Madam Puddifoot’s: Who Does Hermione Love?

by Turambar

From JKRowling.com:

Does Hermione love Ron or Harry?
I can’t believe that some of you haven’t worked this one out yet, but I’m not going to answer because that would spoil the arguments, which I enjoy.”

One of the latest MuggleNet polls, on whether Ron and Hermione will get together in book six or not, makes for interesting reading.

A huge number of respondents believe that if they don’t get together in book six, they will in book seven. This is despite the fact that the Ron/Hermione relationship has failed to develop in a romantic direction – not what a lot of people expected of OoTP, considering Ron’s interest in Hermione has been pronounced since the Yule Ball in GoF. Both Harry and Ron woke up to the fact that Hermione is an attractive girl and responded in different ways.

Notice JKR framed the question on her website, quoted above, as who “does HERMIONE love?”

The basic position of those who believe the Ron/Hermione relationship will happen is based upon these ideals:

  1. Hermione fancies/romantically loves/prefers Ron over Harry
  2. Harry and Hermione’s relationship is only a deep, non-romantic, platonic friendship.

I’m going to assume as a given in this essay that a key sign of attraction – since we can’t see inside Hermione’s head – is a strong interest in and focus on the person a character is attracted to.

My contention is that the poll result is misleading; people are picking what they want to happen rather than what will happen. There are a number of factors people convinced of the certainty of a Ron/Hermione romance should consider:

1) This is Harry’s story.

It’s a simple fact but an important one when you consider the romantic options in the books. This is Harry’s story; it is about his journey from child to man, from family lost to (probably) family found. Harry looked in the Mirror of Erised and his heart told him he was seeking his family. He can either find it by dying and joining the family he has come from or (more likely) by finding love and starting his own family.

Wat would be the point of the main romance in the HP series NOT involving Harry? What is the point of Ron and Hermione getting together? Surely Harry needs to experience love himself; he can’t experience it through his friends.

Should Harry be paired with Ginny, the main romance of the series would STILL, in effect, be Ron/Hermione. It would have to be because it would involve two members of the trio – the key unit of the books. If you don’t believe me, think about how it would work on screen in the HP films. We would have spent at least five or six films watching Hermione as the undoubted female lead, and five or six films feeling emotionally attached to the trio characters. The only film we know of where Ginny will have a role of any significance will be OoTP, and even then she will be well and truly overshadowed by Hermione. Now really – after all this time spent with the trio characters, would people realistically care more for the pairing of Harry/Ginny than they would for Ron/Hermione? They wouldn’t, and that’s important because the obvious question arising from that is: why would JKR want a romance involving her hero and main character overshadowed by a romance involving his friends?

If we take the view that Harry’s romance is the main one and consider the romantic options for Harry that would make the most structural sense in the series and have the most emotional impact, the logical girl for Harry is Hermione.

2) Series structure

This is a book series. JKR has to believably show why Harry would prefer Ginny or Luna to Hermione, or why Hermione would prefer Ron to Harry. A character’s romantic partner should believably be the most significant person to them. Considering that, JKR has left herself with a hard sell if she plans to show Ginny or Luna becoming closer to Harry and more significant to him than Hermione. At this stage – the start of book six – Hermione is indisputably the most significant female friend Harry has. JKR has already shown Viktor and Cho being jealous of and threatened by Harry and Hermione’s closeness.

Having Hermione as the female lead for three quarters of the series and then having her deposed as the most significant female in Harry’s life with one or two books to go poses the problem of how can there be two female leads? At the moment, Ginny and Luna are clearly supporting characters. The rise of a romantic partner would have to correspond to a lessening of Hermione’s influence on Harry and importance to him and the plot. Otherwise, any romance for Harry would be as emotionally unaffecting and contrived as Harry’s romance with Cho: merely skin deep. That was okay for Harry/Cho; Cho was obviously meant as a first crush. But a final, series-ending romance for Harry should be more meaningful, especially since love and Harry’s heart appear to be central to the plot.

There’s a structural problem here also: Ginny and Luna are – like Cho – in a different school year from the trio. This means Harry will be spending all his class and homework time with his two best mates as usual unless there is a radical change from what’s happened in the past five books. This is hardly the recipe for Hermione’s role to be reined in.

Finally, is it at all believable for Hermione’s character to sit back and allow another girl to get closer to Harry than she is and perhaps influence him in ways that could put Harry in danger? No way. Hermione is desperate to keep Harry safe and alive. She wouldn’t trust that role to anyone apart from herself. Think about it: she was even right about Harry when Dumbledore was wrong.

3) Scenes that don’t make sense from the Ron/Hermione viewpoint

Bear in mind that we are looking at the scenes from the point of view that Hermione romantically loves Ron and only sees Harry as a friend.

a) Why the hugely extended hug from Hermione to Harry at 12 Grimmauld Place?
So the boy has been in danger and threatened with expulsion. But at the time they meet up, all three are aware he’s okay and the only emotion all three are experiencing is pleasure at seeing each other again. Hermione isn’t grabbing Harry out of great relief from fear for him. JKR is emphasizing the joy Hermione feels at this meeting. Why? The hug nearly knocks Harry flat, Hermione rambles uncontrollably and Ron has to intervene to actually end the hug. Is it really just platonic feeling on Hermione’s part? I don’t think so.

b) Why isn’t Hermione overjoyed at Ron being made prefect?

This scene is completely illogical from the Ron/Hermione viewpoint. Think about it: Ron, supposedly Hermione’s crush, has gained an honor – a big event for someone usually overshadowed by Harry. Yet Hermione rushes in expecting Harry to have received the badge and shrieks with joy when she thinks Harry has been made prefect.

There are two things here: Firstly, JKR directly compares Hermione’s shriek of joy over Harry with Mrs. Weasley’s reaction to Ron’s getting the badge. “Mrs Weasley let out a shriek just like Hermione’s.” JKR is showing the intensity of Hermione’s response with that comparison. We know Mrs. Weasley loves Ron – he’s her son. What does that imply about the strength of Hermione’s feelings for Harry? Secondly, in the moments after Hermione bursts in, she is completely oblivious to Ron’s feelings. Say Harry HAD been made prefect, shouldn’t she have spared a thought for Ron’s disappointment, seeing as he’s her crush? Shouldn’t she have felt disappointed she wouldn’t be getting to spend time with Ron as prefects together?

Hermione is completely shocked that Ron could possibly warrant being made prefect and then can’t think of anything he’s done to justify it. She doesn’t show ANY joy at Ron becoming prefect. For two whole pages of text she and Harry stand silently looking on while the Weasleys discuss it. This is not the behavior of a girl whose preferred guy has just achieved something important to him. Something, furthermore, that means she’ll get to spend time alone with him.

c) Why does Hermione suddenly appear to lose interest in Quidditch as soon as Harry is off the team? And why is she so underwhelmed at Ron making the team?

She says, “it’s only a game,” and, “at least my happiness doesn’t depend on Ron’s goalkeeping ability.” This from a girl who, with Ginny, was wearing “red and gold scarves, gloves and rosettes” for Harry’s last game; a girl who, in PS, was watching Harry play so intently she didn’t notice Ron was fighting Malfoy under her chair. When Ron makes the Quidditch team, Hermione falls asleep and only sticks around out of politeness. This is a big thing for Ron – possibly the biggest thing, in a personal sense, to happen to him at school. Compare that to the joy she feels for Harry when Rita’s article comes out. It was her idea and yet she gives Harry all the credit.

4) Other things to consider:

  1. Hermione tries to get Harry to spend time alone with her making elf hats.
  2. Hermione gives up a skiing holiday with her parents at Christmas in OoTP to come to Harry’s aid.
  3. Hermione grabs hold of Harry for physical and emotional support, including when the fat lady is slashed in PoA and in the DoM… when Ron is THERE both times.
  4. She goes with Harry to find out what Hagrid wants instead of watching Ron play in the Quidditch final, when Harry could easily have gone on his own. Neither of them even considers that possibility.
  5. Hermione is shown to have given thought to and discussed Cho’s problems and love life, Ginny’s love life and Harry’s love life. She writes a long letter to Viktor. She is also forthright in many of her opinions to Ron and Harry. The idea that she somehow has romantic feelings for Ron and yet is too nervous and shy to broach the subject with him, or is unaware if he is interested in her or not and so doesn’t broach the subject with him, simply doesn’t equate with the Hermione of OoTP. (Hermione is generally confident and shows leadership in OoTP). She knows, on the other hand, that Harry has a crush on Cho, and that he has to get over that before anything else can happen.
  6. Hermione tries to behave as a good friend would to Harry over Cho, but she is clearly bothered when she finds out Harry has kissed Cho.
  • she keeps very close tabs on their relationship
  • she finds out the gossip on Cho
  • she keeps bringing the subject up with Harry to find out how he’s getting on and how he’s feeling
  • she asks Harry to meet her on Valentine’s Day even though Harry’s having his first date with Cho
  • she only gives Harry advice after he’s had trouble with Cho

g) Nothing happened between Ron/Hermione while they were spending time together over summer.

  • they said nothing happened
  • Ron said Hermione was “going spare” over Harry
  • there were no embarrassed looks when Harry turned up
  • they didn’t discuss their relationship (if they had, why is Ron surprised when he finds out later that Hermione is in touch with Viktor?)

5) Harry’s feelings

For the past three years Harry has had a crush on Cho while, unanalyzed by himself, his friendship with Hermione has been steadily developing. In OoTP, JKR not only resolves Harry’s crush on Cho (Cho’s feelings are less certain), but for the first time she starts to bring Harry’s feelings for Hermione closer to the surface.

  1. For the first time, Harry feels extreme disquiet at Ron and Hermione getting together without him over the summer and spending time together without him.
  2. For the first time, Harry starts to connect the voice he hears in his head as his conscience with Hermione.
  3. Harry has a dream where Cho, his crush, turns into Hermione.
  4. In the forest scenes with Grawp, Hagrid and the centaurs, Harry shows a strong instinct to physically protect Hermione. This did not happen during the Shrieking Shack and time turner scenes in PoA. JKR is showing a clear change, a clear progression in Harry’s feelings. In the PoA scenes, Harry allowed Hermione to grab hold of him for emotional and physical support. Yet they were facing equally scary foes as in OoTP: the Whomping Willow, the dementors, Lupin as a werewolf, Sirius as a big dog. Harry also instinctively looks to protect Hermione when the group of six is escaping the Death Eaters in the DoM.
  5. There are examples of uncharacteristic behavior by Harry towards Hermione that show her opinion has become more important to him. He helps her with revision, he hides his bad marks from her and he responds badly when she doesn’t get angry on his behalf when he thought she would. JKR shows another progression: in PoA, Harry lied to Hermione about Hogsmeade without remorse. In GoF, he felt guilt about lying to her over the egg but ignored it. In OoTP, when he lies to her over Occlumency, he can’t meet her eyes.
  6. He spends a lot of time staring at Hermione in OoTP. There are constant descriptions of what she’s doing. Noticeably, for the first time there are descriptions of her “eyes shining” and “face glowing.”
  7. He sticks up for Hermione to his crush, Cho – even after Cho has made it clear she’s suspicious and jealous of Harry’s closeness to Hermione.
  8. Ginny is given a literary makeover and Harry still doesn’t show any attraction to her. What’s going to make him become interested if she’s ‘Super Ginny’ now and that’s not enough? How and in what ways is would she have to change?

6) Harry and Hermione are developing together

JKR makes a special point of showing Harry and Hermione developing together as leaders of the students and having an influence in the wizarding world.

1) It is significant that Hermione keeps pace with Harry in OoTP. Ron doesn’t.

  • Hermione thinks up the DA group and Harry teaches the students
  • Hermione invents a system whereby Harry can tell students when the meetings are and a jinx to protect them
  • Hermione gets Harry’s story to the public via Rita
  • Hermione starts saying Voldemort’s name. Only Dumbledore, Lupin, Harry and Hermione now do so.
  • Harry and Hermione get rid of Umbridge via the centaurs

2) JKR makes Hermione the one to make a practical difference to how Harry feels during the year.

  • he gets great enjoyment out of teaching the students and it was her idea
  • he gets his story, because of her efforts, across to the public and the students and it changes what people think of him
  • she’s the main person responsible for getting rid of Umbridge, who made Harry’s life a misery
  • she’s the one who gets him out of the room at Christmas after Sirius, Ron, Ginny and the other Weasleys had proved ineffectual

3) JKR steps up Harry and Hermione’s development together. They had one major adventure together in PoA, and a significant period of time together in GoF. In OoTP, they have two forest adventures together and fight alongside each other in the DoM.

Now to answer JKR’s question, “who does Hermione love?” I say she loves both. But she loves Ron only as a friend while she has intense romantic feelings for Harry. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the HP series.

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