There are many reasons why Remus Lupin is my favorite character. He’s gentle, he’s intelligent and he’s kind. I was re-watching “Prisoner of Azkaban,” and I was struck by the way Lupin talked to his students; especially Harry. Even though Harry was only thirteen, Lupin talked to him the way he would talk to an adult. He never “dumbs down” his words or sugarcoats his thoughts. He’s blunt, too the point, direct. He has no qualms about teaching Harry the Patronus charm–a spell that, ordinarily no thirteen year old should be able to produce.

In fact, after Harry fails to produce a Patronus the first time he tries, Lupin tells him that he would have been shocked if he had. Those words, coming out of the mouth of Snape (or even McGonagall) could be construed as snide or mean. When Lupin says them, it’s to make Harry feel better about his own skills, while encouraging him that he can do better the next time.

Lupin is also a very tragic character. Rowling never expressly discussed what it was like for Lupin after Lily and James died, but one can surmise. Lupin, at 21 years old, has lost all his friends. All of them. Lily and James were dead, Peter Pettigrew (who he believed to be a friend) was believed dead, and Sirius was carted off to Azkaban, to blame for it all. This left Lupin (who wasn’t very much older than I am right now) all alone, with a debilitating curse. Not many people would emerge on the other side.

The most fascinating thing about Remus is his ability to love everyone except himself (and Tonks, for most of “Half-Blood Prince”). His insecurities, instead of being insufferable, are charming and quite sad. The exception would be in “Deathly Hallows,” when he left Tonks due to a misguided idea that she would be safer without him. His eagerness to join Harry, Ron and Hermione comes across as recklessness that is more in character with Sirius than Remus. However, even this blight on Lupin’s character wouldn’t remove him from his place in my heart, because it made him human. Up until the point when he left his pregnant wife on the eve of war, Remus was this nearly-perfect mentor figure. Narratively speaking, he needed to make a terrible decision (or two, or three) to humanize him and allow the reader to love him in because of his flaws, rather than in spite of them.

(Plus werewolves are my favorite mythical half-breed. Screw vampires–give me a wolf any day of the week!)

Now you know my favorite character, but who’s yours?