Yesterday, I posted a humor story for the Gay Wedding challenge. (It's on mamadebfic.) And it was one of the hardest stories I've written for a long time - I rewrote a story that ended up maybe 1.2K four or five times, plus endless rehearsals in my mind.
Humor is hard in the best of circumstances. It's easy to make people cry; it's difficult to make them laugh, and since the process of rewriting wrings out emotional content, especially the funny, it's impossible to know if it even works until someone reads it.
It's even harder in a universe with a major war (as far as the characters are concerned; the Muggle world is probably completely unaware of it. This, by the way, is the genius of the first few chapters of OotP. Rowling paints such a picture of mundane suburbia - news programs with water-skiing budgies, drought and lawns, playgrounds and hydrangea bushes - that Harry's wand, Mundungus' Apparation and the Dementors are shocking. The Wizarding world doesn't touch this one. But I digress. Often.)in the offing.
War means death. In the last war, a good part of the Order died, and we know a lot of noncombatants died as well. In the current war, we've lost four people that we know about - Quirrelmort, Cedric, Bode and Sirius. Rowling has already said that there will be more death in the upcoming book, and will not promise that Harry will surivive. How does one write a fluffy postwar story when one has to acknowledge that people aren't there anymore? I managed, I hope, but I had to slip in mention of the loss of various characters, and leave others out.
So, here is purest speculation.
1. Ron will die. He's a sidekick, and sidekicks buy it more often than heroes. He's also a sidekick who is rising beyond that status. He's already a prefect and he may well become Head Boy; he's playing Keeper when Harry can't (Quidditch, I predict, will become even less important, but Quidditch skills will figure greatly in the rest of the books.) and may captain the team since Angelina left after Book 5. This is going to be a problem.
However, we have a couple of clues. The first is the infamous chess game. Ron could easily have been killed there - I think he was expecting it, but it makes sense that McGonagall would not have made her game lethal. Just incapacitating. Ron wasn't to know that, though. He chose his move knowing he could die, and he did with his eyes wide open. If he could do it at twelve (his age at that point), he can do it at 18.
The second is the Christmas luncheon in book 3. "When thirteen dine together, the first to leave the table will be the first to die." Granted, this is Trelawney, and it could be there to show how silly she is, but I think there is more to it than that. Ron and Harry get up at more or less the same time, which would indicate that one of them will die first. If Harry dies, it'll be right at the end of Book 7, so, if it's him, everyone else will live past the books. If Ron dies first, though, that can happen at any point. And stripping Ron away from Harry will make him desperate enough to do anything, I think.
So I think Ron will die. I think it'll happen somewhere after the middle of book 7, and before any of the regular teachers - McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, Dumbledore - do. If they do.
In more pleasant speculation, we have romance. I'm a slasher, but I'm not silly. I don't expect to see any of my pairings happen. The most likely one doesn't exist anymore, anyway. As for het pairings - Rowlings keeps pointing to Ron/Hermione. Except that Viktor is still in the picture and Luna has a massive crush on Ron (she calls him Ronald and sings "Weasley is our King" under her breath, and only seems to pay attention to him when he's around.)
I have no great problems with this. He's loyal. He's kind (he's the one who thinks to give Dobby another pair of socks so he can mix and match them). He adopts Harry straight off. And he's not stupid. He's too good at chess to be stupid, and too bright for that to be his only talent. He's even good at Keeping once he relaxes. Otherwise, yes, he's ordinary.
Hermione is brilliant at everything she does, and she has some basic understanding of human emotion, but she is a bit of a prig and rather self-righteous. Nicely complex, just like Ron. I like her, and I like him, and I don't think they'd make a bad pair. They'd bicker happily forever, you know?
But that's not why I don't mind. See, at this point, they're both sidekicks - more or less equal, other than the fact that Harry sleeps in the same room as Ron. They're even both prefects now. If they become a couple, they're still both sidekicks and more or less equal, except they may spend less time with Harry and more with each other. If they date other people - Viktor or Luna - the same thing happens. Even if one has a romance and the other doesn't, the Trio is their primary relationship and the friendship doesn't change.
If, however, Hermione starts dating Harry, she becomes The Girlfriend. And Girlfriends have different roles than Best Friends, and are perceived differently. And I don't want that fate for Hermione. (I don't want it for Ron, either, even if I didn't believe he was a Kinsey 1 - not a gay bone in his body.)
As for Harry - he's too busy to think about dating. It's too much mental effort for someone who has the weight of his world on his shoulders. Let him survive book 7 first.