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Second Place – AnnaK

I remember the night of 7 July 2000 very clearly, for I spent most of it scoffing. The entire world seemed beside itself over the midnight release of Goblet of Fire, and I could hardly think of anything more absurd or frankly odious. I had what I considered a principled objection to all things Potter: the series was obviously nothing but overhyped pop culture rubbish (I had, of course, arrived at this conclusion without ever cracking the spine of any of the books), and I was far above that. I was eighteen and fancied myself an intellectual.

And then I was stung by a Portuguese Man o’ War.

It happened early into a weeklong vacation. After being dragged out of the ocean and de-tentacled, I spent the rest of my holiday languishing on the sofa, drowning my sorrows in Haagen-Dazs. I couldn’t even move: that nefarious cnidarian had put the equivalent of a Leg-Locker Curse on me. Literally the only printed material within arm’s reach was Philosopher’s Stone, and so, out of sheer desperation, I started to read.

I had to do so stealthily at first: my family had been besotted with Potter for ages and, in true Percy Weasley form, I couldn’t let them know they’d been right. But, perhaps needless to say, I was hooked. I finished all four books within three days and, three years later, found myself in a midnight throng at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, awaiting the release of Phoenix.

While I can’t say I’m sorry that none of my other Potter experiences have involved venomous sea creatures, I like to think that my love of Harry is made a little cooler by the fact that it was so hard-won. After all, scars, be they shaped like lightning bolts or tentacles, can be very useful…

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