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16 years ago today, the Battle of Hogwarts took place... fictionally speaking of course. It's rare that we stop and acknowledge a fictional event, but for Harry Potter fans, there are certainly some worth noting, today included. Spoilers (obviously) if you still haven't read the final book in the Harry Potter series.
It's been nearly 7 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published, but the timeline for the story is actually set in the 90s, as established by specific references in the book -- Nearly-Headless Nick's 500th Deathday Party notes he died in 1492, establishing the 1992 setting of Chamber of Secrets. The battle between Voldemort's army and Dumbledore's took place on May 2, 1998, and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling decided to acknowledge that anniversary today with a Tweet and a moment of silence.
Rowling broke our hearts a little bit at a time with those final chapters, as numerous beloved characters met their demise when Voldemort and his Death Eaters attacked Hogwarts. Among the casualties were new parents Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, Ron's brother, Fred Weasley and Harry Potter enthusiast Colin Creevey. Severus Snape also died that day, killed by Voldemort's snake Nagini.
It still hurts my heart to know there's a George without a Fred somewhere out there in Rowling's world, and a Pavarti without a Lavender, and a Dennis without a Colin. It still hurts that Lupin and Tonk's child grew up never knowing his parents. And though Snape was never the nicest character, the reveal that came with his death was one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' finest moments and a massive payoff as it related to Snape's involvement in the series. Everything about Deathly Hallows' ending was a payoff in all the right ways, and sadly, that includes those characters who didn't survive that final battle.
Each Harry Potter character death served a purpose as it relates to magnitude of that final battle and the risks every character involved took when they signed up to fight. If no one had died, I'm not sure we would've felt that impact nearly as much. Because, if everyone made it through the final fight of the story -- ahem, Twilight -- could the battle really have been that bad? The number of deaths adds substantial value to the risk each and every character took walking into that fight. It demonstrates heroism in a tragic but effectual way. I get why Rowling would say she hated to kill them off, but for the sake of the story, I don't think the impact of the ending of the series would've been quite as big if everyone walked away unscathed. The same applies to Harry's sacrifice in its own way.
With that, we raise a glass of butter beer to Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Colin Creevey, Lavender Brown, Nymphadora Tonks and all of the other people who fought bravely on Hogwarts' side. And while we're remembering the fallen characters, let's add Dobby, Sirius, James, Lily, Mad-Eye Moody, Albus Dumbledore and everyone else that died fighting the good fight against the Dark Lord. And now if you'll excuse me, I have something in my eye.