As the great Joanne Rowling once (sort of) said, "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness and the end of a great book series, nothing more."
Today that unknown became, well, more known, that fear diminished, and that death was the last enemy -- destroyed in a new 1500 word vignette that offers a glimpse into the adult lives of the wizards and witches we have long called friends.
J.K. Rowling posted the story in style of a gossip column written by peerless muckraker Rita Skeeter at the Argentinian World Cup to her eponymous website Pottermore, initially causing the site to crash. With just a swish and flick you can create a guest account to read Skeeter's acid prose, or you can accio it from our friends at Complex.
To those who would argue that Harry Potter is better off frozen forever in our memories, his lightening scar embedded in the smooth skin of youth, Rowling offers this rebuttal. It is a strange relief to find that our hero is "sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone," i.e. that he still faces certain death every day, for what would the Boy Who Lived be without something to live for?
Surely quidditch and a lady ginger could not sate the thirst for adrenaline of a man who once had an annual date with certain death. Brilliantly, Rowling abandons her traditional third person limited narrator in favor of tabloid terror Rita Skeeter's acid tongue, with the result that middle aged wizardry is seen through the lense of rhinestone-covered glasses, showcasing Rowling's knack for brilliant side-characters and avoiding saccharine prose.
The infamous epilogue of the ultimate Potter novel violently divided fans of the series; this new story helps mend that schism.
Skeeter's tone allows the Potter crew's lives to be described without compromising enigma. Skeeter wonders, "Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem?" and from a throne built of crushed childhoods and baby teeth, JK Rowling chuckles at us. She sneaks in ultra-modern barbs, archly commenting on the sexist musings that have dominated the decade with Skeeter's query about Hermione: "Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No-- look at her hair.)" Hold on to your snitch, kids, the world's favorite novelist is an unapologetic feminist and social justice advocate bombshell who tosses off phrases like, "he continues to wear those round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old" with alacrity.
Rowling quietly began to change the world 24 years ago on a train-ride. Those who believed that the era of electronic media would succeed literature in influencing hearts and minds were disabused by her seven part saga of unparalleled influence. Swiftly the souls of millions were re-shaped in the image of an orphaned boy who taught us that it is better to be brave than to be fearless, our moral compasses replaced by the memory of a popular boy who could have asked anyone to the party and chose a deeply lonely eccentric.
This excellent sneaquel will tide us over until we can visit the world of witchcraft and wizardry next. We cling to the notion that to the well organized mind, death/the end of a beloved story is but the next great adventure. In the words of Dumbledore, it does not due to dwell on dreams and forget to live.