As the only wizard to have survived Voldemort’s killing curse, Harry’s been a figurehead since he was a toddler. It’s not easy being the Chosen One, what with a near-impossible Horcrux-hunting task to complete and the worst Dark wizard in history determined to kill you. It’s just a lot of pressure, really.
But it’s not just Harry who has it tough – anyone associated with him is subject to scrutiny. Standing by Harry means risking your life, your family and your friends. Just ask Xenophilius Lovegood, whose reward for supporting Harry was the imprisonment of his daughter, Luna. When the time came, Xenophilius ended up selling Harry out to the Death Eaters.
Then there’s the fact that, for those still scarred by the First Wizarding War, Harry’s insistence on Voldemort’s return initially has very little supporting evidence. After all, only Harry witnessed Voldemort’s possession of Quirrell; only Harry learned the story of Tom Riddle’s diary from its source and only Harry faced Voldemort after the Triwizard Tournament. Whenever there were other witnesses – Ginny in Chamber of Secrets, Cedric in Goblet of Fire – they were either unconscious or murdered, leaving Harry without corroboration. Harry’s visions of Voldemort’s crimes can’t have helped, either. It’s a good thing Dumbledore believed Harry, because we can see why it was difficult for people like Fudge to comprehend a terrifying truth they wanted to deny.
And then, with Voldemort’s return beyond doubt, Harry apparently disappears just after the Ministry of Magic has fallen. So as Harry questions the task left to him by Dumbledore, the wizarding world is left to question why Harry, their apparent saviour, has abandoned them.
But while it was sometimes hard to know the truth, there were those who supported Harry regardless – and this support had its price.
As a Weasley, Ron was always against Voldemort, but becoming one of Harry Potter’s best friends put him firmly in the firing line. Not that he knew it beforehand, but from the moment they met on the Hogwarts Express Ron’s support was never in doubt. Well, almost never.
Ron’s jealousy over Harry’s Triwizard selection shows how difficult living in Harry’s shadow is. His desertion in Deathly Hallows and the visions shown by the locket-Horcrux make this point even more forcefully. Hunting Horcruxes is hard work and Ron struggles with the lack of progress, worried about his family, unused to living without home comforts, vulnerable to bitter thoughts. When Ron leaves it’s a devastating moment, but it is an understandable one. Jealousy is an all-too-human impulse and Ron, with his family of achievers, is particularly susceptible to it. He always swallows it in the end though because, flawed as he might be, Ron isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong.
As Hogwarts’ most obvious prefect, Hermione is a stickler for doing the right thing – over-preparing for exams, preventing rule-breaking, helping others get justice. From Buckbeak to S.P.E.W., Hermione is not one to keep quiet when she can help. When it counts, her need to do what’s right outweighs her adherence to rules, which is why it’s Hermione who sets up Dumbledore’s Army. This determination for justice helps her stick by Harry even when she casts what must be one of her hardest spells – making her parents forget they have a daughter and move to Australia.
Hermione’s support for Harry is constant, but she’s not afraid to challenge him. When Harry wants to rush to the Department of Mysteries it’s Hermione who tells him to check on Sirius first, pointing out Harry’s ‘saving-people-thing’. Harry doesn’t like it, but Hermione never takes the easy way out. Hermione’s no-nonsense attitude has been deeply useful on numerous occasions where Harry has let his heart rule his head.
Hagrid is arguably Harry’s most loyal supporter in that he believes in him unconditionally. But this relationship puts him in the firing line of Rita Skeeter, whose revelations about Hagrid’s parentage almost cause him to resign his post – and in Deathly Hallows, Hagrid is literally forced into hiding when he narrowly avoids arrest for his ‘Support Harry Potter’ party.
It’s not clear if Neville knows how close he comes to living Harry’s destiny, but we’re in no doubt about his support – in Order of the Phoenix he states his belief in Voldemort’s return. From standing up to Harry, Ron and Hermione in Philosopher’s Stone to standing up to Voldemort in Deathly Hallows, Neville shows bravery on a par with Harry, and is rewarded with the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Neville’s loyalty isn't without pain, but as his efforts against the Carrows and his defiance towards Voldemort show, it’s pain he’s willing to bear.
There are many others who suffer for their support of Harry, from George’s lost ear to Luna’s imprisonment to the deaths of Sirius, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye Moody, Dobby, Lupin, Tonks, Fred, Snape and all those who fell at the Battle of Hogwarts. Yet every one of them – in different ways, for different reasons – remains loyal to Harry’s cause, despite the hardships. That’s quite a legacy.