*spoilers for the series*
The first of September rolled around and, leading up to 11am, I was sat on twitter. As usual, I was tweeting about how I had arrived too early to get the Hogwarts Express and so was sitting in my regular carriage with way too many chocolate frogs for the journey. I was not the only one tweeting about the upcoming departure of a train to magic school (many hashtags about the significance of the date were trending) and received may responses from people asking if there was room for a Ravenclaw in my cabin. I replied with “of course! I have some Fizzing Whizbees if you want to share.”
To the milder or non-Harry Potter fans, this turn of events will seem completely bizarre. After all, the Wizarding World is not real (hard to digest, I know!) and, rather than being docked out in Hufflepuff robes on a train stationed at a secret platform, really I was sitting in bed in my Harry Potter themed PJs pretending that I was. Also, even in an alternate world where Hogwarts did exist, I would be way to old to attend. But to me, these scenarios remind me of what it feels like to be home.
My adventures with Harry Potter began when the Scholastic Book Fair came to my primary school and we were allowed time out of class to go and buy something if we had the money. Armed with the funds my mother had supplied, I went on my way and came across a book called Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I don’t remember what it was that struck me about it but I bought it and read it; not realising it was actually the second book in the series. By the time I had caught up with the ones that were already out, there was a brand new one waiting for me. My first read-through of the books was 2-3-1-4-7.
I used to have two light switches in my room: one by the door and a pull string above my bunk bed. It would drive my mother bonkers when she’d get up in the night to find my bedroom light on and me tucked up in bed reading very late on a school night. When my mother too got into the books we had one copy of Order of the Phoenix which I would be allowed to read one chapter of each night before mother would come and take it off me to ensure I slept. She would then take the book downstairs and read it herself. Both this book and Half Blood Prince used to have two bookmarks in indicating where we were. To this day, my most prominent memory of Harry Potter was reading period in school, during Year 4, when my teacher said that the hour had begun and we must remain silent. I was in a class of 30 children and every single one of us had a copy of Order of the Phoenix. Even the teacher. I think that was the first moment that I really got a sense of how Harry Potter was so much bigger than my sole experience with it. To say I’ve grown up with this world and these characters is too much of an obvious statement to make, and frankly it frustrates me that I can never full put into words why this particular series has had such a impact on me when other series I read around the same time (for example The Chronicles of Narnia) are forgotten memories. It’s the kind of thing where only other extreme Harry Potter fans can share a look and say “I know exactly what you mean.”
Harry Potter has remained a constant in my life. No matter the situation, it’s always been there when I’ve needed it and it always feels like being greeted by old friends.
1st September 2017 held more importance than the previous years. This year in the Harry Potter timeline, marks the epilogue. This year marks nineteen years later. As I write this post, we have officially passed the Harry Potter timeline. (Don’t talk to me about Cursed Child)
As the hosts of Mugglecast joked on their podcast (Episode 334: Back to Hogwarts?), “how many more endings to Harry Potter are we going to get?!” While easy to laugh at, it’s true. There have been many endings to Harry Potter. The books ended and a few years later so did the film adaptations. Then Cursed Child (*shudder*) and in a few more years the Fantastic Beasts films will end. When I read that iconic last line in Deathly Hallows I cried for two weeks. Having been lucky enough to go to Orlando and visit the theme park, along with going to the studio tour several times (I’m going for the fourth time next month for my birthday. Eek!) it never really felt like the definitive end. Until now.
As I said earlier, I grew up with Harry Potter and aged alongside him. Even with my adult perspective now when I read the books I still get that all consuming feeling that I honestly cannot explain. I can pinpoint who I was and where I was when each book came out and list all of the places I read them.
Officially passing the timeline for the books has stirred a feeling in me and it’s not a pleasant one. In a strange way, it’s like I’ve been reminded of my own morality; that I will continue to age while the characters that were so present in my formative years do not. I am trying not to be sad about it and instead distract myself with happier Harry Potter memories. But it’s not without its struggles.
For the first time it really feels like this is goodbye.