Now some people reading this might object to an analysis of quotes with such sentiments as "R/Hr only use quotes because they have no book evidence," "Quotes don't matter and only my own responce to the text matters," "JKR is purposefully lying in interviews and leading us astray (yes, I have seen this on occasion)" and "Shipping? Are we still arguing about that? OMG Giant Squid Orgy." Before I even start I'd like to address these.
First, R/Hr believe they have plenty of evidence. They also know that throughout the fandom people can imagine or tease out multiple theories with extreme unlikelyhood with the utmost lucidity such as Harry/Draco, Ron is Dumbledore, and Snape/Hermione. In this mix, true clues and foreshadowing become harder to firmly establish the direction an author is going, true intent and the real trail of clues. Quotes, then, are turned to in an attempt to get at the authors intent directly and decide which clues are real and which ones the products of overactive imagination. In fact, as we shall see, some questions are asked by people who believe they firmly see something in the text but want the authors confimation in the face of the fandom uncertainty.
Secondly, while it may be true that what you get from the text might be not quite in agreeance with authoral intent and what that intent was doesn't matter to your enjoyment or non-enjoyment, to state that it doesn't matter in predicting what will happen next seems to me the utmost folly. For instance, when predicting Draco's fate even if you adore him to pieces, it seems foolish to me not to refer to JKR's obvious distaste in trying to figure out what will happen next.
Thirdly, the FBI has implanted tracking chips in your skin when you went in to get your innoculations as an infant. Paul is dead. And man never really landed on the moon. Honestly. "I love a good whodunnit and my passion is plot construction. Readers loved to be tricked, but not conned," Rowling says. Reader's Digest British Edition (October 2002)
Fourthly, ahhh, Giant Squid Orgy. I'll bring the toast.
Lastly, the majority of these quotes were taken from Dr. C's compendium of Harry Potter quotes found at http://www.geocities.com/dr_c_314/quotesindex.htm or at the Sugarquill when it is back up and running. If there is something documented and important that I missed, feel free to comment, though it must be shipping specific.
And now we begin.
Do Harry and Hermione have a date? No, they are very platonic friends, but I
won't answer for anyone else, nudge nudge wink wink. Press Club interview
This quote, though chronologically not the first shipping quote, is easily the most frequently debated one in the fandom. This is because it is such a strong ship sinker for a major institutional ship in the fandom so a lot of effort has gone into discrediting it. It's too old, less explicit answers in later chats make it unlikely she would ever be so clear, she only meant GoF (although there is no reason to believe this except that it came out before GoF) are some of them. Assertions that two people can be romantically without dating and definitions of platonic other than the one which we are all accustummed too in the phrase "platonic friends" (with a very for emphasis) have been advanced with frequency. Yet if this were a statement made about, say Neville/Luna or Dumbledore/McGonnagall these excuses would look even more flimsy than they currently do (though that isn't saying much). The Nudge Nudge Wink Wink could mean anyone, though. How, then, have we never gotten similar solid concrete quotes in this debate? What has changed? While, partly I would say we have gotten some similar sentiments and partly it can be found in the shift in JKR's relationship with the fandom. However, first there are more pre-GoF quotes and more quotes to get through.
In Book IV Harry does decide he likes a girl, but it's not Hermione or Ginny.
However, he's only 14, so there's plenty of time for him to change his mind.
;-) Scholastic Chat (February 2000)
The girl Harry decides he likes in Book IV is clearly Cho Chang. The second part of this quote holds more relevence to where we are today. This seems to imply that Harry's eventual love interest will be either Hermione or Ginny, and combined with how she reacts to H/Hr it is a really strong indicator for H/G.
Harry and Hermione... d'you really think they're suited? AOL Chat (May 2000)
D'you really think electric purple and toxic yellow match? D'you really think Hagrid and Dumbledore are cute together? D'you really think two plus two equals four? Rhetorically the formulation of this answer strongly implies a polite negative, such that the first two of my question most people would answer no to and think the asker was not quite right on the third. It has been posited in relation to this quote that she meant it as an actual question, with more in common with future ambiguity than the straightforward negative of platonic, though this fails to make sense.
Everyone is in love with the wrong people [in GoF]. Let no one say my books lack
realism. Barnes & Noble chat (September 1999)
This has occasionally been bandied about as a ship sinker for R/Hr, and admittedly, I will say that in the most sweeping sense it would be. Literary patterns and a future similar quote make this case less than perfect. Firstly in literature, clearly wrong relationships tend to include such things as dates, invitations to date, open crushing and all the things we see openly in the Viktor/Hermione, Harry/Cho and Ron/Fleur relationships. When relationships such as this appear, from Austen to Shakespeare and in between, there are frequently signs of the real relationship happening. The false relationships, especially Ron/Fleur and Viktor/Hermione, are presented in parellell to eachother leading further to the identification of this set of relationships as an adolescent right of passage (which seems to be what JKR is getting at here) that is not present in the romantic development of R/Hr in GoF. Lastly, JKR will later say people are 'mainly' in love with the wrong people, which would indicate that some people are in love with the right people, and it doesn't seem likely she's referring to Hagrid/Maxime, Winky/Dobby or something like that there.
Similarly, [Hermione's] crushes on unsuitable men ... Just because you've got a
good brain doesn't mean you're any better than the next person at keeping your
hormones under control! Salon.com Interview (March 1999)
[What do you think of the Harry Potter fiction on the websites? Have you been on
the internet to have a look?] I've only ever been into it twice. A friend of
mine told me what was out there and I skimmed through it and it scared me so
much - there's some weird stuff out there. I thought, well, no, I didn't want to
delve too deeply. SWNS Online interview (July 2000)
Wait, isn't this just shipping quotes you are looking at here blue? While, yes, but this quote is here to provide some context to where JKR is at with her fandom and some changes that happen later that seem to have some impact on how she answers at a later date. Remember, wierd stuff out there is her GoF reaction to the fandom.
Harry is becoming more girl-fixated, shall we say, as he gets older. He's 14
now, and you will find that girls become a lot more real to him. And more
important, because the books are obviously told from a boy's perspective,
really. But that's changing now. CBC This Morning Interview (October 2000)
From a shippers perspective this quote says: there will be romance in the future (as if the Yule Ball chapters hadn't already told us that). Otherwise, its not much, but hey.
Part of the reason it's so much fun to write is that they're discovering their
hormones. And they're mainly in love with all the wrong people, just to make it
lifelike. CBSNews.com article (July 2000)
This is the aforementioned quote that helps put the earlier quote into context. 'The wrong people' is clearly in reference to a right of passage here. And those who are the exclusion to 'mainly' would be those 'discovering their hormones', so unless JKR is considering Draco among her main characters (a situation made unlikely by her attitude towards him), R/Hr comes forth as a strong contender, partly because both of these characters have a 'wrong relationship' elsewhere, and partly because it is different from the clearly wrong relationships in prior intimacy and its unacknowledged nature.
[Will Ron ever get a girlfriend?] I'm laughing again... why wouldn't he?!
Though he's not doing too well at the moment, is he? But then, Fleur Delacour
was really aiming a bit high. Barnes & Noble chat (October 2000)
Firstly, this answer is one of the many indications JKR has made in public that Ron is a worthy human being, and in this one she even seems to be indicating that he isn't that boyfriend from hell that you always want to forget type either. Asking about romance makes her laugh (maybe cause she is wanting more questions about scars and Voldemort and Pettigrew but who knows?). And additionally her comments about Fleur make her, not Hermione, the prime contender for his wrong person right of passage.
[Is it just me, or was something going on between Ron and Hermione during the
last half of GOF?] Yes, something's 'going on'... but Ron doesn't realise it
yet... typical boy. Yahooligans chat (October 2000)
Boys, *sigh*. For those who believe that after 'platonic' JKR doesn't give straight forward answers, this should cause some troubles. In fact, it has produced a leap of illogic in the parts of the fandom discrediting it that rivals some of the many surrounding the attempted discrediting of the platonic quote. I am refering to the notion that because JKR doesn't say 'between' in her answer the something 'going on' doesn't really include Hermione. Needless to say, this has produced multiple *headdesks*.
Harry has been catapulted into this [the Hogwarts experience], and he operates
on a need-to-know basis only. He doesn't really want to go looking things up.
The whole thing is very surreal to Harry. He copes in a very different way from
Hermione--he's sort of sink-or-swim, I'll just deal with it minute to minute,
which is possibly a more boyish way of coping, rather than go over and over all
the angles, as I think a lot of young girls do. Harry's more likely than
Hermione and Ron to be depressed. He's got to fight harder against that because
he went through 10 years of neglect [from his cruel relatives], and that leaves
you with an enormous emptiness inside you. He really is a damaged person. So
yes, he's more vulnerable. He's also a very brave person, who's going to keep
fighting against depression. No one's wholly good. I would say Harry has flaws
and failings. He was too proud [in the fourth book] to talk to Ron about what
was bothering them both. Harry was walking around thinking, 'I'm the one with
all the problems,' and he did have a lot of problems, but Ron had been a
faithful friend for three years, and I would have cut Ron a little more slack.
And what about Ginny [Ron's younger sister]? Poor Ginny, languishing in love for
Harry, and he's merrily asking out other girls right under her nose! But that's
just a boy thing. If we're going to talk about flawless little gentlemen, I
don't think Harry is one. But he's an old soul compared to Ron, who's just your
classic 14-year-old. I see Harry as an old soul. And you meet kids like that;
I've taught kids like that. They are my people. I like those kids.Time Pacific
Article (December 2000)
Boys, *sigh*, again. In these interviews you get the really strong impression that JKR thinks 14 year old boys are extremely clueless as regards romance, though the "Unexpected Task" should of shown you that already. Although the not noticing Ginny as one of Harry's flaws has sent many a Orange Crusher squeeing. Also notice that JKR lays part of the fault of the Harry/Ron fight squarely in Harry's lap, making it a case of two boys being stubborn pricks instead of one boy proving his utter unworthiness as a friend and a person as has on occasion been propounded in the shipping arguement.
[Does Hermione like Ron as more than a friend?] The answer to that is in Goblet
of Fire, Zsenya! Comic Relief chat (March 2001)
Here we see the first answer of a new type, that I believe has become JKR's party line regarding shipping in recent chats. It was also one of the first questions fashioned deliberately by someone in the ship debates to get solid answers to highly contentious matters. These two tendencies probably reinforce eachother. It shows, and later answers reinforce the idea that JKR views the shipping matter as something she has layed enough clues out that we should know by now. This answer can be viewed as probably the first true cipher she has presented, though such neutrality will occasionally be violated.
Will Harry ever notice the long-suffering Ginny Weasley?] You'll see... poor
Ginny, eh? Comic Relief chat (March 2001)
Poor Ginny indeed. I guess the question now is, is there more noticing to be going on. But she probably won't answer.
[Any snogging with Hermione?] (slight frown) Hermione and Harry! Do you think
so? [No, I’m kidding.] Ron and Hermione, I would say, have more potential
(or “tension”) there. Dateline NBC interview (June 2003)
In the tradition of the 'between' and 'platonic' quotes this quote is unambiguous. The video of this only reinforces this (although I will allow for JKR's grimace to be at the fact that this is Katie Couric, who annoys me to no end). However, the R/Hr part is deleted from many official transcripts (if you see a recording, you can tell that this has been edited, when the Quill is back up the link I know of will be accessible). Did JKR say something she didn't intend? Did she slip here? Looking at previous quotes it clearly fits in well with what she has said previously. But looking at future answers, this appears shockingly candid. (of course, NBC incompetence can't be ruled out on the wrong official transcriptions, this is the network that hired Katie Couric and had this idiot commentating on the opening ceremonies).
[So there will be some pairing up, will there, in this book (OotP)?] Well, in
the fullness of time. [Unlikely pairings? Not Hermione and Draco Malfoy or
anything like that?] I don't really want to say as it will ruin all the fan
sites. They have such fun with their theories ... and it is fun, it is fun. And
some of them even get quite close. No-one has ever - I have gone and looked at
some of it and no-one's ever ... There is one thing that if anyone guessed I
would be really annoyed as it is kind of the heart of it all. And it kind of
explains everything and no-one's quite got there but a couple of people have
skirted it. So you know, I would be pretty miffed after thirteen or fourteen
years of writing the books if someone just came along and said I think this will
happen in book seven. Because it is too late, I couldn't divert now, everything
has been building up to it, and I've laid all my clues. BBC Newsnight Interview
There is still uncertainty whether the last part refers to shipping or something bigger, though if its shipping either JKR hasn't explored that deep into fandom or she is refering to how and not who. This however seems to be party line again. Of course, sometimes party line breaks. Moreover, this answer indicates she now has more awareness of fandom than 'weird stuff' and she is being tight lipped because she finds it fun (or funny). A better acquaintance with fandom seems to be the main reason for increased reticense so the fact that she was more open earlier means that we are likely to get more meat from earlier interviews, even though they are old and some think we should only look at the most recent (usually those who don't like 'platonic').
[Why did Harry have to split up with Cho Chang?] That's life, I'm afraid. They
were never going to be happy, it was better that it ended early!World Book Day
chat (March 2004)
Amen to that.
[Do you have any future plans in particular for Draco Malfoy?] I've got plans
for all my characters. Actually, this is a really good place to answer a
question about Draco and Hermione, which a certain Ms. Radcliffe is desperate to
have answered. Will they end up together in book six/seven? NO! The trouble is,
of course, that girls fancy Tom Felton, but Draco is NOT Tom Felton! (My
daughter likes TF very much too, because he taught her how to use a diablo.)
World Book Day chat (March 2004)
Of course, after reading this everyone in the fandom was in a furor all asking the same question: What is a diablo? Sorry, I meant, Whatever happened to not ruining the fansites. Personally, and this is just theory, I'd say Draco fans and Draco/Hermione fans in general and Ms. Radcliffe in particular just wouldn't give up and bugged the hell out of her. I would also say she is taking Draco in a direction that is not good for most of his fans. And also, JKR occasionally isn't all that good at holding to her ideas of what she can and cannot say (as she admitted in her most recent interview).
[Polly Weasley:] [Will Harry fall for another girl in book six, or will he be
too busy for romance?] He'll be busy, but what's life without a little romance?
World Book day Chat (March 2004)
So there will be someone. And probably a girl.
[Will Harry and Hermione will be together? *sigh*] lol Not saying... but you've
had enough clues by now, surely?! World Book Day Chat (March 2004)
In the exact opposite of her responce to D/Hr, for H/Hr she is becoming less likely to discredit it in chats. But, like in her answer to Zsenya's question she clearly believes that if we have read the books we should be able to tell.
[What happened between Hermione and Viktor Krum during the summer?] Ron would
like to know that, too. World Book Day Chat (March 2004)
Ron didn't need to be in this question. And this question is obviously important enough to withhold so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the answer in books six, cause us Viktor fans can't wait much longer.
Does Hermione love Ron or Harry?] I can't believe that some of you haven't
worked this one out yet, but I'm not going to answer because that would spoil
the arguments, which I enjoy. JK Rowling Official Site
I can't help it, when I read this I imagine clear "those who don't know yet are idiots" vibes, though she never says so explicetly. Also, we can surmise that she has gone deep enough into fandom to see and enjoy such arguments (so much for the idea that JKR doesn't like intence arguement, ship debaters make Ron and Hermione look like amateurs). This is the official position from which she doesn't want to waver.
[Will Ron and Hermione ever get together?]Well—[Laughter.] What do you think?
[Audience member: I think they will]. I’m not going to say. I can’t say, can I? I
think that, by now, I’ve given quite a lot of clues on the subject. That is all
I’m going to say. You will have to read between the lines on that one.
Edinburgh Book Festival (August 2004)
This is as party line an answer as the world book day one, with the exception of the read between the lines comment. Now depending one how far she has plunged into the ship debating abyss she may or may not be aware of the joking generalisations about R/Hr seeing the obvious and H/Hr reading so far between the lines they miss the pointy blck parts. However, such an extreme in joke doesn't seem her style. 'Reading between the lines' could alternatively refer to the lines of the answer or she could be refering to interpreting things in the book which do not explicitly say 'they love eachother' (and R/Hr, for all its obviousness has never been plainly stated). Both those seem likely explanations, especially if you know her ship quote history.
Where to go from here?
If you ask JKR a R/Hr or a H/Hr question in the future, chances are she'll say she can't say and we should know by now, though she was more forthcoming in the past. If you can't take past answers as answers and you want to get the answer before book six then, what should you ask her? I'd say just wait. You don't want her to be frustrated at too many questions on Hermione shipping that she strangles some moppet while yelling "It's R/Hr dammit. Can't you read?". She'll have to go to a mental institution and we won't get further books. And poor moppet.
But I know you, and I know me, and the questions will still pour out. But how do we get answers and no dead moppets? First, the question should be indirect. Ask about Krum in general. Info on him could help us understand his plot. Ask about Ginny. JKR seems to be eager to give us Weasley info in general and Ginny info in particular. Ask about Penelope Clearwater. I really still wonder what happened to her.
And how should you ship? JKR thinks with surety we should know by now. Neutrality is often born of apathy or effort in this fandom. Certainty in the right ship is the prefered position, but those certain of the wrong one will come out fools in the end. And clinging to ambiguity is no help because JKR thinks she's been clear. Me, as you can tell, I've cast my lot. And I'm ready to laugh with JKR.