- LGBTQ Pride,Ramblings of a Writer/Artist
Holly Potter and the Break from Bigotry
- January 3, 2022
Recently, after the longest time ever between chapter updates… I released the eleventh chapter of my fanfic, Holly Potter and the Witching World, a massive AU fanfic where the twist is that 90% of the magical world is female and polygamy is the norm. (Here, links to the fic on Archive Of Our Own (AO3) , Fanfiction.net (FFN) and WordPress (WP) — it’s the same fic on all three sites, but the WordPress version has drawings, FAQs and extras.)
It’s not JUST a sex fantasy… well, it kind of started out as one (I’ll get back to that), but it sort of evolved into a look at a society where sexual norms and morality was different from what we were used to, the “nuclear family” wasn’t really a thing, and how relationships were different because of it.
Truth be told, I had actually pondered quietly leaving the story behind, with the increasing bigotry of J. K. Rowling. Or “JKR,” as I not-so-lovingly call her.
I used to be a total Harry Potter fangirl… that’s not so easy these days, when the creator of Harry Potter has gone off the deep end and repeatedly spouts transphobic nonsense… only to then play the victim for all it’s worth, cry about how everyone is so mean to her and she only wants to protect “women and girls.” And of course she completely ignores the damage her words creates, not to mention how “mean” her sycophant followers are to trans people… or how bigot politicians quote her when voting against anti-discrimination laws… or how violence against trans people is worse than it’s been in years.
Time-Warner, who of course owns the rights to the HP movie franchise, video games and such, are kind of trying to have their cake and eat it too. Harry Potter is one of their big money makers, so they’re kind of trying to distance themselves from JKR and yet kind of not. They’ll point out how she isn’t involved in their big sandbox video games, and initially not invite her to the 20th anniversary celebration of the first movie… only to then quietly reveal to have invited her anyway. They’re clearly reluctant to pass up on the chance to get money from either the JKR sycophants and the people who stand against JKR… but that’s not a big surprise. It’s Time-Warner. They only go for what they think’ll make them the most money and hang everything else.
And in between all of this, there was this freakish, LGBTQ-centric, kind of horny little AU I started a few years ago, long before JKR went bananas.
I suppose I have to bother you all with a bit of history. If it helps, there’s quite a bit of sex talk in it… a lot more than in the fic itself, at least so far. (Well, the main character is still eight years old in the first part of the fic. I’m not doing anything sexually explicit with her until she’s a lot older!)
As I might have mentioned before (it’s certainly been mentioned in author’s notes and such), the Witching World started out as something I created almost by accident. It all started back in 2016, long before JKR went nuts (or at least OPENLY nuts), and I was getting into online, adult-rated Harry Potter themed roleplays.
Now… in these plays you could play any character, or any version of a character, you felt like. Among the regular OC Hogwarts students and teachers, you had many variations of canon characters. Of course Hermione was the most popular character to play, closely followed by Harry or fem!Harry. Luna and Ginny also had their share of variants and players, Luna especially. There were a couple of Dracos, but not that many, and tons of sexy Slytherins with canon names and OC personalities.
There weren’t a lot of variants on Ron, though. Ron… is kind of not very popular in a lot of HP fandoms, or at least back in 2016 he was pretty loathed. (He seems to have gained more of a following in later years, probably as backlash against the extreme Ron-hatred that plagued the fandom for more than a decade.) So of course I decided that my initial character for the play would be fem!Ron.
So that was the start of Veronica “Ronnie” Weasley. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was the first start to my Witching World AU.
Ronnie was fairly well received. Some people didn’t get the point of her and why didn’t I just play Ginny, but overall people seemed to enjoy my take on a fem!Ron. I had originally envisioned her as just a female version of Ron, to whom canon circumstances would mostly apply… but, pretty much thanks to various interactions with other players it soon shifted to simply “she comes from an AU where all the Weasley children except one are girls.” It varied who the male sibling was, but I remember it was never Ginny… somehow I couldn’t envision Ginny as a dude. More often it was Bill, Charlie or Percy. Sometimes I just decided ALL the Weasleys were girls.
You can probably see how I was inadvertently staking up towards my “witching world” idea, but it wasn’t quite there yet.
The witching world, or at least a prototype of it, got its start when some of the people I played one one-on-one with requested a “harem play” thing… you know, one guy with several girls.
I was fine with it… it MAY have had something to do with me reading some Arabian Nights-inspired stories as a teen and a few fantasies that just happened all on their own about being turned into a hypnotized harem girl (my hypnofetish did tend to creep into a lot of places)… but also, I like playing multiple characters in an RP. To be honest, sometimes that’s all that keeps my interest; if the other players aren’t that engaging I can have some fun with the way my own characters interact. So I was all “Harem play? Sure, sounds fun!”
The problem was… well. the PROBLEM was that the HP world really isn’t suited for harem play.
Oh, sure, looking at the fanfic scene there are, or at least back then there WERE lots of harem fics… but almost without exception they were terrible. Usually it was Harry who ended up getting/having to marry or at least fuck a huge number of girls, because of either being the Boy Who Lived, or because the author had no idea how nobility works and Sirius named Harry his heir so now he was Lord Potter-Black and had more money than anyone in the world and the law said he could/had to gather a harem of wives, and so he got all the HOTTEST girls (who generally had no real say, and no real personality but just got with him because he was such a STUD), all while he became HIS OWN MAN instead of following that bastard Dumbledore… and this is around the time I tend to hit the “back” button on the browser cause it was getting stupid. I don’t MIND power fantasies, as such, but it can get to be a little too much.
Besides, having an accepted or “mandatory” harem thing in the wizarding world, such as it is in canon? That stiff-necked, heteronormative, weirdly prudish hyper-British setting that when it came to morals seemed a weird mix of Victorian times and the 1950s? Not on your life. I don’t care how badass or powerful or “lordly” this AU Harry Potter might be, if he tries to take more than one wife he’s going to be ostracized and probably jailed for bigamy.
So I began thinking. Okay, let’s make an AU where harems are the norm. Why would harems be the norm? Well, the answer lay pretty openly in the “Weasley sisters” AU I’d more or less created for Ronnie. If the Weasleys were predominantly female in this world… maybe I could expand it to that the entire magical world was predominantly female? Say I keep the Muggle world the same, but make it so that for some reason most magical births are female?
If wizards are a minority… say we have ten witches for every wizard… that would mean the witches would HAVE to share their men, unless they wanted to go out and find a Muggle man… or unless they wanted to just give up on men altogether… Hmm, there was an idea.
My initial name for it was “the witches’ world,” but I soon changed it to “the witching world,” to better mirror the “wizarding world” in canon. The witching world would be largely dominated by women, simply because men only made up like 10% of the magical population. And so, after splitting off from the Muggle world, the witches began forming polygynous families with one husband and several wives.
I also very quickly decided that with the rarity of boys in the witching world, they wouldn’t be sorted into the four Hogwarts houses along with the girls… they’d be MOBBED. No, it only made sense that if the boys attended Hogwarts, they would have their own house. So I spent a bit of time developing this fifth house, which I of course named “Merlin.”
And because boys were so rare, Merlins got all sorts of luxuries and privileges; they all had their own private bedrooms and bathrooms (unlike the girls who slept in dorms and had to share bathrooms), they didn’t compete in the House cup, misbehaviour was more often overlooked, teachers and custodians prioritized them… but on the flipside, they didn’t get the freedom that the other three houses got; they weren’t allowed to play Quidditch or take dangerous subjects such as Care of Magical Creatures, they weren’t allowed to leave school premises and go down to the village unless accompanied by at least three witches their age or older…
Things seemed to be coming together. I took an extra look at the canon four houses… since I was already changing things up by making them all female, I might as well alter them a bit in other ways too… the basics would remain the same (brave Gryffindor, brainy Ravenclaw, cunning Slytherin and friendly Hufflepuff) but a couple of things that had irked me in canon could be changed up… let’s get rid of the “all Slytherins are evil and ugly” thing, and drop the “Hufflepuff is a joke” stigma… while I was at it I changed Hufflepuff’s animal from a badger to a rabbit, because rabbits are cuter and cuddlier and more popular animals but have some of the same “often underestimated” things. I mean… read Watership Down; rabbits can be total badasses if they need to be.
All of this were things I came up with pretty much in one afternoon, just as a kind of backdrop to a harem-themed one on one play… just because I couldn’t get comfortable with the ideas of harems in the HP world. Since I also didn’t like how some of those harem fanfics were so OPEN about Harry fucking a lot of girls while at Hogwarts, to the point where they got their own marriage suite or whatever… I decided to take what I thought was a slightly more realistic approach for a boarding school with a lot of horny teenagers living under the same roof: Sex happened all the time, but not openly. Students would sneak around and meet up in secret, and since there are so many secret rooms and passageways in Hogwarts, there would be plenty of opportunities to avoid the teachers.
There, I had a decent set-up for a horny harem-themed HP roleplay.
I’m not going to go into detail all that happened in the first play. I remember I played Ronnie and a few other girls, and a couple more details of what this world might be like formed… anyway, I found the idea interesting enough that I thought maybe I could take it a little further.
It was around this time I found out that there existed a HP fanfic where there were more witches than wizards, magical society was different and there was polygyny and a “Harem” situation… The Firebird trilogy by Darth Marrs. Intrigued, I began reading the first story in the trilogy, and…
There’s no nice way to say this: The Firebird trilogy is hot garbage. At first it seems like a thought-out and interesting AU, even if it’s totally dystopian and everything sucks, and everything about the harems, or “covens” is essentially done to suck the magical power out of all men and… look, the entire thing is just REALLY misogynistic, the characters are deeply unlikeable (Luna Lovegood’s usually my fave char in any HP story, but WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW I LOATHE the Firebird incarnation of her), and the famed worldbuilding doesn’t actually make any sense if you actually think about it for more than a few minutes. I can forgive things like magicals being able to breed with Muggles at a young age but then becoming incompatible as they grow older, because magic doesn’t always have to follow real-world logic. I can even excuse the “dwindling population” problem even though like 80% of the population have functioning wombs and can carry children (a limited number of men is far less of a problem for the survival of the species than a limited number of women), because again magic might mess things up. But the way the world is built up… yeah, it’s supposed to be a broken and evil system, and societies aren’t always coolly logical… but they’re so inconsistent here.
So men are these rare special commodities, bur they are allowed to play violent sports and have dangerous jobs? Magically powerful men are desirable, but only because that mean they can bond with more women, and they’re forced to take on so many wives that they can barely use any magic… so why are they even taught to use magic in the first place? If they HAVE to know the basics because it would be dangerous for them not to, why do they receive the same education as the women? Why is Hogwarts co-ed at all? We see desperate schoolgirls trying to force bonds on boys too young to defend themselves, and yet the children go to the same school and play on the same sports teams?! Boys and girls are kept separate and barely interact for their first couple of years, but then they are suddenly brought together and have the same classes when they hit their teens… when hormones are highest and they’re MORE likely to try stupid things?
People have said that at least some of these questions are addressed within the story, but to be honest, I gave up. To quote a Reddit user I read (but who deleted their account so I can’t name them), the problems seemed less like “here’s a plot thread that will come up later” and more like “did you actually think about this story when you were writing it?” If the intent was to show a grimdark society ruled by cloud cuckoolanders and how senseless it can seem, bravo. But the simpler explanation is that Darth Marrs just isn’t very good at worldbuilding.
So I left that mess of a story behind… though I did swipe the term “coven” from it. The word was just too good not to be used. It sounded witchy, certainly a lot better than “harem.”
I began thinking a little more closely about what the witching world would be like. I didn’t want it to be a dystopia like Darth Marrs’s world, but I didn’t want it to be a total sex fantasy utopia with no problems either. For one thing, with the heavy slant towards women, you’d imagine that lesbian relationships would be accepted, even encouraged… besides, the covens would be a lot more fun for everyone involved if the wives could entertain each other as well and not leave everything to the husband. Situational sexuality being a thing, I could imagine very well that a LOT of witches would experiment with bisexuality… it’d be common enough that nobody would have any problems with two or more girls kissing, or going even further. Gay MALE relationships, however, would be frowned upon… and what about trans people?
All of a sudden I had a few more details here. The one gay character from canon was Dumbledore. Assuming he was still male in this world… How would he fare in the witching world? Well, he definitely wouldn’t be the respected Headmaster and pillar of the magical society he is in canon… more likely he’d be shunned and ostracized, even if he was still as brilliant and magically powerful as in canon… Before I knew it, the white-bearded Headmaster from canon had vanished. In his place was a much younger (or at least much younger LOOKING) Dumbledore who lived on the fringes of the witching world, as a private investigator who helped out magical and Muggle alike. Oh, and somehow, just to make it even better, Hagrid showed up in my head and insisted on being his “Dr Watson” type assistant….
Well. Private eye Dumbledore and assistant Hagrid? No way I couldn’t use THAT. The idea was too cool not to use, and MUCH more interesting than just gender-flipping them both and giving them their canon roles. As for the Headmaster… at first I thought about just promoting McGonagall to Headmistress, but then I had the idea of using Ariana. After all, in a world like this, with many more mothers and older sisters to look after her, Ariana probably wouldn’t have been attacked by Muggles and would have gone on to attend Hogwarts… why shouldn’t she have ended up as the Headmistress? And she could still be supportive of her brother, and maybe even put people who needed “discreet” help in touch with him… this was getting more and more interesting.
But what about trans people? Hmm.
JKR’s meltdown was still a while away at this point, so introducing a trans character in an HP AU didn’t seem like such a big deal. There were already HP fanfics with a transgender Harry, some of which I had read and enjoyed, and besides… when the magical world already had such an extreme gender imbalance, the question that almost immediately sprang to mind was how trans people would be treated in this society. Transitioning probably would be easier, with the use of magic, but with the rarity of guys in this world I couldn’t imagine trans women having an easy time of it. Trans MEN and genderfluid people would probably have it better, but there would probably be SOME stigma there… while I didn’t really want to turn the entire fic into a story of trans issues, I knew I had to at least INCLUDE it.
After some thought I decided to turn Fred Weasley into a trans girl, which would add some interesting dynamics with the Weasley twins, but could also tie the Weasleys to Dumbledore; what if he was the one who helped find a way for Fred to transition?
After having written down so much, I decided I might as well tackle another problem the AU led to: The story of James, Lily and the Marauders could not be the same. Four boys becoming friends at school and getting up to mischief, that worked fine… but the entire thing with Lupin and Snape? And the stormy James/Lily romance? Probably wouldn’t work. For that matter, given how Wormtail in canon turned traitor out of fear… would he even be in that situation in this version? And if James had a coven with several wives, did that mean ALL of them died to protect Harry, or would Harry be raised by the surviving wives? And what about Sirius? Who would I gender-flip and who would I keep the same gender?
So I began writing a Marauders backstory, and what happened to them in this universe. This quickly expanded to writing in more detail about Voldemort and the war, which again took on a different twist when I realized that in a world like this Voldemort wouldn’t have happened in the same way either… you wouldn’t really have that much “Pureblood” obsession when everyone lives in polygamies anyway, and so Voldemort would need a new thing to rally his followers around… maybe he didn’t even use the “Voldemort” name, maybe he stayed “Tom Riddle”… or was he a woman? Nah, if Dumbledore was a man, Tom Riddle would be a man too…. Before I knew it I had written like 20 pages of backstory and worldbuilding.
It was around that time I decided “nobody’s going to read all this for a harem themed roleplay. Maybe I should just write a fanfic.”
So I began plotting out the fanfic. One of the first things I decided upon was that if I was doing a HP fanfic that would by default have some harem themes, I didn’t want to make it a “Harry/Harem” story. It seemed overkill if Harry was going to be BOTH the Boy Who Lived and the Chosen One, AND a super-rare male wizard… nope, this would be a Fem!Harry. And so I set out to create my new Fem!Harry; Holly Potter.
The introduction of Holly and the proper backstory of Lily and the Marauders really set off the worldbuilding. I began going farther away from canon, deciding that since this was turning into MY OWN world rather than JKR’s, I might as well change or get rid of some of JKR’s ideas that I never liked. The first thing to go was the prophecy; I don’t like prophecies in storytelling. I gave Tom Riddle other motivations, which I thought worked a lot better. I also got rid of the Time-Turners, because I don’t want to write about time travel. I made several other changes, including changes to how magic worked…
I played Holly in a number of roleplays too, to test out the character, and she was even better received than Ronnie had been.
So, with all this on board, after a lot of preparations but still with a lot of things undecided that I would just have to wing…. In December 2017 I posted the first chapter of Holly Potter and the Witching World to AO3.
After a while, I was talked into putting it up on FFN too, but to be honest I find FFN to be rather inferior to AO3, both when it comes to posting, editing and interacting with the audience. I also put it up on Tumblr, but Tumblr is actually really terrible for fanfics… so I instead started a WordPress site.
The fic’s a lot less horny than the roleplays had been… especially since I ended up starting in Holly’s pre-Hogwarts days and I wasn’t going to start up with graphic erotic details when the main protagonist was eight years old.
But it’s still pretty horny compared to canon HP. Unlike JKR, I wasn’t going to slavishly keep to the main character’s POV… there are several scenes, and a few chapters, where Holly doesn’t appear and everything is told from someone else’s POV. These scenes sometimes include more swearing and more erotic hints and moment. The witching world, for all its flaws, is a very sex-positive world. And as Holly grows older, teenage hormones will likely begin rearing their ugly head… but for the moment, the fic won’t include her in any sexy scenes.
I can’t say the fic it was a MASSIVE success, but I did get some positive feedback, along with some really sour rants about how much the fic sucked… and one memorable instance where an FFN reviewer accused me of plagiarizing the fic on AO3… which I had written under the same pen name as on FFN… and there were people complaining about how illogical the witching world was and the covens didn’t make any sense and the gene pool would be too shallow and the witches SHOULD just go out and marry Muggles instead.
My answer to this is that societies that operate purely on logic don’t exist, and people tend to go with what they’re USED to rather than what is the most logical thing to do. If you want a story where everyone does the logical thing all the time, you’d be better off reading a story set on Planet Vulcan or something. I’ll pass, if you don’t mind; it sounds horribly boring.
Also, I’m not an expert on genetics, but I do know that scientists have found that 8000 years ago 17 women reproduced for every one man, and clearly the human race didn’t die out from inbreeding… so I really don’t think the problem is as big as you claim. The average coven is 5 or 6 women to one man; let’s say of the 4 remaining women 1 or 2 goes off and has kids with a Muggle man… I think the gene pool will be fine, especially with magic to help out.
Weirdly pedantic rants about genes aside, I was pretty satisfied with the outcome. I was doing a lot more worldbuilding behind the scenes, finding out what various canon characters were doing in this world and how they were different, looking at other magical beings and their societies, and more and more ignoring the canon of JKR, which was getting further and further away from what I wanted anyway. I didn’t have the time to write as much for the fic as I wanted, especially since I was starting to really get going with my art commissions, but I was happy with getting out the occasional chapter.
Then in June 2020… PRIDE MONTH, of all months… JKR went all TERF. I already wrote about her transphobic essay and just why and how it was transphobic, and my reactions to it so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that here and now. Suffice to say, this was when my days of being a HP fangirl was over.
It did help, slightly, that the stars of the HP movies all came out with pro-trans statements and denouncing JKR’s essay and tweets, and the fandom (already filled with LGBTQ people) grew even more LGBTQ-friendly and trans positive. A lot of discussions were had about whether or not one should separate the story from the storyteller, and whether the HP would still had something to give us even if its creator had turned sour. In my case I decided I was done with anything “official” Harry Potter and would solely focus on the fandom and fan creations from now on.
Problem was that JKR didn’t STOP. It was like she WANTED a lot of controversy, so that she could scream a little more about how mean and unfair everyone was to her. Every time things were dying down, she’d make another transphobic tweet, or be sarcastic about how she was cancelled, or talk about “women and girls” or declare her support for the “brave and wonderful” people who were “just telling the truth.” She constantly played the victim card and really milked how AWFUL everyone was to her, and she wasn’t worried for HERSELF, but all her brave and wonderful and very vulnerable fans who were bullied by the TRAs…
It got less and less fun to even look at anything remotely connected with that woman. And Holly Potter and the Witching World lay untouched for months. To be perfectly honest, I was on the verge of giving up on the fic.
Ironically, it was another transphobic tweet from JKR and subsequent storm where all her sycophantic TERF fans leapt to her defence and yelled about how THEY were the bullied and stigmatized victims, that gave me back some of my spark. There was this nagging feeling that said “you can’t let her win that easily.”
And so I began easing my way back into writing. I already made the decision that If I was going to draw anything HP-related from now on it would simply be filtered through my AU. So… I kind of had to keep the fic going, at least a little while. There was still too much worldbuilding and too many characters I hadn’t had the chance to show off yet.
Over the last few weeks and months I’ve kind of swapped out the canon wizarding world for my own witching world in my mind. It’s still “inspired by” the Harry Potter series, and really there’s so many names and terms from canon that it can’t ever be anything but a fanfic… but it’s MY world. It’s my own freaky little AU world, where LGBTQ issues matter and transphobes are rightly treated as the bigots they are. The witching world may not be a paragon of tolerance (the stigmatization of gay men and trans women is a perfect example of that), but I, as its creator, can at least try to do BETTER than the creator of the original wizarding world.
No matter your gender or sex or sexuality, no matter your skin colour or heritage, no matter if you’re poly or asexual or monogamous… I support you. Not all of my characters will, especially not the ones who are bigots.
But take it from a pansexual, genderfluid aromantic… the characters who AREN’T bigots will work to create a better, more tolerant and more inclusive world. They may not always succeed. But they’ll always try.