Harry/Hermione vs Ron/Hermione
|ShipWar:||Harry/Hermione vs Ron/Hermione|
|Date(s):||c. 2000 - c. 2005, briefly reignited in 2014|
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Before the sixth book
The fight between Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione is the most significant ship war in the Harry Potter fandom. This is odd in a certain sense, since neither of these are the fandom's most popular ships. Then and now, the most popular Harry Potter ships are Harry/Draco and Draco/Hermione. However, no one was of any illusion that those ships would ever be canon. By contrast, the majority of the fandom saw both Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione as possible romantic endgames for the actual series. Hence, their respective supporters argued over which of those two ships would prove to be canon, with the foremost issues being:
- What happens to the boy who doesn't get Hermione? Of course, one easy solution was that he would end the series without a romantic partner for some reason or another, but barring that, some alternative (and presumably female) love interest needed to be found. For Ron/Hermione shippers, the obvious solution was Harry/Ginny, leading to One Big Happy Weasley Family. For Harry/Hermione shippers, however, there was no clear solution. Prior to the fifth book, pairing Ron with a female character other than Hermione or his own sister meant scraping the barrel of minor characters like Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown. But with the release of the fifth book, Ron/Luna became the most viable solution for Harry/Hermione shippers.
- Is Ron worthy of Hermione? Harry/Hermione shippers tended to view Ron as a bumbling oaf unworthy of a brilliant young lady like Hermione. The Ron/Hermione response was twofold. The first part was to point to Ron's heroic moments, often grousing that they were excluded or downplayed in the films. The other part was to argue that Ron and Hermione both had their flaws, often grousing that Hermione's flaws were excluded or downplayed in the films. This line of argumentation would often extend to the Ron/Hermione side accusing the Harry/Hermione side of having only watched the films or at least giving the films more weight than the books.
- What does Ron and Hermione's bickering mean? For Ron/Hermione shippers, their bickering was an obvious case of belligerent sexual tension. For Harry/Hermione shippers, it was instead evidence that they were, at best, incompatible. At worst, Harry/Hermione shippers saw it as evidence that Ron would be an abusive partner. Ron/Hermione shippers objected to the implication that Ron was purely at fault in all his arguments with Hermione, viewing both as having been wrong or right at different times.
- What is the nature of Harry and Hermione's relationship? The Ron/Hermione side was quick to point to the lack of any apparent romantic feeling between Harry and Hermione, despite their numerous scenes together and the fact that the reader has access to Harry's inner thoughts. The Harry/Hermione response was to argue that they were bonding on a higher spiritual level that would blossom into romance later. Ron/Hermione shippers would in turn accuse the Harry/Hermione shippers of being unable to accept that a boy and girl could just be close friends without it being romantic.
After the sixth book
With the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2005, it was revealed that Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione would be the canon ships. Ron/Hermione shippers felt vindicated while Harry/Hermione shippers felt betrayed. The ship war continued, now with a different emphasis. Since it was now clear what the canon ships would be, the question was no longer what would happen but rather what should be happening.
The issue of what happens to the boy who doesn't get Hermione thus turned into the issue of whether the canon solution of Harry/Ginny was a good one. Naturally, Harry/Hermione shippers didn't think it was, arguing that Ginny was a shallow fangirl, an aggressive bully, or even a slut. What with Ron and Ginny belonging to the same family, this helped to create the phenomenon of Weasley Bashing. It was also now obvious to all that Rowling had intended for Harry and Hermione's relationship to be platonic, so Harry/Hermione shippers could no longer argue that their ship was in the process of becoming canon. Instead, they could only argue that it should have become canon. In the midst of this, the issues that remained essentially unchanged were those of Ron's worthiness and the nature of his bickering with Hermione, as those were based on criticizing Ron/Hermione rather than on arguing for the canonicity of Harry/Hermione.
This created a dynamic in which Ron/Hermione shippers defended the canon while Harry/Hermione shippers criticized it. This did not endear Harry/Hermione shippers to the rest of the fandom, who increasingly viewed them as self-righteous sore losers, and the war faded as Harry/Hermione shippers came to accept their favored pairing's status as just another fanon ship. This was where things stood until 2014, when Rowling mentioned in an interview that "in some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit." This gave some newfound legitimacy to the Harry/Hermione cause, reigniting the debate, albeit without the intensity that it had had when the books were originally being released. Two years later, the canonicity of Ron/Hermione was reaffirmed by Cursed Child.