After Pottermore was announced last year, Harry Potter fans – myself included – had to wait over a month before being able to sign up for the beta version. Day 1 (of 7) of the Magical Quill challenge soon arrived, and I got confirmed along with 999,999 others over the next six days for early access to the site…
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Though I do recall watching Michael Keaton in Batman Returns, Val Kilmer in Batman Forever, and George Clooney in Batman & Robin, I am admittedly not a fan of Batman…
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A trip to the mall is nearly never complete for me without a visit to the bookstore – bargain or otherwise. Not necessarily to make a purchase. If that were the case, I’d long have needed a bookshelf several times larger than what I have now. Or several shelves, in fact…
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Author’s Note: This turned out to be lengthier than I expected. Do pardon my indulgence. This is “the end,” after all. *grins apologetically*
“This boy will be famous. There won’t be a child in our world that won’t know his name. […] He will be a legend.”
Those words were published over fourteen years ago, in the initial chapter of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in a decade-spanning series of novels that has since charmed the world. J.K. Rowling may not have intended it, but Harry Potter is indeed famous today, not merely as a character but as the entire world he has come to represent. It has gained a popularity the likes of which have never been seen before, spawning, to name a few, eight spectacular films spanning another full decade themselves; tons of drool-worthy merchandise, be they fan-made or official; two amusing albeit parodistic musicals; pages upon pages of fan fiction, fan art and forum discussions; a musical genre aptly named Wizard rock; and even an awe-inspiring theme park in Florida!
Now that Deathly Hallows – Part 2 has finally arrived and yet another conclusion is upon us, I wanted to make a personal tribute of some sort, from my own perspective, to the wonderful story that saw me through nearly half of my life. And I thought, what better way could there be to express myself than in the same way that Jo Rowling introduced me, and the world, to Harry Potter – through writing?
I was eight when the first book was published, but I was certainly older than that when I first read it. Eleven or twelve, I believe. Regardless, I always tried to read each book in one sitting, especially when it was for the first time. It became more challenging, and not to mention more enjoyable, as the books became progressively thicker and the plot more complex. When called to dinner, I would bring the book to the table and alternate between eating and reading, careful not to stain the pages. I would even stay up late just to finish that book. (Many thanks to my family for putting up with me.)
Simply put, from the very first time I opened Sorcerer’s Stone at age eleven to when I finished Deathly Hallows at seventeen, and even until now, when I read them again, I remain spellbound by the magical world that Jo Rowling has created.
Back then, I only read the books from cover to cover, silently appreciative of the imaginative brilliance with which they were written. I would watch the movies as well, and be awed by the filmmakers’ success at bringing Harry’s world to life cinematically. As there were very few people with whom I could discuss Harry Potter then, I was quite content to sit on the sidelines of the entire phenomenon. Sure, I would imagine being in the Wizarding world and attending Hogwarts once in a while, but it was more of a solitary experience at the time. I never participated in anything, well, bigger than simply reading and daydreaming, perhaps engaging in a quick discussion with some friends.
And then in my fourth year of college, I enrolled in a class that would make me realize – over a span of thirteen weeks – that there was so much more to Harry Potter than meets the eye. I had the good fortune of finding myself in a room full of people who were, at the very least, just as interested in the same thing that I was. My experience that term – being Sorted and then vying for the House Cup with fellow Ravenclaws, discussing each of the seven books (and the first five films) in depths greater than I ever thought possible, sitting in awe at every item that Professor Sangil had to show us for the day, learning how to cast spells and play Quidditch (nah, I jest at that), studying for and taking our O.W.L.s, preparing for and actually performing in the Potter Project, and having a literal end-of-term-feast – very much rekindled my love for Harry Potter. There was suddenly so much more meaning to a series that I had loved as a child, and I will forever be grateful to have had the chance to be in that class. (Thank you again, Professor!)
I look back with a slight twinge of regret for not having discovered things and met people sooner, though I daresay that I have more than made up for it. I’ve stayed up until early morning watching live streams of the last two world premieres in London. I am now a member, though not a very active one, of Hogwarts Philippines. Thanks to it, I attended a fairly advanced screening of Deathly Hallows – Part I last year, not to mention while dressed as a Hogwarts student. (Thank you, PHP! And yes, I am still a Ravenclaw.) Not least of all, I keep in touch, whether through Muggle or magical means, with friends I’d probably never have met if not for that Rowling class. (You all know who you are.) For one, I have been able to make allusions to Harry Potter (and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings) and actually have people understand what I’m talking about. Though we do not meet regularly – I think our meetings are more irregular than those of the D.A. – from time to time we do meet and go out on, if I may coin the term, out-of-term feasts. We have plenty of laughs and swap stories, not all of them about Harry Potter. On the contrary, we’ve learned much from each other about all sorts of things, not unlike we would with other circles of friends.
I suppose that what sets Harry Potter apart from others in the fantasy genre, mainly, is its being set in a world that exists right alongside this one. There is that bizarre (im)possibility of witches, wizards and other magical entities existing just beyond what we normally perceive. Add to that Jo Rowling’s manner of storytelling, particularly her way of dropping clues where and when we least expect them and keeping us on edge with plenty of surprises. She has also created many colorful characters whom readers, such as myself, have been able to relate to from time to time, if not constantly. Then came the movies, which in turn have breathed a new dimension to the printed word, what with their stunning visual effects, and introduced us to a whole host of great British actors. And there are, of course, the fans.
I am proud to be part of the Harry Potter fandom. It is likely that Muggles, and I refer here to the cynics, skeptics, ridiculers and the like, will never quite understand what it means for us to be part of this whole phenomenon. They – or you, if you’re one of them – may look upon us Potter fans with amusement, disdain, or both, not understanding, for example, why we get distraught over the deaths of characters (whether while reading or while watching), or become all excited upon the premiere of a movie trailer (which sadly, will never happen again). But we know better.
From the moment that Harry was laid upon the Dursleys’ doorstep all those years ago, to when he waved goodbye to the train nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, we have been with him, through each challenge and triumph, every step of the way. And we will be with him – and Ron and Hermione and everyone else – until the very end. We’ve read the books and seen the movies. We have laughed and cried with Harry and his friends, feeling for them and with them. We’ve even made new friends because of Harry Potter. We have also become quite fond of, if not outright love, not only the characters but also the actors – both the young and the not-so-young – who have brought each beloved, or perhaps disliked, character to life on screen in their own unique ways. We have witnessed the characters and the actors grow up; most of us have literally grown up with them over the years. Most of all, Harry Potter was and is a welcome respite from reality, especially when the troubles of life threaten to overwhelm us. Safe to say, it has helped more than a few people, allowing them to overcome challenges in their own lives.
We owe much to the people responsible for publishing the novels and creating the films, each and every one of them. I guess we owe a good deal to each other, too, fellow fans, because in one way or another we have contributed to all this. But largely, we owe everything to J.K. Rowling. After all, if it weren’t for that idea that popped into her head all those years ago while she was on a train to London, and her determination to write it all down despite her initial struggles, we wouldn’t have any of this. No books, no movies, no theme park… nothing. So THANK YOU, Jo.
Now by the time you read this, the last movie has been released and I have seen it. (No spoilers here, don’t worry.) “The end,” as many have dubbed it, has finally arrived. Needless to say, I shed more than a few tears. (It was epic, by the way.) In the same way that there will never again be a Potter book to anticipate, there will be no more Potter movies to look forward to.
But is this The End? I think not. Another chapter may have closed, but this isn’t goodbye. Not really. The novels and the films may have ended, but, to borrow our queen’s words during the final world premiere, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome [us] home.” We can go back to where it all began anytime, and we can share the books, the movies – our stories – with those who have yet to discover them. This is only the beginning. We have Pottermore to look forward to, as well, do we not? But more than that, beyond that, Harry Potter will be around for as long as we live, for his story deals with the human experience – our experience. He has taught us much about friendship and loss, bravery and fear, good and evil, equality and bigotry, life and death, happiness and despair, love and cruelty, choice and fate – the list goes ever on.
We will always have magic, for it is in the memories, discoveries and friendships that we’ve made, and in the many more to come. No Muggle can stamp it out of us, for Harry Potter will always be a part of our lives. Always.
And on that note, I say, may the mischief never be managed, the magic never end, and Harry’s story – no, his legend – live… forever. ϟ