|Synonyms:||MWPP, Marauders Era|
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Marauders is a semi-fannish term for the group of four friends in Harry Potter's parents' generation: James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. The name "Marauders" comes from a magical map that Harry is given in the third book -- "Marauder's Map" -- that was made by the four friends, though they are never referred to in canon as "The Marauders".
Marauders Era generally refers to the school years of James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter, but can extend to other characters present during this time. These characters can include Lily Evans, Severus Snape, Regulus Black, Frank and Alice Longbottom, and other soon to be members of The Order of the Phoenix, or budding Death Eaters.
Stories set during the school days of the Marauders are often labeled Marauders Era, simply Marauders, or MWPP, an acronym for the characters' nicknames: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Some segments of the Harry Potter fandom are devoted to Marauders-era fanworks or to the parent generation in general. Probably the most famous example of the genre is the Shoebox Project, a serial fic recounting the entirety of the Marauders' school years and some time after. Other times, a character from the next generation - generally Harry Potter or Hermione Granger - goes back in time via a Time Turner either by accident or on purpose. Sometimes they end up affecting the future, other times it doesn't change what happens and ultimately stays the same other than the characters remembering whoever went back in time.
By far the most popular pairings in Marauder fic are Remus/Sirius and James/Lily, though all possible pairings (and threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes) have been written. The Remus/Sirius shippers suffered a series of blows following the third book, including Sirius' death, and Remus' relationship with Tonks. As a consequence, fanac was at its height during the Three Year Summer and dropped noticeably with the release of each new book. In Time Turner stories set in the Marauders Era, the most common additional pairings are Hermione/Remus and Hermione/Sirius, with rarer ones such as Remus/Hermione/Sirius and Hermione/James.
Marauders fic often portrays a few key scenes that are attested in canon: Remus Lupin nearly killing Snape in the tunnel beneath the Whomping Willow (an incident commonly known as The Prank), the Marauders' discovery that Remus was a werewolf, and Remus' discovery of their Animagus forms. Much of the fanfiction written contains character bashing of Peter Pettigrew, to the point where authors often assure readers that their fic contains no Peter hate. Consequently, many fics also do not feature much of Peter, regulating him to a side character that is often absent with little to no explanation.
The Marauder's have inspired many fanfictions, and while The Shoebox Project is one of the most known and praised, there is also a large subset of non-magical alternate universe fics. Long Live Living (If Living Can Be This) by Excaliburned is one of the better known non-magic AUs, detailing the boys' final summer before heading off to university. Putting the Marauders into non-magical settings has lead to many different variations on their given limitations and canon parallels, such as Remus being given a disease, and Sirius being from an abusive household. However, as with all fandoms, most AU fics just want everyone to be happy and not dead.
It is also interesting to note that many Marauders fanfic authors have a habit of odd capitalization, using it for emphasis. This most probably stems from earlier fanfiction sites, where bolding and italicizing were not possible or were tedious to implement. It is not to be confused with CAPSLOCK, but rather sentences are typed Like This for Some Reason, or another. Despite the fact that text editing is common on every platform now, many authors still continue to capitalize for emphasis in addition to using bold and italic font decorations.
Many common character tropes/fanon have been assigned to each of the Marauders, though sometimes these tropes have no basis in canon, or were only ever loosely connected to canon information. There is, as with any fandom, those that go against the grain and do not employ these tropes, but their prevalence is noteworthy:
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus gives chocolate to Harry to ward off the effects of the Dementors, and fandom generally agreed that Remus must have a chocolate addiction. This is seen in many fanfics, where out of nerves and stress, Remus reaches for a chocolate bar; he is also gifted many boxes of chocolates for the holidays from the other Marauders. Remus is also constantly in the library, despite also being hailed as a genius, and generally is seen as the wet-blanket of the group. Though canon backs the opposite: as a prefect, Remus more or less refused to control his friends, and while James and Sirius were praised with natural ability and intelligence, Remus never was.
Sirius has been given the trope of "hyper-active child", despite the fact that in canon he is generally described as cool and collected (sans heated moments of anger or passion). This has more to do with the fact that Sirius' animagus form is that of a large dog, and many fans attribute the characteristics of a puppy to Sirius. It makes for a lot of fics where Sirius cannot sit still for more than five seconds, is constantly seeking physical affection from anyone willing to give it, and generally has no understanding of personal space.
James is often viewed as love-sick and heart-broken, continually pining over Lily Evans. In many parts of the fandom, James is seen to be constantly asking Lily to date him, and nearly always bullying Snape out of some sort of jealousy over he and Lily's friendship. There is no canon information to support the idea that James harangued Lily, or bullied Snape out of jealousy, but the trope has stuck for many years. It is especially common among Snape fans to believe that James relentlessly bullied Snape, whereas it is more likely that Snape and James were equal rivals.
Peter is most often seen as a bumbling idiot that couldn't tie his own shoe laces, were it not for the other Marauders looking after him. This idea came about because Peter is seen as cowering and subservient to Voldemort in PoA and post-PoA canon, and general fandom took those attributes and applied them to the Marauders dynamic. There is no canon information about how Peter was treated within the Marauders, but given the canon information we do have it is unlikely that he was any sort of bumbling or incapable. Noting the fact that Sirius deems it wise to make Peter the secret keeper over himself, it is clear that Peter had high standing amongst his friends.
While in the movies each of the Marauders is portrayed as white, there is a subset of the fandom that rebels against this greatly. In the books there is no information on any of the Marauders' races, and so this subset of fandom has taken that and run with it. The most common races applied to James are Black-British, or Indian-British. Sirius does not have a common race acceptance, though many view him as Chinese-British, or a variant of Asian-British. Remus and Peter both do not have widespread non-white headcanons, though this is something many are working to change.
As with those that view the marauders as non-white, there are also those that view them as queer. Many different headcanons for these variants abound, and it's impossible to name the most common or widely accepted. It is noteworthy that most of those that apply queer headcanons to the Marauders are queer themselves, and this offers a form of representation not seen in the media. Because there is so little canon information on the Marauders, it is easy to adapt headcanons that offer more representation than just "straight cis dudes."
It is important to note, as with the race headcanons, that these are only subsets of the larger Marauder fandom, and many do not participate in race, gender, or sexuality exploration and debate of the Marauders. Despite a lack of canon evidence that any of the Marauders are straight, white, or cis, many fans feel that if it is not explicitly stated then it is not likely that the Marauders deviate from those three attributes.