Not Your Typical Love Story
by Karen Hayes
For some reason, many die-hard Harry Potter fans are waiting until Book 6 or 7 for the great love story of the series to appear. There’s no need to wait. Harry Potter is already a beautiful love story. I’m not talking about “girl meets boy” love (which we all obsess endlessly over). I’m not even talking about parent and child love (which is one of the big love plots). I’m talking about the real love story in Harry Potter, the one that is at the heart of all the books. A great love story about the boundless love three friends have for each other (and no I’m not talking about some sordid love triangle or ménage a trios).
Regardless of whom you romantically link with whom, the bond between the members of the trio is one of the strongest forces in the series. They’ve been to hell and back more than once and are more than willing to go back again. They’re willing to sacrifice everything, even their very lives for each other.
This is a very real, very powerful love.
Since the little incident with the troll when Harry, Ron, and Hermione first became friends, the trio has had to deal with more than their fair share of trouble. There are illicit dragons, three headed dogs, murderous plants, a giant chess set, and potion problems. Then there’s the real peril of a Voldemort in Quirrell clothing.
In the second year we saw Ron’s slug-belching and standing up to the bully Malfoy. There were (mis)adventures of the Polyjuice Potion. Then there were Hermione’s absences: first due to a nasty case of hairballs and second as she’s become – albeit temporarily – petrified. We get Harry and Ron’s jaunt to Hagrid’s that’s followed by a little trip into the Forbidden Forest in pursuit of (gasp!) spiders the size of automobiles. Ron willingly follows Harry into the Chamber of Secrets as the two set out to save Ginny from the monster within.
Third year finds Hermione on the wrong side of Harry and Ron not once, but twice. The first was for running off to tattle to McGonagall, which leads to the confiscation of Harry’s new broomstick, and the second was for the apparent death of Ron’s rat Scabbers at the paws of her cat, Crookshanks. Despite their differences, the trio bands together to help save Buckbeak and keep Harry from the clutches of the murderous Sirius Black. When Black turns out to be innocent and was out to protect Harry rather than kill him, Harry and Hermione go back in time to help save him from a Dementor’s kiss.
Fourth year, the breach is between Harry and Ron. This time the feud is over mistaken circumstances and Ron’s jealousy and fear of being left out. The break soon mended, the three band together to solve Harry’s little problems of dealing with a fire breathing dragon, staying alive underwater, and safely negotiating through a maze of dangerous magical obstacles. Ron and Hermione’s blow out over the Yule Ball blows over thanks to a little unspoken agreement between the pair. We also find Voldemort is back and not the only one who wants Harry dead.
Fifth year is a month of solitary confinement at the Dursleys’ with no real word or news. That causes Harry to rail not just once, but frequently at his friends. Dumbledore is distant, Harry’s scar won’t stop hurting, he’s having funny dreams, and has suddenly become an antenna tuning into Lord Voldemort’s tumultuous emotions. Ron can’t play Quidditch to save his life and Harry gets banned from the team. An evil sadistic professor of Defense against the Dark Arts is out to gain control of Hogwarts. Harry loses something else of great value to him, the ability to speak with his godfather Sirius. Harry has his first experience with girls. Ron gives Hermione a bottle of perfume for Christmas. The three start a new defense group and spend much of their time trying to keep Harrys raging temper in check. Along with Ginny, Neville and Luna, they tear off to the Ministry of Magic to rescue Sirius and end up the victim of one of Lord Voldemort’s traps. Hermione ends up unconscious (and almost dead twice). Ron ends up a bit mad even before the brain has a go at him. Ironically enough, Sirius ends up dead, and Harry discovers he’s the only one who can vanquish said Dark Lord.
Despite all of that, perhaps even partly because of all of that, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are still friends after five long, hard years. In the end, the trio remains together held fast by unspoken, but very real, promises of future fidelity. That’s real love, devotion, and friendship. This is the relationship at the heart of the books. This is part of Harry’s journey, learning that he cant do it alone, that he needs Ron and Hermione badly. In his two best friends, Harry — who has been long unloved at Number Four — finds love and acceptance. They find the same in him. They give each other a purpose for being. They complete each other and in the end they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other.
This should come as no surprise as this is how their friendship began. Harry and Ron sacrifice themselves in the hope of rescuing Hermione. Hermione reciprocates by sacrificing her all-important reputation.
When it’s time for Harry to confront Lord Voldemort, to journey into hell (quite literally with the three-headed, and inappropriately named Fluffy, as gatekeeper), Ron and Hermione refuse to be left behind. It may be Hermione’s quick brain that figures out the Devil’s Snare, but its Harry’s cool thinking that saves them. Ron actually sacrifices himself on the giant chessboard so that Harry and Hermione can play through. Hermione’s comment about some things being more important like friendship and bravery highlights the fact that the three are bound to each other no matter what.
Risking parental displeasure and Ministry action, Ron and the twins rescue Harry from the Dursleys. Hermione’s friendship with Harry leads her to become one of Riddle’s victims. Ron and Harry do whatever it takes to find out the truth, and this includes Ron having to face his absolute worst fear in the form of the Acromantulas, something he expressly does to get Hermione back. And when Ginny is taken into the Chamber, neither Ron nor Harry hesitate to go after her even when they know that Slytherin’s monster is deadly and down there.
Harry and Hermione go after Ron when hes dragged into the Whomping Willow. Ron boldly stands up to Sirius Black when the three are cornered. He declares that Sirius will have to kill all three of them if he wants to kill Harry and is willing to trade his life for Harry’s. Hermione goes against her word and uses the time turner to help Harry save Sirius and Buckbeak.
Ron and Hermione sacrifice their free time and study time (the latter being of great importance to Hermione) to help Harry train for the Tri-wizard Tournament. Harry gets a chance to rescue Ron (the thing he’ll miss most) from the Lake during the Second Task.
Ron sacrifices his relationship with his own brother Percy to stand with Harry. Hermione gives up her winter holiday with her parents to be with her two best friends. When Harry starts having funny turns all over the place, Ron’s there to help dust Harry off and return him to normality.
Against her better judgment, Hermione swears to do whatever it takes to save Sirius. When Umbridge threatens Harry with the Cruciatus Curse, Hermione lies to the headmistress in order to protect Harry and to rid them of her meddling presence. She refuses to be left behind while the boys go off to the Ministry of Magic. And in the Department of Mysteries, Harry does whatever it takes to get his friends out of the trouble he’s gotten them all into.
In the end, even after one brush with death and another with insanity, Hermione and Ron remain ever the devoted sidekicks and are still willing to sacrifice it all once again for Harry.
So here is a great love story, of great depth and width and breadth. Three people so very different from each other not only stay friends through everything but also stick even closer to each other. So that in the end not even the specter of death can keep them apart. More than anything, even of being lovers, the trio are friends first and always. True, they have their rocky periods and their falling outs but they always seem to come back to each other. This is the real love story in Harry Potter.
And in a world where death, destruction, hate and fear reign, it is the love they have for each other that will see them through the darkness. In the end it’s the power that can save them all.