I just read the answers to a question related to talking Patronuses (Was Shacklebolt's Patronus the only one that spoke?).

One thing I am always bothered by in relation to this is the question I am asking here. (I am not considering the more obvious things to do in similar situation, so let's ignore those for now; e.g. Send 1 of the kids (Harry or Hermione, Ron was injured) under the cloak/ Wait till morning and then send 1 of the kids/ Stun Pettigrew, etc.)

I will clear some assumptions that I am making here:

  1. Lupin knew how to make a talking Patronus: Lupin was an order member with considerable knowledge about Patronuses, if Kingsley and Arthur Weasley could do it, I am pretty certain Lupin knew how to do the talking Patronus magic.
  2. Dumbledore could understand Lupin's Patronus and knew enough about the Shrieking Shack: This is pretty clear from the books that Dumbledore knew the entrance to the Shack.
  3. The Patronus does not keep blabbing until it gets to the desired person/location: So nobody else can figure it out except Dumbledore.

So why did they have to go strolling in the moonlight instead of just waiting for Dumbledore to arrive?

  • 5
    I would assume that Lupin had simply forgotten that it was full moon. Jan 28, 2019 at 5:27
  • 5
    @HarryJohnston Lupin is a werewolf, his whole life revolves around the full moon, it is the thing he fears most. He would never forget the full moon. He would also never forget the wolfsbane potion. Jan 28, 2019 at 6:42
  • 3
    Maybe this was a simple plot hole overlooked by J K Rowling. Sometimes that is the best answer to these "Why didn't blah happen when it would have been so easy?" kinds of questions.
    – user89104
    Jan 28, 2019 at 8:01
  • 7
    ... out of universe, talking Patronuses presumably hadn't been invented yet. Jan 28, 2019 at 8:48
  • 4
    +1 for @HarryJohnston out of universe answer. Every talking Patronus in your related question appears in GoF or after.
    – F.Carette
    Jan 28, 2019 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


It is likely, Lupin forgot about the coming full moon. If the full moon was not coming that very day, he did not need outside help to do what was planned - to present Sirius to Dumbledore in person, apprehend Pettigrew as a proof of Sirius's innocence, and help Harry and Hermione to take injured Ron to the castle, where he could receive help.

At the time he faced the full moon and realized his mistake, it was too late, the transformation has already started. I doubt it is possible to do any magic at this state.

A cloud shifted. There were suddenly dim shadows on the ground. Their party was bathed in moonlight. Snape collided with Lupin,Pettigrew, and Ron, who had stopped abruptly. Black froze. Heflung out onearm to make Harry and Hermione stop.

Harry could see Lupin’s silhouette. He had gone rigid. Then his limbs began to shake.

“Oh, my —” Hermione gasped. “He didn’t take his potion tonight! He’s not safe!”

Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, Chapter 20

Out of Universe, as HarryJohnston has said in comments, Patronuses were not yet introduced as a method of communications.

  • Not only is the moon cycle of critical importance for a werewolf, Snape had been there and told them that Remus didn't take his potion. Even if he managed to forget before, that was another reminder of the full moon. The out of universe explanation is that Harry was supposed to be given hope for a better life with Sirius (anybody but the Dursleys), only to have that hope crushed.. Jan 28, 2019 at 19:49
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    @QuestionAuthority, having given it some more thought, I'm not convinced this is quite as unrealistic as you suggest. Lupin has gotten out of the habit of having to fear the days of full moon, because he has access to the potion which he can take instead. And he's too focused on Peter and Sirius to remember that he hasn't taken it yet, and anticipate the consequences of that. Granted Snape just reminded them, but under the circumstances it isn't surprising that they might not be paying close attention to that sort of detail. Jan 28, 2019 at 23:25
  • 1
    ... also, he made it all the way to the Shack without going were. Perhaps he just figured he had a few hours left before he had to worry. Jan 28, 2019 at 23:26

I suspect the out-of-universe answer that JKR hadn't thought of talking Patronuses at that point (the first one we see, although it isn't described in much detail, is in Goblet of Fire when Dumbledore sends a message up to the school).

In universe however there's also a good explanation: Lupin very rarely produces a corporeal Patronus, because he doesn't like the fact it's a wolf.

Remus’s Patronus is never revealed in the Potter books ... It is ... an ordinary wolf, not a werewolf. ... Remus dislikes the form of his Patronus, which is a constant reminder of his affliction. Everything wolfish disgusts him, and he often produces a non-corporeal Patronus deliberately, especially when others are watching.
Remus Lupin, Pottermore.

Even when he's on the train facing an actual Dementor, and when he's teaching Harry, he chooses to produce a non-corporeal one. So even in situations where producing a corporeal Patronus would have been an advantage (get rid of the Dementor quickly, show Harry what he's aiming for) he still doesn't.

There's two reasons why he might not do it in this situation:

  1. He just can't bring himself to produce a corporeal Patronus in front of everybody there, especially considering the discussion they've just had about him being a werewolf. Dumbledore would also see it, probably for the first time. He doesn't want the message to be overlaid with the thought of "his deepest nature must be very wolflike."
  2. Because he never does it (because it involves deliberately showing your Patronus to somebody) he just doesn't think of it as an option.

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