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A ''Harry Potter'' crash course

A guide to the final ”Harry Potter” book

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War. Death. The End. Harry, almost 17, bids farewell to the Dursleys, who reluctantly agree to go into hiding as Death Eaters step up attacks on Muggles. Harry is to leave his safe haven on Privet Drive for the Weasleys, but ”Mad-Eye” Moody’s attempt to mask his move with decoy Harrys is foiled by Voldemort’s minions. Harry escapes, but Hedwig and Moody are killed. There’s little time to grieve. Harry, Ron, and Hermione receive their inheritance from Dumbledore (Harry gets Gryffindor’s sword, though it’s currently MIA) and attend the wedding of Bill Weasley before it’s crashed by Death Eaters.

Horcrux Hunt Deathly Hallows follows Harry and fellow Hogwarts dropouts Ron and Hermione on their quest to destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. First, there’s Slytherin’s locket, stolen from the Black family and given to Dolores Umbridge; the trio raid the Ministry of Magic, swipe it, then destroy it with Gryffindor’s sword, which Harry finds in a frozen pond. Then they break in to Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts to get Hufflepuff’s cup, which Hermione destroys with a basilisk fang. Ravenclaw’s diadem, found in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts, is incinerated after a fiery battle with Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle. The final two Horcruxes are revealed to be Nagini, Voldemort’s snake (slain by Neville with the sword), and Harry himself.

Most Surprising Hero The often irksome house elf Dobby, who loses his life while springing Harry and other good guys from Malfoy Manor, Voldemort’s HQ. (Guess Harry’s membership in S.P.E.W. paid off.) The chaos Dobby creates allows Harry to gain possession of Draco Malfoy’s wand — a key plot point. In tribute to the fallen elf, Harry digs the grave for Dobby, sans magic.

Dumbledore, We Hardly Knew Ye Harry learns that Dumbledore once associated with a Muggle-hating wizard named Gellert Grindelwald; both were fixated on the Deathly Hallows, three objects (a wand, a stone, and a cloak of invisibility) that would ensure control over death. The summer before Harry’s sixth year, Dumbledore found the Voldemort-cursed ring, put it on, and doomed himself to death. Yep, he would have died even if Snape hadn’t killed him.

The Climax
It seems Snape really was following Dumbledore’s orders. After Nagini mortally wounds Snape, he leaves Harry his final memories for the Pensieve: The former Death Eater was a Lily Potter-smitten good guy all along, charged with killing Dumbledore as part of the headmaster’s grand plan. As Death Eaters storm Hogwarts, Harry realizes he must die by the Dark Lord’s hand to stop him once and for all. Showdown time in the Forbidden Forest: Harry drops the Resurrection Stone and doesn’t raise his wand as Voldemort unleashes the Avada Kedavra curse — except Harry doesn’t die. Instead, he detours to King’s Cross station, where the spirit of Dumbledore reveals that only the Voldemort parts of Harry were destroyed. Presented with a fateful choice, Harry opts to return to the Forbidden Forest instead of the afterlife. In a final showdown, Harry gives Voldemort one last chance to save himself by showing remorse. No dice. The two exchange curses. Due to rather convoluted protocols of Elder Wand usage, You-Know-Who’s spell backfires. Ding, dong, the wicked wizard is dead.

Nineteen Years Later… In an epilogue, we learn that Ron and Hermione are married, with two kids; Harry and Ginny are married and have three: James, Lily, and Albus Severus, the middle name given by Harry to honor ”the bravest man I ever knew.” As the kids board the Hogwarts Express we learn: ”The scar had not pained Harry for 19 years. All was well.”

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