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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Fanfiction Fridays: All Kidding Aside by Kihin Ranno

And now it’s time for a blast from my past! All Kidding Aside by Kihin Ranno was one of those fanfics that just really affected my time in high school. My friends and I quoted this fanfic almost as much as we quoted the Harry Potter books.

All Kidding Aside is a Harry Potter fanfic that takes place during the time of the Marauders were in school together with Lily and Snape. Notably, Snape has no real role in the story unlike most other fics written in this era, and is firmly focused on the Marauders, particularly the relationship between Sirius and Remus.


The story begins with Lily observing Sirius and Remus, who constantly make jokes about being a couple or being attracted to one another. This then causes Lily to wonder what exactly is going on between Remus and Sirius. When Lily actually asks them in front of the other Marauders at first things are fine, but then begin to spiral out of control when James makes the mistake of calling Sirius a liar.  This causes Sirius to react badly as he views his whole family as a bunch of liars, and Sirius regards it as James of accusing him of being like his family.

Sirius actually quickly forgives James, but he and Remus devise a plan to get back at James, Lily, and Peter by pretending that they actually are gay but then revealing that they aren’t so that their friends feel silly. Without spoiling anything let’s just say things don’t go as planned.

There are several reasons I love this fic and one definitely has to be the dialogue; each character’s voice comes through brilliantly and the Marauders are just as hilarious as you expect them to be.

“Padfoot, could you pass the toast?”

“No, I will not pass the toast. I refuse to pass the toast. I will have nothing of your toast passing. Toast passing is for grandmothers and Slytherins! Toast passing is vile – the work of Satan – and I will have none of it! In fact, I suggest we all partake in a boycott against passing the toast. So decrees the Great and Mysterious and Beautiful and Charming and Altogether Wondrous Sirius–”

“Here’s the toast, Peter.”

This quote just says so much about Sirius and how goofy he is in general. As the fic progresses each little bit of dialogue furthers our understanding of the characters and what kind of people they are.

Another amazing thing about this fic is that the author doesn’t forget about Peter. Peter is often the forgotten Marauder in fics, because fans don’t like him for betraying Lily and James. The author of this fic has Peter contribute just as much as the other characters; furthermore, he is actually an extremely likable character throughout the fic. Although there are occasional hints to Peter’s dark nature, the author doesn’t dwell on it, because that isn’t the focus of the story and it’s not like the Marauders know that Peter is going to be evil anyway. Plus, there has to be a reason that Peter was friends with James, Remus, and Sirius — they didn’t just put up with him, they were all close friends! The author captures this perfectly.

Overall, if you want to read a fun fic about the Marauders that will have you laughing along with them this fic is for you.

Fanfiction Fridays: The Death of Narcissa Black

Today I bring you a story of magic. Of witches. Of a great evil and uncertainty. Or, in other words, a Harry Potter fanfic. It’s about as close to a Halloween fic as I could muster and after I just remembered it, I had to share it. It’s my favorite HP fic I’ve read and explores one of my favorite characters, Narcissa Black. In particular, The Death of Narcissa Black as author, Massicot, leads us through the dramatic change from Black to Malfoy.

The most striking thing about this fanfic is that it’s actually comprised of several screens of watercolor paintings, so it’s more of a picture book rather than a several thousand word epic. This lends itself to the story so much, though. The limited color palette of reds and blues creates a feeling of melancholy and hopelessness which very much mirror Narcissa’s descent down a path she knows she can never return from. While some pages are blank, either mostly or entirely, the pacing of this story is great in that no one part is spent too long on. I also like that nothing is too explicitly stated: there is an expectation that you have read the actual books and know the characters.

Beyond this, the story is a simple one. Narcissa and her sisters, Andromeda and Bellatrix, must worry about upholding the Black bloodline as the pot for pureblood intermarriage becomes smaller and smaller. However, Narcissa has no desire to settle down and live domestically; she has dreams of becoming Minister for Magic. Her mother has no problem with this desire—in fact, she supports it as having a Black in a higher level of politics would be beneficial for the family name—but this puts all the pressure on Narcissa’s sisters to continue the family line. As to be expected, things do not go according to plan.

What I loved most about canon Narcissa is her undying love for her family and that her morality is so grey that everyone is able to form their own thoughts about her and her motivations, but, to be honest, there isn’t much to characterize her by. Sure, she makes an unbreakable vow with Snape for Draco and is a total jerk to Hermione and Harry when they run across each other in Diagon Alley, but there’s so much more behind that. So much more to the members of the Black family. Massicot does a fantastic job of not only characterizing and humanizing these easily hated purebloods, but also extrapolating from the scarce knowledge we get in canon and creating a background that not only makes sense, but is also compelling.

I will warn you, however, that some of the images are NSFW, so you may want to think about where you read this. Other than that, I really do recommend taking in this piece of art: not only is it visually striking, but you may form a couple new headcanons from it.

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.