Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Harry Potter Should Have Ended

J.K. Rowling is slowly turning into George Lucas. She can't leave well enough alone.

First, she made Dumbledore gay after the fact, and I agree with the Time Magazine article titled "Put Dumbledore Back in the Closet."

Second, recently she's been saying that she regrets that Ron and Hermione ended up together. I think this is silly, for a number of reasons that are better articulated here. In short, Ron and Hermione have an actual relationship that developed organically over time, and are going to have a real marriage with complementarity and fights and everything.

Besides, I think we've read too much into the way the movies portray Ron. He got the short end of the stick in the translation from the books to the movies, in many ways, as you can read here. He's a stronger character in the books.

But this post isn't actually about the "changes" she made to the books after the fact. It's about a complaint I have about the end to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So to that end, in a moment of daring fan-fiction-hubris, I rewrote the last few paragraphs of the final chapter (not the epilogue).


"And then there’s this."

Harry held up the Elder Wand, and Ron and Hermione looked at it with a reverence that, even in his befuddled and sleep-deprived state, Harry did not like to see.

"I don’t want it," said Harry.

"What?" said Ron loudly. "Are you mental?"

"I know it’s powerful," said Harry wearily. "But I was happier with mine. So…"

He rummaged in the pouch hung around his neck, and pulled out the two halves of holly still just connected by the finest threat of phoenix feather. Hermione had said that they could not be repaired, that the damage was too severe. All he knew was that if this did not work, nothing would.

He laid the broken wand upon the headmaster’s desk, touched it with the very tip of the Elder Wand, and said, "Reparo."

As his wand resealed, red sparks flew out of its end. Harry knew that he had succeeded. He picked up the holly and phoenix wand and felt a sudden warmth in his fingers, as though wand and hand were rejoicing at their reunion.

"Now to get rid of this one," Harry said. He put the Elder Wand down on the desk and then slowly pointed his wand at it.

"Are you sure?" said Ron. There was the faintest trace of longing in his voice as he looked at the Elder Wand.

“I think Harry’s right," said Hermione quietly. "Everybody heard him say that he is the master of the Elder Wand now. It should be destroyed."

"Incendio!" said Harry. A spark of flame erupted from his wand, engulfing the Elder Wand, which turned black and cracked in the heat from the spell. The holly and phoenix wand sparked again, this time with more enthusiasm, and Harry felt the warmth spread through his hand and up through his arm this time. The wand was more than rejoicing this time. It was truly his now.

"That takes care of that," he told Dumbledore, who was watching him with enormous affection and admiration.

"Yes indeed, Harry," Dumbledore said. "And now that the wizard has chosen the wand, I suspect that you will find that it will be a most true wand to you, for the rest of your life."

"Will it become another Elder Wand? Will others seek after it?"

"Oh, I think not," said Dumbledore. "You have shown remarkable loyalty to that wand. It will not reciprocate that loyalty to anybody else."

"Good. The Elder Wand was more trouble than it’s worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I’ve had enough trouble for a lifetime."


See what I did there? I combined the best of the endings of both the book and the movie. The movie makes little to do of the fact that Harry is the Master of the Elder Wand, and that is why he defeats Voldemort. It's made clear that the Elder Wand isn't exactly obeying Voldemort, but it's never made entirely clear that its loyalty to Harry is what kills Voldemort in the end. Almost as an afterthought in the script, Harry explains that he is the owner, but then destroys the Elder Wand by snapping it in half, renouncing its power (and the curse of being its owner). His own wand was never damaged. 

In the books, Harry shows incredible loyalty to his original wand by ordering the Elder Wand to repair it. But he does not destroy the Elder Wand . . . even though practically everybody now knows that he is its master because he said so right in front of them, and then killed Voldemort because the wand was his! If that isn't asking to get killed in some back alley someday, I don't know what is.  

So that's how I think Harry Potter should have ended. He is the master of the Elder Wand, but then uses that wand to repair his old holly and phoenix-feather one, and then uses the holly one to destroy the Elder Wand. Now he has a wand that will be intensely loyal to him, but only to him, a wand that has imbibed portions of Voldemort's magic, is strengthened by Harry's enormous courage and loyalty to it, and, quite possibly, now has the Elder's Wand's experience as well. In any event, I think this ending jives very well with many of the lessons that Rowling tries to teach about love and loyalty and the true source of power.

And now Harry isn't asking to get Avada Kedavra'ed in the back some day if somebody wants to become master of the Elder Wand.

So what do you think?


Rachel said...

I like you and your ballsy style, Carl. I also love that you actually took the time to write this out. I often think of better endings and story lines in my head, but then never write them down.
I like the neat little package you've tied up there. I almost wonder if Rowling left some end untied so fans could have fun with it.

Rachel said...

*"better" meaning they're neater and cause less cognitive dissonance, in my opinion.