Harry Potter’s Hallucination: Winning Fiction by DL Fowler

The Prompt:

Lately there’s been an obsession with turning classic works of literature into newer, more fantastical spoofs.  Within the past few years, we’ve seen: “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” “Android Karenina,” and “Little Vampire Women,” just to name a few. I also have my own idea for “Doctor Zhivago and Pirates,” but that’s beside the point.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take this trend in the opposite direction? What if we took a story that’s already fantastical and grounded it back in reality? I can think of no better story with which to exercise this prompt than the well-loved Harry Potter series.

Here’s what you have to do:  take any scene from any of the seven Harry Potter books, any scene at all.  Now, pick any character from the series that you like—maybe Snape, Hagrid, Dobby, Mad-Eye Moody, Hermione—I mean anybody.  The only rule is that you can’t choose Harry himself.  Through the voice of your selected character explain to Harry what really happened in the scene you’ve chosen.  Give a perfectly rational explanation grounded in the Muggle world.  Wizards never existed as it turns out, and Harry just imagined the entire episode.  Your write-up should be a dialogue between Harry and your chosen character.

As an example:  Maybe you’ve chosen Hermione to explain to Harry what really happened when he thought he was competing in the Triwizard Tournament.  “Well, Harry, you see, there’s really a perfectly rational explanation to this all.  As it turns out, you weren’t trying to steal an egg from that Norwegian Ridgeback, you actually took a lollypop from a very large and angry baby, and well, it wasn’t good, Harry.”

The Feedback:

DL’s entry detailing Harry’s mistaking a particularly raucous game of soccer (or football as the Brits call it) for a Dementor attack was funny, fresh, and completely true to the character’s voices (not an easy feat since JK Rowling is a master of dialogue).

I asked 3 guest reviewers  to tell me what they thought about DL’s winning entry.  Here’s what they had to say…

Loved this post. You kept the character’s voices throughout, something which can be easily lost. Poor Ron. I can imagine his face, stressed and exasperated, while struggling to keep Harry in the realms of reality. Loved the line: Ron shrugged. “No. That’s why I stay in goal. You get carded for manhandling the goalie.” – Donna Newton

This writer created believable dialogue between Ron and Harry, not just as Rowling characters, but also as friends and teammates.  Ron’s smirks and stifling of laughter at his friend’s expense were appropriate, but the writer also included Ron’s concern for his friend. Even though Ron thought Harry was a bit nutty, Ron protect Harry from others’ ridicule. The writer successfully created a real moment between these characters, using Rowling’s fantastic language. – Kimberly Nichols

I especially love the crafting of the dialogue in this piece; it’s realistic and oblique in nice ways. It actually reminds me of the episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer where Buffy has to struggle with whether her world is real or fake and decides it’s real. This one is crafty too, in the same way. Harry has been walloped a good one. Love the line of dialogue where ron says, ““No. That’s why I stay in goal. You get carded for manhandling the goalie.” Brilliant stuff, DL. Fowler – Thea Atkinson

The Winning Fiction:

Ron toed the out-of-bounds line on the turf as he glanced over his shoulder just to be sure everyone had straggled into the locker room. He didn’t want anyone to see his reaction. He especially didn’t want Malfoy or his cronies to get wind that Harry was jabbering about some bizarre parallel existence. Even if the referee had cleared Harry physically, Ron sensed something wasn’t quite right.

When the last of them disappeared through the doorway, a smirk fought its way onto Ron’s face and his voice cracked. “Dementors, Harry?”

“Believe me. They’re nothing to joke about.” Harry stared into the dark grey mass collecting on the horizon.

Ron raised an eyebrow as he subdued an urge to laugh out loud. “Dementors?”

“Yes. Dementors. Black cloaked ghosts swooping down to suck the life out of us.” Harry waved his hands in front of his face.

“No, Harry. It was that beast of a sweeper. He got you good with a header. Ref never saw it. You were out for a good ten minutes.”

Harry clutched his forehead, massaging his scar. “Ron, this isn’t for joking around. You’ve never had their cold, rattling breathing numb your face. You’ve never stared into those empty sockets where eyes should have been. They’ve never grabbed your face with their clammy hands and fought to plant the frosty kiss of death on you.”

Ron shrugged. “No. That’s why I stay in goal. You get carded for manhandling the goalie.”

“Look, Ron. If the dementors penetrate the shield, Hogwarts will be wiped out.” Harry stared again at the horizon. The black mass of clouds seemed to be gliding toward them with increasing speed.

“Harry. You’re starting to freak me out with this stuff about gnarly black ghosts and warty livestock. I think you’re going bonkers.” Ron reached for Harry’s forehead, trying to test it for signs of fever.

Harry jerked back. “You mean you didn’t see them. They were swarming all around me.”

Ron held his hands out, palms up. “Yeah, the whole team was hovering over you. We were scared to death you wouldn’t wake up.”

“What about my patronus. You saw it, right?” Harry’s eyes were open so wide they appeared dilated.

“Patron- what?” Ron slapped the heel of his hand against his forehead.

Harry’s gaze turned transcendent. “My stag. It was brilliant this time. Lit up the sky like a comet.”

Ron shook his head. “Look, Harry. You got zonked. When a person gets knocked out like that, weird stuff goes off inside their head.”

Harry sulked. “You’re saying there weren’t any dementors?”

“No dementors.”

“And Hogwarts is safe?”

Ron smirked, but this time Harry didn’t notice. “Believe me, if hogs’ warts are what the dementors wanted, I’m sure we don’t have to worry.”

Harry looked at Ron. “You’re sure there are no dementors?”

Ron grinned. “Not unless that’s the handle you’re giving that sweeper. Though, I’d call him the Liverpool Express.”

Harry cocked his head. “Sweeper? You mean seeker. Right?”

Ron planted his hands on his waist. “No. Sweeper. The bloke who guards center-pitch.”

Harry shook his head. “Defenders are called beaters.”

Ron palmed the back of his neck. “No. Sweeper. He defends the middle.”

Harry gave Ron a hard stare. “There’s no middle defender in Quidditch.”

Ron laid his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “That blow scrambled more than just your brain. It’s got your tongue all twisted up, too. It’s football. Have you forgotten where you are? You’re in the middle of a football pitch and the ref called the match after you went lights out.”

Harry tried to shake the fog out of his head. “Did I catch the snitch

Ron laughed. “Yeah, you caught it right here.” He poked at a spot behind Harry’s left ear. “And you landed square on your back. Knocked the wind right out of you.”

Mrs. Storm

Writing everything from Sweet Romance to Children's Books to Nonfiction, Melissa loves books, birds, and bonbons--in that order. She has an advanced degree that she never uses.