Yep, that's my man right there with his two best friends. To be honest, it was unrequited. Harry never really knew I existed.
I love telling the story about how I fell in love with him. I owe it all to my friend Brandy. We were best friends in fifth grade (in the year 2000), and we were the geeky kids who played Nancy Drew computer games together and came to school the next day to compare notes on our progress. We wrote in our diaries and read books at recess. We were completely content in our geekdom. Harry Potter was wildly popular then, but I refused to get sucked into the fad. I knew it was some book series about a kid who found out he was wizard. It had a stupid-looking book cover of the kid riding a broom. How dumb, I thought. Well, my worst fears were realized when Brandy started reading these books - and raving about them.
"Come on, you have to read them," she'd say emphatically. I always resolutely refused. No way was I reading some dumb book about a kid wizard. Finally one day, Brandy snapped.
"Read the first chapter of the first book. It'll take you five minutes. I swear if you hate it I'll never bother you about it again," she said solemnly.
I thought about it. She'd never bother me about it again? Fine. I agreed. I took home Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and read the first chapter. I was immediately caught up in the mysteriousness of the wizarding world. I delighted in how purely British it was: "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." I couldn't stop at chapter one. I read the entire thing, and a sort of frenzy began. I devoured Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in rapid succession. I actually racked up a juicy library fee from keeping Goblet of Fire three weeks past the day it was due, despite having read it in two days; I kept it in the cubby below my desk, and I'd take it out from time to time to read my favorite passages and stare lovingly at the front cover.
Harry might be fictional, but I thought he was the finest thing EVA.I wish I were making this up, but it's true, people. I was a girl obsessed. Brandy was very smug and delighted that she had someone to discuss Harry Freaking Amazing Potter with.
After finishing book four, I panicked. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix wouldn't come out until 2003 - THREE YEARS LATER. I was like a drug addict suffering from withdrawals. What do you mean, no more Harry Potter? I thought I'd never survive. But we HP diehard fans soothed ourselves with the movies and merchandise, and reread the books every so often. Finally 2003 did come, and Half-Blood Prince came two years later. Finally, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came in 2007.
I'd followed the series from the age of ten to the age of seventeen. I'd literally grown up with Harry. I knew my fictional friends so well - I'd laughed with them and cried with them. Brandy, our friend Allie, and I went to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows at Barnes and Noble on July 20, 2007. I'll never forget that night. My emotions were bittersweet - we were finally, finally going to see how it all ended. But did I really want to know? In some ways, I didn't. Because it would mean the end of Harry's story. It would be the last time I'd experience the happy exhaustion that comes with reading furiously until the sun comes up. And I knew that revisiting the series wouldn't be the same as cracking open a fresh Potter book.
The excitement at Barnes and Noble that night was almost tangible. At midnight, everyone began screaming hysterically - you'd think Harry himself had ridden his Firebolt into our midst. There was much fidgeting as we waited our turn at the register, but we were among the first twenty people to hold that prized book in our hands. We immediately turned and ran from the store, in fear that some kid would scream out the ending just to spoil everyone's fun (yes, that has happened before). I trembled as I opened the front cover and read the words, "We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter."
I didn't turn on the TV or radio until I finished the book, and I didn't dare check the Internet for fear of spoilers. And when I finished it, I experienced a mix of joy and numbness. You know how when someone dies, you don't start crying until later, because you're in shock? That's how I was. I didn't cry the first time I read HP7 (but boy, I used half a box of Kleenex during the second round).
I'm happy to report that almost two years after the release of HP7, my ardor is not dead. I reread the series every summer, and I look forward to visiting Harry again this summer. I cannot WAIT until I get the chance to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (the sole reason I'd visit another theme park in Orlando besides Disney).
Just the other day I was discussing Harry with a good friend who shares a love for HP. He said, "There are two kinds of people in this world: those who say Harry Potter sucks, and those who have read it." It was like describing myself, circa 2000. Of course, there are people who don't like HP - and that's cool. But I think it really says something when a series has such a cult following. I have SO MUCH respect for JKR - she's a bloody genius. I mean that. She's brought more meaning to my life through her "children's" novels than anyone with a Ph.D. has. That's why HP7 is my favorite book - no other book has come close to making me feel the way I felt when I held a brand new Harry Potter.
So that, friends, is the story of my long and emotional relationship with the boy wizard. Ginny Weasley doesn't know how lucky she is.
Long live the Boy Who Lived!