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The Unsung Harry Potter Hero You Never Saw In The Movies

In addition to the titular character of the Harry Potter movie and books series, the wizarding world is full of heroes. Often using their wisdom, wit, bravery, and kindness, these heroes help keep peace and order in a society that frequently finds villains like Grindelwald and Voldemort rising up. But many of these lionhearts often go unnoticed and are overlooked when fans reflect on the franchise. And one hero in particular isn't ever featured in the Harry Potter films.

This is the case for Damocles Belby, a potioneer who invented the Wolfsbane Potion. The potion was a significant invention in the wizarding world for its ability to make werewolves less dangerous. Though it didn't cure a werewolf of their lycanthropy (the state of, well, being a werewolf), the Wolfsbane Potion reduced the harsh symptoms of the transformation, allowing the taker of the potion to keep their mental faculties after they turned. Essentially, it made werewolves far less of a threat. 

Remus Lupin, the most notable werewolf in the series, says in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that during the year he taught at Hogwarts, Severus Snape "made the Wolfsbane Potion for me every month, made it perfectly, so that I did not have to suffer as I usually do at the full moon."

J.K. Rowling wanted to highlight how society shuns what they don't understand

In the Pottermore Presents collection of Harry Potter e-books, series author J.K. Rowling reaffirmed that Lupin's condition of lycanthropy was a "metaphor for those illnesses that carry a stigma like HIV and AIDS" (via TIME). "The wizarding community is as prone to hysteria and prejudice as the Muggle one, and the character of Lupin gave me a chance to examine those attitudes," Rowling wrote.

That wasn't the first time Rowling spoke openly about her aim to draw similarities between Lupin's struggles as a werewolf and how people with HIV and AIDS are stigmatized. In a 2015 post shared to the Wizarding World website, Rowling wrote that Lupin needed to alienate himself from the world because of his condition, and had to place himself into a Werewolf Registry. "Werewolves were so shunned by wizarding society that they generally avoided contact with other people; they lived in self-described 'packs' and did all they could to avoid being registered," said Rowling. 

In the world of Harry Potter, Belby's invention turned the tides for many werewolves. He was one of Potions Master Horace Slughorn's favorite students — and considering how dangerous and expensive the Wolfsbane Potion was to create, it earned Belby the Order of Merlin award, the wizarding world equivalent of a knighthood. So the next time you think up your list of heroes of from the Harry Potter series, remember to include the forgotten Damocles Belby, who helped lessen the danger and shaming of werewolves.