Shelf Love

Killing Them Swiftly, With His Wand (Antagonist April #1, Manacled with Fangirl Jeanne)

Short Description

Antagonist April: discussing killers in romance. Manacled by SenLinYu is a wildly popular dark romance fanfic with Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, that remixes alternate universe Harry Potter with Handmaid’s Tale. Fangirl Jeanne joins me to discuss how war is hell, what it means to be a killer in a world where there are fates worse than death, and the appeal of the murderous antagonist hero. What does it help us understand about conceptions of masculinity and emotions as well as feminine desirability within patriarchy? This is part 1 of 2 discussing Manacled. Check out episode 117 - out now - for part 2.

Content Warnings: the text we discuss is a dark romance fanfiction and we discuss how the text handles rape, war, violence, and genocide.


fanfiction, antagonist april, book discussion

Show Notes

Antagonist April: discussing killers in romance. Manacled by SenLinYu is a wildly popular dark romance fanfic with Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, that remixes alternate universe Harry Potter with Handmaid’s Tale. Fangirl Jeanne joins me to discuss how war is hell, what it means to be a killer in a world where there are fates worse than death, and the appeal of the murderous antagonist hero. What does it help us understand about conceptions of masculinity and emotions as well as feminine desirability within patriarchy? This is part 1 of 2 discussing Manacled. Check out episode 117 - out now - for part 2.

Content Warnings: the text we discuss is a dark romance fanfiction and we discuss how the text handles rape, war, violence, and genocide.

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Discussed: Manacled by SenLinYu (Dramione AU Fanfiction)

Manacled - Chapter 1 - senlinyu - Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling [Archive of Our Own]

Guest: Fangirl Jeanne

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Jeanne’s tweet thread on the power fantasy of being the singular focus of a powerful man present in Romantic literature and fan fiction:


Fangirl Jeanne: [00:00:00] I got it for you. Antagonist April.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. I love that, but aren't they all protagonists?

Fangirl Jeanne: Actually I would argue that in a lot of the way that these stories are framed, the heroine is the protagonist and the hero and really the Murderer. But also all the circumstances around him he's functioning as an antagonist. And especially like his reluctance to give in to his feelings for her. That's the conflict in the story. That's, what's so fascinating about putting these type of a romantic dynamic over these situations, especially when literally, he's doing the bad thing to her.

Like it's the dynamic of their relationship. That's an actual conflict of the relationship, which is so interesting,

Andrea Martucci: Okay.

no, I love that. alliteration , you sold me on it

Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love a podcast and community that explores romantic love stories in fiction across media time and cultures.

Welcome to Antagonist April. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, media critic, author and fan girl, Jeanne is here to talk about a truly epic 370,000 word Dramione fan fiction called Manacled.

Andrea Martucci: This is part one of two, but don't fear. I am releasing both at once so there is no wait. In part one, we talk about how war is hell what it means to be a killer in a world where there are fates worse than death, and the appeal of the murderous antagonist hero. What does it help us understand about conceptions of masculinity and emotions as well as feminine desirability within patriarchy.

Andrea Martucci: Jeanne, thanks for being here. Can you introduce yourself?

Fangirl Jeanne: Hi I'm Jeanne also known as Fangirl Jeanne, and I am a media critic and, sometimes author, but mostly just the person on Twitter and most social media, just talking about random things, media and my thoughts about the social implications of media and how we react to it.

Andrea Martucci: I know you have prepared a disclaimer about this work. So this is a fan fiction, but it is about the world of Harry Potter written by JK Rowling who is a TERF

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah, I mean, right. Let's just stop candy-coated she is, she's a TERF, but she is a bigot too. And that bigotry is absolutely in her work. Basically the way that I want to just, do this, disclaimer is discussing this fanfic is not condoning the series it's based on or the author.

And rather than separating the artist and the art or throwing out the art completely, I actually think it serves us better to actually reevaluate media, especially if it was foundational in how we view the world or constructed our own identities. It serves us better to really re-examine that media with the knowledge of the bigotry and prejudice that went into its creation and examine what things we may have [00:03:00] absorbed from it or that we didn't notice, and that we could change and also give ourselves the opportunity to re-imagine it without that bigotry and without those flaws. And I think fanfiction affords us this opportunity to re-examine works in a vehicle of a narrative that's similar to the actual work to kind of prove that thoughtful and responsible choices can alter a work and make it better. And make it better serve both the story and the character as, and the readers as well.

And I think this fic especially is a really prime example of a creator, a fellow creator, having a response back to the original work and examining its flaws under a microscope and a different way that is also really compelling to read.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Yes. And I think that was very well said. I think that we're going to get into a lot about this work in particular that I think challenges the canon of Harry Potter in some interesting ways and makes text some subtext or parts that a critical analysis of the original text may have been interesting to engage with.

In this conversation, there are going to be a lot of spoilers for this fan fiction. So if you want to set aside approximately a hundred hours to read this fanfic first, go do that, come back to this episode. Maybe you've already read it because 2 million plus people have read this on Archive of Our Own.

By the way, I started reading this without looking at the word count. And it was like 50 chapters in, and I was like, how much longer is this? Because it's three distinct stories. I got to a certain point. I was like, oh, wow, that is long.

So anyways, just know it's a bit of an investment, but I devoured it in two days. So it's in my opinion worth it.

So this story is called Manacled it's by an author called SenLinYu, and they seem to also have a bunch of other works.

Fangirl Jeanne: They seem to be writing the majority of their works are in the Harry Potter universe. But they do have some Star Wars, I believe it's Reylo, Kylo Ren Reylo, and some other small fics in those, but the majority is in this world.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. Yeah. And so it's interesting to see that this author is focusing on similar relationship dynamics from different canonical texts. And so let's just say this fan fiction is pretty dark. So let's just give some trigger warnings upfront before we start talking about the specifics of this story.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah. If you were to categorize this fic, it would be like a dark fic, hurt/comfort, enemies to lovers, beauty and the beast dynamics. There is imprisonment, there is forced pregnancy. And that's just to name a few, but like then the other things. There's graphic descriptions of violence and injuries there's actually some really well done, but detailed depiction of CPSD, complex post traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, there's scenes of rape and it enslavement, psychological abuse. And that's just the things that I can think of off [00:06:00] the top of my head.

So don't go lightly into this, but at the same time I feel that this isn't gratuitous, if anything, I feel like it gives a lot more weight to these topics and the dynamics that existed in the source material than the source material did.

Andrea Martucci: If any of those topics would be harmful to you, or if you're not in a good place to really hear a conversation about that, please take care of yourself. But I was really surprised by it because I think that it's the kind of story where you hear the synopsis or the very short description of it.

And it's really hard to imagine how it can be interesting and well done, but you give yourself over to the story and it really, just so well done, the execution is fascinating. There's so much to talk about, which is what we're going to focus on today.

I spoiled things by calling this Antagonist April.

Definitely there's some morally gray characters here, which is what is very interesting to talk about.

Fangirl Jeanne: The summary for the fic or the pitch for it is Harry Potter universe with Handmaid's Tale dynamic, essentially Hermione post-war. The Order of the Phoenix lost. Harry is dead at the beginning of this fic and Hermione gets recruited into a breeding program, run by Voldemort and the death eaters.

She basically gets given to Draco to be bred. For me, when I first, curiously clicked on the fic and read that summary, I was like, this is one of those stories that it's either going to pull it off or it's going to shit the bed in like the first or second chapter, like I'm going to know right off the bat, whether this is going to work for me or not. And when I say shit, the bed, I don't mean like it's bad quality. It's going to be like a mess for me and I can't deal with it. And that's kind of a thing that I will say talking about like dark, romantic content. On paper, a lot of it looks horrifying. It's the execution that can make or break one of those stories. And when it does it really well, these are amazing stories and when they don't want, that's fine.

Andrea Martucci: is it fair to say it's maybe the difference between romanticizing and problematizing, where there is a way to tell this story that romanticizes all of those things and sweeps them under the rug and makes it seem like well, it's okay, hand-waving, they're in love. And then there's the way this text does it, that at every turn Hermione in particular is really thinking through the implications of everything that's happening and wrestling with them and bringing the reader along on that journey that she's going through in a way that isn't gratuitous.

It is, these things are happening as a way to help us think through things that are not only relevant to our own lives, but just like relevant to like, thinking about the nature of human existence and like the flattening that we want to exist, but doesn't exist.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah. Like I see it as that this text earns its happy ending. This is a romance 100% [00:09:00] capital R and it does the hard work, 370,000 words of the hard work. It takes to start out with that dynamic and to wrestle it to a situation where not only, the reader wants that and feels it's justified, but the characters do too.

And like you said, without that hand-waving oh, they're just in love and that Hermione the text very explicitly, talks about the power dynamics that are at play and the motivations and whether that's good or bad. Again, like the relationship is actually a wonderful mirror to the overarching discussion happening in the story about, in war are there really any good or bad sides?

Like not the well everybody's prejudiced, so we're all bigots so it doesn't matter. No, more of like when violence is the only option to survival, then how we judge morality goes out the window. We have to recontextualize these choices for ourselves and not rely on simplistic black and white. It's about good or it's about evil.

And we need to examine our choices without that easy compass of morality that we are often given in stories like the kind of stories that we give to children to help them figure out or decide what good and evil looks like in our world, because it's not that easy.

And that's what I really like about this story is its approach to the depiction of war. And especially I'm a big fan of not James Bond spy novels, but like stories about spies in which you really have to face those choices of like how many people do you murder to save lives.

And what are the repercussions of those choices to us? Because there is trauma that soldiers, with morality aside, that soldiers go through in war because they are killing people, and they have to deal with that.

And one of the other fiction genre or fic types that I like to read a lot is about Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier from the Marvel movies, because here you have someone that people really want to just go, oh, he's good. And he was brainwashed. It's not his fault. And I'm like, yes, but he remembers every single person he killed. That's trauma. And that is a trauma that soldiers have to deal with all the time. And saying that the fact that they are quote unquote, not guilty of doing a bad thing does not change their trauma.

And I think this fic really definitely makes us look at what trauma looks like from both sides of the equation, both from seeing the horrors of war, but also enacting the horrors of war as well.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I think that it's thinking through things like the trolley dilemma, right? What is the greater good here? And as you were talking, the other thing I started thinking about was euthanasia situations where a doctor, a medical professional may help a patient there's a little more consent going on in that situation.

[00:12:00] But like help a patient make a decision about what is the better course of action for me here? Like I can either continue to be tortured with this illness that is impacting my quality of life. And I do not want to do this. I would like to die. Some people see that as killing, like you are killing that person.

but what is more compassionate here? In my opinion, you can't view that scenario in like this black or white you gave this person the medication to end their life. Therefore you killed them. Therefore you are a murderer. And whatever morality you want to wrap around that obviously I've made my opinion on this clear on like, where I fall on that.

But I think then you zoom up to like a spy or a war story where, ideally we wouldn't be in a war, but we are in a war and there are going to be casualties. And the leaders in charge or individuals doing things need to constantly be making that calculus of what is going to create the least amount of harm possible overall.

And it's not always just a matter of like in a single interaction or a single battle. It's like, if we can end this quickly, will many fewer people die overall. And many fewer people be harmed than if we allow this to drag on.

Fangirl Jeanne: The issue is that theorizing about what are the right moral decisions to make in those situations? Those hypotheticals. It's absolutely not helpful for real situations. And one of the things I think the fic does a really good job of is taking that very binary good and evil philosophy that's in the source material and embodies it in Harry in this fic that says, it's not worth winning if we do it with dark magic line drawn in the sand. And that is a comfortable and privileged position to be in. He is in a comfortable and privileged position because, from our perspective in this fic, because Hermione is looking at it very realistically from her point of view where she is facing genocide.

There's no two ways about this, that they will kill people like her. So his lofty ideals of, I think this is wrong. I'm not going to directly contribute to the death of another person, even if they're trying to kill me. That's great. What about the 30 people that are following you into war and what responsibility do you have to the people who are literally laying down their lives for you and for the cause that you're leading, if you won't take measures to protect them and yourself and that is I think the better way or the more useful way for us to have those discussions is when we ground them in a very specific situation and look at everybody's choices. And that's what this story does for us.

And in a way that's way better than the source material, which is again, it's kids media. We want to give everybody like an easy pat thing, but I also think that really we've seen the results of that in culture, especially like in fandom and social media, where everybody wants to be the good person, like [00:15:00] I only read the right kind of I only ship the right kind of ships.

And for example, with this type of enemies to lover dynamic, we've seen like a shift where people equate shipping those kinds of dynamics to being a bad person as a shorthand, rather than having the complicated conversations as to why we find these relationships compelling and interesting, and also like why we only want to have these kind of relationships with white people.

Andrea Martucci: Hmm.

Fangirl Jeanne: you

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. What are we willing to forgive? When do we consider an action justified? And when are we more willing to attribute evil or malintent as opposed to survival?

So to contextualize the war in this particular fiction. It diverges a little bit from canon of Harry Potter where like the war in Harry Potter once you get into the final installments, the war is still pretty encapsulated within a fairly short period of time.

Fangirl Jeanne: It's super short. The seventh year of their school, is essentially the war. That's when they go into hiding and then the conflicts happen and all that, but it gets sorted really quickly.

Which again, that's great for a book. That's great for the story, good guys win. But this story says, okay, actually, what if the war really dragged on? And so there's distinct canonical changes like Draco actually does kill Dumbledore and we get a very interesting and very realistic explanation to me that makes sense of why he would have carried out that choice.

That also complicates him as a character. And as an adversary and also complicates our perspective on people on either side.

Andrea Martucci: So people who like had like injuries or died at various points in canon, those things happen, but like in slightly different circumstances but the biggest changes is like the war goes on for years and it is just dragging on.

There are many casualties and as you said, Voldemort wins and then there is a period where the entire resistance has been quashed and they're living like post-war right where the victors are the bad guys. And what you were talking about earlier, where having to contend with the choices in war.

That is explored in depth where Hermione's role in the war is she's a healer. So she's like a potions mistress, I guess where, she's like, you know, the best thing I can do in this war is go off and learn how to heal people, because there's going to be a lot of people who are hurt or going to die. If somebody doesn't have this skill.

And it frames Ron and Harry as very much focused on the battles and the winning. And it's very much for them about the dueling and the fighting. Harry Potter in this story is framed as the worst strategic leader in the world. Who's ruled by his emotions. I messaged you at some point, I was like, Harry Potter is the worst, but what is brilliant about it is it's not a completely different character from canon.

It is very much the Harry Potter that we are. Presented [00:18:00] with in the source text, Harry Potter was, we're just going to do the right thing and we may not always immediately know what the right thing is, but eventually we'll make a decision that is clearly the right thing, because it works out for us and good always wins.

And the story frames every action like that, where like, again, it's not always clear to them what the right thing is, but there's this overconfidence that doing the right thing is what is going to help us win. And then you have to see that same mindset in an actual war that is not like middle grade ified.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And you're like, holy shit, is that the worst way to go to war?

Fangirl Jeanne: Like maybe we shouldn't let a teenage boy lead our army and our war effort, maybe not. But for those who are really in depth into canon and analyzing the dynamics that made things work or didn't, I think the biggest deviation the story takes is that Hermione steps aside, decides to become a healer thus creating a rift between the trio, which, thematic analysts, that's the thing that helped Harry, you know win in the books is his friendship with them.

To me, I think this fic is arguing that without Hermione there, without her being listened to and respected, especially as her position of being a person who is directly in threat of the consequences, if they lose that the whole thing falls apart and that Harry and Ron become more of a hindrance to the movement than a help.

And I think what's interesting too, is the recontextualizing of lot of very in canon things like how often Ron and Harry and other members of the Order talk really viciously about killing and murdering Death Eaters and especially like the Malfoys in the similar, like we saw that.

But it recontextualizes that versus like you saying that we're good and we're doing these things, but yet you also are talking about you can't wait to kill murder every single Malfoy. Like this is interesting choices, I mean, I think it's understandable, but also I like the perspective that we get being inside Hermione's head because she's an overthinker, I relate a little bit.

And so she's turning these things over and she's getting that perspective, like you said, of she gets to see just the assembly line of carnage that comes in from every conflict where no one is protecting themselves beyond using stunners against death spells.

And that's the other thing that I think is very horrifying and imaginative about this fic is that it shows us what war does to technology.

And in this world, technology is magic and some of the use of spells are horrifically ingenious, like conjuring a porcupine inside someone's body. I'm like, this is the things that I remember when I was reading the books of like when Dumbledore turns a bunch of glass into sand, like genius ways of using [00:21:00] that technology defensively can just as easily be turned into using it offensively.

And then not just telling us about it, but having us as the readers experience the consequences of those choices and what it looks like and the damage. People are losing eyes and legs and not just like random side characters.

And again that's earning this narrative, that's putting real consequences in place to what a war really looks like. And also gives us an understanding of what Hermione is weighing in the choices that she makes in the story of what she's seeing to make some really interesting questionable choices.

I really love that we get to see Shacklebolt and Moody and the types of espionage that they carry out that also hazed the lines.

Andrea Martucci: The structure of the Order of the Phoenix at this point is Moody and Shackle bolt are essentially like running things behind the scenes. Like Harry is the . Figure head, but they're really running things behind the scenes and making more of the strategic choices.

And there's this understanding that you have to protect Harry from things because he'll get too emotional and he'll go off and do something and endanger himself because there's this belief with Harry and Ron, sacrificing themselves for the greater good, they don't care if they die. They really believe in this.

And everybody else is like, Harry, you can't die. Like we need to save you for the final battle. So there's strategy behind the scenes where they're making more of the tough choices. They're engaging Gabrielle, who's part Veela and she's seducing and then like killing and torturing Death Eaters. And Harry is ignorant of this.

But there is stuff going on with the Order of the Phoenix that is like more like, sorry, we need to have an advantage somehow.

And I wanted to just put a finer point on something you were talking about earlier of understanding of the consequences of the choices that are being made in this war, where Hermione is seeing the injured people come in. Ron and Harry are like, you're not out there on the field. Hermione you don't know what it's like. She's like, are you kidding me? I see all of the people who are injured and dying and dead coming in. And I see the consequences of your actions better than you do, because you don't seem to be counting the casualties. You don't seem to be understanding the impact of your decisions.

I think that it's really important to understand from Hermione his perspective, the difference between like death and trauma and how death, isn't always the worst thing that can happen to you, right?

Like she's talking to Angelina who's a character in the main Harry Potter series who's part of the Order of the Phoenix. And she goes, " what exactly do you think is going to happen to us if we lose," right? Because everybody's out there bravely putting their life on the line and Angelina goes, "we'll die." And "Hermione suddenly understood why Draco hated Gryffindors so intensely. She couldn't stop herself from scoffing. 'Do you really think we'll just die? Angelina, they're not going to shut down this torture facility when they win the war. We're livestock.'" And [00:24:00] she's just confronted with this situation where these people think that dying is the worst thing.

And she's like dying is not the worst thing. People are being tortured. They're being driven insane by the things that are happening to them. They're being dehumanized. If we lose this war, the humans, the muggles, they're going to be hurt. And you were talking about this earlier. Hermione has more of a connection to the non magical world.

And she's like it's not just about you dying. And then you don't have to worry about it anymore. If we die, there are larger consequences and dying isn't the worst thing.

So speaking of questionable choices the tough choices you have to make in war, this sets us up for, there's three parts of this story.

There's Handmaid's Tale, post-war Hermione is given to Draco and she's lost her memory for reasons. And doesn't remember large pockets of what happened after the war.

Part two, she gets her memory back and all of a sudden we go back to the middle and tail end of the war. And we understand that her and Draco have much more of a history than we originally thought.

And what sets that in motion is that Draco he's like rising in the Dark Army. He offers to become a double agent and his condition is that Hermione needs to be his minder. And it is heavily implied when he asks for her that he essentially is going to use her for sex. And, is she willing or unwilling if she willingly goes along with that, you know, gray line, but that is what pushes them into that relationship.

And that is a choice that other people in the Order of the Phoenix make and present to Hermione. And she makes a decision there, but there are lots of decisions going on that are not clear cut good or evil. It's just that some people are able to keep their hands clean in that.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah, so there's a lot of things. So let me first relate to what you just said there, that the setup is that Draco asks for Hermione and they present her with the option of agreeing to be his, and that is the wording, like "his now and after the war." And they give it to her knowing that Hermione really is the person who will do anything to win this war. So she agrees.

What I like as a narrative choice that is amazing is that that is essentially what Draco gets in that first part of the story is he owns her and it's after the war. And it is the worst thing that he could have ever got, and he hates it. And I love that we get that. Additionally later on, there's also, a thing that Hermione is striving for during the war where she's working with him and she gets that too. And it's the worst thing that it could be and I do like how this narrative takes these ideas of, like we say these are the things that we want, but if we actually got them and really be not good, it'd be horrible. And it's not really what we want.

Going back to consequences of the war and whatnot.

So one of the things I really [00:27:00] like about this fic and its response to the source material is saying that if you introduced the dynamics of bigotry in war and specifically, not even like subtly introduced the dynamics of World War Two into your story, you can't just have it resolved really quick by like, well, it's fine because all the good people are now in power so it's never going to happen again,

Andrea Martucci: To make that explicit, so you're talking about like in Harry Potter, the source text, the parallel is drawn between Hitler's genocide of Jews and other people who are not considered Aryan in Europe is analogous to Voldemort creating a a whole pure blood magical people are the only ones who are worthwhile and muggles are the enemy and muggle- born witches and warlocks are evil, right? That is the parallel. That is,

Fangirl Jeanne: that is in canon. So yes, absolutely. And I don't know if it talks directly to it, but the author has said this. It's very obvious, but it's also presents a lot of the issues that caused it, like existing prejudice within the community. And misunderstandings around how blood purity in quote unquote, how it is used in the books is a form of eugenics. And what's interesting is, in the source material, even as it talks against things like blood purity. Oh, it's just silly because I think there's a line where it's like every wizard and wit ch today have bit of muggle blood quote unquote in them.

So even as the source material says that's bad, it also reinforces it by saying that Harry's really good at Quidditch because his father was really good at Quidditch. That's eugenics. That's not how blood and DNA work, but it can't decide which thing it's doing, which honestly is a flaw that can absolutely be traced to the creator, is this idea that the Nazis were bad because they were just bad.

And if we put the good people, you know, like the allied nations who were doing a lot of the same stuff, like Hitler based, a lot of his ideas about eugenics and the policies that led to the camps on eugenics happening in America at that time. So like this story, what I like about it is it says if you're going to take this as a basis, but let's take it all the way. Let's have the Death Eaters have an actual, facility where they're experimenting on, not only Order members, but also muggles and whatnot. And then also let's parse it apart and talk about.

Like I wish it had been more direct about it in the first part of a story where it talks about the breeding program, because the breeding program itself is undermining the whole idea of blood purity because they're using muggle born witches as surrogates for these pure blood families that can't have children. To boost the magical population. But that by itself is saying, okay you're diluting your bloodlines, [00:30:00] but then it actually shows in like the results of some of the pregnancies that some of the kids are coming out squibs, which means that they don't have magic. And that the very idea of a breeding program is bullshit because they can't actually control what happens with it.

And Hermione herself is proof that eugenics aren't real, or at least that they don't work because she comes from a completely magical free family and has magic that rivals pretty much everybody in this story. But also, like you said, seeing the consequences that, if you lose a war, you don't just die.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Fangirl Jeanne: Worse things can happen than death. And it shows us what those things are. And, that's what I think is fantastic about this fic and the ability of fic to be able to respond to flawed works and re-examine them and say, okay, let me take this idea that you really didn't understand and let me explore it to its potential.

And then also deconstruct it in a way that's actually a lot more useful for us to have these conversations about bigotry, eugenics, war power, and whatnot.

I also wanted to talk about Hermione's choice to be a healer in the story and how that dynamic plays out with Ron and Harry is such a wonderful example of the lack of respect and value placed on feminine coded work and labor because she's a healer that is a distinctly feminine, coded, especially in the world, but in our world too, feminine coded.

I have to say that there is, an amazing amount of like relate-ability to every scene in which people dismiss what Hermione does, even though she is amazing at the kind of healing in the work she does. Like you said, you're not out there on the battlefield, you don't know.

And she's like, I'm really here, like repairing people's bodies. I felt like that is such a great reflection about you know, what we're dealing with with gender, especially right now, but historically, and that gender dynamic, I think comes into play later in the story too, but I'll get to that later.

Andrea Martucci: One last thing on the war thing too, because I found the quote. So Draco and Hermione literally have a conversation about World War II at some point. (Jeanne squeals: Yes!) And the ideological underpinnings of Voldemort's war, where Draco has apparently studied like muggle history, which Hermione is surprised by.

So "mud blood" is a slur that is used about people who are muggle born. And it is meant to convey that like lack of purity of bloodlines or whatever. And Malfoy explains at the point of the story where they're getting to know each other more.

He essentially is like "it's easy to be suspicious of people who you know nothing about. When something is frightening, it's easy to hate. Muggle borns with odd clothing and electricity and rumors of your strange weapons. Your parents are the reason the wizarding world has been forced to live in the shadows of secrecy for hundreds of years. Yet the moment a muggle shows a hint of magic ability, we're expected to welcome them into our world so they can violate our traditions and steal our jobs."

And[00:33:00] rewind, he goes, "is that why you hated me in school Draco? Because I was going to steal your job?" What he is pointing out here, and in other parts of this story is Voldemort is weaponizing the prejudices that the community has, and amping them up and using them for his own purposes. He doesn't really care about people's blood lines.

He just knows, this is a way to unite people who are pretty disparate in their motivations and pull them together towards putting him in charge of dominating everybody and killing anybody in the path that they don't like, because they're scared of them or they create anxiety or they don't understand them.

And he's just weaponizing that. For him, the ideology is just a means to an end. And the breeding program reveals that because yeah, I guess what it turns out that people's bloodlines don't matter. And all of these people with these quote unquote, pure bloodlines can't have babies anymore.

And it turns out also that this whole breeding program is just a front for humiliating prisoners and rewarding people who have been good soldiers and distracting from other things that are going on. And it really just digs down into like, this is all a front. Like this isn't really what's going on.

It's just taking what's already there. The anxiety people already have. That is something that a story about wizards really gives you a lot of food for thought, not just in recent history, for those of us who live in the U S but yeah. Looking back to eugenics in the U S before World War II.

And then after World War II, people were like, oh, ha we shouldn't parrot things the Nazi's said, because now we know the Nazis are bad, so we should like chill on that, publicly a little bit. That was there. That was in the water.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah. And I think it brings up a different perspective that I think shows the flaws of the insular thinking, but also like the way that power can fluidly shift to get what it needs. Again, Voldemort, the character is absolutely modeled after Hitler. Voldemort had a muggle mother. Like you said, he's using this ideology in order to prey on people's fear.

The use of the Handmaid's Tale dynamic is so perfectly executed because it doesn't actually put that fine a point on it, but we also see in the structure of this supposed rebuilding of the Wizarding world, that the Wizarding women are forced into blood marriages. So their power, their systemic power is only dependent upon their position within their household, to the men in their household. And then these women, like Hermione are used as chattel to birth babies. That again, only service the egos of the men who they are being used by.

And we find out even further that often they're just being sexually abused and it's not even really a matter of having babies. Again, I think it was wonderful employment of that.

A lot of people do crossovers and they don't really think about what they're [00:36:00] bringing in from that other source material. This felt very purposeful of showing how gender is a big dynamic in this conflict too both in how Hermione is being treated by her friends and allies, as well as her enemies and adversaries. But also how those pure blood things that Voldemort's doing, doesn't serve women at all.

And especially we see that throughout the story women are being hurt and harmed and objectified in order to motivate men. And in here in this story, it's not just a given. Throughout Harry Potter, the series, Harry's mother exists, primarily, as a way of motivating him. She's not really a person.

And in this, we have a mother Draco's mother Narcissa who we don't see. She too was used as an object to motivate him, but that choice both for her and with Hermione is framed as a fucked up thing. And I think that's a really great way of taking that dynamic of objectifying women to motivate men and put it in the context of a story and frame it as a bad thing.

It is not a thing that good people do. And if good people do it, it makes them fucked up. And we should think about that and we should look at them differently. it handles that very well. And that there's a lot of gender dynamics in this that I like a lot.

Andrea Martucci: We should explain what the hell is going on with Draco here, because I think we talked around this a bit and we've also talked a lot about Hermione, but just to give context, if you have not read the story, this is what happens.

You start out in like part one of this story, getting exposure to Draco doing a shit ton of really terrible things. He becomes the High Reeve, which I don't know if that means anything outside of the story, but,

Fangirl Jeanne: No, it's a fandom creation.

Andrea Martucci: So he essentially is like the head executioner for the dark Lord. He has killed a most of Hermione's friends directly. He's also out there killing people on the regular frequently. He has killed hundreds, if not thousands of people on page. That is undisputed. It happens. We see it happen. And all through the beginning of the story, we're like, oh my God, holy shit. This guy is, wow. He is really murdering a lot of people. And a lot of people that we believe are good guys. And it's not like the story then goes on and you're like, oh no, it turns out they were all evil villains as well.

Like, you know, It's not that, but then when you get into part two of the story, you're like, oh, there are motivations behind what's going on. And when you understand more of what is going on, you view everything that he is doing completely differently.

One point I wanted to make here before going farther. I want to pull this back to the "dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you." And this story builds the stakes that helps you understand that, yes, Draco has killed a lot of people, but dying was not the worst thing that could happen to those people. And we, the reader now understand that, and we [00:39:00] understand that in a lot of these situations, this was the more humane choice and it was maybe for the greater good, which I don't know if I'll go that far, but like then we get the nuance of the story that helps us understand at the very least it was for some people's greater good at least.

Fangirl Jeanne: I would say that it does a great job because there is a dynamic, I won't go into the details, but there is an action that Hermione takes to save his life that she views as part of her duty to help the war effort, because if he's alive, he can still be feeding them information and she thought that was her job with him was to keep him alive and keep him as a functional asset. But her choice in doing that allows him to wield dark magic without any actual repercussions upon him that are part of the greater world building in Harry Potter, that when you do dark magic, you feel the effects of it.

And that in its way is giving consequences for violence and use of power in this world, and I'm fucking metaphors.

So it gives you a consequence. That's part of why, Voldemort turns into weird noseless snake, man. The magic she does to heal him, takes away those consequences from him, which that's a complicated metaphor, but it's an interesting thing that, that it is directly the result of Hermione's actions that make him one of the most dangerous killers in this world.

And the fact that a lot of his choices to kill and his actions to kill are done honestly, directly to protect her. And those choices of working with him, the choice of even saving him or loving him had real world impacts. And that if we start doing that chasing the tail of whose fault is what everybody gets implicated on who's fault that is.

Who put her in the position to be with him, who started the war, we could go back in and that's why it's really not helpful to go, oh, this means someone's good, this means someone's bad because all of these choices have consequences that are intertwined. And that's part of why war complicates our morality. A binary of like good people, bad people. Nope, Nope, no, it gets a little messier

Andrea Martucci: What you were teeing up was what you were talking about in your Twitter thread, right? So if we establish that Draco is a very powerful man with a lot of institutional power, a lot of physical power and also somebody who has done things that are not unambiguously good. Like to put it, to put it mildly ruthless, powerful and definitely more powerful than Hermione.

As you talked about in your thread, we don't always see this come up with all powerful wizards who murder hundreds of [00:42:00] people, but there's a lot of echoes of this dynamic in a lot of romantic fiction, particularly with cis-het characters, but also that dynamic can be echoed also in other relationships, but what's your hypothesis of what's going on here?

What is interesting about reading a love story about somebody who at the very least at first blush seems to be an antagonist and maybe always is an antagonist?

Fangirl Jeanne: So the popularity of that kind of dynamic, which we see often in like enemies to lovers type of stories is we're seeing the appeal of being the central focus and maybe even the exception for a man who incredibly powerful, incredibly dangerous and a threat most of the time.

And I think it's a response both to the lived reality that a lot of women exist in where you really don't know day to day, minute to minute whether a man is going to be, your knight in shining armor or the person who kills you.

And so that all interactions within that context under heteronormativity and patriarchy is a flip of the coin between passion and violence.

So there's that, but there's also media, not just in bromance that reinforces a woman's value as being rooted in her value to a man and how powerful that man is the measure of how powerful and important that woman is. And we see this actually a lot in the trope of fridging, which you can Google that, "women in refrigerators." The whole reason that this trope of killing or depowering or disabling a woman in order to complicate or emotionally impact a man in his story, is centered on the idea that the woman's value, both in the story and in the world, is her value to that man.

That's the only point of her existing or her pain existing within the story. So I feel like that this dynamic, this idea of romanticizing this even more powerful and threatening man, but he loves me, but he doesn't hurt me, but oh, he gets better for me. He becomes a hero for me, that is a reaction, a fantasy in which loving that powerful man actually is a good thing.

And you don't die because of it, which you know, is a pretty common occurrence of what happens to women when they love powerful men, be they heroes or villains.

Also there's the idea that. There's a lot of power that comes from, I used to call it riding the bull. Although I think in this fic, it would be writing the dragon. But it's that danger and thrill of having that kind of control over a powerful man because he desires you.

And I also think it's really important to mention that the appeal of villains can [00:45:00] also be tracked to an archetype of villain who is seen as a bad or weak version of masculinity because he's openly emotional sometimes for extended amounts of time. And that this in male gaze media is coded as being mentally unstable or just weak, a clown, a joke. But not men who suck up their tears and soldier on.

And when I think it's interesting because I don't think this is on purpose, but that construction of a type of masculinity that is emotionally open and vulnerable for a female gaze shows his quote unquote weakness in masculinity as being less threatening masculinity. We're seeing him as being a vulnerable, which means gives us access to share our emotions with him or to be the stronger one in the situation to console and heal him and make him better, fix him again, allowing us to occupy that comfortable role of the healer or caretaker for a man.

And again, having power over this incredibly powerful guy because he is able to cry and therefore that gives us an emotional entrance. So I do think lot of people spill a lot of ink about wondering why people like Kylo Ren, Loki, all of these guys. And I'm like, just look at all of the times that they cry on screen, because that's an emasculinity that women often see, where a man gets to be powerful and emotional at the same time. That is absolutely a factor into why Draco became such a big pull within the fandom. In text, he gets to look vulnerable and cry while he's dealing with this conflict. And I think that gave an in for people to explore the idea of him having more complexity and possibly being a romantic hero.

Andrea Martucci: What's weird to me is that like, when I think back on my understanding of Draco the Harry Potter book series is, I feel like of all the characters in this story, his was the most that I was like, I don't think that was the character that we read in the books. Even, if you imagine that Harry Potter, the book series is written from the perspective of the quote unquote good guys from Harry and Harry hates Draco and views everything Draco does with the worst possible intentions and also it's written in such a way that makes it seem like Draco is like, just this whiny petulant, rich boy.

He's cruel, but also, what is complicated about Draco is also you're like, wow, he has abusive parent dynamics. And he also is put in a really tough position.

Okay. Like now maybe going to walk back what I said earlier, he put obviously in a really tough position where, because of his father's involvement as a death eater, he gets swept up into this whether he wants to be, or not, because if [00:48:00] he resists it, he's pretty much just going to be killed.

What is his choice even in canon? He's a scared child and like they're all scared children. And it doesn't excuse what he does in canon, but when you start to think about what options did he really have here? Okay. I'm walking back everything I said earlier.

Fangirl Jeanne: No. I think it's okay. I think there are a lot of factors into why the Draco became really popular in fandom as a romantic hero in fan works. There's, the dynamic of the fact that he was an adversarial figure for Harry, that involves a lot of screen time. and honestly there's a way in which our culture queer codes intense relationships between men. So it was an easy pick to do a lot of slash fic with him and Harry. As far as the dynamic of pairing him with Hermione, there is again, another popular offshoot of this idea of being the object of desire for powerful men, which is bully romance.

And we can talk about that whole thing on a separate, and a lot of that is again like a romanticizing of the type of terror and abuse we live under and patriarchy and imagining all of that behavior as courting behavior rather than abuse. And so I think Draco, Hermione easily slide into that.

And again, it has very little to do with who he actually is within canon and everything to do with how we react to these type of characters. As far as like how he exists in canon, I think he's another version of what I call the Slytherin equals evil problem than is in the canon where it doesn't allow for any kind of nuance for any of those characters, despite the fact that there are muggle borns Slytherin canon and there are Slytherins of color in the movie canon and the, there might be some complexity to why ambition might be actually something that marginalized people, even within a magical world, should be encouraged to embrace.

Especially someone who within that world is marginalized. That the text itself even complicates that by having Harry been almost chosen for Slytherin because he's so ambitious. But the text never follows through with that promise. There's a lot of fics that follow through with that promise of exploring what that really means.

And also the implications of generational trauma and there's also generational violence and patterns and cycles of indoctrination that happens. And I think this story delves in that too. It never occurred to me until I read it in this fic, the idea of Malfoy mansion being chockablock full of portraits of his ancestors, all of them able to talk to him and tell him things.

I'm like what an amazing embodiment of what bigotry through the generations, how it actually functions that this is what's told to him every day.

Andrea Martucci: And [00:51:00] also that it's a panopticon where everything he is doing is being judged by the previous generations who can tell on him to other people who are alive. And also, another device in this story is is it occlumency?

Fangirl Jeanne: Occlumency? Yes.

Andrea Martucci: is the ability of some wizards to view the memories of other individuals, with varying degrees of violence. There are some people whose style is to essentially come in in a very violent intrusion, rifle through your memories. And then there are some where it's a more like a stroll through. You're still aware of the violation.

But so anyways, there's a lot in this story of people having to perform their ideology in order to protect themselves and others.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah, it's an absolutely wonderful or a reflection of how systems of power police the members of those systems to stay in line that the performance is a big part and that the immediate policing of noncompliant behavior is immediate and often violent. And what are we asking? What are we assuming about someone who comes from that world and how do we actually reach out to them?

And it's shown within the story that on both sides of the situation, Hermione who supposedly has all these friends and all the support and they're the good guys is just as disenfranchised and as lonely as Draco is.

And that, again, like this is what these types of conflicts do to people.

Andrea Martucci: Hey, you can listen to the rest of our conversation about Manacled in episode 117, which I am releasing today. Same day as part one. So you can check that out right now, but please do feel free to take a break to stretch, follow Jeanne on social media, if you haven't done so already or join Shelf Love's Patreon so you can get even more bonus goodies from Antagonist April.

Andrea Martucci: Jeanne, thank you so much for being here today. I could probably continue talking about this fic with you for at least the 98 hours of the hundred that it took me to read it. Thank you for being here today. And where can people find more of your brilliance on the interwebs?

Fangirl Jeanne: Thank you. Thank you for offering me the opportunity to be here. I love the podcast. I always love your perspective on everything. You can find me at @fangirlJeanne and that's J E a N N E. Pretty much on all social media or And I'm usually out there Tik TOK, Twitter, primarily just I'm usually lurking on Tik Tok, but I'm talking a lot on Twitter

Andrea Martucci: And if you want to hear Jeanne and I talk more about this, Jeanne just offered to do a Patreon only episode. What kinds of topics might we get into over there?

What kind of hi-jinks?

Fangirl Jeanne: dude. Okay. We will talk about my Snape feelings, we will talk about, oh my God, we will talk about that connection of emotional intimacy with orgasms and like how sex scenes are used in this, rape scenes are [00:54:00] used to demonstrate psychological situations for a character, as well as sex talk, being used to show how characters develop emotional and romantic intimacy, which it's not about slot a and B, but like complex and oh my God.

And ho use elves and then just the horrific, like traumatizing shit that happens to other people that get killed, and my weird kink about disembowelment, we'll get to that one.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. All right. I've written all of this down.

Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources.

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See your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website if you join at any level. That's That's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.