Harry Potter and the Hourwick of Oz

It wasn’t at all intentional, but it appears that I wrote a fanfic last year (2019). I was just sitting there, minding my own business, not writing any of the other projects I was supposed to be working on, and I thought, you know what this crazy planet of ours needs? MORE HARRY POTTER FANFIC. So, here it is, ready for a grateful world.

(I was supposed to be working on my sci-fi novel, Axon, or my fantasy novel Sagaia, or any number of other things. But this story needed telling quickly, or it would be lost.)

Before saying another word, I want it to be very very clear that this book is LGBTQA-positive. I utterly reject transphobia and transphobic works, and I hope that this story presents LGBTQA people as completely normal, accepted members of society. J. K. Rowling receives no money if you download and read this Harry Potter story. (Nor do I.)

That said, it is not a book about LGBTQA people, nor is gender or sexuality a foregrounded issue. It’s just not a story about that. Still, one of the main characters is nonbinary, and although she uses feminine pronouns, her nonbinary nature is essential to the plot. I rather feel that this reflects real life, or at least how many of us would like it to be: for the most part, to live our days being who we are, without being boxed or gendered or sexualized inappropriately. But sometimes, at essential times, we must be every part of ourselves to the fullest.

It’s also a WIZARD OF OZ fanfic, which the world doesn’t realize it needs more of but really truly does. I simply had to write about Oz. Oz, you see, is the utopia to which humanity is ultimately destined to rise. Like Star Trek, it is American in its scope and idealism, but even further ahead of its time, even further along the arc of perfect societies. Like Star Trek, there is social equality (even for non-human beings), and no money, no want, and no hunger. But Oz goes further, extending civil rights to animals and plants, and removing even sickness, old age, and death*.

Nevertheless it might not be to everyone’s taste. While I will happily read (and write, it turns out) pages and pages of lighthearted banter between the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, some may find it tiresome. I do not apologize to these people, these poor impoverished souls.

Once I began to think about it, the addition of Oz to the Harry Potter universe started to make all kinds of sense. Answers began to appear to some of my biggest questions about Potter and his ilk.

  • What is the source of the wizards’ magic?
  • Why does it seem to be semi-genetic, but not really?
  • Why is there this distinction between Muggles and wizards anyway?
  • And what about house elves? Why do they serve the wizards — but not all wizards, just some of them — even though they’re not paid or thanked?
  • Why do they treat free elves, like Dobby, with such disdain?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • Also, what about those Time Turners? What a huge plot hole!

The Time Turners! I felt like it would be cool to try and plug that hole somehow — to try and explain how they could be so common that Hermione gets to use one for her classes in Prisoner of Azkaban, and yet so rare and difficult to use that it never even seems to occur to Voldemort to use them, even when he’s captured all the ones stored in the Ministry of Magic. 

I also hated the name “Time Turner”. No offense to Rowling, her names are almost always whimsical and evocative, but “Time Turner” just fell flat for me. I decided to call them Hourwicks, as if they were candles that burned hours.

But the true seed of the story came when I thought: no one really knows where wizard magic comes from. What if wizards started losing their magic, and no one knew why?

Here are the opening paragraphs:

The first recorded instance of a wizard’s magic completely disappearing was in the case of Ms. Enid McGrap, of 61 Neckwidge Lane, Ipswich, in late February of 1999. She never had a great deal of magic to begin with — in fact for several summers when she was a teen they were terrified she might be a squib, before she slipped on a piece of soap in the bath and changed her parents’ beautiful wrought-copper tub into a saggy mass of rubber to break her fall — and, as a low-level HR record keeper in the Ministry of Magic, she had next to no need of magic professionally, mainly using it to clean her cottage and do odd chores. So she only noticed that her wand stopped working when she tried to heat up a quick kettle of tea early on a Sunday morning. She sat there, reading the Daily Prophet, waiting for the tea to whistle, and waiting, and waiting… She continued reading, casting it increasingly irritated looks, until she finally sighed in exasperation and went to check it. She was amazed to find it utterly cold.

She drew her wand and cast the warming charm, Focillo!, but still nothing happened. In desperation she tried again with Incendio!, but the kettle remained stone cold.

She stared in amazement at her wand and shook it desperately. “Is this thing working?” she said. “Lumos!”

The wand remained as unresponsive as, well, as a stick of wood. She rapped it across her knuckles and even tapped it smartly on the table, as if the wand core were somehow stuck and just needed to be dislodged. “Lumos!” she cried desperately. “Lumos!”

She couldn’t make tea. She couldn’t make breakfast. Finally, sobbing and at her wit’s end, she tossed floo powder on the fire and called the Ministry of Magic’s Magical Accidents Hotline, crying that her wand had stopped working and she needed urgent assistance. The Ministry sent round doctors and investigators and found that her wand was just fine — in fact, several other wizards were able to cast simple cantrips with it. The problem, apparently, was with Ms McGrap. She was admitted to St Mungo’s for examination, and it was found that she was completely without magic. She had become a squib after all.

Ms McGrap was the first, but she was definitely not the last…

You can read it on my Patreon page, or if you prefer, it’s also up on ArchiveOfOurOwn and  It’s not particularly long (70K words — a short novel). Let me know what you think!

* And who is Spock but the Tin Man, who claims to have no heart but is, underneath, deeply passionate? Who is Data but the Scarecrow, childlike but inhumanly intelligent? Who is Picard but a man with the courage and convictions of the Lion? Who is Kirk but a man with the dogged determination of Dorothy to brave the unknown? Or maybe McCoy is the Lion? And where does Riker fit in? Or Ozma? I don’t know. Tell me in the comments how you think Oz maps to Star Trek.

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