Mumbai, July 27: Call it Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Part II.
The teenage wizard is up against something weirder than black magic. A lot of Muggles are subjecting him to a lot of sex, taking care that his lovers are all men.
In the aftermath of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, there are a thousand-odd websites devoted to Potter slash, a form of fan fiction, branded perverse and sick, that has the young wizard indulging in relationships very different from that approved of by J.K. Rowling or boarding school rules.
So, even as the latest Harry Potter tome is flying off the shelves from bookstores, Potter is being kissed, cajoled and made love to by his arch rival Draco Malfoy. Or it may be the ambiguous, sadistic Snape. Or it may even be Ron, his best friend.
Whoever it is, it is enough reason for AOL Time Warner to sit up, though Scholastic, Rowling’s publisher, says it is unaware of the phenomenon.
It is not spite that has led to Harry Potter slash, but love. It has also nothing to do with the growing anti-Harry sentiment among serious writers. Unlike Booker-winner A.S. Byatt — who published a scathing review of Rowling recently, saying Harry is for readers whose imaginations are limited to soaps — or unlike the Bandra bookstore in Mumbai that takes pride in the fact that its stocks have more to them than the Potter bestsellers, the slash writers all love the boy on the broomstick.
Slash is the name for stories that have two male characters, usually from popular entertainment, paired off — like Captain Kirk and Spock or Starsky and Hutch. Most of them are written by women with names like Sarvidana, Rhysenn and Acassha, who say they like to see men in action.
Trackers of this phenomenon feel young women like to slash men and boys because it’s a power thing. It may also be an escape route from a familiar sexual world saturated with the normal: boyfriends, dating and sex.
Here’s a printable sample from a novella called Irresistible Poison, where Harry is with Draco. “His hands moved up to hold Harry’s startled face, and in the space of a next heartbeat he was kissing Harry, hard and full on the lips, his manner deeply passionate, hopelessly desperate...
“What just happened'
“He knew bloody well what just happened. He just kissed Harry Potter, that’s what happened. The thought of it made him nauseated, even though at the very same time an entrenched part of him yearned for the perverse, forbidden pleasure of it all over again.”
Other slashers are busy speculating who will be next on Harry’s hot list.
How about a dip into the truly sadomasochistic with a new kind of encounter between Harry and the dreaded Voldemort, wonders a slash tracker, also inspired by the prospect of seeing a new flick on an invitation from an elite group of Boston slashers. Or how about that wand fight between Snape and Lockhart, she wonders.
The possibilities haven’t pleased Warner Bros., the studio behind the Harry Potter films, which is looking at how to control the phenomenon.