by Amy Luder
When I was younger, Harry was my best friend. We were conveniently the same age at the same time, so we effectively grew up together. Harry was my solace and my confidant. I knew that no matter how bad my day had been, I could always rely on Harry and his friends to cheer me up. We had many similarities (with the exception that a Dark Lord didn’t try and kill me every year), I really felt like I could relate to Harry in ways I couldn’t relate to my ‘real life’ friends.
I naturally decorated my bedroom and school books in dedication to the Harry Potter series and attentively followed the fandom sites so that I could have my daily dose of Potter. I attended midnight showings and queued to get the books the minute that they were released. I ensured that I read the new books within a day so that I couldn’t stumble upon any spoilers. The Deathly Hallows was released when I was sixteen. I felt as if part of me had died and I went through a mourning process. It was then that I started being told I would outgrow Harry Potter, finally, now it was ‘over’. However, there were still four movies to be released. How could I outgrow something that was still such an integral part of my life?
With each movie that was released, those words were repeated again and again – “Isn’t it time you outgrew Harry Potter?” I couldn’t understand, Harry was part of who I was, how could you outgrow something so entwined with your own identity? In June 2011 I was married, I didn’t need to think twice about where we should go for our Honeymoon – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. With less than a month to the final movie release, this felt like a fitting trip to dedicate to Harry. The experience was one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have, but it was mixed with such sadness, it was almost time to say bye to Harry. Would this be the time I would outgrow Harry?
The very same night that I had visited the theme park, JK Rowling surprised me again, she announced Pottermore! Whilst we were still in Florida, I ensured I was part of the Beta program. How could I outgrow Potter now, after JK Rowling had given us this amazing gift? Three weeks after my return to England, it was time to witness the last movie. So I devotedly queued for the final midnight showing. It was a bittersweet experience but the announcement of Pottermore made it slightly easier to handle. How could I outgrow Harry now? There was so much happening in the Potter world!
I decided the best tribute to Harry that I could offer now, was a Harry Potter tattoo. I spent a long time scouring the books looking for the perfect dedication. I finally settled with the quote “It’s real for us.” Why? Well this summarised my relationship with Harry perfectly, Snape couldn’t have put it better. Harry really did feel real to me and as Dumbledore said “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Soon after, Pottermore was finally opened and I was sorted into Hufflepuff. Suddenly I had a whole new community I belonged to and more amazing writing from JK Rowling to discover. Now was certainly not the time to outgrow Harry, especially with the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio. The studio is only four hours away from me, so I made the pilgrimage. This awakened a whole new love for the Potter film series; there was no chance of me outgrowing Harry Potter any time soon, not after this newfound appreciation of the Potter universe.
So when will I outgrow Harry? I honestly don’t feel I ever will. How can I outgrow such a central part of my life? Particularly now there are such frequent new developments in the Potter world! Pottermore is ever expanding, as are the size and amount of Potter theme parks and the biggest thing of all, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is yet to come. Although not focusing on Harry himself, this is going to be such a huge insight into the Potter world and finally focusing on a fellow Hufflepuff. I even have the perfect excuse (if I even need one) to become completely immersed in these movies. I have a new baby son, (unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to call him Harry) whose mind is just waiting to be filled with Harry Potter. I’m so excited to experience Fantastic Beasts with him, to be able to buy the memorabilia and decorate his bedroom with all things Scamander. I just hope that when he is old enough, he will love the Potter books and movies, as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, as much as I do.
With so much to look forward to, I feel it will be impossible to outgrow Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a vast part of my life and always will be. After all, JK Rowling herself said “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” Always.