What are the “12 Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches”?

by hpboy13

Note: This post was inspired by David M. Martin’s panel at MISTI-Con, “Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches: Lessons from Ron’s Success with Hermione.”

One of the more intriguing presents Harry receives on his seventeenth birthday is a book titled Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches. It’s a present from Ron, who’s gotten it from Fred and George for his own birthday five months earlier. He tells Harry, “Explains everything you need to know about girls. If only I’d had this last year I’d have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would’ve known how to get going with…” (DH113)

But what are these twelve mystery tips exactly?

We certainly see a large transformation in Ron’s behavior toward Hermione beginning with his seventeenth birthday onward. Even Harry remarks on this: “Ron got back off the bed, put his arm around [Hermione] once more, and frowned at Harry as though reproaching him for lack of tact. Harry could not think of anything to say, not least because it was highly unusual for Ron to be teaching anyone else tact.” (DH97)

Ron comforting Hermione when she’s upset is just one of the changes we see in him. He also starts complementing Hermione, to great effect.

“’Nice,’ said Ron, as with one final flourish of her wand, Hermione turned the leaves of the crabapple tree to gold. ‘You’ve really got an eye for that sort of thing.’ ‘Thank you, Ron!’ said Hermione, looking both pleased and a little confused. Harry turned away, smiling to himself. He had a funny notion that he would find a chapter on compliments when he found time to peruse his copy of Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches. (DH118-119)

And the final charm that Ron needed to win Hermione’s heart, he performs at the end of the series. When Ron pretends to care about what matters to Hermione, then Hermione has been completely charmed.

“’No,’ said Ron seriously, ‘I mean we should tell [the house-elves] to get out. We don’t want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us –‘ There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth.” (DH625)

So we can guess that three of the twelve are comforting the witch, giving her compliments, and showing an interest in what’s important to her. The panel at MISTI-Con provided the full twelve ways, and we’ll reveal those in a follow-up post, but I’m curious to hear what you think. What do you think are the Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches? And do you think there might be a companion novel about charming wizards – if so, what might those be?


Ever wondered how Felix Felicis works? Or what Dumbledore was scheming throughout the series? Pull up a chair in the Three Broomsticks, grab a butterbeer, and see what hpboy13 has to say on these complex (and often contentious) topics!
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