It’s more than just sexy times, although there’s plenty of that
Like many others, it started with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. The engaging characters whose stories unfolded against awesome magical backdrops immediately captured my young imagination, as well as my heart. The hours spent reading the books and watching the films fostered a deep connection with the fantasy universe in similar fashion to fans of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars trilogies years before.
However, there was a slight problem with my beloved world of witchcraft and wizardry: Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together!
I believed (and will always believe) that Harry and Hermione would have made a better and more sensible couple than Ron and Hermione. They had a strong friendship built on mutual respect, trust, and affection, and even though Ron remains to be one of my favourite characters, he was never emotionally mature enough to be with Hermione. But just because that was how I felt, didn’t mean I would get the ending I wanted. Until, I discovered fanfiction.
“Fanfiction, usually shortened to either fanfic or fic, is a written work that takes place in a pre-existing fictional world and/or elements from preexisting movies, games, TV shows and other media.”
Through the wonders of the internet I learned there were plenty of fellow distressed Harry Potter fans who felt Harry and Hermione should have been the endgame. Many of these fans took literary matters into their own hands to write and self-publish stories online through free sites like FanFiction.net and Archive of Our Own where Harry and Hermione could finally be together.
From Star Trek to Little House on the Prairie, fanfiction can exist for literally anything that people are fans of. It’s a great artistic outlet and a fun way for people to continue on adventures with their favourite characters after the “real” story is finished.
Even more exciting, the potential creative directions the stories can take are endless! What if Sherlock Holmes ran a coffee shop instead of being a detective? What if the members of the Avengers met in high school? What if there was a mysterious third Skywalker sibling?
Sadly, fanfiction has been given an unfair reputation of being the work of creepy weirdos who get too invested in their nerdy hobby and mooch off other people’s creativity when that’s simply not the case.
Many fic writers are fellow creatives who want to further explore relationship dynamics between characters in different and unique ways that never would have happened in their given canon. And just because the writing is amateur doesn’t mean it’s bad – in fact, many people realise they want to be writers because of their early days with fanfiction. It also serves as a way for people who are under-represented by media to create a place for themselves, as authors often change the ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation of their favourite characters.
What if Harry, Hermione or Ron had been written as a person of colour? What if there was a deeper romantic connection between Remus Lupin and Sirius Black? Could Luna Lovegood have been on the autism spectrum? Exploring these creative potentials through fanfiction with characters people already know and love allows for a unique opportunity to facilitate social change. If people are already interested in a character, then reading about them from a different perspective can help them engage with other people’s experiences.
And yes, what also makes fanfiction so great is that it can help readers get in touch with their sexuality. Literary erotica allows for the exploration of potential sexual fantasies through imagination and can take many forms. Sexy fanfiction happens to be one of the more easily accessible and popular options because of its online presence and use of preexisting characters. People who share a connection with a certain character can go along for the ride and learn about themselves in a safe setting, as that character explores their own sexuality through the story.