The Underground Lake #36: Cryptic Characters, Part 4: Checkmate

by Brandon

In an all-too-busy world, the editorialist-on-the-go must juggle. But my readers are loyal, and they are patient. No old business obviously; therefore, I submit for you entertainment and consideration: CHECKMATE!!

PAWN TO QUEEN’S KNIGHT FOUR

I don’t know chess that well, so that section heading should be quite nonsensical. And nonsensical is a trait of our final subject. Those astute Harry Potter fanatics should have been able to deduce quite quickly who this entry concerns. If you are unsure, here’s a hint: His name starts with an “R” and ends with an “on Weasley.” That’s right – I saved the best for last. There have been many things said about Mr. Potter’s best friend and partner in crime. Ron Weasley, if I am correct, will be one of the most crucial factors in the final confrontation.

FIRST FORESHADOWING

If, like me, you are a fan of foreshadowing, you’ll have recognized the oft cited symbolism at the conclusion of Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. In it, there is a life-sized chess tournament in which our friend Ron takes the lead and, through daring strategery (not to be confused with “strategy,” which has no place in Harry Potter), propels the young Harry forward to victory by sacrificing himself for the greater good.

Any Honors English student worth his (or her) soul will tell you that the ending of Book One may be foreshadowing for the end of Book Seven. It is for that reason that in HP fandom there is a theory (not sanctioned or approved by the UGL) that Ron Weasley will die at the end of Book Seven by sacrificing himself to save either Harry or Hermione, or both, so that Harry can go on. Do I believe this to be the case? You’ll find out by continuing.

PEAK AT ELEVEN

Before ascertaining Ron Weasley’s fate, we must see his past. I am an avid Ron supporter, clad in my Gryffindor standard issue “WEASLEY IS OUR KING” t-shirt. However, it is my feeling that Ron sort of peaked at Book One. Let’s take a look at Ron’s involvement in each of the final confrontations of the past books:

  • BOOK ONE – A classic hero. 50 points to Gryffindor for the most outstanding game of wizard chess Hogwarts has ever seen; also, for recognizing the fact that in the final confrontation of the book, the only person that matters is Harry.
  • BOOK TWO – He went with Harry, but thanks to Gilderoy Lockhart, a giant rock wall separated him from helping with “Operation Rescue Ginny.” He therefore got to twiddle his thumbs and baby-sit a brain-addled Lockhart while Harry battled a basilisk and destroyed a Horcrux (of course, we didn’t know what it was at the time).
  • BOOK THREE – Ron broke his leg… or rather, Sirius broke Ron’s leg. Though he was present in the first part of the final confrontation (though completely incapacitated and frankly, useless), he had to sit out the time-turning portion of the climax.
  • BOOK FOUR – Yeah… Ron was in the stands of the maze… watching… a giant bush (note: tasks two and three had to be boring as heck to watch because basically, 1) they were watching the water for an hour till someone came up, and 2) if they could actually see into the maze, they would have known Imposter Moody was setting Harry up… in short, quite boring if you’re not Harry).
  • BOOK FIVE – What is interesting here is that we begin the trend of Ron getting action that the reader does not see. Ron spectacularly wins the Quidditch final. But where are we? In the forest with frickin’ Hagrid setting up a DING (you remember the DING definition from season one? Hint: read the Reader’s Guide). Then Ron – with an assist from Ginny, Neville, and Luna – put the smack down on the Inquisitorial Squad and head to the Ministry. Again, kick-A Ron, but the reader doesn’t see… We get to the Ministry, but Ron becomes quite useless. He gets attacked by the brain (and I’m still waiting for some kind of payoff from that) and becomes incapacitated for the whole battle.
  • BOOK SIX – Once again, Ron sees action that we can’t see. He and the DA loyalists collaborate with the Order and engage in “La Resistance” against the Death Eaters. It will be an awesome battle in the movie (because whoever directs the movie – PLEASE PICK ME – will SOOO cut between that long conversation with Dumbledore to the ensuing battle below with Ron.) However, we were not privy to the action so we take it on account that Ron had some skillz (and yes, I did mean “skillz” and not “skills” – wand-wielding skillz).

In short, Ron’s most defining moment still remains firmly at the climax of Book One. He has seen a little action here and there, about the same, comparatively speaking, as Hermione (she was also incapacitated in one book and watching the third task in Four, yet she hung in there a lot longer in Book Five than Ron did). In short, we have one book left and Ron, though of course not the central focus, will have to prove his mettle against the Dark Lord and his cronies. The question is this: HOW?

WHAT TO DO TO DIE TODAY…

Who will most likely be present at the final confrontation?

THE GOOD GUYS: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny (maybe, but most likely), Luna (maybe, not as likely), Tonks, Lupin, Moody, and Aberforth. POSSIBLE BUT UNLIKELY ADDITIONS: McGonagall, Hagrid, Grawp, Flitwick, Fred & George, Charlie, Bill, Dobby (I would LOVE to see Dobby and a legion of House Elves on the march), and Slughorn (having finally chosen a side).

THE BAD GUYS: Voldemort, Bellatrix, TFPWWNBN (The Former Professor Who Will Not Be Named), Wormtail, The Malfoys (as hostages/prisoners of sorts), Fenrir Greyback, INFERI, Dementors, Giants, and a host of assorted Death Eaters (too many to name).

Unless someone kills Hermione, which will NEVER HAPPEN, Ron has no score to settle. Harry has a score to settle against Wormtail, TFPWWNBN, Bellatrix, and Voldemort. Lupin and Bill both have scores to settle against Greybeck. Lupin has to represent for the Marauders and his fallen buddies, so he has a score to settle with TFPWWNBN, Bellatrix, and Wormtail. Neville has a big score to settle with Bellatrix (but he won’t kill her because he’s too classy for that; sadly, he will meet a terrible fate for his mercy). Tonks will want the sequel to her fight with Bellatrix, only this time she won’t be defeated and set off a chain reaction that puts Sirius in the veil. Aberforth may want to bring down the man who killed his brother. Look out, TFPWWNBN.

A lot of people have stakes in this battle but Ron does not. He and Hermione are like Han and Leia in Return of the Jedi. They have no real personal stake in the final confrontation. Their involvement is for their friend and for the fates of everyone they fight to protect. Ron, as Harry’s best friend, has a burden upon him he never asked for. He is a true hero because he does not have to help Harry bear his burden. He chooses to bear it and put himself in danger. I see Ron, along with Hermione and Harry, going into the final confrontation with an actual plan. Everyone else will be battling but these three, just like in Book One, have a clear goal and will use their seven years of friendship to create an unstoppable team. Ron will be on hand to dispatch a few DEs. The question is, how far will the knight go this time?

CHECK AND MATE

In the game of chess, you strategically position your pieces and strike. I think for once, Harry won’t show up half-cocked. The stakes are too high this time. I still feel that the final confrontation should take place at Azkaban (as it would be the perfect base for Voldemort). Therefore, they will need a plan for sneaking in undetected. A surprise attack would be required. Mr. Weasley and Hagrid having been there before would be integral in giving us the layout. Ron may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he can see strategy. His mind just works that way. He, Harry, and Hermione will focus on their goal of getting to Voldemort while the others create a diversion (and what a spectacular diversion it will be). Ron will see the way to get in as well as the most expeditious route to Voldemort, who I believe will have Bellatrix and TFPWWNBN as well as the Malfoys and possibly Ollivander with him. The fighting and monologue-ing will ensue and the final question will come: will Ronald live? Yes, of course. For me, that’s a foregone conclusion. Yes, the foreshadowing in Book One is there, but in the HP universe, we have learned that love conquers everything. ‘Twas love that saved baby Harry and protected him for ages. ‘Twas love that sent Voldemort screaming out of the ministry after he possessed Harry to get Dumbledore to kill him. ‘Twill be love for Hermione (because they will FINALLY get together) that will save Ron. That’s not to say he won’t be grievously injured and possibly comatose or at least unconscious. But I cannot believe that Ron has and will peak only in Book One. The day for Ron’s defining moment is nigh. Let’s hope Harry lives to see it.

Tune in for my next entry: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS WORMTAIL? Until then, THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!

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