The Last & Lost Marauder: The Many Mysteries of Remus Lupin
“I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.”
– J.K. Rowling during a Scholastic.com chat
I am a Marauders fan. Sometimes I think I prefer those four boys to our trio in present day. For this reason, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is my favourite. “Snape’s Worst Memory” is a gorgeous chapter. Through one simple scene, it manages to describe the characters, behaviors and most importantly, the connections between the Marauders.
“I was happier than I had ever been in my life. For the first time ever, I had friends, three great friends.”
-Lupin, Prisoner of Azkaban
James and Sirius are the leaders – James the Quidditch star, Sirius the ever-popular ladies’ man. It really is the ‘Padfoot & Prongs Show.’ Their loyalty to each other is stronger than to the other two. Lupin is the responsible, bookish, almost parental figure that probably does their homework for them. And Peter? Peter is a fan. He’s a bit of a nuisance, but Sirius and James will keep him around because it is kind of fun to have someone idolize them. The most important thing we learn, though, is that the Marauders are a unit. They do everything together and as PoA demonstrated, would do anything for each other. Or would they?
I ask you a few questions:
- Why wasn’t Lupin at the Potters’ wedding? We hear about and see pictures of Sirius as best man, but nothing about Remus.
- Why wasn’t he at Harry’s christening? Although JKR has said that it was a hurried affair, it is customary to have close friends and family. If Sirius was in attendance, why not Remus?
- Why didn’t Lupin make an appearance at Godric’s Hollow after the attack? Sirius was there to find Harry; he probably could’ve used some help. We know why Peter didn’t show up, but why Lupin?
- Why did he wait so long to contact Harry? As one of his dad’s closest friends, Lupin had an obligation to make contact with Harry as soon as possible, especially since Sirius and Peter could not. Lupin should have gotten in touch with Harry in first year. Instead, he waited until third when he had no choice, due to his job.
- Why was Peter made Secret-Keeper? The logical choice would be, if Sirius would not do it, to appoint Lupin. He was strong in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Instead, Peter, who had always been weak as far as magical skills were concerned, was given the important task.
- *Why did Lupin believe that Sirius had been responsible for the Potters’ deaths? If my best friends had just died, I would be in shock. Perhaps, for awhile, Lupin would accept that Sirius Black had been responsible for their deaths, and the deaths of 12 muggles. However, after the shock wore off he should’ve questioned this explanation. Lupin knew Sirius and how Sirius felt about James, and about dark magic. He should have been suspicious; he should have done his own investigation. He should not, for 12 years, have accepted an obviously incorrect assumption. Unless of course, he and the Marauders were not close at the time.
“…his christening was a very hurried, quiet affair with just Sirius, just the best friend.”
– J.K. Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival
Remus Lupin truly is the lost Marauder. Roughly six or seven years pass between the O.W.L. exams witnessed in “Snape’s Worst Memory” and the tragic events at Godric’s Hollow. Within that time, Lupin has virtually disappeared from the lives of the other Marauders. JKR refers to Sirius as James’ best friend, the only best friend. Lupin is a member of the original Order (read the passage in OotP where Moody shows Harry a picture of the original Order. Lupin is standing away from Lily and the other Marauders), but he doesn’t attend important events in their lives, and he’s so out of touch with Sirius that he believes he’s a murderer.
This hasn’t happened to the other three. Sirius attends nearly every event. He’s best man, he’s Harry’s godfather, he’s the original Secret-Keeper, he finds Harry after the tragedy. Sirius is still very much a part of James’ life. In fact, excluding Lily and Harry, he may be the most important part of James’ life. Peter also, is still there. He may be missing important events (probably due to his busy secret life) but Lily and James trust him enough to make him Secret-Keeper in Sirius’ place. They are still very close.
The question is, what happened to Remus?
Lily and Lupin?
JKR has stated that she had to include things in the PoA film, which do not take place in the novel, in order to make future films work. I’ve seen the film several times now, and a scene that sticks out is the dialogue between Lupin and Harry on the bridge. In this scene, Lupin tells Harry about his parents. In the novel, similar dialogue was focused largely on James. After all, Lupin was James’ friend. In the film however, the focus is much more on Lily. Lupin describes how talented and kind she was and how she was there for him at a time when “no one else was.” Oh, and by the way, your father was a troublemaker.
Hang on… when “no one else was?” What happened to the other Marauders? Haven’t they proved that they’re willing to do almost anything for Moony? They’ll sneak out of the school at night, learn to be Animagi, break the law and put up with a werewolf. Why wouldn’t they be there for him?
There are two options:
- Lily and Lupin knew each other before he knew the other Marauders and she was there for him then. This is unlikely, however because that would be before Lupin came to Hogwarts. As Lily was living in a Muggle family at the time, and Lupin’s parents didn’t trust his werewolf tendencies, they probably wouldn’t be close friends.
- At some point during Hogwarts, Lily and Lupin were closer than Lupin and the other Marauders. This leads me to my point. I believe that Remus Lupin and Lily Evans had some kind of romantic relationship. When I talk about Harry Potter I admit that Sirius and James are more exciting and more attractive but I say that if I had to marry a Marauder it would be Lupin. Why? Because he’s strong, smart, dependable and kind. Perhaps Lily had the same type of thoughts. Or perhaps Lupin just had an innocent crush on her. Or maybe they actually dated.
It’s impossible to guess at the nature of their relationship. All I’m sure of is that, during that scene in the film, Lupin speaks of Lily as if she was much more than his friend’s wife. I can also tell you that if would take a lot to drive James and Lupin apart. They definitely loved each other. However, if something did tear them apart, Sirius and Peter would almost certainly take James’ side of the argument.
This is my theory. James found out about Lupin’s attraction to/relationship with Lily. He saw it as a betrayal of his friendship. After all, he had loved this girl for years but she wouldn’t give him a chance. Now, his best friend was going to swoop in and take her? There was an angry confrontation in which the friendship between the two was ruined. Normally, they wouldn’t let a girl come between then, but Lily isn’t just any girl. In the end, Lily makes a choice and leaves Lupin entirely alone, without her and exiled from his friends.
This theory answers all of the above questions. He was cut out of James’ life because James didn’t trust or like him. He wasn’t aware of their deaths until later and therefore didn’t make an appearance at Godric’s Hollow. Obviously, he would not be made Secret-Keeper. He was reluctant to contact Harry because he didn’t know what Harry had heard about him. And, after years of separation, he forgot Sirius’ true character.
What Does This Mean Now?
Upon getting to know Harry and finally reuniting with Sirius, Lupin may simply have let the grudge go. Whatever caused he and James to move apart, it wasn’t really important now. In fact, I suspect Lupin regrets the time he lost. He worked hard to build a relationship with Harry, and to repair his friendship with Sirius. What’s done is done, and is in the past.
There is, however, a darker alternative.
Lupin on the Dark Side
“…I have been shunned all my adult life, unable to find paid work because of what I am”
– Lupin, Prisoner of Azkaban
Stay with me, here. Don’t freak out. I know how much you all love Lupin. I adore him too. I don’t even want to believe my own thoughts sometimes. However, we can’t ignore the fact the JKR loves to pull tricks on us. She’s done it before with Moody/Crouch. Who’s to say she won’t do it again, on a much larger scale?
During PS and CoS, a pattern formed in which the DADA teacher had a dark side. That pattern seemed to break with the appointment of Lupin in third year. Yes, he had a secret (werewolf) but that was never seen as evil in any sense of the word. In fact, the trio forgives this quality almost as soon as they hear it. In fourth year, the “good DADA teacher” pattern appears to continue…until we learn of Crouch. In fifth year, the pure evil of Professor Umbridge cannot be denied. So, as of now, the only exception to the pattern appears to be Lupin.
What if he isn’t an exception? Think Star Wars with me for a moment. Good people pass into the dark side when they lose their connections to good. When there is no one to love you and tie you to virtue, why not become evil? Whether or not Lily was the cause, Lupin and the other Marauders lost their connection at some point. Lupin’s parents never seemed to love him. He was hated by the public in general for monthly transformations he couldn’t control. He couldn’t find work, we’ve never heard of him dating. What if, at a time when life seemed bleak, an old friend came to him and told him he could have a fresh start? What if Peter Pettigrew brought Lupin into the shadow of Voldemort?
“Black’s wand arm rose, but Lupin seized him around the wrist, gave him a warning look, then turned again to Pettigrew.”
– Prisoner of Azkaban
This is only speculation. I have no solid proof, but also no solid proof against it. Lupindid stall Sirius when he attempted to kill Peter, and Peter escaped. Lupin did hold Harry back when Sirius fell into the veil, possibly preventing his rescue. Come to think of it, he didn’t seem very affected by Sirius’ “death.” Of course, these actions could also be out of concern and love for Harry. Lupin did teach Harry how to produce a Patronus, but Voldemort has never wanted Harry to “die” by a Dementor. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whose side someone is on, as we’ve learned through speculations about Snape. Perhaps the Potions master isn’t the only double agent.
Look at the following passage from this new point of view:
“But as he reached the ground and sprinted towards the dais, Lupin grabbed Harry around the chest, holding him back.
‘There’s nothing you can do, Harry…’
‘Get him, save him, he’s only just gone through!’
‘…it’s too late, Harry.’
‘We can still reach him…’ Harry struggled hard and viciously, but Lupin would not let go.”
– Order of the Phoenix
True, or just a crazy thought? I don’t know. It’s a matter of perspective, a question of how you interpret the books. JKR may be trying to mislead us. But while my brain tells me it’s a possibility, my heart says no.
Every editorial, it seems, must make its predictions as to what is to come in the next two books. If the above “dark side” theory is true, I can’t even begin to imagine the repercussions it would have. The HP universe as we know it would fall apart.
However, let’s assume that it is not true. Lupin had a falling out with the other Marauders due to a complication with James about Lily, but he’s not working for Voldemort. Now Lily, James and Sirius are gone (not necessarily dead). What does this leave for Lupin?
Dramatically, he should be dead by now. If the purpose of ‘killing’ Sirius was to force independence and loneliness on Harry, Lupin should have gone first. It would be much more effective as a writing technique to start with killing more minor parts of Harry’s life and working up from there. The ideal order would be Cedric, Lupin, Sirius, Dumbledore, Ron. I make no assumptions about the other members of the list, but Sirius and Lupin’s positions are at least reversed. I believe JKR did this for a reason. Why? Because Lupin still has a major part to play in Harry’s story.
“You should have realized,” said Lupin quietly. “If Voldemort didn’t kill you, we would. Goodbye, Peter.”
– Prisoner of Azkaban
Lupin is now the last Marauder. James and Sirius died tragic deaths and Peter is a traitor. Now, Lupin is the only one left to avenge his friends, the only people he appears to have loved. There is a showdown between Moony and Wormtail in the very near future.
It’s perfectly organized. The leaders of their group are now dead. James and Sirius were clearly the warriors; they were built to fight. They were filled with passion and fire, and they never hid it. Remus and Peter, on the other hand, were followers. Peter hid behind others, let them fight his battles for him or followed blindly along. Remus loved peace and preferred not to get involved. Now, he has no choice. He must ignite the fire within himself.
Will Lupin forgive Wormtail, on behalf of his friends? Will Wormtail repent and redeem himself by saving Harry’s life? Or is his crime simply unforgivable? Will Peter die at the hand of the last Marauder? There is something beautiful about each scenario. In one, Lupin’s peace-making ways prevail and Peter is saved (although maybe only for a short while, if Voldemort finds out). In the other, Lupin pays his final tribute to his friends, a final peace offering to James through Peter’s death. Then, he marches into battle, and towards his own death, channeling the bravery of his fallen friends.
“Vengeance is very sweet”
– Snape, Prisoner of Azkaban
We will have to wait for answers to many of his mysteries. One thing is for sure, however – we still have a lot to learn about Remus Lupin.
Edited to add: Yes, I am aware they thought Remus was the spy. It is this very fact that makes me absolutely sure they were no longer friends (or at least not as close as before.) I cannot believe that Sirius would ever suspect him if their friendship was still intact.
In ‘Snape’s Worst Memory’ in OotP we see a beautiful friendship. It is my favorite HP scene of all time because it showcases the dynamics of the group. In it we see a dedication, a love, a togetherness that I totally admire. There is a warmth, an acceptance and a trust within the Marauders. In PoA we see friends who gave their time, energy for each other. To help a friend in need, just to keep them company. They risked getting expelled and honestly, James and Sirius LEARNING when it WASN’T required?! Don’t forget, this comes from immature third years. Can imagine the stregth of their friendship as adults?
This is why I can’t believe Sirius would suspect Remus, or Remus Sirius. Despite all evidence. If their friendship had continued on the path begun in third year, they would trust and have faith in each other unconditionally. Dedication. Real love. And the fact is, they obviously don’t at the time of the attack. So something must’ve gone wrong. Which, in fact, only supports my theory.
Special thanks to Brandon for fact-checking and suggestions.