A Different Ending to Harry Potter?
07.21.11 by Mandy
One journalist is claiming that in one early version of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, all did not end so well. A story was published on Vulture yesterday, in which journalist Greg Palast claims that Rowling told him about an alternate ending to the series.
Palast is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in legitimate major news publications, and he claims to have been friends with Rowling for awhile. Is this story true? If this is a version of the story that Rowling considered, does it even matter?
It seems that this alternate ending had Tom Riddle/Voldemort's parents come to save him from his own rebounding curse, because after being dead for a couple of decades they decided they had a deep abiding love for him. Harry ends up OK, and the Riddles are trapped in some sort of alternate dimension, frozen in time. So then, after a 130-odd years, Harry's great-great grandson is named Tom and clearly has an evil disposition. Oh, and Ginny's turned herself into a bird.
Perhaps this was one of the early versions of the end that popped into Rowling's head one day while she was working on the book. But then, according to Rowling's website, she also had an early version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in which Hermione's last name was Puckle, as well as a version where Mr. Granger/Puckle was the one to find the remains of the Potters after Voldemort's attack. She admits that these were bad ideas which is why she didn't leave them in the final draft of the book.
Palast's claim that Rowling told him about this ending could be true, but does it matter? Rowling stated in multiple interviews that she had the ending to the final book written years before it was published; she didn't just tack it on at the last moment. It is also clear from other books in the series, particularly Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, that Tom Riddle Sr. and Merope Gaunt would never have acted the way that Palast describes them. If this was a version of the ending that Rowling once had, it was obviously rather early on in the process as she hadn't yet developed the Riddles' backstory.
Every idea that flits through an author's head as he/she's working shouldn't be considered part of the story, any more than a daydream that isn't acted upon should be considered part of life's journey. Harry Potter's story is the one that's in the books and movies. It would be silly to say that other ideas, because they happened in Rowling's head, are equally valid versions. In interviews, Rowling has said that while she was riding on the train and Harry first popped into her head she had a ton of ideas, but they were not recorded because she did not have a pen and paper handy. Are those the real story of Harry Potter because they came first? Of course not. When Harry and his wife and friends see their kids off to Hogwarts, all was well. That is the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.