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Recycle Bin, Writing

Recycle Bin: Harry Potter and the Muggle Detective

July 27th, 2009 by Jeff | Dump Core

I wanted to post this edition of the Recycle Bin sooner, to be more topical when a certain movie coming out in theaters, but I didn’t really want to break up the previous Star Wars RB posts. So I guess the accidental early posting of Tales of the Jedi (IIa) came at a good time, as it moved this post up a week.

First and foremost I should say that yes, I am a fan of the Harry Potter series. I came to the books rather late; I believe I saw the first three films at least before reading the books, and most likely I saw The Goblet of Fire film while still reading the earlier books. I’m pretty sure the first book I read before seeing the film was Order of the Phoenix. That said, I eventually caught up to the point that I actually read Deathly Hallows when it came out and our copy was delivered by Amazon the day it was released. While I’d probably concur with many critics that there are plenty of things to nitpick about J. K. Rowling’s writing style, taken overall I think the series is exciting, imaginative, and definitely worth the read. There are many places where the books are superior to the movies (they contain a lot more detail) while the converse can also be true (the movies cut out a lot of unnecessary fluff).

During the course of reading the books, I came up with—you guessed it—a very fan-fiction-y idea of my own. While I have some good friends who are really into writing Harry Potter fan fiction (and I mean really into it), writing fan fiction isn’t something I particularly like to focus on. After all, I seem to be doing quite all right releasing my own original work which I can at least make a little pocket change off of, something I can’t do by using somebody else’s characters. Of course, that’s what the Recycle Bin is for, and now I’ve got at outlet where I can at least share a high-level overview of it.

I suppose I should clarify the title a little. The title of this project would most certainly not be Harry Potter and the Muggle Detective. First and foremost, while it’s set in the Harry Potter universe, Harry actually doesn’t play a very major role in it. In fact, he’s probably only in there a handful of times in mostly a cameo capacity. He and his friends may cross paths occasionally with the main characters of this tale, but only by coincidence that some events coincide with events from the books.

And that’s probably the second thing to take note of. This idea is based primarily on the books and not the films. In fact, it was intended to actually be a series of seven short stories and/or novellas, with each installment occurring either shortly before or actually during the events of each of Rowling’s books. The first episode actually takes place several months before the events of The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, while the final one would probably take place roughly concurrently with Deathly Hallows.

Another bit about the working title: I only refer to it as “the Muggle Detective” because the main character—ironically a muggle who happens to be a detective—doesn’t have a name yet. The name given below, Mardigan, is basically a placeholder (as typical for Recycle Bin entries) and was primarily chosen so he could have the nickname “[name that starts with M] the Mad Muggle”, a play on the fictional comic book “The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle” that’s mentioned in the books. Several wizards and witches take note of the similarity and adapt the nickname to him, which he finds annoying at first but eventually adopts as his own.

As with all Recycle Bin entries, this is rough, unpolished, and most definitely incomplete. The synopsis is a very loose collection of ideas and, as usual, will likely never be further refined because, quite frankly, there’s no incentive to do so. While I’ve tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, folks who haven’t read the books or seen the movies should be warned that this synopsis relies heavily on the story set forth in the original books and some spoilers may be unavoidable. Enjoy!

One-Line Synopsis

Mardigan “the Mad Muggle”, an American private eye transplanted to the U.K., solves mysteries in the wizarding world with the aid of his incredible skills of deduction, his wits, and a few handy magical artifacts.

Characters

  • Mardigan: An American-born muggle in his late thirties living as an ex-patriot in London, Mardigan became entangled with the wizarding world when his British-born wife was murdered during Voldemort’s previous reign of terror. When his quest for answers and justice leads him to the Order of the Phoenix, his assistance helps the Order to root out and thwart the Death Eaters numerous times before Voldemort’s fall. This loose association earns Mardigan many magical allies (and enemies), and he now serves very informally as a muggle consultant to the Aurors. He is very quick-witted and incredibly observant, giving him a skill at deduction nearly rivaling his literary hero, Sherlock Holmes. He is perfectly willing to get his hands dirty to solve a case and is adept at using his impressive arsenal of magical items he has collected over the years, either as gifts from appreciative clients or spoils acquired from defeated foes. He has a strong sense of justice, but is bitterly lonely after the death of his wife.
  • Nymphadora Tonks: The young Auror and Metamorphmagus familiar to fans of the latter half of the original series. A recent graduate of Hogwarts, Tonks begins our story as a fresh-faced Auror-in-training and is given a case by Mad-Eye Moody that puts her side-by-side with Mardigan. Throughout our stories, Tonks and Mardigan often work together, with her serving as the Watson to Mardigan’s Holmes. While there are hints at a romantic attachment early on, fans of the original series should take heart that these stories should compliment the original books and that Tonks’ time line there would be unaffected (although it might take on an interesting new dimension).
  • Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody: The famous Auror serves as Tonks’ mentor and superior, giving her the initial assignment that sets her and Mardigan as de facto partners. Moody appears regularly in this capacity throughout our series except when otherwise occupied by the events of the original books.
  • Remus Lupin: Werewolf, member of the Order, and friend of James and Lily Potter, Lupin makes several appearances through out series, likely being introduced in the second or third installment (i.e. shortly before the events of the third Rowling book). He eventually becomes Mardigan’s competition for Tonks’ affections, although his curse of lycanthropy hinders his attachment. He and Mardigan form a rather “friendly enemies” sort of relationship eventually developing into mutual respect.
  • Numerous other characters from the Harry Potter universe would certainly make cameos or slightly more involved appearances, including Dumbledore, various Hogwarts staff, Sirius Black, the Weasleys, and of course Voldemort.

Extended Synopsis

The first installment is the one that is most well-formed. We begin several months before the events of Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone by following Nymphadora Tonks, Auror-in-training, as she is assigned a mystery involving a wizard criminal who has gone into hiding. “Mad-Eye” Moody suspects the criminal has disappeared into the muggle world and thus sends Tonks to seek out a detective named Mardigan for assistance. When she finds him, he is far from what she expects: he lives in his office (which is a disorganized picture of chaos), he is quick-witted and sarcastic, and most surprisingly, he’s a muggle with a rather in-depth knowledge of the wizarding world. When given the facts of the case, Mardigan agrees with Moody’s assessment and believes he has a few ideas where to look. The two set off to apprehend the criminal, leading Tonks into a world completely foreign to her: the muggle world.

What surprises Tonks the most about Mardigan is his array of magical trinkets and artifacts. Although he is a muggle, Mardigan has a vast arsenal of magical tools that, although formally untrained, he can wield with surprising skill. These include various wards, talismans, detectors, and defensive charms. His most prized item is a pair of true-seeing glasses, given to him by Professor Dumbledore himself, that allows him to see through almost any magical illusion. The glasses play an important role in one story where it allows him to travel to Hogwarts, which is usually protected by spells that explicitly keep muggles away. When the glasses are knocked off in a scuffle, Mardigan becomes susceptible to the anti-muggle charms and is only saved from his attacker when Tonks is able to return the glasses to his face.

But Mardgian’s greatest weapons are his mind and his power of observation. Patterning himself after his favorite fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes (“only without the tobacco, heroin, and violin”), Mardigan exhibits incredible skill at unraveling events from the scarcest of clues. What he lacks in skill with a magical wand he more than makes up in wit and ingenuity, outsmarting his enemies with carefully laid traps and surprises. That said, he still has to rely heavily on fisticuffs from time to time and on more than one occasion Tonks must come to his rescue when he winds up in over his head against a magical foe.

Upon apprehending the criminal in question (who is coincidentally a former Death Eater), Tonks and Mardigan are repeatedly thrust together in a series of cases where the wizarding world and the muggle world clash. During this time latent romantic feelings eventually surface, only to be disrupted (or heightened) when Remus Lupin enters the picture. Tonks becomes immediately infatuated with Lupin, resulting in a confrontation between he and Mardigan that reveals Lupin’s lycanthropy. Eventually, Mardigan and Lupin develop an “understanding” once Tonks comes to a decision about her feelings.

Eventually, Voldemort’s return begins to change the wizarding world. The Aurors’ increasingly rely on Mardgian to give them a pulse on the muggle world, which they in turn take back to the Ministry of Magic. While Tonks and Lupin play a greater role in the Order and its secret fight against the Death Eaters, Mardigan comes face-to-face with Death Eaters in the muggle world, thwarting several major attacks that would have been “catastrophes” had he not intervened.

I never got around to doing much about the final story. Obviously, I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the books, but while Lupin and Tonks become deeply involved in the events of Deathly Hallows, Mardigan finds himself on a deadly suicide mission that brings him face-to-face with the Dark Lord himself. While I haven’t finalized any details, I believe Mardigan sacrifices himself to delay Voldemort at some critical junction and is slain by the Killing Curse from the Dark Lord’s wand. News of his death reaches Tonks shortly before the climax of the seventh book where she and Lupin share a moment of silence for their fallen friend before facing their own deadly challenges. I’ve tried to imagine a number of scenerios that don’t result in Mardigan’s death, but none of them seemed satisfactory. Lots of characters come to untimely ends in Rowling’s final book, and it just seems fitting that Mardigan should play his small role in finding the saga’s resolution.

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