So I’m just straight up going to tell you that when I went to start my post for these chapters — almost two weeks ago — I panicked. Utterly.
It seemed like such a great idea six months ago to assign myself two of my favorite chapters in the entire series, the chapters that probably mean the most to me personally, and the chapters that cemented my love for this series not just because they represent the beginning of the end of something that I love, but because they hit me in a place I normally hide even from myself. And they hit me there hard.
I also questioned my decision to put these chapters together (a decision I made more than six months ago), but when I remembered that I had done so because both are pretty short, it made sense. Unfortunately for Present Ashley, Past Ashley wasn’t thinking through the emotional implications, and Present Ashley is having to deal with the fallout.
All that is to say: bear with me if I start blathering.
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CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: THE FOREST AGAIN
In many ways, the internet is a wonderful place. But it’s also a very large place. When I went looking for a couple of interviews I’d read or seen with JK Rowling in order to properly write this post, I couldn’t find them. Not even evidence that they ever really existed anywhere except my head. So I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you these things (and as Dumbledore says in the next chapter, just because it’s in my head, why on earth should that mean it’s not real?).
When I first started reading Harry Potter back in 1999, I was drawn to it against my will, and once I was in — sucked into that very special imaginary place only really great books can bring you, where you actually and truly forget that what you’re reading is not real, forget that you’re even reading in the first place — I never really questioned the experience. It was only years later when I was called upon to put into words just exactly WHY I had taken this story so far inside of myself that I’d essentially spliced it into my DNA that I realized I didn’t actually know why it was that this story about an orphaned boy who discovers he’s a wizard was so important to me. I’m the kind of person who takes stories way more seriously than most people to begin with, but my feelings for this story a kindhearted and sassy British woman thousands of miles away pulled out of her mind are seriously beyond the pale. And it’s really a hard thing to express to someone, that kind of love that is so strong it turns the thing being loved into something else, something that can’t really be expressed, but begs you to try anyway.