Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the Magical World

Due to the nature of my back pain, and the nerves involved in it, lying prone is generally the msot comfortable position. This isn't very comofortable for writing, but it works for reading. Moreso on my iPad than holding a book up, which may be the root cause for the phenomenon I'm about to discuss, but I don't think it is.

See, I've definitely been reading books--new ones, and old ones, letting myself reread for the first time in years--but I've also spent a lot of time reading fanfiction. Harry Potter fanfiction, specifically. Now, this isn't a new thing for me, I spent the better part of my teen years active on fictionalley.org, both writing fanfic and reading it. By the start of college, I'd become fairly well-known in the Grey's Anatomy fan world, enough that I skipped orientation events to write fic. Rainbow Rowell's latest book Fangirl resonated with me, deeply. 

But it'd been a while since I'd really delved into Harry Potter fandom. I reread the books before coming to Boston in 2010, but they'd sort of become a part of my past. My room still has Potter figurines, and posters, but when asked to list my favorite things, it didn't always come first. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I reread Sam Starbuck's story Stealing Harry on a whim. It's an alternate universe (AU) story about Sirius Black and Remus Lupin taking Harry away from the Dursleys, and it's wonderful. It was written before the series finished, and I read it in high school so I didn't fully appreciate the nuances. And that's the thing, I think, that sparked my subsequent dive into Sam's entire backlog, as well as Fernwithy's Remus/Tonks story Shifts, which I also read when it came out.

See, the majority of Sam and Fern's stories are set during and after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They feature different versions of Remus Lupin, the lost, itnerate, rejected man who is beholden to the whims of a body that attacks without his consent, and Sirius Black, a man condeemed to spend every day ttrapped in one house, able to socialize only on other people's terms.

I find, suddenly, that I idenitfy with both men more than I ever imagined possible. 

I never used to like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I didn't understand Sirius's bitterness, or the way he clung to the past. When Remus attempted to reject Nymphadora Tonks in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I wanted to join Tonks in shouting at him to get a clue--his disease didn't define him. 

Now, tied as I am to the whims of my own, painful, medical conditions, and other people's decisions that have landed me on a couch in my apartment basically 24/7, my sympathy for both men has increased grately. As a child and a teenager my Harry Potter sympathies lay mostly with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I wanted to have their adventures. To be swept away into a world where the magic made up for the challenges. I liked Remus and wrote about him a fair bit, but always to do with romance and usually as a teenager (I met my best fandom-friend through shipping Remus/Lily). I never thought much about the other side of his life, probably because I saw how it reflected my own condition, and I didn't want to admit the truths of what could be. I'm also no longer annoyed with Sirius. I finally understand why so many mourned his death, and I resent instead those who did not see how depressed his entrapment must have made him. Those who could do something about it, which his fifteen-year-old godson could not.

And maybe that's why I'm immersing myself in fanfic. because fanfic authors see the trials of both men. They explore Remus's pain, his loss, and his attempts to keep Sirius sane in spite of everything. They examine the tedium of Sirius's confinement, the mistakes he made, and the mistakes others made. They admit that even in the magical world adulthood is not easy, or perfect, or even desired, but it can be okay. And, of course, all of these elements are also part of the Potter books, which I plan to reread during my recovery. There are many types of lives within those pages, and an invalid twenty-four-year-old can find herself in them the same way an awed nine-year-old could.

Going back to the world of Harry Potter is like coming home, in a way, but it's also like seeing a friend again after so many years and discovering that they've changed, and yet you still have more in common than you ever thought possible. And, in a way, that friend is there to remind you that, in spite of everything, hope is possible and magic, of a sort, is real after all.


  1. This is so so so accurate!!! I love this post. Being able to see another side of something that has been so ingrained into all of us is so important. And people who cut down fanfiction for being "fluffy" aren't reading the right fics. I'm totally reading that one now, though, thanks a lot. :)

    1. Agreed. And yeah, if you haven't read Stealing Harry, you absolutely have to. It's a classic, and the AU world Sam creates is incredible. All his fic is, actually.

      And you should definitely read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. I think it'll resonate with you as much as it did with me.

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