

No. He doesn't. He's scared to death, yes. He's literally sick with fear. And he has that darned cat to worry about as well, not to mention Remus Lupin, who would presumably recognize his rat form just as Sirius had, and who therefore cannot be permitted to spot him. Quite an unnerving situation for poor Peter to find himself in, don't you think? Why, it's enough to make any self-respecting coward head for the hills.

Except that Pettigrew doesn't. He doesn't actually break and run until halfway through the school year, and then only when Sirius finally gets close enough to him that he feels that he has no other alternative. Up until then, he's playing a waiting game, hoping that Sirius will be caught. Did that waiting game take nerve? Did it take daring? I wouldn't have had the stomach for it myself.

Escape From Sirius and Lupin

And then there's Shrieking Shack.

::long pause::


Well...okay. Actually, Pettigrew really doesn't put up a very good showing at all in the Shack, does he? He couldn't even manage to stand up to Lupin's interrogation. He couldn't even hold to his story. He couldn't even lie convincingly. Instead he sweats, stammers, changes his story at least three times, and then collapses and sobs out a confession. It's just pathetic. No, there's no question that Pettigrew's nerve really failed him there in the Shack. It failed him badly. But hey. What can you do? These things do happen sometimes, you know, even to ordinarily Daring Gryffindors like Peter Pettigrew.

But hey, what a comeback right afterwards though, eh? You want Bravery? You want Nerve? You want Daring?

I've said this before, but it's still true. If I'd just had as close a squeak as Peter had there in the Shack, and then I was informed quite gravely that if I tried to transform, I would be killed, I would never have had the nerve to seize my opportunity like Pettigrew did the instant Lupin started to transform. I would have been far too cowed. No rational weighing of the options (Do you really want to go to Azkaban, Elkins? You know you won't last six months in there. So wouldn't it be better to take the gamble on the main chance now?) would have enabled me to act that swiftly or that decisively in a similar situation. That is because, sadly, I am not daring, nor am I brave; and I have very little in the way of nerve.

Pettigrew is different. He is not only capable of taking gambles with his life; he can do so on the spur of the moment, instinctively, without hesitation.

Bravery. Nerve. Daring.

Relations with Voldemort

Ani wrote:

I will point out (again) that he argued (kind of ) with Voldemort's plan twice, and he was scared, but he did it anyway, so he does have courage.

Just seeking out Voldemort in Albania took some nerve, I'd say. It was an act of desperation, true, but at the same time, Peter really had no idea how he'd be received, did he? The last time he dealt with Voldemort was, well, Godric's Hollow, probably. Sirius claims that the Death Eaters in Azkaban believe that Pettigrew lured Voldemort to his doom. For all Peter knows, Voldemort might believe precisely the same thing. As Scabbers, he likely heard enough of what happened in Ron's first year to know that if Voldemort ever balked from discarding his followers, he doesn't have that scruple anymore.

Indeed, Peter seems fairly well-convinced throughout GoF that Voldemort is constantly on the verge of killing him. He seeks reassurance in the first chapter -- and fails to get it. He seems fully convinced after Crouch's escape that Voldemort really does plan to feed him to Nagini (although surely a moment's thought should have informed him that this must have been an idle threat!). Eileen has argued—and I agree with her—that in the moments right after Voldemort's re-birthing, Pettigrew believes that he has outlived his usefulness and is about to be killed.

Yet even trapped in this dubious position, he is capable of asserting himself. He objects to Voldemort's plan to use Harry in the ritual at least twice, and from Voldemort's almost exasperated response in the first chapter of GoF, I got the impression that Peter had raised the subject even more often than that. He objects to the plan, he quibbles over its details, he questions its timing. Although he couches his objections in the careful phrasing of the sycophant, taking care to pepper them with all of the requisite "my Lord"s and "I must speak"s, he's really quite an argumentative little fellow in that first chapter. He may be a sycophant, but he's hardly a yes-man (which is precisely the reason, I believe, that Voldemort will later go to such pains in the graveyard to drive the inequitable nature of their relationship home to him; by delaying rewarding Pettigrew until Pettigrew has first publicly and formally stated that he deserves and is owed absolutely nothing, Voldemort hopes to eradicate Pettigrew's uppity notion that there might actually some quid pro quo involved in their relationship).

Bravery? Nerve? Daring?

Well, I guess that all depends on just how mad, irrational, or Cruciatus-happy you think that Voldemort really is in GoF. Pettigrew might be taking a considerable risk every time he argues yet another point, or he might not be. It's hard to say, really. I myself tend to think that he's not really taking all that great a risk by voicing his objections—Voldemort needs him—but all the same, Pettigrew himself seems to feel that he is. So I'm willing to give him a few Nerve and Daring points for that, I suppose.

I would also hand him a couple of Nerve points for his almost indignant response to being slammed around right after Voldemort's rebirthing. Although he is in considerable pain, and likely believes that he is about to be killed, he still manages the self-assertion of that reproachful "you promised," which really does show a certain degree of chutzpah, I'd say.

The Hand


He may seem like a craven coward so far, but I think we've already seen one instance of rather gruesome bravery that contradicts the idea of cowardly Peter: his cutting off his own hand to give Voldemort his body back. How many people would have the nerve to do that? We might not agree with his motivations (helping the evilest dark wizard there is) but it took a great deal of bravery nonetheless. No, I do not believe Peter is lacking in bravery. Scruples he certainly seems to lack (and whether he's redeemable in that regard may yet be seen); bravery, hardly.

Absolutely agreed! The man cuts off his own hand. Not only does he cut off his own hand, but he also does it unsupervised. He isn't being bullied into doing it in any immediate sense. There's no Voldemort standing over him, threatening to punish him if he doesn't go through with the ritual as arranged. No one is there to brow-beat him, or to urge him on, or to buck him up, or to give him any form of external encouragement whatsoever; he is completely on his own, and he is in no immediate danger should he change his mind and refuse to go through with it. In fact, the question of why he didn't just let Baby!Voldemort drown has come up before on this list.

Yes. That took bravery. Physical courage.

As well as one hell of a sharp blade...


Who as a side note when rereading the graveyard scene, wonders how small Pettigrew had enough strength to cut through his forearm with one swish of his dagger. Either that is a VERY sharp dagger or a VERY fast, strong swish.

Well, the dagger was being used as an important tool in an elaborate work of old Dark ritual magic, so while I'd ordinarily call this explanation a cop-out, in this case I think that it's eminently fair.

It was a magic dagger.


Sherry wrote:

IMO, he does these things out of loyalty (to Voldemort), not bravery.

He's not loyal to Voldemort. If he'd been loyal to Voldemort, then he would have sought him out years before. When he finally does go looking for Voldemort, it only takes him a couple of months to locate him. He could have done so with equal facility any time after learning that Albania was the best place to start his search, which I'm guessing he's probably known for years. At the very latest, he learned it during Ron's second year.

No, he's not loyal to Voldemort. He's not even loyal to himself in any deeper sense. Loyalty really isn't one of his virtues, IMO.

Voldemort accuses him of wavering, which causes him a great deal of consternation precisely because his dominant trait is loyalty, and he is now very willing to do anything necessary to redeem himself in Voldemort's eyes.

I think that it upsets him precisely because he knows that he is not loyal. He's a betrayer. He betrays his friends, he betrays his better judgement, he betrays his benefactors, he betrays his principles. He betrays himself. By the time the series is ended, he'll almost certainly have betrayed Voldemort as well. The accusation is true, and that, IMO, is precisely why it stings.

Contrast his consternation at being accused of disloyalty, however, with his willingness in the Shrieking Shack to tell Sirius that he has never been brave.

He shows so little consternation over that particular admission because he knows full well that it isn't completely accurate. He doesn't mind it much when Voldemort calls him a coward either. Accusations of cowardice just don't seem to bother him very much. They have no power to wound him. Accusations of disloyalty, on the other hand, really do seem to genuinely hurt him. I think that's because he knows that disloyalty truly is one of his moral failings.

Ani wrote:

I just see the urge to put Peter in another house as plain silliness.

So do I. I think that he quite plainly belonged in House Gryffindor.


Posted October 13, 2002 at 4:29 pm
Plain text version


RE: Peter's Unfortunate Crisis of Nerves

Karie wrote:

And, anyway, I still see Peter as brave. Not honorable, not moral, but certainly brave. Elkins covered the whole thing very well, and so I won't repeat, but I will say that I actually don't think Peter cowering around in the Shack was at the bottom all that cowardly, because I think that Peter was taking the chance that if he cowered and gibbered, his old friends, his old protectors would balk at killing him.

Oh, I'd love to agree with you, Karie, because I really do so much enjoy Pettigrew's peculiarly anti-stoic brand of pluck, but I think that his nerve failed him in the Shack. If he'd gone for the grovel from the very start, then I might agree with you that what we were seeing there was manipulation, pure and simple.

But he didn't. He panicked. He played the waiting game far too long, for one thing: by the time he was forcibly restored to human form, he'd really lost any chance of coming up with a convincing explanation for his behavior. Had he transformed on his own accord at some point earlier in the conversation, then he might have stood a somewhat better chance. Instead, though, he waited too long, and in doing so, he lost the opportunity to frame the discussion on his own terms. If you ask me, he just plain choked.

Then he compounded his error by continuing to try to hold to his (ultimately indefensible) story that Sirius Black was a mad fiend out to murder him. And he was profoundly unconvincing, not only because his story just couldn't hold up to any real degree of scrutiny (although that was part of it), but also because his nerves were already shot from the very start. It was his sweating and his stammering and his darty eye movements to the doors and windows that first lead Harry to mistrust him, and I can't imagine that they did much to inspire Remus' confidence either. He made Sirius Black seem trustworthy in comparison, which given that Sirius was doing things like snarling animalistically and grinning maniacally and trying to throttle his own godson at the time is really saying something.

We know that Peter did manage to be quite a successful spy in the past. I can only imagine that he used to be more than capable of deception. In the Shack, though, he is not a convincing liar. I'd say that his nerve failed him there. Big time.

Peter knew them better than we do, and certainly during their years together they must have protected him--so it seems entirely possible that he was counting on their Gryffindor chivalry on several levels--they wouldn't kill an unarmed, pathetic man, right? They wouldn't kill him if it wasn't his fault, if James wouldn't have liked it...No, all in all, I'd have to say that even if (though) Peter isn't a very strong wizard, his brains were working quite well...

You think? Oh, I don't know. I do agree with you that both his plays for sympathy and his pleas for mercy are fundamentally manipulative. There's something almost embarrassingly blatant (as well as curiously formal) about the way that he supplicates every person in the room in turn.

I also think, though, that he was in a quite genuine state of panic in the Shack, and that it had a detrimental effect on his...well, on his performance, shall we say? He wasn't exactly on top grovelling form, if you ask me. No one whose brains were really working well, for example, would ever have tried that "he was taking over everywhere...what was there to be gained by refusing him?" justification. That was a serious tactical error, of the kind that only somebody not thinking at all clearly would ever have made. He didn't approach Hermione properly either, in spite of the fact that he'd had over two years as Scabbers to observe her.

No, I'd say that he was certainly trying to be manipulative in the Shack, but that he wasn't capable of doing a very good job of it -- largely, I think, because he...well, was suffering a rather serious crisis of nerves at the time.


(holding up a card reading "6" for Pettigrew's grovelling form in the Shack, but willing to raise that to a "7" to account for his having successfully completed the program)

Posted October 15, 2002 at 3:31 am
Plain text version


RE: TBAY: Weasley Predisposition To Imperius?

Elkins smiles across the sand to Lilac, Nicole and Gail, who are standing hesitantly at the shores of Theory Bay, all three of them decked out in CONNIVING CHICK'S REVENGE life-jackets. She waves shyly at them. People who can filk always make Elkins feel unaccountably shy, as she herself cannot tell a balalaika from a theorbo, a fluegelhorn from a clarion, a celesta from a harmonium, a lithophone from a marimba.

Although every once in a while, when the wind is southerly and the weather clear, she can manage to discern a hawk from a hand-saw.



Lilac (also sporting a set of FAT CHANCE AT BALL water wings, just for good measure) wrote:

Here's one thought I had about this...what if Arthur was under Imperius before Ron and Ginny were born and that bits of Imperio magic were passed along, not so much genetically as it were, but magically?

And Anna suggested something very similar, when she proposed that Neville might have somehow been magically affected by his parents' exposure to the Cruciatus.


Frightened by Imperius in utero, eh?

(Or, in Neville's case, frightened by Cruciatus in retroactive utero.)

Well, it's possible. It does strike me, though, that in terms of the thematic emphasis on blood vs choice, the distinction between a genetic predisposition and one caused by the magical equivalent of parental chromosomal damage is really moot. In either case, you're still talking about a predisposition which is beyond the individual's control and not even strictly speaking a matter of "nurture," or of upbringing. It's still a heritable condition, even if it is not genetically determined. Even in the real world, many of the things that we believe to be "heritable" are now believed to be not strictly genetically determined, but also largely a matter of somatic environmental factors, like parental hormonal balance and body chemistry and the like.

So I don't know if I think that there's all that much difference, really, between a genetic magical predisposition and an "environmental" one that nonetheless has an inescapable and quasi-somatic effect on children. It comes to exactly the same thing, doesn't it?

I'm not really all that concerned, though. I don't honestly think that JKR is trying to make a case for individual volition being able to conquer everything. That Harry is small and agile is a matter of physical inheritance, as is the fact that Hagrid is enormous and very strong, as is the fact that the children of muggles are usually muggle, while the children of wizards are usually magical -- Squibs exist, but they are rare, even more rare than Muggle-born witches and wizards, according to Ron.

I think that the text emphasizes quite strongly the notion that it is what one chooses to do with ones particular talents that matters the most. I don't think that the text anywhere implies that heritable conditions do not exist, or that heredity does not play a significant role when it comes to the particular talents and weaknesses that one has to work with.

Would it damage the books on the thematic level, though, if it were to emerge that some people are more vulnerable to the Imperius Curse than others for reasons other than inherent weakness of will?

I guess that all depends. Do we feel that it damages the books on the thematic level that Harry seems to have been blessed with an inborn talent for resisting the Imperius Curse?

Actually, to be quite honest, sometimes I do rather feel that way about Harry and his Imperius resistance. It bothers me a bit that he's got that. I think that I would have liked it a lot better, in some ways, if JKR hadn't given him that particular talent.

But I can live with it. And if I can live with Harry's freakish native talent for shrugging off the Imperius, then I guess that I could also live with the idea that some people might have to work even harder than everyone else if they want to break free of the curse.

It's not fair, no, but then, if I had to pick the one thing that I think that JKR does the very best in these books, I would probably cite the clear-eyed yet compassionate approach she takes to that one fundamentally unpalatable truth: Life Just Isn't Fair.


Richelle, however, points out that we do have canonical evidence that fathers and sons do not always exhibit the same facility with Imperius resistance.


Okay, I have one problem with this. There's both Barty Crouch Sr. and Jr with the Imperius Curse. It took Jr years to break it, whereas Sr broke it in a matter of months.

True. Really, strength of will doesn't seem to have ever been one of young Barty's personal strengths, does it? He went completely to pieces at his sentencing. Harry observes him in the Penseive reacting far more dramatically to the dementors than his co-defendents seem to. He was on his death bed after only a year in Azkaban. And by the end of GoF, at any rate, he's also mad as a hatter, which in the fictive world, if not the real one, is often indicative of a failure of will -- as, for that matter, is allowing oneself to be corrupted by Dark Wizards in the first place. Crouch Sr, on the other hand, is rather consistently depicted as quite strong-willed, if also corrupt in his own way.

Then, young Barty didn't look a whole lot like his father either, did he?

<Elkins gasps as the sand suddenly begins to shift beneath her feet. Out in the Bay, the ships toss wildly in the waves. Lilac, Gail and Nicole, safely up on the promenade, clutch onto a bench for support. The visitors in the Canon Museum up on the hill scurry to position themselves beneath the lintels of the doors. Elkins screams to the heavens...>

Thematic consistency, Jo! Thematic consistency! For God's sake, is it really all that much to ask?

<After a few tense moments, the rumbling stops. Elkins shakes her head, pulls a small notebook and pencil out of her pocket, and walks across the beach to the Richter sensor buried deep in the sand. She bends down to read the meter, winces, whistles softly. She makes a quick note in her book, shoves it back in her pocket, and shrugs helplessly.>

Oh, well. I guess that we really can't complain too much about the fault line, can we? After all, if it weren't for that little quirk of geology, then this Bay wouldn't even exist.


Could Lucius have targetted Ginny in part because he knew that she would be unusually vulnerable to the Diary's effects?


OOOHHH, one more this why Lucius picked Ginny in particular? Because he knew that she would be susceptible because he put Arthur under Imperio 15-or-so years ago? Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Hmmmmm, indeed!

I've always found myself curious about Lucius' plans for that Diary, actually. The timing of his slipping it to Ginny always seems to suggest to me that it was actually a spur of the moment decision, that Lucius was inspired by seeing the Weasleys there in the shop (not to mention by his brawl with Arthur and his irritation with the recent raids on his manor), and that he acted on that sudden impulse.

But if that's true, then one can't help but wonder what the original plan as supposed to be. Did he originally intend to use Draco to get the Diary to Hogwarts? That seems unlikely, given that he went out of his way to warn Draco to stay well out of the entire affair. Also, he did bring the Diary with him to Diagon Alley, which seems to suggest that it had been his plan from the very start to slip it into some student's kit.

I think that he meant to give it to Harry. From the very start, it is Harry Dobby identifies as particularly endangered by the Diary plot, and it is Harry Dobby tries to keep away from Hogwarts by any means possible. Lucius also might well have suspected that Harry might have inherited Voldemort's Parseltongue talent, just as that shrewd calculating look that Snape throws Harry in the Duelling Scene suggests that Snape might similarly have some inkling about how that entire dynamic works. After all, we are given to understand that just like Snape, Lucius Malfoy does know an awful lot about the Dark Arts.

My feeling is that Harry was the intended recipient for the Diary, and that Lucius changed his plan at the last minute out of pure malice and spite.

Of course, that doesn't mean that he couldn't have known all about Arthur's tangle with Imperius, or even suspected that Arthur's children might be vulnerable. But I don't think that Ginny was his original choice to serve as the conveyor of Riddle's Diary to Hogwarts.


Could a Weasley vulnerability to Imperius have been what Crouch/Moody was hinting at when he refused to give Ron credit for potential Auror talent?

Lilac asked:

Could this also be the reason why Moody does not tell Ron he would make a good Auror? Because it's difficult for Ron to even overcome the after effects of the Imperius?

Huh. I suppose that Crouch/Moody's comments do usually have more than one meaning, so it's possible that that was indeed the "Moody meaning," if you see what I mean.

As for the Crouch meaning, though, I've always been extremely partial to Charis Julia's analysis of Crouch's evaluation of the Trio's Auror talents -- so partial, in fact, that I've been seething with envy over it for months now. I wish that I had written it myself. I'd paraphrase it for you, but I couldn't possibly do it justice, so let me just give you the link to Charis' post:


That's my favored interpretation. I also think that Crouch was trying to stir up trouble by refusing to give Ron the stroking he so obviously wanted there. He hoped to make Ron feel inadequate, and to set off his envy. He was being cruel.

But it is true that Crouch's statements almost always carry two separate meanings. They can usually be read at face value as well as at the second level. So perhaps Real!Moody genuinely would have passed on advising Ron to consider a career as an Auror. Because of the Imperius? Could be.



I think Veronica and Elkins have a pretty water-tight vessel floating now. However, I do like the 7th Son theory, so I hope your trimaran does have a cabin so I can visit there. That is, if I ever brave the waters of theory bay. *sighs*

Hey, Veronica's even letting the Operative!Arthur people have berths, even though they spend half of their time picking on the Auror!Arthur brigade and the other half trying to scuttle the trimaran altogether. She's a regular old Dumbledore, is Captain Veronica. So I'd say that there's sure to be plenty of room on that ship for Seventh Son adherents.

I just don't know about this "Arthur Weasley used the Imperius Curse" spec that Eloise has been handsawing out there, though. I think that one just might qualify as a mutiny.

—Elkins, who only really cares for Seventh Son when they serve it up on the Trimaran as a side dish to a big bloody helping of Imperio'd Arthur, Unwilling Filicide


RE: Pettigrew: Snape Through the Looking Glass

Becky wrote:

I can see the desire to have a "good guy" in Slytherin (and not an "apparently good guy" like Snape), but the we miss out on Gryffindor!Peter going evil.

Indeed we do. We also miss out on the perfectly lovely Snape/Pettigrew parallels which the text of PoA and especially of GoF keep drawing for the reader.

Way back in my very first post, I annoyed a good number of Snapefans by tossing out the statement that "Severus Snape is Peter Pettigrew through the looking glass." A lot of people really didn't like that statement very much, and so I defended it -- so very skillfully, in fact, that all dissent was quelled. No one DARED argue! Ha HA!

Or, um, so I thought. Recently, however, it has been brought to my attention that, er, well, that the post in which I defended that statement actually, er, never even saw the light of day. It never actually appeared on the list at all, in fact. It vanished utterly without trace.

Which might explain why no one ever argued the point with me.


Yes, well. So. Now that I am handed this opportunity, allow me to reiterate my claim that Peter Pettigrew serves as a literary double to Severus Snape.

Peter Pettigrew is a fallen Gryffindor. Severus Snape is a fallen Slytherin.

The two characters are "mirror images" to each other: they exhibit both symmetry and reversal. The mirror reflects, but it also reverses. The mirror always reverses that which it reflects.

The symmetries are obvious enough, I think.

Both men are traitors. Both men acted as moles during the war.

More specifically, both betrayed their old circle of school friends by passing on information to the enemy, information which eventually led to some of their friends' violent deaths.

In both cases, this old circle of school friends included people who were killed in the last year of the war (the Potters, Rosier, Wilkes), those who were sent to Azkaban but who have either already escaped or who seem likely to be liberated in the near future (Black, the Lestranges), and those who may have escaped death or imprisonment, but who nonetheless seem to have suffered profound psychological damage as they have not achieved much of anything with their lives in the years since the war (Lupin, Avery).

Both circles also included a married couple (Lestranges, Potters), including a woman who was both the token female member of the group and unusually talented and/or formidable.

There are indications that both of these two characters were always in some sense on the fringes of their respective groups, accepted but not fully invested, somehow neither in nor out.

In making the decision to turn on their companions, both men effectively sealed their fates for the rest of their lives up to the start of canon. At the series' opening, both men are in some sense trapped. Neither seems to have gained very much of anything in the way of contentment or happiness or personal satisfaction out of life. Both have been effectively enslaved by their past decisions.

Both men respond with more emotion and indignation to accusations of disloyalty than to any other type of slur.

Both seem to be struggling with deep-seated feelings of guilt and shame.

Both have incurred a life-debt to a Potter after being protected from Black and Lupin in or near the Shrieking Shack.

In both cases, this debt is given pride of place in one of the "closing Dumbledorian arguments," the scenes at the end of each novel in which Dumbledore explains or pontificates upon the plot for Harry's benefit.

Both men seem somewhat fixated on Harry's resemblance to his father. Both of them try to influence his behavior by giving their own interpretations of what James was like, how he behaved, or what he would do.

Both characters have a "neither fish nor fowl" quality. They are both painted in shades of moral grey.

So for the symmetry.

As for the reversals, the "mirrored" traits:

 •  Snape is the redeemed representative of what is generally held to be a corrupted House.
 •  Pettigrew is the corrupted representative of what is generally held to be a virtuous House.

 •  Snape betrayed his friends. By doing so he was acting in accordance with his principles, but much against his instincts.
 •  Pettigrew betrayed his friends. By doing so he was acting in accordance with his instincts, but much against his principles.

 •  Snape owes a self-imposed "life-debt" to Harry Potter; he struggles to fulfill it even though it would seem to be purely a bond of personal honor.
 •  Pettigrew owes a genuine life-debt to Harry Potter; he struggles to ignore it even though it would seem to be a bond of ancient magic.

 •  Snape is imprisoned by his desire for atonement
 •  Pettigrew is imprisoned by his fear of atonement

 •  Snape places his Slytherin talents—cunning, shrewdness, the capacity for deceit—at the service of Gryffindor Dumbledore
 •  Pettigrew places his Gryffindor talents—pluck, nerve, daring, decisive action (think Bertha Jorkins) and raw physical courage—at the service of Slytherin Voldemort

 •  Snape willingly serves Dumbledore and his cause -- even though his temperament militates against it.
 •  Pettigrew willingly serves Voldemort and his cause -- even though his temperament militates against it.

Was Pettigrew a member of House Gryffindor?

Yes. Yes, I insist that he was.

And Snape was a proud member of House Slytherin.


Posted October 17, 2002 at 4:05 pm
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