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Fandom Created Shipping: What Drives Non-Canon Choices – Potterhead July

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

ew

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.

Unexplored opportunities

neville badass

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

hermione wakes up

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…)

21 Comments

  • Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense

    July 18, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    You know how I feel about Ginny, but I totally don’t hold it against you that you don’t ship her with Harry. You know, I always felt that there was a particularly strong connection between Harry and Luna in the movies. But she was just so eccentric, I think if Rowling had written them together it would have had to have been many years into the future. Lupin and Tonks is one of my favorite canon couples too!

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Yes, I think the movies for sure seemed to showcase Harry and Luna’s connection/friendship a bit more. While I think the books were probably better at showing the friendship that grew between her and Ginny. Yay for Lupin and Tonks, they’re a pretty cute couple for sure.

      Reply
  • Eve @ Twist in the Taile

    July 16, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Well, erm, basically all of my ships are in fact non-canon, so I totally get this post! Most of the time I know that the author DEFINITELY didn’t intend characters to be in a relationship, but also…it’s super interesting to think about how different characters + motivations go together. *nods*
    In particular relation to Harry Potter, I am still sighing at the lack of queer representation and so I have a lot of fun shipping non-canon queer couples. (Ginny/Luna is awesome. And Remus/Sirius. And Harry/Draco. I blame Rainbow Rowell.)
    Yay, it was great to read another excellent Potterhead July post! 🙂
    Eve @ Twist in the Taile recently posted…Introducing: Finding Our FeetMy Profile

    Reply
      • ltlibrarian

        July 18, 2016 at 9:01 am

        It is really interesting to think about how two characters might end up together. ESPECIALLY if the author never intended for them to get together. I kind of think it’s a mark of a great author if people can so vividly imagine a separate history and life for their characters.

        Ohhh yess, Sirius and Remus is another favourite of mine, even though Remus and Tonks are my favourite cannon couple. I would have wished for more (read: any) queer couples in HP, but I can see that it’s a product of the time. I mean, people nearly exploded when she said Dumbledore was gay, and he never even actually had a gay relationship or spoke about his orientation. Thankfully, nowadays there more of a call for diversity of characters.

        Reply
  • Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    July 15, 2016 at 7:02 am

    This is such a cool post, Liselle! I LOVE IT. Non-canon – I ship Draco and Hermione so much! But ahh, now that you mention Harry and Luna – I ALSO SHIP THAT A TINY BIT TOO!! Never thought of them as a pairing, but they make so much sense together. Canon – LILY AND JAMES POTTER AHHHHHHH that’s my OTP <3
    Thanks so much for stopping by my Potterhead July post, by the way! 🙂
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books recently posted…When I First Saw You | The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGeeMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Ohhh Draco and Hermione is such an attractive shipping choice. When I run out of Harry/Draco that’s where I go. I think Harry/Luna is so adorable and would have been great, but alas, wasn’t in the cards.

      It’s hard NOT to ship Lily and James, they’re like the original perfect couple. Also they’re hate-to-love which I assume by your Dramione love that you’re into that 😉

      And it’s no problem! I’ve been trying to visit everyone’s posts and see all the fun things people have come up with. I loved your discussion for sure!

      Reply
  • Heather

    July 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    These are all such good and important reasons—and I totally think they’re valid not just in this fandom but in all of them, actually. People read these books to see a piece of themselves in them, so it makes sense that they also might put a piece of themselves back in. Also, I love seeing what creative ways people expand the universe and capitalize on those missed opportunities! Like you said with the Pansy/Harry fic, so many characters got hardly a life at all in the books (especially Slytherins, come to think of it) so giving them the time and space to be their own people just sounds especially nice to me. 🙂
    Heather recently posted…Potterhead July: Harry Potter and Our MythologyMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 14, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Yes, that’s very true, it can be expanded to all fandoms. And that’s a great way of putting it, as the fans putting a piece of themselves into the books by creating their own stories 🙂

      Reply
  • Read Diverse Books

    July 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Harry/Ginny is definitely BORING! I know that Draco/Harry is impossible because the characters are straight, but I love that match up. I seriously need to read some of that fan fiction.

    Now…Snape/Dobby..I don’t even want to think about that one. >.<

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 14, 2016 at 8:49 am

      I knowwwwww, it would have been great to see though. But absolutely you should look into the fanfiction because some of it is just fantastic. Yeah… the Snape/Dobby and other such pairings are pretty strange, I try and avoid those. Thankfully on fanfiction.net you can filter for just the coupling you want.

      Reply
  • Tasya

    July 13, 2016 at 10:41 am

    while snape/dobby is really weird, i dislike snape/hermione even more (yikes!) my favorite canon couple might be jily, and my favorite non canon is dramione. you might be able to guess that enemies-turned-lovers is one of my favorite tropes <3 i think people create non canon couple because…. they see a possibilities and chemistry between them? like neville and luna. we see how cute they are together, how neville might understand luna's "weirdness" and have patience for her, while luna could help neville came out of his shell and just motivate him in general! or like draco and hermione, draco seems to challenge hermione more, there are a lot of things that need to be solve between them (allegiance, personality, years of hatred). And it would give the malfoys and the order a huge shock when they found out… i think it's just would be more challenging and complex with draco… i also ship draco/harry, but in more bromance way. like what if draco gets into gryffindor, or harry gets into slytherin? what if ron never told harry that slytherins are evil? will drarry be bffs or still be enemy? i'd love to see them work together!
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    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Ahh the Snape and Hermione. I’ve always found the student-teacher relationship to be pretty creepy so I don’t see myself shipping that either. Dramione on the other hand, that I can get behind. It’s a great trope! I love it too 🙂

      Yesssss, I agree with that. It does seem to add more layers of complexity to the relationship that wasn’t there in canon. I think that Ron/Hermione was always going to happen and it’s the easier relationship. And lots of people are happy with it, but it’s interesting to see who else fans will put her with and think she would go well with. Harry/Draco bromance is also agreeable! It would have been great to see them become sort-of friends in the book and work together, definitely agree!

      Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 13, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Yay for Luna love! It’s great that you’re happy with the way the couples turned out. I wish I could like Ron and Hermione, I really do. Maybe I’m just unnecessarily rebellious?

      Reply
  • Haley

    July 12, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I think people ship non-canon couples for a lot of the reasons that you described. I also think that sometimes people have certain tropes they like in fictional couples, and if the canon couples don’t fit what they like, they may ship a non-canon couple that does.

    Personally, I’ve never really shipped any non-canon couples when it comes to Harry Potter. I’ll read fanfiction of various couples at times, but there hasn’t been one that I’ve really gotten into. I tend to ship canon more often than not for most things. That doesn’t mean I always like the canon couples, but if I don’t, I don’t necessarily ship them with someone else (although there are exceptions). I’m not sure why that is.

    My favorite canon couple in the series is Hermione/Ron. They’re two of my favorite characters, which is probably a huge reason why, and I think a lot of my shipping tastes were influenced by growing up shipping them together. I’ve noticed that some of my favorite ships from other fandoms are similar.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      July 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

      I hadn’t thought of that tropes idea! That makes so much sense, I’m a lover of the hate-love trope usually which explains all my Harry/Draco interest haha

      Ahhh I can see that. You usually like the canon couples, but even if you don’t there isn’t necessarily a character that you would rather see them with. I can understand that.

      Hermione and Ron really are the shining example of the slow burn childhood friendship turns into more, so I can fully see how this could shape your interest in shipping across other books. Especially since the childhood friend trope is so popular!

      Reply

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