My Favorite Moments in Harry Potter History

This is a post that’s been on my mind since I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. I was just thinking about everything I was looking forward to about the final movie, character resolutions, epic death scenes, and a final battle that kicks the collective asses of every one before it.

Now, while the seventh book certainly contains some of my favorite moments in the series (including, OK, my favorite), others are sprinkled throughout the books before it. They are as follows, and in no particular order, except for the very last one.

Oh, this gets spoilery at the end.

  • Anarchy in the Castle. There’s a fine leadup to Fred and George Weasley’s escape from Dolores Umbridge’s clutches. We’ve got the swamp, the Skiving Snackboxes, and the random happenstance here and there that you know is their doing. But the literal fireworks they create, and the shouts of “Accio brooms!” and “Give her hell for us, Peeves” as they speed out of the castle are more than fine. They’re pitch perfect, a great tribute to the twins’ character.
  • Harry Fights Back Against the Fake Dementors. My affection for the third book is pretty strong, but never stronger than when Harry shows his Patronus Charm chops against Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle, and Vincent Crabbe. If Draco thought he could torment Harry after Harry had learned some genius tricks of the trade from Remus Lupin, he was very, very wrong.
  • Harry and Ron’s First Fight. Before the release of the seventh book, the fourth had always been my favorite, due largely to not a singular moment, but to the beginning and resolution of Harry and Ron Weasley’s first real conflict. It all stems from Ron’s nagging jealousy of his famous best friend. Harry is helpless in this situation, a state in which we rarely see him, and that’s what makes this as arresting as it is. Our breath of fresh air is as deep as theirs when the conflict is resolved.
  • Harry’s First Trip to Diagon Alley. Harry’s introduction to the magical world by Rubeus Hagrid is one of the most charming parts of the entire series. For the first time, it’s fully realized that Harry has no conception of what he’s in for as Hagrid finds that magic brick and takes him to Ollivander’s, Madam Malkin’s, and all those now familiar locations in what becomes one of Harry’s favorite places.
  • Luna: An Introduction. It’s quirky and remarkable, just like her. Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite characters in the entire series, and it’s for good reason; the first time we meet her, she’s reading a magazine upside down and already on her way to talking about fictional creatures as though they were real. “You’re just as sane as I am,” she tells Harry, a thought that’s decidedly not very reassuring.
  • “Not My Daughter, You Bitch!” How long have we been waiting for Bellatrix Lestrange to get hers? Too long, probably, so it’s a sweet feeling when her destruction is so terrifically cruel. Molly Weasley finally gets a chance to shine here, and you’re never prouder of Harry’s mother figure.
  • Neville Takes Out Nagini. We’ve been waiting just as long for Neville Longbottom to, well, do something. His strength’s been building since book five, but we’re still not sure this kid’ll ever be a hero. The wait is over as Neville blasts the penultimate horcrux into oblivion, kicking so much ass we’d think we were watching a much stronger wizard. Neville’s one of them now.
  • The Prince’s Tale. Rowling’s writing has never quite reached the expert level it does here. Severus Snape’s story is poignant, revealing, and simply gorgeous, depicting a life we never really understood until it was over. Through the entire series, readers want to believe there’s more to Snape than petulant childhood grudges and mostly indiscriminating meanness. And now, they know that there was. Snape is doubtless the series’ most complex character, and now, we know why. “He was the bravest man I ever knew,” Harry later tells his son–and through tears, we have to agree.