JK's tantalising hints to Harry Potter's final fate
• JK Rowling reveals tantalising clues
• Possible fate of Harry Potter!
• Ron Weasley to become prefect?
Story in full
WHEN, years in the future, all the hype about Harry Potter has long been forgotten, when book seven has been published and everybody knows what finally has happened to the teenage wizard with a scar on his temple, the scenes at the Edinburgh Book Festival yesterday morning will look distinctly odd.
No other author can expect to turn up to a festival specially closed off to everyone but herself and her fans. No other author can expect her own purpose-built signing tent, marshals patrolling the grounds and security at near-presidential levels. But no other author is remotely like JK Rowling.
She walks on to the platform of the Main Tent, wearing a silver-black batwinged-sleeve blouse, bootleg trousers and ankle-boots. She reads a passage from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with assured confidence, capturing both Harry’s resignation on finding he hasn’t been made a Hogwarts prefect to Hermione’s screech of annoyance on finding that Ron Weasley has instead.
Then it is on to the questions ... and that is really why the 550-strong audience has turned up. What’s she going to call book seven? Will there be a prequel? Will Hermione fall in love with Ron?
She is not giving too much away. No, she cannot possibly give away the final book’s title ("My agent would have me hunted down and killed").
Certainly there will not be a Star Wars type prequel ("that would be shameless exploitation"). And as for Ron and Hermione "just read between the lines".
For all that, she does give a couple of clues about the ending. "There are two questions I have never been asked - and I should have been." The first is why, when the killing curse Voldemort put on Harry rebounded, was Voldemort himself not killed?
For the second, she asks her audience to wonder why Dumbledore did not kill Voldemort at their confrontation in the Ministry of Magic.
"When I asked (her husband) Neil, he said: ‘That’s because Dumbledore knows that there are two more books to go!"
She is now in the middle of book six and it is, she says, the best of them all so far - although she qualifies that by saying that she often feels like that about the books she is writing at the time, only to suffer pangs of doubt later on.
Only a few other clues emerge about life chez Rowling. Asked what she did with her spare time, she laughs and replies that she did not have any at all, and that sleep has become her favourite thing.
By now, she says, her husband has grown used to her dropping everything to write down a suitable name for a potion or a spell. Referring to the "alarming" popularity of the evil Draco Malfoy, she urges the girls in her audience to "go for the right man rather than the nasty ones. It took me 35 years to find that out".
When a little boy in the front row asks tremulously "whether Harry will ever grow up as a wizard?" - she promises that he will at least survive until book seven. "But certainly I wouldn’t want to be him - and I know exactly what’s coming next."
And through all the questions, that’s the only point that comes over crystal clear.
The plot is still, she says, largely unaltered since before she began writing. She is stripped out some minor themes and moved other smaller ones back. But overall, the plot is still on track, still is going to end exactly the way she always planned. Even when facing a battery of searching questions, it still holds up in the smallest detail. "I’ve thought of that already," she’ll say about some abstruse point or other, and you know she clearly has.
For Rowling’s plotting has a layering and complexity that makes it a thing of fictional wonder. And yes, something else too. Something you can see in the forest of arms raised for minutes on end, parents and children in rapt attention together. A little thing called magic.
Warner Brothers is investigating how pages of the script for the film of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were stolen and posted on the internet.
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