Her passion for Potter

Harry's last hurrah will be a bittersweet adventure

Posted: July 17, 2007

IHAVE A confession to make.

Part of me really doesn't want to read "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

I know it's shocking, because I am nothing if not a true fan. I've lost track of the number of times I've read and re-read the adventures of the boy wizard and his faithful sidekicks Ron and Hermione as they attend the witchcraft school Hogwarts and battle against evil foe Lord Voldemort.

I've endlessly pondered the motives of the slimy enigmatic Professor Snape. The deaths of Sirius and Dumbledore moved me to tears. In the last book, when Harry finally kissed Ginny Weasley, I screamed and dropped the book.

Of course I want to know how it all turns out. But now that the moment is here, I don't quite feel ready.

Endings, after all, are so final.

I wonder, when this is all over, whether I'll suffer a serious bout of post-Potter Stress Disorder.

As the clock ticks down to the release of the book at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, I have two main reasons for fearing the end.

One is that I'll miss this long suspenseful period of fandom, the lulls between books, re-reading the old ones, endlessly discussing theories with my friends. My other fear is, quite simply, that the series won't turn out the way I want.

There is something very exciting about living in a constant state of anticipation.

It's kind of like the buildup to Christmas. As a kid I'd get so worked up about Santa's arrival that Christmas Day itself was usually a letdown, and the day after was so miserable I wouldn't want to get out of bed.

This is going to be worse, because the expectation has been building for years. And mine has been fueled by my friends' excitement as well.

My best friend Kim and I have had more than one conversation on topics such as: Is Sirius sexy? When will Ron and Hermione get together? Which is your favorite Weasley?

Being part of this cultural phenomenon in real time has been incredibly heady.

You hear stories of Dickens fans eagerly awaiting the next installment of "Oliver Twist" or "The Old Curiosity Shop" in the 19th century. Or how the nation paused in the 1930s to cry over "Gone with the Wind." For me and my friends, Harry Potter was our literary moment in history.

So I have the obvious fear of this being over. Then there's also my fear of the story going horribly wrong.

As long as there's at least one more book out there, I can hope that my dreams for the characters will come true.

But a finished series doesn't allow that sense of possibility.

I'll tell you right now, if this book doesn't get Ron and Hermione together and keep all the Weasleys alive, I'm not going to be happy one bit.

I fully understand that J.K. Rowling is not writing to please me or the fans in general, but that's not going to stop me having a very emotional reaction.

Still, while I'm anxious about the finale, I have been reminding myself that the books will remain a part of my life. Perhaps not in the same way, but they are rich, adventurous, funny stories, which I have escaped into more than once when I've needed a break from reality.

Traveling home from my granddad's funeral in Ireland five years ago, I bought the first four Potter books in London's Heathrow Airport. I'd read them before, but I devoured them again, all the way home.

And I think because the books grapple with life and death and the fact that the world is often an unfair and difficult place - Harry has lost his parents, struggles to fit in at school and frequently suffers from nightmares and anxiety - I felt comforted.

Although my relationship with the books will change, I know I'll continue to turn to them. And at the very least, two more movies will help soften the blow.

So yes, despite all my misgivings, I will be getting the book as soon as humanly possible. Look for me in line outside a bookstore Friday night. I'll be the one in the "Hermione for Minister" shirt. *

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