How does his story end?

Or does it? Book 7 will be the last in the Harry Potter series. Or not. Harry will die. And Voldemort. And Snape. Or not. Harry's biggest fans have their theories.

By Tamara El-Khoury
Published February 19, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the eagerly anticipated, much-hyped, page-turning finale in a series that turned a wired generation on to books, will be released a minute after midnight on July 21. And we can't wait. J.K. Rowling's seventh and, she says, final book in the Harry Potter series is expected to answer many unknowns. Is Professor Severus Snape good or evil? Which character will die? Will teen wizard Harry Potter finally kill the Dark Lord Voldemort, or will Voldemort succeed in killing the book's hero? We asked several bay area Muggles and even a Wiccan their predictions on what will happen in the final book.

Snape: good or evil?

Once aligned with Lord Voldemort, Professor Snape seems to teeter on the edge of good and evil. In Book 6, Snape killed the beloved headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, and many readers won't forgive him for that.

"Well, he's kind of good, kind of evil because he was with Voldemort," said 11-year-old Jeremy Petchonka, a sixth-grader at Dunedin Academy. "But I think he might turn good somewhere in the book."

Ashley McCool, 27, a third-grade teacher at Westchase Elementary (home of the Wizards) in Hillsborough County, said Harry may fall at the hands of one of his teachers. "I think Snape does him in and then tries to make it sound like Voldemort did it."

Dumbledore wasn't pleading for his life when he said, "Severus, please," in Book 6. He was begging Snape to kill him, according to 31-year-old Catherine Tosenberger, a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. She is writing her dissertation on Harry Potter online fan fiction.

"I think he's good" in a different way, she said. "I think he's on the side of Dumbledore."

Dumbledore's plea prevented Draco Malfoy, a student, from having to be a murderer and ensured Snape's undercover role as a follower of Voldemort.

Snape isn't evil. He's probably misunderstood, said Mike Murphy, 56, the headmaster at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg.

"I think he is a necessary teacher of what the students will face in their world of wizardry," he said. "I think it's very worthwhile for students to have rigorous, challenging teachers."

But, Murphy said, he wouldn't hire him.

Who will die?

Rowling has said at least one character will die in Book 7.

The books are getting darker, said Casey McPhee, 42, Largo library director, prompting the question: Will the author kill Harry in Book 7?

"I think she could be brave enough to do it," McPhee said. "But I think too many people would be upset with her. No author likes hate mail."

Jacob Solar, 14, an eighth-grader at Dunedin Academy, took a Harry Potter-themed trip to London with his family after his mom won a drawing for the trip. Among the other 50 winners, Jacob was chosen as the kid who looks most like Harry.

"I have no doubt that Harry's going to get rid of Voldemort and preferably Snape," Jacob said. "I'm not a fan."

Candy Olson, 59, a member of the Hillsborough County School Board, suspects that maybe Draco Malfoy, Harry's classmate and enemy, will make the ultimate sacrifice.

"This is wildly speculative and probably wrong, but he's been such a stinker. My speculation is he certainly realizes how wrong he's been and dies saving Harry."

"I've heard rumors that it's Harry Potter . . . or it maybe could be Harry, Hermione and Ron all together," said Samantha Gee, 8, a third-grader at Chocachatti Elementary in Brooksville. "Maybe they come across Voldemort again and maybe he has more power than ever and he defeats them."

The last book?

Murphy, the Shorecrest headmaster, said it's time for the series to end. (He also said brainy Hermione should enroll at Shorecrest.)

"There are more adult, darker elements which creep in to it," he said. "It's time to allow Harry to grow up."

"I think it will be the last book in their current form," said Chris Hendrickx, a 29-year-old Wiccan from Plant City. "I won't be at all surprised if there's a spinoff series following this character or that character."

Other predictions

The ending of Book 7 will parallel the ending of Book 1, predicts Tosenberger, 31, the University of Florida graduate student. It will come down to Harry, Hermione and Ron.

She predicts Ron will sacrifice himself, but not fatally. Hermione will give Harry some kind of crucial clue, but the end will come down to Harry and Voldemort.

Harry will survive, she said.

"I think the entire point of Harry is that he is the boy who lived," referring to the title of the first chapter of Book 1.

Matthew Cullen, 25, of Palm Harbor is a pretheologian seminarian with the Diocese of St. Petersburg. He said he is hoping for a comeback from Harry's godfather, Sirius Black.

"I was really angry at the author at sort of killing him off," he said. "He was a ray of sunshine in Harry's life."

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727) 445-4181 or tel-khoury@sptimes.com.