7:25 am EDT, September 1, 2017

The old Harry Potter fandom can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause it’s dead

It’s September 1, 2017. It’s nineteen years later. The Harry Potter saga officially ends today. Try not to panic.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the ‘end’ of Harry Potter was on July 21, 2007, when the seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published.

You might even be forgiven (not by me though) for considering the 2011 release of the final Harry Potter movie adaptation, Deathly Hallows, Part 2 to be the end of the saga.

But the truth is that the end is today.

Related: Hogwarts: A love letter

After writing seven Harry Potter books following the boy wizard and his friends as they navigated their time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, finally defeating Voldemort and saving the wizarding world in their seventh and final year, J.K. Rowling chose to include an epilogue set 19 years after the main story, in which Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione saw their children off to Hogwarts.

On September 1, 2017, Harry Potter kneeled down in front of his youngest son Albus Severus and told him he was named after two Headmasters of Hogwarts, one of whom was in Slytherin, and “probably the bravest man I ever knew.” It was insinuated that Albus himself might be in Slytherin, and that this was okay. The world had changed for the better.

As they waved goodbye to the next generation, Ginny told Harry that Albus would be alright. “I know he will,” Harry replied, and touched the scar that had not hurt in 19 years. And all was well.

That happened today, about an hour before I typed these words. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the Harry Potter saga with it, officially ends now.

(We can debate about the legitimacy of Cursed Child and its place in canon for literally 19 more years, but that doesn’t change the fact that Rowling’s Potter series, as she originally imagined it, has officially ended.)

And where does that leave the Harry Potter fandom?

Harry Potter is dead, long live Harry Potter

There is no denying that the Harry Potter fandom has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. We are no longer spending all our time on SnitchSeeker or the Dark Mark forums theorizing about Snape’s true loyalties or playing forum games until they tell us that won’t count towards our post total; we no longer have new books or movies to look forward to that might fill in more blanks in Rowling’s incredibly rich tapestry of a world.

And yet.

There are still new movies coming out, and new books (Cursed Child included), and new content on Pottermore.com straight from J.K. Rowling. We are still debating all of these new plot reveals and theorizing, even if most of it now happens on Twitter and Tumblr, and there are no moderators censoring our bad language.

Much like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world has proven itself capable of infinite expansion. A lot of us are eagerly anticipating the next Fantastic Beasts movie, which will take us back to Hogwarts and give us more insight into the life and lies of a young Albus Dumbledore, and there are countless other characters that feel like they’re just waiting to have their stories told (from the Hogwarts founders to the Marauders).

While Cursed Child is a Rowling-sanctioned interpretation of what happens now, Rowling herself is busy working on what happened then, and the Harry Potter fandom — changed and grown and so very different from what it used to be — is still here, ready to go back to Hogwarts.

The “end” of Harry Potter feels oddly anticlimactic, because it’s clear that it’s never actually going to end. There are Harry Potter fans at LeakyCon right now celebrating the lasting and very much on-going legacy of J.K. Rowling’s work, and charitable organizations like Lumos and the Harry Potter Alliance are working hard to make the real world a better, more magical place.

There will continue to be new Harry Potter-related stories, theme parks, exhibitions, movies and merchandise released way past any of our lifetimes, including the inevitable movie reboots and intergalactic role-playing events and the actual invention of magic that is almost certainly coming (barring the total annihilation of our species).

The story of Harry Potter ends today. This is a known fact, marked by Twitter hashtags and fandom’s collective math skills (useful, since Rowling tried to declare #19YearsLater last year). It doesn’t change anything, except everything.

Because even though it’s done now, officially over, it’s clear that Harry Potter will be with us forever (“always,” as a certain Potions Professor might say). The end has come and gone, the past tense has become the present, and yet the Harry Potter fandom has endured. We’ve made it this far, and show no signs of slowing down.

Harry’s story is over now, but our story is not. This is merely the end of the beginning.

All was well for Harry and his friends — now it’s our turn.

How are you feeling about the ‘Harry Potter’ fandom 19 years later?

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