My first exposure to the world of Harry Potter was my brother telling me how scary it was to read a book (which in itself was shocking) where he could have sworn I was one of the main characters...Being raised in a home where so many things were taboo, it was no surprise that I had the idea of Harry Potter being evil contstantly thrown in my face. At that age, I ignorantly chose to accept everything I was told as fact and to not think for myself. I would see people tote the books through the halls of my school and I would secretly have "pity" on them (which, in other words means, look down on them while denying I was looking down on them) for being "led astray" into an "evil world of magic." I even made a speech in my speech class about the evils of Harry Potter, and as you can imagine, there was some hot debate: the class and the teacher against myself and one other student (that saw things the same way I did). It was...interesting, to say the least.
Slowly, I became more and more desensitized to the colorful books I saw students carrying to class along with their actual schoolbooks. I stopped averting my eyes or changing the channel when previews for the newest Harry Potter movie came on. My then sister-in-law joined the ranks of HP fan-dom. Two of my best friends were near to obsessed with it and wouldn't stop talking about Oliver Wood and how hot they thought that actor was. One day, when I was over at one of those friend's house, she even convinced me to watch the 60-second portion of the movie where Oliver explains Quidditch to young, first-year Harry so that I could see how cute this guy was (which I honestly didn't see, but that was normal...if they thought a guy was I hot, I didn't, and vice versa. However, if we did agree a guy was hot, he was off-the-charts hot!) and swoon over his accent (which I didn't). Over the course of the next year, I would slowly notice Harry Potter being everywhere as evil and just accept it as a fact. Then, in the summer of '03, the summer after my first year of college and living with the best friend that got me to watch Oliver, I took the first step in the direction of HP immersion. I couldn't find a job (it was a college town that was short on those, especially during the summer) and one day took advantage of the fact that one of my roommates owned the first two movies. When I was home by myself (and couldn't be caught reneging on all my preaching), I sat down and watched the movies. I couldn't see what was so "evil" about it, unless you count Voldemort. And he's bad guy, so duh, he's supposed to be evil!
As a result of not being able to find a job, I had to move back into my parents' house, back in the city I grew up in, to work my behind off and pay off the debt I had accrued in the one short semester I was away from home. (The first semester I lived at home and went to a local college, for those of you that are wondering...) During that time, I expressed my interest to my then SIL (sis-in-law) in reading the first two books. I'm one of those people that can't watch a movie without reading the book it was based on. Getting the books to me was kind of tricky, since my parents were still on the "evil" kick, but she managed it, and I hid them in my room and devoured them in the late hours of the night, much like Harry doing his wizard homework at the Dursleys. I finished the first two books in two sittings. One book per sitting. And yes, I was exhausted the next day at work, but I think it was worth it. :) My SIL was shocked at how fast I burned through them and got me the next books as soon as she could (though it wasn't fast enough for my taste!). I could easily see how my brother thought I was Hermione, and I totally agreed. I basically took her as my alter-ego with the first time I watched the first movie. Luckily, when I started reading the books, I ended the 4th one right around the time the 5th one was being released, so I only had to wait painstakingly for the release of the final two books. And as I was on my own by that time, I didn't have to sneak the books around. :)
Because of taking Hermione on as my alter-ego, I think that I just accepted the fact that I would have been in Gryffindor. In fact, every time I took an online sorting quiz, I'd say 8 of 10 times I was put into Gryfifndor, and the other 2 into Ravenclaw. That clinched it for me. The thing is, though, I think most of those quizzes are too easy to predict what the answers chosen will give you the end result to. That, and the fact that I have changed over the past few years (getting married, becoming a mom twice, being away from husband for a year and then reunited and moving to a foreign country will do that to a person...), has led me to understand that it's not a bad thing that I'm not a Gryffindor. I think that the house of scarlet and gold is so favored just because that's the house the main character of the books are in. That doesn't mean everyone would/should be in it. My best friend definitely would be. But me, I'm a Ravenclaw. Even though Hermione is my Hogwarts twin, I would have been sorted into Ravenclaw, no doubt. And oddly enough, for the longest time I was dead set on the movie colors for Ravenclaw, but since having since accepted that for HSKS6, I really am in the right house, the bronze really does look just as beautiful to me with the blue as the grey does.
I think my journey in going from outright disdain of the Harry Potter world to reveling in it through learning to think for myself and make my own decisions was actually very much like the journey Hermione took through the series. She, too, also started out very "by the rules" and against stepping a toe out of line, as was dictated by others. She gradually comes to terms with the fact that those in authority are not always right and to think for herself. Granted, hers was on a much grander scale, as much more was at stake...people's lives, stopping the return of Voldemort, and so on, but there's still so many things I have in common with her. There are times when I think that my brother was right in that the character was created for me...