At the age of 13, I’d never read any erotica – until I discovered Hermione/Ginny fan fiction

I barricaded my bedroom door shut with my PE kit, fired up the dial-up, and took my first step into the “with genitals” version of Harry Potter.

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The first gay erotica I ever read involved two witches and a forest clearing.

No, this wasn’t a piece of pulp fiction from the 70s Wicca craze, complete with thicket-y pudenda and a title like Night of the Lesbian Coven. It was Harry Potter fanfiction.

Well, actually, technically, nerdilly: it was something called “slash fiction”, or just “slash”. This, I learnt from a school friend, who told me she’d been reading some excellent Harry/Malfoy slash, is a specific subdivision of fanfiction consisting of all your favourite fictional characters hooking up. In a gay way. I soon discovered that slash, much of which is written by twelve-year-olds is some of the most well-meaning filth on the whole internet.

In maths, this friend of mine slipped me a note with the website where I could get the good stuff. I wasn’t a Harry Potter fanatic like she was, but I’d definitely been engrossed in the series since the first book came out when I was eight. And, aged 13, I suppose I’d started to wonder about the characters’ sex lives. If I’d hit puberty, then so had they. Instead of scouring the pages of the most recent book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for a coded reference to Harry’s wank sock, or Ron’s porn stash (if there isn’t porn in the wizarding world then I’m a blast-ended skrewt), this “slash” thing seemed like a perfectly acceptable way of addressing the horny elephant in the room.

So that evening, I barricaded my bedroom door shut with my PE kit, fired up the dial-up, and took my first step into the “with genitals” version of Harry Potter.

It’s probably not much of a surprise that, at the age of 13, I’d never read any erotica. For starters, I didn’t grow up in the eighteenth century and dribblingly devour Fanny Hill behind a harpsichord. Not only that though, but – as far as I can remember – I’d never looked at any internet porn. In fact, the only pornographic thing I’d seen was a deck of “big dick” playing cards I’d found in my (ten years older than me) sister’s room when I was about eight. And if anything is going to put an eight-year-old lesbian off porn, it’s 54 pendulous dongs. Five years later, I knew what sex was, in theory, but most of the details were still trapped in my surprisingly sordid imagination.

The list of Harry Potter sex mash-ups was almost mathematically exhaustive. Harry/Ron. Harry/Cedric Diggory. Snape/Mad-Eye Moody. Harry/the Whomping Willow, while Hedwig watches. But, naturally, the one that caught my eye was Hermione on Ginny Weasley.

That one sang to me. Click. What materialized was an angsty behemoth. Easily 50,000 words long, with paragraphs like cinderblocks, this thing was borderline demented. Eyes stinging, I scrolled and scanned my way though the backstory, waiting for sex words to appear. About 20,000 words in, there it was, Hermione and Ginny… kissed.

Feeling like I’d just found the final horcrux, I started reading more closely, anticipating some boob action at the very least (I wish I could give anyone who thinks teenage girls don’t think about sex a guided tour around the brain of my thirteen-year-old self). Nothing. Just more pounding hearts and hot tears. After all, this was written – most likely – by someone even younger than me. Someone who clearly wanted lesbian sex to exist, but couldn’t quite conceive of it yet. Retrospectively, the outcome was something purer than a baby giggling at a hedgehog.

Call me a quitter but, at that point, I kind of gave up on slash. I expect there was some way more explicit stuff out there, but I just wasn’t prepared to trawl through miles of sweaty, adolescent conjecture to get there. After all, I had enough of my own angst to last me a lifetime. Of course, it’s never too late to write my own…  

Now read the other articles included in the New Statesman’s Harry Potter Week.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist.

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