LOVE IS THICKER THAN BLOOD:
The Harry and Hermione debate
By The Free Elf
ABSTRACT: Harry and Hermione are each other's family. They protect and comfort each other, they are there for each other. As far as family goes, each other is all they have. Neither have parents or siblings in the wizard world. Contrast to Ron, who has more family than he knows what to do with - all in the wizarding world. This is not to say that Harry and Hermione are closer, it merely shows that their relationship is different. An answer to Harry/Hermione shippers everywhere!
We all know now who ends up with whom. But in the years preceding the release of DH, I've spent countless hours reading the manifestos of the Harry Potter shippers. These lengthy essays ranged from the downright silly - Harry/Giant Squid and Snape/Dumbledore to the ridiculous - Harry/Draco and Hermione/Remus - to the understandable and normal - Harry/Luna and Ron/Hermione. The one I'd like to focus on is the Harry/Hermione relationship. Somewhere between the fourth and fifth books, I knew that Harry and Hermione had no romantic interest in one another. (Don't get me wrong, I originally wanted them to end up together.) I had not yet picked up on the Ron/Hermione track, so this is not about Harry being ruled out by process of elimination. It is about the somewhat subtle differences between Hermione's relationship with Harry and her relationship with Ron. And here's the foundation of my argument: Harry and Hermione are each other's family. They care about one another and are loyal to one another because they are like siblings. They protect and comfort one another because they are all each other has.
Needing each other
When Harry arrives at Hogwarts, he has no friends, no knowledge of the world he is entering into. He belongs to this world, no doubt, as he's a wizard, but he was brought up by muggles - muggles who refused to tell him the most important thing about his being. He is an orphan in the wizarding world as well as in the muggle one. Hermione, in a very similar way, shows up on the Hogwarts Express without knowing anyone or anything (except the entire contents of her book bag). She, too, was raised by muggles and is now entering into a world her parents know nothing about. Like Harry, she is orphaned in the wizarding world. The two of them meet Ron, who comes from an old wizarding family bursting at the seams with children and extended family. Ron knows (for the most part) what lies ahead for him. If he runs into trouble in the wizarding world, he not only has a witch and wizard as parents to help guide him, but he's also got five older wizard brothers to help him out (and a pretty b.a. sister as well if I may add). The three become friends, but Harry and Hermione share a different kind of bond because of the solidarity between them. Other than Ron, neither really have anyone else to turn to in this world - (Harry, I suppose has Dumbledore - but that's a whole other topic). Through this solidarity, they became one another's family.
"She's like my sister... I love her like a sister." (pg 378, DH US Hardback) Harry says this to Ron to convince him that there are no romantic feelings between Harry and the girl Ron loves. He said it to rule out the possibility of romantic feelings between them so Ron would feel better, but notice he didn't say I love her like a friend. Loving a friend and loving a family member are two different kinds of love. Harry realizes that his love for Hermione is the latter.
In the movies, we can not only hear the characters, but we can also see how they react to one another. Something that is evident on screen is that Harry and Hermione have always been a lot more comfortable with each other than Ron and Hermione have. Take, for example, the end of the CoS movie. Hermione runs and hugs Harry, but shakes hands awkwardly with Ron. Hermione was more comfortable with Harry because they loved each other - but not in a romantic way. Hermione and Ron on the other hand, hadn't quite figured out their relationship at that point. Some other examples are when Harry holds Hermione when she is crying in HBP, and when they hold hands when they run in the Forbidden Forest in PoA. In all of these examples, the two show affection towards each other, but not in romantic sense; these displays of affection are of a more protecting and comforting manner. These are what each needs from the other - comfort, protection - things that a family would normally give.
Upon seeing the first installment of Deathly Hallows, I knew many fans were annoyed to see Harry and Hermione dancing together in a scene that - were this any other movie - would end in the two characters making out. While I believe it was a sort of cheap shot at trying to leave non-book readers guessing as to if Hermione would start to have feelings for Harry over Ron, I really enjoyed the scene. It was very cute and sort of "chick-flick" reminiscent; but you have to think about the characters' circumstances and motivation, and not take the situation out of context. Harry was trying to cheer Hermione up. Ron had just left, their goals seemed far away and everything just had a damper on it, not to mention Hermione was wearing the Horcrux. It was a small gesture of light-heartedness in an attempt to make her forget her pain for a few minutes. My own brother has made me dance with him to cheer me up: there's nothing romantically charged about it. We've seen Harry become rather protective of Hermione and her feelings as of late. In the HBP movie he comforts her after Ron chooses another girl. This sort of protection could be friendly, but it feels more like a brotherly protection.
This is of course not to say that Hermione and Harry have a better relationship than do any other combination of the trio. In the end, it doesn't really matter. Harry and Hermione ended up being brother and sister-in-laws anyways. But Harry and Hermione's relationship is one that shows that love is thicker than blood. I think it's quite fitting that Rowling chose a set of brother and sister to marry another set of "brother and sister," thus making them all one family.