Book 7 in the Harry Potter series -- The Deathly Hallows -- goes on sale this weekend. While many look forward to it with a sense of anticipation, it is also with a sense of dread, as this is the end of the line. There will be no more Quidditch, no more Order of the Phoenix, no more brushes with child abuse at Number 4 Privet Drive.
First things first, this post is a discussion about Harry Potter which contains summaries and speculations. There are no spoilers here, assuming you have read the first six books. Anything that I suggest is based on my own thoughts, and not leaked secrets that I have heard about. If you have not read all six books that are currently available, there may in fact be some spoilers. Read at your own peril.
Due to the set up, especially from book 6 -- The Half-Blood Prince -- book 7 will undoubtedly be a ginourmous tome. Harry and his pals have so much ground to cover. There are Horcruxes to be rounded up and destroyed, Death Eaters to be rounded up and imprisoned, and a certain Dark Lord to be rounded up and sent to oblivion. (Or Bolivia, if you're Mike Tyson.)
So let's take a look at the matter of these Horcruxes. Physical objects into which Voldemort has placed pieces of his own soul. We know that two of these have already been destroyed. Tom Riddle's diary was demolished in The Chamber of Secrets, and Dumbledore himself took care of a ring -- at the cost of one of his arms -- towards the beginning of The Half-Blood Prince.
The other Horcruxes (of which I believe there are 5) could probably be spun off into their own series, with the Junior Order of the Phoenix tracking them down and having adventures along the way. However, we know that Rowling has to wrap this thing up in one final book. Therefore, the gang must not need to take too long to find them.
My feeling is that we have already seen three of these Horcruxes. Voldemort's snake is almost certainly a Horcrux. There has also been a lot of speculation on line that Harry himself is a Horcrux. I have slowly started to agree with this myself. It makes a lot of sense. It would go a long way to explaining why Voldemort disappeared after attacking Harry -- losing that last piece of his soul weakened him too much. It would also explain why Harry can speak Parseltongue, why he and Voldemort have practically the same wand, why Harry can so often see through the eyes of Voldemort and his snake, AND why the Sorting Hat in book 1 suggested putting Harry in Slytherin House, saying, "It's all right here, in your head."
The third Horcrux that we have already seen is the locket. Remember the locket that Dumbledore practically killed himself to get in The Half-Blood Prince? Yeah, that wasn't it. The TRUE locket Horcrux is in The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. There are two clues to support this claim. First, there is a scene in The Order of the Phoenix where Harry and the kids are cleaning and sorting things in the headquarters at 12 Grimmaud Place. An enchanted music box almost puts them to sleep, some doxies try to sting them, and they find a heavy locket which no one can open. Seemingly a throwaway line in book 5, which gains much greater importance upon reading the end of book 6. The other clue is what is actually found in the locket that Dumbledore retrieves from the bottom of the poison. There is a note from someone saying that they have already destroyed the locket. This note is signed "R.A.B.” Who else could R.A.B. be but Sirius’s brother, Regulus Black? (And really, don't you just love how they're all named after stars? Sirius, Regulus, Andromeda, Nymphadora, Bellatrix...) Regulus, a former Death Eater who tried to leave the fold, got the locket, and it would not surprise me at all to find that he already has the other Horcruxes stashed away at The House of Black as well.
Snape. Severus Snape. The teacher we love to hate. Don't even get me started on Alan Rickman, who plays Snape in the movies. He is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO incredibly good at what he does. It's such a shame that they've had to cut so many Snape scenes from the movies due to time limitations. That will NOT be the case with the next movie.
Back to the character. Is he good, or is evil? Lots of evidence to support either side. Personally, I have always been convinced that he is on the side of the right. I tend to refrain from outrightly calling him "good" because let's face it, the guy's a jerk. But jerks aren't necessarily evil. Anyone who has ever watched the new version of Battlestar Galactica knows that Col. Tigh, the XO, is a supreme a-hole. But if you need someone in a pinch to have your back, he's there. No doubt about which side he's on. (Yes, even in the last episode.) Same for Snape. He's got pronounced issues with Harry, stemming from his father, and he's not a nice person. But he IS a member of the Order of the Phoenix, and he IS working against Voldemort.
There's no denying that he killed Dumbledore. However, there are so many clues throughout the book to suggest that Dumbledore MADE him do that. First of all, Hagrid told the kids that he overheard a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape where Snape was trying to get out of doing something, but Dumbledore wouldn't let him. Second, Snape was not actually in on the attack against Hogwarts. He was in his office, unaware, until Professor Flitwick ran in to tell him what was going on. This was well after the attack had begun. Furthermore, Snape could very easily have killed Flitwick AND Hermione and Luna (who were standing outside of his door). Instead, he merely sent the two girls back into his office to look after the professor, whom he had stunned. He may very well have saved Flitwick's life by keeping him out of the fight with the Death Eaters. Third, when Snape does show up at the top of the tower, Dumbledore says pleasingly, "Severus... please..." I don't think he was begging for his life. I think he was pleading with Snape to follow through on their agreement.
If you recall, Harry himself nearly killed Dumbledore earlier in the story. Dumbledore made Harry swear to him that he would make him drink all of the poison in the cavern, no matter what happened. So as Dumbledore began to drink, Harry encouraged him to continue. Dumbledore actually reached a point at which he was shouting, "I want to die!" and "KILL ME!" Yet Harry, hating himself, and repulsed by what he was doing, continued to encourage Dumbledore to drink. Hating himself, and repulsed. How interesting then, that right before Snape kills Dumbledore, he is described as having a face etched with hatred and revulsion. Methinks Snape and Harry are not quite as different as they would like to believe.
Snape actually protects Harry at the end of the story. While chasing Snape across the school grounds, Harry keeps attempting to throw unforgivable curses at Snape. Yet each time, Snape stops him before Harry has even completed the word. He also throws back what seems to be a taunt, but what is actually a rather good piece of advice -- "Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!" Harry really needs to pick back up on his Occlumency lessons.
OK, now for the theories.
I think that Dumbledore's brother, who is the bartender of the Hog's Head Tavern in Hogsmeade, will come forth to help The Order of the Phoenix.
I think that Neville will survive and go on to be either the Defense against the Dark Arts professor, or the Herbology professor.
I think that people will more closely examine Snape’s pensieve and learn why exactly Dumbledore has always trust him.
I think there may be a chance for Draco Malfoy's redemption. I know it's a very small chance, but he DID falter when he had the chance to kill Dumbledore, and now that he's seen death (Hey! He can see Thestrals now!), he may not be so keen on following in his father's footsteps.
I think that the kids will find the locket and possibly a couple of other Horcruxes in Kreacher’s closet at 12 Grimmaud Place. Perhaps there will even be a Matrix-style Kung-Fu battle to the death between Kreacher and Dobby.
And as for the deaths.
I am almost certain that Snape will die. I think he will die saving Harry though. It will be a very heroic death, and Harry will have to live with the knowledge that Snape was not the person he always accused him of being. Come to think of it, it might actually be kind of cool if Snape died defending Hermione, whom he had always snubbed as being a "Mudblood.”
I really, really, really hope I'm wrong about this one, but I have always felt that Ron Weasley is a marked man. The best friend always bites the dust. I would love for Ron and Hermione to be a happy couple at the end of the story and walk off into the enchanted sunset, but I have a very bad feeling about this.
I also fear for the safety of my favorite teacher in the entire series – Remus Lupin. He has pretty much lost all of his best friends at this point. And though there is the romantic possibility with Tonks, he's bound to be right at the center of the final battle and right in harm's way.
My mom is convinced that one of the Weasley twins -- Fred or George -- will be killed. This would of course completely change the personality of the surviving twin, as there would likely be no more joke shop or frivolity.
Percy Weasley will die in his office at the Ministry of Magic, victim of a freak quill accident.
Thoughts? Theories? Suggestions? Get them out now! Just no spoilers please!!