We are into the last part of the Harry Potter series. All the movies prior have built up to this finale. The characters have been introduced and developed and it’s time to finally find out where their fates lie.
We have Harry bid goodbye to his Muggle house, to his first room in the cupboard under the stairs; remembering all the people that influenced him along the way as he moves on to the most important journey of his life – killing Voldemort. He remembers all the people who sacrificed their lives for this same feat. He remembers Lilly and James and Sirius, the family he could have had but was taken cruelly away from him. It is time for him to leave. But before he does, there is a knock at the door and he meets all the people who are alive and still in his life and willing to die for him. He meets Hermione & Ron, the family that he made for himself. Fred & George, Remus & Tonks, Moody. These are the people who believe in Harry. In his cause. In his journey and in his abilities. In his leadership.
The only person who involuntarily is present, Mundungus Fletcher, is the only one to vanish once they realise the ambush as death eaters flog them as soon as they depart for the safe houses. This disloyalty of Mundungus’ costs Moody his life. It is then difficult to understand what makes the death eaters stick their necks out for Voldemort. Harry’s people have their own bond and beliefs in Harry but Voldemort’s followers are just that, followers. Not friends. Not peers. Not equals.
What even is Voldemort’s motivation behind this war? Sure, he wants to kill Harry because of the prophecy. But beyond that, Voldemort wants to establish an anti-muggle campaign. Only pure-blood wizards would go unpunished. Even though Tom Riddle himself is a half-blood. Just like Hitler. His hatred for the muggles comes out of the fact that his father was one. Believing himself to be the greatest and most superior to all, Voldemort could never accept that his father was ordinary. That part of his own DNA is ordinary and not the royalty that he desires for and expects of himself.
Meanwhile, ever since Dumbledore’s demise, there have been flagrant stories making their way to news and books. Apparently Dumbledore had a rather scandalous personal life while he was still young and the fact that Harry was never privy to that information, disturbs the boy beyond no measure. In some ways, Harry really is like Voldemort. He felt betrayed that Albus never shared personal information about his own life with his student. Although to be fair, Harry did show unfaltering loyalty towards him and he did often put his life on the line for Dumbledore. Thankfully, at a later stage in the story, Harry does realise that it is not your past that should define you, but rather the person that you have become since then.
One of the most impactful sub-plots of the last story is that of Kreacher, the house elf. Despite Hermione’s constant pleas to show kindness and compassion towards the elf, neither Sirius, nor ultimately Harry show mercy to the elf. And the hatred is reciprocated just as intently from the elf’s side as well. Perhaps it is because of how his god-father treated the elf that Harry also behaves the same way with him. What you do (Sirius) has implications that stay even after you are gone. Bellatrix never learns that lesson, which works out well for our protagonists as they are able to escape from Malfoy Manor with Dobby, the free elf’s help. Bellatrix cannot fathom that an elf would be the force stopping her from serving her lord. On the same front, we also see how it was Mundungus who had come into the house and stolen the locket from Kreacher’s possessions. But since the house was protected by the Fidelius Charm, it means that the Order invited the intruder in themselves. We should be very careful about the people we let in.
As the trio take turns wearing the lockets, they soon realise how the person wearing it becomes increasingly agitated and short tempered. Sometimes we invite trouble into our lives and wear the cause on our sleeve, or rather, in this case, around our necks. We do not even realise what the root cause of troubles and turmoil are but that sometimes it can be something that you invited in in the very first place. The locket affects Ron the most out of the three. Maybe because of his underlying insecurities that dominate such a big part of his life that he can no longer keep it inside. But maybe also aggravated by the fact that he is unable to apparate because of his injury, slowing down the group, which only seems to increase his anxiety and frustration. At one point, he even confronts Hermione about whether she would stay with Harry or go back with Ron, since he has decided he wants to leave. Hermione up till now has had enough outstanding and character defining moments. However, the moment she decides to stay with Harry, even though she loves Ron; even though she knows this will hurt him; even though she wants to be with him, is up there at the top. Just because that is the need of the hour – her staying back with Harry. Just because she knows what her priorities need to be. Just because she knows that in this fight, Harry is the right one. Hermione picks sides. Thankfully though, it does not take too long for Ron to fight his insecurities and win as he decides to come up. He is given the opportunity to literally put a sword through his insecurities while destroying the locket, which he gladly takes.
There is a popular theory related to the tale of the three brothers, which says that Voldemort was the eldest brother since he craved to be the best and most powerful wizard of all time; Snape was the second brother since he wanted more than anything to bring Lilly back and Harry was the third and the youngest brother as he knew what was right and was smart enough to not be power of fame hungry unlike the eldest brother, but also knew to focus on the present rather than lament his entire life about his parents’ passing, unlike Snape. The tale thrives to teach us that humility is not only a more important trait, but also more prudent. The youngest brother not only survived, but also safeguarded his future generations as the cloak was something he could pass on to his children.
As the trio make their way into Gringotts, hoping to retrieve another Horcrux from Bellatrix’s vault, they find a dragon, which proves to be their biggest obstacle. But once they make it past the dragon and collect the horcrux, they are betrayed by the goblin and are left to fend for themselves. Again, this means fighting off the dragon to make a safe exit. However, this time around, they use the same obstacle that earlier caused them problems, to be their source of exit. They make use of their problems to turn them into solutions. On the emotional front, we also finally see Harry get closure as he visits his parents’ grave.
In one of his visions, Harry realises that one of the horcruxes is at Hogwarts and starts to make his way to his school, before which he meets Aberforth. Aberforth is introduced as a cynic who does not believe Harry’s hero – Albus, who is incidentally the former’s brother. Aberforth is retired to the idea that Harry is fighting a doomed cause and that Albus has just sent the boy on a suicide mission, although the latter does turn out to be true. However, looking at the conviction and faith that Harry has for his cause and for Albus, Aberforth too gets inspired and joins the underdogs. Harry has similar effects on his peers at the school who all light up when they see him arrive. Harry is the kind of a leader who inspires courage and confidence and emit these things in his very aura.
As we have spent such a great deal of time going alongside Harry to find and destroy the horcuxes, it is also important to understand why Voldemort chose the items that he did to turn into horcruxes that would store parts of his soul. The ring was proof of his lineage coming from Salazar Slytherin himself. Proof that he is indeed special. The diary was his offensive tool, his way of influencing someone in the future. The locket, cup and the diadem were heirlooms of Salazar Slytherin, Helga Huffelpuff and Rowena Ravenclaw themselves, which were of significance to him since Hogwarts was the first place he felt satisfied. That is also why he leaves the diadem in the room of requirement at Hogwarts because he feels no one apart from himself would know of this room and that a bit of his soul will forever remain at Hogwarts, his happy place. The cup, he leaves at Bellatrix’s vault in Gringotts since he never himself had an account there and he found it a smug idea to leave a bit of himself at the place where his body had no access. The locket was secured in the cave which he had visited as a child and had found rather enjoyable. The ring was left back at the house where the Gaunt family lived and Dumbledore found later in its ruins. And Nagini, his snake, his pet, his closest companion, was the last horcrux that Voldemort had knowingly created.
In a typical Voldemort manner, he kills off Snape to get better control of his new wand. But not before Harry finds Severus lying on the floor, waiting for the inevitable death while looking into Harry’s eyes. The ones that he got from Lilly. Snape gives Harry his own memories and urges Harry to look at them before doing anything else. And thus we are given a glimpse into Sanpe’s life. Snape, the bravest, most loyal, most regretful character of the series. Snape, who devoted his life to Dumbledore, to saving Harry’s life, just out of his unrequited love for Lilly. The most emotion inducing moment of the whole series. The five words that will forever remind us about Harry Potter and his universe. The five words that will forever remind us about love and sacrifice – After all this time? Always.
Before we can recover from the depths of our emotions, we have Harry walking into the forest, towards his own death. With some courage that he gathers from Lilly, James, Lupin and Sirius (I will forever remain bitter about the fact that we were robbed of one final moment with Fred), he inches forward towards Voldemort, ready to brace the full impact of the killing spell. The blow that takes him into a trance and leads him to have a conversation with Dumbledore. The old man with wise words that never fail to disappoint, leaves Harry with two lessons. First, Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living. And above all, all those who live without love. And second, It’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that it is not real? And just like that, he conveys the point of the story – that love and imagination are what get you through life and make it so much more than that, make it happy and meaningful and worth living.
And with that message fresh in his mind, Harry moves back to the living world, ready for his final battle. Ready to jump into his death with Tom Riddle, finally another mere mortal. Finally someone that can be destroyed for good. And he comes out of it, again, as the boy who lived. As the chosen one. And what does he want more than anything else? To be with his friends and to live as normal a life as he can. To be regular. Mundane. Usual. Exact opposite of everything Voldemort ever wanted.