Nineteen Years Later
The epilogue is the final chapter of both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Harry Potter series. It is set 19 years after Voldemort's defeat at the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny are married and have three children, James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna. They are at King's Cross to see off their two boys to Hogwarts, where Neville Longbottom is now the Herbology professor. James, the eldest, is already at Hogwarts, while Albus Severus, 11, is starting his first year. Lily, age 9, is moaning – very much as Ginny did in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – about being unable to go. Also present are Ron and Hermione, likewise married and with their own two kids, Rose, who is also just starting Hogwarts, and Hugo. Ron tells Harry he has just passed a Muggle driving test after confunding the examiner – but he does not want Hermione to know. In passing, Harry sees Draco Malfoy and his wife with their son, Scorpius. Malfoy acknowledges Harry with a curt nod. Teddy Lupin, Remus' and Tonks' orphaned son, is spotted kissing Victoire Weasley, Bill and Fleur's daughter. Albus is worried that he will be sorted into Slytherin, but Harry reassures him and says that he is named after two Hogwarts Headmasters; one was a Slytherin (Snape) and possibly the bravest man he ever knew. Harry also confides to Albus that the Sorting Hat takes the student's own choice into consideration, as it had done for Harry when he was Sorted - something Harry has never told his other children. After the Hogwarts Express leaves, Ginny comforts Harry, saying their children will be fine. Harry reflects on his scar: it has not pained him for 19 years. The epilogue ends with: "All was well."
Rowling's epilogue provides a satisfying, but sketchy, update on the characters' post-Voldemort lives. However, in post-book release interviews, J. K. Rowling has given additional information. Harry and Ron are Aurors for the Ministry of Magic, although Ron also worked for a time in George's joke shop, which has become quite successful. The Ministry has radically changed from what it once was, and both Harry and Ron have been instrumental in overhauling the Auror department. Harry is now its head. Kingsley Shacklebolt is the Minister for Magic, with Percy Weasley working under him in a high position. Hermione also works for the Ministry in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and has also done much to improve life for non-human magical beings. Luna Lovegood pursues her interest in biology, and searches the world for magical and unusual creatures. She eventually marries Rolf, the grandson of the noted naturalist, Newt Scamander. Curiously, although Draco has married and has a child, Rowling does not identify his wife in the book. In the "J. K. Rowling... A Year In The Life" documentary created by ITV in the UK, the author does draw out family trees for the Weasley family, and a small tree for Draco, showing that he is married to one Astoria Greengrass, who did not appear in the books, and his son is named Scorpius Hyperion. The same tree indicates that George married one Angelina (quite probably Angelina Johnson), and has children named Fred and Roxanne. It is from this family tree that we learn Harry's eldest son's full name; in the book, he is only ever called James.
- Who did Harry name his second eldest son after? Why did he choose these names?
- What might Harry and Draco's relationship be today, based on how they interacted at King's Cross Station?
- Why doesn't Ron want Hermione to know about his driving test details? Based on this experience, do you believe the two have changed much over all these years?
- Overall, how have the characters lives changed after Lord Voldemort's death, and could it be said that they've all changed for the better?
Many fans have expressed annoyance at this epilogue, and at the post-publication interviews giving extra, and perhaps extraneous, details regarding the characters careers after the series' end. It is not this work's place to criticize the epilogue in this manner. It is part of the published work, and we should not debate the merits of its inclusion. However, it does seem to show the characters' ongoing development in the series. Neville, for example, has played to his strength, becoming a Herbology professor, his best subject at school. We see that, rather than remaining sworn enemies, as presumably their parents had been, Harry and Draco apparently maintained a truce that has grown into at least a nodding acquaintance, signifying that Draco has mellowed over the years. We see that Ron still retains his immaturity in small ways, though in others he has grown significantly. While he appears to still lag behind Harry and Hermione somewhat, he has grown beyond his previous "second fiddle" role, comfortable within his own independent niche in life. Hermione, meanwhile, has fulfilled, if not surpassed, all expectations that she would become an influential force within the Wizarding realm. And we also see that Harry has gained what he had always craved, what he saw in the Mirror of Erised in the very first book: a loving, stable, and supportive family. Harry's character development confirms what we surmised he would become, and we are reassured that, while our long attachment to these characters perforce has ended, they have prospered during the intervening years, and so our pain in parting with them is eased.
Details given by the author in post-publication interviews, however, seem less pertinent. In particular, the small facts given concerning various characters' futures, while true to the characters themselves, often feel contrived merely to appease the fans, rather than organically reflect the characters we know. For instance, in one interview, the author mentioned that Neville had married Hannah Abbott, now landlady of the Leaky Cauldron. This information could have been fabricated on the spur of the moment in order to provide a pat answer to the question. For the sake of completeness, Neville should marry; Hannah Abbott is as good a choice as any. But making her the Cauldron's innkeeper seems tacked on, rather than truly adding anything new to Hannah's character beyond what limited information we previously were provided. For this reason, while we have reported some small "revealed" details following publication, we feel these revelations generally add nothing to our understanding of the series, and so should not be cataloged here.
There is a flip side to all this. Though Rowling has stated that the series has ended, she could always decide later to write more novels in this universe. In that event, she may purposely have left information sketchy enough so that future plotlines are unencumbered by too many known details. Fan pressure (and disappointment) may have prompted her to provide the additional information that she did.
Concerning any possible sequels, one small point should be raised. With the soul shard within Harry having been destroyed, any connection between Harry and Voldemort has ceased to exist, meaning Harry's scar can no longer detect Voldemort's presence. We believe that all six intentional Horcruxes have been destroyed, as Voldemort had been heard enumerating them; the soul shard within Harry, which was an accidental Horcrux, was also apparently destroyed. So it is extremely unlikely that Voldemort remains in the world. If, by some mechanism, Voldemort survived, Harry's scar failing to hurt would not be an indicator that "all was well". There are, however, other Dark wizards and witches lurking about, otherwise Aurors would be relatively useless. Any future books would likely feature a new evil character causing mayhem in the Wizarding realm, and could also center on a different hero, possibly one or more of Harry and Ginny's, or Ron and Hermione's, children.