In her interview with TIME and in webchats with fans, the Harry Potter author reveals a few more secrets
1. Why doesn't Fred appear in the woods at the end as well?
"Do you know what? I never even thought of Fred coming back. That's how I always planned it, from when the first book was finished, that the three marauders and his mother would come back. There were four heroes as it were in the previous generation and one of them betrayed the others, and then there were the three. So I wanted Harry to be surrounded by his mother and James and Sirius and Lupin, all of whom had died in a way for him. You know Lupin had laid down his life in Harry's battle, he didn't have to come back, he didn't have to fight. James had died trying to protect the family; Sirius very obviously had died fighting along with Harry, and then his mum who most explicitly had died for him. I never thought of bringing Fred back at all. It was all the previous generation, and they were all strongly parental figures for Harry."
2. Did Harry die?
Rowling wrote this very carefully, so it could be read two ways. "Did he just go into a state of unconsciousness in which his subconscious tells him everything he needs to know? Dumbledore doesn't tell him anything he couldn't have figured out with some educated guesses." But in her mind, Harry entered a limbo between life and death, and faced a choice about which way to go.
She explains on her website that this encounter involves some very deep laws of magic, which Voldemort himself did not understand: "Having taken Harry's blood into himself, Voldemort is keeping alive Lily's protective power over Harry — except that the power of Lily's sacrifice is a positive force that not only continues to tether Harry to life, but gives Voldemort himself one last chance ... Voldemort has unwittingly put a few drops of goodness back inside himself; if he had repented, he could have been healed more deeply than anyone would have supposed. But of course, he refused to feel remorse." Also, since Voldemort is using the Elder wand, which actually belongs to Harry, neither the Cruciatus or the killing curse work properly. "The Avada Kedavra curse, however, is so powerful that it does hurt Harry, and also succeeds in killing the part of him that is not truly him, in other words, the fragment of Voldemort's own soul that is still clinging to his. The curse also disables Harry severely enough that he could have succumbed to death if he had chosen that path."
3. The question that surprises her: What was that creature in the corner at King's Cross?
"Harry's impulse, to the point of utter wrongheadedness, is to save. His deepest nature is to try and save, even when he's wrong to do so, when he's led into traps — 'I've got to save, I've got to try to protect' — because he's been left with this very demanding legacy of his mother's that she sacrificed herself for him and now he goes off and tries to save as many people as he can."
But this encounter with Voldemort is different. "For the first time ever he approaches this vulnerable, naked, mutilated creature and he wants to help, but he feels repulsed for the first time ever by suffering. And he's right to feel that. This is something that has deliberately self mutilated as it were, that's the last maimed fragment of Voldemort's soul. I have to explain because so many have asked.")
4. The question she feared getting: What was Dumbledore's wand made of?
"That would have been quite a telling question. Because I had this elder thing in my mind, cause elder has this association in folklore, it's the death tree. I thought 'what am I going to say?'" It would have given away too big a clue. But no one asked.
5. What did Dumbledore really see in the Mirror of Erised?
His family, alive and whole and reconciled.
6. Where do wizard children go to school before Hogwarts?
Most are homeschooled, because they aren't really able to control their powers so it would be too dangerous to let them out and about.
7. Are Harry and Voldemort related?
Yes, distantly, through the Peverells; but nearly all wizarding families are related if you go back far enough.
8. Who does Draco Malfoy marry?
Astoria Greengrass, younger sister of the Greengrass family. We meet Daphne Greengrass, part of Pansy Parkinson's Slytherin posse, in Book V when Hermione takes her O.W.L.s. Neville marries Hannah Abbott, who becomes the owner of The Leaky Cauldron. "I do have it all worked out in my mind because I couldn't stop myself doing that."
9. Where do the main characters work as adults?
Harry and Hermione are at the Ministry: he ends up leading the Auror department. Ron helps George at the joke shop and does very well. Ginny becomes a professional Quidditch player and then sportswriter for the Daily Prophet.
10. Was Teddy Lupin a werewolf?
No he was a Metamorphmagus, like Tonks (who, incidentally, was a Hufflepuff).