Welcome to our weekly series “Cry of the Week,” in which we highlight whatever moment made us ugly cry on our couches the most in the past seven days.
Today, Sept. 1, 2017, was the day that a wrinkled Harry James Potter stood on platform 9 3/4, waving goodbye to his three children as they rode off to school on the Hogwarts Express.
And we’re still not done crying about it.
Set a full nineteen years after Harry’s defeat of Voldemort, the Deathly Hallows epilogue marked the end of an era for the Potter fandom. We’re still learning how to cope…and maybe, I don’t know, going to head to King’s Cross Station today to see what there is to see.
Because reading those final pages a decade ago, we didn’t cry for Harry. We didn’t cry for Albus, Severus, Sirius, Doby, Tonks, Remus, or even Fred — knowing in our heart of hearts that they’d remain alive inside us regardless.
Instead, we wept for the beginning of the end of a fantasy world that enriched our lives with countless online communities, fan art, fan fiction, wizard rock, theories, podcasts, charity organizations, meet-ups, and lifelong friendships.
Sure, there were still more movies to come. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there would even be a nauseating glut of spin offs, supplementary cash-grabs, Pottermore content, and one depressing stage play that nobody asked for.
But Sept. 1, 2017 was the end of Harry’s story as we knew it. So today, we’re remembering the good times.
“I open at the close,” read Dumbledore’s engraved words on the Snitch that Harry nearly swallowed during his first Quidditch match. And open at the close we did, with a flood of tears and bittersweet emotions.
For many, the Deathly Hallows’ epilogue wasn’t just the end of Harry Potter’s childhood. It was the end of ours, too. Ten years later, and the impassioned, optimistic outlook instilled in us by J. K. Rowling’s fictional world still continues to shape the way we see and act in our real world.
But the passion is different now — something harder, and more battle worn. Much like the Boy Who Lived only to become the Man Who Lived Through Too Much, we’ve seen what the world can look like at its darkest. And it’s hard to imagine a time when we wholeheartedly believed that a mother’s love could defeat the leader of a militarized fascist hate group.
Yet, if you close your eyes, I bet you still see it in your mind’s eye, too: that scarlet steam train, barreling down an english countryside to unknowable adventures.
None of us ever got the owl with a Hogwarts-sealed letter, though we waited for it summer after summer. Hagrid never came to tell us that the things that made us weird and unpopular were actually magical powers. The evil in our world cannot be cast out with spells.
But every day, thousands of kids enter the Great Hall for the first time in their imaginations. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, old Potter fans still find new ways to enlist Dumbledore’s Army in the fight against tyranny, injustice, and hatred.
The real world power of fiction remains, decades later, our most inexhaustible form of magic.
As the Queen herself once told a crowd of screaming fans, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
So don’t shed tears for simpler times of childhood innocence. Because someone once said that even in the darkest of times, happiness can be found if one only remembers to turn on the light.