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Sam: I don't think I was surprised, particularly about the Grindelwald thing. I do, however, think it's sad that none of Rowling's characters seem to be able to get past their first loves and move on. If I let my first unrequited love be the driving force in my life...well, no comment, but it would be a sad life indeed.
The wizarding world seems to be somewhat less forward-thinking, socially, than the more liberal countries of our world. So maybe having gay relationships is Just Not Done, andif Dumbledore wanted to retain his post at Hogwarts, he had to keep his deep, passionate love for Ron's grandfather a secret.But of course, that's not what Rowling said. She said he never got over Grindelwald, and how upset he was when his One True Love turned out to be Wizard Hitler. And since I believe in authorial intent, I have to say that I find this tendency of her characters immature.
Kate: About the first love thing: in terms of our three main characters, it makes sense for them to end up with characters we've met. The romantic readers among us craved such an ending. It would have been a total cop-out if Rowling mentioned in the epilogue that Hermione broke up with Ron and met a lovely man at Wizard Grad School. That's just lame.
And Harry's parents had to have a shared Hogwarts history in order for their son to have plenty of "dead parent moments" at school. It's easier to build a connection between Harry and his parents if they have lots of places and people in common.
Snape and Dumbledore, both transformed eternally by their first love? Doesn't surprise me. After all, by Book Seven they parallel each other in a weird way.
I guess I'm also reassured because I sense back stories for some of the characters. I totally think Sirius was a big fan of loving and leaving the ladies. I wouldn't be surprised if Lupin had a relationship in his past that he thought was scarring but eventually got over. And you just know Trelawney did some kinky hoohah in the name of divination.
But you're right. If Cho Chang is our one example of a wizarding relationship that doesn't work out, that would be pretty darn lame.
Jaime: Also--and I know I've said this before--you have to remember that being a wizard is like being an Orthodox Jew in Memphis. Your community is very small, and dating outside the community it is difficult to meet people and frowned upon, and there are other communities but they're far away. Realistically, Ron and Harry's cohort is pretty small. There are around 70 Gryffindors at any time, so 280 Hogwarts students, and first years don't date seventh years. If you date only one gender, you've got maybe 120 people to choose from. If you refuse to date Slytherins, you're down to 90. So like the orthodox, you date less and marry young.
Also, as to Snape, his whole ridiculous double-crossing life is built upon Lily and makes it super hard to meet girls (all of whom think he's double-crossing.) Quite possibly he now has the hots for Narcissa or Tonks, but really, how could he woo either without betraying his principles? And Snape's a man of principles.
I still think Dumbledore was getting it on with Fawks, if anyone--and I can see how it'd be better to say "I never got over Grindy" than admit the bestial truth.