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Harry Potter and the Love of a Lifetime


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I was seven when I first met Harry. It was at Trinity Alps, the summer between first and second grade, and the family across the way introduced us. I adored everything about him: his scraggy black hair, his green eyes, his lightning bolt scar. He was 12 and he only had two books published. Still, I envied his courage- facing down everything from antagonistic bullies and three headed dogs to giant spiders and dark lords. He was loyal to his friends and really quite funny and good at sports and basically everything a girl could want in a boy. And he was a wizard.

The first years, my father read us a chapter a night, every night. My mother and I would put the baby to bed, curl up on the couch, and listen to my father’s even voice. He described the toils of unfair dentations and the victories of Gryffindor over Slytherin. I was always jealous that Harry got to learn charms instead of cursive, but I figured that potions class was kind of like math, so things were sort of fair. Those nights, sitting with my parents, listening to a world unfold from the pages, I fell in love with words, with books and with stories. Just one more chapter became my constant mantra, and it hasn’t shifted since.

When the fourth book came out, we picked it up in the London airport. It was in British English and Harry had seemingly gone a bit balmy and was blathering about jumpers and trousers and was scandalized by a man wearing no knickers at the Quidditch World Cup. The culture shock was emphasized by nights reading the book in our farmhouse in Sweden, my grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins all crowded around in the old living room listening to my father read. That summer, while my father still insisted on reading a chapter a night, I sometimes stole down into the living room late at night and snuck an extra paragraph or two.

On the night of my eleventh birthday, I cried myself to sleep. I hadn’t meant to hope, but I had. I knew that it wasn’t possible, but still I searched the skies for the faintest glimmer of an owl, and inspected the mail (and occasionally the fireplace) for the telltale parchment. However, my Hogwarts acceptance letter never came.
The next year, when Order of the Phoenix came out, I read it on my own for the first time. We bought three copies, one to be read aloud nightly, one for me to brutalize, and one to be nice and new. Of the three, 2 still have covers, one has a big coffee stain around page 400, and the other seems to be suffering from a slight case of dropped-it-into-the-bathtub-itus. And Harry. How I felt for my Harry, who, at 15, was undergoing ordeals that are both familiar and unfamiliar to boys of that age. He had his first kiss, watched his guardian slip beyond the veil and engaged in the spread of contraband. Contraband spells that is.

Around that time, I formed the Order of the Animagus. I was best friends with the daughter of the women that my parent’s employed to drive my brother and me around, so naturally she was an integral part of my scheme. I managed to convince her that we were magical, and that we were the American outpost of Hogwarts. Also, Dumbledore wrote to us, we special ordered wands off the internet, and I sewed black school robes. I also believed that I could use mind control on my rabbit. Needless to say, after about four months, the daughter of my driver was no longer my friend. But, even alone, when I wrapped myself in my cloak of fantasy, I could almost see him. Tromping through the forests above my house, I knew every shadow hid one Sirius Black, every gnarled tree branch was the Firebolt, and the sunlight dappled afternoon light reflected green-eyed glasses. Alone, but not alone, I was truly happy.

The time between the fifth and sixth book seemed like an eternity. Harry remained stagnantly perched in the unwritten summer of his 15th year. My best friend and I discovered the second best thing: fanfiction. So we read about Harry. Harry who had gotten angry at Ron and transferred into Slytherin. Harry who drove muggle cars and shot down Voldemort with guns. Harry who fell in love with Ginny. Harry who fell in love with Hermione. Harry who fell in love with Draco. Harry who fell in love with Mrs. Norris. Harry who snuck out at night and smoked gillyweed with his friends. Harry who saved the wizarding world. Harry who said to hell with it and became an elf and went to chill in the shire with Frodo. Sometimes Harry was heartbreakingly rendered, wise beyond his years and oh-so-burdened. Other times he was a lighthearted flirt who took the world as it came. It was a limitless world of Harry. It was the most comprehensive character study ever done. We were hooked.

And it wasn’t just Harry. We learned all about Sirius’s childhood, how Lily and James got together, the secrets of McGonagall, and Snape’s bitter school years. Characters barely touched upon in the books, such as Blaise Zambini; became flesh and blood. The good guys had terrible secrets, and Tom Riddle dreamt of redemption.
The sixth book was published before I went to high school; my best friend and I had obsessed about it together. Dumbledore died. I didn’t care, she did. There were Horcruxes. I thought they were interesting, she didn’t. I loved Tom Riddle, and Draco Malfoy’s struggle with his soul. She loved Ron and Hermione’s romance and thought Luna Lovegood was a bat. But it was common ground. We could disappear together into a world that the popular, snobby girls couldn’t penetrate. We were secure in our literary fixation, regardless of the geek stigma. When she went to boarding school after eighth grade (leaving me behind) and was no longer a part of my daily life, what I missed most was the companionship in my fantasies. While the magical world had been my refuge, it was much less of a lonely refuge with her there to appreciate it with me.

That relationship was the good part. The bad part of it was that with her gone I wanted to assimilate into the world that the computer gave me access to. I had lost my ties to the physical realm. Harry Potter stopped being a book, it became the world, and I would have given anything to live there. I had gone from being 11 and sad that my fantasies were over, to being 14 and determined to make them real. I had just started in a new high school where I knew no one; my two best friends were in a different town and a different country, respectively. I spent my days dying for the final bell to ring so that I could be free to go. Free to go to Harry. While I didn’t talk about him, I still slept with my wand under my pillow, my secret stash of FanFic reclists saved under “Science” on my computer, and a strange attraction to black hair, green eyes, and glasses.


I read the seventh book in a night. I knew, from the moment that I felt the heavy weight of the tomb in my hands, that this was the ending. For the rest of the world, it was the ending of an extremely popular series, but that didn’t matter. For me, it was the end of my childhood, the end of speculation, the end of the road for my Harry. Because, regardless of what the book said, his fate would be sealed, and his legacy set in stone.
I cried that night, for the last time. I didn’t cry over the deaths of many good characters: Fred, Collin, Remus, Tonks. I didn’t cry over the final vanquishment of the antihero. At 5:43 am, tears ran down my cheeks because JK Rowling had written it wrong. Harry’s pseudo death was a cop out, and the book wasn’t as perfect as it could have been. It wasn’t right.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that no ending would have been right. No ending would have allowed me to become part of his world for real.
I was seven when I first met Harry. I am seventeen now, and we are in love.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Rkingett This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm
I feel the same way, but I have moved on to bigger fiction. Harry Potter will always be in my mind though. I still have him in my mind, in my audio book collection in the very back, always residing there, but other things have taken place on my bookshelf. Bigger audio books, but like I said before, I'll never get rid of my Harry Potter audio book collection. I haven’t picked up a Harry Potter book in two years. I'm kind of glad for it. I was always a huge reader, but now that I h... (more »)
 
sillyaardvarkabc said...
Dec. 24, 2009 at 11:20 am
This is almost exactly how I feel. I read the first book in Kindergarten and the beginning of first grade and became hooked. I say almost because I am no longer obsessed with it. It was the hardest thing to stop reading and rereading them... but I did it. I knew that it was time to stop crying over Dumbledore, time to stop getting angry at Ron, and time to stop getting stressed over their O.W.L's. You reminded me that no matter if I read them as often, it will always stay in my heart. -sill... (more »)
 
Elisavietta G. said...
Jul. 13, 2009 at 2:52 am
I know very much how you feel. I am the same way, generally. I was dead for...oh gosh...weeks, after the last book came out. I, also, read the book in a very short ammount of time. 10 hours, I believe. I am more in love with the whole thing, andnot just Harry, though. The whole thing is my first love, never to be replaced by any other.
 
bubbasamantha said...
Jul. 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm
Wow, I would have never thought of the books this way. You are not only a devoted fan, but a devoted young woman in love with, for you, a real wizard who means not only the whole world, but your world to you. You two make a great couple! Live happily ever after!
 
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