Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Fred Weasley's Death
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Fred Weasley's Death|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, May|
|Important Characters||Fred, George, and Percy Weasley; Death Eaters|
Voldemort has given the occupants and defenders of Hogwarts School until midnight to surrender Harry to him. Neville Longbottom, meanwhile, has summoned the members of Dumbledore's Army to Hogwarts to help Harry in the mission that has brought him to Hogwarts. Members of the Order of the Phoenix also arrive. At one point, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Bill, Charlie, Mr. Weasley, and Mrs. Weasley are all in the Room of Requirement, as Mrs. Weasley is forbidding Ginny from taking any part in the battle. Percy suddenly enters the room, and finding his entire family present, announces that he has been a fool, and asks to be taken back into the family. Mrs. Weasley immediately accepts him back with open arms, and the other Weasleys do likewise.
While Harry is retrieving and destroying the Horcrux, the battle is fully joined, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione emerge into a hallway where jinxes are flying as defenders battle Death Eaters who are already within the school. Percy, among the defenders, jinxes Pius Thicknesse, and says Thicknesse can consider that his resignation. Fred, battling alongside him, says he thinks that's the first time he's ever heard Percy crack a joke. At that moment, a curse strikes the wall from outside, and the wall collapses, filling the hall with dust and killing Fred. Percy is distraught, throwing himself over Fred's body; Ron helps him take Fred's body to an alcove out of the way. Percy then spots Rookwood, a Death Eater and one-time Ministry employee, and takes off in pursuit.
Fred's death solidifies Percy's resolve to fight the Death Eaters. Percy has worked for the Ministry, and against his parents' belief systems, for so long that he almost certainly finds it hard to suddenly change sides. With Fred's death, caused directly by Death Eaters associated with the Ministry, the battle becomes more personal for Percy. It is his sighting of Rookwood, an escaped Death Eater and traitor to the Ministry, that points this up particularly; Percy has to be convinced to leave Fred's body, but goes charging off after Rookwood on sight. Despite Percy's half-joking "resignation", he has been loyal to the Ministry for so long that he will likely continue so, and Rookwood, a convicted Death Eater who personifies what has gone wrong with the Ministry, and who likely is using the Ministry to shield himself, is the most likely type of person to enrage Percy and move him away from our heroes.
Additionally, Fred's death hastens Percy's full return to the Weasley family, as they together mourn Fred's passing.
Percy's return to the Weasley family fold is necessary for various thematic reasons, the principal one being that in what is at least initially a children's book, we simply cannot have brother using lethal force against brother. Percy can estrange himself from the other Weasleys, he can return gifts unopened, avoid his father or refuse to acknowledge his existence, leave the family home, and close his apartment door in his mother's face, but he cannot be seen to aim a wand at any Weasley family member with intent to kill or injure. Friction within a family is normal, and can reach the sort of extent that we see here in extreme cases, but having it advance to the point of physical violence would require that Percy become fully a Death Eater, and he cannot be a fundamentally evil character without tainting the rest of his family. Given the resulting choice, between having Percy sit out the battle dithering in his apartment, or admitting his folly and returning fully to his family, the author's decision to allow Percy to return seems by far the better alternative, as it allows us to see Percy's admission of his weakness.
Over the course of the series, the Weasley family have suffered some rather amazing near misses. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry saves Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets where the "memory of Tom Riddle" is draining her life force to return to life himself. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry sees Arthur Weasley being attacked by a snake and reports it, in time to save Arthur's life. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry saves Ron, who has been poisoned, with a handy Bezoar. And earlier in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, George had lost an ear to a Sectumsempra curse cast by Snape. Combine this with the forms taken by the Boggart takes when Molly Weasley is attempting to nullify it in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and one might conclude that the death of a member of the Weasley family had not been foreshadowed, but rather belaboured. It is part of the skill involved in the series, however, that we do not see that foreshadowing until Fred actually dies. It is true that the loss of George's ear in the Escape from Privet Drive has been perceived by at least some readers as foreshadowing of another, larger loss for George.
The behavior of the Twins in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has prompted interesting speculation in some readers as well. In placing their bet with Ludo Bagman, the Twins seem supremely confident in their bet that Ireland will win but the Bulgarian Seeker, Viktor Krum, will catch the Snitch, despite Bagman's apparent belief that such an outcome would be unlikely. As it turns out, the Twins have called it precisely. At least one commenter has suggested that this may mean that the two of them may have managed to solve, in part, the mystery of Time, and have been able to retrieve information about the outcome of the match from the future. The Time-Turner clearly shows that some aspects of time are better understood in the Wizarding world than by Muggles. Additionally, over the course of this and the succeeding book, we learn that Fred and George are magical innovators of rare ingenuity and skill, even in Hermione's opinion. Given these two facts, it is at least somewhat possible that there is some technique that the Twins have pioneered to look into the future, though perhaps dimly. It has been suggested that Bill or Charlie Weasley might have availed himself of a Time-Turner, as Hermione did, to achieve his high marks; if this is the case, the Twins may well have had a chance to examine the device and learn enough of its workings to replicate at least some of its functionality. The commenter has suggested that this technique may require both twins to perform the charm, and so Fred's death prevents the technique from ever being used again; but also, has suggested that this would make it possible for Fred to be returned to a future story by extracting him from the rubble by means of time travel before he was actually crushed. If there are future stories, it would be of interest to note whether George keeps his ears concealed, perhaps to hide the fact that there are now actually two Georges, one with two sound ears.