Harry Potter & the Wand of Neverending Secretions

'...as their eyes locked from across the room, their wands grew stiff in their sweaty hands...

Harry Potter and the Gay Fantasy

from AFP

NEW YORK - As Harry Potter fans speculate what still lies in store for the world's favourite boy wizard, few envisage him leaving Hogwarts and settling into a committed gay relationship with arch foe Draco Malfoy.

But some do.

"Draco's breath is warm against his neck, his body gradually relaxing as Harry holds him, refusing to let go, and Harry discovers this is the most comfortable he's ever been in his entire life."

Welcome to fan fiction, or "fanfic" - stories, millions of them, that people write about their favourite characters from literature, television, and film, and then post online. Fanfic has been around for three decades in one form or another, but it is only in recent years with the rise of the Internet that it has emerged as a literary sub-genre with global appeal.

The largest repository on the web is at fanfiction.net which boasts an archive of well over one million stories about every imaginable fictional character, from Hamlet to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Most popular are the Harry Potter fanfics, which number more than 200,000 and range in ambition from a snippet of imagined conversation between two minor characters to complex, novel-length adventures divided into cliff-hanging chapters.

Some websites, like sugarquill.net, are exclusively for Potter fanfics, and draw contributions from amateur writers as far afield as Australia, Iceland, the Philippines, and India. Sugarquill accepts submissions that are respectful of the Harry Potter canon, and none that portray overt sexual acts. "We don't have them doing it on the sofa," said sugarquill co-founder Jennie Levine, 33.

Other sites have them doing it everywhere, in every way and in every possible combination.

"I don't feel its my job or anybody else's to say what their kick should be. As long as it's well-written, I'll post it," said Vikki Dolenga who set up the adult-themed Potter fanfic site, Restrictedsection.org, in 2002. A large number of submissions to the site fall into the category of "slash" fanfic - so called because it explores homosexual pairings of traditionally straight characters, such as Harry/Draco.

Slash has it origins in fanfics written in the mid-1970s that imagined breathless couplings between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the iconic Star Trek series.

With content ranging from unfulfilled homoerotic yearnings to the sexually explicit, slash writing is, perhaps surprisingly, dominated by straight women writers. "I find it extremely liberating," said Lauren, 28, an advertising copywriter in New York. "I'm not sure why I prefer slash to het (heterosexual)...maybe I just find it easier to write smut from a distance."

The growing, Internet-generated popularity of fanfic has attracted mixed reactions from the original authors of the works being co-opted.

"I do not allow fan fiction," Vampire Chronicles novelist Anne Rice wrote in a statement on her official website in 2000. "The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters," Rice said.

Potter creator JK Rowling and her publishers have adopted a more conciliatory approach, objecting only to fanfic that is sexually explicit, violent, or profane.

Websites like Restrictdsection.org have received cease-and-desist orders, but can usually remain up and running by simply adding registration and password procedures that deter people under 18 years of age.

"It's 2005 and we're still here," Dolenga said. "Though I don't think we'll be winning one of (Rowling's) best website awards."


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