There once was a boy named Harry. He had messy black hair, green eyes, round glasses, and a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. He was a wizard.
There was also a girl named Lauren. She had messy blonde hair, blue eyes, freckles on her nose, and an urgent, pressing, constant desire to read every book she could get her hands on.
Harry and Lauren met one day in her tiny apartment bedroom in Dallas. She shared it with her little sister. It was a very, VERY small room.
They also met in a tiny cupboard under the stairs at Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. He shared it with some spiders. It was a very, VERY small cupboard.
Lauren was eight.
Harry was ten-almost-eleven.
Lauren was American.
Harry was British.
Harry was a wizard.
Lauren was not.
But none of these differences mattered. In this strange, bespectacled boy Lauren found a friend. He was brave, and kind, and actually quite bright (though he dimmed in comparison to Hermione Granger — Lauren’s hero). He was loyal and accepting and forgiving and everything Lauren wanted to be.
Harry’s world opened up a door for Lauren. A door that lead to a world beyond her tiny apartment bedroom. A world where people could fly, and fight trolls, and defeat horrifically evil wizards before they’d stopped being a preteen.
This was a big deal because Lauren wasn’t even a double-digit yet.
And in this world, things were different. There were all kinds of love in that world. Romantic love, yes, but not right away. First, there was fatherly love.
James Potter sacrificed his life trying to protect his wife and son from the evil wizard, Voldemort.
And then there was motherly love.
Lily Potter not only gave her life to protect her son that night. The magic her sacrifice left in Harry’s veins protected him all his life.
And then there was WEIRD love.
Say what you will about the Dursleys, but Aunt Petunia loved her Diddy-kins.
And then there was the love of friendship.
There was Ron. Blunt and witty and funny and awkward. Ginger and freckle-faced, the youngest of six boys (with one younger sister). Loyal and kind-hearted and brave. And then, a little bit later, there was Hermione. Sweet and smart and bossy and nosy and fierce and protective and confident. Bushy-haired and buck-toothed and always with her hand in the air. The daughter of Muggles. A facer of impossible odds. And sometime later, there were more. Neville and Luna and Ginny.
And there was brotherly love.
Sirius Black was more than a godfather to Harry. He was a brother and a father and a friend all wrapped up in one. And Ron was the family Harry never had.
And there was sisterly love.
Harry and Hermione loved each other deeply, but she was his sister. And it was perfect that way.
And there was familial love.
The Weasleys — fierce, brave, fiery-spirited, hot-tempered, and affectionate — the Dursleys — loud, boisterous, annoying, abusive, ridiculous and sickening — the Malfoys — snobby, elitist, racist, and loyal to a fault — the Dumbledores — mysterious, scarred, broken, hidden, and sad.
There was obsessive love.
Bellatrix was infatuated with Voldemort, despite the fact that she was already married. But to Voldemort, she was never anything more than a human shield. Not to mention Lavender Brown, every teenage boy’s worst nightmare.
There was the love that exists between a teacher and a student.
Harry and Dumbledore loved each other. Albus was Harry’s hero. Harry was everything Dumbledore wished he had been. There was nothing weird or wrong about it. It was just love.
And there was, of course, romantic love.
Harry and Ginny. Ron and Hermione. Tonks and Lupin. Arthur and Molly. Lily and James. Lily and SNAPE. Cedric and Cho. Albus and Gellert. Hagrid and Madame Maxime. Bill and Fleur. NEVILLE AND LUNA (I don’t care that in Jo’s world, they weren’t together. In my mind, THEY ARE A THING).
And then there were these WOMEN. These HEROES. These VILLAINS. They weren’t dainty or meek or damsels in distress. Not at all.
First there was Lily. A mother who sacrificed her life to save her child.
Then Hermione. Brilliant, outspoken, confident and a little bit bossy, and never, ever hiding who she truly was for the sake of others’ opinions.
Then Professor McGonagall. A grumpy old spinster with a mysterious past, a courageous spirit, and a LARGE mischievous streak.
Then Molly Weasley. Warm, kind-hearted, affectionate, loving, and TERRIFYING when she was angry. Lily might have died for her child, but Molly killed for hers.
Then Luna Lovegood. Weird, ethereal, imaginative, faithful, and UTTERLY unaffected by the opinions of those around her — not to mention brave.
Ginny Weasley. Hot-tempered, stubborn, competitive, mischievous, smart, confident, and actually a bit of a flirt.
Nymphadora Tonks. Clumsy, tomboyish, blunt, relaxed, easygoing, courageous.
Then Bellatrix Lestrange. Insane, hilariously evil, so much fun to hate, and not afraid to be absolutely SICK.
And Dolores Umbridge. KILL IT. KILL IT WITH FIRE.
Narcissa Malfoy. A woman of no redeeming qualities other than her love for her family. Lily died, Molly killed, and for her child? Narcissa lied. And you won’t know how brave that was unless you read the books.
There were, of course, a few not-so-awesome women to off-set the awesome ones. Cho, Fleur, Lavender, Pansy — all EXCESSIVELY annoying. But Lauren knew this was done on purpose.
In this world, there was sacrifice. Bravery. Nobility. Loyalty. Unconditional love and forgiveness.
She learned to fight. She learned to stand up for what she believed in no matter what. She learned how to be a good friend. She learned that no one’s opinion is worth sacrificing your identity. She learned that ALL obstacles can be overcome. She learned that to love someone with all your heart doesn’t have to mean you love them romantically. She learned that she, as a woman, did NOT have to be weak or powerless or dainty. She could be strong and powerful and bold and smart and STILL be beautiful and feminine. She learned that anyone can be a hero, and anyone can be a villain, and that it all depends on your choices.
This world taught Lauren who she wanted to be when she grew up.
She’s almost there. Lauren is 16-almost-17. Her hair is still blonde, and her eyes are still blue. She’s not quite as bony as she was, and there are no scabs on her knees. She’s learned a few things. She’s developed a few talents (none of which, rather to her disappointment, include the ability to fly a broomstick). She still reads as many books as she can (often multiple books at once), though she’s a bit pickier — she likes fantasy books, and doesn’t read as many shampoo bottles.
Harry is about 31 by now. He’s married to Ginny. Has three kids. Is an Auror. He’s still best friends with Ron and Hermione. He probably always will be.
Lauren writes now. Rather well, actually. Stories, mostly. Some poems. She attributes this passion for writing to a series of books about a young man who found out he was a wizard and, through a series of fantastic events, saved the world.
Harry’s scar doesn’t bother him anymore.
All is well.