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Harry Potter: Jo’s Other Ending

Greg Palast 

By Jo (J.K.) Rowling as told to Greg Palast and the Palast twins

The Week [TheWeek.com 18 July 2011]

Some of you may recall that, years ago, when I lived in England, writing for The Guardian, when I shared the bestseller list with Jo Rowling (she at the pinnacle, me in the valley), we became buds through my twins’ love for her astonishing work.

But Jo knows that I found the conclusion of her series a sorry let-down, a second-rate “Show Down at the OK Corral” for Wizards.  In my opinion (and she does not at all agree), Jo was too distracted by a concern for how the ending would play on film.

I bugged her about it until she told me the “other” endings.  Every author has them – and we all look over our old drafts, after publication, and say, “Damn!  I should have used that version” – then we lock it away before someone sees it and agrees.

No, Jo wouldn’t show me typed copies, but she told me a couple of “I could have done this” endings.

One of them knocked me over, and I have to share it. (Sorry Jo, that’s the danger of befriending an investigative reporter – if you forget to use the magical words, “This is off the record.”)  I can understand, though, why she would put aside this quieter, yet far more harrowing, conclusion.

I wrote it down that night in October 2007.  I don’t claim that this is exactly word-for-word as she told it to me (Jo: please edit!) and I left out all the side stuff about me telling my oblivious kids, “You really should listen to this; years from now you’ll want to say you heard this,” and the minor mishap with my coffee.

But I just have to put it out here and hope that Jo and her publisher don’t slam me with an Avada Kedavra curse.

I’ll assume you’ve read the books – and if you haven’t, for shame! – so I won’t introduce this at all except to say that this alternative (and quite troubling) ending veers away from the printed and film versions just before Harry’s final confrontation with The Dark Lord, Voldemort.

And please:  If you want to say that I didn’t get her voice and story details exactly, keep in mind that I’m working from mental notes – and that I’m no J.K. Rowling.  But then, no one is.

To the Forbidden Forest

Harry marched toward the field where Voldemort waited with his pack of Dementors.  Harry’s scar burned brutally, saving him the pain of thinking too deeply about his decision, likely to bring him nothing but death.

What special evil, what deadly and devious spell had the Dark Lord prepared for Harry’s destruction? Voldemort had hunted after Harry for more than a decade; doubtless Voldemort would arm himself with a special curse far more powerful and final than the Avada Kedavra which had failed to kill Harry as a child.