J.K. Rowling’s still not over the breakup

In Commentary, HOME, LITERATURE by Beci Moss

There comes a point, post-breakup, when you just have to let go and move on. That point, after the denial stage, the drunken phone calls and the ‘completely meaningless’ hook up (or ten), when you cut your losses, bury the hatchet and realise that there are plenty more fish in the sea, who, guess what, are actually pretty good catches. Sometimes this point takes a long time to fully stare you in the face, but seven years after a relationship’s ended, you would think that the regrets and ‘what ifs’ would have mostly lost their sting. Especially if you were the one who ended that particular story.

Yet, our nation’s narrative darling, J.K Rowling, doesn’t quite seem to have reached the acceptance stage. Despite finishing with Harry Potter in 2007 and turning away from the wizarding world, it is clear that thoughts and regrets still haunt her. Although she has had the authorial equivalent of a radical haircut and a couple of hot flings, with her explicit novel Casual Vacancy and her reinvention as crime writer Robert Galbraith, Potter is still playing on her mind. Rowling is airing her regrets to the world: she has publicly said that she thinks Ron and Hermione’s romantic resolution was a mistake.

In an interview released in full this week with none other than Hermione in real life, Emma Watson, Rowling has cast a shadow on the ginger/Granger pairing, expressing doubts that Ron could ever truly make Hermione happy. To twist the knife even further into the backs of all who saw the Voldemort/horcrux plot as a distraction from the contemporary true love story giving Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett a run for their money, Rowling has also said that headstrong hero Harry should have been Hermione’s post-Hogwarts four poster bed buddy.

Ladies and gentlemen, muggles, mudbloods and magicians, Ms Rowling needs our help; J.K is clearly in desperate need of an intervention.

It’s not uncommon for authors to muse over their characters’ paths and choices, after the end cover has closed on them. These are beings that have lived in their minds, relationships that have tormented them and fully constructed worlds they have been part of, often for many years. Just because they are the ones with the pen in their hands rather than those outside the bookstores at midnight, doesn’t mean they aren’t as curious or creative about possible futures. We all know Stephanie Meyer started as a fan fiction obsessive, is it really that surprising that the urge that leads people to pair Harry with Draco may also plague the author of the official storyline? It must be very tempting to plant alternative endings, meddle with reader’s minds and lay suggestions of ‘it’s not all happily ever after’. Letting go ain’t easy.

It must be hard for J.K Rowling to see her ex not just manage without her, but flourish, becoming, if anything, more and more popular. The new relationship with Warner Brothers, which, despite some hiccups, everyone seems to think is remarkable, must have caused a bit of heartache. It’s hard to get closure when the entire world is talking about your old flame. No wonder Jo’s Casual Vacancy fling didn’t last long.

But it’s time to stop now. We were okay with the admittance that Dumbledore was gay, that really wasn’t much of a spoiler, and any stories about Neville Longbottom’s future plans were accepted without question. We even lapped up the inadvisable brief return of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. But this is different. This time, it’s personal. Which is what J.K has herself admitted, calling the Weasley-Granger pairing “wish fulfilment” on her part, a union made for “personal reasons” rather than credibility. So surely she knows that retrospective reservations and doubts are far from fulfilling, but rather dream-shattering?

Jo, you’ve taken it too far. Yes, there are Harry/Hermione fans that are probably rubbing their hands with imaginary glee (fan fiction sites must be crashing worldwide), but what this does is undermine the entire series and all of the emotional investment readers have put into it. Fiction, especially childhood fiction, is where we put our hopes and dreams. It’s escapism. It’s being able to imagine whole worlds and lives and happenings from a delayed train carriage in the Scottish borders. It is wish fulfilment.

There didn’t have to be a time hopping future jump; the books could have ended with Voldemort’s remains drifting away. We could have been left without answers, left speculating who would end up on the Kings Cross platform with who. Yet Rowling decided against that – at the beginning of the end she tried for some kind of closure. At the time she called it “the most wonderful way to finish the series”. So please, Jo, don’t put Ron and Hermione in relationship counselling now. Some of your original ten-year-old readers are probably sitting on those therapy couches by now themselves. Let us have our happy endings and let Harry go. You’ve already killed Dobby.

Eloise Hendy

Eloise Hendy is an English Lit student at Edinburgh University. She’s also the Deputy Editor of LITERATURE at PTL. She’s the kind of philanthropist who pushes you to double donate and those who know her will be aware that she’s partial to many a suspect mash-up (Snoop Dog/Grease – anyone?). Eloise wishes life played out more like a festival.

(Image sourced from www.telegraph.co.uk)