One thing my friends and family have grown to understand about me is that I am perpetually re-reading the Harry Potter series. If there isn’t a well-loved and dog eared book on my nightstand with a bookmark somewhere in the middle, then I’m listening to the audiobooks while I’m out and about running errands around town. (Stephen Fry, you guys. Always go with Stephen Fry. It’s objectively the better version.)
On my way home from the grocery store a few weeks ago, I listened to PoA for the umpteen thousandth time. The kids were on the Hogwarts Express heading to school, blissfully unaware that a group of Dementors was about to board the train and make Harry sing soprano and pass out cold. Sitting in the car with them was a raggedy, middle-aged man. Ron asks who he is, and Hermione reveals that it is, of course, Remus Lupin. And how does she know that?
“It’s on his case,” replied Hermione, pointing at the luggage rack over the man’s head, where there was a small, battered case held together with a large quantity of neatly knotted string. The name ‘Professor R.J. Lupin’ was stamped across one corner in peeling letters.”
I nearly stopped my car. I’d heard this so many times I could have quoted it verbatim, but never had I actually considered what this line meant.
What did Lupin do before Hogwarts?
Lupin had just accepted a job at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, replacing the attractive-but-inept Gilderoy Lockhart, who had lost his memory and landed in St. Mungo’s the year previous. But if Lupin was just now taking a job at Hogwarts, why did his old, battered case with peeling letters say “Professor” on it?
We know Lupin joined the Order of the Phoenix shortly after graduating from Hogwarts, but after that there is very little about Lupin’s life in the years between the First Wizarding War and him taking the job in Harry’s third year. His entry in the Harry Potter Wiki gives few clues, only mentioning that he took several jobs “far below his level of ability,” having to leave as soon as they found out he was a werewolf. But the invention of the Wolfsbane Potion may have given him the chance to take a teaching job prior to his gig at his alma mater.
Is it possible that Lupin went abroad and taught at one of the international schools of magic? Ilvermorney in the United States, perhaps, or Castelobruxo in Brazil? Did he tutor young witches and wizards who could otherwise not have learned magic, perhaps other werewolves like himself? Is it a magical case that displays the current name and title of the owner? Or is it just a big, fat gaping plot hole that Rowling has never addressed?