In January of 2016 a woman named Jenn cosplayed as Bellatrix Lestrange at the Celebration of Harry Potter (aka CoHP), held at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. While walking around the park a young boy named Jeremy, dressed as Harry Potter, appeared from nowhere with his wand raised, approached her, and challenged her to a battle.
Jeremy's Harry defeated Jenn's Bellatrix, but it was only after they dueled that something truly magical happened - they became friends.
The next time they saw each other again was one year later, at the 2017 CoHP. Just like the year before, the two of them dueled, and Harry once again triumphed. When their battle was over Jenn and Jeremy spent the afternoon together, along with Jeremy's family. They bonded over their love of the Boy Who Lived, and their friendship deepened.
They live many states away from each other, and have quite a few years of age between them, but that doesn't matter. Jeremy and Jenn have a great love and respect for one another, so much so that they keep in touch throughout the year by messaging one another on their computers. When Hurricane Irma took aim at Jenn's city in the fall of 2017, Jeremy was so worried about his friend that he begged his mother to let Jenn stay with them.
Jenn knew that Jeremy and his family were planning on attending the 2018 CoHP, which would be the third time that she saw him in person. She wanted to do something special for her Itty Bitty Baby Potter, so she posted on a Facebook group for Universal Studio annual passholders, asking for suggestions (I saw her post, which is how I became aware of the two of them). She explained that he is a special little guy, and how she duels with him every year.
Before I get to the battle I want to share a bit about Jeremy. His family doesn't have a lot of money, which means they save all year to go to the Celebration in Florida. His mother told me that they go because Jeremy LOVES the Harry Potter series. The magic and story are real to him, and she wants to keep his love for J.K. Rowling's world alive by making this trip each year. They buy a package, which has perks that people without a package can't do. As you can imagine, packages aren't cheap, although there are different levels (and costs) available.
His mother told me that they offered to buy the premium (aka most expensive) package if Jeremy wanted it, which would have included meeting the actors, getting their autographs, and having photos taken with them. Jeremy's favorite characters are Fred and George Weasley, and the Phelps twins who played them were scheduled to attend the 2018 CoHP. However, instead of getting the premium package, Jeremy chose to get a lesser package, knowing that he wouldn't get to meet the twins, so that his parents could buy a package for his cousin to go with them. As Jenn said, he is a special little guy!
Instead of getting presents for his birthday and Christmas, Jeremy chooses to get IOUs. The money that would have been spent on gifts becomes his spending money during the Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. His mom told me, "He has a list on our door that we keep all year long. Any money he earns doing extra chores, or money even people give him, he gives me and it goes on the list. He works for my dad getting wood and puts it on the list."
Among the many suggestions given to Jenn was an idea: To create an epic battle, not just between Harry and Bellatrix, but between Death Eaters and the good guys (a combination of Dumbledore's Army and the Order Of The Phoenix, as well as anyone else who wanted to join in). A date and time was chosen, and all that was left was waiting for Jeremy to show up for his annual duel. He knew nothing about what was going to happen and was a bit overwhelmed by how many people showed up to make his day extra special.
I had wanted to see the duel but ended up not being able to because I was busy elsewhere on that day. Fortunately, plenty of pictures and several videos were taken of the event, and I have been given permission to share them here. Get ready for one of the biggest battles ever fought in the wizarding world!
Jeremy wanted to meet Oliver and James Phelps, but that wasn't to be. However, the next best thing happened. I bought the premium package and an idea came to me about a week before the Celebration, one that I hoped I would be able to carry out.
When the time came for my meet-and-greet with the actors, I got pictures of the twins and asked them to sign them. I wasn't sure if they would because we were all told that there was a strict policy of one item signed per person, but the Phelps twins are as kind as I've heard they are. I explained the situation and they autographed their pictures for Jeremy without any hesitation.
Later that day I contacted Jenn so that I could get the pictures to her to give to Jeremy. To my surprise, she was with him, so I got to meet him and give the pictures to him myself. I met Jenn for the first time that afternoon, along with Jeremy and his mother. They are all wonderful people, but there is truly something special about this sweet boy.
I explained to Jeremy's mother how I had managed to get the pictures autographed, then gave them to Jeremy. His eyes lit up as he realized what he had. He was so happy with them that he didn't want to give them to his mother when she asked to see them! I didn't get a picture of Jeremy with the pictures (boy, do I regret not thinking of that at the time!) but I did take a photo of the autographed pictures while I still had them. It was my great pleausure to have been a part of Jeremy's magical weekend.
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