The Fate of the Trio

by Pythia

“More people are going to die. And…they…well, there’s at least one death that I’m … that … that is going to be horri…horrible to write. To rewrite, actually, because it’s already written. But — It has to be!”

These lines, spoken by JKR way back in 2001, made my heart stop for a moment. The inevitable death of which character could be so horrible that it made even JKR stammer while talking about it? Immediately one among the trio comes to my mind. Really, what could be more horrible, for both JKR and us fans, than a member of the “Dream Team” not surviving until the end of the seventh installment? Of course, she could have been referring to Sirius in this quote, but since she has mentioned that she would be killing off more characters in the coming books, and in the quote she pointedly said “at least,” we can assume that this is yet to come.

There are many fans out there who are convinced about the impending death of Harry, and others who feel that Ron won’’t survive the Second War. But almost everyone assumes that Hermione is safe. I, on the contrary, am perhaps one of the very few who believe the opposite — Hermione is in fact the one who is most in danger among the three. I have stated my reasons for believing so in this editorial. But let me say beforehand that I have reached this conclusion based on JKR’’s statements through the years, her writing style, and hints in the books. I have not based this on literary tradition, nor drawn parallels with other works of fiction.

Harry

Most people who feel that Harry will not survive the end of book 7 believe that he’’ll reach his end by sacrificing himself to defeat Voldemort. Sounds plausible, since death has been a central theme in the books. With each passing year, Harry’’s connection to death seems to be getting stronger. Then in the Ministry of Magic, we see Harry asking for death when Voldemort possesses him:

Let the pain stop, thought Harry…let him kill us…end it, Dumbledore…death is nothing compared to this… And I’ll see Sirius again…

Harry chooses death. Many will say that now he’s prepared for it, he is ready to accept his fate. But I disagree. Harry wants death because it will let him escape. It will be a path to fulfill his heart’’s deepest desire (meeting his family). Dumbledore might call death the next great adventure for the prepared mind. But Harry is not prepared. He considers it an escape route. There might be a point in the books when Harry has to “choose between what is right and what is easy,” and I believe that “death” will be the easy path.

The veil, I feel, can be compared to the Mirror of Erised. Harry is fascinated by both, and both provide Harry a connection to the ones he loves. Like he did with the mirror, Harry will have to overcome his desire and fulfill his destiny by vanquishing Voldemort. And yes, the veil will play an important part in that.

Then there’’s the prophecy. People have given a million and one interpretations for Trelawney’’s first prophecy. However, the only interpretation I believe is that of Dumbledore. We know that JKR speaks through Dumbledore, and though he may have hidden information from Harry, he has never lied to him, nor tried to twist things deliberately to mislead Harry. So when Dumbledore says “yes” to Harry’s question — ““…so does that mean that…that one of us has got to kill the other one…in the end?”” we can be sure that this is JKR’s intended meaning of the prophecy. Coming to the point I wanted to raise — the reason I’’ve bolded “one of us” is that this shows that there are two possible scenarios which will conclude the series — Harry defeats Voldemort or Voldemort defeats Harry. Both scenarios cannot happen together. If the latter comes true, it spells disaster for the wizarding (and the Muggle) world — we can scratch that out. This means that according to the prophecy, Harry lives on if he defeats Voldemort.

Yes, the points I’’ve raised so far are open to argument. Many people may not agree with my take on certain things. So let me come to my other argument, which is hopefully more convincing.

Since third year, Trelawney has been repeatedly predicting Harry’’s death to the point that it has become a satirical element in the books. And after what McGonagall says about Trelawney’s death predictions — ““…Sybill Trelawney has been predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet…” “– I was convinced that this is JKR’’s way of mocking all the theories regarding Harry’’s death.

Harry and Ron got up first from the table [seating 13] and she [Trelawney] shrieked loudly.

““My dears! Which of you left his seat first? Which?””

“”Dunno,”” said Ron, looking uneasily at Harry.

Foreshadowing? Clear indication that either Harry or Ron is going to die?

““I doubt if it will make much difference,”” said Professor McGonagall coldly, “”unless a mad axe-man is waiting outside the doors to slaughter the first into the Entrance Hall.””

My view is exactly similar to that of McGonagall. This is another one of Trelawney’’s fake predictions and superstitions. Lavender and Parvati would believe her. But that doesn’’t mean we should as well. Of course, there might be a few who’’ll argue that the ‘mad axe-man’ symbolizes Voldemort…

[I would like to assert here that the prophecies are a different matter entirely. I don’’t believe that Trelawney’’s predictions can be associated with her prophecies.]

And if I’’m not mistaken, the whole debate about Harry’’s survival was triggered by JKR herself, when she said this:

“I always planned seven [Potter books], I never said I would do another one, but at the moment there will be just the seven. I’ve got it planned, and Harry dies obviously…But that’s just a joke — or is it?”

However, this quote convinced me that Harry is very safe. She says she cried a lot after killing Sirius off and all along, as she developed his character, she was in denial about his death. And here’’s the main character of the book, who is one of her favourite characters. And she’s joking about his death? She has never joked about Sirius’’s death. Then in an interview with Jeremy Paxman in 2003, she does it again:

Paxman: Why stop when they grow up? Might be interesting to know what becomes of Harry as an adult.
JKR: How do you know he’ll still be alive?
Paxman: Oh. At the end of book 7?
JKR: It would be one way to kill off the merchandising.
Paxman: That really would be killing the Golden Goose wouldn’t it?
JKR: Yeah, well. I’m supposed to be richer than the Queen. What do I care?

“What do I care?” she says. What wouldn’’t she care? She loves Harry, doesn’’t she? Note how casual and nonchalant her tone is, so different from the hesitant statement about the “horrible death.” She’s always very careful about answering questions about Harry’’s survival. But sometimes she slips up. In the World Book Day chat last year, someone asked her:

Will Harry become Headmaster of Hogwarts?

JK Rowling replies: I’m not sure I can see Harry in an academic career, he’s seen so much action!

So she does see Harry in a career after school, if not an academic one. She could have answered this with her usual ““how can you be sure Harry will survive,”” but she slipped up. This may not be a huge evidence, but good enough when you add all my earlier arguments to it.

Yes, I see Harry as having a very good chance of surviving the War. If at all he dies in the books, it will be of old age than anything else.

Ron

The ever-present, faithful sidekick, who’’ll never leave the hero’’s side. Just because this character is killed off in other literary works, doesn’’t mean that he’’ll be killed off in JKR’’s world as well. JKR is not following a fixed set of rules, and she never follows the obvious path.

There are some who believe that Ron has to die for Harry to be able to use the Avada Kedavra. Here’’s my say: Harry will never use the AK curse, simply because he can’’t. All that anger built up inside him is “righteous,” and no matter who dies, it will remain so. If Sirius’’ death couldn’’t do it, I don’’t see what Ron’’s death could.

Then there are those who feel that Ron will “sacrifice” himself to save Harry. Really, haven’’t we had enough sacrifices for Harry already? First James and Lily, then Sirius spending 12 years in prison and finally falling through the veil when he comes to rescue Harry. Another “sacrifice” would do nothing except make Harry feel more miserable, guilty and blame himself for it.

Basically, I feel Ron’’s death would be pointless and serve no purpose whatsoever. And JKR wouldn’’t kill off one of her most loved characters without a sound reason. I do believe she has a very good reason for killing Sirius off.

And did anyone say “foreshadowing in the books?” None of the deaths so far have been foreshadowed in the previous books. Be it Sirius, or Cedric, or any of the minor characters. Yes, there were hints in OotP about Sirius’’ death, but there was no indication in any of the previous books. So much so that, most of us were shocked — no one had seen it coming. So we can safely assume that this can be said for any future character deaths as well. “”Die, Ron, die”” is not foreshadowing. Like in the Harry-Trelawney case, this is just JKR’’s way of mocking Ron’’s death theorists. So do what Ron does, chuck those tea leaves in the bin where they belong. Be a little optimistic. JKR’’s attitude towards Ron’’s survival is similar to that towards Harry’’s. Picking another question asked to her on the World Book Day chat:

What will Ron’s job be when he leaves school?

JK Rowling replies: Well, assuming he lives to leave school… I’m not going to tell you 🙂

She’s talking about the possibility of him not living to leave school, and she’’s smiling. Yes, he’’s definitely living to leave school then. Earlier, in an interview with Time magazine, she had almost said it out loud that she won’’t kill Ron:

It’s great to hear feedback from the kids. Mostly they are really worried about Ron. As if I’m going to kill Harry’s best friend. What I find interesting is only once has anyone said to me, “Don’t kill Hermione,” and that was after a reading when I said no one’s ever worried about her. Another kid said, “Yeah, well, she’s bound to get through O.K.” They see her as someone who is not vulnerable, but I see her as someone who does have quite a lot of vulnerability in her personality.

She’’s surprised that her readers are so worried about Ron. As if she’’s going to kill Harry’’s best friend. Because she obviously won’’t. So put those death theories to rest.

Hermione

Well, by now, it’’s easy to guess why I’’m worried about Hermione. She may be smart, intelligent, knows Hogwarts: A History by heart, and has a very sound knowledge of all sorts of spells and curses, but she remains a “vulnerable” personality in JKR’’s eyes. Behind all the brains and logic, indeed she is…

In PS/SS, when the trio was facing the Devil’s Snare, Hermione panicked. Despite identifying the plant and its weakness, she was unable to destroy it without Harry’s prompting. She couldn’t think straight when her friends’ lives were in danger. Then the fact that she couldn’t complete her DADA exam in third year (the only year when they had a “competent” DADA teacher, according to Professor McGonagall) establishes that she is very much afraid of failure. And in spite of being the top student in her year, she’s very insecure. Also amongst the six who went to save Sirius in the MoM, she was the most gravely injured (by Dolohov’s curse, which would have done more damage, had it been spoken out loud). She had to take 10 different potions every day to recover. And she could have evaded the curse had she been paying more attention.

Add to this the fact that she was extremely nervous about Quidditch during the first flying lesson, even though she had read tips from Quidditch through the Ages. And how she failed in the dueling club against Millicent Bulstrode, back in second year. It all goes to show that though her theoretical knowledge is strong, she is not very good when it comes to the “real” thing.

One thing we can be sure of is that one of the main themes of the sixth book is going to be blood racism and prejudice in the wizarding world, the title being Half-Blood Prince. Hermione, being Muggle-born and close to the “Boy-who-lived,” can be expected to be a major target in the coming books. So yes, I’’m worried about her.

However, I don’’t believe that Hermione will die (the optimist in me tells me that all three will survive the War), but though Harry is a marked man and Ron’’s a bit of a goofball, Hermione is the most vulnerable among the three.

Feedback: the-pythia at mugglenet dot com

Source for JKR’s quotes: Quick Quotes Quill

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