Well, it's about that time again. The time in which all Potter-heads and Muggle-maniacs make their way to the local bookstores to pick up the next — and sadly, the final — Harry Potter novel. I have been an ardent fan since 1999, the year before Goblet of Fire was released. This is a look back at Harry Potter, and perhaps the experiences I've had are similar to those that of many other Potter fans.
Harry Potter became my first "obsession," I guess you could say. Being in the midst of adolescence and finding Harry Potter to be a commonality among people my own age, I quickly clung to Harry's story, and the successive movies. Though the movies are by no means as good as the books, they're sufficient enough for Potter-heads to get their visual fix.
And as with most book/movie/television series, there arises a sort of romance in them, or several possibilities. I came to think that Harry and Hermione would naturally end up together — this was before Goblet of Fire came out, and even after that. Of course, I first read this book in 7th grade when I was 13 years old and had no real idea how romance worked between even literary characters. I had just sort of accepted it as a fact.
When I, as all Potter fans, waited for three years for Order of the Phoenix, we had to preoccupy ourselves with theories and the endless search for hints and spoilers of J.K. Rowling's own website or HP Fan sites (Mugglenet, Leaky Cauldron, what-have-you), as well as Fan-Fiction sites. Once OotP came out, I was still convinced that Harry and Hermione would be together, because obviously, Cho was out of the way and Ginny was dating someone else. Of course!
Well, in the two years we waited for Half-Blood Prince my insatiable thirst for Harry Potter's romantic persuasion led me to read even more fics as well as websites, with their own ideas as to why and how Harry would end up with Hermione. I have to admit, I became fixed on this aspect of the book. This also led to my cousin, punkinart, and I creating a Shipping War site (which prescribed to the very likely Harry/Ginny relationship) and a contract.
Yes, a contract. The infamous "HMS Pumpkin Pie (H/Hr)VS HMS Orange Crush (H/G)Official Contract."
Well, the first parts of this contract stipulated that whatever relationship existed upon the LAST page of Half-Blood Prince was to be rewarded with $25. As for HP7 (as we knew not the title), the there were several possibilities. We were under the notion that Harry would indeed end up with someone in Half-Blood Prince, and while he did in fact date Ginny, they were not together at the end of the book — thus, no money was exchanged.
Well, whichever relationship prevails at the end of Deathly Hallows will receive $30. There are, of course, some "twists of fate," which may effect the outcome of the book and thus the wager, but nonetheless, money will probably exchange hands in someway, or else "this was a huge waste of paper," as we put it. And, as of today, this contract is officially three years old.
Such is how I have spent the past seven summers of my life. Waiting for the next Harry Potter movie or book to be released. Last summer was different: no book, no movie. This summer, nothing. I have yet to see the new Harry Potter movie, and probably will not see it until I return to Tallahassee in August, but nonetheless, I lay in wait.
My former obsession for Harry's romantic entanglements, I have to admit, ruined Half-Blood Prince for me. I became so obsessed with who he would end up with, I did not enjoy the book for what it was. And ever since, I have not been as big a Harry Potter fan as I once was. Of course, perhaps personal things have led me astray, but there's no denying that I enjoyed it less.
But in any case, it did help me enjoy the years before it. I remember staying up late during the summers before 11th and 12th grade talking to my cousin: sending links on AIM, showing pictures of people from the movies, theorizing, etc. Some of the best times I associate with the books. And though the romantic aspect came up later, it gave me another aspect of the books to appreciate. The number of Harry Potter fans on the internet is astounding — you can really connect with others who share your desires for Harry's life.
Of course, this sounds very odd and strange — if not pathetic — to non-Harry Potter fans. But us Potter fans know better. We know what's like to stay up late the Thursday before the new book came out, because we couldn't sleep. And then the next night, think of dressing up and going to your local bookstore and taking part in the festivities for the book's release. Yeah, there were lots of little kids, but it was cute to see a little girl run around with bushy brown hair and plastic wand screaming indistinguishable spells at a little boy with fake glasses and a lightning bolt sticker on his forehead. Then, you'd proceed to the line at 11:30PM. Oh yeah, perhaps earlier. You'd wait that long just to get the book. And then you'd hold it, flip through the pages, hoping to catch a glimpse of something you shouldn't — you didn't wanna spoil it, of course.
And then you'd get home, and crack the binding again, and proceed to read. Some of us would stay up all night, some for awhile and we'd wake up later to finish. I remember that's what I did for Half-Blood Prince. I remember crying in the bathroom when I read when Dumbledore died. Of course, I had spoiled the book for myself and I knew ahead of time he had died, but I guess there was something different about it here: it was J.K. Rowling's own words saying, yep, you spoiled it for yourself, and here's the proof. That's what you get.
So, what am I to do this time around? When the last book hits the shelves tonight? Well, there's a little bookstore here in Homer that had planned on having a party, and as far as I know, it's still on — and I'll be there (though I get my book an hour after East-coaster's get theirs). I asked for Saturday off from work so I could read (of course, I didn't tell them why I needed the day off).
But I'll be there. And when I finish reading the book, I have an idea that a profound wave of sadness will wash over me. A sadness I've not felt before. I really do associate these books with my adolescence, as I found them upon my entrance into the angsty world of teenagers. And now that I am 20 and about to read the last one, it's as though the book is telling me, "Yeah, it's time to grow up. There's nothing to hang on to here. The books are done." It's a sad fact, but one nonetheless.
And what about the wager? Harry's love-life? Well, let's just say I'm glad I have a job.