I know I'm years too late.
I know that it's over and has been over for years.
I also don't care.
I'm coming to the close of my third journey all the way through the Harry Potter books and this time I'm even watching the movies for the first time. I've been a Potterhead from the beginning. Nothing effects me quite the way Harry Potter does. I love every minute of it.
I also love deeply my doomed One True Pairing that calls this universe home: Harry and Hermione.
I'll confess that the first time I read all the books, as they came out, I didn't really care about shipping. I never took part in the original shipping wars or fan fictions. But somewhere between when I read them as a teenager and when I picked them up again as a college student, something changed.
I fell, and fell hard, for Harry and Hermione.
It didn't shock me and I never had one stand out "eureka!" moment. In fact, it was the most natural and organic thing in the world. I read the first five books and felt it slowly slipping into place, finally coming to rest about the moment that Hermione goes down in the Department of Mysteries. By the time I reached Half Blood Prince on my second run through, I was dreading Ginny's entrance to the big stage and Ron and Hermione being brought out from the background.
I have another confession: I don't even hate Ron and Hermione together. I'm not stupid, I knew that they were clearly attracted to each other for the entire series. I could just as easily build an intelligent case for them to live happily ever after as I could Harry and Hermione. I love Ron. Ultimately, the case is closed because the epilogue makes it so very clear that what they truly wanted is what happened.
I get all of that.
The thing that kills it for me is being forced to believe that a seventeen year old girl forgives her best friend and love interest for leaving during the definitive crisis of their lives. Yes, Harry told him to go, but it was Ron's decision to leave. Ron knew Harry was mad and that in his heart Harry never wanted him to go, and yet he left anyways. An older and more mature couple would have a hard time repairing the relationship, let alone teenagers who had been thrust into a deadly game of hide and seek mixed with Clue.
I'm also forced to believe that after everything Hermione does for Harry and means to him by the time seven books are over, that any other woman would ever hope to touch her place in his life. The two don't even interact with each other in the epilogue and that to me is the greatest literary tragedy of my lifetime. The most beautiful relationship I've ever read (platonic or otherwise) is thrown completely out the window for the sake of what the author has recently confessed as "wish fulfillment".
Harry and Hermione both deserve so much more.
They are the two halves of a unit so natural that Ron can't help but feel threatened by it even when Harry shows no inkling whatsoever of desiring anything other than platonic friendship. They go so natural together that the whole school believes the very rumor of their relationship, and both of their early romantic partners (Krum and Cho) are jealous of it.
Harry is impulse and intuition. Hermione is knowledge and perception. Harry is her hope and fortitude and Hermione is his problem solver and voice of reason.
She's the only one other than Ron to see him as simply "Harry". She's the only woman he trusts enough to tell her the secret of the prophecy and the horcuxes. She thinks he's "never been more fanciable". She's the only one who can get through to him when he thinks he's possessed. She grabs his arm for safety. She never missed one of his games. She knew something was wrong with him when no one else noticed a thing. She knew to put roses on his parent's graves. She knew the Department of Mysteries was a trap, but went with him anyways. She nearly went to pieces when he was severely injured after the incident in Godric's Hollow. She looked at him in tears when she heard the words "bonded for life". She thinks there are more important things: friendship, bravery, and....
He lost all ability to think straight when she went down in the Department of Mysteries. He appreciates her simply for who she is long before Ron gets a clue. He always knows what to get her for Christmas. He thinks she's the best in their year. He brags about her to others. He always shoves her behind him to protect her. He doesn't think she's ugly, he thinks she's pretty. He thinks she's brilliant. He gets mad and takes care of her when Ron treats her badly during sixth year. He hears her voice in his head telling him when he's wrong. He couldn't stand lying to her. He remembered her when no one else did. He doesn't tell Ron he doesn't love her, just that he loves her "like a sister".
They're the brightest witch and most powerful wizard of the age. They challenge each other like no one else can. They both come from the muggle world. They both have compassion for other creatures like house elves. They both put up with each other when they are at their worst.
They're both secure enough in their relationship to let the other pursue someone else without ever fearing the consequences to their own relationship. They've both proven they don't have to be together, but the potential has always been there. The potential is huge.
It's not a perfect ship. She bugs him to death with responsibilities like schoolwork or occlumency and he drives her mad with his naivety and impulsiveness. They argue and ignore each other. He drove her to tears over a broomstick. She actively tampered with his quidditch tryouts and refused to believe him about Malfoy.
At the end of the day, they simply have the strongest relationship of any two people in the entire series. The romantic possibilities of the pairing are simply staggering. The feel-good story of a guy and girl who are always "just friends" is dragged under by the bitter taste of "what could have been". That they both find happiness with someone else a mark of character that, surprise, they have in common.
It goes against established canon, it irritates legions of fans who like things just the way they are, it makes people question your understanding of friendship and love....
It's also my all time One True Pairing. A non-existent romance that will always live on in between the lines and in the imaginations of those willing to roam outside the box Rowling tried so hard to pin us in. A pairing that taught me more about love than any of the real relationships in other stories.
To you, Harry and Hermione, I say thanks. Thanks for showing me just how deeply two people can love each other. Thanks for all the little moments between you that will always live on regardless of what those blasted few pages in the back tell me.
Sail on blessed ship, though our canon be taken away....our hull is beautiful, rudder true, and sails open full.