A sneaky nod to Lupin’s status as a werewolf, the name ‘Remus’ comes from Roman mythology. In the story, ‘Remus’ was raised by wolves along with his brother, Romulus. If the brother’s name also sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the name Lupin went by while speaking anonymously on Potterwatch in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Clever, clever.
This isn’t the only hint of Remus’s lycanthropic tendencies, as his surname, ‘Lupin’, comes from the Latin word ‘lupus’, meaning wolf. Since the novels were published, J.K. Rowling has also revealed that Lupin’s father’s name was ‘Lyall’ which originates from the Old Norse word ‘Liulfr’, once again meaning wolf. Yep, Remus’s dad’s name literally translates to ‘wolf wolf’!
Although Lupin taught Harry how to cast a Patronus spell, we never actually saw what shape his own spell took, only that Tonks’s changed to a wolf after falling in love with him. According to J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore entry on Remus, his Patronus was a normal wolf, not a werewolf, due to their non-threatening and family-orientated nature. However, since Lupin hated all things wolf, he shied away from casting corporeal Patronuses, instead opting to produce non-corporeal ones.
She wrote: ‘Remus dislikes the form of his Patronus, which is a constant reminder of his affliction. Everything wolfish disgusts him, and he often produces a non-corporeal Patronus deliberately, especially when others are watching.’
Remus was turned by Fenrir Greyback, who sought revenge on his father for his unkind words about the werewolf community. The attack took place just before his fifth birthday, and although Lyall burst in and saved his son from death, the attack left Remus as a werewolf himself.
Although Lupin had lived with being a werewolf since he was four, he was still afraid of having to transform every month, which was revealed through his Boggart. When teaching his Defence Against the Dark Arts class on how to defeat the creature which turned into a person’s worst fear, Harry mistook Lupin’s Boggart for an ‘orb’, while Lavender later commented that he was afraid of crystal balls.
The legless spider had vanished. For a second, everyone looked wildly around to see where it was. Then they saw a silvery white orb hanging in the air in front of Lupin, who said ‘Riddikulus!’ almost lazily.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lupin was awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed among a witch or wizard thanks to his efforts in the Battle of Hogwarts. He was the first werewolf to ever be given the award, and his tale helped to lift the stigma surrounding the condition, which previously left werewolves cast out by their fellow wizards.
Although he will always be one of our favourites, Lupin wasn’t completely perfect. In a conversation with Stephen Fry at the Royal Albert Hall back in 2003, J.K. Rowling said: ‘Lupin’s failing is 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.’
This would explain Lupin’s actions in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when he alone realised how Sirius Black managed to escape from Azkaban and how he could enter Hogwarts without detection, but was too afraid to tell Dumbledore the truth:
Lupin’s face had hardened, and there was self-disgust in his voice. ‘All this year, I have been battling with myself, wondering whether I should tell Dumbledore that Sirius was an Animagus. But I didn’t do it. Why? Because I was too cowardly. It would have meant admitting that I’d betrayed his trust while I was at school, admitting that I’d led others along with me ... and Dumbledore’s trust has meant everything to me.’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
One of our favourite moments from the books was when Lupin helped his class fight against a Boggart, revealing the worst fears of several characters including Neville (Professor Snape), Ron (spiders, of course), and Parvati (a mummy). So it seems like a nice touch that Remus’s parents actually met through a Boggart themselves.
According to J.K. Rowling’s writing, Lyall met the Muggle, Hope Howell, after she mistook a Boggart for an attacker, and let her believe that he saved her from a dangerous man before admitting the truth a few months later. The pair even ended up having a Boggart-topped wedding cake, adorable!
J.K. Rowling once revealed that she hadn’t initially planned to kill Remus at the Battle of Hogwarts, but didn’t have a choice after giving Arthur Weasley a reprise when he was attacked at the Ministry of Magic. She tweeted: ‘Once again, it's the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts so, as promised, I shall apologise for a death. This year: Remus Lupin. In the interests of total honesty I’d also like to confess that I didn’t decide to kill Lupin until I wrote Order of the Phoenix. Arthur lived, so Lupin had to die.’
We understand her reasoning, but still… we just miss him so much.