“And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”
Damn, Joanne, how badly did you want to be done writing these? That line can’t NOT be metafiction.
All kidding aside, there’s some of Rowling’s best writing in this, and I missed it the first time around in my haste to see how it all played out, and my frustration (less warranted on second read through) about stranding our heroes in the woods for too long in the middle of the book and my irritation (DEFINITELY warranted in round two) that too many significant events happen “offscreen” so to speak. I ended up having to google what happened to Lupin and Tonks (spoilers coming) as I was positive I had missed the description of their fates by reading too quickly – nope, Rowling truly just “eh, they died when Harry was off saving Hermione or something”-ed them.
And that epilogue was pretty much Fry’s story of the Grasshopper and the Octopus from futurama – everything worked out perfectly for the heroes, and everyone got a race car! To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the good ended happily and the bad ended unhappily; that is the definition of fiction.
All told, though, this only suffered from being a conclusion to a story so well told over so long a time that no one was going to be completely happy. It ended well, if not surprisingly.