Okay, seriously, just read the books.
I don't even have the words to give justice to my feelings about this. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Reading DH is an experience, and it has yet to be matched with any book I've ever read. I had spent a little more than 5 years with these characters when I first read this (still a newbie by lots of HP standards), and joining them on their journey is no easy task. From start to finish, this is a action packed, emotion-filled roller coaster of epic proportions. And I love every word.
First, my own personal midnight story: I made plans to get the book from a local Barnes & Noble with my buddies Katie and Doug. We went to B&N, and it. Was. CROWDED. There were people errywhere, and the chances of us getting a book and getting out of there unscathed were slim. Sitting in the parking lot, we made an executive decision. We knew there was an unfrequented Wal-Mart nearby, so we went to check out the crowd there. We found a crowd... of 3. The lady at the front of the line was hardcore super crazy, but she made sure each of us got all 4 of the house wristbands that Wal-Mart would have handed out if the crowd got insane. We had the books in hand and paid for by 2 minutes after 12.
So we head back to their place to make like a Strawberry Debutante and readreadreadreadreadreadread. We all sat together in a room and snacked on delicious junk food and read like mad. Katie reads the fastest, so she got a few pages ahead of us, and every time she gasped or laughed or anything, I was like, "OMG WHAT NOW?" At the first death (HEDWIG!!!), we shed a tear, and we knew no one was safe. Finally, something happened where Katie slammed her book closed and walked upstairs, yelling, "NOPE!" as she went. I couldn't imagine what would be so terrible that it would drive her out of the room. I found out just a few pages later, tears streaming down my face.
It's long been told on this blog that I am an epic crier. This book... holy crap, I'm crying from start to finish. Hedwig. Mad-Eye. The attack at the wedding. Ron and Hermione holding hands while they slept. Ron LEAVING... but showing up just in the nick of time. Hermione beating the crap out of Ron (those were tears of laughter). Blow after blow after blow.
The worst (before the Battle of Hogwarts) comes in the form of a free elf. Poor, sweet, selfless Dobby shows up just in time to save his friends while sacrificing himself. For a character that irritated me endlessly upon introduction, I didn't expect to openly weep at his death. In fact, during this past reading, I started to cry when he first showed up in the dungeon! Before anything bad had even happened to him! And when Harry, Ron, and Dean all give him clothes to wear when they bury him?!? Oh, just leave me here to drown in a sea of my own tears. Dobby's death is an important moment in Harry's journey as well as really freaking sad.
The absolute worst worst most terriblest of deaths in the book, however, is Fred. It's so... oh, it sucks so bad. I know when I see this part in the movie that I will officially be done. Like, stick a fork in me because I might be dead on the ground from over-crying done. I can't say anything more about that.
And so we reach the end of Harry's journey, where he faces Voldemort one last time, and he defeats him in a glorious way. He chose love, his family, his friends over anything else, and that was the best decision in the end. He fought through the hardships, destroyed the Horcruxes, avenged his parents, showed how very strong he was, and it all paid off for him. I would love to know what Harry did over those next 19 years- the changes he and Ron made to the Auror office, the toast he gave as Ron's best man at Ron & Hermione's wedding, the cheers he made up while watching his wife Ginny rock the Quidditch pitch as a Holyhead Harpie. However, I am totally satisfied with the epilogue Jo provided, bringing Harry completely full circle back to Platform 9 and 3/4, this time with his own family, a family that truly loves him. Rumor has it a certain sob-inducing song will play at the end of the film, and, if this is true, I will be a steaming hot mess of tears.
I know they are fictional characters. I know it's a series of fantasy books originally written for children. I don't care. These stories inspire me, these characters affect me like nothing has before. In that way, they are real to me. I adore this series more than any other, and I cannot wait to read these tales to my own children someday. Tonight's movie will be a fitting end to this beloved story of the Boy Who Lived.
Thanks for staying with me through this. Until the very end...