I know, shut up already, right? But I just finished rereading Harry Potter 6, in time for the last and final volume tomorrow. I had to throw out my predictions for how Rowling is going to wrap this all up.
Because thinking about genre and narrative pacing and readerly desire and expectation is more or less my job, I have a lot of thoughts about the challenges Rowling faces in this last volume. But I'll spare you my narrative-desire-redux and just say:
in my mind, CLEARLY Snape is going to be the innocent one here. I don't think there's any suspence about this at all. It seems obvious that Dumbledore and Snape had made a deal that, if Draco was in a position to kill Dumbledore, that Snape would do it instead. Because Dumbledore believes there is some good in Draco, that would be killed by doing such a nefarious act.
Which leads me to my second prediction, which is that the conclusion will involve Harry and Draco learning to, somehow work together. I think there will be some harry's-parents-are-dead-thus-he-empathizes-with-draco-trying-to-protect-his-own-parents rhetoric.
For a long time, I thought Dumbledore would come back to life. That's just sort of what happens in novels like this: think about Gandolf returning at the crux moment of the lord of the rings, or Aslan reappearing at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And I still think that it would make a certain amount of narrative sense for him to make a grand return, but now I don't think Rowling will do it. She's trying to make things darker, more serious; more epic and less children's lit.
Along those lines, since there's been so much talk about main characters dying--I think it will be Ron. If it's not Ron or Hermione, it would be a total let down after all this build up. And Rowling seems really aware of how compelling it is that poor Harry keeps losing all the men he respects.
What else? I guess nothing specific. But it will be interesting to see how the staple plot elements of the series--the comical introduction with the Dursleys, the relationship-advancing Quiditch game--will or won't be included in the final volume. So much of the series has been about Harry struggling with protective figures of authority. And now there are no authority figures left. I guess this novel will be about Harry becoming a figure of authority. Maybe he will end up Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts! Regardless, you know the novel can't really end without reestablishing Hogwarts as a safe mecca for the wizarding youth. The school itself is like the novel's other hero. If I were Rowling, I'd stage the final show down between Harry and Voldemort in the Great Hall.