It'll be news to some of you but not others, that I love fanfiction. Apparently your thirties are for loving without shame those things you appreciated in secret as a teen. That seems accurate to me!
The slightly embarassing part is that the fandom I read 90% of the time is Harry Potter. It feels like a way of revisiting the world without participating in the disappointing and hateful ideology of the author. It's really cool to read so many different takes on the same characters, but also on the same historical moment and built universe. Does Hermione take a job and go try to transform the Ministry from this inside, does she create a highly skilled position for herself away from it, or does she go work at a bookshop and live a quiet life, retired from heroism at 18? If I'm in a reading slump, nothing gets me out of it like diving into a new narrative without having to wrap my mind around new worldbuilding.
The other wild part about fanfiction is the creative labour that goes into it with zero potential for financial compensation. If the definition of Romance is "Happy Ending" then the definition of Fanfic is "you don't own it". And yet, people are writing fics that are the equivalent length of novel trilogies, and longer! There are editors and visual artists who illustrate scenes or make cover-art, all doing it for the joy of sharing, or the creative outlet, or their own unknown reasons. Usually creatives not being paid will send me on an angry rant, so why is this different? Maybe because it feels kind of impossible to exist even temporarily outside of capitalism, but this does it, and on a huge scale. If you want to listen to a really smart critical conversation about whether you can really separate HP fanfiction from the Rowling Industrial Complex this podacast episode is a good one. Spoilers: kind of no, but it's ultimately up to you to make the call.
For those of you who (rightfully) have a problem with Rowling's anti-trans bullshit AND have a HP themed tattoo that still represents something meaningful to you, I had an idea. Add a little asterisk, or a (literal?) footnote.
Okay, disclaimers aside, this print of Nymue is fan art. I suppose it's technically fan art of Aurthurian Legend, but really, by way of The Changeling by Annerb.
The story is Ginny-centric and takes place during the same time period as the original books with one minor change that becomes a major change. It is absolutely brilliant. I printed off and bound my own copy because I love it so much. This Nymue in the story is a sentient stained-glass window in a secret society for Slytherin girls. So, yeah. Go read that.
The other offering I have for you was a gift to me from one of my best friends/found family members. In Spring 2023 I was grieving and overwhelmed after a different friend of mine was murdered in her home. It's still impossible. To show me love, and provide a little comfort, Haper-Hugo wrote and sent me a little Dramione fic (not their usual fandom or pairing, but it's my favourite and they know it). Since then, I've mentioned this story to bunch of people who all wanted to read it. Harper-Hugo says the fic is mine now, and I'm free to copy it here, haha. If you want to show them some love and follow their writing projects, you can find them here.
Real Quick, my top long-form Dramione is Draco Malfoy and the Mortifying Ordeal of Being in Love by isthisselfcare.
And without further ado:
Karma is my Boyfriend
Draco, mocked for spending time on his appearance, with his gelled hair, his delicate looks, the hours in the bathroom. His parents had done everything wrong except for this. They were an old family, and he was not the first in his lineage to be the way he was; there were potions for the specific purpose of changing shape ever so slightly. His father stayed up late into the night brewing, so that he went to school with a year long supply of a turquoise liquid that carved an adams apple where there had once been smooth skin. His mother sewed by hand a garment that would never cave his chest in nor make it hard to breathe, but it would keep his chest flat through the years of puberty he was forced to endure because neither he nor any member of his family outside of Nymphadora Tonks had heard of puberty blockers. If they had known it existed, Draco knew that they would have acquired it, or brewed a better version. Absolutely nothing was too good for their son.
Hermione with her thick hair that curled in ways she was still getting used to, with her appearance reading as out of place no matter how hard she worked, mocked by students and teachers alike. No one knew that she was trans, but this didn’t matter; they knew she was different and that was enough. Her family had done their absolute best. Her dentist-parents had known doctors, getting her on puberty blockers. Her aunt had taught her how to smooth down her hair with gel after her third year, when the pressure had gotten to be too much and she had admitted that even with all the reading she had done, she didn’t know what she was doing. Her one and only attempt at a magical transition had ended with her in the nurses office, telling a lie about trying to shrink her teeth, a lie that got around the school faster than it took for her to dismiss the idea of ever coming out to the nurse herself.
In year four, Draco had noticed. Someone like him, in the lair of the enemy, and it was not a fun realization. He had come to realize on the night of the Yule Ball, seeing her looking so sparkling, and somewhere in his chest knowing her’s was a beauty that was made, not one that could be stumbled upon. If he was a better person, he would have been supportive first, not annoyed. Because of course the only other trans kid in this awful school would be friends with Harry-Bloody-Potter. It would be just like him, to be an ally, supportive, the exact person who would have been a good friend to Draco, rather than being wasted on the bumbling cisgender Ron. That twit had left Hermoine crying on the stairs, and Draco felt his second emotion in reaction to this new information: A burning, scathing, protective instinct. This was followed by annoyance again, because, of course, he couldn’t be protective of this muggle-born mess. Not the one who fell asleep in the library, getting ink on her face, and tucking quills in her hair. It would have been much more convenient if she had at least been sorted as a Slytherin. This, he noted as he began to take notice of her, was what she was born to be.
Her reporter in a bottle, how only the year before she had punched him directly in the face, and her cutting mouth. The one she kept suspiciously silent as the twit and his twitess made out on every surface, crowding her out of her space next to Harry. It was then, in this steady draw back, that Draco knew to strike.
“Hermoine,” Draco began, pulling out the chair next to her. “Interesting name choice. A bit pretentious, but it suits you.”
Hermione was silent for a moment, then looked up at him, disdain dripping from her dark brown eyes. “You’re a Slytherin named Draco. You have no place to criticize my name choice.”
“So you admit it.” Draco straightened in his chair, his voice lowering. “You chose your name.”
“Yes. Because I am sure you will have nothing to say about it to anyone. I expect you will be perfectly lovely about this information, if not out of common decency, then out of some sense of self-preservation in this stiflingly cisgender school.” Hermione had noticed as early as year two.
Draco leaned forward, voice slipping into a hiss. “How did you know?”
“You’re a slytherin named Draco,” she repeated, voice emotionless.
Draco stared at her.
“Draco means huge serpent in Latin. In a culture where most of magical spells are based in Latin. You couldn’t have been less subtle.” Hermione was looking back to her book.
“You’ve known all this time?” Draco was fighting to keep the volume of his voice low, even though there were only empty tables around them.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I am not an arsehole.” Hermione was surprised out of her focus when Draco laughed, low and throaty. He tried and failed to cover it up with a cough.
“Are you calling me an arsehole?” he asked, straightening in his chair.
“Well, I’m certainly implying it.”
Those were the last words Hermione said to him that year.
Knowing that Draco knew that she knew, changed everything. Whereas Hermoine was quick to dismiss his presence before as an enemy of her friend, now she not only knew that they had something in common, but he knew that she knew. It was inconvenient, especially when Draco started to notice her. Before she had just been the friend of an enemy, but now he knew, and suddenly he seemed to be trying to do something resembling support.
The first time it could have been nothing. He was simply meaner to Ron for the weeks following the Yule Ball than he usually was, and that could be for any reason. The second time was a coincidence, he swooped in and diverted Pansy’s attention just when she was starting to get to her more scathing insults. But three times, that was a pattern, and that was when he interrupted Snape when he had gotten on a roll. Picking at at her insecurities like scabs, Snape always knew how to make her bleed, and on that particular day, he had carved deep. A lick of flame from beneath the cauldron in front of Draco drifted, slipping onto Snape’s sleeve, and before she could question whether she had imagined the distance it had bridged, it was more than a single flame. It was a fire.
It happened that being noticed, required her notice. Because while the teasing from the first years was toothless, Draco was a man without limits and teeth as sharp as the serpent he named himself after. She was able to stop him if she was able to catch him soon enough. A flick of her wand knocking his out of his hand, a simple shushing gesture, and he seemed to fade away, not without an eye roll, but without other visible protest. Sometimes though, sometimes she didn’t say anything, sometimes she let him curse.
The problem lay in the fact it was harder to hate someone when they no longer seemed to hate her. This was something that became more evident the more Draco seemed to bother Harry. The more Harry rised to Draco’s bait, the more Hermoine had trouble taking either of them seriously. The first time she talked to him after that meeting in the library happened after a particular row where she had been forced to stalk off, lest she start laughing in both of their faces.
“Granger, I –” Draco began, chasing after her. Harry, who knew to leave her alone when she was in a snit fell behind both of them as her giggles escaped from under her palms. “Are you laughing at me?”
Her laughter was not lessened by his uppity tone or the half sneer, half smile that contorted his face. “I can’t help it, you are just completely ridiculous.”
“Are you saying you can no longer take me seriously because you know I’m trans?” Draco pulled his shoulders back with a mock frown. “Oh, how the might have fallen. Hermoine Granger, the champion of house elves and the notorious transphobe.”
“Oh, stop it.” She slapped at his arm, but didn’t stop laughing.
It was years after the war, when she decided to run for Minister of Magic, that Hermoine decided to come out. She had been meaning to approach Harry with it first, maybe have him explain it to Ron, because she had no idea what Ron would know already, but instead she found herself at the apartment accross the hallway from her own. One she had seen Draco walk in and out of a few times, but one she had never seen beyond the threshold. With two glasses in her hands and a bottle of wine, she knocked on the door.
Every time she saw him, she realized Draco was taller than she remembered, and now was no different. His platinum hair was, for once, out of its slicked-back style, though he was trying to push it back even as he opened the green door.
“I’m holding a press conference in two weeks,” Hermoine told him without preamble.
“Granger,” Draco greeted, opening the door wider so that she could enter. “I think you may have mistaken me for Rita Skeeter. Easy mistake, I am the one who was overtly a death eater.”
“Draco, quiet and pour me a glass of wine,” Hermoine ordered, passing off the glasses and bottle.
Draco looked at both as he took them, frowning. “Did you think I didn’t already have wine glasses?”
“Well, Ron and Harry don’t, and you’re a boy, so…”
“I’m a man, not a monster,” Draco sneered, putting her wine glasses on his counter and going to his own cabinet to pull out a set of red ones with gold trim.
“You know, those are Gryffindor colours,” Hermoine pointed out.
“Yes,” Draco drawled. “I had to go to years of therapy to have something with that particular combo under my roof without violently vomiting every time I saw them. Now, tell me about this press conference.”
“I am going to come out,” Hermoine told him as he poured some of her twelve dollar wine into the hundred dollar glasses. “In the conference, I mean. I am going to announce my candidacy for Minister of Magic tomorrow, and I’m going to come out before anyone can out me.”
“You want to be Minister of Magic?” Draco’s lip curled up as he pushed a glass across the counter to her. “How incredibly cliche of you.”
“Hush about that, tell me everything is going to be alright,” Hermoine ordered.
“Oh, it is going to be an absolute shit show. This world was not made for us, Granger.” Draco dismissed her with a wave of a hand. “But you will be alright, if nothing else you are resilient.”
“That…” Hermoine paused and took a sip of wine. “Actually helps.”
“I know.” Draco took a long draw from his own glass.
She had stayed the night. Not because she was drunk, as she only drank that one glass, but because Draco was impossible, and had sharp teeth, and because he drank her twelve dollar wine without complaint. The day after her press conference, the story shifted. Heir of the Malfoy line, the former death eater Draco Malfoy, had come out as transgender. The next week, the only newspaper to get distracted enough from the bigger story to write something negative about Hermoine had their offices burned down under mysterious circumstances. Hermoine pretended not to notice. Together they made the world turn for them.