In a recent interview, J.K. Rowling dropped two bombshells on the millions of fans of her Harry Potter series: one — that Hermione really should have ended up with Harry rather than Ron, and two — that the author had seriously considered killing off the character of Ron Weasley. I have to say I was shocked on both counts. I, for one, enjoyed the unlikely pairing of Ron and Hermione and laughed and cried along with them as their relationship progressed. The final scene in the last book where the two are sending their daughter off to Hogwarts I found immensely satisfying.
But it was the second of Rowling’s bombshells that surprised me the most. Killing off Ron would have been like killing off one of the three musketeers. Quite frankly, it would have ruined the story for me.
I’ve always been a proponent of happy endings. I read and write for pleasure, and if I’m going to go through a gut-wrenching wringer with characters I care about, I darn well want to be smiling at the end. Life is filled with enough heartbreak. I don’t want to spend my limited amount of free time bawling my eyes out over the painful ending of a story. Because character deaths are painful. Very painful. I’ve cried over the deaths of my own characters. I realize that sometimes they don’t make it to the end. They must go where the story takes them, and that can be very hard to deal with. But I could never deliberately plan to kill a character off, particularly one of the heroes. That would be like consciously pronouncing a death sentence on a friend.