As I watched the final Harry Potter movie this morning, I cried not only for the fictional events unfolding on screen, but also for the end of what has been an amazing era. My love of all things Harry did not come as quickly or easily as it did for others. I didn’t find Harry until I began teaching, a good four or five years after the series began. Hogwarts was the place all my middle school students longed to be. Wanting to be able to talk with my kids about the story that actually had them reading, I picked up the first book. And barely got through it. The story was good, but – at the risk of committing sacrilege – I thought the writing was not so great. I saw the movie when it came out and LOVED it. I thought it was so much better than the book, but I wanted to know what happened next, so this prompted me to start the second book… which I put down halfway through. I know, I know, but I mustn’t tell lies, right? It was then that I decided to stick to the movies. And I did. For a time. I was there for each movie and loved every one of them.
It was when I was watching The Order of the Phoenix, though, that I began to realize I was missing out on some subtext by not reading the books. I leaned over to my friend several times during the movie to ask questions. “Read the book, Cheryl,” she said. And so I did. Cover to cover in record time. Between the writing having gotten better and my increased investment in the characters -let’s be honest; I wanted to know more about Snape – I suddenly found myself a fan of the books. As soon as I finished, I ran out to get the sixth book and then had to wait impatiently like everyone else for the publication of the final installment, which I picked up on release day. Somewhere between the fifth and sixth books, I went from being a Harry Potter fan to being an OMG HARRY POTTER! fangirl. Perhaps it was because the story was getting increasingly angsty, or maybe it was the fact that Snape had more screen time in the movies, or it might have simply been a matter of timing for me, but whatever the reason, I had joined that legion of fans who couldn’t get enough of Potter’s magical world.
When the credits rolled this morning, I felt as though I had lost a friend. Sure, the story will live on as I re-watch the movies and reread the books (yes, even books 1 and 2), but never again will I have a new Harry Potter movie to look forward to. After almost 10 years of always having another sequel to count down toward, it’s kind of a sad thought. I’ve lived the better part of my adult life in the era of Harry Potter, and though I know there are plenty of other franchises around the corner that will no doubt capture both my attention and my allegiance, none will take the place of Harry Potter.