Harry Potter & the Devastating Breakup

Anna Reagan

He has been my best friend for about ten years. He was there all the time, whenever I needed him. He was even the first boy I ever fell in love with. But now he is gone.

The fact that this boy is a fictional character is only minor consolation. He was first introduced to me as the boy who lived. My mother read me the first chapter one night after we had purchased his book that came mildly recommended. I lay in bed and rolled over once she had finished. It was like a religious experience. I didn’t reach God or anything, but I came close. Joanne Kathleen herself ended the first lines of the chapter with “[Harry Potter] couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!'” I raised my eyes to the ceiling and thanked whatever Muse had inspired her for bringing this story — this boy and this love — to me.

As the world held its breath and counted the days until the release of the seventh, friends and family had been asking me whether I thought he would live or die. I gave my shaky response that was appropriately thought out but lacked any real conviction. The most shocking thing was, to people who know me, that I didn’t really care whether he lived or died. It mattered little. Everything has an ending and that is really just that.

Let me help you understand why I, a girl who had read books one through four 35 times over with religious fervor and even named her dog Albus Dumbledore, didn’t care how my hero would fare. The realization came to me suddenly one night driving home. It knocked the wind out of me. It was so simple, so undeniable, so truthful, that once it came, there was no way I’d ever be able to get rid of it. For the moment, I would read the last typed word on the last page in the last book and he would be gone. He would vanish. With the coming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter would cease to exist in my world. So I had to trick myself into thinking that I didn’t really care how he would end up in his. The problem was that though he was never all that solid, never all that tangible, I had desperately made him so. What’s more, I became good at it. And as long as the books were alive and out there, unfinished and ever-changing, I would still be allowed to think of him as my own. I hid the fact that some part of me felt whole when I was in that world.

In just about every sappy movie one character says that their love, faith or God knows what else is like the wind — they can’t see it but they can feel it, and therefore they know it exists. I guess, in a ridiculous way, Harry Potter was the wind under my wings. He lulled me to sleep. He helped me make new friends. He made me laugh. I even cried with him. His pain was so acute that I could sometimes make it my own.

So what does the character in the sappy movie do when the wind runs out? When the wind waves goodbye and says that its time with you is up? What then? How do you begin to tell yourself that Harry Potter was just two words written on a page?

Now I am on the other side. I have read the last piece three times now. I know what happened: who lived, who died, who married whom, etc. More importantly, I know what it’s like to go on without him and how it’s not that scary. I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading the books. I poured a lot of energy and time into The Boy Who Never Was. But it was worth it in a weird way that I’ll never be able to communicate.

John Lennon said that, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” I know that I wasn’t planning on falling so deeply and irrevocably in love with a world that I could never reach, but I do know that my life happened while I was reading Harry Potter. And there is nothing wrong with that.