By the books' timeline, today marks the 18th anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, an event that marked the end for a number of Harry Potter characters, including Remus Lupin and his wife Tonks. As J.K. Rowling explains it in this series of Tweets, J.K. Rowling began with an apology…
Once again, it's the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts so, as promised, I shall apologise for a death. This year: Remus Lupin.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2016
After which, she explained that she decided to kill off Remus Lupin when she wrote Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix…
In the interests of total honesty I'd also like to confess that I didn't decide to kill Lupin until I wrote Order if the Phoenix.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2016
It’s worth pointing out that Order of the Phoenix was the book that saw Sirius Black literally sent through the veil. However it wasn’t Lupin’s fellow Marauder’s death that led Rowling to mark him for death, it was the fact that Arthur Weasley had survived Nagini’s attack…
Arthur lived, so Lupin had to die. I'm sorry. I didn't enjoy doing it. The only time my editor ever saw me cry was over the fate of Teddy. ????— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2016
As Harry Potter fans likely recall, near the holidays in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Arthur Weasley was guarding the Department of Mysteries when he was attacked by Nagini. Harry saw the whole thing in his mind and alerted people at Hogwarts. Arthur was found in time and he survived the ordeal. It seems Remus Lupin’s life was the cost… at least, in J.K. Rowling’s mind.
The two events may seem mostly unrelated, however, for the writer of this story, perhaps there really is a balance that must be struck. She spared Arthur Weasley, but exchanged his life for another character’s, whose end would come near the conclusion of the series. Remus Lupin died at Hogwarts, alongside his wife Nymphadora Tonks. They left behind a son, Teddy, whom Rowling acknowledges in her recent message. Apparently, J.K. Rowling actually cried over Teddy’s fate. The child would grow up never remembering his parents.
This isn’t the first time J.K. Rowling has apologized for killing off a character. In fact, last year she said she’d apologize for one death per anniversary. Last year, it was Fred Weasley. This year, she acknowledged another loss, Remus Lupin. In a series with no shortage of tragedy, Remus Lupin’s backstory is particularly tragic. He battled with being a werewolf for most of his life, finally finding happiness and friendship at Hogwarts. And then some of his closest friends were killed (or seemingly killed), and another was blamed for betraying them, and sent to Azkaban. From there, Lupin struggled to find his place as a wizard and a werewolf.
His death was particularly heartbreaking, when we consider that he’d finally found love and acceptance, and that he and Tonks would never get to see young Teddy grow up.
Lupin was the last of the Marauders to die. And he was among the handful of lost loved ones who stood by Harry as he took that walk through the dark forest, to his own intended death.
From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
“I didn’t want you to die,” Harry said. These words came out without his volition. “Any of you. I’m sorry —“
He addressed Lupin more than any of them, beseeching him.
“—right after you’d had your son… Remus, I’m sorry -“
“I am sorry too,” said Lupin. “Sorry I will never know him… but he will know why I died, and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life.”
Rest in peace Moony.
Excuse me, now. I have something in my eye...