That’s the headline that caught my eye as I was paging through a magazine. The only Harry and Draco I knew were from the Harry Potter books, and I remember thinking, Harry doesn’t love Draco. He hates Draco. Curious, I went to the après l’école! website, which was touted as a listing of Post-Hogwarts Harry/Draco Fan Fiction (stories written by fans using characters from their favorite books, movies, and TV series).
My thought process has always been black and white — much like Harry’s, actually — and I’d never ventured beyond Rowling’s Dumbledore good/Malfoy bad universe. But by the end of my first fanfic, I was convinced: The posturing, fighting, and rivalry littered through the books could have masked Harry and Draco’s repressed romantic feelings. And as I continued reading, a world of new possibilities opened up for characters I thought I knew well. So when Harry was growing and changing and thinking in these fics, I was, too.
One story in particular had an impact on me. It’s after the war, Harry is living alone, and his friends convince him to take in a lodger. Draco, down on his luck because his side lost, needs a room. There’s no love lost between the two in the beginning, but they work through a load of problems. The key one for me is that they’re both depressed. They make a depression potion and talk things out, and they get better.
Around the time I was reading the story, I’d been feeling pretty bad — just low-level unhappy for no good reason. And the thought occurred to me: If Harry Potter is depressed, maybe I am, too. Maybe I can be depressed and not be weak or lazy or not trying hard enough to be happy. So I took myself off to my GP and got a prescription for Cymbalta, and life was good. Seriously. I quickly felt 100% better.
But some of you may have noticed that I skipped the second part of the Harry/Draco cure: talking things out. That took a little longer — and crying every single day for six months — but I eventually got up the nerve to talk to a professional. And things are going well. Some days are good; some days are bad.
I’m grateful that headline caught my eye. Yeah, fandom is filled with hot, man-lurve fic, and I have read stories that waxed poetic about someone’s “throbbing member.” But there’s some honest-to-goodness great writing out there. And there are stories that change lives.
What do you read? Any recommendations — especially Harry Potter (HP/SS of HP/DM), Torchwood (J/I), or BBC1’s Sherlock (SH/JW)? Has anything seemingly as banal as fanfic changed your life?
Illustration by kogepan.