Let me start by saying that if you are one of the millions upon millions of people who are familiar with the Harry Potter series and particularly the main event in Half-Blood Prince, then this post does not contain any spoilers, because it’s pretty common knowledge by now. If you’re still (somehow) a Harry Potter newbie who hasn’t gotten that far, then good luck to ya. Might not want to read on. And this doesn’t spoil Cursed Child, don’t worry.
Okay, on to the story. This is one of the most vivid, detailed memories I have of my childhood – for some reason I really don’t remember anything before roughly age seven – but I can tell you that this particular tale took place on Thursday 21st July 2005 (so I was indeed seven years old), probably somewhere between 3:15 and 3:30 in the afternoon. I was standing in a line in my primary school’s small hall (because everyone knew that was its name, being so much smaller than the big hall of course) behind one of my best friends. We were waiting to leave for the YMCA after-school club.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had come out the previous Saturday. So, obviously, almost everyone in the small hall at the time was blabbering on about it, about how far they’d gotten and if they’d finished it. And, being primary school students, giving little thought to the poor seven year old me, whose parents had decided to read it first before allowing me to. I was standing there, desperately trying not to listen to anyone’s ramblings, hoping to remain quietly clueless for at least another couple of days before I could get my hands on it. As you can imagine, difficult task, but I had managed this far, so I had faith. I would surely not find out anything important, especially with the protection of my best friend with me, who surely would do nothing to spoil it for me.
Well. Was I wrong.
Little did I know, as I entered the small hall that day, that I would walk out with my little seven-year-old heart panicked and saddened.
Little did I know, as I entered the small hall that day, that it would be my best friend who would give me the biggest spoiler of my life.
To this day, its magnitude has not been surpassed. That’s eleven years of spoiler-capacity, and nothing has beat this moment in my life.
I could hear various names being spoken, ‘Harry… Dumbledore… Hermione…’, and was trying my darnedest to ignore the words in between. My friend was curious why I was trying to avoid all talk of the biggest book release of the year, the most important event of the whole year (for that is how it seemed to us), and I told her quickly: I haven’t read it yet. My parents have it.
I was not ready for her reaction:
“But Dumbledore dies!”
Three words. Three words which, said separately and without context, are meaningless. Three words that crushed my little heart.
I protested. Surely not, I reasoned. That could never happen. Dumbledore? Dead? Nooooo. No, no, you must be mistaken. I told her she must have been wrong. Was she sure? I didn’t believe her. I decided firmly not to believe her. But I couldn’t unhear those three words. I doubted my disbelief. Why would she tell me this? Little me was conflicted. Probably the most conflicted I had ever been up to that point in my sheltered little life.
And then I read the book. Damn. (Well, my innocent little self wouldn’t have used that word, but you get the idea.)
Thus my hatred/fear of spoilers was born. Safe to say that particular friendship didn’t work out; we haven’t spoken since we left primary school for two different secondaries, and had drifted apart in the latter years. I’m not saying this moment was the entire reason for that, but… come on, it was Harry Potter. You can’t just go and underestimate Potter’s Power.
So there you go, hope you enjoyed this little story time. Like I said, it’s one of the most detailed memories I have of my childhood. The Harry Potter books practically were my childhood, they were one of the absolute main things I cared about. The book releases were as important – if not more – than any birthday could possibly have been, to little old me.