This week marks the seven year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Can you even believe it?
I was 24. I’m fairly sure that puts me outside of Harry Potter’s intended demographic and yet I felt like I had been waiting for this book my whole life. Helen and I had spent more hours than it’s probably even possible to count after the end of Half Blood Prince coming up with theory after theory: Who was RAB and surely Dumbledore’s not really dead and omg the Snape of it all. We drove ourselves crazy.
I live out in the sticks a little bit, so there was no exciting midnight release for me. I was living with Helen at the time, and instead two shiny new copies of the book were delivered by a postman (who likely had the heaviest post bag of his career that day, except for OotP release day, obvs). They were so shiny and new and beautiful and my tummy did a funny flippy thing.
& then Helen went out. I’m not even kidding. Off she went with her chums from work on a beer bus around the Yorkshire Dales. She had to lesve the book behind – needless to say she wasn’t happy about it. I waved her off and then I went back to bed. To read. I spent the morning reading in bed and the afternoon reading on the sofa & I exchanged a ridiculous number of text messages with Jen (who thank goodness reads at the same speed as I do)
By the time Helen got home that evening I was done. & emotionally drained. I’d laughed and I‘d cried (oh God, the tears) and I’d held my breath. I’d barely been able to turn the pages fast enough. And then it was over.
All was well.
I felt strangely bereft, knowing that there would be no more. These books had a profound effect on me, one that I still don’t really understand. & I didn’t quite know what to do once I’d read the last words of the last book. When I went to the premiere a few years ago, Ian asked me what I would say if I met Jo Rowling. Half Blood Prince had been my lifeline; the only thing I could think of was ‘thanks.’
I think I all but threw the book at Helen when she got back. I pretty much forced her to read it, if you listen to her version of events. If you listen to mine she didn’t take much forcing, but still, whether my fault or her choice, I don’t think she’s read a book that fast before or since. ‘Where are you up to?’ I’d demand at intervals, or when I heard a quiet ‘oh,’ from her bedroom ‘Hedwig?’ (Still not over Hedwig. Will never be over Hedwig.)
I can’t believe it’s been seven years. I still love the books and the characters as much as ever, but more than that I love what they represent: the hours of conversation, the friendships that have formed (and strengthened) because of a shared love of Hogwarts, the way it’s like being part of a really big family – you see someone reading HP and you give them a little nod and a smile. You do right? It sounds trite, but the Harry Potter series has given me so much more than just a story. & if I ever do get the chance to meet JK Rowling, I still think the only think I’d be able to say is thanks.