Not everyone makes it to the final credits of the final reel in the final Harry Potter book:
"The final chapter is hidden away although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," Rowling said.
"A price has to be paid, we are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras, do they? They go for the main characters -- well, I do."
Will Harry make it?
Asked whether one of the casualties would be Potter himself, Rowling said she had never been tempted to kill off the magician before the finale.
At the same time, she added: "I can completely understand, however, the mentality of an author who thinks, 'Well I'm gonna kill them off because that means there can be no non-author written sequels. So it will end with me and after I'm dead and gone they won't be able to bring back the character'."
The author said she did not want to commit herself either way on Potter's fate, telling interviewers Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan: "I don't want the hate mail, apart from anything else."
This story will surely prompt a meeting of the Crack Committee on Potterdom (I have not one but two presidents of Potter fan clubs in residence).
As to Harry - the "die" case rests on Book One - when Harry looks in the Mirror of Desire, all he wants is to be with his family, and you know what - his family is dead.
Ron Weasley is also vulnerable, I have been assured - the Book One chess game foreshadows his own death at the hand of Bellatrix, the White Queen. And there are other clues which escape me now.
The article includes this silliness:
The seventh novel is reportedly due to be published next year at the earliest.
The seventh novel will be published on 7/7/07, a Saturday - make your plans now. [Mini-update - well, unless they decide to publish it on 7/21/07, as announced on 2/1/2007]
UPDATE: Some time next spring we ought to call the bets. Until then, here are my current picks:
Marked For Death:
Snape; nothing in his life became him like the leaving it. He's a good guy, or anyway, not bad - his unrequited crush on Lily Potter motivates his desire for vengeance against Lily's killer and explains his loathing for Harry (right mom, wrong dad).
Hagrid - I have lost the link, but in alchemy the colors Red, White, and Black are significant. Sirius Black is gone; Albus (means white, and you could look it up, but you would know it if you were an albino) Dumbledore is passing for dead (time will tell - Aslan and Gandalf made it back, Obi-wan Kenobi not so much), and that leaves Rubeus Hagrid - good-bye, Ruby Tuesday.
Reprieved: Ron Weasely was tagged as a goner, but won a reprieve.
On the bubble: Harry could live or die, but I have a hard time believing that JK Rowling wants to be known to her grandkids as the woman who killed Harry Potter; Neville Longbottom is going to do something heroic, and may die trying - watch out, Bellatrix.
Untouchable (Or, if they die the publisher leaps out a window to join them, joined by the fellow who bought the movie rights): Mrs Weasely, Mr. Weasely, Fred and George, Hermione, Ginny, Luna. Relax people, killing Hagrid will be hard enough for JK; this is a children's series, not a tragedy or a charnel house.