When I imagine the possibility of dropping through time and space and into an editor’s chair, grabbing the pen, and making a big red x through an entire last chapter, the first thing that pops into my mind is the epilogue at the end of the last Harry Potter novel. Something about those final few pages struck me as being more fan fiction than anything else, like someone had won a contest to write the grown up Harry scene. Maybe it was that the occupations Rowling chose for her characters felt too much like what the youngsters said they wanted to do, instead of the aptitudes they showed? Maybe it was the fact that the three main characters end up with their junior high sweethearts? Maybe I’m just a bitter old man. At any rate, if it were up to me, Harry’s life would have looked a bit more like this:
The scene opens with Harry, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, on his lunch break. Think of the awesome teacher’s lounge stuff that could have been in there. So, he’s checking his email, or wizmail, or e-owl, or whatever, worried about his wife, Ginny, who’s off on an Auror assignment with Neville. He gets a message from Ron, who works for the Ministry and is the wizard chess coach at Hogwarts, but whose real passion is his volunteer work as a mentor for under privileged wizarding families. Then he checks Hermoine’s blog. She has a research position in “speculative magics” as an inventor of new spells and such, but is also the spokesperson for a growing “wizard/muggle relations” civil rights movement. The bell rings, and he gathers his stuff, thinking about life and his kids and how much he owes Dumbledore, how he feels a bit more like him every day.
That’s the heroic ending that I imagine for Harry, for a kind-hearted young man forced to fight great evil and carry burdens beyond his years. Not fighting evil throughout his life, but preventing it. Nurturing the minds of his students, as his mentor did for him.