A Trip Down Diagon Alley:

Reminiscences of a Harry Potter Fanatic

By MonieLou

Forgive me if I get extremely sentimental. Devoting nearly six years of your life to one thing, as I have, takes a lot of will power. So many people can't say that they have ever loved something as much as most of us Harry Potter fanatics love Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and the hundreds of thousands of other characters.

I'll admit, it's all so strange to me to be feeling so much now that the release date has been, well, released. With the title of the Deathly Hallows, sure it seemed like the end would come soon, but that thought was pushed away. After all, there was no release date to mark the day it would all end. But now that the release date has been shared, the whole experience is taking on a different view.

I remember, way back in yesteryear, when I was dead-set against reading a Harry Potter book. I had denounced them to everyone I knew, saying all kinds of horrid stuff. In truth, I was a lot like Laura Mallory when the books first came out. I hadn't read them and there I was saying how cheesy and lame they must be because they have to do with magic. "Who believes in magic?" I always said. I was a cynical little girl, obviously. This was in fourth grade, nearly six years ago.

When there was news for a Harry Potter movie coming out, my cynicism only increased. It came to a point where I believe my parents got fed up with hearing my disapproval of the series. I couldn't imagine that one day I would be as obsessed as I am now about a series that I completely hated, or that I would be here typing this little memoir. But life is funny sometimes, isn't it?

In fifth grade, the pending release of the movie was announced. My eyes could be seen rolling every time someone in my class mentioned it. I didn't want anything to do with Harry Potter, and yet there I was obsessing over it anyways! How hypocritical of me, I know.

It was in the middle of my fifth grade year when the movie came out. My dad's girlfriend at the time had been reading the books to her daughter every night. She knew my stance on Harry Potter, but kept bugging me to read them anyways. I didn't like her much, so one of the reasons for my never reading the books was to spite her. But one night, she made an offer I couldn't refuse. She sat me down on her bed and placed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone next to me. Looking me straight in the eye she said, "I'll leave you alone about Harry Potter if you read one chapter. If you don't like the book after one chapter, I will never bring it up again." I was happy because it gave me an opportunity to get her off my back.

When she had walked out of the room, I looked at the book lying next to me. I remember thinking that I could go downstairs in half an hour and just say I had read a chapter. It was lucky that I loved to read. I picked up the book and grudgingly turned to the first page of the first chapter. Immediately, the first sentence grabbed me. I reached the end of the first chapter before I knew it. I was already caught up in this magical world Jo Rowling created, and I had only read seventeen pages!

I ran downstairs as soon as I had finished the chapter. Skidding into the living-room, I remember exclaiming something like, "It's. . . it's. . . I'm hooked! I don't know what's going to happen next. I need to read this." My dad's girlfriend just looked and me and nodded. I asked her if I could take the book home with me to finish reading it. She said yes, as long as I didn't lose the place she and her daughter were at. I watched myself as I slowly made my way to their bookmarked spot and on.

Within a week, I had finished the book. Immediately I needed to find out if there were more, and if there were, how many. It didn't take me long to track down all the books that were out. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had just been released, so I didn't feel like I was too far behind others who had discovered the books.

Since I had finished Sorcerer's Stone very soon after the movie came out, I begged my dad and his girlfriend to take me to see it. I'll never forget asking him to take me. We were driving and he had asked my sister and me what we wanted to do for the weekend. My sister recommended a movie and I blurted out, "Harry Potter!" The look my dad gave me in his rearview mirror is etched into my memory forever. He gave me a look that said plainly, "You've been against these books for the longest time and now you want to see the movie? You're crazy." That would be the first you're-insane-for-loving-Harry-Potter look I'd get. There have been many, many more since.

I was completely oblivious to the Internet when I first started reading the series. I had no clue there was a whole other world out there devoted solely to Harry and his world. I was more of a book/movie kind of girl.

When Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out, my obsession hit a new high. I was still unaware of a complete Harry Potter community, but with the fifth book I started to do some Googling and happened upon The Harry Potter Lexicon. It quickly became a must-see site daily. But visiting the Lexicon was the most I did for about a year after Order of the Phoenix came out. I wasn't as big a fan then as I am now. Now I check everything daily to look for updates. In a couple of months, that will all be over.

After I had finished Order of the Phoenix, I started to feel like I was the only one in the world who was going through the pain of not being able to discuss the series. I remember saying one time while I was helping my mom clean, "I hate this book [Order of the Phoenix]. J.K. Rowling [this was before I started to call her just "Jo"] wrote about a prophecy. She wasn't supposed to do that until the seventh book! There are two more to go!" I was so naive, wouldn't you say? I didn't know about her planning the series for however many years or anything. I just knew I loved the series and needed to discuss it with others who did too.

That need brought me to the Lexicon one April day in 2005. I was clicking around and happened upon The Floo Network. I can picture it like it was yesterday. I scrolled down the page and clicked a link at random. The link brought me to The Leaky Lounge. I had never heard of a forum before, but it looked like something new so I registered as RavenclawQueen333. Quickly I was pushed into this cyber-world that I knew nothing about. I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to find the link to The Leaky Lounge again, but I had to go to bed so I just exited out.

The next day I tried to do exactly as I had done the day before. After a few tries I managed to get to The Leaky Lounge again. I was so happy and immediately I started to theorize. Then, whenever I mentioned the Leaky Lounge, my mom and sister would ask, "What?" Now I mention it and they are completely familiar with it, never actually visiting it themselves despite all my prodding.

By the time I found the online Harry Potter world, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was being speculated about. The release date had just come out or something along those lines and everyone was in a tizzy. I was blindly following everyone's lead for the first few days. Then I got into the groove of things and realized what a big deal the release was. That was when my obsession reached its peak and I started to not hide it as much. Yes, I had been a closeted Harry Potter fan. My family and some really close friends were the only ones to know the extent of my obsession. Now everyone I meet knows . . . especially when I decide to wear my Half-Blood Prince t-shirt.

With the release of the sixth book, I went to my first midnight release. It wasn't a big release. I just went to the local Wal-Mart and waited in line. But to me, it was heaven. My best friend went with me, which made it all the more exciting. But before I went to Wal-Mart there was a little mishap.

My mom's best friend called around 10:00PM on July 15 and asked my mom if we were still going to go to Wal-Mart to pick up the book. My mom said yes and asked why. Her friend told her that the Wal-Mart had lost its power and wasn't open. At first I thought they were pulling a prank on me. Ha-ha, very funny. To prove to me that they weren't lying, my mom drove me down to the Wal-Mart and showed me. Sure enough, the power was out. I started crying so hard I couldn't breathe. It was my first midnight release! I couldn't miss it for the world! My mom knew how much it meant to me so she called another Wal-Mart, one that was a half-hour away. They were open and had the book. I was miserable by then. I didn't want to drive a half-hour away. I honestly thought of waiting until the morning to get the book.

At 11:30 p.m., my mom and I got into the car and picked up my best friend to get ready to drive out to the farther Wal-Mart. Before we did that, my mom said that we had better check out our Wal-Mart to make sure. Who knows? They might open just for the book. It was wishful thinking on my part. When we drove up to the front entrance, my mom asked about the store. The employee replied with something that made me the happiest person alive, "We're only opening for the Harry Potter books." All at once I wasn't upset and crying anymore but rather excited and all jittery. We parked and then waited in line for fifteen minutes. Those were probably the longest fifteen minutes of my young life.

When the book was placed in my hands, I couldn't believe it. It was real. The book was real. I opened it up gingerly and looked at the chapter titles. The day before I had read a spoiler that gave all the chapter titles. The spoiler was correct.

A year and a half has passed since that day. I can't believe that after nearly six years, I am still as obsessed and in love with the Harry Potter series as I was that day reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In six months, roughly, it'll all be over. There will be no more theorizing, no more title releases, no more release dates. Sure, the movies are going to be coming out still, but no matter what anyone says, it's not the same as a book release.

I've made so many friends through the Harry Potter online world. More friends than I would have made had I gone solo on this whole thing. I may be obsessed and slightly over dramatic about the series, but I can't help it. Jo has created a world in which I have become immersed. Like so many others, I fell under her spell, no pun intended.

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I know I'm going to cry and bawl and sob and all those wonderful things. It'll be the end of the road for me and everyone else. But we can't dwell on it. We have to remain loyal fans. That's what counts. Looking back on it all, I would never have pictured myself sitting here in front of my computer typing this up and crying over the end. I thought it would never come. I thought it was just a dream and the last book would never be released. Or worse; something would happen to Jo. But it's coming and I can't stop it. I'm going to make the best of these last six months.

And on that teary, drawn-out note, this is MonieLou, a.k.a. Monica C., signing out! Have a magical day, everyone.

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The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.