I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and have come to a difficult conclusion:
I don’t want the next Harry Potter book to come out.
Before you scream heresy and fling fruits in various states of decay in my approximate direction, hear me out.
The thing is, so long as HP7 has not yet arrived, we can continue to write the story anyway we like.
Having HP1-6 in our collective mental library, we can dream about the future of these characters. In our minds, Ron and Hermione can get married and live next door to Harry and his bride, Ginny, in a lovely wizardly suburb somewhere in fictional England. Somehow, Sirius can return – accompanied perhaps in his magical resurrection by Dumbledore. Draco can be turned into a toad. Snape can turn out to be a nice guy after all.
Or maybe something else entirely happens in our imagined storyline. Maybe as they reach adulthood, Ron and Harry realize that their brotherly love for one another is actually the beginnings of a romantic relationship. Maybe Hermione miraculously gains untold powers and becomes the next Headmaster of Hogwarts, taking the opportunity to free all house elves and replace them with anyone who ever said the word “mudblood.” Maybe the love of a good woman cures Draco of his nastiness and he and Hermione live happily ever after. Maybe the Weasleys win the lottery. Maybe Voldemort moves to the United States and joins the Bush Administration. Maybe anything.
So long as HP7 does not exist, the story doesn’t have to end. I’ve envisioned it: a few years after releasing the “last book” in the Harry Potter saga, Rowling – provoked by her clamorous fans and a nagging sense that the story is not yet complete – begins writing The Adult Adventures of Harry Potter. She of course has to send cease-and-desist letters to a handful of pornographic film makers, but the law is on her side. In the Adult Adventures, Harry is a grown man, perhaps married (to Ginny? to Hermione? to Cho?), probably not teaching at Hogwarts but rather living the exciting life of a talented former-child-star wizard.
It’s not possible, of course. The Deathly Hallows is coming out this July, and with it rings the death knell of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. That’s my prediction, anyway. It’s the classic literary cycle. In order for the story to be complete, Voldemort must be destroyed – and Voldemort cannot be destroyed without also destroying Potter. They are yin and yang, two forces in cosmic balance.
Besides, what role could Harry serve in an invisible future universe wherein Ron or Hermione has been killed? Ron and Hermione are heroic, untouchable. They have a future life inherent in their characters. Ron is obviously going to have a family, obviously going to be a good man who combines the strength of his mother and the charm of his father, who tempers the nuttiness of his siblings and makes something of himself despite his modest roots. Hermione will live a long and satisfying life as a professor at Hogwarts, gradually finding a balance between her natural inclination for discipline and order and learning, and her fiery, fun-loving spirit. But there can be no Adult Adventures of Harry Potter, because there is no adult life possible for him.
We’ll see. But I would almost rather leave it to my own imagination. Stories always end happily ever after there.