Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter: Thank You For Being A Friend

by Danielle K.
Guest Blogger

Is this the end of the Harry Potter fandom? Danielle doesn't think so.

Picture this: Sicily. 1914.

Wait, I was channeling Sophia from “The Golden Girls” again. But it is a good way to start. Picture this: It’s a glorious July evening in 2011. The sky is blue, the streak of horribly hot weather has given way to a cool evening. And outside a theater near the Nation’s Capitol is a motley crue of fans, wearing scarves in house colors, facinators, time turners and robes. Many are carrying wands. Some are wearing t-shirts. A few are dressed as characters. And all of them are wearing buttons reading “It’s real to us,” a gift presented at a dinner earlier that evening.

Standing in line, all of them have the glow of excitement. But it is tempered with nostalgia and sadness. For this morning, when the clock reaches 12:01, the last of the films, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” will start. And about two-and-a-half-hours later, the movie will be over.

And then what? My friends outside the Harry Potter fandom ask me. Won’t it all be over? Don’t the film taglines say, It all ends here?

But how could it all end here? I ask.

I was far more afraid of the end of the fandom when the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was released in 2007. After all, the seven main books by J.K. Rowling featuring a boy wizard fighting an evil, dark wizard are the true canon from which the films are made. But for the last four years, Potter group of which I’m a member has not only continued to meet once a month to chat about topics in the series, but our group has gotten stronger. We’ve branched out and added events including teas, picnics, kite-flying and visits to a local renaissance festival. New members are still joining. I met and recruited new members the night of the premiere.

The Harry Potter Alliance keeps growing as well. There is still the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida to visit and Pottermore to come. And I hope that Rowling will release an encyclopedia of her notes she crafted to write the books. I believe the fandom itself is strong enough to grow and evolve. There will be new readers. Fans will have children and nieces and nephews and pass the books to the next generation of readers. No, of course it won’t be the same. But nothing in publishing history has ever been like Potter. Why would the fandom be like any other?

But I believe there is something even more important to the fandom that will keep it alive: Friendship. I discovered Harry Potter and the wonderful universe he lives in because my friends insisted I read the books. I warned them I’d become a HUGE fan of the books – and I wasn’t wrong. When the Three-Year Summer between “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” ( ) ended, I was first in line to get the fifth book. And we spent hours and hours talking about the series. And when life changed and evolved, Harry Potter helped me make new friends, through the group of which I’m an active member.

When we were at dinner on Thursday, several of us shared our stories about how we got into the fandom, or a time when the fandom helped see us through something. What was amazing to me was that the stories might have been different – loneliness, breakups, rough patches -- but there was a core to many of them: The books were there for them. Friends made through the books were there for them. My story might have been different in the details, but I can admit now I can’t imagine having made it through a dark place a few years ago without my Potter group. I don’t think any of them knew much of what was going on, but they were there, and they could help me, just for a little while, get lost in something that took me away from my grief. I am so blessed and so grateful.

And I don’t think this is the end of me making new friends thanks to Harry Potter, and his universe full of wonderful stories of friends and sacrifice and love. Where friendships can span years, and last even after death – and change the hearts of the darkest men. I think the fans will still keep connecting – online, in person, in the WWoHP, in the park, at the library and at cons.

In the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the three main characters Harry, Ron and Hermione make a visit to the home a friend, Luna. While they wait for her, they explore and find her bedroom.

“Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron Hermione, Ginny and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realized that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends … friends… friends…” (Deathly Hallows, paperback, p 417.)

With the golden bonds that hold us together, the fandom will never die.

Danielle K. is a 30-something Harry Potter fan living near D.C. Her favorite HP character is Neville Longbottom. She’s also a fan of “The X-Files” and the Whedonverse., @dorogaya26.
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1 comment:

  1. Fandom is indeed a strong glue that with time only gets stronger.
    It is through my fandoms I have found some of the best people in my life, and has certainly helped me socialy when relocating to a new place. Harry Potter however has brought me the greatest variety of spice. I wouldn't tade those friends for anything.
    It all begins here.