She grabbed a book off the shelf and held it gently in front of me. "This is Harry. He's a wizard."
I took the book. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the title proclaimed. My nine year old self snickered, having learnt what a chamberpot was in school a week before. Furthermore, I had just read through Tamora Pierce's back collection, and was overstuffed with fantasy.
Reluctance must have shown on my face, because disappointment clearly showed on hers. One of my mother's life goals was to nurture a love for reading into her children, and as her firstborn, I was so not living up to her expectations at that moment.
Mummy looked at me expectantly. I shrugged, and told her my actual dilemma: "It's all about a boy." She looked astonished.
"You've read books about boys before!"
"But they're not so..." I gestured wildly at the books. "Long." I looked down at the book. The snowy owl gave me a baleful stare.
Mummy harrumphed. "Oh well, your loss. I'm buying them, and if you like, you can borrow them from me. There's a movie coming out next year, you know."
I perked up. A movie from books?
I was sold. Over the next week, I breezed through all three books. Firstly, Prisoner of Azkaban, because mummy was in the middle of the first book, and wanted to immediately read Chamber of Secrets afterwards. I sneaked in reading them when she was busy doing housework. My fervor for the books increased, and I devoured the fourth book when it was released. I was a fan, but I wasn't a big enough fan to attend the morning release.
A year later, the first movie came out. I was taken by the boy who played Harry Potter, feeling bound by our kinship of wearing unflattering glasses, and envious (and even slightly betrayed) by the fact that the had perfect vision and only wore the glasses for the movie.
By then, my ten year old self knew that I had become a fan. Perhaps the books had introduced me to a world full of magic and excellent vocabulary and descriptions, but the movie had brought my vision to life. Almost every single detail was exactly as I had pictured in my mind, and I felt indignant, along with countless others, that certain scenes and dialogues had been replaced.
"How could they?!" I ranted in my diary, which was already decorated with some Harry Potter stickers, hearts adorning the edges.
Over the years, my love for Harry and Hogwarts grew. I felt another kinship with Hermione, who embodied me in so many ways. She made being a nerd cool. Ron was the best guy friend I never had. Harry was... well, I was Harry, living through his life, fighting bad guys in school and having rides on broomsticks.
It wasn't just me. My whole family had fallen in love with Harry. When my sister grew old enough to read, she too, fell in love with Harry. He was an honorary member of our family, my twin who had been sent away to England, as I liked to imagine.
Fast forward ten years. My house has Harry Potter memorabilia scattered everywhere. The books took pride of place in the library, with the wizard chess set below. Every spring cleaning, I will find Harry Potter themed stickers, posters, saved chocolate bar wrappers, and every spring cleaning we hide them somewhere, unable to bear the thought of letting go of the memories associated with them.
Seven books have been released, all of impeccable quality. A few more relating to the same universe. Hundreds of websites opened. Thousands of fan-fiction written. Millions of memorabilia collected, eaten and discarded. A theme park opened. Seven movies have been released, the quality of which seemingly on a upside down bell curve. (Fifth movie, urgh! Sixth movie, what?)
Today is the release of the eighth and final Harry Potter movie. I am going to be twenty years old in a couple more months. Harry is supposedly thirty-six in the books. The books were released a year before I was born. Even before I knew it, Harry had been part of my life. He always will be.
Now let's go, Harry! Let's go see if this last movie (in my generation, at least) will live up to our expectations.