If you’re a Potterhead like myself, then you probably read Rita Skeeter’s latest article about celebrity sightings at the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. In fact, you’ve probably read it twice (ok, three times, let’s be honest) and you smiled and felt warm and fuzzy inside, but then you returned to your regularly scheduled program. As I scrolled through it, I laughed and reminisced over my favorite Rita Skeeter moments from the books.
I didn’t immediately log onto my Pottermore account to see what else I had been missing.
I didn’t jump up and down rejoicing over this new material.
I didn’t engage my friends in overexcited debates over whether or not this meant Rowling was reconsidering her position on writing another novel involving my favorite characters.
I didn’t need to, because, and some may find this blasphemous, I DON’T WANT HER TO.
It feels good to say it publicly: I don’t want any more books about Harry Potter.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I love everything about the Wizarding World! I once stayed up over 24 hours so that I could have a first look at Hogsmeade before its grand opening in Orlando, Florida (a good 3 hours away) and still make it back to work on time that night. I have been planning my September 1st trip to Universal Studios’ Diagon Alley since I first heard that they were building it, well over a year ago. I have a Pinterest board full of Harry Potter-inspired ideas on how to decorate my home library and I gobble up any and all art, news, and merchandise that find their way onto my Facebook newsfeed. The idea of new spells and back-stories and the future FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM movie are all things I get very excited about. However, I don’t need any more from the big three.
I understand if you don’t get it. There are so many people that don’t. They wonder how it’s possible that I don’t want more Ron, more Hermione, and much more Harry. How can I claim to love them so much, yet be so content to just let them go? It’s because I haven’t let them go, I won’t, I CAN’T. They’re still a part of me to this day, and I don’t need anything more than that, because another story would inevitably be turned into another film (presumably with another cast?) and we’ve all seen how that story ends.
I was as excited as the next person for a fourth Indiana Jones film with its original star…anyone recently get excited to fire up the Blu-Ray player and watch KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL? Anyone? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
STAR WARS fans lined up for days to see EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENANCE, and most walked out trying desperately to convince themselves that they had enjoyed it. I’d say the majority of STAR WARS fans I know have almost nothing good to say about the prequels (or George Lucas for that matter), but ask any of them today how excited they are about EPISODE VII and they go on like school kids, clearly not having learned their lesson about expectations and beating a dead horse. There are some stories that don’t require further explanation.
Those who have only watched (and loved) the Harry Potter films are more inclined to want to see more of that story, as they were of course captivated by the brilliance of seeing the Rowling universe revealed to us on screen. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I can understand why there’s always a desire for more – more sequels, more epilogues, just more “where are they now?” in general. The movie watchers are used to immersing themselves in the imagination of others, they haven’t created anything for themselves, and so there’s a void to fill and they’re not as picky about who fills it.
We Potterheads know better. Book readers are different, because books are different. Books are PERSONAL. There is a reason that the movies never quite live up to their muses, and that’s because there is no right answer when it comes to adapting a book. While it may be the author’s thoughts and words on the page, the characters become your own: you read them in your voice, and imagine them in your mind and they can’t help but become a small part of you. Before there were films and before anyone had ever heard of Emma Watson, millions of people had already perfected Hermione’s disapproving look in their heads. Children and adults alike had their own imagined versions of Dobby’s voice, Snape’s sneer, and the squashy armchair by the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. I remember seeing PRISONER OF AZKABAN in the theater and coming away saying “that’s not really what dementors are supposed to look like” only to have a friend respond back “really? That’s exactly how I imagined them!”
Such is the magic of books.
These characters live in our hearts, and we relate to them in so many ways depending on our age, gender, and general life experiences at the time of reading. Are we interested in what is going on in the Wizarding World? Of course! With a universe as complex and richly developed as the one Rowling created, there is always going to be interest in further exploring and learning about that world. I would love to know what Hogwarts teachers get up to when school is out and if elf rights ever became a thing. How does the “pure blood” line of thinking manifest itself these days? Did they ever find the body of Florean Fortescue?
The world that Harry Potter exists in is one we can visit over and over again, forever, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s story has already been told. Sure it’s nice to see glimpses of what their lives have become, but anything beyond what we read in those treasured pages risks fundamentally altering the characters as we know them, making it unlikely that we could continue to view them in the same way, and that would be unforgivable. Rowling already tried to break our hearts once by publicly stating Hermione should have married Harry. (Really? SERIOUSLY?!) It’s too late for that. Some argue that it would be fun to follow their kids and see their stories unfold, but we’ve already been to Hogwarts; we’ve slept in the dormitory and eaten in the Great Hall and taken classes in the greenhouses. Any grand Hogwarts adventures for their kids would feel forced and formulaic.
I hope that J.K. Rowling keeps expanding and divulging more about the world she created, I love that Pottermore gives us history and scope and context, but I pray she never goes back to revisit our beloved three. In 20 years, when the theme parks are not as crowded and merchandise sales are down, and the movie studios come knocking at her door with the world’s biggest check, I can only hope she has the strength and integrity to say “NO” and to let those characters lie. We don’t need all of our happy memories, and the futures we’ve already imagined for our three favorite characters, to suddenly become tainted or ruined by the author’s good intentioned regrets… or worse, corporate greed. The story isn’t perfect; there are plenty of plot holes, questionable relationships, deaths that never should have been… but hasn’t Harry been through enough?
We don’t need another sequel, or a remake, or a reimagining of a world we are already very much in love with. If you’ve revisited that series countless times like I have, there is probably a little piece of your soul in each of the Harry Potter books, and we already know how delicate and unstable that can be.
No more Harry Potter stories, please.
I just want to be left alone to read and re-read to my heart’s content… To reminisce with those who understand, and rehash our favorite moments and themes… To share these stories with my grandchildren when they’re old enough, so that when my son finds me one day clutching his own offspring as we sob together over “The Prince’s Tale” he can roll his eyes at my poor emotional state, and I can just shrug and say “Always.”