Given the myriad of possibilities afoot in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one might wish the help of Sybils illustrious ancestor, Cassandra Trelawney, to unravel the clues. J.K. Rowling has given fans tantalizing hints, a lot of probable red herrings, and some questions that have provided fodder for more discussion than some of the worlds most immediate current events. This article offers the humble sleuthings of Lady Lupin. I have listed the questions that seem to be the hottest amongst my readers and have (most of the time) taken a stand with an answer, however unsure I may be. It is largely a recap of my stance on many issues we have been discussing for ages. Mind you, this article comes complete with the caveat that I am fully prepared to wipe the three-egg omelet off my face after Jo has her final say.
Will Harry Die?
I have stood firm on this one from the start and I shall not waver No. Harry will not die. While I dont think JKR is a sentimental woman, I see in her writing a woman filled with hope. I dont think that woman would kill off her young hero just as he attains the object of his quest. I believe that Harry will defeat Voldemort and survive, though he will experience a great deal more loss before the end. Nothing of the magnitude of Harrys struggle is attained without great sacrifice. We know with near certainty that hell lose loved ones, and I think its safe to say hell have his own personal sacrifices to make, as every hero before him in literature has done. No one emerges unscathed from a trial like Harrys.
For those who see Harrys death as part of a death and resurrection motif, I somewhat agree with you I do think Harry will have to pass through some sort of death-like experience and it will change him forever. I have said in past articles that I think Harry will, with the help of Dumbledore and/or Sirius, pass through the Veil. The title of Deathly Hallows and the covers on both the U.K. and U.S. versions support the idea, with the archways that mimic the one over the Veil. We certainly cannot be sure that the archways on the covers are, indeed, the Veil, but it is a distinct possibility. I think that the souls behind that Veil (the faceless multitudes on the cover), along with Sirius and Dumbledore and Harrys stag Patronus will help him to bridge the world beyond the Veil and return again. I wonder if the book will depart slightly from form and continue past its typical June dénouement. If Harry is to bridge the two worlds, Halloween seems the night to do it (see SE23). However, Halloween of Harrys seventh year is too soon for the climax of the book will DH take us to Halloween of the following year? Perhaps, since Harrys story began on Halloween night. It would be fitting for it to end on Halloween night; although the passage may occur at another significant moment say at the Solstice in June?
Why Did Sirius Have to Die?
I think that Sirius death was necessary for two reasons:
Harry needed to pass from the influence of Sirius in OotP to the influence of Dumbledore in HBP to his own power and manhood, which we will see in DH. Sirius was needed to give Harry a visceral connection to James and to teach Harry audacity. He then needed to pass on so that Harry could grow into the influence of temperance and wisdom that Dumbledore afforded. Next, we will see Harry grow into a man who can lead himself and others.
Sirius needed to die at the Veil, because Harry will revisit it, and he will need help from the other side. As I said in SE21, the star Sirius was, to the ancient Egyptians, the first stop of a departed soul leaving Earth for the afterlife. I think that as Harry is on the precipice between Life and Death, Sirius will be there to help him, somehow. And that help will only be possible because Sirius is dead and because he died at the Veil.
Is Harry a Horcrux?
This is perhaps the shakiest of questions in some ways. I firmly reject the hypotheses that suggest Voldemort intentionally made Harry into a Horcrux at Godrics Hollow. However, the possibility that some piece of Voldemorts tattered soul flew off and burned into Harrys forehead with the green light of the AK curse that finished Voldemorts body is possible. Or, when the AK rebounded and Voldemort was blasted away a fragment of soul may have been sucked into the nearest human receptacle in this case, Harry.
Bear in mind that the wound on Harrys forehead is an oddity in wizard terms the Avada Kedavra curse does not typically leave a wound. Therefore, the scar itself must surely be significant. Not the most observant of students, Harry has never asked why the curse left a scar on him, whilst it does not typically leave a mark on its victims. In PS/SS, Hagrid does tell him that only very dark magic will leave such a scar, but all indications throughout the series have been that the AK curse is an exception. Perhaps the scar was not made by the AK, but by a stray bit of Voldemort that flew forward and imbedded itself into Harrys head. Would that make Harrys scar a proper Horcrux? As little as we know about making Horcruxes, its hard to say.
If Harrys scar does contain some piece of Voldemort, then I believe that Harry and Voldemort are still as Dumbledores silver instrument told him in essence divided. This essential division is what will make Harrys survival possible, if he is housing a piece of Voldemort. The scar itself may be the cause of this essential division and may therefore be the reason that Harry turned out as he did, and not like Voldemort. Remember what Dumbledore said to McGonagall the night he left Harry at Privet Drive? Even if he could remove Harrys scar he would not do it because scars can come in handy. Perhaps Harrys lightening bolt came in handy by preserving Harrys pure soul essentially divided from Voldemorts.
Whenever Harry is near Voldemort he has excruciating pain in his scar. Is this due to the magnetic pull of Voldemorts soul struggling to reunite with itself? If so, can something pull this fragment out of Harrys head without killing him? I dont think its an accident that dementors have been so crucial to Harrys journey since POA. As I hypothesized in SE14, I think the dementors will be back (remember, they are breeding) and that their thirst for soul-sucking will play a major role in the ending of DH. The presence of Harrys stag Patronus on the U.K. cover supports this theory (though I once wondered if Harrys Patronus would change to a phoenix, this now looks unlikely). However, if there are dementors to be fought, I expect a phoenix to be present.
Might Harry need to subject himself to the dementors in order to rid himself of the Voldemort within? Horrifying thought, but possible. Sometimes it is necessary to go straight into our worst fears, and sometimes those fears can be the thing that delivers us from despair or ruin. Would it not be ironic if a dementor were ultimately the thing that freed Harry from Voldemort? I also note that the Patronus lesson Harry gives to the DA in OOTP took a lot of page space, and yet thus far we havent seen any DA member cast the spell. I think we need that payoff, and we will see a Patronus army at some point.
If the scar is not a Horcrux, then it is something very like a Horcrux, as it seems to be the seat of Harrys connection to Voldemort. Even Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort put something of himself in Harry, though not intentionally. The scar is an essential plot point, Horcrux or not, and will most certainly come into play as the connection that must be somehow broken or overcome in order to destroy Voldemort.
Perhaps the famous gleam of triumph that Harry saw in Dumbledores eye when Voldemort used Harrys blood to regenerate a new body has something to do with how Harry will survive the connection. What has Harrys blood been doing to Voldemort for the past two years? Harrys blood is also Lilys blood, and so Voldemort does now carry love within him. Will that have an effect on him? I have no idea how, but my gut says that the gleam of triumph is connected to in essence divided.
Dumbledore and the Phoenix
Jo has told us definitively that Dumbledore is dead and I always believed he was. Yet she made his symbol a phoenix, and that cannot be lacking in meaning. While I dont think Dumbledore is secretly alive, and I dont think that people can come back from the dead in Jos universe, I think he still has a part to play. This is the meaning of his phoenix symbol he, like Sirius, will find some way to bridge the worlds of the living and the dead, at least for a long enough time to come to Harrys aid. I look forward to hearing from him again, whether through his portrait, his Pensieve, Dobby, Aberforth or his literal connection to the battle. Voldemort thinks hes gone, and yes, he is. Yet I think hell be able to help when necessary, without detracting from Harrys heroism. How? Ah, well only Jo knows for sure.
What is the Mystery Horcrux?
Whether Harry is or isnt a Horcrux, it seems that there is another founders article out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered. As I said in SE4, I am inclined to lean towards the four suits of the Tarot for the four founders possessions:
Swords: Gryffindors sword (not a Horcrux in my opinion, but has already helped with the destruction of the diary and will definitely aid in the Horcrux hunt)
Pentacles: Slytherins locket
Cups: Hufflepuffs cup
Wands: Ravenclaws wand
I believe the missing Horcrux may well be Ravenclaws wand, and I believe that its discovery will be tied to the disappearance of Ollivander. That disappearance (and perhaps the Horcrux itself) may be connected with Nevilles new wand, as he was one of the last people to speak to Ollivander. While the mystery Horcrux could be the tiara from the Room of Requirement or the opal necklace, as several of you have suggested, I am still inclined to go with the idea of a wand, and Ravenclaw is the only founder not yet involved in the Horcrux search, so I expect the missing item to have belonged to her.
Where are the Missing Horcruxes?
I am sticking to my association of the founders items with their respective elements, as specified by J.K. Rowling: Slytherin/Water; Hufflepuff/Earth; Gryffindor/Fire; Ravenclaw/Air. As I explained in SE11, the Slytherin locket was found in a watery cave by the ocean, requiring a blood offering as admittance, in the middle of a lake, in a bowl of liquid potion. All watery substances.
Of course, the real locket is now elsewhere. I expect it could still be in Grimmauld Place. It might, however, also be in Hogwarts with Kreacher, in Azkaban with Mundungus, or in Hogsmead with Aberforth. Kreacher and Aberforth seem the most likely candidates to have information Harry will need and to be prominent characters. Much as I hope Harry takes some sort of side trip through Azkaban (because I want JKR to describe it) I expect the locket to be found with Kreacher or Aberforth.
The cup will be found in Earth (could be Gringotts, the Forest, a cave with giants, etc.). I expect travel into the depths of something and I favor Gringotts for this search, simply because we havent seen it in so long, and, as Brandon is fond of pointing out in The Underground Lake, we have heard about the mysteries beneath it, but never explored them. The U.K. cover could well support the idea of a Gringotts search, what with the riches there. Still, the U.K. and U.S. covers look distinctly related they both have the archways and the same ominous, red-orange sky. Since Im favoring the Veil as the location shown on the U.S. cover, Im unsure about the Gringotts connection.
The mystery Horcrux (I believe the wand of Ravenclaw) will be found in Air (could be floating, flying, high above the mountains or over the ocean, in the clouds, moving or deeply hidden). Could the trio flying on the dragon, depicted in the artwork on the deluxe edition, be the chase for the mystery Horcrux of Ravenclaw? I admit I was hopeful when I saw the drawing.
If there is a Gryffindor Horcrux, it will be found in Fire. I dont think there is one. I believe that the Gryffindor object of significance is the sword, and I dont believe it is a Horcrux. Is it the sword in the hand of the house elf on Harrys back on the U.K. cover? Could be. I think we will see more of it, certainly. Dont be surprised to learn that Dumbledore left it to Harry.
Another important thing to note is that Harry seems to wear the locket on the U.S. DH cover. I surmise there is something very significant about this Horcrux for Harry. Is it a talisman he wears because it was the first? To remember Dumbledore? Because he hasnt figured out how to destroy it? It seems that the Horcrux around Harrys neck in the cover art is the real Horcrux, simply because it is so large, and Harry notes in HBP that the fake one was much smaller. Also, the U.K. adult cover features the locket. I think there may be a great deal of significance to this particular Horcrux after all, it is the Slytherin Horcrux. What would Voldemorts reaction be if he encountered Harry wearing it? Would he be filled with sudden doubt, wondering how far Harry had gotten towards destroying all the Horcruxes?
Sorry not to be more inventive, but Im firmly in the Regulus Black camp. Regulus has been mentioned too often to be insignificant, and Kreacher is the key. Is it Kreacher or Dobby on Harrys back on the U.K. cover? Hard to say. I expect them both to have importance. Kreacher is the most likely being to have information that can help with the Horcrux hunt, and he must obey Harry, but I loathe to think of Harry having to depend on him, as hell sabotage whenever possible. Kreacher was almost certainly involved in the initial Horcrux theft, assuming that Regulus is R.A.B. Did he drink that potion for Regulus and is that the reason he is a bit mad?
As for Dobby, I do believe hell make a contribution and may be a casualty of his efforts. As I mentioned in SE18, I think Dobby knows some of Dumbledores secrets, and may be useful to Harry in ways Harry cannot yet imagine.
Neville has a contribution to make, certainly. His growing confidence, his connection to the prophecy, his loyalty to Harry, his courage in the face of his fears, his connection to Bellatrix and the acquisition of his new wand all point towards a significant contribution before the end of the story. Additionally, I think there is a bad Memory Charm somewhere in Nevilles past, which is responsible for his memory problems. Weve heard so much about Memory Charms throughout the series and Neville certainly exhibits the symptoms of someone who was the recipient of a very strong one. Did he witness the torture of his parents or some other event that will have significance for the outcome of the book? If so, how will the charm be broken without hurting him? While a lot of people think Neville will die, I have always seen him as a survivor and I support the theory that he will live on to teach Herbology at Hogwarts. I think hell have to face Bellatrix, and I cannot imagine how hell survive that, but I hope he does. It would be great to see him triumph.
Ah Severus. Possibly a more compelling question than Harrys own fate, given the marvelously tangled web that Jo has spun around the Spinner. The Good or Evil question intrigues me a bit, because I think it may be the wrong question. As I posited in SE19, Snapes loyalties may not be so clear cut nor so constant as we surmise. Even the Snape is his own man proponents may be missing one key element in the equation: Human beings are generally inconsistent, especially if shrewd survival is a key component of our psyche. Dumbledores trust may have been well founded, but it may not be based on the fact that Snape is a closet sweetie or honorable hero waiting to emerge.
Snape may have been compelled to some of his actions by Lily and an Unbreakable Vow (SE19), or there may be another explanation. While Im not a shipper of Snape and Lily, I do think there was a friendship there, or at least a mutual respect, that haunts Snape. I cite as evidence a complete absence of insults about Lily from Snape over the course of the series. I realize he called her a Mudblood as he was being tormented in OOTP, but I am not speaking of that I am speaking of Snapes use of insults to torment Harry. He insults James, Sirius and Lupin at every possible opportunity in Harrys hearing but never once has he said a word against Lily. Given his obvious lust for causing Harry misery, there is no explanation I can think of for sparing Harrys Muggle-born mothers memory unless Snape himself has some reason to honor it. If Snape had warm feelings for Lily and was well treated by her at a time of painful unpopularity, it stands to reason that seeing her eyes staring out of James face for the past six years would have been a torment.
Regarding Snapes loyalty or betrayal of Dumbledore, I do think Snape was loyal to Dumbledore after a fashion. I just dont believe it came from an altruistic wish to bring good into the world. I think it came from his own experiences with Voldemort, and the realization that he would have more freedom and more real power working with Dumbledore than he or anyone else would if Voldemort were victorious. Snape is a nasty bit of work, but hes no fool. Life under Voldemort had him listening at keyholes and surely terrified of losing his life at the whim of his master. Dumbledore as a leader offered much more freedom.
Beyond his own best interests and a possible Unbreakable Vow with Lily to protect Harry and (I believe) obey Dumbledore, does Snape have a conscience? I think he does, and I think Lily may be the reason. If she offered him kindness and friendship and inspired love in some way in Snape, she may have helped him to develop a conscience that is still in there, somewhere. I dont see Snape becoming the great hero of the series, and I dont think Harry is wrong about his hurtful, bitter nature. I do, however, think that Snape will surprise the characters and be instrumental in helping the Order and Harry in some way. Personally, I think it will be his powers as a healer. There are bound to be horrific injuries in DH, given the nature of Harrys quest. I think Snape will help, as he has before, by virtue of the healing arts (SE24).
There is one more thing I am compelled to say about Snape. Though I have pondered it in private, and relayed it to friends, I have never written about it. After HBP, it seemed impossible and I dismissed it as wishful thinking on my part a silly misread of the text. A recent re-read of GOF brought it back again so I share it with you, completely prepared to see it disproved, but unable to let it go
In GOF, Sirius tells the trio about Snapes past when they visit him in the cave in Hogsmead. Of all the living wizards we have met, Sirius must be the most biased against Snape and the most hostile. In light of that, this passage has always stood out to me:
Sirius stared at the cave wall, then made a grimace of frustration.
Theres still the fact that Dumbledore trusts Snape, and I know Dumbledore trusts where a lot of other people wouldnt, but I just cant see him letting Snape teach at Hogwarts if hed ever worked for Voldemort.
(GOF, US p532; emphasis mine)
Even Sirius, who never gave Snape an inch of credibility or respect, doesnt believe he was a Death Eater and cannot imagine Dumbledore placing his blind trust in a former Death Eater. I have always wondered if Dumbledore trusted Snape because the whole mission the whole idea of Snape becoming a Death Eater came from Dumbledore. I have pondered whether Snape initially became a Death Eater on Dumbledores orders. I know, based on what we now know, it seems far fetched. Yet it does add up to one plausible explanation. Even Snapes sharing of the prophecy may have seemed an innocuous piece of incomplete information that wouldnt have caused the harm it eventually did. Perhaps allowing Snape to share that snippet of prophecy was one of Dumbledores huger mistakes. It would certainly answer a lot of questions and shed new light on many moments in the books, including Snapes return to Voldemort in GOF and the insane revolt and hatred etched in Snapes face as he is brought to the murder of Dumbledore by circumstances that ran out of control. It may be completely off base, but it has always niggled at me, so I share it with you for your contemplation.
Not a pleasant subject, but one we will all face, whether we like it or not, on the 21st. I admit to being quite flummoxed on who will be lost and who will live. I have a few ideas, but they are more hopes than theories. I think the trio and Ginny will survive, though not without injury. In fact, I have felt so sure of this that I recently realized I should really prepare myself to be wrong, or I may be in for a major shock.
I am most worried for Hagrid, Fred and/or George. Lupin being my sentimental favorite character, I truly hope Jo has spared him and Tonks so that he can enjoy his remaining years. However, I am not confident about that. I think Dobby may sacrifice himself for Harry.
I have always thought Snape would die, and Im still somewhat of that mind. However, I have recently given thought to his Slytherin survival instincts and wondered if he might pull through. Draco could go either way. The lowering of his wand, though indicative that he has the potential to be redeemed, does not mean that hell survive. R.A.B. was redeemed, but appears to have died in that process. Draco could be another R.A.B.
I think McGonagall will survive and remain Headmistress, as a bridge between the pre- and post-war wizard world. I think that Bill and Arthur have had their brushes with death and will survive, but I wonder about Molly. Her worries over her brood may result in her losing her own life, which would be a terrible blow to Harry and all the Weasleys. Percy may die and, if so, I hope he dies fighting for the right side and not remaining stuck with his head in Ministry sand.
Of the young people, Luna has always seemed to be in some danger to me, simply because of her accepting attitudes about death and her peculiar perceptions about life in general. She seems connected to things beyond the Veil in a way the other characters arent she seems to already be halfway beyond the Veil herself. Neville, as I mentioned above, I see surviving, though I dont feel so certain about that one. Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Parvati and the other students in Harrys year are more peripheral, and I expect some of them to be lost, though they wont have the heart-ripping effect on us that some of the more major characters will.
Slughorn is an enigma. No idea what will become of him, or some of the other teachers and adults in the series. Wormtail will almost certainly die, probably because of his life debt to Harry. I dont know that Ill cry over that one Nor would I lose any sleep over the Dursleys, Lucius or Narcissa.
Given that we have several character deaths to bear, we are all sure to be screaming, No! Not _______! at some point next weekend. I hereby make a vow to bear with some stoicism (and a large brandy, as Dumbledore would say ) the authors right to snuff out any of her own creations that she so chooses, and I promise to forgive her (though if its Lupin ).
Symbols, odds and ends
The symbol that has a few obsessive fans chattering has also intrigued me the circle within a triangle with a vertical line through both that appears on the spine of the U.K. childrens edition of DH. This symbol has also appeared on Bloomsburys website and, most intriguing, on J.K. Rowlings site when she set the last W.O.M.B.A.T. exam. It surely has meaning, and could go in many directions. The symbols of triangles, lines and circles all have meanings in religion, alchemy, mythology and other traditions. It could be a representation of runes, Greek letters or some meaning specific to Harrys universe.
Given the alchemical themes throughout the book, I am inclined to see some connection to transformation, completion and transcendence. If the inner circle, as alchemical texts suggest, symbolizes water, and the triangle symbolizes fire, it seems that the symbol indicates a final confrontation of Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. However, in this instance, what does the line down the center signify? Division?
If so, it hardly suggests the unity of Harrys hoped for final stages of transformation through the completion of his alchemical quest. It may have to do with Dumbledores help and return his phoenix symbol rising from the ashes in some mystical way to aid Harry fire encasing water and rising through it. Does it reflect the symbols that Harry has seen over and over again on the rim of the Pensieve, or is it something he has yet to encounter? I have no idea, but something in me responds positively to it. I think its an encouraging symbol something to bring hope and help.
Other burning questions
Why did Dumbledore have James invisibility cloak? What will the two-way mirror do? What is up with Aunt Petunia? What will Aberforth contribute? What will Harry find at Godrics Hollow? Who will do magic later in life?
The only one of those Ill venture is the last: Im rooting for Mrs. Figg. The others have me flummoxed. I think that the cloak being in Dumbledores possession is a great mystery, as one would have thought James would have needed it most when he was trying to hide from Voldemort. The mirrors may come into play at the Veil, but first Harry has to remember his, which is, presumably, still smashed at the bottom of his very messy school trunk. The conversation Aunt Petunia overheard between Lily (I presume) and that awful boy will be important, and I just feel certain that awful boy was Snape. Petunias very real, wizard-like fear over Voldemorts return and the dementors indicate she knows a lot more than shes letting on, and I want to know about her correspondence with Dumbledore, but cannot begin to fathom what they shared. Aberforth will have some family history that will shed light on something about Dumbledore, or perhaps some information about the destruction of Grindelwald, which most likely included destroying a Horcrux. His information could settle the mystery of what Dumbledore saw in the cave while drinking the potion. Godrics Hollow may yield some information about James and Lily. Being there might also jog Harrys memory about the moment of Voldemorts curse, which might awaken his questions about his scar. Beyond that, its anyones guess.
The fact that its anybodys guess tickles me beyond measure. I love that J.K. Rowling has invested these marvelous books with so much wit and wisdom that we have such a multitude of unanswered questions. Im puzzling many of my friends by refusing point blank any and all invitations for the weekend of the 21st as I intend to be firmly ensconced in my comfy chair and buried in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Spinners End will continue for at least a short while after publication. Ill write one article after reading the book, and give us all an opportunity to grieve, rejoice, tear hair, argue and ponder and give you all the opportunity to laugh and point when my theories go up in smoke! Depending on what we all learn on the 21st, there may be more than one article forthcoming after we all read the finale. However, shortly after publication I intend to close the column. My work with my theater company is taking off, much to my joy, and I hope will soon be my full time work (the Fund Raising Gods being willing Oh, for a Gringotts vault the size of Harrys!). And my novel, begun a year and a half ago, awaits my attention. Im 700 pages in, and have massive rewrites to do, but MUST finish the first draft. My health is immeasurably better and Im excited to be back into life again and life is taking off in a big way. So, like all good things Spinners End must well End. I have almost 500 e-mails that many of you have waited on responses to for months. I am so sorry Ive left you all without answers for so long. I will try in the coming months to acknowledge you all, even though most of the e-mails are theories which will answer themselves by the time I can get to you.
With that I say, Alohamora, Jo! Unlock the door and let us see whats inside.
August 1, 2006 - J.K. Rowling begins her first trip to the US in over six years by holding a press conference in NYC with Stephen Kind and John Irving, prior to the first night of Harry, Carrie and Garp.