This week I’ve joined up with #PotterheadJuly hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. It’s a celebration of all things Harry Potter and includes discussions, personal stories, and other fun posts about the series for the whole of July. At the end of which, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child will come out. Yay! Definitely, go and check out the schedule and all the great posts people are doing. And if you want to join in there are apparently still some slots towards the end of the month.
Fandom Created Shipping: What Drives Non-Canon Choices – Potterhead July
For my post, I went with one of Aentee’s prompts to discuss what makes fans create their own non-canon couples. If you’ve ever taken a peek into the Harry Potter fanfiction world you are likely familiar with the width breath of couples that fans come up with from Hermione/Draco forbidden love to more eccentric choices like Dobby/Snape (which I swear I’ve heard of happening before). So this begs the question of why we or anyone creates these couples and writes stories for them, what drives these choices?
Dislike of canon couples
We all love JK, but we don’t always necessarily love the couples she came up with. In fact, some of us straight-up hate some of the couples. I have always hated the Harry/Ginny couple, and I’m not afraid to admit that. On top of being painfully boring as a choice, I’ve often wondered what these two even saw in each other. I mean, Harry’s a celebrity and I suppose when he’s not brooding he has a certain appeal, but how much did these two actually know each other? What made a childhood crush grown into an at least 19-year long relationship? I just didn’t buy it. And I’m sure there are people with the same opinion about other couples within the series. Hate is a strong word, but let’s be honest here, this is a strong fandom.
Sometimes fans make couples with characters that make you think, ‘wait, what?’ For example, I once read a bit of a Harry/Pansy (yes, Pansy Parkinson from Slytherin) which created a fully realized character out of what was, in the books, a minor skeleton of a character. Sometimes taking one of these less explored characters gives people share to think more about what sort of character they would have been with more development. I often find these to be really fun because it’s a sort of creative liberty. And it’s amazing to think that a minor character JK Rowling wrote in could be expanded upon to create a vivid character that you want to root for. I think the same can also be said of major characters that weren’t explored as deeply, as in the case of Draco and anyone type fanfiction. Because I read a lot of Draco-centric fanfiction, often people use these as opportunities to dig deeper into a character that was always integral to the series, but really only started to have a certain depth towards the end. Or they do different imaginings aka alternate universes. What sort of character would Neville have been if he was the chosen one instead of Harry? It’s all these unexplored opportunities for characters and people take them on and let their imagination run wild.
Expanding the fandom
Sometimes non-canon choices are done as a way to expand the Harry Potter world further. The story could end with Harry marrying Ginny, but maybe they have trouble in their marriage and decide to see other people. Exploring a different coupling in this way changes the entire outcome of the book in the way we know it, and opens up a whole new story.
I distinctly remember a Hermione/Draco fanfiction where years into her marriage to Ron, Hermione becomes frustrated and ends up meeting a new Draco. And long story short, she leaves Ron for him and gets caught in the middle of her friends deciding whose side to take and warring with their hate for Draco and wanting Hermione to be happy. And I mean, that just blows the 19-years later thing wide open. So many possibilities!
No matter what non-canon couple people decide to root for, the bottom-line is, it’s kind of amazing that an author could create characters and a world rich enough for people to make dozens of different couples and ships. Even if it means disagreeing with what she actually wrote.
What do you think drives non-canon shipping?
What’s your favourite non-canon AND canon couple?
PS: If you’re curious, I thought Harry should have ended up with Luna. I thought she often saw deeper into his true character and that he always had a firm understanding of how great of a person she is underneath the ‘weirdness’. And I wanted Harry to be able to create his own family from the bottom-up, instead of just stealing into the Weasley family. And you can bet that if he married Luna their baby names wouldn’t have been a bunch of recycles of dead people names, just sayin’. That being said, my favourite fanfiction is Harry/Draco, but I understand that that may have been a bit far-fetched. My favourite canon couple is Remus and Tonks (though I do love a good Remus/Sirius fanfic every now and then…)