Why post a placeholder chapter?

I am aware that ao3 has a Fannish Next of Kin policy and private arrangements have been made between fans before that policy came into place, but the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2020 and the potential for dying from COVID-19 complications (potentially incredibly quickly) has prompted a temporary measure on my part – a placeholder chapter for a WIP.

As of writing this [May 6 – 8], I’ve only been 26 for a few months now, and that’s still considered relatively young to be concerned with ‘estate’ planning. Most people I’ve done a soft inquiry with don’t really consider making some sort of will until certain life milestones I have not reached (having children, owning a house, having enough money for descendants to squabble over, etc.). Honestly, I don’t have very much in the way of tangible, physical items to bequeath to someone, and I don’t have the money for an official will and testament. Even if I did, I’m honestly having trouble picturing myself explaining to my biological family that I’ve got a Drarry longfic, Severus Fix-It, etc. that I didn’t finish updating while alive, and I’d like someone to post a summary of how the fic ends.

Due to the speed at which a COVID-19 death can occur, and the inherent reliance upon in-person people notifying others, I cannot guarantee that friends I communicate with online will find out about my death unless they’re a long-distance Facebook friend. I can’t guarantee that any fannish in-person friends would be able to access my laptop or successfully access my Google docs during this pandemic quarantine. I can’t guarantee that my family will have the patience to abide by a fannish request list that may involve giving out passwords to apparent strangers, for starters. Be that as it may, I do have the current ability to upload a placeholder chapter.

In the event that I’m lucky enough to not have COVID-19 or I don’t have complications (a mild case that doesn’t involve death), I fully intend to write out the end of my fics, which may deviate from the placeholder summaries. In the event that I’m not lucky, I have backdated posts that summarize the endings for the following:

I may add links to additional summaries if I think it may be necessary. All summary posts and this explanation post will be backdated to prevent spamming followers with notification emails.

Placeholder Chapter (Serpent-Bearer)

While I don’t have anything uploaded for the rest of the parts in the Darkling series to require summarized endings, I would like to give enough of an idea for anyone who’s curious about where the other sections of Darkling were planned to go that the series doesn’t feel entirely incomplete. In the event that I do get to write them out and upload them at a later date, I may not strictly adhere to what’s written.

Part Four: “Serpent-Bearer”

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Placeholder Chapter (Scutum: The Shield)

While I don’t have anything uploaded for the rest of the parts in the Darkling series to require summarized endings, I would like to give enough of an idea for anyone who’s curious about where the other sections of Darkling were planned to go that the series doesn’t feel entirely incomplete. In the event that I do get to write them out and upload them at a later date, I may not strictly adhere to what’s written.

I’m not really sure that anyone is enthusiastically wanting to know how I sometimes have scenes written in my notes, but I’m including my notes about Harry’s death as is (I don’t know if it’s the playwriting experience, but I do have scenes where the majority of the notes are just dialogue).

Part Three: “Scutum: The Shield”

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Placeholder Chapter (Summer/Start of Part Three?)

While I don’t have anything uploaded for the rest of the parts in the Darkling series to require summarized endings, I would like to give enough of an idea for anyone who’s curious about where the other sections of Darkling were planned to go that the series doesn’t feel entirely incomplete. In the event that I do get to write them out and upload them at a later date, I may not strictly adhere to what’s written. Due to the length of the post for Part Two, the notes about the summer holiday have been separated.

Continue reading “Placeholder Chapter (Summer/Start of Part Three?)”

Placeholder Chapter (Ysgyfarnog: The Hare)

While I don’t have anything uploaded for the rest of the parts in the Darkling series to require summarized endings, I would like to give enough of an idea for anyone who’s curious about where the other sections of Darkling were planned to go that the series doesn’t feel entirely incomplete. In the event that I do get to write them out and upload them at a later date, I may not strictly adhere to what’s written.

Part Two: “Ysgyfarnog: The Hare”

Continue reading “Placeholder Chapter (Ysgyfarnog: The Hare)”

Cryopotions Headcanon

I am not a science-y person, but in the process of creating a potion that would fight the effects of hibernation on crossbreeds, I came up with cryopotions. This involved notes about what cauldron metals could possibly handle certain temperatures, burners other than Bunsen burners, spells and descriptions for how ‘cool flames’ would react while brewing, and then the ingredients and steps for brewing Primavera Ophidia. Under a cut due to length.

Continue reading “Cryopotions Headcanon”

Unrecorded Pantheon Round Table #1

@unrecorded-pantheon-roundtable’s Call for Submissions post [link]. (This will be crossposted on tumblr.)

#1: Who is your pantheon, and how did you come to them?

I don’t really have a pantheon so much as I have a loose amalgamation of People. The short version is that I’ve got a habit of peppering in P/pagan references into fiction, even if it’s slightly tweaking a deity or practice into a fictionalized version, and sometimes, They interact like They’re not so fictional. (Yes, even if it’s “just a fanfic”.)

My WIP “Kai” led to a particular alliance (SWA) [“Writing (or discovering) New Faces“] that’s much more noticeably based on deities the readers may have heard about. The universe of the fic allows for deities outside of the alliance to be referenced, which is how a particular Face of Loki wound up showing up [“Horsehair Lace“].

Several of my WIPs have deities that pagans would quite likely recognize as fictionalized versions. The Ancients in “Darkling” include Holly and Oak as a reference to the Holly King and Oak King and neopagan holiday references, and “Kintsugi” has a particular flavor of the Lord and Lady archetype that’s been tailored to that universe with references to other deities (honoring the land-spirit also forms part of the home and hearth centered practice). “BSL” and “Coven” share a universe with tree based titles for the fictionally tweaked deities, but they touch more on community recognized mourning rituals and edge into sacred endarkenment rather than getting into the specifics of deities per se (at least, in the current drafts).

I address it more directly in “Belief and Laity in (my) Fiction“, but there’s a noticeable component across these fics that the community level or individual level of cathartic rituals can be more relevant than whether the character actually believes in the deities in question. It really depends on the universe and what the main plot is, but in some of the fics, this is because there are outside temple/hof/grove structures with priests and priestesses, the character is an outsider being introduced to the system, and/or the cultural element is more important so deities have been synchronized or can be approached as conceptualizations of magical forces.

Quite frankly, the hodge-podge feel of these inter-pantheon collectives and allowances for other (potentially interfaith) religious beliefs with cultural interaction with these deities makes for a buffet of potential interaction. Karnon and Zisa have dropped by (“Kintsugi”), a Tawch holiday has sometimes been relevant (“Darkling”), and there’s been occasional interest in the details of who gets which tree title for what reason (that may one day turn into a pantheon or collective from “BSL”/”Coven”).

I’ve been more caught up in Death & Co (referenced previously on this blog), Who are not connected to any fictional stories, so I don’t really have a cohesive practice featuring any of these other potential People. I’m a bit resistant at times because of past misinterpretation issues, in which a previous foray into a highly individual path was later declared null and void, but I would like to note that one of The Ancients who’s currently seen more screen time in the story – Ouroboros (aka The Time-Keeper) – apparently made it into a reader’s dream [thread link]. While I’m aware this doesn’t make Ouroboros “more legitimate”, I definitely saw it as a nudge that I may not be repeating a miscommunication issue again.

Belief and Laity in (my) Fiction

As much as I’d like to think there isn’t some similarity in how I’ve included peripheral P/pagan elements in fanfic lately, I think there’s the possibility.

“Kai” is an example of where I very clearly look like I rifled through the pockets of some pagan spaces and Wiki pages to form deities because it’s currently the only one where known names are used and there’s a clear priest(ess) and laity divide. Quite literally, there are temples, groves, hofs, etc. where religious people handle the communal shrine keeping, organizing rites, offering xyz services as part of their sacred duties, and offering a variety of divination related services, and then there are people who are semi-agnostic but fulfill the basic requirements for the deity’s patronage. (The details vary, but even when someone’s getting divination and a particular cathartic rite done, it’s very ‘live and let live’ on what they believe as long as they’re respectful.)

“Darkling” is a few steps removed from that because the clergy and religious components aren’t as widespread. The Dark community has experienced peaceful co-religious blending, being forced to new areas where assimilating into that place’s majority religion was inevitable after centuries, and in some instances, forced or faux conversions (as Christianization has been interpreted as one component of some Light communities).

This means that ‘the Ancients’ and the residual pagan flavors in certain holidays feel more like folkloric customs (an expression of culture rather than religious belief), and this allows for different levels of interfaith Dark communities from one country to another. The characters who are the main points of reference for the Dark community in the story take a stance where the Ancients are conceptualizations of magical forces more so than deities they ought to hold certain beliefs about.

“BSL” and “Coven” more or less share a Universe where the differences lie in when and how Harry is introduced to this toned down iteration of the Dark/Grey/Light divide (hard of hearing!Sirius post-PoA vs ‘curse damage as chronic pain’ post-war). Honestly, I wanted to make magical equivalents to wheelchairs based on clouds, and this whole disability, chronic illness, and chronic pain element showed up (magical accessibility aids, spell-signing, we don’t have space for my spell stuff). The coven structure that includes inter-pantheon religious stuff actually isn’t quite as prominent (in the plot and what I’ve worked out in the notes).

In “Coven”, Harry’s exposure has more to do with seeking out a means of mourning and catharsis that’s lacking in the Light community. Like, religion is kind of there, fictionalized titles are used instead of deity names, and some people believe, but it’s mostly a coping mechanism during grief (in part, because Dark folks have a community-wide recognized rite, support roles, and reintegration timeline that recognizes mourning while supporting the mourner).

“Kintsugi” is a little different in that the plot and Universe have to accommodate this underground, international, consensual D/s system. While I was thinking about how some people combine Pagan beliefs and BDSM, I didn’t really want to get into the particulars that might lead to ‘but why did you use my deity?’ conversations where the point of having divine support for D/s roles and rituals could get lost. So, I made a specific point of fictional tweaking to the two main deities for this system, so that readers hopefully wouldn’t focus too much on who the deities were and would pay attention to how they help a new power dynamic pair.

The inter-pantheon home practices are dependent more on familial lineages, change from one generation to another, and can have a variety of other deities (who may be more recognizable), but this winds up being very ‘home and hearth’ focused rather than the community element from other fics shining through. (It may feel familiar to people used to being solitaries with home focused practices.)

Ultimately, between all of these fics, there’s not really a sense that someone ought to hold a certain belief system or that it’s better for them to personally believe in these pagan-ish deities. It’s more that engaging in certain rituals, which may be communal or solitary, can be cathartic or otherwise beneficial to the individual. If we really delve into whether a deity exists, there’s some sort of transactional and/or reciprocal element (human does A and deity does B because it’s an arrangement). In more than one, the community aspect comes through because of grieving and mourning processes (seeing as how I’m writing HP fic, this isn’t just because I’ve got opinions on how people do or do not turn to religious communities while grieving something).

It doesn’t feel unrealistic, but it also does have moments where I worry it’s a touch impersonal. Even in scenes where there’s near death experiences and interaction with a deity in some way (rites, divination, etc.), the deities sort of just exist. The main characters whose points of view are telling the story aren’t the ones who necessarily have to believe in the deities, often don’t have solitary rites or devotional activities, and often don’t have personal connections with the deities. Other people are the ones doing the divination, starting and maintaining the shrines, planning the rites, and so on.

Writing (or discovering) New Faces

I’ve tried writing more than one draft for explaining how I’ve gotten myself into this situation, but it basically boils down to using some element of a deity in a fictional story [a fanfic in this case] and accidentally having Them show up.

It was more along the lines of asking myself what would happen if the Wizarding World kept some elements of P/pagan practices because there were particular elements of magic that couldn’t be separated from them. This means that making an Oath to Someone in “Kai” comes with access to certain magic, benefits from Their temple/grove/hof/etc. (involves priests and priestesses), and a certain amount of protection from the patron deity. F’ex, a certain Vanic Goddess provides patronage around setting prices and enforcing payments, and Her hof also offers food assistance (similar to a food bank).

Keeping in mind that this was originally developed for a story including sex work, I came up with an amount of inter-pantheon cooperation and drawing very specific lines in the sand on what each deity was associated with to make that work. I did not set out to claim historical accuracy on sacred prostitution that may or may not have actually happened in the past, and some of the terminology in the notes may not be accurate to how they were actually used (a hetaira in this story doesn’t provide full service sex work and may have a variety of ‘companionate’ services, f’ex).

Some of the notes are plot specific and/or have very little page-to-life extrapolation because of the fictional magic element. However, needless to say, I got the attention of some of the deities who are included in this, more Faces had thoughts on how an alliance would feature sex work adjacent areas, and Someone decided this was ‘real enough’ to push me in the direction of a messenger for the collective.

Initially, I really thought I had fucked up on my divination/interpretation skills because I’m a civilian, and I just wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with this alliance of Faces. Then I found myself digging into Pose (*), following general sex work info blogs on tumblr, and starting to get exposure to advocacy groups (decriminalization efforts here in the US and international efforts).

(The “no one should breathe about this in your vicinity until you’re 18” tactic doesn’t mean you instantly get a download of all the knowledge you’re supposed to know once you’re “old enough”. But it’s not about being perfect right out of the gate. Sometimes, you read a resource, realize ‘oh, I shouldn’t have been phrasing X like that’, and you change. It’s called growth.gif)

I tend to reblog sex work related content (research, activism, news stories) on one of my tumblr blogs, so I don’t think it’ll suddenly take over here. It’s more that I can’t really deny the Sex Worker Alliance (SWA) is sort of doing Their thing in the background, and I sometimes get poked to support via signal boosting.

(*) Pose isn’t the only piece of media to feature sex workers, but it is a currently well-known example of a tv show produced by a former sex worker showing a variety of characters engaging in multiple types of sex work, which allows for diversity in how characters feel about leaving/doing another type and differences in safety/outcomes.