I’m officially reading two nonfiction works. My weekend was spent, however, reading through a fanfiction series called “They Shook Hands“, an alternate-history approach to the Harry Potter adventures. The titular point of departure is that Harry and Draco’s initial meeting happens somewhat more amicably, but there’s a prior change that the reader becomes aware of not long thereafter. Because Draco is his guide into the wizarding world, Harry doesn’t bring any animosity towards Slytherin with him to the Great Hall, and is sorted into that house as a result. The author gives full personalities to people who, in the official series, only appeared as villainous last names, minions to a Draco who we only see in his worst moments. Because of Harry’s association with Draco and Slytherin House, Ron and he never become friends — quite the opposite, in fact, given Ron’s enormous prejudice toward Slytherin. Although the main plot of the books unfolds within the stories as expected, the paths taken to the same conclusions are different, and character fates diverge more widely with every succeeding ‘book’. Harry has a far more productive relationship with Professor Snape here, for instance, thanks to his Slytherin connection, and as a consequence Snape takes Harry’s story about Peter Pettigrew seriously when the Shrieking Shack confrontation between those two, Lupin, Sirius, and Ron occurs. Although Harry’s being sorted into Slytherin has salutatory effects — he’s a far more dedicated student, for instance, driven by the demanding Slytherin work ethic — he’s also a harder, slightly darker Harry, one encouraged by his friends’ outrage to dwell on his abuses at the Dursley’s hands, who grows to genuinely hate his former guardians and who deeply resents Dumbledore for abandoning him to their gracelessness. I’m currently beginning its take on Goblet of Fire, and looking forward to seeing how Voldemort’s return is effected and handled with the slightly different world at play.