According to my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows countdown widget, there are 9 hours, 12 minutes, and 30 seconds until we know all.
So this is my last chance to make my predictions. Here goes.
[note: I won’t be able even to put my hands on a copy of this book until Monday evening. Don’t be telling me things I don’t want to know.]
Snape is good. Of this there is no doubt. He loved Lily Evans truly, madly, deeply. I think he grew up with her (in the skanky neighborhood we see at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, when Petunia says she overheard her sister and “that awful boy” talking about Azkaban, she didn’t mean James) and hated James Potter for stealing Lily’s affections. (The jury is out on whether Petunia had a crush on him pre-Hogwarts.) He helped Lily in potions class; Slughorn never knew it was not her talent that got her good marks. He overheard half the prophecy and dutifully reported it to Voldemort, but when it resulted in Lily’s death, he returned to Dumbledore and vowed to defeat the Dark Lord.
He will be instrumental in that defeat. It was his magic that saved Dumbledore’s life after Albus destroyed the Slytherin ring. He will have the knowledge and skill to undo whatever connection there is between Harry and Voldemort.
Because Harry is the Horcrux. Whether this means Harry must die in order to destroy Voldemort, I’m not sure. I rather think it does. I’m pretty sure Harry’s going to die, whether by his own hand or by sacrificing himself.
Dumbledore is dead. Although I’m not as sure of this today as I was yesterday. Jobie is hurtling through the other books in preparation for tomorrow, and last night he came in to read the scene in HBP where Harry, in the dorm room, tries out the HBP’s Levicorpus spell. It’s a nonverbal spell, and it results in Ron dangling upside down in mid-air.
When Snape hits Dumbledore with the Avadra Kedavra spell on the parapet, something very strange happens. There’s the burst of green light, but then Dumbledore flies up and over the edge of the parapet. This is not what Avadra Kedavra does: whenever we’ve seen it before, the victim simply collapses. (Or do they? What happens to Cedric in the graveyard?) Also, we know from Order of the Phoenix that Avadra Kedavra will not work if your heart isn’t in it.
So has JK left it open? On the one hand, it is entirely possible that Snape has spoken Avadra Kedavra while noverbally casting Levicorpus, gently sending Dumbledore over the side. He certainly appeared dead, but what is one of the first things Snape enthuses over in the very first Potions class in Sorcerer’s Stone? The Draught of Living Death. Hm.
On the other hand, Snape did make an Unbreakable Vow to fulfill Draco’s mission, which was to kill Dumbledore. (That’s another reason we know he’s good, because he made an Unbreakable Vow to the Order of the Phoenix.)
So while I still think Dumbledore is dead, I’m downgrading my certainty on that. Even if he is dead, there are plenty of opportunities for him to put in an appearance in the last book. Harry could go into his Pensieve, where Dumbledore could be aware of his presence and have a chat, at least about things that happened before his death. He could show up behind the Veil in the Department of Mysteries, which is where we’re thinking Harry and Voldemort are depicted on the cover of the American edition. He could show up in the Mirror of Erised.
Speaking of covers, the cover of the American special edition shows the gang riding on a dragon. Is Norbert returning? That would be classic JK, wouldn’t it?
Who’s dying? Can’t tell. I’m betting Hagrid for sure. Possibly Snape. Probably Harry. Maybe Draco.
Kreacher has the locket.
That’s all I know. The floor is now open for your crackpot ideas.