The Saruman of Harry Potter

I saw a post recently that said, “Every fandom has that one character that just didn’t deserve it.” For example, Harry Potter has Remus Lupin.

I’m currently working my way through the series for the fourth time. I just finished reading Prisoner of Azkaban, and boy, do I have some opinions.

(Spoilers, spoilers, blah, blah, blah.)

For starters, Remus Lupin, through no fault of his own, was bitten by a werewolf as a small child. The werewolves in Harry Potter are the “madness within” kind, the kind that have no control over their transformations. This meant he had to be sequestered away, that he would always be afraid of making friends because he was afraid of what they would think of him when they found out.

And then Dumbledore became headmaster. He arranged it so that Remus could go to school after all. We don’t know specifically when his roommates, his new friends, found out that he was a werewolf. But if it took them three years to become Animagus, and they succeeded in their fifth year, the longest they could have known Remus was one school year.

That has to be the worst thing in the world: To think you will never have friends, and then to make friends who will do something like that because of how much they love you, only to have those friends all ripped away from you. That’s what happened to Remus. He had his happy school years with James and Sirius and Peter, and then the first war started, and at the end of it, two of his best friends were dead because the third had gotten one killed and then actively murdered the other.

Remus spends twelve years under this impression. I imagine these twelve years were much like the years preceding Hogwarts when he lived in isolation and didn’t allow people to get too close. Remus is the kindest person. He wouldn’t have wanted to endanger anyone.

When he returns to Hogwarts as a teacher, now harmless during his transformations thanks to the Wolfsbane Potion, he meets Harry. Well, “meets” is probably the wrong word. I’m sure he had spent hours on end with Harry when James and Lily were still alive. Harry probably learned to say “Moony” very soon after “Mummy.” But here’s the twelve-year-old Harry, his Uncle Moony a complete stranger to him. A stranger pursued by Sirius Black, the man who used to be one of his best friends.

But Sirius turns out not to be the traitor. Remus has one of his best friends back, and everything is going to get better now. Right? Wrong! They fail to prove Sirius’s innocence, and he has to go on the run again, and not only that, Remus is revealed as a werewolf, so he resigns from teaching at Hogwarts.

A few years later, he falls in love and gets married and has a baby, and then (did you think he would get a happy ending?) he gets killed in the second war. He just didn’t deserve it. He’s one of my favorite Harry Potter characters, and I will never not be angry about the extent to which he didn’t deserve it.

I will also never not be angry about the extent to which Sirius didn’t deserve it. Sirius had an unhappy childhood, found friends at Hogwarts, lost his best friends in the first war, and spent twelve years rotting under the watch of the Dementors. And then he didn’t even make it to the second war. He got killed off almost as soon as Voldemort returned.

Here’s the thing about Sirius though. You know that Snape was in deep enough to know that the true traitor was Pettigrew. This means one of two things. Either Snape was such a jerk that he didn’t tell Dumbledore that Sirius was innocent and let him rot in Azkaban for twelve years – or Snape did tell Dumbledore, and Dumbledore let Sirius rot anyway.

I’ve seen a lot of like “wise old man with a long white beard club” posts kind of grouping Dumbledore in with Gandalf. Dumbledore is not the Gandalf of Harry Potter. He is the Saruman. And if you don’t think so, then you come tell me one good reason to leave a child in an abusive home for ten years. Because (spoiler alert) there isn’t one.


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