In a recent piece in the New York Times, an English professor had this to say about the Harry Potter books: "This has probably been the most fun that intelligent people can have with their clothes on in the 21st century."

I happen to agree with that statement. Which is unfortunate, because after this incredibly nerdy article hits the streets, I'm never going to get laid again.

But I digress.

Speculating about the end of book seven is easily my favorite (clothed) pastime these days. There are some huge question marks surrounding the end of J.K. Rowling's series; the books themselves are packed with enough clues and red herrings to support a veritable online cottage industry.

What are the remaining Horcruxes, and is Harry one of them? A Horcrux is a receptacle in which a Dark Wizard stores parts of his soul, in a bid for eventual immortality. Voldemort created six, two of which have already been destroyed. If Harry is a Horcrux, it would explain his strange connection to Voldemort—but not why Voldemort has been trying to kill Harry all these years.

Is Severus Snape really evil? Snape is a tricky character. He looks like a bad guy, which is fairly telling in Rowling's universe, where fat and ugly are frequently synonymous with evil. Dumbledore trusts him; Harry never has. If Snape ends up evil, though, that's grave enough to cause me to ban the books from any children I might one day have: All Harry has that Voldemort doesn't is love, and trust is part of love, and if Dumbledore's faith in Snape is misplaced, what does that say about the rest of it?

And finally, which "beloved characters" are going to bite it? When Cedric Diggory died, Voldemort said, "Kill the spare," and that was that. Quick and inglorious, it was hardly the heroic ending befitting a Triwizard champion. I appreciate Rowling's realistic approach to death, but that doesn't mean I won't be devastated if she summarily kills off Ron or Hermione (and especially if she kills them off before writing the most hotly anticipated make-out scene, like, ever).

And finally, the biggest question of them all: Will Harry remain "the Boy Who Lived," or will the series culminate in his death?

We'll find out soon....