The Underground Lake #39: Reprieves and Condemnations

by Brandon

J. K. Rowling: Yeah, one character got a reprieve.Richard: Oh really?

JK: Yeah.

Judy: I mean you are, I just…

JK: But I have to say two die that I didn’t intend to die.

J: Oh no, two much loved ones?

JK: Well, you know, a price has to be paid.

R: Significant?

JK: We are dealing with pure evil! So they don’t target the extras, do they? They go straight for the main characters… Or I do.

So, who lives and who snuffs it? I submit for your entertainment and consideration: REPRIEVES AND CONDEMNATIONS!


So vexing is JKR that to attempt to analyze in depth her cryptic statements would be time consuming and futile. Suffice it to say we get the gist: One person that originally was going to die, through some plot change in the story is now not going to die, and two characters that were once safe will now die. In order to efficiently determine whom lives and who dies, we need to round up the usual suspects.

The first thing to do is eliminate the riff-raff. JKR says that “they don’t target the extras, do they? They go straight for the main characters…” That said, we can eliminate, I feel, the minor characters like Professor Sinistra and the Creevey brothers on the good side and the “no-name Death Eaters” on the evil side. Therefore, let’s make a list and check it twice.


Good Guys / Bad Guys
Harry Potter
Ron Weasley
Severus Snape
Hermione Granger
Bellatrix Lestrange
Remus Lupin
Lucius Malfoy
Nymphadora Tonks
Draco Malfoy
Minerva McGonagall
Peter Pettigrew
Horace Slughorn
Fenrir Greyback
Fred Weasley
George Weasley
Ginny Weasley
Rubeus Hagrid
Arthur Weasley
Molly Weasley
Neville Longbottom
Luna Lovegood
Aberforth Dumbledore
Alastor Moody

One immediately notices something about this list: there are many more good guys than bad guys. Hearkening back to JKR, she says pure evil is relentless. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose because at the end of the day, they don’t care. Literally, they don’t care. If TFP dies, Voldemort isn’t going to weep tears of sadness. If Fenrir Greyback is shot with a silver bullet, Bellatrix isn’t going to be mourning. The good guys have everything to gain and everything to lose. So the question is who lives… and who dies?


JKR has created certain pairings now which I think are valuable clues as to who lives and who dies. With these pairs, as long as one lives, so must the other. The prime pair is Ron and Hermione. Either they both die or neither dies. Destiny has taken a hand here; their true feelings will take hold and love will blossom. When that is the case, it creates a life bond.

Now my theory for the HP life bond has nothing to do with “oh, this person must be spared that kind of pain.” It’s much more logistical – a function of the story. JKR has an Epilogue, of which we all know. In it she details what happens to every character after the end of Book Seven. What this means is that there is life after the book. The easiest implication here is that Voldemort loses and, therefore, good triumphs. It doesn’t take a whiz to figure that one out. But it does mean if there is a future, our characters’ lives are intrinsically linked.

In the positive future, the best possible future, no one dies, Harry and Ginny are married, Ron and Hermione are married, and they live next door to each other in the wizarding suburbs. Harry and Ron hold high positions in the Auror Office. Ginny is a career-driven woman, and Hermione works at the Wizard-Muggle Liason Office. Everyone is happy, and no one is dead. It is this best possible future that informs upon the real ending. If Ron were to sacrifice himself to save everyone (which is a distinct possibility), then all the foreshadowing leading up to Book Seven regarding Ron and Hermione’s relationship becomes useless. Hermione is left without her partner and therefore has no STORY requirements after the book is over.

I don’t mean to twist the knickers of feminists by saying that Hermione’s character has no point without her man. The same goes in the reverse. If a stray Avada Kedavra hits Hermione, I don’t see Ron running to Lavender for comfort. The moral of the story is this: either they both live or they both die; neither can live while the other doesn’t survive.

I feel the need to back this up a little more. Simply stating this theory as fact without being able to back it up is not only bad writing, but also not my style. It works like this: in HP, no one dies without good reason. Cedric had to die to show Harry the mercilessness of evil, as well as complicate his character while bringing him closer to Cho. Sirius had to die because, as I have said, everyone that Harry has to count on must go so that he has no help in the final confrontation. Not to mention, Harry is our hero; his job can’t be easy. Sacrifices must be made. Dumbledore had to die because he would never have allowed Harry to face Voldemort alone. He had to die so that Harry has no assistance.

With this reasoning, you must then ask yourself: what is gained by killing this character? In killing Ron, you rob Harry of a best friend, and Hermione of a lover. Then in the future – the future that JKR has preordained – Hermione has no partner and no story. Of course, Harry/Hermione shippers will disagree because they’ll just say that Harry and Hermione can then get together “the way it’s supposed to be.” The problem with that logic is that, even though it is slightly valid, it invalidates the foreshadowing. The foreshadowing is a tool. It points the way so that after Book Seven, when we read back, we realize how awesome JKR is because she didn’t cheat the story.

Now what is interesting is that the same doesn’t hold true for Harry and Ginny. Though we have been foreshadowed amply about their pairing, it works on a different wavelength. To be sure, the fact of Ginny and Harry’s love has made me totally rethink my stance on Harry’s imminent death. However, as a student of the Casablanca Rule, which states that a main character is allowed to sacrifice himself and his love for the greater good, it seems that Harry can die if it means that Ginny can live in a world free of Voldemort.


Who lives? Rather than do my usual dragging out of points, I thought I’d go straight for the throat and put it out there simply and succinctly. Ron and Hermione… safe. They are the future. If Harry dies, they both must go on so that there can be a next generation. Someone has to keep the staff at Hogwarts on their toes with new hi-jinks and rabblerousing.

I have a feeling that all the Weasleys are safe. Arthur and Molly fall into the “neither can live” category I mentioned above. The twins too are a matched set, so you can’t have a Fred without a George. Whether they both live or both die, I can’t imagine living in a world without the Weasley twins. The joke shop provides a useful function. In these dark times, it is necessary to have a force motivated totally by laughter. With Dementor babies zooming around, the world needs a reason to be happy. The Weasley twins accomplish that for us.

Fleur and Bill are getting married, so he’s safe. Charlie is a soldier so, while in danger, he doesn’t – to me – rank high enough on the “Scale to Kill” and have the world (the real world, not the HP world) devastated by his death. McGonagall and most of the good professors are safe. Slughorn may have some trouble, as might Hagrid – which I shall get into later.

So the question at hand is this: who was supposed to die that isn’t anymore? The answer: Lupin. I always thought Lupin had to die because 1) the Sirius Rule (anyone who cares about and can help Harry and is an adult has to go), and 2) the Marauder Rule. I believed (past tense) that all the Marauders had to die. I can’t explain it – it was just a gut instinct. But now, in light of Book Six and my new “neither can live” rule mentioned above, because of his attachment to and relationship with Tonks, I think he just saved himself a most painful death. I still think he will kill Greyback, but now I don’t think that he will be killed by Peter Pettigrew.


So then… who dies that wasn’t going to? Certain people, I think can be eliminated. The Trio. JKR has been ruminating on this story for over a decade; I don’t think she would wake up one morning and decide that one or two of our main characters will suddenly die. To look at the condemnations, I think we have to look at major supporting characters. With that, there are several hats thrown into the ring. Based on JKR’s above statement, I am not including villains in this list of condemned people. “We are dealing with pure evil here!”

Previously, I was prepared to condemn Neville and Hagrid to death. The “got no mama and no papa” and the “no future story” requirements past Book Seven that necessitate them living make them likely choices. It sounds really heartless to say that, basically, they have no reason to live past Book Seven, but the logic was simple. Neville would die sacrificing himself to try to kill Bellatrix. Bellatrix would gain the upper hand and kill him, and Harry would get final revenge for both Neville and Sirius by smiting her with a well-placed spell. Hagrid was going down because with Dumbledore gone and the kids graduating this year, he’ll have no one. No companions, no surrogate father, and no one to protect. Let’s face it – he had been Dumbledore’s go-to guy for errand running for years. But we also must face this fact: Hagrid, while well intentioned, is a horrible teacher. Grubbly-Plank could very easy fill in permanently. Or heck, they could bring in Charlie to teach the class.

The reason I said formerly, though, is that after Book Six, Neville showed his mettle. I believe he will be formidable in the final confrontation, and I believe that it is only fair that he get to exact revenge on Bellatrix because he deserves it more than Harry. If Neville dies, I think Voldemort kills him for killing Bellatrix. Or he weakens Bellatrix and decides to spare her, and thus he is killed. It will be a sad death. What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that I think it was always preordained that Neville was going to die. Therefore, I don’t think he can count on this list.

But this, however, brings me to his partner in crime: Luna Lovegood. If Luna survives, I see The Quibbler buying out The Daily Prophet with her as Editor-in-chief. The vexing thing about her character is that she was introduced so late in the game that we have not had sufficient foreshadowing to see a life for her past Book Seven. Again, she’s got no mama, but she’s got a papa (but that’s semantics), and she’s got no story requirements for after Book Seven. I think JKR didn’t mean her to become as important as she did. I feel she will go to the final confrontation with our all-star team. And there she will die.

But what about the second person? Right now, my guess is Aberforth. I said this before Book Five. I said this before Book Six, and now I’m saying it before Book Seven. I think we are FINALLY going to learn a lot about Abe and why he is the black sheep of the Dumbledore family. I think Abe has never been able to prove his mettle. Now that his brother is gone, I think he is going to show us that Albus didn’t get all the talent in that particular gene pool. I feel he will die protecting Harry at the very end in a very valiant and heroic death.

Well that’s all for now. I apologize for it taking me so long. When you read the next entry, The Deathly Hallows Underground Theory, you’ll know why. Until then, the wheels are in motion!