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The chapter that made us fall in love with… Remus Lupin

Here’s to the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we ever saw.

Lupin looking concerned
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Remus Lupin is probably one of the most beloved characters of the Harry Potter series, and although the character had his ups and downs, us readers liked him more or less from the very first moment we were introduced to him in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The immediate offering of chocolate was an easy way to realise Lupin was a great man. However, there was one chapter in particular that confirmed that he was to become a firm favourite. Let’s return to book three, chapter eight: ‘Flight of the Fat Lady’...

Before the chapter

Dementor on the Hogwarts Exress
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

From our very first meeting with Lupin on the Hogwarts Express, he was a character of intrigue. Fast asleep with his battered suitcase, it wasn’t long before Lupin sprung into action to save Harry and his friends, who had joined his compartment, against the unexpected Dementors. Immediately, this shabby-looking, tired man turned our expectations on their head.

‘Professor Lupin stepped over you, and walked towards the Dementor, and pulled out his wand,’ said Hermione. ‘And he said, “None of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks. Go.” But the Dementor didn’t move, so Lupin muttered something, and a silvery thing shot out of his wand at it, and it turned round and sort of glided away…’”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Indeed, the fact that Lupin knew exactly how to get rid of this new evil before dishing out chocolate was a sure sign that he was a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor worth his salt, particularly when Madam Pomfrey praised his actions after fussing over Harry when they arrived at Hogwarts. Gilderoy Lockhart or Professor Quirrell, he was not.

And this was only the beginning of Lupin’s turn as Harry’s most impressive Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

‘Flight of the Fat Lady’

Student and teachers find the slashed Fat lady
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Early in the chapter we quickly learned that, despite Malfoy’s disdain, Lupin was clearly brilliant at his new job, and it wasn’t long before he earned the respect of (almost) all of his students.

‘Look at the state of his robes,’ Malfoy would say in a loud whisper as Professor Lupin passed. ‘He dresses like our old house-elf.’ But no one else cared that Professor Lupin’s robes were patched and frayed. His next few lessons were just as interesting as the first. After Boggarts, they studied Red Caps, nasty little goblin-like creatures that lurked wherever there had been bloodshed, in the dungeons of castles and the potholes of deserted battlefields, waiting to bludgeon those who had got lost.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

But it wasn’t until Harry spent his first real bit of quality time with Lupin that we realised how important Lupin’s role was to Harry, and to the story. He wasn’t just a cool teacher, he was a huge part of Harry’s father’s history. And Lupin was quick to bond with his best friend’s son. After Ron and Hermione reluctantly went to Hogsmeade without Harry, who wasn’t allowed to go thanks to some permission form ‘issues’ (thanks a bunch, Uncle Vernon) Lupin spotted him and immediately realised that something wasn’t quite right. A cup of tea and a chat quickly followed – just what Harry needed. Bless.

From there, not only did Lupin cheer Harry up about Hogsmeade, he also taught him that his fear of the soul-sucking prison guards was nothing to be ashamed of, but was in fact a fear of fear itself. And Harry definitely needed this pep-talk, after a bit of a confidence knock in Lupin’s Boggart lesson when he didn’t get the chance to face the creature in the wardrobe. Soon enough, Lupin’s gentle wisdom and logic made him realise why: he was worried the Boggart might have turned into Lord Voldemort. Always a bit of a downer.

‘I did think of Voldemort first,’ said Harry honestly. ‘But then I – I remembered those Dementors.’ ‘I see,’ said Lupin thoughtfully. ‘Well, well ... I’m impressed.’ He smiled slightly at the look of surprise on Harry's face. ‘That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.’ Harry didn’t know what to say to that, so he drank some more tea.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Note that Lupin never talked down to Harry, only a third-year at the time. He treated his students with understanding and respect – the markings of a great teacher.

‘Voldemort’

Harry about to face a Boggart in Defence Ggainst the Dark Arts
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

If we needed any more evidence that Lupin was definitely the right man for the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, it was that he said Voldemort’s name aloud to Harry, something that many other respectable witches and wizards are terrified of doing. At this point, it was the first time Harry heard someone use the name besides himself and Dumbledore, which certainly earned Harry’s respect (and ours)! Again, using the name saw Lupin treat Harry as an adult and as an equal.

In this chapter, the atmosphere changed suddenly when Severus Snape arrived during their talk to give Lupin a potion, which we now know helped him to keep his human mind when transforming into a werewolf. It must have taken Lupin everything to have treated Snape with courtesy and respect after how much Snape hated his group at school, especially since Snape clearly still held a grudge against him. Harry even gave Lupin the perfect opportunity to speak badly about Snape when he warned him that Snape wanted the Defence Against the Dark Arts post, which Lupin politely (but promptly) ignored.

‘I’ve been feeling a bit off-colour,’ he said. ‘This potion is the only thing that helps. I am very lucky to be working alongside Professor Snape; there aren’t many wizards who are up to making it.’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Why the chapter mattered

Lupin teaches the Patronus charm to Harry.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Lupin went out of his way to make sure Harry was okay right from the off, treating him as a friend as well as a student. Of course, it’s no surprise that James Potter’s best friend would want to bond with his son, but the way Lupin talked with Harry in this moment showed a genuine interest in Harry himself.

Instead of trying to replace James with Harry, as perhaps Sirius Black tried to do on occasion, Lupin only very briefly revealed to Harry that he had been friends with his father at school, and even then he quickly drew attention back to the matter at hand. It could have been so easy for him to have acted on a more selfish impulse and treated him like a son, but Harry needed him as a teacher first and foremost, and that was exactly how Lupin acted.

A small act perhaps, but this chapter showed all of the many reasons Lupin was a complete an utter hero, just a very gentle and softly-spoken one preferring a cuppa over combat.

Which chapter made you fall in love with your favourite Harry Potter character? Check out more of our favourites from our 'Chapter we fell in love with...' series right here.