By J.E.M. Hoggan and Sloan de Forest
The Weasleys are the first wizarding family Harry Potter meets. Their large, large red-headed brood includes Ron, Harry’s best friend, and Ron’s sister Ginny, Harry’s current love interest. In fact, Harry Potter is practically a Weasley himself! The Weasleys have made quite an impact on his life since he first met them, and they have come to look upon Harry as one of their own tribe. Readers have grown to love the Weasley family too and often even developed protective feelings toward them.
Unfortunately, Jo has already warned us of her plans to do away with several characters in the final book, though one who had been sentenced to die was given a reprieve. She further hints that “Villains don’t target extras, do they? They go for the main characters, or I do.”1 Molly Weasley, who noted that everyone in the family was in mortal peril at the start of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was quite right to sob: “Half the f-f-family’s in the Order, it’ll b-b-be a miracle if we all come through this.”2 Sheer numbers are stacked against Molly’s getting through to the end of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, without her family suffering at least one fatality. Molly and Arthur Weasley have seven children in all, so it will be miraculous if they all make it through unscathed.
Harry has a personal stake in the future of the family. If he marries Ginny someday he will literally be a member of the family, and even if he doesn’t, they will probably always remain an important part of his life—the closest thing to a family he will ever have. They even showed up at Hogwarts as Harry’s “family” to watch him perform in the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. Petunia Dursley may be Harry’s blood relative, but the Weasleys are his people. The dominant Weasley family trait seems to be courage; the whole family’s been sorted into Gryffindor House for years, “where dwell the brave at heart.”3 Harry is also a true Gryffindor, so he taps into the same family values the Weasleys hold dear. Each member of the family has a special relationship to Harry, a unique personality, and an important part to play in the story.
Molly Weasley, or “Mollywobbles” to her husband, mothers Harry as much as she does her own tribe. A kind, overprotective mum, she is the glue that holds the Weasley family together. She already lost her two brothers in the first war on Voldemort so she fully comprehends the dangers of having her family in the Order of the Phoenix. When at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, Molly Weasley has an experience with a boggart that brings her worst fear to life: her fear of losing her husband and children in the war.
Though brave and willing to fight, Molly is also somewhat traditional in her position as the family’s caretaker. She tends the home fires, minds and educates the children—even cooking, cleaning, and filling the role of matriarch for members of the Order, her extended family. As primarily a homemaker, her odds of injury or death in battle are lower than anyone else in the family. However, she is a member of the Order, and is so protective of her young ones—including Harry—that if the opportunity arose for her to sacrifice her own life to save one of theirs, there is no question that she would.
She’s just the kind of a character whose death would have an emotional impact on readers and she’s also a surrogate Harry parent, and—let’s face it—none of Harry’s parent figures should let their life insurance policies lapse. If Molly died, it would be a tragic but noble gesture of a selfless woman, echoing the sacrifice Lily Potter made for her son so long ago. But would Jo have Molly recreate Lily’s actions? She prefers not to use the same plot tactics twice, so there’s a fairly good chance Molly will make it through the final book alive.
Arthur Weasley, the head of our favorite pure-blood wizard family, has worked for the Ministry of Magic for years in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts department. As one of the few honest and decent Ministry employees, Arthur never earned quite enough money to support his large family in much style, but is generally regarded as a great father. He loves his wife and kids, has a good heart and, like every other Weasley (with one particularly weasel-y exception to be discussed later), is a valuable soldier in the fight against the Dark Lord.
Arthur is a poor but proud wizard with the courage to stand up for himself and his clan against Lucius Malfoy and other pure-blood snobs. He loves Muggles and is fascinated with their lives and their non-magic gadgets, in sharp contrast to the anti-Muggle elitists who comprise the Death Eaters. This may make him a fun character and a wonderful dad, but it also makes him a likely candidate for the receiving end of Jo’s sharpened axe. Those villains, they always target the good guys. Arthur already gave the family a scare in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when he was bitten by Voldemort’s snake and almost died. Could Molly and the family’s worst fears actually be realized in the final book? Could they lose their patriarch in the final battle?
Arthur works at the Ministry, a place ripe for a Voldemort take-over, but this does not necessarily mean the Weasley dad will be a marked man. He recently got a promotion at work and an increase in salary, so the family’s income is higher than ever. It would be especially tragic if Jo had Arthur die now—it would not only leave his family devastated emotionally but in financial straits as well. Besides, there was so much anticipation over his possible death in the fifth book; it would almost seem anticlimactic to kill him at this point. Though it’s always possible that Jo will throw us a heart-wrenching curveball, it’s a pretty safe bet that Arthur Weasley will live to see the end of Deathly Hallows.
While little is seen of Ron’s two oldest brothers in the first books, they both remain a constant presence throughout the series. Bill, the eldest, has bequeathed to his younger siblings a standard of excellence that has really put pressure on them to perform well in school. Bill is also handsome, even “cool,” 4 wearing a long ponytail and dragon hide boots.
At the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the cool Weasley caught the eye of French Beauxbatons champion Fleur Delacour, who “had no objection whatsoever to long hair or earrings with fangs on them.” 5 Thus Bill, who had joined the Order of the Phoenix, came back to Britain where Fleur also had chosen to work, “to improve my Eenglish.”6 A romance developed soon after, much to Molly’s chagrin.
We know Bill, a Curse-Breaker at Gringotts’ Egyptian branch, shares the courage of his brothers; he unhesitatingly helped his father rescue the Roberts family at the Quidditch World Cup campsite and valiantly took part in the battle defending Hogwarts from the Death Eaters.When notorious werewolf Fenrir Greyback attacked Bill during the fight, leaving Bill’s face badly mutilated, Molly’s misgivings about whether Fleur really cared for Bill were quelled and at the end of the sixth book, it looked as though their wedding would go on as planned.
However, Voldemort will be waging a nasty war, and he’s never been one to let a celebration of love stand in his way. Uninvited wedding guests, like the Death Eaters, are a distinct possibility at the ceremony. There will be lots of warm, happy bodies gathered to entice those insatiable dementors, lots of lovely flower arrangements waiting to be trampled by giants, and hors d’oeuvres galore to quell the hunger of battle-weary Death Eaters. Plus, practically every member of the Order will be on the guest list. Sounds like the perfect place for an invasion. Assuming that the marriage goes ahead as planned, and that both bride and groom survive any possible raid, and get through any normal family feuding that may be seen between Percy and the rest of the clan, will the marriage endure? Being married to someone with werewolf tendencies might not be so easy, despite Fleur’s apparent enthusiasm. Their children might inherent not only Fleur’s Veela temperament but also risk copying the tendencies of a wolfish daddy! At least their marriage won’t be dull.
Despite his painful injury, Bill might continue to play a prominent and valued part in Harry’s activities due to his skills as Curse-Breaker. He may be able to find the answer to neutralizing some Horcruxes, or discovering which ones could have been hidden in Gringott’s vaults. He also has a personal stake in fighting in the war now since he was attacked and nearly killed by a member of Voldemort’s army. It is doubtful that Bill will die in the final book as he came close to death in the sixth book, but we may see him on the front lines of the battlefield as a scarred and courageous warrior against evil.