Tomorrow, an interview with J.K. Rowling will be released in an issue of Wonderland but a few excerpts from the author’s question and answer session with Harry Potter actress, Emma Watson, have already stirred up an internet tempest. Until tomorrow, we will not know all of what Rowling said, certainly not the nuances. It seems clear that she did describe her decision to pair off Ron and Hermione as “wish fulfillment” and that, for those of us who wished it, this stings. That is why, while I am waiting for the whole story, I find myself as preoccupied with the question of Hermione’s ideal mate as many shippers have been all along.
First, I want to set aside the question of whether Hermione should have settled down with an early love or, like Luna, waited for a more mature romance. Rowling stated in extra material on Pottermore that witches and wizards tend to marry young. That does not make it a wise practice but it is has been established as a part of wizarding culture, exaggerated before the First Wizarding War when, according to Molly Weasley, many rushed into marriage. Hermione never balked at defying Wizarding World norms but, assuming that in the case of marriage she preferred to solemnify a bond formed in youth, should she have chosen her bond with Harry?
Let’s look first at Harry as a potential partner. Harry is attracted to Ginny Weasley in part for her toughness and lack of overt emotionalism. Hermione is certainly tough but also expressive in a way that I do not think would be compatible with Harry’s personality. She is emotionally intelligent and capable of passionately expressing both her indignation and admiration. She acts from her head and her heart and lets her feelings show. Ginny comes across as less likely to make a fuss. This is not to say that Ginny is cold or emotionally immature, just that she expresses herself in a very different way from Hermione, one that is more suited to Harry’s desire to just get on with things. Each schoolterm for Harry had enough drama for twenty lifetimes. Life with a wife who was difficult to ruffle must seem irresistibly restful.
As for Ron, he is, of course, emotionally developing through most of the series. Rowling said that, of the trio, he had the most growing to do but I believe he did it. After a lifetime of suffering the indignities of being poor and of youngest brotherhood, he willingly postpones his dream of becoming a glamorous auror to help a grieving George keep Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes afloat. Whether during or after the Second Wizarding War, Ron fights to become a better person and, each time, he wins. Sometimes being raised in a loving family can make a person feel so safe that growing up doesn’t feel terribly urgent. After the Battle of Hogwarts, however, Ron’s family is deeply wounded and the personal growth that began for him during the quest for horcruxes would have been forced to advance.
I believe that Hermione would recognize and encourage Ron’s personal growth and perhaps she needs his relaxed sense of humor as a foil to her own tendency to get worked up about things. I see their marriage as one of lots of compromise but with great warmth and mutual support. Yes, Ron probably conceals a few things to avoid antagonizing his wife (as when he uses magic to pass his muggle driving test) but I have a feeling that she also sometimes turns an affectionate blind eye to his antics, just as Molly did with Arthur. Growing up in Ron and Hermione’s home would be terrific—fun and educational!
Perhaps Ron and Hermione would need marriage counseling as Rowling suggests but, after what these characters lived through, which of them wouldn’t need a little help adjusting to domesticity and routine? I cannot bring myself to believe that either of the two, after all they struggled through as their world almost came to an end, would let a few squabbles get in the way of their well-earned happiness or that they would fail to see many wonderful things in each other that transcend the enlarged quirks of adolescence. When I imagine the Weasley family Christmas, and it almost goes without saying that I often do, I see Hermione and Ron cuddling next to the fire while Harry and Ginny organize a family game of Quidditch and, in a quiet moment, the family gathers to consider what they have lost and what they have gained then everyone raises a glass to the ones who are no longer with them.
I am grateful to Rowling for voicing her doubts about her narrative decision because it gives us another reason to share our imaginings about the ongoing relationships of the characters we love. When I think about the future of the Wizarding World, I am also glad that Rowling threw in a little wish fulfillment and that she was a mature enough writer to depict the sacrifices that her characters had to make so that their (and our) wishes could come true.
This is a great place to research what Rowling reported about your favorite characters between the Battle of Hogwarts and the epilogue and even after the epilogue. Do you know who George married? It will bring a tear to your eye.