First, here’s a bit of backstory on Remus’s childhood and how he got bitten, but you can read the full article here.
Remus Lupin is certainly one of the most beloved characters of the Harry Potter series. Good, principled, intelligent and kind – it is easy to understand why. Yet, Remus had to shoulder the huge burden of being a werewolf and the prejudice that came with that. The wizarding community – even those you would consider to be ‘good’ people – treated lycanthropes dreadfully, shunning and pushing them to the fringes of society. In fact, it was because of an uncharacteristically bigoted outburst by his father, Lyall Lupin, that Remus was attacked by Fenrir Greyback shortly before his fifth birthday.
Lyall Lupin was a world-renowned authority on Non-Human Spiritous Apparitions (such as Boggarts and poltergeists). When Voldemort started to gain power, his Death Eaters recruited all manner of Dark creatures to help them with their bid to overthrow the Ministry of Magic. While many were still not aware that Lord Voldemort was behind the attacks, they did recognise that there had been more instances of Dark Magic. So, to tackle the threat the Ministry asked experts on Dark creatures to help them.
Lyall was one of the people called in and joined the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. This is where he encountered Fenrir Greyback – who had been brought in for questioning about the murder of two Muggle children. Greyback denied being a werewolf and claimed to be a Muggle tramp. Lyall saw straight through him – and tried to tell the committee who just laughed at him. He grew angry that they wouldn’t listen and said that werewolves were ‘soulless, evil, deserving nothing but death’.
Greyback was released and fled, but he remembered Lyall’s words and sought his revenge. When he climbed through Remus’s bedroom window and attacked him, Lyall was able to save Remus’s life, but the damage had been done and Remus would now be a werewolf. Lyall had to live with what he had said for the rest of his life and deeply regretted it. While he was sharing a widely held view, his words had consequences. His prejudice, and the reaction to it, was the reason Remus would be shunned by the wizarding community for the rest of his life.
There is no doubt that being a werewolf had an impact on some aspects of Remus’s personality. Throughout his childhood he had to move from place to place when people started to notice his drawn complexion and regular disappearances at the full moon. He also wasn’t able to make any friends in case he revealed his secret. While his parents, Lyall and Hope (a Muggle), were brilliant, loving and trying to protect him, the reality was Remus was a very lonely child who always had to remain on the outside.
Things changed when Albus Dumbledore brought him to Hogwarts and he was able to make friend with James, Sirius and Peter, but he still had to hide who he was from the majority of his peers (who would probably not be so understanding). After Hogwarts and the death of James, apparent death of Peter and incarceration of Sirius, he was once again alone. The wizarding world continued to ostracise him, and he still had to live a solitary existence. Nobody can go through an experience like that and not be changed. His condition held him back from being able to fully embrace life and he couldn’t live up to his full potential. However, it didn’t make him bitter, and he was always known to look out for the underdog – whether it was Peter Pettigrew as a pupil or Neville Longbottom as a teacher.
But would he have been like that anyway? Before Remus was attacked, he was still known to be loving and intelligent by his parents. With his compassionate nature, it is very likely that he still would have been kind and helpful towards his peers. He resisted the anger and hatred that many werewolves (understandably) felt towards their fellow wizards and didn’t allow his condition to become the only thing about him. Fenrir Greyback let his werewolf status embody his whole personality, in comparison.
However, his condition did lead him to want to fit in at any cost – even if it meant going along with things he knew to be wrong. Remus was always known to be the conscience of the Marauders, but he sometimes allowed them to get away with stuff he shouldn’t have, such as the bullying of Severus Snape, because he was grateful for their friendship. If he had not had to deal with the insecurity that came with being a werewolf and an outsider, he may have felt more confident in stopping James and Sirius when they acted out.
We think it is safe to say that while being a werewolf inevitably had an impact on Remus’s personality, it didn’t change his fundamental nature. The kind and intelligent boy grew up to be a kind and intelligent man – who was maybe a little more wary and identified with outsiders more quickly than if he had never become one himself.
It’s hard to believe that the four Marauders would never have become unregistered Animagi. Yet, it was purely because of Remus’s condition that they decided to undergo the arduous process in the first place. When they discovered in their second year the reason behind his monthly disappearances, they didn’t push him away or think differently of him. Instead, they realised they would be safe to be around him in animal form and so decided that he would never have to suffer through a full moon alone again.
Knowing that, it is easy to believe that becoming Animagi would never have crossed their minds if it weren’t for the werewolf factor. But does that underestimate who the Marauders were? The four Gryffindors were known to be adventurous and push the boundaries throughout their entire time at Hogwarts. In fact, the only other students whose exploits and ability to cause mischief came close to them were the Weasley twins. It’s not hard to believe that the Marauders would have come to the decision to become Animagi in another way. Whether it was an attempt to make sneaking around the castle and grounds easier or something exciting to do because they were bored, we think it is definitely within the realm of possibility that they still would have taken that path.
When Albus Dumbledore tracked Lupin to a derelict cottage in Yorkshire and asked him to return to Hogwarts as a teacher, Lupin only accepted after he was told that an unlimited supply of Wolfsbane Potion (which restricted his transformation to that of an ordinary sleepy wolf) would be available to him, thanks to his old nemesis Snape. However, once he was at Hogwarts, he proved to be an incredibly talented teacher. He was definitely the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher that Harry ever had. Whether he was teaching how to banish a Boggart, helping Harry produce a Patronus or giving Neville the confidence to believe in himself, Lupin was a natural.
Therefore, it is easy to believe that Lupin would have found his way into teaching anyway. His personality is certainly suited to the profession, and we can totally see him getting along famously with the other professors (maybe not Snape) without having to worry that they would discover his secret. In fact, if he had found his way back to Hogwarts to teach, we can imagine he would be the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher that made it past one year.
However, because of his condition, Remus had to live a very transient existence – moving from job to job and place to place. He always had to move on when people started noticing his pattern. He also had to take on work that was beneath his ability and had to sell himself short. Therefore, we don’t know what could have been in store for him if he had been able to live a more normal life. He might have followed in his father’s footsteps and taken a job at the Ministry of Magic for example. Teaching may never have been on his radar. However, we can’t help but feel that Lupin probably would have found his way back to Hogwarts. He was a born teacher, loved by (most of) his students and excellent at his job.
There are a couple of reasons why Remus’s lycanthropy contributed to Sirius being framed and then losing the opportunity to clear his name. If the Marauders hadn’t become Animagi in solidarity with Remus, then Peter Pettigrew would not have been able to spend thirteen years in hiding with the Weasleys – unless he found another way to fake his own death. But without this particular magical skill, it would’ve been a lot harder for him to hide his involvement with Lord Voldemort and frame Sirius for multiple murders.
However, even if we do assume that the Marauders could still transform into animals, then it could have been possible that Sirius would have cleared his name if it weren’t for that fateful night in the school grounds. Remus’s full werewolf transformation provided Peter (the proof of Sirius’s innocence) with the perfect opportunity to escape. If Harry, Ron, Hermione and Sirius hadn’t been distracted with the danger Lupin presented then they might have been able to bring Pettigrew to Dumbledore and to justice.
Yet, even if Pettigrew had been brought before the Ministry of Magic, perhaps he would’ve still been able to spin a story about how Sirius Black was the villain and he had hidden in fear for his life. Bearing in mind how obstinate Cornelius Fudge could be, we reckon he might have believed him – or at least chosen to ¬– because facing the truth was never a strength of his. So, while Remus’s condition might have stopped Sirius from being able to present evidence of his innocence, there was no guarantee that it would have made a difference.
Remus never viewed himself as someone who deserved to find happiness. In fact, if he had met Tonks during the period Voldemort had vanished, and if it wasn’t in the context of the Order of the Phoenix, he probably would have left the moment he realised he had feelings for her.
Remus viewed himself as someone unworthy of love and that it would be incredibly selfish of him to pursue a relationship. He worried that he would condemn his partner to a life of moving around and unable to settle, just like it had been for his parents. Not to mention his concern about passing on his lycanthropy to any children he might have.
Though we think that this is one thing that could have changed if Remus hadn’t been a werewolf. We assume that he still would have been a member of the Order of the Phoenix and would have still met Tonks. He wouldn’t have had his concerns about his worthiness or selfishness and wouldn’t have felt like he had to hide his true feelings. The attraction between the two of them was undeniable and we reckon that wouldn’t have changed. We think Remus would have opened up his heart to her much more easily and quickly as a result. However, it does make us feel sad to think that they could have had longer together if it wasn’t for the barriers Remus had constructed.
Do you agree with our musings? What do you think would have happened to Remus Lupin if Fenrir Greyback hadn’t turned him into a werewolf?
Explore more ‘what if’ scenarios with us, such as…
What if Draco Malfoy had been a Gryffindor?
What if Harry, Ron and Hermione had never made friends in Philosopher’s Stone?