But the question people really want to ask is—why do you care about Fred’s death so much? Most people think I’m just being silly or passionate, since I’m often both silly and passionate. But I am absolutely serious in my denial of Fred’s death. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on June 21, 2007, I was still reeling from my grandmother’s death, which happened on July 31, 2005. It was a tumultuous time in my life for many reasons, but I do get emotional around the dates of specific events, like April 23 when I almost died (2001) and October 31 (also 2001, rough year) when my parents’ divorce was official. So when I started reading Deathly Hallows, I was already emotional.
By the time I reached page 637, I knew that Fred was going to die. Several friends who read the book ahead of me told me that this was going to happen, so I steeled myself for one of the worst death scenes in the book. I mean, a flash of whatever and Fred’s dead?! Not even an individual reaction from George? If you’re going to kill off one of the Weasley twins, at least give me some space to react to it. Same with Tonks and Lupin…and their deaths didn’t even warrant an explanation. To say I cried is an understatement; I mourned the death of Fred Weasley. I carried it with me like a sickness, and I knew it was stupid. I knew he was just some character in a book. And I knew that crying about him wasn’t going to change the world.
Despite how I berated myself for having such a strong reaction to something so small, I wasn’t just reacting to Fred’s death. I was reacting to the pain of my grandmother’s death—how the process of her death actually took a week, how she begged to die, and how God didn’t make any sense to me at that time. I also reacted to my grandfather’s death (January 6, 2006). He broke his hip and died of renal failure after hours of suffering. I sat beside him holding his hand as he moaned in agony while my mom made plans to move him to a nursing home—plans which never came to fruition.
Also, if Fred and George could be separated, then why not Amy and Sarah? Sarah is my dearest, closest, most-beloved friend. She is the sister I never had, the friend I’ve always prayed for, the best roommate in the world and one of the most important people in my life. If George could lose Fred, then I could lose Sarah. I always thought that either both twins would die or neither would die, but that’s not what J.K. Rowling chose to do, and I do resent her for it. I really do. Because I cannot imagine losing Sarah, I cannot imagine George losing Fred. It is simply too much for my heart to bear.
Plot wise, Fred’s death bites at the heart of the Weasley family, and the tragedy reunites Percy with his estranged family. Fred and George are generally harmless, even in their trickery, so killing one of the twins shows the cruelty of war and how it affects families. Fred’s death also sets up Mrs. Weasley’s showdown with Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix taunts Mrs. Weasley with Fred’s death, goes after Ginny, producing one of the best scenes of all—Mrs. Weasley blasting Bellatrix to smithereens. No one can deny that “Not my daughter, you b—-!” is a great line, even if it does involve a naughty word.
While I understand why J.K. Rowling chose to kill Fred Weasley and a lot of other great characters (apparently choosing them to die from the beginning), I simply don’t want to live in a world where Fred Weasley doesn’t exist. That world seems like a sadder, crueler, too real a place to live—generally not a place I like to be when I read fiction for amusement. It was, in fact, the Harry Potter books that helped me after my grandparents’ death. I’m not saying that I didn’t trust God or read my Bible. But when I needed a relief from all that emotion, I read the Harry Potter books. I could momentarily escape into an adventure that didn’t involve my finances, my grandparents’ deaths, my mental illness, my mom’s marriage to a sociopath; it was my escape. What happens, then, when your escape is met with the death of a favorite character? Do you revel in the good times? Do you ignore it? Or do you simply write your own happy ending? I do all of the above.
I like my happy endings tied up with a bow, and that didn’t happy for Fred Weasley (and I only found out about George’s through some random JKR interview). This is fiction, which means anything that is written can be re-written, particularly in the world of fantasy! My mind can simply substitute “Fred” and put in “Percy”—looks like Percy’s dead and Fred’s alive. Or I can conjure up a way for George to bring Fred back using a Time Turner (or maybe read a fan fiction where someone did just that). There are a bazillion reasons why Fred doesn’t have to be dead—the only limit is one’ own imagination.
Sure, there are some purists out there who argue that Fred’s death is part of the Harry Potter canon and blah, blah, blah. That’s fine. If you want to live a boring life without Fred Weasley, so be it. However, I choose to live in a world where Fred and George run Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to a ripe old age passing it down to their daughters, where Dobby learns to knit and opens his own sock company, and where Teddy is raised in a loving home by his parents, Tonks and Lupin.
You might say I’m living in some sort of fantasy world, and I’d have to agree. It’s called the world of Harry Potter and you should visit it sometime; your imagination is feeling neglected.
Oh, and one more thing—don’t worry about what you read in the book or see in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2; Fred is very much alive! George and I would have it no other way.
“When I’m 80 years old, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. My family will say, ‘After all this time?’ and I will say ‘Always.’” – Alan Rickman (actor who portrays Severus Snape. HT to Hira!)