Christian Holub
August 21, 2015 AT 03:57 PM EDT

Like all beloved art, Harry Potter just keeps on giving. Years after the last book was published and the last movie released, fans keep coming up with new theories and interpretations of the series. Luckily for those devoted to the characters, author J.K. Rowling is always willing to engage such alternate ideas, and recently gave one her approval.

For a few years now, a theory has circulated the internet that the story-within-a-story of the Three Brothers from Deathly Hallows (memorably animated in the film) — about the right and wrong ways to approach death — is supposed to be an allegory for actual Harry Potter characters. As the theory goes, the first brother, who asks for the Elder Wand in an attempt to overpower the possibility of death, is Voldemort; the second brother, who asks for the Resurrection Stone out of mourning for his dead lover, is Snape, forever haunted by his role in the death of his love Lily Potter; and the third brother, who uses the Invisbility Cloak to hide from Death before greeting him “as an old friend,” is Harry, who readily accepts his death if it means saving his friends. 

A new addition to the theory, which has also been making the rounds on Reddit and Tumblr, is that just as Voldemort, Snape, and Harry stand for the three brothers, Dumbledore stands for Death. The evidence: all three Hallows came from Death, and Dumbledore was at various points in possession of all three items; Voldemort feared death above all else (hence Horcruxes), and Dumbledore was often described as “the only wizard he ever feared”; the third brother greeted Death “like an old friend,” and Dumbledore is who Harry meets when he dies.

All in all, it’s a pretty fun theory. And now J.K. Rowling has weighed in and granted her approval of the interpretation.

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