My relationship with this particular novel of the series got off to a rocky start. Before the publication date, I had my Dad preorder a copy for me—I did not have my own credit card at the time—so I knew that it would be coming a couple days after the official publication date because of shipping. Knowing this, I was diligent in avoiding spoilers when I went on the Internet and did not look at anything remotely Harry Potter related during the couple of days before my copy arrived.
One of those days, I was watching a completely unrelated YouTube video and, while it was playing, I scrolled down to see the comments that other viewers had left. This was standard practice for me and I do still do this on occasion today. When I scrolled down I was greeted with what I think was one of my worst experiences with reading a book and spoilers in my whole life. There was a glaring comment proclaiming “Snape kills Dumbledore” staring right at me.
That experience alone is why I abhor spoilers of any kind. While I think that I was able to push the thought into the back of my mind, I never really forgot and as a result, I think that Dumbledore’s death had less of an impact on me. This random person did not completely ruin the book for me, I still loved reading it, but it definitely put a damper on things.
Moving forward, one of the characters I want to feature this time around is Nymphadora Tonks. She was not one of my favourites back during my childhood but now I cannot really understand why. Actually, maybe I can, because what I love from her is not something that I think I could have really understood back then.
She is behaving strangely throughout the entirety of the book—it is perfectly clear that she is very upset about something—depressed even—but it is not explained until the end. At some point, she fell in love with one Remus Lupin but he refuses to be with her because he believe that he is too old, too poor, and too dangerous for her. He feels she deserves someone who is young and whole. In other words, he believes he is utterly unworthy. It is not that he does not return her feelings, because he does.
Dora is an absolute force. She is amazingly kind and completely open-minded. Nothing Remus says to her dissuades her passion. Dora does not care in the slightest about Remus’ lycanthropy. She knows that he is only a danger once every month, and as long as they take the proper precautions like the Wolfsbane potion, everything would be fine. As others point out to Remus, young and whole men do not always remain that way and it matters that she wants him. She chose him. She loves him.
I imagine that, when you love someone like Dora loves Remus, many of the “flaws” fade away. Maybe they were not really flaws in the first place, or maybe because you love them you know ways to help fix real issues. Maybe the flaws do not matter. In any case, I think that the way Dora love Remus is amazing.
Building on this, I want to talk about Remus for a minute or two. I understand where he is coming from in that he is very self-deprecating and self-conscious about the elements of himself that he feels are flaws. I talked a little bit about lycanthropy in my post surrounding Prisoner of Azkaban—I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good—and I think that it applies a little here. There is a shocking amount of prejudice towards those suffering from lycanthropy and I know that this has severely affect how Remus views himself. The prejudice has caused him to look down on himself and, frankly, start to agree with how a large portion of the world sees him and his condition. It is not fair or right at all, but it is the reality he faces on a daily basis.
I think it is also the reality many people in our world face. The opinions of others do have an impact on the way that we view ourselves. I think that is a simple way of putting it, but it is one way. The extent of the impact I mentioned can differ, but it does not completely go away. I know that very well myself, which is why I think that I am taking so much from Remus and Dora in this reread. It is also a major component of why I love Dora so much in this reread. I am so thankful that Remus had someone like her around. He could exist without her, I am sure of that, but existing is not exactly living, is it?
I know that heartbreak is coming around again. I can already feel the sadness and I have not started my reread of the final novel. But I also know that the time I spent with this book and with Remus and Dora…well, I would not change it because I would not walk away in the same way that I will once I am finished.
I am thankful for the two of them.
Note: My Deathly Hallows post will go live two weeks from today as next week I am reviewing Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling).