If you know of me, chances are you know me as a Potterhead. I’ve obviously read (and watched) the books at least 10 times. I also make it a point to read at least one of the books twice a year. And I do all of the fandom activities- online forums, podcasts, you name it. But this post isn’t about my obsession (is it?).
The first time I read the books, I was eleven years old. It’s been eleven years since. That means half of my life, I’ve been a Potterhead. (Should I be worried that that’s my identity for many?) And obviously the way I engage with the books is different each time. The last time I read Deathly Hallows, for example, I cried when Harry thought about the relationship between his parents, Sirius, and Ron and Hermione, if his parents and Sirius were alive. It was such a small detail- probably a line, or an opening paragraph. The first time I read Deathly Hallows, I cried about how beautiful Snape and Lily’s relationship was. Now I dislike Snape, and I realise just how creepy and nasty he is.
That’s the thing right? When I first read it, I was perhaps twelve, or thirteen years old. I thought that if you did something for love, it was okay. That Snape, a thirty year old man, is fighting for the good because of his childhood friend/crush/love. But now I realise that that’s utter bullshit. If Lily weren’t dead, he’d be a Death Eater till the end of the day. Did he really need someone who he claims to love (yuck) to die to realise killing people is not a good thing?
I’m reading Harry Potter again, and I’m realising newer and newer things. I also can’t help seeing the parallels between the politics of certain countries and the Wizarding World. I definitely know a political leader who is like Gilderoy Lockhart. I know enough pure blood fanatics like Lucius Malfoy. I somehow do not know Umbriges, but probably don’t know enough politics. But I do not Crabbe’s and Goyles.
I’ve often been surrounded by Draco Malfoy lovers. But I really don’t get why he’s so great. In Philosopher’s Stone he literally bullies Harry for not having parents! I mean come on! His pure-blood mania is literally like any fascist “You do not belong here” ideology. And please don’t give me the “family” explanation, because a. Tonks. b. Sirius Black.
On a lighter note, there are things that I never before noticed that I appreciate now. For example, Rowling is hilarious! I’ve startled my parents laughing out loud at certain parts. Now that I’ve seen brilliant screen adaptations (hello, The Handmaid’s Tale), I’m also realising how shitty the movies are. I’m not saying those who have only seen the movies are not real enough fans. But they definitely are missing out on the essence of the canon. It’s like plot, like a brick structure, but it’s not your story, and will never be home. If you don’t have time, just listen to the audio book! It’s equally good!
I guess I’ll always come back to Harry Potter in the end. No matter how old I am. No matter how demystified by some characters I get. I’ll always pick up Prisoner of Azkaban every time I’m in a reading slump. I’ll always read and reread Marauders and Next Gen fanfiction, because canon isn’t enough (no The Cursed Child doesn’t count as Canon). I’ll always be ‘that Potter girl’.
More than anything else, I feel like I’m rediscovering magic, as I read Philosopher’s Stone again. The awfulness of Dursleys to the beauty of Hagrid. I want to ride the scarlet train from platform nine and three quarters home. Hogwarts has always been there to welcome me home. (I know I’m being sappy, and using intertextuality, but every bit of it is magic).
You’d think that after more than a decade, I’d bore of it (all my relatives certainly thought so). But somehow, I love it more. I’m so glad Rowling went down the Classics corridor that fateful day. I know it didn’t go well for her in the short run, but the world is a better place thanks to that, for a million people worldwide.