When my bb teenage self first read the seventh Harry Potter book, Hedwig's death was shocking — but ultimately turned out to just be a primer for the devastating heartbreak of all of the other deaths to come. Years have passed, though, and in our processing of these deaths, we finally have had some time to sit back and think about why Hedwig had to die. We all know, of course, the circumstances of Hedwig's death. Harry and his clones set out of the Dursley's house on broomstick, and their squad was, as anticipated, attacked by Death Eaters. It is believed that the Killing Curse that hit Hedwig was originally meant for Hagrid — but since the identity of Hedwig's killer was never identified, any definitive information is impossible to confirm.
Enter Tumblr user jomariewalker, whose theorizes that, of all the thirty some Death Eaters that pursued the group in The Battle Of The Seven Potters, the one who killed Hedwig was none other than Snape himself. Seeing as Snape was already forced to reveal the date of Harry's flight to maintain Voldemort's esteem, your first reaction to this theory might be to shake your head — after all, why would Snape, already feeling guilty, want to inflict more unnecessary pain on the members of the Order? Snape's a jerk, but hopefully not that petty or cruel.
But here's the thing: there were seven Harry Potters, each of them as indistinguishable from each other as the last ... except for one thing. Hedwig didn't know what the plan was, and Hedwig loved the crap out of Harry. Naturally, Hedwig's inclination would be to stay as close to Harry as possible — unwittingly giving the real Harry away. So jomariewalker theorizes that, seeing how dangerous this was, Snape did the only thing he could: killing Hedwig. By sacrificing Harry's owl, he would ensure that Harry's anonymity was protected, and also look like he was faithful to Voldemort in the process. One might say he ... killed two birds with one stone. (I'm SO SORRY.)
No matter what the circumstances, though, there is no doubting Hedwig's love and loyalty. In the words of Hagrid, Hedwig lived a "great old life." R.I.P, little buddy.
Images: Warner Bros.; Imgur