Harry Potter: Love, actually

Payel Majumdar Upreti | Updated on August 31, 2018

Magic of love: Romances are often brief, fast and amusing in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but some childhood sweethearts stick it out till the end   -  THE HINDU

It was on September 1 that Harry Potter met Ron and Hermione on a train to Hogwarts. More than two decades later, JK Rowling’s fantasy fiction series on the boy wizard continues to cast its spell on Potterheads around the world. BLink looks at different aspects of the seven-volume wonder, and concludes that love was its leitmotif

Poor Ron Weasley. Everybody in Hogwarts — including his little sister — is on a kissing spree, and he, as she points out rather unkindly, has never snogged anybody.

“…Just because the best kiss he’s ever had is from our Auntie Muriel,” yells Ginny, rubbing it in some more.

“Shut your mouth,” bellows Ron.

“No, I will not!” Ginny says. “…If you went out and got a bit of snogging done yourself you wouldn’t mind so much that everyone else does it!”

Ron takes her advice. For, when you are in high school and your hormones are raging, what else do you do but fall in — and out of — love?

Harry Potter knows little about this when, on this very day 21 years ago, he gets ready to board a train with a scarlet steam engine that will take him to his school, Hogwarts. He has just turned 11, and love is not on his mind, especially not when he is at his aunt and uncle’s place in Privet Drive, Little Whinging, where his bedroom is the space under the stairs.

But from the first book — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — to the last — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — JK Rowling’s boy-wizard experiences the strength of love. It is his mother’s love, school headmaster Albus Dumbledore tells him right at the beginning, that has helped him fight the most evil of all wizards, one who calls himself Lord Voldemort.

Love is the thread that runs through the books. Snogging, or kissing, happens often enough. Hearts flip, break and mend. In the end, many couples land up in long and fulfilling relationships in the series.

Perhaps the greatest love story — albeit one-sided — is that of Severus Snape, the much-hated potions master in Hogwarts. He loved Harry’s mother, Lily, hated her husband, James, but took care of Harry because of Lily, who was his neighbour and classmate in Hogwarts.

But if Snape held on to his one true love, Ginny discards boyfriends like old socks. Dean Thomas and Michael Corner come and go, and then, of course, there is Harry. Harry, in turn, has a fling with Cho Chang, who earlier went out with the handsome Cedric Diggory, the captain of his house for Quidditch, a game played up in the air on broomsticks with four balls, two of which are murderous in nature.


Love triangle: Ronald Weasley has to overcome his insecurity about his girlfriend Hermione and his best friend Harry Potter



And then there are the dramatic hook-ups that shake things up in the book. Apart from Ginny and boys, there is Hermione and the Quidditch star Viktor Krum. Even Hagrid, the half-giant, spends some quality time with the equally large Madame Maxime, the head of a school called Beauxbatons. “Bong-sewer,” says Hagrid, in a bid to impress the lady. It works.

Cho and Cedric’s love story is brief. And a few books later, when she and Harry try to cement what seems like a burgeoning romance with a kiss, Harry is a bit nonplussed with his first smooch. This is how Harry relates the incident to Ron and Hermione.

“Did you kiss?’ asked Hermione briskly… Harry looked from Ron’s expression of mingled curiosity and hilarity to Hermione’s slight frown, and nodded… ‘Well?’ Ron said finally, looking up at Harry. ‘How was it?’ Harry considered for a moment. ‘Wet,’ he said truthfully… ‘Because she was crying,’ Harry continued heavily. ‘Oh,’ said Ron, his smile fading slightly. ‘Are you that bad at kissing?’”

But then this is not the best of times. Chang has had to deal with Cedric’s death, and Harry feels guilty about his gory end, and the fact that he himself had survived Voldemort, while poor Cedric hadn’t.

There is love to be found beyond the world of Hogwarts, in the war-torn couple of Nymphadora Tonks and Professor Lupin, in Molly and Arthur Weasley, and even Bill and Fleur Delacour. The Weasleys — Ron’s parents — are like a normal couple, but the Harry Potter books teach us that to love does not always mean to be happy. Tonks and Lupin, supporters of Harry and anti-Voldemort forces, almost break up: The latter turns into a werewolf on full moon nights and is worried that their unborn child will be similarly afflicted. And everybody thinks the beautiful and blonde Delacour will leave Ron’s brother Bill, whose handsome face has been mauled by a savage werewolf.

But what kind of a relationship does the bloodthirsty Bellatrix Lestrange have with Voldemort? Her love for him is never put into words, but couched in her slavish devotion to the man she calls “My Lord” or “The Dark Lord”. And while the other death-eaters — the name given to all those who follow Voldemort — worship him out of fear, Lestrange adores him with pure passion. She demonstrates a sense of ownership over him and his well-being, enough to even unsettle Voldemort at times.

Forever and ever: Perhaps the most unrealistic idea that the Harry Potter books encourages—even more fantastic than magic—is that the love of childhood sweethearts endures   -  Jaap Buitendijk



Rowling has a habit of teasing her readers with post-book upsets, such as when she claimed Dumbledore was gay. Recently, she declared that Ron and Hermione ending up together was an error of judgement on her part, and perhaps the more charismatic personalities of Harry and Hermione were meant to be together.

This is something that Ron always dreaded. In the seventh and final book, he has to kill a particularly evil object. He finds it difficult to do so, because the object ridicules him in the shadowy shapes of Hermione and Harry kissing each other and taunting Ron.

But Ron and Hermione, in my opinion, were made for each other. In the first of the seven books, they couldn’t stand each other. The characters grew to appreciate each other, as Ron started making fun of Hermione, calling her a know-it-all nerd, but depending on her greatly for help with his homework. Hermione begins trusting Ron’s sense of fun and learns from him how to be within a group and how not to always be the torchbearer for rules. Their flawed relationship is in contrast to every other pairing in the book, where couples seem to be made for each other. Hermione and Ron keep us hanging with their will they, won’t they act.

It is surprising that Rowling has had second thoughts on the Hermione-Ron relationship, for it is on this that she has invested large chunks. The two are supremely possessive of one another when they gradually begin to develop a liking for each other, and go to extreme lengths to make the other jealous — or plain angry. Hermione lets loose a flock of angry pecking birds on Ron, while he has the most cringe-worthy relationship with Lavender Brown, who likes to call him “Won-Won” and gifts him a gold necklace with his name hanging in gold letters for Christmas. Ron, when he wants to break up with Lavender, sets a bad precedence. Instead of giving her an explanation about why he wants to break up, he pretend to be asleep in the sanatorium. And Hermione grins to herself. Not done, I would say.

Perhaps the most unrealistic idea that the Harry Potter books encouraged — even more fantastic than magic — is that the love of childhood sweethearts endures. In the epilogue, everybody is happily married. And those who are not, are almost there. Tonks and Lupin’s son Teddy is busy snogging Victoire, Bill and Fleur’s daughter, at the station, as Harry and Ginny’s elder son excitedly tells his parents.

In the scheme of things in the book, love is also seen as sacrifice, and Harry is blessed to find people who love him in Lily and James’ memory, such as his godfather Sirius Black, but also for the person that he becomes. The house elf Dobby, for instance, loves him for all that he stands for. Nothing is a surer form of this love (and a fantasy, we must admit) than the fondness that his friends and admirers have for him. Seven of his friends agree to transform themselves into images of Harry to risk their lives and fool the death-eaters in the final book.

Finally, it is friendship that trumps even love in the Harry Potter Universe. Neville Longbottom, a timid boy to begin with, stands by friends till the very end. And as the three main protagonists — Harry, Ron and Hermione — befriend the somewhat eccentric Luna Lovegood (who reads books upside down and whose earrings are often like radishes), there is a little passage in the last book that underlines this friendship. There is dark danger lurking outside the Lovegood house, but Harry suddenly spots a painting that Luna had made of all her friends holding hands on the ceiling of her bedroom.

Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville. What Harry thought were fine golden chains woven around the pictures, linking them together, turned out to be something different. “Harry realised that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends... friends... friends ...,” Rowling writes.

This, then, is what the books are all about. Friends and lovers. There are enemies and hatred, too. But those get vanquished.

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Published on August 31, 2018
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