I'm glad to see that John Granger now has a blog (I'll add the link later)--it's a bit easier than a forum to keep up with and accessible to more people.Several things have already been brought up--I think it was Rob (rapierpen) who said that Snape is the Keeper of the Keys for Harry, just as Hagrid was the Keeper of the Keys for Dumbledore. I like that as it brings the relationship between Harry and Snape into sharper focus and importance.The other is that hallows--which can be a verb or a noun, but sounds more like it's a noun in the title of book 7 (DH)--could also refer to things being hallowed in a deadly place--that from Sandra.
A lot of us, including me, have been jumping from graveyard to graveyard with that idea. There's the one that Harry has already visited in GOF where Riddle's family are buried. There's the graveyard--or the one we think he will find--when he visits Godric's Hollow, seeking more infomation about his parents. Then there is the one that Rowling has said is at Hogwarts--the one that Cuaron couldn't put somewhere in the 3rd movie, because that wasn't where it was located. We did see Dumbledore's tomb, but it didn't seem to be part of a graveyard, so there must be one somewhere else. Who is buried there is still unknown. Most likely, the three founders who were still at Hogwarts after Slytherin left. We do know that no other headmasters or headmistresses are buried there, however--Dumbledore was the first. But I've wondered if James and Lily might be buried there--if James did have some family connection to Gryffindor, that might be reason enough, especially given the heroic nature of their short fight against Voldemort.
But the other place that might be a possible place is the Death room at the Ministry of Magic. That veil just begs to be reintroduced. It's one of those things that people discussed for months on forums, but no one ever really asked Rowling about it, except in reference to Sirius's death--was he really dead and could he come back? But never--just what is the veil, how is it used and what does it do and will we see it again?
I think it's likely that Harry will learn something important about his parents when he visits Godric's Hollow. I wonder if that will lead him back to the Ministry. The other room waiting for his discovery is the one that was locked--the one Dumbledore told him was filled with a great and terrible power, reminiscent of part of the story by Charles Williams, Descent into Hell, which I recently finished reading.
Those rooms both were so prominent in OotP, but then have not been mentioned again, or explained. The Death room, with the veil, seems that it could be something connected to Deathly Hallows--either a place where people are hallowed (as a saintly connection), or that the veil is a way to connect with saints of the past. I know, that's all too religious for many people. But it's very hard to go any place with that title without making religious connections. To ignore the meanings of the word, whether it is a verb or a noun, says that Rowling didn't do her research into the word properly. And the one thing we all should have learned by now, is that she is one woman who chooses and uses words very carefully, with the intent that her words will give us all the clues we need--but we will only see the full connection after we've finished the book.
Back to Snape--I always seem to get back to Snape. It's just doesn't seem to fit that he will turn back into the cardboard cutout of a baddie, after all the little hints we've had that there is much more to his story than Harry knows. Rob suggested that Snape is Harry's Keeper of the Keys, and that fits very well with my view that it will be Snape who works along side Harry to defeat Voldemort. But for any sort of cooperation between them--and I'm not looking for friendship, as that would seem out of character for Snape in particular--there has to be a resolution of their anger and hatred. They have to forgive one another; Harry has to forgive Snape for whatever part Snape played in James and Lily's deaths, and Snape has to forgive Harry for being his father's son. As for Snape's role in Dumbledore's death, there has to be more to it than what Harry (and we) thinks he saw on the Tower. Harry can't use the power of the love that Dumbledore kept saying he had with all that anger and bitterness getting in the way. And Snape can't be useful to Harry while he still is filled with hatred for Harry based on Harry's father and godfather.
The other thing that crossed my mind the other day--nothing to do with DH (Deathly Hallows), at least not directly--is that we still don't know what Snape's patronus is. But when I was reading a portion of Order of the Phoenix, there was a brief description of a thestral, as having bat-like wings. Rowling has described Snape as bat-like so many times that many have thought it means he is a vampire (sorry John), but couldn't it mean that his patronus is actually a thestral?
Hagrid describes thestral in OotP (US), on page 446:
". . . they aren' unlucky, they're dead clever an' useful! 'Course, this lot don' get a lot of work, it's mainly jus' pullin' the school carriages unless Dumbledore's takin' a long jouney an' don' want ter Apparate--"
And later, Hagrid gives more information about thestrals, p. 448-9:
". . . good stuff abou' thestrals. Well, once they're tamed, like this lot, yeh'll never be lost again. 'Mazin' senses o' direction, jus' tell 'em where yeh want ter go--"
And there is Snape, who hasn't been used to his full potential in teaching the students, as we saw from the abundent information in his old Potions text; Snape is just out there, waiting to guide Harry along the way in the final stage of his journey/quest. Snape, whose patronus if it is a thestral, is somewhat frightening and sinister, yet not at all evil or frightening when one understands him. It only take knowing the proper way to look at him.
(I've written a bit more on the idea of Snape's Patronus being a thestral in it's own topic, but I've left this part here, because of the thoughtful comments--and I didn't want to lose that part.)