The Dementor’s Kiss

chapter twenty of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

On the way back to the castle, Sirius asks Harry to come live with him – but before they get back, Lupin transforms into a werewolf. In the confusion, Pettigrew escapes, and dementors come after Sirius, Harry, and Hermione – but are driven off by a mysterious Patronus as Harry passes out.

Harry and Sirius, by Wacca

Harry’s mind was buzzing. He was going to leave the Dursleys. He was going to live with Sirius Black, his parents’ best friend….

(by Wacca)


Lupin Began to Shake, by Tealin Raintree

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


In the Full Moon, by Patilda

Lupin’s head was lengthening. So was his body. His shoulders were hunching….

(by Patilda)


Dementor, by Sanna Lorenzen

The yelping seemed to be coming from the ground near the edge of the lake. They pelted toward it, and Harry, running flat out, felt the cold without realizing what it must mean –


Last Breath, by Helene Sirois

More were appearing out of the darkness on every side; they were encircling them….


about the chapter


The Power of Magic

It’s interesting that, unlike with Apparition, a wand isn’t necessary for an Animagus transformation. In fact it’s the only substantial, controlled bit of magic I can think of that doesn’t require a wand. Of course from the writer’s perspective, this had to be true so Sirius could break out of Azkaban. But it doesn’t really fit with the other laws of magic: even brewing Potions requires a wand! I’d be interested to know how Rowling explains the difference between this and other, wand-necessitating forms of magic.

Life at Hogwarts

If I were a character in Rowling’s books, I’d be silently cursing her for writing that the ceiling in the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack is so low. Even as thirteen-year-olds, Harry and Hermione couldn’t stand up straight in it; can you imagine how awkward this would be for Lupin, Pettigrew, and Ron chained together (walking sideways)? Or for Madam Pomfrey, who used to bring Lupin out for his transformations, admittedly when he was younger? My guess is she wrote it that way so that Lupin, as a werewolf, wouldn’t be able to fit through the tunnel to escape after he’d transformed. But it makes for some awkward scenes, and these won’t be the last of them.

The Final Word

“Professor Lupin… is a damaged person, literally and metaphorically. I think it’s important for children to know that adults, too, have their problems, that they struggle. His being a werewolf is a metaphor for people’s reactions to illness and disability.”–J.K. Rowling, November 2002

28 Responses to “The Dementor’s Kiss”

  1. One thing I’ve always wondered – why didn’t anyone knock Peter out? I mean if he doesn’t need a wand to transform into a rat, he could basically do it at anytime; being tied to someone else isn’t going to stop him like being unconscious would. They were almost asking for him to escape.

  2. Something I’ve always wondered about:
    Lupin changes only when he’s outside and the moon appears from behind the clouds. But before it sounded like he changed indoors as well (within the Shrieking Shack or rolled up in his office after drinking the potion).

    Is a wand really used for Apparition? I hadn’t noticed that. I thought since you don’t use a spell or charm you also don’t need a wand.
    Also Metamorphmagi don’t need a wand to change. And what about Legilimency, speaking Parseltongue and Seeing? Ah, well, the last one isn’t controlled.

  3. Rowling said that the moon wasn’t up until they left the Shrieking Shack, which is why he didn’t transform until that moment. I don’t think it has anything to do with being outside or inside.

  4. It seems in book 7 that you do need a wand for Apparition – the Muggle-borns who escape the Ministry have to do so in groups since several don’t have wands, Harry has to throw Ron a wand for him to Apparate out of Malfoy Manor, etc. Right after leaving the Ministry Harry thinks to ask Hermione whether the wand is necessary, then doesn’t ask because she says something that makes it seem like you do.

    MartinTenbones, as for knocking Pettigrew out… I agree with you, I don’t know what the heck they were thinking. Sirius of all people should know that physical restraint isn’t enough to keep an Animagus from escaping.

    Kim, Legilimency is a good point, though. It seems like you’re probably right that a wand isn’t necessary there either.

  5. Its nice to see Harry getting excited about the prospect of living with Sirius instead of the Dursley’s, but I doubt Dumbledore would’ve allowed that considering the blood protection tied to Petunia that keeps Harry safe while he’s not at Hogwarts. Although maybe as a compromise the Dursley’s could’ve moved into 12 Grimmauld place with Sirius and Harry. :D

  6. “Although maybe as a compromise the Dursley’s could’ve moved into 12 Grimmauld place with Sirius and Harry. :D”

    That would’ve been worth a series of books in and of itself. ;)

  7. On why they didn’t knock Peter out- they had their wands pointed at him so they could catch/stun him if he transformed. But in all the confusion of Lupin’s transformation they were distracted and Peter took his chance.

  8. If you needed a wand to transform into an animagus creature, then that creature would need a wand to transform back. Which is wildly unlikely and highly inconvenient, not to mention a giveaway: a beetle with a wand? Oh yes, that’s Rita for sure …

  9. I like to think that wands aren’t necessary for many types of magic. I don’t know when the magic wand was invented in Rowling’s universe (at least as early as 382 BC according to Ollivander’s shop sign). However that still leaves thousands of years beforehand when witches and wizards were performing spells without them such as the Egyptian wizards putting curses on the pyramids.

    As magic is an innate ability perhaps performing some spells is instinctive and wands just make it easier? A bit like how we can eat and cut food perfectly well with our hands but we use cutlery to facilitate the process. However if all knives and forks were to disappear tomorrow, the human race would not starve to death.

    Perhaps I have put way too much thought into this and should go to bed!

  10. I always believed that Animagi were drawing on some of their own deep magic to transform, something that was always a part of them. So once you learn how to transform once, it becomes a very natural and fluid process. They don’t need wands to channel the power elsewhere.

  11. I often have to skip these last chapters, as it feels like watching “I Love Lucy” to me — you know a ton of things are going to go wrong and you can see them coming a mile away. Of course, they should have done something more effective to restrain Pettigrew. Why did they talk so long when Lupin knew it was a full moon? Etc., etc. I generally dislike what the movies do to the books, but I was so relieved at how they shortened these chapters.

  12. I was sure that while Remus was transforming, Harry sees Peter dive for Remus’ discarded wand – leading to the conclusion Peter perhaps needs a wand, whereas other, more accomplished wizards/witches do not? I always assumed that if a magical person was familiar enough with a spell, that a wand was just a way of directing energy – Dumbledore performs a lot of wandless magic, admittedly, he is the most powerful wizard of the age, but I always put that more down to his experience with the Craft?

  13. One thing I don’t understand is how does Sirius get his wand back from Azkaban?? Always confused me.

  14. I think that what wands really do is channel your magical energy down a direct path. With magic such as Animagi transformations, the magic is directly channelled already by your body, and therefore you don’t need a wand. Picture it like a flow of light, which travels directly out a wand or spreads through a person. The only reason you would need a wand is if you had to point it at yourself in order to transform. And then how would you transform back? It’s not like a stag or a dog have many places to put a wand.

  15. About not needing a wand to transform, I think you probably have to use your wand to perform the magic that will make you an animagus, but from that point forward transforming becomes an innate ability you just HAVE. You’re not doing a spell, you’re taking advantage of spells you’ve already done when you were becoming an animagus. It’s similar to the way you need a wand for a process like apparition (which we know would also show up to the ministry as “doing magic”, which is why Harry is not able to escape the Dursleys that way in DH), but you don’t need a wand for flying on a broom. A broom is a magical object but using it does not require *doing magic* because at this point the spells have already been performed upon the broom and its ability to fly is now innate (hence why Harry and the others are able to leave the Dursleys that way in DH).
    And Erica I visualize it that way too. :)

  16. I agree Erica, that that’s a good way of putting it.

  17. @Not needing a wand to transform: I think what Hazelwillow said was dead on but I would like to add one thing. It is like Paslletounge (no idea how to spell it). You don’t seem to need a wand for magical skills like Flying, Animagi, Paslletounge, Mermish, ect.

  18. although, tecnically, parseltoungue and mermish are languages.. not magical spells/abilitys.

  19. Stella-Jayne, Pettigrew does take Remus’s wand, however he uses it to incapacitate Ron and Crookshanks, and then Harry disarms him with Expelliarmus. THEN he transforms into his rat form. So no, he doesn’t need the wand to transform.

    And I also agree with Erica. That was a brilliant way to put it. If you’re doing the initial transformation, I assume you would transform back and be able to grab your wand back up. But this also brings up another important question. After transforming for the second time (when you don’t need a wand) you would go out and do whatever animal things you need to do. So what happens to your wand after that? What if you aren’t able to get back to your wand at the end of the day? Would you lose your wand for good and need to get a new one? Or find a way back to your original wand somehow? It seems like an huge risk to take, to transform. However, when McGonagall transforms for her classes, she obviously has clothes on when she goes back to human form. So maybe you can store your wand in your clothes, transform, then transform back and still have your wand ready in your clothes. I think I may have just answered my own question =P

  20. Although it was asked nearly a year, Austen has a terrific point. How DOES Sirius get his wand back??

    For someone who has a life sentence in Azkaban, it would make sense that the criminals wand is destroyed. I mean they destroy the wand of a person that gets expelled from school, they must do at least the same to mass murderers.

    The only thing which would explain it is stealing someone else’s wand. But the only time we actually see him use it is during the battle at the Department of Mysteries. Of course he does get defeated… but he isn’t as imcopetent with the wand as, say, Harry is with the Blackthorn wand in Deathly Hallows.

  21. We also see the same thing with Bellatrix and Lucius in Deathly Hallows.

  22. Did and of the drafts of the harry potter books have the plot element of harry getting bitten by a werewolf?

  23. Romulan Warbird, I highly, highly doubt it.

  24. With the whole wand and Animagus thing I’m guessing it’s because you don’t need magic to transform. Remember. Being an Animagus is having the ability to transform into an animal AT WILL and therefore it is just part of the person. It is just from then on something you are. Like how Tonks can change appearance without a wand. They probably need a wand to become an Animagus to begin with but to transform I doubt that there would be any reason for them to need to.

  25. On the topic of why nobody stunned Pettigrew or did the full body bind – I think it’s because they needed to get him through the tunnel to the castle grounds. It would be a bit hard to carry a rigid body all the way through that low tunnel, I imagine, and with Snape they would even have two such bodies to try and get to the castle!
    Granted, I’m sure there were other ways to get Peter to the castle, but sometimes we’ll just have to remember that it’s a book with a plotline that needs to be moved forward ;)

  26. Oh..oops. I got slightly ahead of myself with my comment on the last page! I’ll just repeat that I have read that Snape was one of very few people who could perform wandless magic, and he’s shown doing it in one of the last couple of chapters when he clicks his fingers and ropes fly up around Lupin.
    I like the idea though that transforming into an Animagi is more of a magical ability, similar to being a metamorphmagus, so wouldn’t require a wand. I truly hope that some of this gets explained with the arrival of Pottermore!

  27. Harry could unknowningly perform magic without a wand even before he knew he was a wizard. I believe a wand helps direct those energies, but they are still inside, too. Using a wand is how to facilitate using magic; perhaps it’s easier and it’s an easier method to teach, which is why they dedicate courses and schools towards using wands. Just saying! It’s like that silverware reference up there.

  28. Careful about confusing an Animagus (learned) with a Metamorphmagus (born with it, like Tonks and hers and Lupin’s son Teddy Lupin). The latter can change to any form, change hair color, etc. by just willing it. An Animagus changes to the form he/she learned, how we aren’t told in any of the books, just that it takes time to learn it.

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