Whoever coined the phrase, “all good things must come to an end” must not have ever experienced the immense sadness that I feel now that the Harry Potter series is over. You probably think I’m exaggerating- I mean, Harry Potter is a children’s book, right?- but I’m most likely the biggest Harry Potter fan you’ll ever met, and for me, this is an end of a era. Even my boss, on the day after the last movie premiered, came up to me and in a very serious voice asked, “Brittany, what are you going to do now that Harry Potter is over?” I answered that I didn’t know. And I really don’t know.

Harry Potter has been a part of my life for longer than most people have. When J.K. Rowling first wrote and published the books in 1997, I was only ten years old. Two years later, my Aunt gifted the first three books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, and the Prisoner of Azkaban) to me and I was instantly hooked. As the subsequent novels were released (there are seven in total; each book narrates a year of Harry’s life at Hogwarts, the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry), I read each book fervently; often times re-reading each book in the series whenever the newest one came out.

I won’t tell you that Harry Potter has changed my life in some big, miraculous way, because it didn’t, and that would be ridiculous. I realize that it’s just a fictional story. When I was a kid, I loved reading already, so I can’t even say (like many of my friends) that Harry Potter gave me a love for reading. But, Harry Potter did give me a renewed love for life.

I’d never even say that J.K. Rowling is the best writer in the world, or that Harry Potter is the best book ever written. But Rowling’s writing and her universe of Harry Potter is unlike anything else- it wraps you up, and makes you feel as though it’s REAL. And for those hours that you read the books, or watch the movies, it IS real. As I said, I was twelve when I first picked up the books- right in the middle of those oh, so annoying teen angst years- and Harry Potter offered me the perfect escape.

When life was hard, I could disappear into a magical world, where magic was real, and people who also had hard lives turned out to actually be famous wizards. I felt myself relating to the characters; Harry was a hero, but a flawed hero- someone that had problems, and weaknesses and struggles- just like I did. I immersed myself in the world completely, and even though it was just a book, it felt like so much more, to me.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown up with the series, with the books, and the movies. I can proudly say with a smile that I didn’t know how to pronounce Hermione’s name until the first movie came out. I watched the actors grow up as I did, waited with baited breath as the rest of the books were released, went to all the midnight showings of the movies (well, once I was old enough to do so!), and went to the theme park last Winter.

Even as an adult, Harry Potter has been (to borrow a term from LOST) my Constant- the one thing I can depend on when real life gets rough. There have been many difficult times in my adult years when I needed an escape, and all it took was popping in one of the movies or rereading (for the hundredth time!) one of the books to find my center again.

I’m reflecting upon all this as the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, is released on DVD today. The book the film was based on was released in 2007, and signified the beginning of the end. Thankfully, the movies (which were split into two parts, due to the novel’s length) were just released in theaters last winter and this summer, respectively. The Deathly Hallows movie is the last new bit of the Harry Potter universe that I’ve had to hold on to- there will be no more books, therefore, no more movies until (God-forbid) the next generation of children come around and they decide to do a remake.

Even though Deathly Hallows proved to be an epic and fitting finale for the series, I’m still sad. My heart is broken. As I watched the last seconds of the cast on screen, I felt tears well up in my eyes as I realized it’d be the last time I’d ever see Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint play as Harry, Hermione and Ron on the big screen. There will be no more midnight showings for me to go to, no more new interviews with the cast, no more speculation on which actors will be cast in the next movies.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. Saying goodbye to something you love and cherish- be it a person, a place, or even a fictional children’s book series- is hard. However, I know that Harry Potter will live on in my heart, and in all of our hearts, forever. I, along with many of my friends, will be reading the stories to our children someday. And if I ever feel nostalgic for Hogwarts, I know that it’s only a DVD or a page turn away.

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