Since this is exploding all over the internet, and I’ve now made the minimum ante-in to speak about Harry Potter fandom (I watched all the movies over the month of January) I feel like I’m privy to talking about this now. Hermione and Harry would be just absolutely awful together. Not as a couple, but for the story itself.
Hermione is an excellent example of a girl genius. I can honestly say that she’s my favorite thing about the series, except, maybe, for Luna Lovegood, whose spacy-genius antics are just too awesome to pass up. That Hermione gets with Ron and has a totally platonic relationship with Harry, I saw as an intentional empowering move to women. Hermione can be near Harry as a friend, and that says things about cross-gender relationships, that there doesn’t need to be a sexual ulterior motive. I found that to be beautiful.
But now Rowling is saying that Hermione should have gotten with Potter.
This isn’t just how every fantasy novel ends, it’s pretty much how every modern fiction novel ends. Guy saves world, wins ‘best’ available woman as prize for being hero. Dull, sexist, uninspired. If the books fixed Harry up with Hermione, even at the very end, it would have just told yet another story about male supremacy and mate worthiness that I just wouldn’t be interested in watching or reading. The hero narrative needed updating, and that’s what I thought Harry Potter was setting out to do. He’s not an alpha-monkey, beef-eating, entitled womanizer, and that’s why I love him.
Digging deeper on that, I found the idea that Harry needed a girl at all to be pretty staid. I’m not talking about making Harry gay (an idea so thoroughly explored by fan-ficcers that I feel no need to do so here) but rather making him asexual. Harry doesn’t need to ‘get the girl’ to be the Hero. In fact, being the Hero has absolutely nothing to do with getting the girl. They’re unrelated variables. Would it have been worth exploring that? I think so.
I hate it when authors say what they’d have done differently. Not because authors aren’t allowed to have regrets — they are. Because every time the author says they’d have changed this or that, it forces me to re-examine the narrative as it exists in my head, and so often writers are unaware that their ‘fix’ would actually ruin a series.
Wise authors leave a finished work alone. Fiddling is what made George Lucas so hated. If you want to fiddle, start another story. You’re allowed all the redrafts you want until it gets published. Remember, writing is for you — publishing is for the readership. Saying you’d change a treasured work is putting yourself above readers — pure selfishness.
I think I’ve said what I want to say. I leave you with this overplayed Colbert Report clip: