There are no set rules or restrictions in fan-fic: plotlines can be taken in surprisingly different directions. A wizard who has made a brief appearance in the books can become a protagonist, prologues are invented, dead characters are resurrected, and even romantic relationships that Rowling has both implicitly and subtly implied can be completely reversed. As compelling as Rowling’s story is, some readers disagree with the way she’s chosen to tell it. “I believe deeply, in my heart,” says Hillman, “that J.K. Rowling got it wrong and Remus and Sirius were lovers.”
And slash-fic is one of the ways the fandom shakes things up. Slash links two or more characters who are not connected romantically in the “canon” (Rowling’s universe), and can, though doesn’t always, involve sexual content. If you search an online fan-fic database, you’ll find any number of pairings, or “ships,” short for “relationship.” There’s plenty of Remus/Sirius fics — this ship being one of the more ubiquitous pairings in the “fanon” (the fan-fic universe). Other prevalent couplings include Harry/Draco, Neville/Luna, Draco/Hermione, and, astonishingly enough, Harry/Snape.
“If you’re invested in the books enough to be part of the fandom,” says Hillman, 35, who lives in Waltham and works as an administrative coordinator at the Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “then you can’t help but have opinions.” Hillman asserts that her confidence soared after she penned her version of Harry’s fifth-year novel, entitled His Majesty’s Secret Service, which she produced during the lull between the publication of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. The accomplishment of completing a novel-length work pushed her to pursue writing projects outside of the Harry Potter universe.
Hillman has been writing since she was six, though it wasn’t until recently that she began seriously pursuing it as a vocation. In between her regular Fiction Alley duties and serving as the president of HP Education Fanon, Inc., a nonprofit Harry Potter convention organizer, Hillman got an original story (“Make Love, Not War”) published in the fantasy anthology Bad-Ass Faeries (Marietta Publishing). She also became a freelance editor, something she says she never would have had the nerve to take up had it not been for flexing her prose muscles within the fandom.
Even so, Hillman declares that the series’ finale comes as something of a relief. Once the speculation around the exact circumstances of the conclusion Rowling has chosen for the series is brought to a close, the fandom, Hillman says, can then decide what it wants to do with her ending. If they don’t like it, they’ll rewrite it.
“I’m not of the opinion that, if you’re a fan of something, you have to love every aspect of it,” she says. “You can just as passionately love to hate something. I think it’s passion that really brings people together.”