Always.

My first encounter with Harry Potter, famous wizard, The Boy Who Lived, occurred one fateful afternoon at my family’s rental beach house. I was around six at the time that I met him, and it would be nearly four more years until I fell absolutely head-over-heels for the green-eyed legend. (Of course, at the time, I had no way of knowing the true color of his eyes, seeing as Daniel Radcliffe’s are blue.) But that’s beside the point because we didn’t even watch the movie (which we found behind the aptly sand-colored couch on the first day at LBI) until the summer after I turned 10.

One and a half years later, we had very nearly forgotten about Harry. Or at least we thought we had until he showed up on our doorstep along with a ton of clothes and books my sister’s Pre-K teacher’s daughter didn’t want anymore. (Did she really expect that we would dress him in oversized girl’s clothes?) This time, he came in the form of two barely even opened books; clearly, Kristen hadn’t loved him like I would come to.

Even so, it took me (and pardon me if my math’s wrong here) two and a half more years before I actually opened the first book and leapt into the truly magical world of J.K. Rowling’s creation. But when I finally did, I fell completely in love.

Once I started reading The Sorcerer’s Stone, I found it impossible to stop. I begged my mother to take me to Barnes & Noble to buy books three and four; I purchased books five and six at my school’s spring book fair. By the end of the month (May), all six books had been read and reread, and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh book. (Of course, my mother had to draw it out even longer by refusing to give me my preordered copy until the trip to LBI in August.)

But this was, in a way, fitting; the place where Harry first entered my life would be the place where I would eventually say goodbye, or at least until I saw the next film. As it so happened, however, our parting would not last long. We were reunited that very same vacation when my parents finally agreed to take me to see The Order of the Phoenix at a nearby theater.

It was around the start of the fifth grade when I first entered into the Harry Potter fandom. I dived right into the Fanfiction.net HP community, immediately boarding the great ship Dramione. Quite honestly, I had always loved the characters of Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, and the shipping only elated that feeling. To this day, Dramione remains my OTP.

Since then, Harry has followed me wherever I’ve gone. I sat in my fifth grade classroom and read The Deathly Hallows alongside my first Real Boy Crush (as opposed to Book Crush like, say Draco*), formed a lasting friendship with theadorkable timelord through our shared love for Harry Potter and his wizarding world, been both Hermione AND Bellatrix for Halloween, totally fangirled out when the last three movies entered the theaters, screamed ridiculously loud when Pottermore was announced (and doubly as loud when I got sorted into Ravenclaw) – the list goes on and on.

[I would write up an extremely long post about how great and deep and amazing of a character Draco Malfoy is, if I didn’t know that theadorkabletimelord would veto it immediately. She doesn’t like him very much… Wait – nevermind, she actually said okay! Well then, there is definitely a Draco Malfoy post in the near future! :P]

The final movie in particular meant so much to the scores of Harry Potter fans, including myself. It was the end of an era. Harry Potter had gone out with a bang, leaving a hole in all of our hearts that I truly believe can never be satisfied by any other phenomenon. This was made clear at the recent MTV Movie Awards, where Harry Potter was voted Best Hero, beating out even Katniss Everdeen fromThe Hunger Games by a landslide. Because even though there will be no more books or movies centered around our boy wizard to look forward to, the Harry Potter fandom remains strong. The hole left by the completion of the series is at this very moment being filled with fanfiction and fanard and real life Quidditch matches and all sorts of other contributions in honor of Harry. And now, one year after the premiere ofThe Deathly Hallows Part 2, the fandom is more dedicated than ever.

Harry Potter is far frome gone; J.K. Rowling’s creations continue to and will continue to live on in the loyal hearts of their fans. And I can say with utmost certainty that there will never be another hero quite like Harry Potter.

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