If you haven’t read Deathly Hallows, don’t read this!

(Spoilers, yes, there will be spoilers. You have been warned. Read on at your own risk.)

This is going to be long and a little rambly. I don’t really expect anyone else to read it or care much, but I confess to having developed an emotional attachment to the characters in these books, and now that it is all over, I want to babble on for awhile about what I think.

Here’s a spoiler photo of my cat, so you can bail out now without seeing any of the giveaways below.

Cat Butt

It is done. I have finally finished (three weeks after the rest of the world) the last of the Harry Potter books.

The book ended pretty much like I expected. I hadn’t guessed the details, but I had the general idea right: Harry would save the day and live to win the girl; Snape would turn out to be a good guy after all but have to pay the price for his ambiguity by dying to save Harry.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the story and the whole series, but more than just the fact that it is now over makes me a little sad about it. In the last book, I was sorry to miss out on life at Hogwarts. A good deal of the entertainment value in the first books came from adventures at the school, and although the escape from Gringotts was deliciously exciting, all the days pitching tents here and there across the country lacked some of the spice found in the wonderful setting of the school.

Also, the book lacked some of the humor of earlier books. Like book five (my least favorite of the set), the topic was simply too serious to allow for much humor. There were a few little gems, but overall, drama reigned supreme. J.K. Rowling did an excellent job with the drama, in any case. Reading the book aloud to my husband, I struggled toward the end to keep my voice from choking up long enough to get the words out. If I had been reading alone, I’m sure I would have been weeping. I am the perfect sucker, like that: I fall for every emotional trap an author sets me. It doesn’t bother me much, though it would have been embarrassing to have a breakdown while reading aloud.

One of the things that really seems to impress people about J.K. Rowling is the way she grew the books along with her readers. As her readers became more mature, so the characters and themes in her books matured. This is not the Babysitters’ Club. I’d rate the last book PG 13 for readers. I would not be comfortable reading it to a ten year old kid who had really enjoyed the first three books. And I find that a little disappointing. While there is definitely something to be said in favor of this increasing maturity, I miss some of the innocence and simple fun found in the earlier books.

And perhaps that is my biggest disappointment in the last book, is how terribly heavy it became. Though her revelations about Dumbledore’s past probably cemented him in literary history as one of the most multi-dimensional characters ever (my assessment), I – like Harry – would have been happier for him to stay less blemished. Confessions of his foolish past, regret over his lost family, tears as he recalled his own selfish ambitions. I would rather he had stayed strong, would rather have left him on a pedestal.

That isn’t realistic, you say? Real people have flaws and dark histories and evil thoughts, even the best of them? Be that as it may, a sturdy, idealized character has its place in the literary world, I think. One of my own characters in my nerd club is such a man. When I created him, I gave him a fully detailed past, complete with rocky moral moments. Like Dumbledore, he became a teacher and became important as a source of stability for his students. I discovered, in writing him, that to draw out his past – so important to making most characters interesting – felt awkward and counter-productive. The very fact of his stability makes drama and twisted plots possible for other characters, and though he may not be the most interesting character to write, being a pillar is an important roll nevertheless. It makes everyone else’s writing easier for his secrets to remain buried.

I never found Dumbledore boring. I loved him as the brilliant wizard with all the answers, who knew just the right time to make revelations known. Sometimes his timing wasn’t so good, but that’s a perfectly acceptable flaw because it was always an error made with the best of intentions. With the exception of the fifth book, his attitude was always light even in the face of dire circumstances. You always knew he had the answers or was working for a greater purpose. His stability allowed Harry to go wild, to have crazy adventures and terrible angst, while you knew in the back of your head that in the final chapter, Dumbledore would explain it all and you will understand and feel much better.

Which is what makes it so wonderful to find out that his death was planned well in advance, that it was necessary and in everyone’s best interest. I was not as broken up about his death as many of my fellow rabid fans were, I think. His death seemed to me to be the ultimate in good plot devices: the mentor gives his life to save the hero, even if you don’t understand why right away, leaving the hero to find his way to final victory on his own, forcing him to realize that he can do it without help. And we always knew we’d hear from Dumbledore again, if only through his portrait. Mm, very nice.

And then there is Snape. I found the revelations about Snape’s past to be truly perfect. Along with my idealization of Dumbledore came the utter certainty that he was right about Snape, so I never doubted for a second that he would turn out to be a fighting for the cause of good. When we finally learn his motivations, they fit so very perfectly with everything else laid out in the story – namely, the impossible-to-overestimate power of love. The thing about his situation I liked the very best, though, was the fact that knowing his motivation didn’t change anything else about what you knew of him. He was not simply pretending to dislike Harry, he truly disliked him after all, but it didn’t matter a bit because his motivation was outside his personal feelings for the boy. He was, in the end, a character you could both hate and love in equal measure, for good and satisfying reasons. His death, in light of this, was inevitable and also perfect. An attempt to tie off his role in the story any other way would have been awful.

Which leads me to the other deaths: Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Colin Creavy, Ted Tonks, Dobby. Those are the names I can recall after a first read-through. It would have been dopey to save all our heros’ lives, but I confess to rather wishing she had anyway. I am not like my friend, Stephany, who thinks an author’s willingness to kill of main characters is wonderful. I’m of a Tolkien persuasion, where I’m just as happy if all the characters we’ve grown attached to are still alive at the end. In the end, if Lupin or Tonks had to die, I’m just as glad they both did; it’s a little less heartbreaking that way, even if you know they left a child behind. I guess that opinion comes of being fairly newlywed myself, and imagining the pain of losing my husband.

I am terribly sad about Fred’s death, almost for the same reason, since he was a twin. I suppose it was inevitable that one of the Weasleys had to die, though I rather wish they’d called Charlie back from oblivion to fill that duty. I think the most disappointing aspect of Fred’s death is that we didn’t get any closure on it. Other than a brief scene with his family weeping over his body, there is no indication of how they planned to get along without him. Of course, this is primarily George’s concern, seeing how he lost not only his brother, but his partner in business and crime. Nothing was said about them even in the “Nineteen Years Later” chapter. I find it just a little satisfying to imagine that George went off and became a kind of mad scientist, making up for the loss of his brother with even more outrageous contraptions and pranks. Maybe he’s that guy that lives down the street, funny lights dancing through the windows at all hours of the day and mad cackling clearly audible if you get close enough.

Which leads me to “Nineteen Years Later.” When I reached the conclusion of the almost-last chapter and saw that heading, I actually squeaked out loud in some combination of shock and horror. “What?” Dustin asked. “I don’t think I’m ready for nineteen years later,” I said. And that was true. I wanted more wrap-up in the present. I wanted to see the Weasleys coping without Fred. I wanted to meet Tonks’ mother again, and find out how the baby was doing. I wanted to hear about them rebuilding Hogwarts and see the kids going back to the school the next year, feeling safe and free once again. I wanted to know what happened to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the others who completely skipped their last year of school. I wanted to see the relationship between Harry and Ginny rekindled. What happened to the Dursleys? Is McGonagal the new Headmistress? What are Harry’s new plans for his life?

We miss all that, but we do get a glimpse of nineteen years later. This mainly seems to serve the purpose of reassuring us that everyone will be all right, but I still am sorry not to know some of the items above.

And of course, everything we learn in “Nineteen Years Later” is reasonably satisfying. Everyone marries the right person. Harry’s children are all named for just the right people. I was glad Ron’s son was not named Fred. That would have been heaping it on too thick. I was glad to bump into Draco and to hear about Neville. But my very favorite bit was Victoire. We are left to figure out for ourselves that she is the daughter of Bill and Fleur, and that she’d be just 18. What do you bet she was conceived the night of the battle at Hogwarts? I just love that.

But so many other questions are left unanswered! What are they all doing now? The only one we know about is Neville. I’m glad he’s a professor. That’s perfect. But what is Harry doing? He obviously didn’t become an Auror, with Voldemort vanquished. Does he work at the Ministry? That’s horribly unsatisfying. He’s not a professor, which is almost a pity, but not too much, because that wasn’t a great fit. Quiddich champion? Did he write a book about his life and is living in luxury off the royalties? What about Ron, Hermione, and Ginny? I’m especially curious about Hermione. She obviously would have been a great professor. (On that note, has anyone else noticed that all the professors are single? That doesn’t seem very fair.)

Leaving all that to our imaginations is probably just as well, but I think I’d still have been more satisfied if she’d left us in the present – left us with the situation as is so that we could all entertain ourselves imagining the many possibilities for the future. Something is just a little disturbing about trying to put this boy hero into the shoes of a 36-year-old man. A wife and kids? I dunno… we expect it, but somehow it wasn’t my ideal ending.

I suspect maybe Rowling did it to eliminate some of the temptation of trying to write more books about Harry. She’s already bridged the gap between his victory over Voldemort and his Happily Ever After. We know how it turns out, so why bother fill in the details? And she’ll be wise, if she sticks to her promise never to write about Harry again. She has written the ultimate tale of good versus evil. Anything else she would write about these characters would be dull and superfluous.

But Tolkien wrote the ultimate tale of good versus evil too, you say, and he got away with writing LOTS of other stuff about his world!

Yes, that’s true, but I still think it is somehow different. Would I be interested to hear more about Flamel and his Philosopher’s Stone, for example? Maybe. But the universal appeal is gone, and I think that trying to add more would just dilute the wonderful books that stand so well on their own.

Leave the elaborations to the millions of fanfic writers out in the world. It will keep them busy for a long, long time.

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3 thoughts on “If you haven’t read Deathly Hallows, don’t read this!

  1. There is a really fantastic article about Snape by Orson Scott Card. He wrote it before the seventh book came out. He was attempting to figure out who Snape “really” was. I found the essay several months ago, but only read it recently, after I finished the book. (I’m a REALLY big grouch about spoilers. The only guesses about upcoming plots I like to hear are my own.)

    But it was interesting to read after the fact – to see how close he came to getting it all right. Of course, I felt pretty good too, having reached most of the same conclusions myself. I just didn’t write an annotated essay about it. I’m not quite THAT big a dork.

    http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=content&article=home
    Issue #5 – which also features a short story written by one of my favorite Nerd friends, Margit. 🙂

  2. There’s a reason that it’s awkward to talk about your old and respectable character’s sullied past. Because its awkward in real life, too. I would have been just as pleased with the last book if Rowling hadn’t delved into Dumbledore’s past transgressions, but I like it that she did. For me, it helps to humanize him and make him more real. Awkward, yes – after all, Rowling is acknowledged for her clunky fiction – but satisfying. I think a more practiced author could have done a better job weaving that into the story (Tolkien’s treatment of Gandalf comes to mind), but I’m still glad she did it.

    I agree with you about the deaths. I felt like most of them didn’t add anything to the story. They were pretty empty and unsatisfying. But that, I suppose, was Rowling’s point. I get the impression that she was very interested in illustrating death as realistically as possible, and it’s awfully difficult to find much meaning or satisfaction in any death.

    I also agree with you about unmarried professors. Totally unfair. What was Rowling’s point there? Probably to keep any extra characters from running amok.

  3. This is long, but in light of my complaints, I think it’s so worthwhile:

    From http://www.bloomsbury.com/harrypotter/default.asp?sec=3

    Webchat with J.K. Rowling, 30 July 2007

    J.K. Rowling: I’m here and I can’t wait! Bring on the questions!

    Leaky Cauldron: What, if anything, did the wizarding world learn, and how did society change, as a direct result of the war with Voldemort? (i.e., not as a result of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s future careers.)

    J.K. Rowling: The Ministry of Magic was de-corrupted, and with Kingsley at the helm the discrimination that was always latent there was eradicated. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny et al would of course play a significant part in the re-building of wizarding society through their future careers.

    Ryan Love: From your fans at http://www.thesnitch.co.uk. Weren’t we supposed to see Ginny display powerful magical abilities in Deathly Hallows and find out why it’s significant that she’s the seventh child? Was her main role in the books only to be Harry’s love interest?

    J.K. Rowling: Hi Ryan! Well, I think Ginny demonstrated powerful magic in the final battle, and that for a sixteen year old witch she acquitted herself pretty well. I don’t remember ever saying that her ‘seventh child’ status would prove particularly important in the last book, though — are you sure I said that?!

    Georgina: Did Lucius Malfoy, and all the other escaped Death Eaters, go back to Azkaban?

    J.K. Rowling: No, the Malfoys weaseled their way out of trouble (again) due to the fact that they colluded (albeit out of self-interest) with Harry at the end of the battle.

    Elisabeth: In the chapter of Kings Cross, are they behind the veil or in some world between the real world and the veil?

    J.K. Rowling: You can make up your own mind on this, but I think that Harry entered a kind of limbo between life and death.

    Renee: From reading about the original owners of the Deathly Hallows, the Peverell brothers, I’m wondering if Harry and Voldermort are distantly related Voldermorts grandfather ended up with the resurrection stone ring?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, Harry and Voldemort are distantly related through the Peverells. Of course, nearly all wizarding families are related if you trace them back through the centuries. As was made clear in Deathly Hallows, Peverell blood would run through many wizarding families.

    Fomy: What did you feel when you finally wrote the kiss, awaited so much by the fans, of Ron and Hermione

    J.K. Rowling: I loved writing it, and I loved the fact that Hermione took the initiative! Ron had finally got SPEW and earned himself a snog!

    Angela Morrissey: Why is it that Albus Dumbledore can see Harry under his invisibility cloak at certain moments? (during the series is the cloak only infallible to those who do not own a Deathly Hallow).

    J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using ‘homenum revelio’ the human-presence-revealing spell Hermione makes use of in Deathly Hallows.

    Jamie Lewis: What ever happened to Winky?

    J.K. Rowling: She’s still at Hogwarts, and she was one of the oncoming house-elves who attacked the Death Eaters in the final battle.

    Katieleigh: Does Hermione still continue to do work with Spew and is life any better for house elves!

    J.K. Rowling: Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves and their ilk. She then moved (despite her jibe to Scrimgeour) to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement where she was a progressive voice who ensured the eradication of oppressive, pro-pureblood laws.

    Tineke: Did Teddy grow up living with his grandmother?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, Teddy was raised by Andromeda. However, unlike Neville, who was also raised by his grandmother Teddy had his godfather, Harry, and all his father’s friends in the Order, to visit and stay with.

    Blodeuwedd: Hi jk, first of all thank you for all the books I have enjoyed each and every one of them could you tell us what professions Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Luna go on to have did the trio do their final year at school and take their newts?

    J.K. Rowling: Thank you! I’ve already answered about Hermione. Kingsley became permanent Minister for Magic, and naturally he wanted Harry to head up his new Auror department. Harry did so (just because Voldemort was gone, it didn’t mean that there would not be other Dark witches and wizards in the coming years). Ron joined George at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, which became an enormous money-spinner… After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet!

    Camille: What or who is Peeves exactly, is he linked with the bloody Barons story?

    J.K. Rowling: No, Peeves is not linked to the bloody Baron’s story. He is a spirit of chaos that entered the building long ago and has proved impossible to eradicate!

    Jessie: Were the Deathly Hallows based on any realworld myth or faerie tale?

    J.K. Rowling: Perhaps ‘the Pardoner’s Tale’, by Chaucer.

    Alicepie: What happend to Luna, did she get married who to?

    J.K. Rowling: She ended up marrying (rather later than Harry & co) a fellow naturalist and grandson of the great Newt Scamander (Rolf)!

    Rosi: What does in essence divided mean?

    J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore suspected that the snake’s essence was divided — that it contained part of Voldemort’s soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding. This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake’s eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort’s. Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve.

    Superhans: What was Dudley’s worst memory?

    J.K. Rowling: I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately salutory lesson, and began the transformation in him.

    Casey Kunze: Who killed Remus and Tonks I think if I knew this, I would get some closure over the very sad, but understandable, death of two of my favorite characters.

    J.K. Rowling: I’m so sorry! I met a couple on launch night who had come dressed as Lupin and Tonks, and I felt dreadfully guilty as I signed their books! Remus was killed by Dolohov and Tonks by Bellatrix.

    Laura Trego: Was the absence of Snape’s portrait in the headmaster’s office in the last scene innocent or deliberate?

    J.K. Rowling: It was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles. However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course.

    Stephanie: If the wand chooses the wizard, then why do wands work when passed down from father to son eg Neville had his fathers wand?

    J.K. Rowling: As established by Ollivander, a wizard can use almost any wand, it is simply that a wand that chooses him/her will work best. Where there is a family connection, a wand will work a little better than a wand chosen at random, I think.

    James Farrell: How did Umbridge manage to conjure a Patronus while wearing the locket when Harry wasn’t able to?

    J.K. Rowling: Because she is a very nasty piece of work. She has an affinity for this horrible object, which would help rather than hinder her.

    Tineke: What happened to Percy – did he return to his job at the ministry?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, the new improved Percy ended up as a high-ranking official under Kingsley.

    Su: How did Neville get the Gryffindor sword, is there a link to the hat?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, there is very definitely a link to the hat! Neville, most worthy Gryffindor, asked for help just as Harry did in the Chamber of secrets, and Gryffindor’s sword was transported into Gryffindor’s old hat — the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor’s initially, as you know. Griphook was wrong — Gryffindor did not ‘steal’ the sword, not unless you are a goblin fanatic and believe that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker.

    Steph: Will Azkaban still use Dementors?

    J.K. Rowling: No, definitely not. Kingsley would see to that. The use of Dementors was always a mark of the underlying corruption of the Ministry, as Dumbledore constantly maintained.

    Smallbutpowerful: On behalf of all Harry Potter fans who consider themselves to be Hufflepuffs could you please describe the Hufflepuff common room as it is the only common room Harry hasn’t visited.

    J.K. Rowling: The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced. Sorry — I should say ‘painting’ rather than portrait, because it is a still-life. It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape’s dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, and fat armchairs, and little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops.

    Camille: How is George getting along without his twin?

    J.K. Rowling: Well, I don’t think that George would ever get over losing Fred, which makes me feel so sad. However, he names his first child and son Fred, and he goes on to have a very successful career, helped by good old Ron.

    Jessica Lynn: Did Hagrid have to be able to see Thestrals in order to train them if so, whose death did Hagrid witness?

    J.K. Rowling: Hagrid has seen many deaths in quite a long life, so yes, he can see Thestrals.

    Allie: What did Dumbledore truly see in the mirror of erised?

    J.K. Rowling: He saw his family alive, whole and happy — Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him.

    Snapedinhalf: You promised that someone will do magic late in life in book 7. I’ve now read it three times but cant work out who it might have been! Please help!!

    J.K. Rowling: I’m sorry about this, but I changed my mind! My very earliest plan for the story involved somebody managing to get to Hogwarts when they had never done magic before, but I had changed my mind by the time I’d written the third book.

    Christiana: How did Voldemort get his wand back after he was in was exile?

    J.K. Rowling: Wormtail, desperate to curry favour, salvaged it from the place it had fallen and carried it to him. I admit that would have been a bit of a feat for a rat, but they are highly intelligent creatures!

    Amanda: Hiya, I’ve grown up with Harry and the gang, did any of the characters change in any unexpected ways as they grew up?

    J.K. Rowling: They all became pretty much what I expected/planned them to become. Of course they changed as I wrote, but nobody surprised me very much!

    Ravleen: How much does the fact that Voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love. Is it more symbolic?

    J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him. The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.

    Lechicaneuronline: Do you think Snape is a hero?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity — and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That’s pretty heroic!

    James Farrell: Voldemort never told anyone about his horcruxes, so how on earth did Regulus Black discover his secret?

    J.K. Rowling: Horcrux magic was not Voldemort’s own invention; as is established in the story, other wizards had done it, though never gone as far as to make six. Voldemort dropped oblique hints; in his arrogance, he did not believe anybody would be clever enough to understand them. (He does so in the graveyard of Little Hangleton, in front of Harry). He did this before Regulus and Regulus guessed, correctly, what it was that made Voldemort so convinced he could not die.

    Jaclyn: Did Lily ever have feelings back for Snape?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark Magic so much, and been drawn to such loathesome people and acts.

    Boggo: Would you choose the Hallow that is the cloak, like you’re supposed to, and would you be tempted to use the others?

    J.K. Rowling: My temptation would be Harry’s, ie, the Stone. But I believe, as does Harry ultimately, that the greatest wisdom is in accepting that we must all die, and moving on.

    Cornersoul: So what happens to all the Dementors where will they go will they be destroyed if so, how?

    J.K. Rowling: You cannot destroy Dementors, though you can limit their numbers if you eradicate the conditions in which they multiply, ie, despair and degradation. As I’ve already said, though, the Ministry no longer used them to torment its opponents.

    Michael: Why didn’t Fawkes come back to help Harry? I would have thought that since Harry was so loyal to Dumbledore, Fawkes would have been Harry’s new pet?

    J.K. Rowling: Something had to leave the school for good when Dumbledore died, and I decided that would be Fawkes. Dumbledore was a very great and irreplacable man, and the loss of Fawkes (and the fact that he was ‘non-transferable’!) expresses this symbolically

    Roseweasley: Why was Colin Creavey still a student at Hogwarts when he was muggleborn surely he would have been locked up and interogated, not allowed back to school therefore, he shouldn’t have died?

    J.K. Rowling: Colin wasn’t a student. He sneaked back with the rest of the DA, along with Fred, George and the rest. He ought not to have stayed behind when McGonagall told him to leave, but alas — he did.

    Delailah: How does Dumbledore understand Parseltongue?

    J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant.

    Jessie: Will Lockhart ever recover?

    J.K. Rowling: No. Nor would I want him to. He’s happy where he is, and I’m happier without him!

    Annie: Does the wizarding world now know that snape was Dumbledore’s man, or do they still think he did a bunk?

    J.K. Rowling: Harry would ensure that Snape’s heroism was known. Of course, that would not stop Rita Skeeter writing ‘Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?’

    Vio91: Is Teddy Lupin a werewolf?

    J.K. Rowling: No, he’s a Metamorphmagus like his mother.

    Nippy23: We see socks a lot throughout the series, such as Dobby’s love for them and Dumbledore’s claim to see them in the mirror of erised, what’s the reason behind all the socks?

    J.K. Rowling: Nothing deep and significant, I’m afraid. They’re just a comedy item.

    Lady Bella: Whose murders did Voldemort use to create each of the horcruxes?

    J.K. Rowling: The diary — Moaning Myrtle. The cup — Hepzibah Smith, the previous owner. The locket — a Muggle tramp. Nagini — Bertha Jorkins (Voldemort could use a wand once he regained a rudimentary body, as long as the victim was subdued). The diadem — an Albanian peasant. The ring — Tom Riddle snr.

    Sampotterish: Why did Dumbledore want Ron to keep his deluminator?

    J.K. Rowling: Because he knew that Ron might need a little more guidance than the other two. Dumbledore understood Ron’s importance in the trio. He wasn’t the most skilled, or the most intelligent, but he held them together; his humour and his good heart were essential.

    Carol: Do Dementors have souls

    J.K. Rowling: No, that’s what makes them frightening!

    Jess Mac: What was the third smell that Hermione smelt in the amortentia potion in hbp (ie the particular essence of Ron)?

    J.K. Rowling: I think it was his hair. Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don’t you find?

    Natalie: Are house divisions as prevalaent in Harry’s childrens’ Hogwarts as in the previous generations?

    J.K. Rowling: Slytherin has become diluted. It is no longer the pureblood bastion it once was. Nevertheless, its dark reputation lingers, hence Albus Potter’s fears.

    Nithya: Lily detested Mulciber Avery. If snape really loved her,why didn’t he sacrifice their company for her sake?

    J.K. Rowling: Well, that is Snape’s tragedy. Given his time over again he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive. He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber too. He never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.

    Alborz: What does it mean to be the master of Death?

    J.K. Rowling: As Dumbledore explains, the real master of Death accepts that he must die, and that there are much worse things in the world of the living. It is not about striving for immortality, but about accepting mortality.

    Barbara: I was very disappointed to see Harry use crucio and seem to enjoy it. His failure to perform that kind of curse in the past has been a credit to his character why the change, and did Harry later regret having enjoyed deliberately causing pain?

    J.K. Rowling: Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal. Harry’s faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance. On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent.

    Nicole: What do you think is the funniest moment you have written in the series

    J.K. Rowling: It sounds very vain to answer this! My favourite in this book is probably that line of Ron’s ‘really captures the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn’t it?’

    Courtney: What child did Harry give the marauders map to if any?

    J.K. Rowling: I’ve got a feeling he didn’t give it to any of them, but that James sneaked it out of his father’s desk one day.

    Karin: What did Petunia wanted to say to Harry at the end of the Dursleys departing?

    J.K. Rowling: I think that for one moment she trembled on the verge of wishing Harry luck; that she almost acknowledged that her loathing of his world, and of him, was born out of jealousy. But she couldn’t do it; years of pretending that ‘normal’ was best had hardened her too much.

    Leaky Cauldron: Please pose and answer the question you’d most like to address about the series! (a ha, turned it back on you.)

    J.K. Rowling: Oooo, you’re tough. I must admit, I always wondered why nobody ever asked me what Dumbledore’s wand was made of! And I couldn’t say that, even when asked ‘what do you wish you’d been asked…’ because it would have sign-posted just how significant that wand would become!

    Nora: Is Auntie Muriel’s tiara important?

    J.K. Rowling: No, sorry… except to illustrate what an old bat she is.

    Nigel: Can Harry speak Parseltongue when he is no longer a horcrux?

    J.K. Rowling: No, he loses the ability, and is very glad to do so.

    Nikki: How did Sirius’ twoway mirror end up with Aberforth or is it another twoway mirror?

    J.K. Rowling: You see Aberforth meeting Mundungus in Hogsmeade. That was the occasion on which Dung, who had taken Sirius’s mirror from Grimmauld Place, sold it to Aberforth.

    Tierney Roth: If Moody got a magic eye, and Wormtail got a magic hand, couldn’t there be some way to form a magical ear, if only to cover up the hole and make George look more symmetrical?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, he could wear a false ear (I’m starting to giggle at the thought. Perhaps he’s better off with the hole!)

    Lucy: What is Dumbledore’s boggart?

    J.K. Rowling: The corpse of his sister.

    Pablo: What is toadface Umbridge doing now?

    J.K. Rowling: Glad to see you like her as much as I do! She was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for crimes against Muggleborns.

    Tina: Do the muggles notice that there aren’t any weird things going on now that Voldemort’s gone?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, the world seems a much sunnier place (literally — with the Dementors gone the weather gets better!) We are having a heavily Dementor-influenced summer here in the UK.

    Katie Mosher: How exactly do muggleborns receive magical ability?

    J.K. Rowling: Muggleborns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene re-surfaces in some unexpected places.

    Maggie: Is Rita Skeeter still reporting?

    J.K. Rowling: Naturally, what could stop Rita? I imagine she immediately dashed off a biography of Harry after he defeated Voldemort. One quarter truth to three quarters rubbish.

    Maggie Keir: Was Hermione able to find her parents and undo the memory damage?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, she brought them home straight away.

    Lola Victorpujebet: Was Minerva in love with Albus?

    J.K. Rowling: No! Not everybody falls in love with everybody else…

    Rachel Nell: Jkr, thank you for such amazing books! I would like to know how come no one seemed to know that Lily and Snape were friends in school they were obviously meeting for chats, etc didn’t James know their past?

    J.K. Rowling: Thank you for your thank you! Yes, it was known that they were friendly and then stopped being friends. Nothing more than that would be widely known. James always suspected Snape harboured deeper feelings for Lily, which was a factor in James’ behaviour to Snape.

    Abbey: Will the Chuddley Cannons ever win the Quidditch World Cup?

    J.K. Rowling: Bless them, perhaps. But they’d need to replace the entire team and down several cauldrons of Felix Felicitas.

    Hayleyhaha: Why did Regulus have a change of heart?

    J.K. Rowling: He was not prepared for the reality of life as a Death Eater. It was Voldemort’s attempted murder of Kreacher that really turned him.

    J.K. Rowling: Scorpius has a lot going against him, not least that name. However, I think Scorpius would be an improvement on his father, whom misfortune has sobered!

    Stephval: Is Scorpius as misguided as his father, or has Draco improved and taught his child(ren) better?

    J.K. Rowling: Sorry, technical hitch — just answered a question before seeing it! I am clearly getting better at Legilimency.

    Lona: Did Draco and Harry lose their animosity towards eachother when Voldemort died?

    J.K. Rowling: Not really. There would be a kind of rapprochement, in that Harry knows Draco hated being a Death Eater, and would not have killed Dumbledore; similarly, Draco would feel a grudging gratitude towards Harry for saving his life. Real friendship would be out of the question, though. Too much had happened prior to the final battle.

    Hannah: Why was Snape so badly groomed?

    J.K. Rowling: Hmm. Good question. Poor eyesight? Did he look in the mirror and believe he was gorgeous as he was? I think it more likely that he valued other qualities in himself!

    Ea: Will the stone ever be found, since it was left just sitting on the forest floor?

    J.K. Rowling: I think not. I imagine that it was squashed into the ground by a centaur’s hoof as the centaurs dashed to the aid of the Hogwarts fighters, and thereafter became buried.

    Adwait313: Has the jinx on the dada teaching post at hogwarts been lifted?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, at last! Incidentally, I know some have asked about Quirrell with regard to this question. He was teaching at Hogwarts for more than a year, but NOT in the post of D.A.D.A. teacher. He was previously Muggle Studies professor.

    Emily: What ever happened to Aberforth?

    J.K. Rowling: He is still there, at the Hog’s Head, playing with his goats.

    Lee: I recently purchsed Nimbus TwoThousand. It has a terrible knack of veering left. Is their anything I can do (wihout the use of a wand it was broken by a hippogriff) to repair it back to it original straight flying state?

    J.K. Rowling: Hm. I would advise a trip to Arkie Alderton’s Kwik-Repair Shop. Never attempt to mend a broom at home, the consequences can be disastrous.

    Abjoppotter: Is Narcissa Malfoy really a Death Eater?

    J.K. Rowling: No, she never had the Dark Mark and was never a fully paid-up member. However, her views were identical to those of her husband until Voldemort planned the death of her son.

    Emzzy: Did Mr Weasley ever get around to fixing Sirius’ motorbike?

    J.K. Rowling: Of course, and it ended up in Harry’s possession.

    Lulu: Do you think Dumbledore was a little more fond of Ron than either Ron or Harry believed?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do. Through Harry’s account of Ron, and from reports of the professors who taught Ron, Dumbledore understood Ron better than Ron ever knew, and liked him, too.

    Chelatina: Was Firenze ever welcomed back into the herd?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, the rest of the herd was forced to acknowledge that Firenze’s pro-human leanings were not shameful, but honourable.

    Kristy: What was your favorite scene to write in Deathly Hallows?

    J.K. Rowling: Chapter 34: The Forest Again.

    Chely: James’ Patronus is a stag and Lily’s a doe. Is that a coincidence?

    J.K. Rowling: No, the Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one’s life (because they so often become the ‘happy thought’ that generates a Patronus).

    Jon: Since Voldemort was afraid of death, did he choose to be a ghost if so where does he haunt or is this not possible due to his horcruxes?

    J.K. Rowling: No, he is not a ghost. He is forced to exist in the stunted form we witnessed in King’s Cross.

    Angela Morrissey: Were there seven horcruxes not six as Dumbledore intimated to harry if so, does this mean that Voldemort had an 8 part soul not a 7?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, Voldemort accidentally broke his soul into eight parts, not seven.

    Laura Trego: Did Hermione really put a memory charm on her parents she says she did but then about 50 pages later tells ron shes never done a memory charm?

    J.K. Rowling: They are two different charms. She has not wiped her parents’ memories (as she later does to Dolohov and Rowle); she has bewitched them to make them believe that they are different people.

    Maura: How come Voldemort was no longer employing occlumency against Harry, as he was in the 6th book?

    J.K. Rowling: He is losing control, and unable to prevent Harry seeing into his mind. The connection between them is never fully understood by Voldemort, who does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.

    Gandalfxj9: Did Krum ever find love?

    J.K. Rowling: Of course, though he had to go back to his native Bulgaria to do so.

    Twinkletoes: Why did you feel that Hedwig’s death was necessary?

    J.K. Rowling: The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I’m sorry… I know that death upset a LOT of people!

    Lecanard: Will we see Harry and his friends having their own history on chocolate frogs cards?

    J.K. Rowling: Definitely, and Ron will describe this as his finest hour.

    Mike: What is the incantation for creating a horcrux?

    J.K. Rowling: I cannot possibly tell you. Some things are better left unsaid.

    Samantha: Was Snape the only Death Eater who could produce a full Patronus?

    J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.

    Jess: How did Nagini could see Harry and Hermione if they were under the invisibility cloak?

    J.K. Rowling: Snakes’ sense are very different from human ones. They can detect heat and movement in a way that we can’t.

    Chucky: Have you had another alternatives as book title apart from Deathly Hallows?

    J.K. Rowling: The two other possibilities were ‘the Elder Wand’ (used instead as a chapter title) and ‘the Peverell Quest’, which I decided against quite quickly. I think the word ‘Quest’ is a bit corny!

    Iglooanne: What would your Patronus be?

    J.K. Rowling: I’d like an otter, like Hermione, but I’ve got a feeling it might be a large dog.

    The Stoic Cycle: Why is it that Voldemort is unaware that the gaunt ring is a hallow, when he has worn it (such as in the memory the diary shows Harry in book 2)

    J.K. Rowling: Wearing the ring would not make the stone work. The stone existed outside the ring originally, and to use it you had to turn it three times in your hand.

    Finchburg: Does the dark mark remain on those that Voldemort has branded after his death or does the tattoo dissapear now he is gone thanks for considering my question!

    J.K. Rowling: My pleasure, Finchburg! The Dark Mark would fade to a scar, not dissimilar to the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead. Like Harry’s, these scars would no longer burn or hurt.

    Katie Mosher: How is the Quibbler doing these days?

    J.K. Rowling: Pretty well, actually. It has returned to its usual condition of advanced lunacy, and is appreciated for its unintentional humour.

    Camille: Dear Mrs Rowling, while I’m here I want to thank you for making me laugh, cry (a lot! Most of all for Sirius!) since I’m 11 quite a long time for me as I’m 20 Harry’s magic and yours will be with me forever! Thanks!

    J.K. Rowling: Thank you very much, Camille, and I’m sorry about Sirius. That man’s got a lot of fans. Mostly female, I might add.

    Nicofr: Does Winky still drink a lot of butterbear?

    J.K. Rowling: She’s dried out a bit now.

    Isabel: Did Bellatrix ever love her husband, or did she have love only for Voldemort?

    J.K. Rowling: She took a pureblood husband, because that was what was expected of her, but her true love was always Voldemort.

    jenny: How did Snape keep his Patronus secret from the rest of the order?

    J.K. Rowling: He was careful not to use the talking Patronus means of communication with them. This was not difficult, as his particular job within the Order, ie, as spy, meant that sending a Patronus to any of them might have given away his true allegiance.

    Darchey: Did Voldemort ever love a girl?

    J.K. Rowling: No, he loved only power, and himself. He valued people whom he could use to advance his own objectives.

    Leo: What would your wand be made of?

    J.K. Rowling: I’d like Harry’s wand — holly and phoenix feather.

    Brian: Did the DA keep the coins?

    J.K. Rowling: Naturally. They would be like badges or medals of honour — proof that the owner had been at the heart of the fight against Voldemort from the start! I like to imagine Neville showing his to his admiring pupils.

    Tracie: How relieved are you that you can finally talk about the series no more secretkeeping!

    J.K. Rowling: I’m elated! It is great to be able to do this at last, I’ve looked forward to it for so long!

    Lou: How did Snape get into Grimmauld place to get the second half of the letter, if there were protection spells on the house stopping Snape getting in?

    J.K. Rowling: Snape entered the house immediately after Dumbledore’s death, before Moody put up the spells against him.

    Koen Van Der Voort: Why is the scar on Harry’s forehead lightning shaped?

    J.K. Rowling: To be honest, because it’s a cool shape. I couldn’t have my hero sport a doughnut-shaped scar.

    Louie: Did Marietta’s pimply formation ever fade?

    J.K. Rowling: Eventually, but it left a few scars. I loathe a traitor!

    Katie B: Why was Kings Cross the place Harry went to when he died?

    J.K. Rowling: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds (don’t forget that it is Harry’s image we see, not necessarily what is really there.

    J.K. Rowling: We seem to have over-run. We’ve had over 120,000 questions, I’ve been told! What can I say? Thank you so much for sticking with me, and with Harry, for so long. You have made this an incredible journey for Harry’s author.

    J.K. Rowling: I like this question, so I’ll take it for my last.

    Tess: What muggle song do you imagine would be played at Dumbledore’s funeral?

    J.K. Rowling: Surely ‘I did it my way’ by Frank Sinatra.

    J.K. Rowling: I’m very aware I haven’t answered everything… keep an eye on my website, and I’ll try and answer some more questions in due course!

    Thanks very much everybody, I’ve had a great time, and I hope I’ve covered some of the outstanding questions (I hear a distant roar of ‘YOU DIDN’T GET TO MINE!’)

    That’s it… I’m Disapparating. Bye!

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