Dear J.K. Rowling,
Hello. I wish we were speaking under better circumstances, like I was congratulating you on the completion of the long-rumored Marauders prequel, but instead, I’m quite upset with you at the moment. Your comments over the weekend that you might do things differently when it came to the romantic pairings of the golden trio in Harry Potter ignited a firestorm of fandom wars that had been mostly put to rest over the past few years, as readers went from arguing over who Hermione should wind up with and started caring more about whether Peeta and Katniss were a good match.
You said Ron and Hermione were only together in the books because of “wish fulfillment” on your part, and that it had “very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it.” And you spoke about how you wish you could do things differently. Um, what? You’re dropping this info in 2014? What am I supposed to do with this information NOW? I can’t just ignore it! (Also, I probably owe some Harry/Hermione shippers an apology for calling them delusional from about 2003-2007.)
Walking back on the pairings in the books means walking back on some things people attribute to your novels, fair or not. Many really liked that Harry and Hermione didn’t wind up together, if only because it just seemed so predictable to have the main girl and main guy in a novel fall for each other. Pairing Harry and Hermione off instead would seem to sign Hermione to a life as second fiddle, and for a girl-power character whose brains and tenacity empowered younger readers, that would have been a disappointing, conventional conclusion. I enjoyed that perhaps Hermione saw things in Ron a lot of people didn’t, and I reject the common complaint that the two would never work long-term.
That said, chocolate frog cards on the table: As invested as I was/am in every tiny detail of Harry Potter, the romantic aspect of the book was never a big draw. From early on, I wanted Harry and Ginny (That’s right, called it!) and Ron and Hermione to end up together, but I was much more concerned about whether Snape was good or evil, or if Sirius was going to die, as I think was the case for a lot of readers. I’m writing this letter to you today not because I’m an angry Hermione/Ron shipper, but because I’m concerned what your romance comments spell for the future of talking about this franchise.
Years ago, I thought I wanted you to tell me everything that your imagination could come up with, from what color the benches are at The Three Broomsticks to small, seemingly inconsequential character details such as what happened to Luna’s father. After listening to some of your past interviews, I’m realizing that’s not true: Every time you clarify something or change an interpretation my own mind had puzzled out differently, it inevitably changes a small part of a world I thought I knew really well.
I don’t want to know Dumbledore is gay if I didn’t already infer that from the text. I don’t really need to know that the approximate value of a Galleon is about five pounds. Like tons of your fans, I think your books are perfect as-is. They’re perfect not because every word and subplot works, but perfect because when I look back on my reading experience, it’s a flawless, deeply treasured memory. Because of who you are, and your privileged position as the creator of all this, when you start to adjust things – even just by speculation – it changes those memories and facts I thought I knew to be true. I should be able to separate the two, but because in my mind I essentially think of you as Goddess of Magic, I can’t; when you speak, I take it as gospel.
As more years pass, I’m sure there are going to be more plot points you wish you had tinkered with in the story. But I’m selfishly asking you to keep your facts to whatever you originally stated in the books. It kills a little bit of the magic when I hear statements from you that contradict what I’ve read dozens and dozens of times. In the coming months, you’re opening up this world even more, writing a screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as overseeing a play based on Harry’s early years. Happily, you’ve created a universe that can get even larger. My greatest Potter-related wish now is that these new additions don’t come at the expense of what we first learned and loved in the novels.
A huge fan
P.S.: Perhaps the real lesson here is that you should never have written that cheesy-as-hell-but-I-loved-every-second-of-it epilogue – something other YA franchises after you seemed to partake in as well (Katniss’ remembrances come to mind). Lesson to us all: It seems that by tying up every loose end, you roped yourself into a corner you now can’t get untangled from – however much you might wish.