WARNING: DO NOT read this until you have finished the sixth Harry Potter book. I mean it. There are MAJOR spoilers here.
Not since I was a teenager has a book made me weep so much. I have feared for some time that Dumbledore might die. The mythic arc would seem to require that the old king die so that the young hero may truly earn his new title as the new king. I hoped it wouldn’t come to pass, but if it did, I was sure it would be in Book 7 - near the end of Book 7.
I had no suspicion that it would occur in this book. Even after it occurred, I believed, then hoped, that it had not. Surely it was some trick. When McGonagall asked Harry to accompany her to her office and it became obvious that they were going to the headmaster’s office, I hoped that Dumbledore would be there waiting for them. When Harry saw Dumbledore’s portrait on the wall, I finally began to believe that he was really dead.
I do not for a moment believe that Dumbledore will be absent from Book 7. As Harry says, “He will only be gone from the school when none here are loyal to him.” Perhaps this way is best. We can grieve for him now, so that his death will not mar Harry’s triumph at the end of Book 7. And I hope that he will be a companion and help in some way to Harry in the next book, so we will have all of Book 7 to accustom ourselves to this new Dumbledore.
More or less the same thing happens in the Star Wars movies - Obi Wan tells Vader that by killing him he only increases Obi Wan’s powers - something to that effect. And then he appears to Luke from time to time with advice and guidance. But not often enough. I truly hope that Dumbledore will have more of a presence in Book 7 than Obi-Wan had after his death.
When the flames leap up around Dumbledore’s body, “Harry thought, for one heart-stopping moment, that he saw a phoenix fly joyfully into the blue...” I hope that this is true; that it really was a phoenix and that the phoenix is Dumbledore and that he will become Harry’s companion.
And now about Snape. I cried almost as much for Snape as I did for Dumbledore. One cannot like the man, but I pity him and admire his willingness to do the terrible, horrible things he must. For I am absolutely certain that Dumbledore was right about him. When Snape and Dumbledore were arguing in the forest and Dumbledore was telling him he must do something he didn’t want to do, he was telling Snape that he must complete his vow and kill Dumbledore. And when, at the top of the tower, Dumbledore begs Snape, he is not begging Snape to save him. He is begging Snape to do what he absolutely does not want to do: To kill Dumbledore. No wonder Snape was so distraught when Harry kept calling him a coward. He has been forced to do terrifying things; terrible things. And he knew that he was going out from the partial protection of Hogwarts into the pure evil of Voldemort’s presence.
What caused his transformation from a Death Eater to Dumbledore’s man? The death of the Potters. Yes, he hated James. All the more because James had the woman he loved. The only time Snape called Lily a mudblood was that time that Harry saw them in the pensive. But Lily defended him at that moment. I’m certain that he either loved her already or came to love her after that incident. And he could not get her. And then his aid to Voldemort caused her death.
Snape hated Harry for being James’s son. Dumbledore hoped he could get past that, but the legilimens lessons showed that he could not. Now Harry hates Snape. He has good reasons and also mistaken reasons that seem good. I will be very surprised if this does not become an important turning point of the plot for Book 7.
And what of Book 7? The ending of Book 6 seems to imply that Book 7 will not take place at Hogwarts. Harry even says that he will not return even if it is open. But I don’t believe it. The structure of all the books has been the same: the summer with the Dursleys, the school year at Hogwarts, the return to the Dursleys at the end of the year. I believe that the last book will follow the same basic structure. How then will they get Harry to return? Every year they have to find a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And the last one was the best, most powerful - Snape. How will they top that? I suspect that Harry will be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I think that the D.A. in Book 5 paves the way. I halfway expected Harry to be the DADA teacher in Book 6.
I think this experience will have transformed Harry. He has been more mature in every book. In Book 7, I think he will be fully an adult. No more adolescent pranks and attempts to slide away from the difficulties of learning. I think he will be powerfully motivated to become the powerful, knowledgeable wizard that Dumbledore was; that he must be to find the Horcruxes and to defeat Voldemort.
And I do not believe that his attempt to set Ginny aside to protect her will work. I have believed since Book 1 that Ginny was the one that Harry would end up with. And I have watched with pleasure her growth into a woman worthy of him. I do not believe that she will let him set her aside any more than Fleur would let a little thing like Bill’s disfigurement put her off. If she were to step aside until all the fighting was over and Voldemort was dead, then prance back, how could we respect her? On pages 508-510 Dumbledore and Harry are discussing the power which Harry has and which Voldemort knows not. And Dumbledore reminds Harry that that power is love. Harry thinks, “Big deal.” It came to me powerfully then that in order to overcome such a huge evil force, the love must be equally powerful. Harry has plenty of love. He loves Ron and Hermione; he loves Dumbledore and Hogwarts and all the Weasleys and Sirius. But it’s going to have to be a far more powerful love than that - it’s got to be Ginny who will be the catalyzing agent.
Obviously I could be wrong about any or all of this. Rowling is a genius and she has delighted and surprised me with every book. And who is R.A.B.? Is it someone we already know about? How am I to wait the two or three years until the next book?