Stephanie and I have been great friends ever since she ditched her other, lamer friends to hang out with me in high school. We were separated when it came time to go to university, but we were both majoring in English Literature, so we were still together in our hearts—and also over email when we needed fresh eyes for an essay or advice about grammar.
Most of our emails, though, had to do with the latest teaser-trailers posted on Mugglenet or midnight-inspired theories about plot twists or possible character deaths in the Harry Potter novels. Yes, our emails had subject lines like “DO NOT OPEN TILL YOU HAVE FINISHED HARRY POTTER 6″. Basically, we were (are) big nerds—but as Stephanie has often reminded me, a nerd is just someone who likes something a lot and isn’t afraid to show it.
Chloë, we will have to have a talk soon about the Harry Potter movie. I’ll call you next week.—Stephanie (November 2005)
[Our friend Mia Photoshopped—I mean took—this photo of the three (six) of us. I'm Ron, Mia is Hermione and Stephanie is Harry. Neville is Neville, Ginny is Ginny and Luna is Luna.]
It’s either cute or sad that telephone calls between Stephanie and I were prompted by special occasions which, by our tacit definition, included birthdays, New Year’s, and the release of Harry Potter books and movies. From December 2006:
Chloë: It’s that time of year again: the time of year in which, lacking schoolwork, I am reminded about the world of Harry Potter. [...] This article is kind of interesting. Don’t worry, I spent less than twenty minutes on this website. Healthy suppression. Let’s talk on the phone sometime. It’s the time of year for that, too.
Stephanie: I thought about analyzing the new title, and then I thought: “%$#* off, analysis. I’m so sick of you”. [Editor's note: I remind you that we were English majors.] So no analysis here. Decent title, I suppose. That’s as far as I’ll go. I really liked the editorial. It seemed plausible. That’s the way I like my editorials.
You see, there was something special about reading Harry Potter before we knew what was going to happen. We were taking part in a pop-culture phenomenon as it was happening. In Stephanie’s words, “it’s not as fun to read things when all the books are out because there’s no speculation; you just immediately move on to the next one and find out what happens”.
Don’t worry: we weren’t fanatics. Our multitude of hip friends, fearing while reading this that they might have to disown us, can rest assured that our degree of participation in fandom was healthy and sane; neither of us ever doodled “[our first name] Weasley” in our lecture notes or—reputation forbid—published any fanfiction online (or have I…). I was, however, heavily involved in the organization of a private theatre screening and dinner for 56 friends on the opening night of HP6….
Now, at long last, our time has come. Stephanie and I write for the same blog, so we can do WHATEVER WE WANT. And we can do it in ALL-CAPS!
Thus, on this festive occasion—the imminent release (on Friday) of the second-last HP movie—we take a moment to share a few highlights, all verbatim, from the emails that kept our friendship together for four years. Laugh, cry, wince out of pity.
On the Marauders’ Improbable Use of Nicknames:
[Editor's Note: We do not generally condone the gratuitous use of exclamation marks, but there are rare exceptions.]
Stephanie: I was wondering if maybe all of the Marauders’ names are significant somehow, but then all I could think of for the names James and Peter is that I think they were in the Bible [...]. Also, can I talk about how dorky it is that they called each other “the Marauders” and “Moony”, etc? Dorky, I can’t get over it. It just doesn’t coincide with the fact that they’re supposed to be the cool guys. Although I still kinda love it because of my love for dorkiness, as a fellow dork myself. Evidenced by how I just wrote a rather lengthy email all about Harry Potter. Write back!
Chloë: I agree that the cool guys would never have called each other “the marauders” etc.: “hey padfoot, check out this awesome quidditch move”; “hey prongs, that girl (Lily) is totally checking you out”. It would never happen. Lily would just be like “dude, you’re calling each other lame nicknames. We’re done here.” Well, maybe she wouldn’t be so judgmental; she had class, after all. Personally, I would never have chosen James. He really was too smug. I would have gone after Moony; “he’s straight-laced, but there’s something mysterious about him…”.
Stephanie: I hope there is something mysterious about Lupin, but I have a weird feeling that it pretty well ends with how he was a werewolf. He seems like too big a part of book three to really play another big part in a future book. Anyway, soon we won’t have to speculate anymore!!!!!!
Chloë: I meant that as a student in his class I would have thought he was nice but mysterious. The mysterious thing is that he’s a werewolf, which is not a mystery from Harry’s point of view. And yes: only 19 days left!!!
On the Death of Professor Dumbledore:
First let me proclaim unequivocally that we predicted this. In fact, Stephanie accurately predicted a number of things in the following email message of June 2005:
I’m worried about who they are going to kill off in 6, mostly worried that it is going to be Dumbledore. The other thing that I was thinking is that maybe it’ll be Lupin, because then both Harry’s father and all of Harry’s father’s friends will be dead, and the only father figure still available for Harry is Dumbledore, and then maybe he’ll die in book 7. That is kind of a far-out theory though; the only reason I think it could be possible is because, like Sirius, he has trouble functioning in society. Plus he could be a target because of the whole “half-breed” thing. I don’t know, I’m mostly rambling.
Way to go, Doig. Way. To. Go. Turns out your “ramblings” were preamblings, which is not even a word.
Later, after the fact, we mourned:
Stephanie: Book 6 was so good! I am a little upset that our prediction of Dumbledore’s death came true […] but I could kinda see it coming, because it seemed like he was consciously passing on a lot of his knowledge to Harry—and if he was doing that then he couldn’t live. This book was definitely funny, which kind of surprised me because of the relative absence of Fred and George, who are usually the funny guys.
I was also very upset about Snape. Right to the end I thought maybe he would turn out to be on Dumbledore’s side, so it was disturbing when he wasn’t.
Chloë: I think I knew it had to be Dumbledore [who was going to die], because he’s on the cover and if he’s on the cover this late in the series, then it’s a last-jaunt/homage shot. Nonetheless, I am still very much torn up about it. I have never cried so much from reading a book as I have tonight. I had recurring bouts of tears throughout all of the last three chapters. I pretty much started right back up again whenever Hagrid did.
Snape, that traitorous bastard! Forget Voldemort, I’m going after Snivellus. I was hoping that chapter two was just a red herring, like always, but my hopes were crushed. I’m clearly getting too personally involved.
On the Comic Relief:
Can I just say that things would have been significantly more awesome if prediction (B) (below) had come true. I guess you could count the extendable ears, but that seems kind of lame.
I won’t tell you which one of us wrote this, or the next few, because it doesn’t matter.
The highlight of HP5 is most definitely FRED AND GEORGE. I love them. I think that there are two options for Fred and George: A) The
joke shop was a way to write them out of the action, or B) Something they invent for the purpose of hilarity will have a key use in the
“war” as weaponry/distraction/etc.
I am still angry with Ronald and his stupid foray into LAVENDER. Whatever, Ron. Poor Hermione, suffering through it all year. Also, the Lupin and Tonks match-up is so dumb. Implausible.
On the Foil:
Draco, come back! You can still redeem yourself!
On Magical (and Muggle) Dictatorships:
Doesn’t it seem that the Order is always excessively out-numbered? How is it that they ever win? Lord Thingy would totally win if it came down to numbers. On a related note: I was thinking about evil empires, particularly in the context of what the wizarding world / world in general would be like if Voldemort actually got what he wanted (although the same question applies to Darth Vader’s empire, Hitler’s Germany, etc.), and I just don’t understand the appeal. What do the Death Eaters think it would be like for them if their side won? Are they all just completely deluded/insane/stupid? It would be terrible! Mostly, WTF is up with people like Snape and Lucius? (I discount Bellatrix on counts of insanity). HOW DO OBVIOUSLY INSANE TYRANTS GAIN LEGITIMATE SUPPORT (ie: support that comes from free will and not from fear)? I guess they don’t.
On “Snape’s Worst Memory”, a chapter from HP6:
I read an interesting editorial (I’m hooked on them, thanks a lot) that said that maybe Snape’s memory in the pensieve could be biased, because how could Snape have heard what they were talking about if he was so engrossed in what he was doing? The fight part would have been correct, of course, but what about all the conversation before that that made Harry think they were conceited? This editorial said that maybe Snape filled in that part with stuff he thought about the “marauders”. It could be true; it makes sense, and I kind of wondered about that because it is supposedly a “memory”, not a way to figure out everything that happened that day.
On Things That Should Have Been More Significant Than They Were:
Stephanie: Who is R.A.B.? …the only person I could think of was Regulus Black, Sirius’ younger brother who supposedly joined the Death Eaters early on and then tried to get out of it when he realized what Voldemort wanted him to do, which led to Voldemort killing him. But what if he escaped and managed to get the Horcrux before he was killed? I think he must be dead now, because in Order [of the Phoenix] his death date is on the family tree, and also because if he were alive Kreacher would have gone to him and not to Harry. But his death date on the family tree says that he died “some 15 years previously” and this was when Harry was 15. Coincidence? I don’t know. But I think somehow he is R.A.B. Unfortunately we never find out his middle name in Order.
In this section I also want to mention the Deathly Hallows themselves, which made for a great title but didn’t really tie up very many loose ends—in fact, their existence created a few.
Chloë: And another thing: J.K. said we were going to find out something “HUGE” about Lily in this book [HP6]. What was it? I’m lost. And in the movies there’s all this stuff about Harry having her eyes. It’s becoming clearly pointless. Then again, I’m pretty sure she [Rowling] also insisted, before publication, that Snape wasn’t the Half-Blood Prince….
Stephanie: I read the books again… [and] there wasn’t really anything new that I noticed in them, except that there were an awful lot of references to Harry thinking that Snape can read minds—and then in book 5 it turns out that he can read minds. So that was kind of neat.
On The Great Abandonment in HP7:
This is embarrassingly recent—as in, last couple of days. Note the predictions (in purple).
Stephanie: I am rereading HP7 in preparation for the movie. I forgot that it is kind of good! Except Ron just abandoned them, which made me sad.
Chloë: Ooh, rereading is a good idea. Yeah, I was pretty mad at Ron at that point.
Stephanie: This time around I sympathized with him a bit because he is used to Weasley love. Harry and Hermione are generally tougher. Plus, it helps to know that he’s going to come back… even though i can’t really remember the circumstances there.
Chloë: That’s true. Actually the way he comes back is fantastic, so it’s okay.
Stephanie: Plus, Ron is great. All the parts about the book on how to impress women are HILARIOUS.
Chloë: Yes. I think the first movie (of the two-parter) might end with Ron leaving them. That’s my prediction about the cut-off point.
Stephanie: Yeah, good one. End it with despair!
Stephanie later made her own prediction about HP7.1: “that the first movie is going to end when Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb to steal his wand“. We shall see, Stephanie, we shall see.
Recommended HP-Related Material
We also have, at times, recommended fun HP-related reading material to one another:
• McSweeney’s Lists’ “Things Hagrid the Half-Giant Would Say if He Served Jesus Instead of Harry Potter”
• An infographic from “The Onion” on the HP4 (Goblet of Fire) movie
• Harry has apparently done some good in the world other than helping Stephanie and I survive exam time. You can read about it on Dear Mister Potter, a blog (accompanied by a book, I believe) which compiles sappy and sweet letters to Harry from (often young) readers. At this point the blog is plagued with comments like “OMG the premiere is 2nite I’m dressed as Bellatrx!!!!!!”, but overall the sap is still discernible.
Someday I’d like to write a post entitled “A Hairy Potter Friendship” and have it be a cleverly relevant title (say about two gorillas that make delightful vases). Alas; it wasn’t in the stars today.
Stephanie: Um, on NBC right now is some Harry Potter theme park special that makes me want to watch HP… OR be a wizard.
Chloë: Or come visit me and have an HP marathon? yes.
Before signing off I should note that, of course, there is more to my friendship with Stephanie than a shared appreciation for Harry Potter. We also like Mariokart, for example.
Okay, so this post was a little lengthy—but I can’t tell you how much fun we had writing it. On that note, enjoy HP7 (part one)! We certainly will.