Author has written 5 stories for Harry Potter, Mass Effect, Familiar of Zero, and Borderlands.
One of the things I love about the Harry Potter universe, and the reason why it's so fun to write fanfiction for it, is that it's so very broken. It's great fun while you're reading it, but you get hit with fridge logic (i.e. what you suddenly realize when you take a break from reading to grab a snack or something) all the time. There's tons of problems or at least inadequately explained bits.
- Who authorizes a 13-year-old girl to have a time travel device? Couldn't they have just offered tutors instead?
- How can magicals be so amazingly isolated from muggles? More to the point, why are they not aware of the destructive power of guns, grenades, tanks, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and NUKES?
- Is Magical Britain a typical magical country, or is it lagging behind the rest of the world? France has a half-giantess as the headmistress of its premier magical school.
- Why is the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets in a girl's bathroom?
- What the hell is going on with Luna?
There's plenty of other examples, but the fun of it is that there's also tons of different ways that fanfics explain away these problems.
There's a few things I dislike from canon, though. Most of it is in the last book. LOADS OF SPOILERS AHOY!
- Dumbledore. Where do I even start? Let’s start at the beginning. Obviously, in the first few books, Dumbledore is… almost like God. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and very kind and loving and has an answer for all of Harry’s questions (except he won’t tell him the answer for one of those questions). That’s actually fine early on- Harry’s only 11-13, he’s new to the magical world, he needs someone to guide him.
But in the end, he’s just a mortal man. Many readers fail to remember that. Also, he has a lot of power, and with power comes responsibility. Many readers fail to remember that, too.
Dumbledore was almost wholly responsible for Harry’s upbringing. He set up the wards. He ordered Mrs. Figg to watch over him. He practically threatened Petunia into taking Harry in. He’s also the Chief Warlock- and Sirius didn’t get a trial. Curious. He has many people loyal to him and one dedicated to watching Harry, and he is “surprised” that Harry was abused at his home. Huh. Yeah, can he really pretend that he didn’t have a single day off in ten years to check up on a baby? A baby he left on someone’s doorstep?
Then comes the kicker: he planned for Harry to die. (Yes, that is canon, read Deathly Hallows. He fully intends Harry to die, even Snape goes “WTF?”). Most children don’t give their own lives up so easily. Survival instinct and all. How do you convince a child that killing themselves is the right thing to do for the good of the people? I don’t know, but it would require you to be in a position of power over them, hold their respect, control their living conditions, shape their sense of morality, and convince them that death isn’t all that bad, but will just be “the next great adventure.”
You may think that the Deathly Hallows were Dumbledore’s way of “protecting” Harry from Death. I doubt it. How did the Elder Wand get passed on to Harry? Uh, sheer coincidence, that’s how. He was planning on letting Snape kill him (willingly) and end the wand’s power there. If the Deathly Hallows were what saved Harry from dying (other theories are that Voldemort had Harry’s blood and the fact that Harry had more than one soul), then that wasn’t what Dumbledore had planned for Harry.
Dumbledore’s definitions of “love” is very warped. I get the sense he’s twisting emotions as much as possible to force Harry to agree with him. In OotP: "But she took you," Dumbledore cut across him. "She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously,unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you Okay, so actions under duress still allow love-powered blood magic to work. Does that mean rape is love? Then, in the next book:
“…you have never... shown the slightest desire to become one of Voldemort’s followers!”
- Ron in general, and by extension, Ron/Hermione. Let’s start with Ron himself. Throughout the series, jealousy, lack of self-control, and lack of empathy are his big problems. GoF is where it’s the most apparent, but he doesn’t really develop even through most of DH. His immature emotions never really let him empathize properly with Harry’s plight in life, and instead focused on what he wanted himself- Harry’s fame and fortune, which leads to his own jealousy. Harry, of course, has felt jealous before as well- when Ron became prefect instead of him. However, he was mature enough not to let it come between them.
How about Ron’s work ethic? A prefect is supposed to enforce rules and set a good example for the rest of the students. There’s a scene where Hermione confiscates a Fanged Frisbee- a banned item. Ron takes it and intends to keep it for himself. Some other time later, he boots a kid off a chair in the common room just because he wanted it (Hermione kicks Ron off and lets the kid sit down again). Uh… Ron? That seems like something Malfoy would do.
How about when Harry pretends to dose him with Felix Felicis? He knows it’s against the rules. Harry made it “obvious” he slipped something into his drink. What does he do? Spoiler alert: I’m sorry if you believe Ron is honest enough to turn down illegal drugs to win at sports.
Some people argue that Ron finally grew up towards the end of the last book. It could have been a temporary maturity, like the month between the First Task and the Yule Ball in the fourth book, where he learns his lesson for a while before he forgets it and does something stupid again. What do I mean? The epilogue. He only gets a few speaking lines in that final chapter nineteen years later, and our very last look at him is right after he passed a driving test by confounding the examiner. Geez, Ron, couldn’t you try some honesty?
So, why does this make Ron/Hermione a bad thing?
Couples argue. That’s natural; people are different and no matter how compatible they are, the differences will show up eventually. Ron and Hermione, unfortunately, aren’t compatible. They don’t have small unique differences, they just have fundamentally opposing differences. Hermione’s constantly fixing Ron’s problems- see the above examples. There’s the prefect scene- Hermione enforces rules while Ron blatantly violates them while in a position of power. Then the Felix Felicis scene - Hermione points out that using it is wrong, Ron just ignores her and takes it anyways. Then the epilogue - Hermione jokes about Ron confounding the examiner, Ron actually does it (and then keeps it a secret from her). And no, Hermione doesn’t enjoy fixing her friends’ mistakes. She enjoys solving their problems.
Even Neville would be a better pairing for her than Ron. Neville’s willing to learn and work hard to achieve, and by the end of DH he’s a total BAMF. He took charge of the DA when Harry was gone, he led the rebellion against the Death Eater teachers… and he grew up to be a professor! He enjoys teaching, Hermione enjoys learning… man, what a nice couple they would make. I kind of want to write a N/Hr story now.
Gah. Ron’s a jerk of a main character, kind of like Britt in The Green Hornet. At least in Green Hornet they made it obvious, and we were supposed to laugh at him for it. In the books, we’re supposed to forgive him for it, because Harry forgives his faults. Which brings me to…
- Forgiveness for Everyone! Yay!
Let’s start with Ron, he’s forgiven for everything. Especially in Book 4. He manages to do absolutely everything wrong and Harry and Hermione just “get over it” and welcome him back. I can’t really blame Harry and Hermione, neither of them had friends before Hogwarts so I guess they’re scared to lose ½ of the total number of close friends they have ever made in their lives. Seriously, though, Ron’s actions don’t have consequences. And that’s a bad thing.
Next up is Draco. Let’s see, 2 attempted murders that nearly killed 2 wrong targets. They only survived due to sheer luck- Katie and Slughorn would be dead if it were not for a glove and a very coincidentally-timed love potion. Then he’s openly assisting Lord Voldemort. What does he get? Not Azkaban, because by the epilogue he’s married with children attending Hogwarts. Mostly because, despite being totally proud of being a Death Eater, once the ball got rolling, he got scared of what being a Death Eater really meant. And lemme guess, fear = love, too, and anyone who can love is automatically forgiven.
And Snape. He’s so totally forgiven he even gets a child named after him. So yeah, being a spy is totally brave and noble, I agree. But being a dickwad to a kid you’ve never met just because he’s the child of a guy you didn’t like… is just being a dickwad. No two ways about it. He’s a bad teacher. He insults students (Hermione), deliberately “loses” their work (Harry) and clearly plays favourites (Slytherins). Do the Death Eaters have a “must make X number of children cry” clause before allowing you to join? If not, he’s just being a dickwad because that’s what he is. Don’t worry, he’s forgiven because he has a crush on Harry’s mom.
- What is love?
For being one of the central themes of the story, there aren’t many good examples of genuine love in Harry Potter. I’m even including familial love and such.
We have Dumbledore’s definitions of love. Which are just weird.
We have Snape’s “love” of Lily, who he hasn’t spoken to since he called her a racial slur. If he didn’t understand why she fell for James, he didn’t understand her at all. How could he love her if he has no clue about the kind of man she loves herself?
We have Ginny’s love for Harry. Which is weird, because it’s obviously a fangirl crush early on. They don’t have any significant interactions… ever, until HBP, when we’re hinted that she’s dissatisfied with her current relationships and suddenly she’s gotten over her crush with Harry and simultaneously fell in love with him. Before they’ve spoken more than 10 sentences to each other over the last 5 books.
We have Harry’s love of his parents. The parents he never knew, and he can only get clues from other peoples’ stories. The father he didn’t know was actually a bully back in school. Sadly, Harry never had any real memory of them, and can’t love anything other than what he imagines as his parents.
We have the love between Ron and Hermione, which is very poorly demonstrated.
We have Remus and Tonks’ love, which… came out of nowhere and went nowhere, and had Remus trying to run away from the responsibility of it...
We have Sirius and Harry’s love, but they saw each other for all of… a few weeks, total? And at the very end, even Sirius accidentally mistakes Harry for James. How sad.
- The epilogue. It’s a waste of space, and to me it does more harm than good. See, when you have only one final look at each character, you should make every line count. That’s why the “Ron cheating at his driving exam” hits stronger than his other faults throughout the story. We have to assume that this is what a typical day in these characters' lives are like.
Why’s it a waste of space? Because it really doesn’t tell us anything except that everything stayed the same after 19 years. At the end of the story, Voldemort is defeated, Harry reunites with Ginny, Ron and Hermione get together, Neville is respected at Hogwarts as a student, Malfoy is giving up his Death Eater ways, Harry forgives Snape. In the epilogue, we see that Voldemort is still defeated and not coming back, Harry is still with Ginny and they have kids, Ron is still with Hermione and they have kids, Neville is still respected at Hogwarts, but as a professor, Malfoy is still giving up his Death Eater ways and has a kid, and Harry named one of his kids Severus. This is one of the few times I can say that the one line, “and they lived happily ever after” is actually more interesting than a whole chapter.
- Quidditch. Mostly the position of seeker. It's a game played by two people that, by some kind of scheduling error, happens at the same time and place that twelve other people are playing a sport. How could one single position hold that much power and render an entire team useless? Does it count as a team sport if one player alone determines the victory and he can ignore the rest of the game?
Even in canon, Harry spends much of his time just hovering around watching the game like a spectator. No interaction at all. He even chats with another seeker at one point. Let’s have a quick review of Seeker strategy:
- If your team is less than 15 goals behind, catch the snitch. You win the game.
- If your team is more than 15 goals behind, catch the snitch. Your team sucks and if the game gets any longer, it’ll just be more embarrassing. Seriously, a 15-goal spread means your chasers or keeper really suck. In canon, most quidditch games end with scores around 300 for the winning team, including the snitch- so teams generally score about 150 points via chasers. If you’re losing by 150 points before the snitch… the other team’s chasers are already mauling you, and you have no chance of closing that gap.
The Seeker position is stupid. Then again, wizards don’t have an ounce of logic…
Writing Challenge! I'm putting this idea up because I haven't seen any fanfics that use it and I'll have a hard time incorporating it into the current story I'm working on.
Harry Potter learns muggle magic before attending Hogwarts.
- That's the basic premise. Harry has learned muggle magic tricks, and thinks that Hogwarts itself is just another school for magic where he'll learn some more card tricks and stage magic when he first receives his letter.
- Harry ran away from home early, abandoning the Dursleys because of the abuse.
- He lived on the streets for a while, learning basics of sleight-of-hand while pickpocketing.
- He learned to earn more honest money by performing magic tricks on the streets in the afternoons and evenings. (not during the day when adults would ask why he's not in school)
- Most of the "magic" he knows is much street magic and table magic: i.e. small tricks with very little setup and equipment required- mostly card, coin, cups-and-balls, that sort of stuff.
- After arriving at Hogwarts, students and professors alike mistake his skills for wandless conjuration/vanishing/transfiguration. He even breaks a few laws of magic by "conjuring" food and money. He ends up accidentally earning a reputation of being the most powerful wizard ever.
- However he defeats Voldemort, it's more through trickery than through actual magic.
- You can ignore the horcruxes if you'd like.
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