Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 34
In the thirty-fourth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling writes the saddest chapter ever committed to paper. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 34: THE FOREST AGAIN
EDIT: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE END.
Harry Potter is going to die.
It’s a bold move on Rowling’s part and I have a feeling there’s no way she can write her way out of it. It’s going to happen. It has to happen. And it makes me sad to admit that, but Harry Potter is going to die.
Holy hell, you guys were right. Shit is beyond real and I am not even remotely prepared for the end of this book.
- Finally, the truth. Lying with his face pressed into the dusty carpet of the office where he had once thought he was learning the secrets of victory, Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms. Along the way, he was to dispose of Voldemort’s remaining links to life, so that when at last he flung himself across Voldemort’s path, and did not raise a wand to defend himself, the end would be clean, and the job that ought to have been done in Godric’s Hollow would be finished. Neither would live, neither could survive.
It completely changes the Prophecy, doesn’t it? This is so goddamn sad to read. I guess I expected Harry to fight this final revelation, but I suppose it doesn’t really make sense. He’s accepting his death, accepting that it’s real and that it’s going to happen.
I can’t make the sadness in my chest, that restricting feeling behind my sternum, go away. Harry Potter is going to die.
- He felt his heart pounding fiercely in his chest. How strange that in his dread of death, it pumped all the harder, valiantly keeping him alive. But it would have to stop, and soon. Its beats were numbered. How many would there be time for, as he rose and walked through the castle for the last time, out into the grounds and into the forest?
Terror washed over him as he lay on the floor, with that funeral drum pounding inside him. Would it hurt to die? All those times he had thought that it was about to happen and escaped, he had never really thought of the thing itself: His will to live had always been so much stronger than his fear of death. Yet it did not occur to him now to try to escape, to outrun Voldemort. It was over, he knew it, and all that was left was the thing itself: dying.
It’s from this point on that the tears in my eyes wouldn’t go away. I don’t know what triggered this. I didn’t have any memory in my past that necessarily reminded me of these passages. I guess…I’m coming to the realization that this is all going to be over. In a very short amount of time, Harry Potter will be no more, literally and figuratively. Harry Potter will die and I’ll close the book and there will be no more.
- If he could only have died on that summer’s night when he had left number four, Privet Drive, for the last time, when the noble phoenix feather wand had saved him! If he could only have died like Hedwig, so quickly he would not have known it had happened! Or if he could have launched himself in front of a wand to save someone he loved . . . He envied even his parents’ deaths now. This cold-blooded walk to his own destruction would require a different kind of bravery. He felt his fingers trembling slightly and made an effort to control them, although no one could see him; the portraits on the walls were all empty.
Yep, full-fledged sobbing now. I am having a hard time reading this passage a second time, even a third. I know Harry’s entire journey is important. Everything mattered and even those he lost mattered. But I can sympathize with Harry’s selfless desire to have gotten over with it years ago, so that Cedric and Sirius would still be alive, so Snape wouldn’t have to kill Dumbledore and then die a sad, miserable death himself, so that Fred and Tonks and Lupin and Moody and Hedwig wouldn’t have to be casualties of war, their families torn apart during acts of cruelty. It’s tempting to wish you could take it all back and it breaks my heart that Harry and his friends have had to suffer so much.
- Slowly, very slowly, he sat up, and as he did so he felt more alive and more aware of his own living body than ever before. Why had he never appreciated what a miracle he was, brain and nerve and bounding heart? It would all be gone . . . or at least, he would be gone from it. His breath came slow and deep, and his mouth and throat were completely dry, but so were his eyes.
For some people (myself included), it takes facing your mortality to appreciate being alive.
THIS IS LITERALLY SOME OF THE SADDEST SHIT EVER. I think we single-handedly will boost Kleenex’s stock with this single review.
- Dumbledore’s betrayal was almost nothing. Of course there had been a bigger plan: Harry had simply been too foolish to see it, he realized that now. He had never questioned his own assumption that Dumbledore wanted him alive. Now he saw that his life span had always been determined by how long it took to eliminate all the Horcruxes. Dumbledore had passed the job of destroying them to him, and obediently he had continued to chip away at the bonds tying not only Voldemort, but himself, to life! How neat, how elegant, not to waste any more lives, but to give the dangerous task to the boy who had already been marked for slaughter, and whose death would not be a calamity, but another blow against Voldemort.
The poetry of how this is going to act out is not lost on me; neither is the parallel to Jesus Christ, which, for the record, does not bother me one bit. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I imagine that there were some fans, particularly those who are not big fans of religion, who completely hated this final revelation.
It reminds me of the backlash over the finale of LOST, which I WILL NOT SPOIL FOR YOU. But the idea that something has been written with an influence of Christianity or Judaism or some major religion rubs people the wrong way. It doesn’t mean that person is necessarily a Christian, and even if they are WHO REALLY CARES.
(A quick note: I realize that in saying this, I’ve now possibly directly contradicted a hefty amount of my reviews of Twilight. And while those books certainly spawned an anger and a rage in me, I think it’s important for me to make a distinction between what I just said and what I have said in the past.
The Mormon influence didn’t bother me because I’m some sort of MASSIVELY BIGOTED ATHEIST. It bothered me because it controlled the story. It bothered me because it was used to shame people, to make people feel awful for who they are, and it was in the worst-written series of all time.
I have no interest in bullying or othering anyone who believes differently in me, as long as those same people don’t work against my own interests or work towards oppressing or harming those around them.)
Ok, let’s go back to HARRY POTTER BEING OUR LORD AND SAVIOR.
- And Dumbledore had known that Harry would not duck out, that he would keep going to the end, even though it was his end, because he had taken trouble to get to know him, hadn’t he? Dumbledore knew, as Voldemort knew, that Harry would not let anyone else die for him now that he had discovered it was in his power to stop it. The images of Fred, Lupin, and Tonks lying dead in the Great Hall forced their way back into his mind’s eye, and for a moment he could hardly breathe. Death was impatient . . .
Oh, and I’ll return to reading these pages with massive tears building in my eyes. Thanks, Rowling.
- But Dumbledore had overestimated him. He had failed: The snake survived. One Horcrux remained to bind Voldemort to the earth, even after Harry had been killed. True, that would mean an easier job for somebody. He wondered who would do it . . . Ron and Hermione would know what needed to be done, of course . . . That would have been why Dumbledore wanted him to confide in two others . . . so that if he fulfilled his true destiny a little early, they could carry on . . .
Like rain on a cold window, these thoughts pattered against the hard surface of the incontrovertible truth, which was that he must die. I must die. It must end.
It almost seems like Rowling is telling herself this: this series must end. I can’t even begin to imagine how much Harry Potter had consumed her life at that point, and it’s almost a meta-commentary of her life as a writer.
It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is progress.
- Ron and Hermione seemed a long way away, in a far-off country; he felt as though he had parted from them long ago. There would be no good-byes and no explanations, he was determined of that. This was a journey they could not take together, and the attempts they would make to stop him would waste valuable time. He looked down at the battered gold watch he had received on his seventeenth birthday. Nearly half of the hour allotted by Voldemort for his surrender had elapsed.
He’s not going to say goodbye to Ron and Hermione??? Oh god, how could this possibly get more depressing???
- Harry pulled the Invisibility Cloak over himself and descended through the floors, at last walking down the marble staircase into the entrance hall. Perhaps some tiny part ofhim hoped to be sensed, to be seen, to be stopped, but the Cloak was, as ever, impenetrable, perfect, and he reached the front doors easily.
Then Neville nearly walked into him. He was one half of a pair that was carrying a body in from the grounds. Harry glanced down and felt another dull blow to his stomach: Colin Creevey, though underage, must have sneaked back just as Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had done. He was tiny in death.
ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS???? Rowling, why don’t you just WRITE IN A PACK OF PUPPIES BEING STEAMROLLED TO DEATH? How do you muster the strength to kill off COLIN CREEVEY???
Oh god, WHAT THE FUCK.
- Harry took one glance back at the entrance of the Great Hall. People were moving around, trying to comfort each other, drinking, kneeling beside the dead, but he could not see any of the people he loved, no hint of Hermione, Ron, Ginny, or any of the other Weasleys, no Luna. He felt he would have given all the time remaining to him for just one last look at them; but then, would he ever have the strength to stop looking? It was better like this.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh my god this is so heartbreaking it literally hurts. It’s all coming to an end and I can’t ignore it anymore.
- Harry moved toward Neville, who was bending over another body.
“Blimey, Harry, you nearly gave me heart failure!”
Harry had pulled off the Cloak: The idea had come to him out of nowhere, born out of a desire to make absolutely sure.
“Where are you going, alone?” Neville asked suspiciously.
“It’s all part of the plan,” said Harry. “There’s someting I’ve got to do. Listen — Neville —“
“Harry!” Neville looked suddenly scared. “Harry, you’re not thinking of handing yourself over?”
“No,” Harry lied easily. “’Course not . . . this is something else. But I might be out of sight for a while. You know Voldemort’s snake. Neville? He’s got a huge snake . . . Calls it Nagini . . .”
“I’ve heard, yeah . . . What about it?”
“It’s got to be killed. Ron and Hermione know that, but just in case they —“
Can I just say that I love that Harry trusts Neville so unconditionally that he shares this with him? This is a beautiful moment.
*The awfulness of that possibility smothered him for a moment, made it impossible
to keep talking. But he pulled himself together again: This was crucial, he must be like Dumbledore, keep a cool head, make sure there were backups, others to carry on. Dumbledore had died knowing that three people still knew about the Horcruxes; now Neville would take Harry’s place: There would still be three in the secret.
OH GOD HERE COME THE TEARS AGAIN. Oh god, Harry, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
- “Just in case they’re — busy — and you get the chance —“
“Kill the snake?”
“Kill the snake,” Harry repeated.
“All right, Harry. You’re okay, are you?”
“I’m fine. Thanks, Neville.”
But Neville seized his wrist as Harry made to move on.“We’re all going to keep fighting, Harry. You know that?”
“Yeah, I —“ The suffocating feeling extinguished the end of the sentence; he could not go on.
Neville did not seem to find it strange. He patted Harry on the shoulder, released him, and walked away to look for more bodies.
It’s all coming to an end. I can’t fucking believe it.
- Someone else was moving not far away, stooping over another prone figure on the ground. He was feet away from her when he realized it was Ginny.
He stopped in his tracks. She was crouching over a girl who was whispering for her mother.
“It’s all right,” Ginny was saying. “It’s ok. We’re going to get you inside.”
“But I want to go home,” whispered the girl. “I don’t want to fight anymore!”
“I know,” said Ginny, and her voice broke. “It’s going to be all right.”
Ripples of cold undulated over Harry’s skin. He wanted to shout out to the night, he wanted Ginny to know that he was there, he wanted her to know where he was going. He wanted to be stopped, to be dragged back, to be sent back home. . . .
But he was home. Hogwards was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here. . . .
Ginny was kneeling beside the injured girl now, holding her hand. With a huge effort Harry forced himself on. He thought he saw Ginny look around as he passed, and wondered whether she had sensed someone walking nearby, but he did not speak, and he did not look back.
A;SKLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLKASDF;LKFAL;KFSALKJFDFSA my eyes hurt. He doesn’t even say goodbye to Ginny. Oh my god my heart.
- Hagrid’s hut loomed out of the darkness. There were no lights, no sound of Fang scrabbling at the door, his bark booming in welcome. All those visits to Hagrid, and the gleam of the copper kettle on the fire, and rock cakes and giant grubs, and his great bearded face, and Ron vomiting slugs, and Hermione helping him save Norbert . . .
No, seriously, stop it. I am almost a blubbering mess at this point.
- A swarm of dementors was gliding amongst the trees; he could feel their chill, and he was not sure he would be able to pass safely through it. He had not strength left for a Patronus. He could no longer control his own trembling. It was not, after all, so easy to die. Every second he breathed, the smell of the grass, the cool air on his face, was so precious: To think that people had years and years, time to waste, so much time it dragged, and he was clinging to each second. At the same time he thought that he would not be able to go on, and knew that he must. The long game was ended, the Snitch had been caught, it was time to leave the air. . . .
The Snitch. His nerveless fingers fumbled for a moment with the pouch at his neck and he pulled it out.
I open at the close.
WAIT A SECOND. Ok, I had forgotten completely about the Snitch. Is this what it means???
- Breathing fast and hard, he stared down at it. Now that he wanted time to move as slowly as possible, he seemed to have sped up, and understanding was coming so fast it seemed to have bypassed though. This was the close. This was the moment.
He pressed the golden metal to his lips and whispered, “I am about to die.”
The metal shell broke open. He lowered his shaking hand, raised Draco’s wand beneath the Cloak, and murmured, “Lumos.”
The black stone with is jagged crack running down the center sat in the two halves of the Snitch. The Resurrection Stone had cracked down the vertical linerepresenting the Elder Wand. The triangle and circle representing the Cloak and the stone were still discernible.
The close. It means the close of Harry’s life. Jesus christ, Dumbledore planned for Harry’s death the entire time. This might be one of the most fucked up things I have ever read.
- And again Harry understood without having to think. It did not matter about bringing them back, for he was about to join them. He was not really fetching them: They were fetching him.
He closed his eyes and turned the stone over in his hand three times.
He knew it had happened, because he heard slight movements around him that suggested frail bodies shifting their footing on the earthy, twig-strewn ground that marked the outer edge of the forest. He opened his eyes and looked around.
I’m sorry…is Harry activating the Resurrection Stone??? WHY? WHAT. THE. FUCK.
- They were neither ghost nor truly flesh, he could see that. They resembled most closely the Riddle that had escaped from the diary so long ago, and he had been memory made nearly solid. Less substantial than living bodies, but much more than ghosts, they moved toward him. And on each face, there was the same loving smile.
James was exactly the same height as Harry. He was wearing the clothes in which he had died, and his hair was untidy and ruffled, and his glasses were a little lopsided, like Mr. Weasley’s.
Sirius was tall and handsome, and younger by far than Harry had seen him in life. He loped with an easy grace, his hands in his pockets and a grin on his face.
Lupin was younger too, and much less shabby, and his hair was thicker and darker. He looked happy to be back in this familiar place, scene of so many adolescent wanderings.
Lily’s smile was widest of all. She pushed her long hair back as she drew closer to him, and her green eyes, so like his, searched his face hungrily, as though she would never be able to look at him enough.
It is, so far, impossible for me to read this section without crying. I can’t do it. And I know what’s going to happen, but it is just far too sad for me to even think about. How many times have I wished to speak to my dad one more time, or just see Tim, who died of AIDS when I was in college, to hug either of them once more, just to know that everything is ok? This moment, to me, hits way too close to home.
- “You’ve been so brave.”
He could not speak. His eyes feasted on her, and he thought that he would like to stand and look at her forever, and that would be enough.
“You are nearly there,” said James. “Very close. We are . . . so proud of you.”
“Does it hurt?” The childish question had fallen from Harry’s lips before he could stop it.
“Dying? Not at all,” said Sirius. “Quicker and easier than falling asleep.”
“And he will want it to be quick. He wants it over,” said Lupin.
“I didn’t want you to die,” Harry said. These words came without his volition. “Any of you. I’m sorry —“
He addressed Lupin more than any of them, beseeching him. “— right after you’d had your son . . . Remus, I’m sorry —“
This is me right now:
- “I am sorry too,” said Lupin. “Sorry I will never know him . . . but he will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life.”
A chilly breeze that seemed to emanate from the heart of the forest lifted the hair at Harry’s brow. He knew that they would not tell him to go, that it would have to be his decision.
“You’ll stay with me?”
“Until the very end,” said James.
“They won’t be able to see you?” asked Harry.
“We are part of you,” said Sirius. “Invisible to anyone else.”
Harry looked at his mother.
“Stay close to me,” he said quietly.
I don’t think there will be another scene in this book that will top this in terms of debilitating sadness. I think this can sit atop the list of passages under “The Most Depressing Sentence(s) In The English Language.” Like…right at the top.
Harry Potter is going to die. This can’t be real.
- And he set off. The dementors’ chill did not overcome him; he passed through it with his companions, and they acted like Patronuses to him, and together they marched through the old trees that grew closely together, their branches tangled, their roots gnarled and twisted underfoot. Harry clutched the Cloak tightly around him in the darkness, traveling deeper and deeper into the forest, with no idea where exactly Voldemort was, but sure that he would find him. Beside him, making scarcely a sound, walked James, Sirius, Lupin, and Lily, and their presence was his courage, and the reason he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The dread I’d felt all along has now been replaced with a constant sadness. We’re reaching the end of Harry’s journey, the end of this book, and I wish that this wasn’t the way Harry would have to leave the world. I wish he’d said goodbye to Ginny and Ron and Hermione and Neville and Luna and everyone still alive, but that’s not the way things go. That’s not the way life works. And we have to accept that.
- A thud and a whisper: Some other living creature had stirred close by. Harry stopped under the Cloak, peering around, listening, and his mother and father, Lupin and Sirius stopped too.
“Someone there,” came a rough whisper close at hand. “He’s got an Invisibility Cloak. Could it be — ?”
Two figures emerged from behind a nearby tree: Their wands flared, and Harry saw Yaxley and Dolohov peering into the darkness, directly at the place Harry, his mother and father and Sirius and Lupin stood. Apparently they could not see anything.”
So it begins. They’re almost upon Voldemort’s camp. The end is here.
- They had traveled on mere minutes when Harry saw light ahead, and Yaxley and Dolohov stepped out into a clearing that Harry knew had been the place where the monstrous Aragog had once lived. The remnants of his vast web were there still, but the swarms of descendants he had spawned had been driven out by the Death Eaters, to fight for their cause.
A fire burned in the middle of the clearing, and its flickering light fell over a crowd of completely silent, watchful Death Eaters. Some of them were still masked and hooded; others showed their faces. Two giants sat on the outskirts of the group, casting massive shadows over the scene, their faces cruel, rough-hewn like rock. Harry saw Fenrir, skulking, chewing his long nails; the great blond Rowle was dabbing at his bleeding lip. He saw Lucius Malfoy, who looked defeated and terrified, and Narcissa, whose eyes were sunken and full of apprehension.
Every eye was fixed upon Voldemort, who stood with his head bowed, and his white hands folded over the Elder Wand in front of him. He might have been praying, or else counting silently in his mind, and Harry, standing still on the edge of the scene, thought absurdly of a child counting in a game of hide-and-seek. Behind his head, still swirling and coiling, the great snake Nagini floated in her glittering, charmed cage, like a monstrous halo.
And so the ending arrives. It seems that the Death Eater camp is almost just as dejected and exhausted as everyone else, suffering the wounds of war. I’m sure they are also disappointed that Harry hasn’t shown up and I wonder how many of them, in addition to the Malfoys, wish they didn’t have to continue any further.
- “I thought he would come,” said Voldemort in his high, clear voice, his eyes on the leaping flames. “I expected him to come.”
Nobody spoke. They seemed as scared as Harry, whose heart was now throwing itself against his ribs as though determined to escape the body he was about to cast aside. His hands were sweating as he pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and stuffed it beneath his robes, with his wand. He did not want to be tempted to fight.
“I was, it seems . . . mistaken,” said Voldemort.
Harry said it as loudly as he could, with all the force he could muster: He did not want to sound afraid. The Resurrection Stone slipped from between his numb fingers, and out of the corner of his eyes he saw his parents, Sirius, and Lupin vanish as he stepped forward into the firelight. At that moment he felt that nobody mattered but Voldemort. It was just the two of them.
Oh my god. Not yet. Please not yet. I don’t want Harry to die. Please don’t let this end.
- The illusion was gone as soon as it had come. The giants roared as the Death Eaters rose together, and there were many cries, gasps, even laughter. Voldemort had frozen where he stood, but his red eyes had found Harry, and he stared as Harry moved toward him, with nothing but the fire between them.
Then a voice yelled: “HARRY! NO!”
He turned: Hagrid was bound and trussed, tied to a tree nearby. His massive body shook the branches overhead as he struggled, desperate.
“NO! NO! HARRY, WHAT’RE YEH — ?”
“QUIET!” shouted Rowle, and with a flick of his wand, Hagrid was silenced.
HAGRID IS STILL ALIVE???? oh my god oh my god i still have some hope.
- Harry could feel his wand against his chest, but he made no attempt to draw it. He knew that the snake was too well protected, knew that if he managed to point the wand at Nagini, fifty curses would hit him first. And still, Voldemort and Harry looked at each other, and now Voldemort tilted his head a little to the side, considering the boy standing before him, and a singularly mirthless smile curled the lipless mouth.
“Harry Potter,” he said very softly. His voice might have been part of the spitting fire. “The Boy Who Lived.”
The Boy Who Lived his whole life to face Voldemort at this exact moment. There was no other way for Harry to get here, right in front of Voldemort, with the loss of his loved ones motivating him to commit the most selfless act imaginable. Harry Potter is going to die to save everyone else.
- None of the Death Eaters moved. They were waiting: Everything was waiting. Hagrid was struggling, and Bellatrix was panting, and Harry thought inexplicably of Ginny, and her blazing look, and the feel of her lips on his —
Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was still tilted to one side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked back into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear —
He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.
Harry Potter is dead. Jesus fucking christ.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Tomorrow, I’ll post chapters 35 and 36. Saturday I will post the epilogue. And Sunday, at 11am PST, HALF-BLOOD PRINCE MOVIE LIVEBLOG. We will end the series on the exact day it began: October 31st.