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Mr Moony: Lupin’s Curse and His Inspiration?
By Canis Sapiens

The Hogwarts Professor

“A small, battered case held together with a large quantity of neatly knotted string. The name ‘Professor R. J. Lupin’ was stamped across one corner in peeling letters.” 1

Given that this is no arbitrary description of a man’s belongings, who would not like to meet the owner of such a suitcase? It is such an evocative image with which to introduce one of the Harry Potter series’ most beloved characters – Remus J. Lupin. From the moment we first meet him, fast asleep, against the window of a carriage of the Hogwarts Express together with Ron Weasley’s comment, “he looks like one good hex would finish him off,” 2 we sense an air of vulnerability and woundedness about this person. And this is further enhanced when, after giving the kids some chocolate, he says with a small smile, “I haven’t poisoned that chocolate, you know …,” 3 almost as if he is sadly aware that his appearance may not immediately inspire confidence. Then there is the question, why is he travelling on the train unlike any other teacher? Doesn’t he have access to a more convenient means of transportation? Of course, later we realize that the most likely explanation is that Albus Dumbledore planted him there in case of trouble – and when trouble does arrive in the form of a Dementor, he acquits himself creditably as if in answer to Ron’s query, “Well, I hope he’s up to it.” 4

Lupin’s predecessor, Gilderoy Lockhart, is the embodiment of the proverb: “all that glitters is not gold.” Well, Lupin in his shabby robes with his tired and sickly appearance certainly doesn’t “glitter,” and so maybe by way of contrast, this one may prove himself to be truly a wizard of substance. Madam Pomfrey certainly backs this up early on when she says, “So we’ve finally got a Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher who knows his remedies.” 5 Still, we wonder. He arrives slightly late to his first DADA class with Harry’s group, smiling vaguely, and Peeves’s taunt of ‘‘loony, loopy Lupin” 6 when we know that “rude and unmanageable as he almost always was, Peeves usually showed some respect towards the teachers,” 7 raises the question: Will the students eat Lupin alive? Again, he confounds our expectations by quietly putting Peeves right back in his box and then going on to give an exemplary DADA lesson.

While the shadowy figure of the escaped convict Sirius Black is the central menace of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, our immediate attention is drawn to the growing enigma that is Professor Lupin. There’s the mystery of his ill health and the fact that Professor Trelawney intimates that it is terminal: “I have seen that poor Professor Lupin will not be with us for very long. He seems aware, himself that his time is short.” 8 Why doesn’t Lupin place Draco Malfoy in detention for insolence over his loudly whispered comments on the state of Lupin’s robes? Is Professor Lupin a bit too soft towards students, or is too he ashamed of his poverty to defend himself? Why then does Professor Severus Snape hate Lupin so much, and is he really trying to poison Lupin as Harry suspects? Yet surely a wizard who has the courage to call “Voldemort” by name, as until now only Harry and Dumbledore have dared to do, would not be such easy prey. He tells Harry that he doesn’t consider himself an expert at fighting Dementors – “quite the contrary” 9 he says. Once again we are struck by the contrast here between Lockhart and Lupin. Lockhart claimed to have powers far in excess of his abilities and so, conversely, we wonder if Lupin, for reasons we cannot fathom, may be deliberately downplaying his true powers.

Lupin’s puzzling mixture of candour and concealment keeps us guessing and is obviously written deliberately to heighten the tension of the climactic scene in the Shrieking Shack. On the one hand, Lupin is quite open in admitting to Harry that he deliberately stopped him from fighting the Boggart and yet Harry practically has to pry it out of Lupin that he and James Potter knew each other. “We were friends at Hogwarts” 10 he tells Harry somewhat off-handedly, with no indication of the real significance of his friendship with James. By this stage we know Sirius Black was James’s closest friend and when Harry asks Lupin if he too knew Sirius, again he skirts the issue with an “I thought I did.” 11 Harry is so unsettled by Lupin’s response to the subject that he is reluctant to press for further details. Again, Lupin is evasive about his obvious knowledge of the Marauder’s Map, and we guess he knows what Snape meant when he asks if they got it “directly from the manufacturers;” 12 but Lupin isn’t giving much away.

At first, Harry is relieved that Lupin, again in his somewhat cryptic manner, saves him from Snape. However, if Harry had bargained that as a favoured pupil Lupin would go lightly with him, he is sadly mistaken. Lupin tells Harry, in no uncertain terms, that he will not cover for him again and gives him a sound ticking off over his possession of the Marauder’s Map, which leaves Harry feeling worse about this rebuff than any other confrontation he’s had involving Snape. Why? After all, Lupin is not likely to dish out a horrible punishment as Snape might have done. On the surface it looks as if Harry’s reaction is solely due to Lupin’s words about “gambling [his parents’] sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks” 13 that pricks his conscience; however, it is also likely that Harry is mortified to think that Lupin may believe he was trying to take advantage of Lupin’s good nature.

Relationship with Harry

Almost from the first, there is an instinctive sympathy between Harry and Lupin. For Harry’s part he recognizes in this shabby and gentle man a skilled wizard and an excellent teacher, a pleasant change from his predecessors. While Harry respects Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout, he comes to see Lupin as more than just a good teacher, but also as someone in whom he can confide. This increased appreciation of Lupin has its genesis when he invites Harry into his office under the pretext of showing him the Grindylow. At first, Harry feels a little awkward to be so singled out but later is relieved that Lupin has the intuition to see that something is troubling him, and he is able to confide in Lupin without a loss of face. “ ‘So you’ve been thinking that I didn’t believe you capable of fighting the Boggart?’ said Lupin shrewdly.” 14 During this whole scene, Lupin’s genius is that he is able to tread that fine line between recognizing that the orphan Harry has a certain pride in his self-reliance, yet at the same time, offering the reassurance a boy of his age still needs. He doesn’t offer false comfort or lie to him about stopping him from fighting the Boggart, and Harry recognizes immediately that this is an adult who will not condescend to him as though he were still a child. Harry is also encouraged by hearing Lupin mention Voldemort by name: it shows Lupin’s own defiance in the face of the fear Voldemort sought to engender, as well as being an acknowledgement of faith that Harry too has the courage to rightfully call his nemesis by name.

During most of the course of Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, Professor Lupin makes no attempt to establish a relationship with Harry based on his old friendship with James; however, the fact of Harry being James’s son would have undoubtedly awakened a certain protective instinct. It might be asked why Lupin never let Harry know earlier on that he and James were such close friends. The reason is probably twofold: first, he may have wanted to avoid any awkward questions about Sirius; and second, as Harry’s teacher, it might have made Harry uncomfortable to put their relationship on too personal a footing. When Harry tells Lupin that each time the Dementors get near him he can hear Voldemort murdering his mum Lupin seems to want momentarily to offer Harry some comfort by way of a hug but reconsiders when he realizes that such an act would overstep the boundaries of an appropriate teacher/student relationship – “Lupin made a sudden motion with his arm as though he had made to grip Harry’s shoulder, but thought the better of it.” 15 Of course, after the revelations in the Shrieking Shack, their relationship does become more personal. Why else would Harry have gone to see Lupin in his office when he hears he has resigned? We can see that Lupin is deeply touched that Harry at least attempts to persuade him to stay, and most importantly for Lupin, it is confirmation that Harry does not blame him for Peter Pettigrew’s escape.

Once Sirius Black comes into Harry’s life and takes up the role of his surrogate father, Lupin does recede in importance and he and Harry have no contact for over twelve months. It is not clear why. However, once the relationship between Harry and Lupin resumes, Lupin never attempts to be on equal footing with Sirius with regards to Harry’s affections. Sirius’s special status as Harry’s godfather aside, it may seem odd since both Sirius and Lupin were very close to James. Additionally, up to the beginning of his fifth year, Harry has actually spent more time in Lupin’s company altogether than he has in Sirius’s. It is Sirius Harry wishes to speak to after the disturbing impression he has of his father in the Pensieve, when he could have contacted Lupin alone at far less risk. Does Lupin feel in any way hurt that Sirius is so obviously favoured? It would appear not, as Lupin seems to accept this as quite natural. Perhaps, as much of it has to do with the difference in the characters of the two men as well as the fact that, unlike Lupin, Sirius has taken great personal risks to protect Harry at this point. Sirius is not Padfoot for nothing; just like his canine Animagus, he has a dog’s open devotion to those he loves whereas Lupin, for all his kindliness, is a deeply reserved man. For a boy having grown up without a father, Sirius may represent to Harry the romanticized ideal of what his father might have been, a daring hero figure and best mate. Lupin, on the other hand, continued largely to take on the complementary role of the responsible adult, and sometimes having to set the boundaries – a less exciting role perhaps, but one that if James were still alive he would have also adopted. However, it would be wrong to conclude that Harry is not also deeply fond of Lupin. When Sirius falls through the veil it is Lupin who stops Harry racing after him to his own death. Given that Lupin is not physically a powerful man, how did he restrain an hysterical fifteen-year-old? Could it have been Lupin’s embrace, the embrace of a dear friend that had enough of a calming effect to actually stop him from really breaking free even though he made attempts to do so?

The Deceptiveness of Appearances

One of the major themes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the deceptiveness of appearances. This thread runs through the novel, not just in the major plot line revealing the identity of the true traitor, but also in the apparently insignificant details such as Fred Weasley’s unwitting ironic comment about the Marauder’s Map: “This little beauty’s taught us more than all the teachers in this school,” 16 which is ironic because we later learn that one of Fred’s Hogwarts professors (Lupin himself) is one of its co-authors. It is Lupin whose DADA classes specifically deal with not trusting appearances. We see how he teaches his students that, by a shift of perception, they can force the normally frightening appearance of a Boggart into assuming a comical form. In his private lessons with Harry, it would seem that, in principle at least, the Patronus Charm is not so dissimilar to the Riddikulus Charm (though undoubtedly far more difficult to execute). Unlike the obviously fierce creatures of which Hagrid is so fond, neither Boggart nor Dementor pose a straightforward threat to the body – instead they prey on the psyche, on the mind and the soul. Dementors, as a metaphor for depression, can be understood therefore as a visible manifestation of this debilitating state of mind; however it cannot be said that the form they assume is of a literally physical kind. Consequently, the form they assume is less tangible than the flesh and blood reality of a dragon. And while on one level, the Dementor’s Kiss may be described as the physical act of sucking out of the soul through the mouth of its victim, on another, it is again a metaphor of depression’s ultimate power to destroy the soul. As Lupin explains to Harry, “there’s no chance at all of recovery. You’ll just – exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever … lost.” 17 The true menace of the Boggart and the Dementor therefore rests not in a physical assault, but rather in their assault on the mind and in their power to manipulate their victim’s perception of reality. In one sense, it could be said that this power rests in illusion. However, this is not to underestimate just how persistent illusion can be. For as the novel as a whole reveals, it is through the manipulation of appearances that the greatest harm can be done and this is exactly what leads to Sirius being falsely accused of murder. Moreover, we see how even the wisest people and closest friends can fall victim to false appearances. Dumbledore too, as well as Lupin, once believed that Sirius was guilty.

The whole way in which Lupin’s character is developed throughout Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban makes it clear there is far more to this man than meets the eye; both in terms of his effectiveness as a wizard, as well as in the revelation of the duality of his nature – for residing in this gentle, scholarly man is a ferocious beast. It is for young Remus’s sake that the other Marauders become Animagi in the first place. Without this ability to transform, Peter would not have been able to frame Sirius for the betrayal of James and Lily Potter, Sirius could never have escaped Azkaban, and the Marauder’s Map, the instrument through which the truth is revealed, would never have been written. The dual identities of Padfoot/Sirius and Wormtail/Peter are essentially a duality of form only. The basic character of the witch or wizard who becomes an Animagus does not change in their animal manifestation. However, in the case of Lupin, it would seem that any resemblance between the werewolf and the human is non-existent – it is a duality of character as well as form. This duality of being has profoundly affected his human character such that to imagine a Remus Lupin without a Mr Moony is almost impossible.

A Man of Wit and Reason

The words most often associated with Lupin are calm, mild and pleasant with an occasional “said sternly.” Unlike Sirius, we never see him “hiss,” “snarl” or “growl.” Very possibly, even without the bite, Lupin would have a more placid disposition; however this trait has been exaggerated to an exceptional level of composure as if to compensate for the beast within. He knows more than anyone the horrors of reason unseated, and this probably accounts for why in human form he is so concerned to rein in his passions, possibly filtering everything through his head before reacting. In three key scenes – Snape’s office, the first evening at Grimmauld Place, and inside the Shrieking Shack – Lupin’s is the voice of reason. This objectivity enables him to read a situation with uncanny clarity and his manner is, for the most part, so low-key that he can take charge without even seeming to do so. In the confrontation over the Marauder’s Map in Snape’s office, he completely out-manœuvres Snape, never once losing his cool, whereas were Sirius in his place, his typical reaction to Snape probably would have inflamed the situation. At number twelve Grimmauld Place, it is obvious that they all look to Lupin to diffuse the growing tension between Molly Weasley and Sirius. And in the Shrieking Shack, whatever Lupin may have said about their school days, it is doubtful that any one else would have been able to exercise any control over Sirius when he is in such an emotionally charged state over the reappearance of Animagus and murderer Peter Pettigrew in the form of Ron’s rat Scabbers. Sirius may protest somewhat but ultimately he concedes, allowing Lupin to largely direct proceedings interrogating Peter. Given that Sirius is such a forceful personality, this says a lot for Lupin’s perceptiveness as well as for the very real respect Sirius has for Lupin’s judgement.

Whatever Professor McGonagall says about Peter not being in James and Sirius’s league talent-wise, it would seem that Sirius has always considered Lupin an equal in this regard. “You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you? It used to be us … me and Remus … and James.” 18 Sirius and James’s playful banter with Lupin over question 10 on the DADA O.W.L. exam is quite different to the way they tease Peter, for whatever they may say, young Remus will be sure to trump it with some witty rejoinder. In fact, the wording on the Marauder’s Map may well have been the work of Mr Moony. The slightly pompous formality of the expression, “I solemnly swear” undercut by the irreverent “that I am up to no good” 19 echoes in its turn of phrase Lupin’s cartographical insult to Snape, “Mr Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.” 20 “Lupin was the good boy, he got the badge,” 21 as Sirius tells Harry. As a Hogwarts prefect, Lupin may not have been as openly rebellious as James and Sirius, but his wit is suggestive of a subtly subversive spirit akin to their own rebellion. Given that Lupin never allows himself to lash out in anger, his use of irony and black humour – “And I’m not a very popular dinner guest with most of the community, it’s an occupational hazard of being a werewolf” 22 – is this outsider’s way of sublimating his hurt at years of rejection. During the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, Harry, in the mistaken belief he has seen a Dementor on the pitch, conjures his first corporeal Patronus. The Dementor turns out to be none other that Draco Malfoy and his cronies dressed up to ape a Dementor. Afterwards Lupin tells Harry, “You gave Mr Malfoy quite a fright.” 23 Now as we know, Lupin usually addresses and refers to his students by their first names and so by referring to Draco with his surname and the title of “Mr” he is according him a respect that is clearly ironic in intent; this is especially pointed when one considers that the Malfoy family represents the wizarding establishment at its most prejudicial.

Relationship with Dumbledore

One authority figure whom Lupin views without irony but respects unreservedly is Albus Dumbledore. It is on hearing of Dumbledore’s death that we see Lupin lose his composure for the first time and Harry is almost shocked. “Harry had never seen Lupin lose control before; he felt as though he was intruding on something private, indecent.” 24 Lupin’s reactions suggest that for him the loss of Dumbledore has not just meant a terrible blow in the fight against Voldemort, but it is also a deeply personal one. As well as embodying all the noblest principles of the wizarding world, Dumbledore, as a champion of the outcast, has a special significance for Lupin.

And Dumbledore’s trust has meant everything to me. He let me into Hogwarts as a boy, and he gave me a job, when I have been shunned all my adult life, unable to find paid work because of what I am.25

Lupin has carried a life-long guilt at the fact that he betrayed Dumbledore’s trust while still at school and is even more disgusted with himself that he remained silent on the matter of Sirius being an Animagus. Lupin explains his youthful betrayal of trust by telling Harry,

We were young, thoughtless – carried away by our own cleverness. […] But I always managed to forget my guilty feelings every time we sat down to plan our next month’s adventure.26

Lupin’s fear of losing Dumbledore’s trust should he learn of their youthful exploits highlights Lupin’s insecurity that because of what he is, he will never be fully trusted. Consequently, he fears that any personal failure on his part will cause the other to lose faith in him permanently. He should have known better. Dumbledore may have expressed some disappointment in Lupin initially, but he is possibly more disappointed, even hurt that Lupin does not credit him with greater understanding and sympathy by not confiding in him about Sirius’s being an Animagus. It certainly was very remiss of Lupin not to inform Dumbledore about Padfoot, for if Sirius had indeed been a murderer, the consequences could have been disastrous.

The Young Marauder

Interestingly, we have no reason to believe that either Sirius or James felt the slightest guilt that they were complicit in betraying Dumbledore’s trust. Lupin, of course, would have been more acutely aware that Dumbledore was taking great risks admitting him to Hogwarts in the first place. However, even allowing for this, Lupin has lived with fear, pain and the ever-present possibility of death (who knows what injuries he may have inflicted on himself or others?) since he was a small boy. This could affect his character in two important ways: one would be to make him develop a sense of maturity beyond his years, and the other would make him want to break out, throw caution to the winds and enjoy the moment. And no doubt, both were in conflict within the young Remus. As a Hogwarts student, Lupin had always to be on guard to avoid general discovery of his condition; even for some time, thinking it necessary to lie to his friends and cover up his absences for fear that discovery would lead to the loss of their friendship. No wonder then, all things considered, when later the chance came to run amok with two wild, carefree companions and a third who came along for the ride, he found it impossible to resist, as this chance for adventure would have provided him with a much-needed emotional release. Otherwise, he may have imploded under the weight of so much responsibility.

J.K. Rowling has noted that Lupin’s main failing is that “he likes to be liked. That’s where he slips up – he’s been disliked so often he’s always pleased to have friends so cuts them an awful lot of slack.” 27 This comment of Rowling’s has been interpreted to suggest that Lupin is rather gutless when it comes to standing up for his principles if it means making himself unpopular. Lupin believes that Dumbledore in making him a prefect was hoping that he would exercise some control over his best friends: “I need scarcely say that I failed dismally.” 28 One needs to be a little sceptical about the statements Lupin makes about himself. He may cut others too much slack but so often he fails to show the same degree of sympathy to himself. He claims to have lacked “the guts” to tell Sirius and James when they were out of line. Though obviously distinctly uncomfortable with their bullying of Snape, we see how Lupin fails to act on one particular occasion. Does he keep silent out of fear of losing James and Sirius’s friendship? His status in the group seems too assured for that; more likely, he did not want to say anything in front of a crowd of onlookers because he thought it would be disloyal to two boys who had shown him, in their turn, a loyalty beyond his expectations. And we know he did confront them in private because as Sirius says, “you made us feel ashamed of ourselves sometimes ... that was something.…” 29 Where Lupin really does cut Sirius too much slack is over his prank to lure an unsuspecting Snape into the Shrieking Shack, and the fact that even as an adult Sirius fails to appreciate its gravity. Lupin would have been fully justified for being furious that someone he trusted could have even considered using him unwittingly as an instrument for murder. Maybe he was, we may never know, but possibly not as much as Sirius deserved. Lupin appears to feel a greater debt of gratitude towards his friends for accompanying him during his transformations than is strictly warranted. As the following comment from Sirius reveals: “I’m bored … wish it was full moon,” 30 their motives are not entirely altruistic. On the contrary, they are motivated as much by the thrill of adventure and the conceit of their own cleverness. In fact, Sirius’s comment is even rather thoughtless, ignoring that what might have been for him a pretext for fun was an occasion of great physical pain for his friend. “ ‘You might,’ said Lupin darkly from behind his book.” 31

Another point to consider is that Dumbledore is unlikely to have chosen Lupin as a prefect just to keep James and Sirius in check if it weren’t for the fact that Lupin probably enjoyed a considerable amount of respect from others of his peers. Sirius and James, as Lupin says, were considered “the height of cool” 32 but what about Lupin himself? Did his feelings of self-disgust at his condition make it difficult for him to appreciate that he too was seen to share something of James and Sirius’s cool cachet? After all, no one at Hogwarts other than his best friends, Dumbledore and later Snape knew anything was wrong with him. Without evidence to the contrary, he was presumably a rather pleasing-looking youngster, dressed in regulation Hogwarts robes, and before the years took their toll, he would not have presented himself as the shabby, worn-out figure of his later years. Moreover, given his wizarding talent, his kindly manner and wit, all this adds up to a very likeable and appealing young man who no doubt may have had quite a few witches looking longingly in his direction. And possibly, as Tonks later discovers, they too were frustrated at his apparent lack of acknowledgement and inaction!

Sirius and Lupin – Mutual Suspicion

Lupin must have greeted the news of Sirius’s being a Death Eater with a shock of disbelief. Everything in Sirius’s character tells against it, not only because for as long as Lupin knew him, he despised the Dark Arts and his family’s pure-blood mania but also because he is the man least likely to ever submit himself to the absolute rule of another. Only the overwhelming weight of evidence against Sirius could have finally convinced Lupin of that, and perhaps Dumbledore’s own belief that Sirius was guilty of betraying the Potters and of murder. There is also a hint that there may have been some estrangement between Lupin and Sirius before the deaths of James and Lily, for as we know Sirius suspected Lupin was the spy among their number. It is revealed in the Shrieking Shack that this was why Sirius never informed him that Peter had replaced Sirius as the Potters’ Secret Keeper.

“Remus!” Pettigrew squeaked, […] “You don’t believe this … Wouldn’t Sirius have told you they’d changed the plan?”

“Not if he thought I was the spy, Peter,” said Lupin. “I assume that’s why you didn’t tell me, Sirius?” he said casually over Pettigrew’s head.” 33

We’re not told why Sirius would suspect such a good friend of his youth, but it appears that the answer might be Peter. While McGonagall tells us that Peter “hero-worshipped Black and Potter,” 34 he could not have been insensible of the fact that there was always a slight note of contempt in Sirius’s appreciation of him: “Put [the Snitch] away, will you,” said Sirius finally, as James made a fine catch and Wormtail let out a cheer, “before Wormtail wets himself with excitement.” 35 We know Peter feels the cut because he turns red. Perhaps by the latter part of their seventh year at Hogwarts, Peter saw James’s likely absences from the group when he was off with Lily as a chance to grow closer to Sirius and to rise in his estimation. That didn’t happen, and when James was otherwise engaged, Sirius quite predictably turned more to Lupin for companionship. Maybe once Voldemort got to Peter this awakened his resentment of Lupin as well – to think he should have played second fiddle to a werewolf! And so partly out of revenge and partly to cover his own back he quietly insinuated Lupin was the spy? Who would have suspected sweet, obliging Peter? We don’t know what James thought, but it must have cost Sirius dearly to believe Lupin’s treachery. It is doubtful that Lupin’s being a werewolf would have tipped the scales of Sirius’s opinion, but those were dark days. So many wizards and witches fell victim to the Imperius Curse and an atmosphere of great distrust existed, even among old friends. Not to forget that Voldemort and his Death Eaters were especially skilled at sowing the seeds of suspicion among those who opposed them.

Lupin and Tonks

Because the books are told from Harry’s point of view and consequently we have no access to the inner narratives of either Lupin or Nymphadora Tonks, what actually precipitated Tonks’s romantic interest in Lupin remains a mystery. The one possible scenario, hinted at by Hermione Granger, is that Tonks may have fallen in love with Lupin as he was talking her through the events in the Department of Mysteries the previous summer when, as a recently qualified Auror, she would have faced the Death Eaters for the first time. “ ‘It’s survivor’s guilt,’ said Hermione. ‘I know Lupin’s tried to talk her round, but she’s still really down. She’s actually having trouble with her Metamorphosing!’ ” 36 Whatever the circumstances, it does seem clear that Lupin finds it hard to accept that a witch could fall in love with him, understandable perhaps, given his condition: “And I’ve told you a million times,” said Lupin, refusing to meet her eyes and staring at the floor,” that I am too old for you, too poor … too dangerous ….” 37

Whatever mutual attraction may have developed the previous summer, it seems most likely that Tonks was the one to articulate it explicitly and Lupin the one to nip it in the bud. This has left Tonks feeling deeply depressed. Although Lupin’s acute discomfort at any mention of Tonks during Christmas at the Weasleys’ is not so apparent at first reading, it becomes so when viewed retrospectively. While Tonks’s feelings for Lupin are made quite clear, his are less so. All that we know is that he has serious reservations about pursuing any relationship. Whether his objections are just his way of extricating himself from a sense of guilt that he may have unwittingly led Tonks to believe he feels more for her than he does; or whether he does love her and just believes such a relationship would be unfair to Tonks is not yet able to be determined. So much comes down to how perceptive we believe Tonks is with regards to interpreting those feelings of Lupin’s not explicitly articulated. Lupin’s deep-seated reserve would certainly make him a very difficult man to read. A declaration of love on Lupin’s part is unlikely to have taken place if he genuinely believes a relationship is impossible. Why would a man, who until now has shown an almost uncanny level of perceptiveness, be so inept in this case by failing to realize that making such a declaration and then denying the possibility of a relationship would leave Tonks in a dreadful state of suspended hope? It is surprising that at no point do we see Lupin respond with even a spark of pleasure at the prospect of a love requited. Surely, such an expression of delight would reveal itself in some small way despite all his reservations. This is not to rule out the possibility that he does love her, just that without further evidence we cannot say for sure.

When one looks at his objections only the first really carries any weight. “Too poor” could be a problem but not an insurmountable one, “too dangerous” sounds like a rationalization. Why should he pose a greater danger to her as her lover than he already does as her friend; do the same precautions apply? And if there were a risk of werewolf cross-contamination in sexual intimacy then that simply puts an end to it altogether. “Too old for you” is a real obstacle, not because of the actual age difference per se, but rather because Lupin is ageing at an accelerating rate and this gap in their apparent ages can only widen with the progression of years. There are additional problems, what about children, how will they be received by the wizarding world, and would Lupin wish to bring children into the world, knowing they will always bear the stigma of being the offspring of a werewolf? When he tells Arthur, “Tonks deserves somebody young and whole,” 38 is he concerned he may be committing Tonks to a childless future? Tonks doesn’t help matters with her rather naïve response of “I don’t care.” 39 She needs to strongly justify her feelings if she is to convince Lupin she is under no illusions about the difficulties ahead. Perhaps Lupin believes she is too young to fully appreciate the strains of a life lived under the constant anxiety that each full moon he would inevitably bring. Is he convinced that Tonks truly knows her own feelings or does he believe it is just an infatuation that will pass in time? During the summer, in which they appear to have grown closer, both were in an emotionally fragile state and a state of war often heightens emotions that are not sustainable in peace time, something Lupin, having lived through the last war, would be aware of. In the light of this, Lupin’s tentativeness could be partly explained by a fear of getting in too deep and not wishing to risk a devastating disappointment should the relationship fail.

We don’t know what transpired between Tonks and Lupin in the interval between the events in the hospital wing at Hogwarts and Dumbledore’s funeral. Maybe she has finally convinced him that her love is a mature one and entered into with eyes wide open. Perhaps they have just reached some understanding that has resolved the situation in a way that has alleviated Tonks’s depression. We don’t really know. As for the fact that they are holding hands, we only have Harry’s perspective on this – he may be mistaken, or else it is just an affectionate gesture of some form of reconciliation, or they are now a couple. Until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the question will remain open.

The Insightful Wizard

At Dumbledore’s funeral, Harry is contemplating the future alone, “the last and greatest of his protectors had died and he was more alone than he had ever been before.” 40 Strange, that he never considers Lupin as the one protector still left to him. Or is it because “he could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort”?41

So what further role may Lupin play in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? At Dumbledore’s request, we know that Lupin was underground, living amongst other werewolves and attempting to gain their trust and alliance to the Order. However, now that Fenrir Greyback has seen Lupin fighting alongside the Order on the night of Dumbledore’s death, his continued espionage among the werewolves may be discovered. Fenrir, as has also been revealed, was the werewolf responsible for biting Lupin as a small boy, so there is a strong possibility that a final confrontation between the two may take place.

Another consideration may be that Lupin is the only nominally “good” character who has such an intimate acquaintance with the dark, destructive forces that Voldemort and his Death Eaters undoubtedly tap into for their own evil purposes. Of course, the werewolf is not essentially evil – dangerous, yes, but not evil, as the concept of evil implies the notion of free will and the fully-fledged werewolf has no control. However, Lupin does seem to have some recollection of what it feels like to be under the influence of such dark powers. This duality of being, together with the essential nobility of his human character, could lead one to suspect that Lupin’s knowledge goes way beyond the simple “how-to” of magic to reach a far deeper understanding of the full scope of its underlying forces; and this is an understanding gained not just intellectually but also experientially. This may serve to make him a far more powerful wizard than has hitherto been revealed. Apart from Dumbledore, he is the only one of Order of the Phoenix who emerges from the Department of Mysteries unscathed. And one of only four we know of who has no fear of the name of Voldemort itself. Lupin knows that he is more than a werewolf by name and this has taught him that one should fear not the name itself, but rather the person beneath.

We already know that Harry’s greatest weapon in the fight against Voldemort is his capacity to love. Lupin already knows something of love’s power to allow some glimmer of light to penetrate the dark forces that possess him at the full moon. As he says, “Under their [the other Marauders’] influence, I became less dangerous. My body was still wolfish, but my mind seemed to become less so while I was with them.” 42 Could this be a foreshadowing of love’s power to illuminate the darkness? If so, then what special insights may Lupin have to offer Harry as to this power? And will it be significant at some critical juncture?

Voldemort’s greatest strength lies in the art of manipulating appearances to deceive, even using his own name as a means of intimidation. What Tom Riddle fails to recognize is that by giving himself the name Voldemort, he is perpetuating the greatest delusion of all: that you can deny death without also denying life. Harry may not allow anyone else to stand between himself and Voldemort; however, in doing so, he may be overlooking the one person whose insights will prove crucial to his success in vanquishing Voldemort. Lupin was Harry’s first mentor in matters magical, and the one who first taught Harry to be wary of trusting appearances; Lupin equips Harry with the charms that will pierce the veil of illusion. Maybe, as the one truly noble wizard who stands between dark and light, man and monster, Lupin appreciates more than anyone that allowing the fear of death to dominate leads ultimately to a denial of life’s true value. As he tells Harry during their first talk together in his office when Harry informs him that he feared the Boggart would turn into a Dementor, not Voldemort: “That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.” 43


1. Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban, 60.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., 68.

4. Ibid., 60.

5. Ibid., 70.

6. Ibid., 99.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., 170.

9. Ibid., 141.

10. Ibid., 178.

11. Ibid., 180.

12. Ibid., 212.

13. Ibid., 213.

14. Ibid., 117.

15. Ibid., 140.

16. Ibid., 143.

17. Ibid., 183.

18. Ibid., 271.

19. Ibid., 143.

20. Ibid., 211.

21. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 155.

22. Ibid., 89.

23. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 194.

24. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 572–3.

25. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 261.

26. Ibid., 260.

27. Ibid., Interview by Stephen Fry.

28. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 155.

29. Ibid., 591.

30. Ibid., 568.

31. Ibid.

32. Ibid., 591.

33. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 273.

34. Ibid., 154.

35. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 568.

36. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 94.

37. Ibid., 582.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 601.

41. Ibid.

42. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 260.

43. Ibid., 117.


Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.

———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.

———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury, 1999.

———. Interview by Stephen Fry. “J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall,” 26 June 2003. Transcribed by,

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