Fittingly, I have just moved out of my apartment and have commenced my couch-surfing life. (My friends are letting me stay in their living rooms during my last week in San Francisco and they set me up with a Harry Potter themed
airbed. They are amazing.) Leading up to the final steps of my move, I read Book 7 as fast as I could and successfully included it in the box that I was sending home. Phew.
Book 7 has a lot of things going on: the search for horcruxes; the legend of the Deathly Hallows; the mystery that is Albus Dumbledore; the truth about Severus Snape; the Battle of Hogwarts; and so on. What stood out to me were the expressions of familial love throughout the book. I think these moments were quite important, as it was this love that ultimately brought down Voldemort.
Although Harry never got along well with the Dursleys, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon continually opened their doors to Harry every summer. I’m not defending all of the horrible things the Dursleys did to Harry over the years, but their bare minimum efforts kept Harry safe.
To make things worse, growing up, Dudley never missed an opportunity to bully Harry. In Book 5, when dementors turned up in Little Whinging, Harry could have left Dudley to suffer as payback for all the years of bullying. But Harry isn’t like that. He protected Dudley and risked expulsion for it. In Book 7, we finally see Dudley’s gratitude towards Harry, and although others may not understand Dudley’s expression of love, Harry saw it. Dudley actually cared.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione were on their quest to find and destroy the horcruxes, Ron was always anxious about the safety of his family members. Unlike Harry and Hermione, Ron had a big family whose members could not completely go into hiding (whether they knew it or not) from the wizarding world. In fact, most of Ron’s family members were risking their lives each day fighting against Voldemort. So I get it—Ron’s horcrux-influenced departure was not ideal but it was understandable.
Fast forward to the Battle of Hogwarts and Percy stumbled into the Room of Requirement to finally apologize to and to reunite with his family. He was immediately welcomed back by his family, and he joined them in fighting off Death Eaters. In the same battle, Mrs. Weasley took on Bellatrix Lestrange after the latter attempted to attack Ginny. However, the family’s happiness was short-lived as they found out that Fred, the first to welcome Percy back, perished in battle.
The Malfoys are tricky. When Voldemort first failed to kill The Boy Who Lived, Lucius Malfoy claimed that he had been under the Imperius Curse the whole time and was not truly a Death Eater. He was not sent to Azkaban and even maintained close relations with the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. When Voldemort rose back into power, Lucius was back with the Death Eaters. Things turned around in Book 5 when Lucius Malfoy failed to retrieve the prophecy that Voldemort tasked him to take. No longer was his family treated with high regard—Voldemort took Lucius Malfoy’s wand in front of the Death Eaters.
And so allegiances changed. Only caring about finding Draco, Narcissa Malfoy lied to Voldemort’s face and declared Harry Potter dead during the Battle of Hogwarts. Of course she only did this after she had confirmed that Draco was still alive, but Voldemort underestimated Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy when he didn’t permit them to find Draco when they first asked. Voldemort’s failure to understand love yet again brought his demise.
Harry always found comfort when thinking about his family. (Remember, in Book 1, Harry would sneak into the room with the Mirror of Erised to see his parents behind him in the mirror?) In Book 7, Harry finally visit his parents’ graves in Godric’s Hollow. It was a beautiful moment, however briefly it lasted.
When the time had come for Harry to sacrifice himself during the Battle of Hogwarts, he was able to take the Resurrection Stone from the golden snitch that opened at the close, which Dumbledore left for him. This brought back his parents, James and Lily Potter, as well as Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. James told Harry they would be with him until the very end; Harry drew strength from this, walked towards his death, and finally vanquished the Dark Lord.
All was well.