Magical Mondays: The Elder Wand Twist

After I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I admit that I was a bit confused. I didn’t understand how the future movies were supposed to include Newt when the main focus seemed to be shifting to the conflict between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. Was there just going to constantly be a side plot with Newt losing and trying to find his creatures again? Would the niffler steal something of Grindelwald’s and find the real Percival Graves hidden inside (please let this happen)? No matter what I could think of, nothing seemed to really fit, until I realized—oh shit—Newt might be the current master of the Elder Wand!

elder-wand

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The Case for a Gay Romance in the Fantastic Beasts Sequels

Despite the Johnny Depp of it all, I’m still excited to see Grindelwald as a character in the Fantastic Beasts sequels and to see if they expand on the relationship between him and a young Dumbledore. Part of Grindelwald’s depth comes from their relationship; the two were extremely close and basically planned to take over the world together until a fight between Grindelwald, Dumbledore, and Dumbledore’s brother ended tragically in Dumbledore’s sister’s death. This caused a rift between the two, and Grindelwald struck out on his own, while Dumbledore attempted to delay his confrontation with Grindelwald after Grindelwald started to seize power in Europe.

dumbledoregrindelwald

I previously believed that Albus and Gellert were confirmed to have been in a relationship, and so when I heard that Albus’s sexuality would be explored in future Fantastic Beasts films, I assumed that would include their relationship. But while researching this post, I discovered that J.K. Rowling never believed that Grindelwald reciprocated Dumbledore’s feelings, and in my opinion, this really takes away from the complexity of the character. Furthermore, if their relationship became a major focus in the movies, it would be huge. Queer main characters whose relationship is at the forefront of the story and not playing second fiddle to the main straight couple would be major representation.

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How Dumbledore is Complicit in the Abuse of Others

Harry Potter Albus DumbledoreUntil rereading the series with a more adult perspective, it never occurred to me just how horrible many of the characters in Harry Potter actually are. The books are filled with numerous instances of abuse—from the way Snape treats all his students and his unhealthy relationship and obsession with Lily to James Potter committing a sex crime. A lot of the abuse is obvious, like Neville’s uncle holding him upside down out a window and letting go in order to prove that Neville had magic and his grandmother constantly belittling him for not living up to the family name. Some of it is less obvious, such as Dudley’s treatment at the hands of his parents.

It doesn’t really come as a surprise that our main character, Harry Potter himself, is also the victim of child abuse at the hands of his aunt and uncle. I don’t really need to go into detail explaining how he is abused—it should be obvious from the first two chapters of the first book alone—but what is significantly less obvious is how Dumbledore is complicit in Harry’s abuse and in the abuse of other people.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Is My Queerness Distracting You?

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: “why does this character have to be gay? It’s so distracting!” Or what about this: “we thought about making this character queer, but we thought it would be a distraction”. It seems like I’ve been seeing this sort of thing a lot lately—I see authors insisting that they’re open-minded and love their “gay fans”, but making characters queer would divert attention away from the story; on the other hand, I see fans complaining that the existing queer characters are distracting. But all I, a queer person, can hear from this is “for me to accept and portray you as a person, I need to ignore a piece of your person; can we pretend it doesn’t exist?” and “no one wants to see you as you are”.

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Awesome character, but not an epitome of LGBTQ+ representation

It seems that a lot of creators think that it’s enough representation if they have ‘hidden’ LGBTQ+ characters—only revealing it with a throwaway punchline at the end of a movie (see: Mitch in ParaNorman), or even worse, only mentioning it outside the work itself (see: J.K. Rowling’s “I always thought of Dumbledore as gay”). Many fans cheer when this happens, because, see, you can write gay characters who don’t distract from the story. On one hand, this helps to normalize queer characters; it makes them seem just like heterosexual characters, so straight viewers don’t think of them as ‘other’, but as people just like them. And this is important. But on the other hand, really, what sort of representation is it if the audience has no idea the character is queer for mostof the work? Invisible representation is not representation. It also sends the message to queer audience members that they’re only equal to straight people when they’re indistinguishable from them, when they’re exactly the same; that to be accepted you have to follow the heteronormative rules. If you’re in any way different, you draw attention and it’s annoying and disgusting and the need for you to be this way is constantly questioned.

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Snape Apologists: Is Snape the Greatest or the Worst?

snapeI’m not going to lie; when I was reading the Harry Potter books, I loved Snape. I even have a t-shirt that says, “I trusted Snape” on the front, and on the back it says, “Oh, the cleverness of me. *smirk*”. So yeah, I really liked Snape. I mean, I’m a self-identified Slytherin, so of course I did. But now that I’m older and consider myself a feminist (I knew nothing about feminism while reading Harry Potter), I decided to go back and look at Snape from a critical feminist lens. And now I wonder if I was too kind to Snape.

These two are not mutually exclusive.

These two are not mutually exclusive.

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In Brightest Day: Albus Dumbledore

I have already covered Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality and analyzed his famous duel against Grindelwald in depth, but I realized that I never truly talked about what makes Dumbledore tick.

Albus DumbledoreSimply put, I had trouble trying to figure out how to discuss Dumbledore’s emotional situation because it’s so similar to Harry Potter’s situation. Both have lost family to dark wizards. But as I thought about Dumbledore, I realized that both Harry and Albus are still very different.

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Invisible sexuality cannot and does not make a difference.

I found out the other day, while perusing internet speculation as to why Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat deleted his Twitter account on Saturday, that River Song is bisexual.

You know, I’ve been watching Doctor Who for almost two years now, and have seen the entire series at least twice all the way through, and I don’t think River’s ever been seen to be in a romantic relationship with a woman, nor has she ever shown more than platonic interest in a woman, nor has she really ever been given screen-time with women besides her mother except in her debut.

I am not trying to erase her sexuality. I don’t take kindly to people who say “Oh, she says she’s bi but she’s never actually dated a girl so she’s probably just saying that for attention/to get guys/stupid other excuse.”

But for a fictional character, this Word-of-God declaration is totally empty.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Secret Keeper by ermalope

Personally, I’m not the biggest slash fan. Oh, I’ll read it. I’ll read the hell out of it. But there’s always something about a story that doesn’t involve slash that just pulls me in. Of course, seeing as this is fanfiction, finding one that’s slash free and well written presents a challenge in and of itself. This brings me to Secret Keeper by ermalope.

This particular fic features a budding friendship between, of all people, Severus Snape and James Potter. I’ve actually read a number of believable fics between these two—surprisingly slash fics, but I digress—but this one is probably my favorite.

During the first war with Voldemort, when the Potters go into hiding to protect their son, Dumbledore suspects that one of James’s friends has betrayed them. Furthermore, they need a secret keeper Voldemort would not suspect. Though James and Lily are adamant in choosing either Sirius or Peter, Dumbledore suggests—you guessed it!—Severus Snape.

This suggestion does not go over well.

And it’s nice to see that it takes both a while to convince the Potters and Snape that this is merely the safest option, and not that it is a ploy by Dumbledore for entertainment value. And while the fic is mostly very serious, ermalope does spice it up with some added bits of humor, especially in the dialogue.

Dumbledore finished his tea and said, “So, to business. Can you guess what this little side project of yours will entail?”

“Not telling anyone else that I’m the secret keeper of the Potters,” Severus muttered.

“Especially Voldemort.”

“I can’t even tell him? I would never have guessed,” Severus said in the same miserable monotone. Dumbledore smiled humourlessly.

Because the Potters were in such a rush to cast the Fidelus Charm, and because they cannot leave their home for their own safety, it falls to Severus to bring them supplies every week or so, a task he does not enjoy.

Potter’s eyes narrowed, but he stepped back to let Severus in. “What are you doing here?” he spat as he watched Severus materialize out of thin air.

“Believe me Potter, if I didn’t have to be -” he stopped, and said in a more silky voice, “I’d expect more gratitude from you. I am saving your life. Part of this duty requires me to ensure that you don’t starve, as much as it would satisfy me if you did.”

Potter’s eyes, which had been still narrowed in intense dislike, widened – now horrified. “Couldn’t someone else… Sirius, or Peter, or… anyone do that?”

“Of course, Potter, practically everyone was falling over themselves to offer, but I, personally, couldn’t refuse such an honour,” Severus sneered.

The friendship between the two is slow going. While James is the one to push for it more, Severus doesn’t forgive easily, and he has an understandably hard time letting go of all the horrible things James subjected him to while in school, which does halt any progress the two make in getting along significantly.

On top of all this, McGonagall doesn’t trust Snape, and she also enlists one of his students to follow him around and spy on him while he’s teaching at Hogwarts. Furthermore, once James gets back his invisibility cloak and starts going out, it creates more problems. The one scene where these two issues collide into each other in the latest chapter is quite memorable. Needless to say, Severus’s reaction to the Potters leaving their hiding place brings out a few laughs, especially because by the time that happens, he has grown to care for James just a little.

Severus almost toppled out of his desk chair. “Wha – Potter! How – WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

“Look, Snape, I don’t like it any more than you do. But I had to contact you.”

“You could have just used a patronus, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ORDER!” Severus shouted.

“Where’s the fun in that, though?” James grinned, seating himself at a desk in the very front row.

“This isn’t a game, Potter!” Severus snarled.

James frowned at a potion stain in the middle of his desk, and then glanced up at Severus. “Look, I know. I do. I thought that a patronus showing up might be a tad disruptive in the middle of one of your classes, so I came here myself and waited for you to be free. We need your help.”

“What, did the Dark Lord show up at your doorstep?” snarled Severus.

“Not yet. But Dolohov did.”

Severus said nothing for a moment, but smiled lazily. “Ah. So. You’ve come to beg me to –” his smile vanished. “Hang on a second. Dolohov is right outside your house because you got yourself caught in a pub, and you react by leaving your hiding place to tell me about it?”

James raised one eyebrow. “It would appear that way, wouldn’t it?”

“How are you still alive, Potter?”

Eventually, during this conversation, the aforementioned student walks in.

Unfortunately, Severus didn’t get the chance to elaborate on those feelings, because they had been intruded upon. Charity Burbage had wandered into the classroom several moments ago and had been staring from one man to the other silently, eyes wide, for those past several moments.

They stared back. In that instant in which the back of his mind whirred for a solution to this dilemma, Severus somehow noticed how remarkably like a deer caught in the wand-light James Potter looked when he was startled.

After that instant, he came to his senses and snapped, “Can I help you, Miss Burbage?” as though she had interrupted an ordinary discussion between himself and another staff member.

“Uh –” she said. “I was just – I’m just a little early. For class.”

Severus stared at her. “Class starts in an hour and a half.”

It was Charity’s turn to blink. “Does it? I’ll go, then.” She all but ran from the room.

James smirked. “I’m a little early for class, Professor. Who was that?”

“Oh, no one,” Severus replied ferociously. “You know. Just one other person who has seen you! Not only that, she’s seen you with me! I’ll have to wipe her memory or something.”

James snorted. “And I bet you will.”

Severus continued, oblivious to James’s quip. “Dumbledore will never let me do that, of course. Maybe I should reason with him. What matters now is Dolohov.”

As of currently, Secret Keeper is fifteen chapters long, with over forty thousand words. It’s another story that hasn’t yet been completed, but neither is it abandoned. Ermalope has done an amazingly good job on this story thus far, and it is something that I look forward to reading whenever I see an update. Check it out here, and leave the author a comment or two if you like it.