The Day the Magic Died
With the Harry Potter series coming to an end, two Potterheads grapple with a wizardless future.
By Kathryn Wilson
Fairy tales don't die -- the good ones are passed down from parents to children over a decade's worth of bedtimes -- but they do come to an end. And after J.K. Rowling released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final chapter of the series on Friday, its ending isn't necessarily a happy one for hard-core fans.
We spoke to two such Potterheads. Lydia Tavera, 22, a Californian nanny, has tattooed her allegiance to the wizard series on her pointer finger and in her will, has asked that certain items be buried with her when she dies. Larissa Slupczynski, a Target cashier, is similarly obsessed, determined to convince her fiancé to decorate their master bedroom with broomsticks and a big portrait of Hogwarts Castle. But now that the fairy tale's over, what they hell are they going to do with themselves?
So... It's all over. What now?
Lydia: I'm screwed. I don't have anything I want to read! Maybe I'll reread the series, but I don't know. Now I'm going to have to find some new adventure.
Larissa: I will never I feel the same about another book! I won't go to a midnight release for another book. Anything that tries to take the place of Harry Potter will be pathetic.
But he's, like, not real. Aren't you a bit obsessed here?
Larissa: It's a bit of an obsession, a passion, a lifestyle, a craze...whatever. My friends and family don't seem to get it. But they are all really supportive. I have a Harry Potter party to celebrate the release of each book and movie. Friends come over -- even though none of them are really into it -- and we have licorice wands, pumpkin pasties, butterbeer, and cauldron cupcakes.
Lydia: Some of my friends call me Mrs. Potter. I wish I was Mrs. Potter.
How do you express your love?
Lydia: I already have a tattoo of an "HP" with a little lightning bolt on my index finger and I want to get another one on my leg. I love it when little eight-year-olds are like: "I love it more than you do!" And I'm like: "I don't think so!" It's awesome to show everyone I'm committed -- it'll be on my body for the rest of my life. Maybe at the end of August/September, I'll get Harry flying on a broomstick with Hogwarts behind him and Hedwig on my leg.
Do you think you'll ever remove them? And are you still planning on getting more even after the seventh book?
Lydia: Go big or go home! I have too many tats to think of getting rid of them. I've got the Prince symbol on my middle finger because I'm in love with him. I have David Bowie, Hello Kitty, and an arm of all Paul Frank characters. I have a unicorn seahorse with a mermaid wrapped around my other arm. I have a lot of funky stuff! No way would I get rid of them.
Interesting. Larissa, you haven't undergone needle piercings yet, so how do you show your devotion?
Larissa: You name it, I've got it. Stuffed animals, posters, calendars, books, the Lumos book light, robes, scarves, wands, notebook paper, notepads, pens, markers, quills, ink, folders... I could go on! A few years back, I asked my grandma to help me to learn to knit, so I could knit a Gryffindor scarf. It took me about three months to finish, and then I started sewing new robes. Oh, and I have a cupboard under my stairs, just like Harry. I've covered it in posters and clippings. Also, the "S" in my last name -- Slupczynski -- I sign with a Harry Potter scar. I mean, come on, who does that?!
Wow, that's a lot of memorabilia. I bet it's worth a lot. Are you going to cash in now that it's over?
Larissa: Are you kidding?! I would never sell my memorabilia. It has become such a part of me I don't know what I would do without it. I'll probably be one of those weird old people at magical conventions who others make fun of.
Lydia: Oh heck no! I'm so touchy about that stuff. Whenever I do die, I know exactly where my belongings are going -- I want something Harry Potter buried or cremated with me -- or have my ashes scattered in some Harry Potter-friendly place. I willed my sister all my Harry Potter stuff because she's a huge fan. She promised to keep it and not throw it away.
But what if you don't die for 80 more years? Maybe something else will become important to you.
Lydia: I was already into Star Trek and MacGyver, so Harry Potter just goes on that pile. Maybe I'll find something else... Nah, Harry Potter's just too good-looking! Hopefully, once I've collected enough, I will just be able to make a whole room of it. I'm very 40-Year-Old Virgin with my toys -- I don't like to open them. When I baby-sit kids, I tell them, "You touch Harry Potter in that box and I will kill you!"
Wait, did you say you're going to keep collecting?
Lydia: My friends tease me that I have no more Harry Potter books left to buy. I'm like, "Well now I'm on a merchandise hunt to collect everything!" Some girl at the bookstore had a time turner with a clock inside of it. I didn't know about these! And she was all, "Look at my time turner!" And I was all, "That's not fair!" I kind of want that now. Some fashion designer is making a whole line of Harry Potter clothes that's not for eight-year-olds, so I have to check that out. Also, I saw people with varsity letter jackets for Hogwarts, so I've got to get on that. I thought I was big time with a lunchbox and a thermos.
Have you ever spoken in wizard-speak?
Lydia: My girlfriends and I recite the spells, what we'd like to do to certain people. When Prisoner of Azkaban came out, we were talking about the Patronus charm and some guy asked, "What are you girls into? It sounds gross!" And we laughed. Obviously, he knew nothing about Harry Potter!
Larissa: Ha! I have done this. Sometimes I don't even realize it. It usually happens when I'm upset and say something like, "Ugh, stupid muggles!" But I used to walk down the street pointing at things like parking meters and say, "Ah, the things muggles dream up," just like Mr. Weasley.
Is Harry Potter the Star Wars of our generation?
Lydia: To me, Harry Potter is what Star Wars was to my dad. It was like this epic thing that just was new and touched so many people on so many different levels. It was universal. I tell my friends, "Get into it! Trust me! There's good-looking guys in it too!" It's one of the greatest things that will come out of my generation, that I'll remember from being young, that will stay and stick. There were seven books and now there will be seven movies and who else can make a claim that? Harry Potter beats Star Wars in that respect.
You know that it's all over, right?
Lydia: Oh, I totally understand that it's over. I've seen so many things on the news. There's never going to be another book, but there's two more movies to look forward to. Hopefully they really take their time and make it great and pack everything that they need to in those last two movies. I'll never be able to go to another midnight book release, but oh well. I still have the movies.
Larissa: I think it is going to take time to sink in. I keep having to tell myself that is the last book, and it is still really weird. It is going to be really hard when all the movies are done too because then there really is nothing to look forward to.
NOTE: STOP READING UNLESS YOU WANT TO SPOIL THE ENDING!
So, what did you really think of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
Lydia: You know how she fast-forwards nineteen years later and everyone's paired up and has kids? Everyone's buddy-buddy? I thought that might have been a little too happy. I don't see how Malfoy and Harry could've been cool at the end. It just seemed too idealistic to me. I also wondered why one of the Weasley twins had to die. Come on. And Mad Eye and Hedwig. And Lupin and Tonks. To me, it was just the easiest way to kill off certain characters who we weren't emotionally involved with. She must've had a bunch of different endings of the way she was going to do the book, and just picked the one that was going to please the mass majority.
Larissa: For the most part, it went exactly as I expected. But there was always something that got my heart racing, scared that Harry might get caught -- even when he escaped for the fifth time -- or that someone else might be killed. I was surprised that Harry lived. I thought for sure he was going to die, and, in a way, I guess he did.