Hermione who secretly hates her bushy hair because she can’t tame it and she feels like she’ll never be beautiful. She knows her brain is what really matters, but she can’t help sometimes wishing she could be beautiful like Ginny.
Hermione whose feelings are hurt when her friends don’t understand that she isn’t freaking out before exams in order to get attention. Nine out of ten is NOT good enough and it feels like a stab through the heart when she doesn’t meet her own standards.
Hermione who is endlessly embarrassed by her ineptitude on a broomstick. It maddens her that she can’t learn everything she needs to know out of a book. She can’t help being terrified, though, because of her inability to cope with the situation in advance.
Hermione whose earliest memories are of being embarrassed by people and of the terror she always felt as a little girl when her playmates didn’t obey the rules.
Hermione who hates spontaneity because you can’t plan out the unknown. She loves routines and schedules because they rarely change and you can almost always depend on them. She relies on lists because you can control them and check off the boxes. She appreciates school robes because you never have to worry about what to wear to class.
Hermione who is always afraid of letting her parents down. They are used to their daughter being the best in all her classes and she constantly feels the burden of upholding that reputation.
Hermione who isn’t crushed by taunts about being a “Mudblood.” Instead, these taunts drive her to work harder and prove that one’s worth doesn’t lie in one’s genetics.
Hermione who loves her parents dearly despite the insults she endures because of them. She is never ashamed of her parentage and she makes that fact clear to anyone who dares belittle them.
Hermione who is so focused on the facts that she can be unbearably insensitive to her closest friends by accident.
Hermione who is scared of getting in trouble, of getting lost in the Forbidden Forest, of Hagrids many “pets,” of her friends getting hurt, and of so many other things that would probably make her friends laugh, so she doesn’t dare admit them.
Hermione who is disgusted by Ron and Harry’s flippancy about completing homework but always helps them with their studies anyway. (At least, she almost always does.)
Hermione who is incurably attached to her cat, even when Ron can’t stand him. (“He can’t help being a cat!”) Crookshanks needs her and she wouldn’t dream of getting rid of him, even to ease the occasional tension he causes between herself and Ron.
Hermione who is a human: makes mistakes, has pet peeves, hurts her friends, is afraid of things, doesn’t look like she stepped off the cover of a magazine, is slightly overconfident, but is loyal and brave and true.
Harry glanced over at the dark shapes they made on the floor beside him. Ron had had a fit of gallantry and insisted that Hermione sleep on the cushions from the sofa, so that her silhouette was raised above his. Her arm curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron’s. Harry wondered whether they had fallen asleep holding hands.
As some people might already know about me, I’ve never been one to shy away from a good debate. That’s a trait that I share with Hermione.
There are some people who don’t particularly like arguing or disagreeing. Some people genuinely do. Hermione falls into the second category, and since I do as well, I wanted to try to explain what’s up with all of the arguing between her and Ron.
I don’t think there are that many people who would say that she isn’t an argumentative person by nature. In addition to Ron/Harry, Hermione clashes with Lavender over her rabbit, Luna over her theories, Umbridge over Ministry rules, Snape over the lesson plans for Lupin’s DADA class, Professor Trelawney over Divination, Parvati over Divination, Draco over Hagrid/Buckbeak, etc. And she argues with everyone about house-elves. Hermione is argumentative, and that’s how she prefers it.
Hermione finds it intellectually stimulating to argue, and needs someone who’s going to argue right back.
Hermione is not the sort of person who’s afraid of being the person reading the book while everyone else is having fun. When she fights with Harry/Ron in PA, she doesn’t buddy up with Lavender/Parvati or apologize to the boys just to have someone to sit with at lunch. She sits by herself in the common room and goes it alone. In other words, Hermione is not the kind of person who chooses a bad friend over no friend at all.
If she did not enjoy spending time with Ron, she would have no problem sitting on the other side of the common room reading a book while waiting for Harry to return. And yet, we constantly see her in Ron’s company, even when Harry’s not around.
In every book after CS, she arrives the Burrow/Leaky Cauldron/Number 12 before Harry does. Harry takes it for granted that Ron and Hermione will be sitting together when he shows up in the common room, but that’s not a small thing. In PA, the two of them return from Hogsmeade “looking as though they’ve had the time of their lives.”
Despite how much they fight, it’s very clear that Hermione genuinely enjoys spending time with Ron.
Comfort with Conflict
Harry was raised by the Dursleys, and sees arguing and conflict as associated with strife. He also doesn’t feel comfortable expressing his emotions, so he tends to bottle things up until they explode.
Hermione frequently nags Harry, which Harry does not particularly appreciate. He basically has three strategies when being nagged by Hermione. The first is avoiding/ignoring her, the second is lying to her, and the third is exploding at her. Examples of the first and second include occulmency, sneaking into Hogsmeade, his doubts over Dumbledore’s past, the egg clue, his homework, his feelings about Ron’s absence, Voldemort’s visions in DH, his grades, etc.
Nagging is simply Hermione’s style, and while she might learn to tone it down, it’s always going to be part of who she is.
When he can’t lie/avoid/ignore, Harry will explode at Hermione. At which point the balance of power tilts sharply toward Harry. When Harry explodes, Hermione crumples. She will cry, shrink back, speak “in a small voice,” etc.
The problem is that Hermione needs feedback. Because Harry doesn’t engage with Hermione’s nagging, it’s hard for her to know when she’s entering the danger zone.
Like Hermione, Ron is pretty comfortable with the idea of conflict. He was raised in a house where such behavior was acceptable. He knew that just because his mother shouts or his brothers tease doesn’t mean that they don’t love him. He might be insecure about his worth, but he never has to worry that his family will simply stop loving him if he crosses some kind of invisible line.
Both Hermione and Ron wear their emotions on their sleeves and give each other instant feedback. If Hermione is upset with the boys, she tells them exactly why. Ron is the same way. Even when Ron fights with Harry, he chooses to immediately engage with him that night rather than giving him the cold shoulder and forcing Harry to work it out on his own.
Tne conflicts over each other’s romantic partners (or potential romantic partners) are a good example as well. When Ron sees something developing with Hermione/Krum, he immediately reacts and Hermione reacts right back.
When Hermione sees that Ron has a crush on Fleur, she wastes no time talking about how Fleur “really thinks a lot of herself” and “scowls” when Fleur gives Ron attention. Hermione reacts to Ron kissing Lavender not by sulking but by sending a flock of birds flying at his head. Neither of them are great at hiding how they feel.
There is a brief period in HBP where Ron decides to give Hermione the cold shoulder after finding out that she kissed Krum. Hermione is quite visibly rattled and upset by this behavior, saying she “doesn’t know what she’s supposed to have done.” Because normally when Ron is upset at Hermione, he tells her why.
A lot of the problems in the later books regarding their romantic lives stem from the same thing - for the first time, they’re not being honest and upfront with one another. Which creates a comedy of misunderstandings and poor decision-making.
Arguing as Conversation
There’s not really anger between Ron/Hermione’s arguments. I know that sounds odd, but to them it’s a cross between a rational discussion and intellectual exercise. Ron presents an idea, Hermione counters, Ron counters, and so on and so forth. It’s basically just a way to pass the time and exchange perspectives.
The morning after Ron/Hermione’s heated argument about Krum after the Yule Ball, Harry notes that they were being “quite friendly to each other, though oddly formal.”
In other words, they’re bending over backwards to be polite to one another and it’s making things weird. It’s totally different from their normal behavior.
There are many times in canon where they will segue from an argument to a normal conversation with no visible ill-will.
Even with Scabbers and the Firebolt, when an argument is finished, it’s finished.
Hermione flung her arms around Ron’s neck and broke down completely.
Ron, looking quite terrified, patted her very awkwardly on the top of the head.
Finally, Hermione drew away.
“Ron, I’m really, really sorry about Scabbers…” she sobbed.
“Oh — well — he was old,” said Ron, looking thoroughly relieved that she had let go of him.
“And he was a bit useless. You never know, Mum and Dad might get me an owl now.”
They’re perfectly capable of stopping in their tracks in order to focus on Harry or something else that’s just happened.
For another example, look at OP:
“Poisonous toadstools don’t change their spots,” said Ron sagely. “Anyway I’ve always thought Dumbledore was cracked trusting Snape. Where’s the evidence he ever really stopped working for You-Know-Who?”
“I think Dumbledore’s probably got plenty of evidence, even if he doesn’t share it with you, Ron,” snapped Hermione.
“Oh, shut up, the pair of you,” said Harry heavily, as Ron opened his mouth to argue back.
Hermione and Ron both froze, looking angry and offended.
“Can’t you give it a rest?” said Harry. “You’re always having a go at each other, it’s driving me mad.” […] The vision of Ron and Hermione’s shocked faces afforded him a sense of deep satisfaction.
Ron/Hermione are shocked, offended, and angry at Harry’s remark, because they don’t see anything wrong with their behavior. This is just how they talk.
Harry leaves the table and goes straight up to Divination, and Ron joins him a few minutes later:
The rest of the class arrived over the next five minutes. Ron emerged from the trapdoor, looked around carefully, spotted Harry and made directly for him, or as directly as he could while having to wend his way between tables, chairs and overstuffed pouffes.
“Hermione and me have stopped arguing,” he said, sitting down beside Harry.
“Good,” grunted Harry.
“But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped taking out your temper on us,” said Ron.
“I’m not -”
“I’m just passing on the message,” said Ron, talking over him. “But I reckon she’s right. It’s not our fault how Seamus and Snape treat you.”
So in a matter of minutes, Ron and Hermione resolved their argument and discussed the best way to handle Harry. Notice that Ron doesn’t actually apologize for arguing with Hermione, he just tells Harry they’ve stopped.
An Expression of Trust
When you get to know someone, you learn that there are certain things they’re sensitive about, and you try to steer away from those topics. This is no different with Hermione/Ron. They both know what’s safe and what’s off-limits.
Hermione can call Ron tactless numerous times and nag him to do his homework, but she’s not going to take a shot at his family’s finances. Ron will tell Hermione to stop nagging and call her a know-it-all, but he would never insult her appearance.
That’s how they operate. And Hermione knows that if she accidentally strays into the danger zone, Ron will let her know. And vice versa.
Keeping Things Balanced
The movies turn Hermione into this perfect superwoman and Ron into a cowardly idiot who’s the butt of the joke, but the truth is that both characters are flawed in their own way.
One of Hermione’s more abrasive qualities is her tendency to be a bit of a know-it-all.
To be clear, being a know-it-all is not the same as being smart. Being smart is knowing the answer. Being a know-it-all is being unable to resist telling everyone else the answer. Essentially the way that Hermione and Ron negotiate a balanced relationship is by Ron engaging her when she nags him or acts like a know-it-all.
Hermione cannot help telling him that he’s not pronouncing something correctly. Plenty of people are offended by that kind of behavior, even when the other person is right. But Ron, instead of ignoring her corrections or acting as though he’s been gravely insulted, just calls her a know-it-all to keep things even. This evens the scales between them and prevents their relationship from becoming Hermione bossing Ron around.
It’s important to understand that Ron does have a huge amount of respect for Hermione’s abilities. He’s not always the best about coming out and saying it, but he takes it for granted that she’s the cleverest person in the room.
“But we’re not six hundred years old,” Ron reminded her. “Anyway, what are you studying for, you already know it all.”
“But Hogwarts is hidden,” said Hermione, in surprise. “Everyone knows that… well, everyone who’s read Hogwarts, A History, anyway.”
“Just you, then,” said Ron. “So go on - how d'you hide a place like Hogwarts?”
When the O.W.L.s arrive and Hermione looks slightly unhappy and says that she did “not bad,” Ron takes the paper and announces that she got 10 Outstandings and 1 Exceeds Expectations and then playfully makes fun of her for being disappointed given how impressive her scores are. When Ron and Hermione take their apparition tests, he tells Harry that Hermione was “perfect, obviously.” Even when he himself fails, he doesn’t seem to bear any ill-will toward Hermione.
Ron’s not threatened by Hermione’s intelligence, and he’s not too prideful to do exactly what Hermione’s told him to do. But his teasing and his unwillingness to automatically agree with Hermione is what creates a balanced relationship between the two.
And Hermione genuinely needs this in a partner. She needs someone who will volley right back when she argues with them. She needs someone who will understand that her tendency to be a know-it-all is an instristic part of her personality. She needs someone who finds it endearing rather than annoying.