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On May 2, 1998, the Harry Potter universe was finally freed of Voldemort thanks to the outcome of the Battle of Hogwarts. The fierce fight in the series' seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, took place inside and all around the grounds of the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Our heroes stood against the Death Eaters and their allies and raced to destroy the Horcruxes. Ultimately, they succeeded and Harry was able to vanquish the Dark Lord.
During the battle, there were many courageous acts as good fought evil, but unfortunately, victory came at a cost. Not everyone made it to the end alive. Many of these deaths led to some of the most memorable moments of the fight because they were characters we spent years with. We came to know them, their friends and their family and knew what their loss would mean for everyone.
As readers, we cared for them and losing them felt like a punch in the gut. Even thinking about it now, many of their deaths still sting. That's not to forget that others died, as well. When Harry sees the bodies of those he knows, he sees them among "fifty others who died fighting" Voldemort. In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry refers to them as the Fallen Fifty.
We may not know their stories, but at least for this 20th in-universe anniversary of the battle, we can honor those we do who shared their goals. Here's a look back at the characters who perished in the battle as we remember what these heroes fought for at Hogwarts.
To lose any of the Weasleys would have been devastating, but for it to be one of the twins was truly heartrending. We watched Fred and George grow up as a team, causing mischief wherever they went, always being there for each other, and never hesitating to join the fight when evil started to rise again. The family — and especially George — would never be the same. Fred did what he thought was right.
Even though we don't see it in the film, in the book he died fighting alongside his brother Percy and "the ghost of his last laugh" remained on his face.
Fred was the first character J.K. Rowling apologized for killing on Twitter in remembrance of the Battle of Hogwarts. She did so in 2015 and it kicked off a tradition of the author apologizing for one death each year ever since.
The last Marauder died during the Battle of Hogwarts. Remus had been through so much in his life and experienced a lot of loss, but by the time of the battle he seemed ready to accept that he could have good things in his life, too. He married Tonks and they had a son named Teddy.
Even with a new family, though, Remus couldn't ignore this last stand against Voldemort; he followed through as a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
Remus had his faults, but he was an overall kind and generous person who tried to do the right thing even when surrounded by so much hate. When Harry sees Remus after using the resurrection stone, the werewolf says about his son that "he will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life."
In 2016, Rowling offered an explanation of why Remus died along with an apology.
Tonks was unfortunately related to the Black family and was an object of their (and other pure-bloods') hate because her mother chose to marry a muggle-born wizard. It's no surprise she was a valued member of the Order of the Phoenix given her background and the fact that she was a talented Auror. Tonks was a Metamorphmagus and took full advantage of those abilities. She was a fun, caring woman and eventually fell in love with Remus and had Teddy.
While she could have stayed behind with Teddy instead of going to fight, she couldn't let Remus be there on his own and, considering how much she had already fought for the cause, it made sense for her to be there at this crucial fight to try to make the world a better place for her family.
It was distressing to learn that she died as well as Remus when Harry sees them "pale and still and peaceful-looking, apparently asleep beneath the dark, enchanted ceiling." Yet her ultimate goal was achieved and even though her son wouldn't have his parents, he would have Harry and so many others to love him as well as the chance to grow up in a world without Voldemort's evil — because of what she'd done.
It's hard to think about Colin without picturing a boy with a wide smile holding a camera. A proud member of Dumbledore's Army, Colin found a way to take part in the battle even though he was underage. Colin had a younger brother and, as a Muggle-born, he knew what would happen if the intolerant forces of Voldemort won. Colin always seemed so enthusiastic and happy, but also determined and kind. You can just see him finding a way to the school to try and help his friends and doing whatever he could to make sure his family and all the others could have a better future.
Harry eventually sees Colin's body being carried into the castle by Oliver Wood and Neville Longbottom and thinks about how he looks tiny in death. To see Colin's life cut short was extremely unfair, but it was also a reminder of the difference even the young can make when they decide to stand firm in their beliefs.
Whether or not Lavender is actually dead is questionable. Pottermore doesn't list a death date for her, but in the final book we know she was attacked by werewolf Fenrir Greyback and after Hermione blasted him away, her body was only "feebly stirring." Then in the movie, there's a scene that shows the attack and Lavender's body not stirring at all. She may be alive in the book universe but dead in the movie universe. Rowling has never confirmed it either way. Even though Lavender's fate may be uncertain, it still felt right to mention her here.
Lavender was a Gryffindor who may have annoyed some, especially when she dated Ron, but proved herself to be as brave as the others in standing up for what was right. She joined Dumbledore's Army and fought at the final battle, perhaps at the cost of her life.
Including Snape on this list might be problematic for some. Was he a hero like the others here? Not in the same way, no. He treated Harry and many of the others terribly. The only reason Snape did what he did was because of his love for Lily Potter, but even with such selfish motives it can't be denied he risked his life repeatedly to help defeat Voldemort. That includes his actions during the battle. He died still trying to do what he could to help Harry and the others win.
Snape was the character Rowling apologized for killing in 2017.