From the moment we first land in Privet Drive on Hagrid’s enormous flying motorbike, Harry Potter readers are enfolded in an enchanted forest of grief.
We begin the boy-wizarding saga with the murder of Harry’s parents, and wrap up the adventures with the bloody Battle of Hogwarts. In the years in between, we lose Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore and, of course, Harry’s beautiful snowy owl Hedwig.
However, there is one death in particular which left us all in grave need of a stiff butter beer: the demise of devoted, linen utilising, house elf Dobby.
His death by fanatical Bellatrix LeStrange left tear soaked pages fluttering across the muggle world. The bat eared, pillow-case sporting free elf dedicated his life to protecting Harry, and eventually made the ultimate sacrifice for him.
Now J.K. Rowling herself has come forward to apologise for cutting the plucky little house elf’s life short; just when he was beginning to enjoy his freedom away from the ghastly Malfoy family.
Fittingly, she penned this apology on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Even though Dobby didn’t make it that far, he was still an integral part of the fight against Lord Voldermort and his army of Death Eaters.
Tweeting to her 14.4 million followers, J.K. wrote:
It’s that anniversary again. This year, I apologise for killing someone who didn’t die during the #BattleofHogwarts, but who laid down his life to save the people who’d win it. I refer, of course, to Dobby the house elf.
It's that anniversary again. This year, I apologise for killing someone who didn't die during the #BattleofHogwarts, but who laid down his life to save the people who'd win it. I refer, of course, to Dobby the house elf.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2018
The response was emotional, with many fans apparently still raw at the thought of those saucer sized eyes being closed for the final time.
One reader sniffled:
At first I didn’t like Dobby, but I wish I could be more like Dobby, his death in book & on film always makes me cry.
This is the only death I cried over when reading it, I’ve never read something so sad.
At first I didn't like Dobby, but I wish I could be more like Dobby, his death in book & on film always makes me cry
— Anna Vancouver (@AnnaRoseVan) May 2, 2018
This is the only death I cried over when reading it, I’ve never read something so sad
— Paris (@parisvelvet) May 2, 2018
out of all deaths this felt so devastating and i didn't expect it alll
— Yash (@GreaterBeyond) May 2, 2018
I’m probably the most upset about Fred’s death but something about the way Dobby’s was written punched me right in the heart
— Paris (@parisvelvet) May 2, 2018
The burial scene at Shell Cottage where Harry eschews magic to dig his old friend a man-made grave is perhaps one of the most affecting scenes in the series.
And it seems many readers have yet to forgive the fantasy writer for her fictional murder.
One fan wailed like a banshee:
He was so innocent all he ever wanted to do was save Harry Potter, and you repaid him by killing him off WHY JO. WHY
Another roared like a Hungarian Horntail:
Am sorry Miss Rowling. I love you but I just can’t forgive Dobby, Sirius, and Lupin. Why I ask you why.
Your Biggest Mistake ?
— #AYAAN (@iammohdayaan) May 2, 2018
— A A RON ⚡️ (@aarxnmw) May 2, 2018
Am sorry Miss Rowling. I love you but I just can't forgive Dobby, Sirius, and Lupin. Why I ask you why.
— Dan Stubbings (@dan_stubbings) May 2, 2018
Dobby is the one that hurt me the most. He was loyal and genuine. DOBBY WAS A FREE ELF!!! pic.twitter.com/DSvVyClyhn
— Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson) May 2, 2018
For many of us, Dobby was an unlikely inspiration; moving on beyond the cruelties and indignities of his enslavement to become just as much of a hero as the boy wizard himself.
In the words of the magical creature himself:
Dobby has no master, Dobby is a free elf.
Let’s all raise a sock to Dobby today; who, even after his death, is a true symbol of selflessness and friendship.
RIP Dobby. Forever memorialised as part of my HP sleeve. Love him forever ? pic.twitter.com/iNN1CVxyNP
— Beca? (@beckaio_) May 2, 2018
I remember going on a tai chi retreat in France shortly after the book came out. Jackie, a 6' tough Scottish bloke with a shaved head stumbled towards me, looking anguished.
"Daubie's dead" he croaked.
— Abigail Dombey (@AbigailDombey) May 2, 2018
In spite of the abuse he suffered, Dobby was braver and kinder than most pic.twitter.com/N4FxJtPYck
— Marianne (@MyNamesMarianne) May 2, 2018
You’ll always be in our hearts, dearest Dobby.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.