Peter Pettigrew is not exactly one of the most beloved characters in Harry Potter — but nor was he the worst.
Well, not quite. Close, but not quite.
The marauder, otherwise known as Wormtail, seemed to start out as a good person but spiral into a coward that made poor choices based on his fear. Throughout his life, there are heroic acts and there are utterly despicable ones in equal measure. He did, of course, meet a really poor and yet fitting end, so maybe that’s some fitting consequences to his rocky behaviour over the series.
Becoming an Animagus is stressed to be no easy task — it even involves holding an item in your mouth for a whole month straight. It’s something that’s exhausting, takes a lot of effort and time, and yet, Peter went through it in order to help Remus Lupin with his monthly transition into a wolf.
Of course, he was probably pressured into it by James and Sirius (or went along with it because he wanted the approval of such powerful friends), but the gesture probably meant a lot to Remus and was rather heroic before Peter started to delve into the dark side.
Although Sirius Black was initially blamed for the selling out of the Potters, we learn in Prisoner of Azkaban that he’s been suffering in Azkaban for years, for nothing — because he was innocent. Not only did Peter sell out his best friends to the Dark Lord and condemn them to certain death, he let their other friend take the blame and rot in prison for all those years. Lovely.
When a teenager finds out one of their best friends is a werewolf, it’s surely hard to keep that quiet. Teenagers have big mouths, after all. But from what we know, Peter did indeed keep Remus’ condition a secret, because no student seemed to find out through him. It’s safe to say that whatever other faults he had, he remained loyal to his friend during this time.
Not only did Peter sell the Potters out, he became a Death Eater and pledged his life to the Dark Lord.
Of course, his reasoning was that someone can’t just walk away from the Death Eaters, and he’s right — but isn’t that his own fault for getting involved with them in the first place? And he certainly wasn’t brave enough to try.
Before he was a Death Eater, there was the Order of the Phoenix. A secret society founded by Dumbledore to fight the Dark Lord, it was compromised of people willing to risk their lives for the cause — and people who had targets on their backs purely because of what they were doing.
So, for a time, Peter Pettigrew did risk his life for the good side.
When Voldemort disappeared, it was Peter who sought him out to help him return. Presumably he was afraid that Sirius was going to kill him, and didn’t want to go to Azkaban — which was his best case scenario — so he sought out the protection of the Dark Lord.
He knew this would mean the end of anyone he had ever loved and Harry, who he owed everything to, and it would mean awful things for the Wizarding World — but he was selfish enough to do it anyway.
We have no idea how much involvement Peter actually had in the creation of this glorious map that ended up helping so many people and was just so clever, but his name was on it, so he had some input. And the Marauders’ Map was undoubtedly an awesome thing, providing Harry with escape routes and even allowing him an idea of how to get back into Hogwarts when Voldemort had taken it over.
This was more coincidentally heroic though, since Peter surely had no idea what awesome effects on the world that the map would have, but even so!
When Peter was helping Voldemort return, one of his tasks was to cut Harry and take his blood.
Somehow, this feels even more despicable than the general act of helping Voldemort return. Because of Peter, Harry is parentless, alone, and constantly hunted by an evil serial killer. Peter, however, tied him up at the age of fourteen and cut him with a dagger, taking his blood.
We have a feeling that had James Potter been present, Peter would have been beaten to a bloody pulp for that one.
Of course, Peter did save Harry. Sort of. Eventually. And he died for it.
When he wrapped his silver hand around Harry’s throat, he remembered he owed him a life debt and let him go rather than strangling him. Voldemort would surely have been unhappy if anyone other than him had killed Harry, so maybe this wasn’t done out of mercy, but we have to assume it was since it caused Peter’s magical hand to turn on him.
Rest in… peace?
Whether he saved Harry or not, it doesn’t change the fact that he actually did consider killing him until he was reminded of his debt.
As if it wasn’t enough that Peter had his parents murdered, condemned him to a life of misery, after how kind James and co. had been to him throughout his school years when he may otherwise have had no friends and lived a miserable teenage life. As it wasn’t enough that Peter had already literally ruined his life, he actually tried to take it too.
Peter was a multi-faceted character, but there’s just no excusing this one… Or, let’s be honest, many things on this list.