There are few friendships stronger and truer in any movies, anywhere, than that of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They first meet when thrown together as total strangers on the first day of school—a hard prospect for almost any kid, let alone those going off to learn about beasts, potions, curses, and how to stop whatever fresh monstrosity is currently threatening the school. Over their years at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione become more than just friends. They become like family, being there for one another in the good times and the bad. Especially the bad.
It isn’t easy, though. These three heroes are not just moving through an epic story, their epic story is driving their coming of age. Like every other Hogwarts student at this particular moment in history, they are denied the chance to have something approaching a normal childhood. The only childhood they can have is with each other.
Throughout their trials and tribulations, we see who Harry, Ron and Hermione really are in any number of earned moments that become more meaningful as they shed their adolescent awkwardness and accept the mantle of adulthood and its inner struggles. Harry, we all know, torments himself over his entwined existence with Voldemort, as well as the aching emptiness of having never known his original family. But he is accepted by the Weasleys as one of their own.
Meanwhile, Ron, the living avatar of a middle child, would give his life for Harry, but can never quite shake the feeling that the only thing that makes Ron special is being Harry’s friend. Ron can’t see it, of course, but his unquestioning, nearly Hufflepuff-level loyalty to Harry is something that keeps Harry going more than once. It is something that makes Ron very special, indeed.
And Hermione sees that, too. After so many years of being the brains of the outfit, and of using her towering intellect to hide her insecurities about being a Muggle-born student in a place where there are definitely people who hate her for being what she is…at long last she opens her heart to the young men who had been right before her the entire time. She loves Harry as a brother. And she just plain loves Ron, offering ironclad evidence that opposites definitely attract.
Seeing these three characters grow up and grow closer is one of the sweetest, most genuine aspects of the Harry Potter saga. It is one of the reasons why I keep going back to it.
It is also why the moment of truth in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 strikes me so deeply. In this, the seventh and penultimate chapter of the Harry Potter saga, Voldemort has truly taken over, openly roundings up and hunting down the few wizards left who would resist him. Forced to go on the lam, Harry, Ron and Hermione spend much of the movie as fugitives all while searching for the remaining horcruxes that must be destroyed if there is to be any chance of defeating Voldemort. One of them, a locket, they carry with them while searching for a way to destroy it. And as they do, its evil power amplify their own negative thoughts and feelings. Finally, there comes a point when the locket fills Ron’s head with a vivid hallucination of his worst fear realized: that Hermione really loves Harry, not him. And worse: all he is doing—all he has ever done—is merely get in their way. It is more than he can stand, and he leaves the group. For the first time, the trio truly fractures in a moment of profound weight.
Only when Ron leaves do we truly get the sense that Harry and Hermione might not accomplish their mission. Without Ron, they truly feel diminished, and we do, too. Of course, Ron returns in a truly heroic moment that lays to rest any possible doubts that he is every bit as important to the group as the other two. They all reconcile quickly, in part because they just don’t know how to live without each other any more.
This part of the saga brings tears to my eyes, every time. When you love someone so much that they become part of you, the notion of losing them at all, for any duration, for any reason, inflicts a kind of pain unique within human experience. In the Deathly Hallows, we are told there are three keys to saving the world, each a magic item of incredible power. The lore of this world only gets it half right, though. It isn’t three special items that will save this world. It is three special people.
Together. As always. As one.