Mon
Feb 3 2014 10:15am

To the Lifeboats! J.K. Rowling Sinks a Ship

J.K. Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry

The post-Potter world has been full of interesting revelations. This weekend, we got one more—in an interview with Emma Watson, J.K Rowling said that Hermione should have ended up with Harry. The full interview is slated to appear in the February 7th issue of Wonderland, an international magazine spotlighting visual culture. Watson is guest-editing.

To some, this condemnation of Ron/Hermione from an authoritative source is earth-shattering, and to them, I offer my sincerest condolences. Whatever Rowling may say, Ron/Hermione will live on, battered, perhaps, but still possessed of infinitely more legitimacy than was ever to be found in Neville/Draco, Sirius/Lupin, Luna/Neville, or many others among the fleets of wildly popular ships. Rowling’s confession is a blow to the idea of nice guys finishing first. Rowling’s logic, however, is sound—while circumstances may have drawn Ron and Hermione together, personality would surely have driven them apart.

For the young witch, battling bravely against the forces of evil in the Forest of Dean, Harry is the obvious Ron-alternative. He’s geographically compatible, philosophically aligned with the cause, and not prone to running off. But while these are ingredients for the sort of breathless, fugitive passion that warms a drafty tent in the damp, hungry nights of hiding . . . Hermione doesn’t belong with Harry either.

Harry’s a great guy. He’s athletic, kind to others, and a warrior for good. Hermione is literally the first girl he meets. Harry needs her desperately—she’s good in emergencies, adept in a variety of social situations, and has an incredible knack with charmed handbags. But Harry’s need for Hermione is more logistical than emotional. When he yearns, he yearns for Ginny. Hermione is often his last thought, the one he thinks shortly after noticing that he’s out of danger because the defensive spells are working. Harry does not love Hermione in that very special way. She deserves more than the half-hearted passion of a high-school hero who needs her help with concealing charms and first aid.

J.K. Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry

There is no universal law that states that an adolescent heroine must be in want of a lover. Jill Pole didn’t hook up with Eustace Scrubb. Katniss Everdeen finds Gale and Peeta an albatross around her neck. Arya Stark needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. It’s not truly necessary for Hermione to be paired off. But those other stories are not about love. The Harry Potter stories are about the power of love to overcome evil. So while Hermione doesn’t need someone, it does make sense that she would find someone to love deeply. Someone who admires and respects her. Someone who finds her inspiring.

And who would that be?

J.K. Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry

Neville. He’s a brilliant and talented herbologist who has fought more than his share of evil in dangerous and difficult circumstances. He knows his way around the Sword of Gryffindor. He knows the ins and outs of the wizarding community, and can negotiate with both its Muggle-friendly public face and the dark underbelly of its discrimination against Muggles and Squibs. Neville and Hermione are drawn together by their roles in the war against Voldemort, without the inconvenience of hours of arguments over tactics.

I’m sure Ron and Harry can find someone on the wizarding equivalent of OKCupid.


Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

28 comments
Narvi
1. Narvi
Yeah, sure, Neville would totally end up dating a young version of his grandmother.
Mo -
2. Astus
I don't understand why Hermoine should have had to end up with either of them?
Thomas Thatcher
3. StrongDreams
I think it's important for Harry to have female friends he can rely on and confide in without it being romantic, and I agree Harry belongs with Ginny, who matches his inner fire in a way Hermione just doesn't.

I also agree Hermione doesn't end up with Ron, but here I think JKR failed Ron's character development. She wanted him (I think) to be the boy who was overshadowed at home by his brothers and overshadowed at school by Harry, but have hidden depths. This is seen as early as book 1, no one who can beat McGonagall at wizard chess can be a complete nitwit. But I think JKR dropped the ball on Ron's character development in the last third of the series and those hidden depths never really came out, that would have made him a good match for Hermione.

I don't really have a good alternative for Hermione in canon though. Maybe she meets someone at law school. Although I wonder if maybe she never does find someone. She may accept and understand that Harry is only a friend, and maybe she prefers it that way too, but who else could measure up to him as a friend, much less a boyfriend?
Narvi
4. GarrettC
There was a post here at Tor not long ago about the sabotaging of Ron's character that happened in the films--how the script-writers were so enamored of Hermione that they took many of Ron's most courageous, impressive, and intelligent moments and flipped them over to her, and that Ron's character ended up being little more than comic relief at best, and kind of snivvely at worst.

It makes me wonder. Rowling was a part of the process that took Ron's best qualities and pasted them onto Hermione: Which Ron does she think Hermione doesn't belong with--the book Ron or the movie Ron?
F Shelley
5. FSS
Well, honestly, the most YA-fantasy trope of the whole series is that people marry (and stay married to) their high-school sweethearts. I mean, who doesn't think after a few fire whiskeys at Merlin U the whole gang isn't out "exploring other options" and after a few angst-filled months days the vast majority of these relationships are dead and gone, to be resurrected for brief periods after they find each other on Wizard Facebook (or after a few glances while dropping their kids off on the train)...
Heather Stewart
6. lonesome_pine
Has JKR actually said Hermione should be with Harry? Every quotation I've seen so far simply says she *shouldn't* be with Ron.

I never understood the Harry/Hermione pairing. Maybe it's because I've always had more guy-friends than girl-friends, but I saw my own platonic relationships echoed in what Harry and Hermione had. They were too much like siblings to be romantically involved in any way.

And while I still like Hermione/Ron, I knew it wasn't terribly realistic. IIRC, Emma said the kisses with Rupert and Daniel were awkward because it was little kissing her brothers - that's often what tends to happen with people who grow up together. Probably the more realistic option is that she'd meet someone while working for the Ministry, if she even married at all.

But Hermione/Neville? Can't say I buy that one either. According to JKR, Neville marries Hannah Abbott (from Hufflepuff), and I can dig that.
Narvi
7. Colin R
Cute, but um, it feels like pairing her with Neville would be giving Hermione away to him like an award for being a nice boy. Which is a lot what her pairing with Ron already feels like. It's not that Ron is an awful person, but it definitely feels like she is a lot more grown-up and mature than he is. Harry and Hermione at least feel on more equal footing.

Hermione didn't need to end up romantically paired with anyone, but the natural pull of the narrative and the character interactions certainly seemed to point a lot more toward Harry than Ron--pairing up Ron and Hermione always felt forced to me, an authorial contrivance rather than a natural outgrowth. The whole pairing everyone up forever with their high school sweethearts feels like that too.

The films of course have a more visual logic to them--Daniel Radcliffe had more chemistry with Emma Watson, and apologies to Mr. Grint, he was the more handsome option; wouldn't Hermione notice that?
Narvi
8. les111280
JKR didn't actually say Hermione should have been with Harry in the quotes that have been leaked from the interview, just that Hermione and Ron wouldn't work out, she regrets putting them together and that the pairing was more wish fulfillment than anything. She's not going to go back and rewrite the books so all the Ron/Hermione shippers can calm down, your ship is still canon.

I think it's actually pretty self aware of her to admit that she paired them up for her own desires and not any real literary reason. The revelation doesn't surprise me either because I've believed for years that she stuck to her original plan regardless of how she actually wrote the books and what would have worked better with what she actually wrote. I think there are many things this is true of in the books, not just who Hermione ended up with.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
9. Lisamarie
Very interesting! On the other Ron thread over at Tor, I read a pretty good explanation of why Harry/Ginny actually do make sense (and why Harry/Hermione wouldn't) - although their relationship didn't get developed as well as it could.

As for Hermione/Ron, while reading the books, I did root for them and think they had potential but agree that in some ways, Ron was wasted and maybe even Flanderized as a character. It actually set my teeth on edge a bit that in the epilouge he's talking about cheating on his driver's test, etc. So while I don't think the general idea of Ron/Hermione is horrible (aside from the conceit of everybody marrying their high school sweetheart - which, hey, does work for some people, I know quite a few couples like that), it definitely wasn't executed as well as it could have been, they COULD have really helped make it something that helped mature Ron's character a bit - and it makes sense that the author now has second throughts about it.

While Hermione doesn't need to be paired up with anybody, it seems most logical if she did end up with somebody, that she probably would have ended up with somebody she met in whatever the Wizarding college equivalent was (or in her professional life). I honestly don't see the Neville/Hermione connection at all, this basically just seems to be saying 'Well, Neville is another good male character, so he should get Hermione' and not at all based on any connection that they actually have.

Also, I kind of loved that Viktor Krum liked Hermione and noticed her in that way when others couldn't see her as more than a dowdy bookworm, even though I don't necessarily think she should have ended up with him either.

(Also, not trying to open up a can of worms, I'm just trying to make a good natured joke so take it in that spirit, but the amount of excitement/and false statements regarding this (for example, this turning into 'JK Rowling says she should have been with Harry') is like the geek version of the media hullabaloo any time the Pope says anytthing. HE'S CHANGING EVERYTHING! :) )
Mari Ness
10. MariCats
Not to open up an entirely different can of worms, but one major reason Jill Pole didn't end up with Eustace Scrubb was because she ended up DEAD while still in school

I may still be bitter.

A better example might be Digory and Polly, who didn't end up together either but at least got to live to either middle or old age, depending upon how you interpret the time line.

I'll now let you all go back to arguing about Hermione's fate, which I have fewer opinions about :)
Narvi
11. SimonP
We always want to think people love for only good reasons, but in truth, people don't always love for the right reasons.

In Rowling's world, there are plenty of examples of good people with faults, who's faults lead them down the path of bad choices.

Hermione does enjoy her position of being better than other people in many areas. I can easily see her falling in love with Ron, because that would mean she would never be eclipsed by her husband.

And Ron could easily see her love as validation of him. Why would someone as smart and powerful as Hermione is, be in love with him if there wasn't something of value about him. Ron wants to be recognized for himself, even if it happens through someone else.

Harry is far to independant and emotional to suite Hermione By the Books. Partly because he tends to succeed following his heart, which has trumped Hermione's Logic in many cases. Hermione wouldn't be happy if she was always ending up wrong or second to Harry.
Narvi
12. KAsiki
They are childrens books so things aren't going to be the clearest. Still JKR can not write Romantic love, at least in terms on the Potter series. None of the relationships seemed to be anything remarkable, till JKR decided they all needed to find someone too.

Would I have been surprised if Ron/Hermione did not work out? Not in the least. But most of that was due to a failure in writing. Ron was turned almost into a comedic sidekick. In the movie it was due to on screen chemestry, but in the book i was due to JKR.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
13. Lisamarie
I think this does raise some interesting questions about who gets to decide what a story is. I posted the link on my FB page because I have some friends who would be interested, and a friend wondered why people even get so upset about this kind of thing because for them, the story is in their head the way they want it. I'll just repost the comment I made:

Regarding 'headcanon'- I'm all about letting an author tell the story they want to tell and even having new thoughts about it later (heck, even Tolkien rewrote part of The Hobbit after it was published) - overall I do believe an author's intent has primacy, so I'm always a bit leery of people 'retelling' or 'reinterpreting' stories in ways that blatantly go against what we know the author intended. But, once a thing is published, it does kind of become something more than itself. So, you know, if you don't like the prequels, fine...you don't necessarily have to accept it, or let it change the way you experience the original trilogy (to use a very common example). There are parts of the Star Wars EU (books) that I HATE and have pretty much just chosen to ignore in my head. And so, for this - if JK Rowling feels she would have written the story a different way now, that's cool and interesting to know, but it doesn't change what is actually in the book.

I suppose revisions are a little dicier. What is the 'true' version of the Hobbit, or of Star Wars (special edition? original? DVD version?) and who gets to decide?
Narvi
14. fdsfgs71
I'm probably in the minority when I say that both Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny both felt like they came out of nowhere.
Narvi
15. BarbAgingFanGirl
I always believed that Harry's attraction to Ginny was based in his desire to be a Weasley and enveloped in that big warm chaotic family. I also feel that questioning the Ron/Hermione pairing underestimates them both. They are secure enough to succeed as a family with Ron as stay-at-home dad. Can't you see tiny Rose and Hugo killing at wizard chess, flying tiny brooms 4 feet off the ground, and partially transfiguring the family guinea pig into a harmonica?
Justin Levitt
16. TyranAmiros
I always wanted Hermione to end up with a Ravenclaw--someone who could show her the joy in discovering things, not just to get points or solve the immediate problem, but in the process of exploring itself. It's not to say that she should have been in Ravenclaw--she's Gryffindor to the core--but I think she'd be more attracted to someone who shows her a different way of thinking about things or who challenges her presumptions.
Narvi
17. Tenar
The obvious thing would be for Harry and Ron to end up together. As they already almost do in book 4. Duh.
Narvi
18. Elizabeth H
You know what? I would TOTALLY ship that. I only recently started to like Ron/Hermione after discovering some fantastic fanfic that changed my mind on the matter, but I will NEVER be convinced that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. Even if the creator herself said so. But Neville/Hermione? I could definitely get behind that.
Narvi
19. kb_run
Herminone married Victor Krum. I refuse to accept any other answer.
Rich Bennett
20. Neuralnet
I could buy Ron and Hermione together.. Ron made Hermione laugh and Hermione loved Ron's family as much as him... that goes a long way IMHO.

I really hope J.K. Rowling lets it go... please dont pull a george lucas and muck up your much loved work years later.
Deana Whitney
21. Braid_Tug
For those not familer with Not Literally, but love Shipping - check out this song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCDgJiPBxfI&list=TLQ7G-HiJLuw5DV8OmN7D9JjvKCCJm5LXE
The oddest thing I find about JKR world is that it seems so few people meet their spouse after leaving Hogwarts.
Lauren
22. knightradiant37
This makes me sad--not just because of the whole Hermione-and-Ron-were-a-mistake thing, but because it's making us question, poke, and prod something that was a beautiful constant for so long. Sure, I knew the series wasn't perfect, but therein was its beauty. Despite being set in a magical world, the series was realistic and profound. And what a wonderful world it was! Harry Potter will always be close to my heart. But, JKR has come out and basically said, "Scratch that. I made a mistake, and I don't like it." It's led to a landslide of negative comments and regretful thinking. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm all about analyzation and open-mindedness, but this is something we should just let lie. The Harry Potter series was (and still is) wonderful the way it is.
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
I like the idea of Hermione/Neville. And the fact that I'm totally Hermione and Neville grew up to look like a young Clive Owen has absolutely nothing to do with that !
Narvi
24. K.K.
I have always shipped Ron Hermine. And even if JK changes her mind, it will not convince me that they do not belong together.
Harry Hermione would be just wrong. But I think Harry Ginny is also wrong. It started off with hero worship and as such will always be too one-sided. Luna would be far better for Harry and balance off his dark side. (And I think the attempt to put Luna with Neville in the movie was also completely wrong.)
Narvi
25. Auntchele
I disagree. I think Hermione and Ron are perfect for each other and balance each other's strengths and weaknesses. We see this over and over throughout the series. She might take the lead most of the time by force of personality, but he isn't a pushover. He brings humor into her life and she brings a sense of responsibility to him. She challenges him to succeed and he keeps her from being too full of herself.

They parallel Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in many ways. Isn't it interesting that, while it is more a stroke to his ego to date someone like Lavender Brown who is fluffy and tends to worship him, he chooses to love a strong woman like his mother.
Molly Weasley is the more outspoken and the disciplinarian of the family, but she isn't more dominant than Arthur. Arthur is certainly capable of asserting himself as an equal and making his wishes known when he thinks it is important. We don't think that Arthur is weak, merely happy to go along with the flow until he has something important to make himself heard over.

We see Ron do the same several times in the books when he tells Hermione to lay off nagging Harry or gives an opinion opposite to hers that is well thought out and holds weight. He might bicker with her and tease her, but he is always her biggest champion when someone else targets her.

The qualities in him that are "Griffindor" is what attracts Hermione. This is especially true when Harry "checks out" over the Hallows. Indeed, his leadership is essential at this point in keeping the quest going for the horcruxes. He even challenges Harry over this point, certain that he is right. Could he have been a very different person altogether if he hadn't been Harry's second for seven years? Maybe, but maybe not. He might never have needed to find those strengths otherwise.

Hermione is always a sister to Harry. They tried to change that up in the movie but it was weird and didn't work. Also, the story is always from Harry's point of view. How much relationship building happens between Ron and Hermione when we don't see them? Harry knows they discuss him when he isn't around. He is the common ground they have at first, but they obviously come to care deeply about each other. Ron may have needed the eye opener of someone else taking an interest in Hermione to make him see her as a "girl" but it took the same for Harry and Ginny.

Neville would never work. Hermione would steamroll him. Much as she likes him, he could never be her equal in a relationship. She would look down on him in a way she never does with Ron.
Narvi
26. LitChick2911
Growing up, I had two types of male friends: the male friends I was so close to that I would never have considered dating them, and the male friends with whom I was initially just buddies, but as I got to know them (as we grew up) I found myself attracted to them in a romantic way. We cannot simply say that because Ron, Harry and Hermione grw up together, that romance is inherently out of the question for any of them. As far as personality and intellect is concerned, Ron is, in many ways, what Hermione is not. He is a bit addle-brained, pre-occupied with "guy" things like quiddich and eating everything in site. But, take into consideration his admirable qualities. Despite everything, he does remain loyal to Harry (and to Dumbledore), he's obviously brilliant (think Wizard chess) despite the fact that he doesn't put in the effort to succeed academically, he has learned how to love from a brilliant mum and dad, and he's experienced, as have many at the end of the novels, sincere loss, which matures you in ways you don't realize. The Ron we know and love is a kid throughout the majority of the books and the films, but think about who the adult Ron will become. How has his time with his friends, his time at Hogwarts, his time fighting Voldemort, changed him and matured him? And who is to say what attracts one person to another? Sometimes it is obvious; a shared interest, a shared goal...but Ron, for as much as he exasperates Hermione, he also makes her laugh and while Harry is out risking his life and making stupid decisions that ultimately require her help, Ron is kind of there, perhaps more of a support system for her than anyone realizes. I like Ron and Hermione - I think it works if you take the time to see past the superficial stuff and look at these characters as you would real people. Sometimes romantic relationships are the result of nothing more than proximity, time and shared experiences. Attraction cannot be explained and is its own kind of magic. For me, Ron and Hermione work and I refuse to start changing the story now, canon or no canon.
Narvi
27. excessivelyperky
I think Hermione would be happiest with someone she could share a library with. And who has the biggest library outside of Hogwarts. Ok, Spinner's End is a bit of a fixer-upper, but it's got potential if the neighborhood gets gentrified.

So. Snape is dead. But wait--we never see him after the Trio walk away, he's never laid out in the Great Hall, and never gets a portrait (till years later. How many, is never said). If there is one character in HP who could fool his own creator about whether he's dead or not, it's our favorite Potions Master.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
28. EllenMCM
@27 - I know that ship is very popular and has spawned a lot of fic. But I just can't do it. There's a whole entire House of Ravenclaw full of people who like books and who DIDN'T torment Hermione all the way through her school years. And who aren't in love with Harry's dead mom.

I buy Snape as an unsung hero, but not as the subject of schoolgirl crushes, and especially not as one of Hermione's.

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