In anticipation of the grand finale to the Harry Potter series let me tell you right now how some major plot points will turn out. And just so you know - I am so right about some of these things that you may as well call them spoiler alerts. And my credentials? I have not one but two high schoolers who have memorized the six books and are reigning trivia champs at their respective schools; I merely pass along their distilled wisdom.
First, who among the major characters dies? The Soccer Dad rounded up the Dead Pool a month ago, but you can bank on this - Hagrid is a goner. He is Harry's last father figure and his death will complete the Black (Sirius) White (Albus Albino Dumbledore) Red (Rubeus Hagrid) color scheme which signified transformation or death in alchemy, or tarot reading, or some such.
Does Dumbledore make it back? I don't know but I am betting he does - Aslan and Gandalf did, Obi Wan Kenobi not so much (and in Movie Five we find out that Voldemort is a Star wars fan when he whispers "
Use the the force, Luke; give in to the Dark Side" "Use the curse, Harry" in the climactic battle scene; who knew? BTW, Dumbledore has a brother who make make a Deus ex Machina appearance of his own - something about the goat-like smell of one of the Hogsmeade innkeepers is critical here.
Will Harry die? The case can be made and there may have been a time when Ms. Rowling had that in mind for the story arc. But do keep in mind - this is a children's series, and one might wonder how many parents will introduce their kids to it if if ends badly for the hero. And beyond that, there are movie rights, and beyond that - if I were the publisher and Ms. Rowling presented a manuscript where the hero died a glorious death which was somehow spun as an appropriate ending, I would blanche - in this big old world, what if some troubled kid somewhere leaves a suicide note citing Harry's glorious passage as inspiration for his own misguided act? (Hey, I'm a worrier...). Too risky. IMHO. The same argument spares Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George, and (I think) Neville.
And what about Neville? He has a new wand and a new attitude and may be the lad who whacks Bellatrix, who is sooo going to look good dying. However... my current guess is that none of these kids are actually killers, so Neville may have a different fate - maybe he is simply the agent of Bellatrix's demise in some fashion; one of her killing spells rebounds off him and kills her, or some such. Down the road, Neville's extraordinary aptitude for Herbology takes him to the Houses of Healing where he finds the plants that cure his parents, but no worries - folks who hate Big Pharma can still do so.
Snape, we will discover, had a huge and unrequited crush on Lily Evans (his worst day was the day he called her a mudblood, severing the tenuous bond between the two finest potioners in the history of Hogwarts). When Voldemort killed Lily, Snape's lfe work was before him, and he has sought his vengeance ever since. Hence, Snape is not really on Dumbledore's side or Voldemort's - he is a free agent looking to kill Voldemort by any means fair or foul. Naturally, Snape has to protect Lily's son, but he loathes James Potter's child - awkward. And might Snape die? He well might, but he will live free or die hard and take a few baddies with him.
Draco Malfoy will provide a useful story of redemption and show us that a child can overcome their upbringing and dubious parenting. What, you want the opposite message, that bad parents always produce bad kids? Go away and come back when you have a manuscript suitable for children. Just how Draco manifests his latent good-guyness I can't say, but the Deatheaters are rotting from within and Voldemort's rule by fear is coming to an end which will be hastened by betrayal.
DEVELOPING, I EXPECT...
ROCK SOLID: Dumbledore took Harry as his sidekick to find the fatal horcrux in Book Six because it was a two man misison but the special wizarding boat would only hold one adult.
So who accompanied the mysterious "RAB"? Ah, well - Regulus Black went with Kreacher, and we will hear a lot more about this in Book Seven. Count on it.