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On "navigation" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
On "navigation"
This deals with the ships in HBP. Under a spoiler cut.

"Why didn't we see more of Harry/Ginny, if it's so important?" "Remus/Tonks just came out of nowhere!" "Whoever heard of Filch/Pince before HBP?"

Okay, it's been a week and a day, and these are the ones that are coming out. I'm eminently satisfied with the shipping in HBP for many reasons, only about half of which are expressed by my icon. ;) But the criticisms should be answered, and I wanted to think about it a bit. Why was I particularly satisfied, not just with the ships, but for the most part with the way they were done?

First, on the adult ships, in Harry's point-of-view, all adult ships come out of nowhere. It takes him months to come up with the notion that Tonks might have had a romantic interest in someone (and comes up with the wrong person), and the thought of Lupin having a love life has never registered on him. It never appeared to register with him about Sirius, either, and we don't see him speculating on where McGonagall sneaks off to. And he and Hermione were joking about Filch/Pince, the way students have about stuffy faculty members since the dawn of education; he certainly doesn't appear to take it seriously. So all we, as readers, would ever get of adult ships are sidelong glances and flickers at the periphery of our vision.

Did Rowling set them up?

Yup. Check.

It's true that the Lupin/Tonks interaction in OotP could have been interpreted any way at all between the books. Nothing about being together in so many scenes, bantering comfortably in the Dursley kitchen, or having little structural parallels (their introductions to Harry, the patchy clothes) stood up and screamed, "They so must be a couple!" Yes, we R/Ters liked all of those things and thought they stood as good a chance as anything else of being the basis for a ship, but I don't think anyone is more surprised than R/Ters that R/T was actually made canon... and upon being made canon, it confirms that those little tics, in retrospect, do mean that the two of them had some kind of relationship building and brewing. Had she ended up with Moody and Lupin ended up with Molly (after a horrible disaster involving Arthur, of course), then the prior interactions between those pairings would take on a more definite shape in the light of subsequent developments.

As to HBP itself, how much more obvious could it have been made? JKR was already pushing pretty hard with Tonks's behavior, which bordered on over-the-top (though if a man I loved was running around with stone cold killers, I think I'd be missing a lot of sleep myself). Harry noticed her sadness, he noticed Lupin's distraction at Christmas, he noticed her Patronus, and he noticed that Lupin paused before answering about it. He failed to notice (though the reader should have) that Molly twice tried to arrange to have them both present for something, in each case pointing out that the other would be there. The fact that the two of them were apart all year is an important part of their story, but Harry, who doesn't know of any reason they would be together, simply doesn't make this connection.

In Harry's point of view, just how much more would there be? Extendable Ears planted in the Shrieking Shack to listen to their agonized conversations? Tonks going into detail in the seventh floor corridor about how she was worried about Lupin because there'd been a werewolf attack on the Montgomery boy the night before? Oh, it could be argued that maybe Ginny or Hermione could have been told more, but since this is a rather small side plot, how much page time should have been devoted to it? Technically, she could have simply started the book saying, "Lupin and Tonks were in love, and Tonks was worried about him, and he'd broken off their relationship, and now they're not talking." But that wouldn't solve the problem for people who thought the ship was out of the blue in the first place.


To move on to the one people on the like and don't-like sides of the line seem to have trouble with: Harry/Ginny. Anti-H/G shippers want to know why the ship wasn't shown to them to make them believe it; pro-H/G shippers are disappointed that it was glossed over and just kind of sped through.

For the first objection, that it wasn't "proved"--I honestly am not sure what to say about that. Ginny's been there from the start, Harry's always been pretty complimentary about her, last year they became friends, this year, he started doing things like noticing that he was irritated when she wasn't around or forgetting that she didn't usually hang around with him at school. He's consistently glad of her company, they've been through a huge experience together in the Chamber, and he finally stumbles across the fact that he finds her pretty pleasant on the eyes. That's the last step, not the first. When he finally kisses her and thinks of it as "several sunlit days," that's the conclusion of that line of reasoning, not a proposal needing proof--that is the way she makes him feel.

For the second, while I know we like to have a lot of shipping, the truth is, I think JKR handled the romance well specifically because she did gloss it. If the books were the story of how Ginny and Harry came to love one another very deeply, there'd be a good reason for a detailed look at their romance, but they aren't--the books are about Harry's battle with Voldemort, and everything that's detailed ultimately comes into that somehow. His love for Ginny, while certainly sustaining and comforting to him, is a respite from the battle, not a contributing part of it. It's a dreamlike state, part of someone else's life--the life of the boy who is "just Harry," the man he may become if he survives the battle. It's a blissful, idyllic couple of weeks that gave him a last chance to be completely normal.

And normal, for all of its blessings, isn't dramatic. By it's nature, it's not dramatic--if it were dramatic, it wouldn't be normal. Harry's romance with Ginny is a break from the drama of his life, a safe haven (or harbor, if you like). We see one brief scene, and feel Harry's reaction to what's happening in his life--a kind of dazed, non-narrated happiness, which he will soon have to give up to get back to the drama. And I think it's the very fact that it is a safe haven, and not a dramatic and angsty romance plot, that makes it important to Harry, and to the war--it's that kind of simple, comfortable love that makes Harry strong, even if it doesn't make for much of a chapter.

Besides, it leaves more room for fic, doesn't it? ;)

43 comments or Leave a comment
moonlitwoods From: moonlitwoods Date: July 24th, 2005 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Technically, she could have simply started the book saying, "Lupin and Tonks were in love, and Tonks was worried about him, and he'd broken off their relationship, and now they're not talking." But that wouldn't solve the problem for people who thought the ship was out of the blue in the first place.

Thanks for saying it so perfectly.
moonlitwoods From: moonlitwoods Date: July 24th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I meant to say Happy Birthday too. Hope you're having a pleasant day. :)
lunadeath02 From: lunadeath02 Date: July 24th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are too right. Perhaps reading the book again will make the reader understand a little better. It did seem a little out of the blue, but not completely. It's just so "real life" like, that's all. And I'm glad that Rowling didn't have two or three pages on Harry and Ginny's "romance", because then it would make others madder or something. She probably glossed over it all for the other people's sake.

And yes, it leaves a lot of room for fic. :D
From: deviantauthor Date: July 24th, 2005 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy birthday!
From: gunderpants Date: July 24th, 2005 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday, btw!

I think that you very succinctly put my thoughts into words on this matter. At the same time, there are always going to be those people who want to read an R/S relationship who are always going to claim that this one was out-of-the-blue and OOC, if only because they weren't looking and paying attention in the first place.
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: July 24th, 2005 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
and who STILL won't see it on the re-read because they don't want to see anything other than their OTP.

Me, I'm over hear shipping characters so unimportant we'll probably never find out about them... much safer!
From: gunderpants Date: July 24th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like Stan Shunpike/Mundungus Fletcher and Flitwick/Gary Coleman?
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: July 24th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Stan Shunpike/Mundungus Fletcher

My eyes! My eyes!

And yet... there's a certain cosmic symmetry to that ship... I find it strangely compelling.

Disgusting, but compelling.
kismeteve From: kismeteve Date: July 25th, 2005 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh! I'm with you there.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: July 25th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes! Yes! Another person!

My ship was Blaise/Morag, but HBP's making me rethink Morag.
prettyveela From: prettyveela Date: July 24th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday!

I agree with what you said. Rowling did exactly what she said she'd do. Have light romance and for that reason, romance was glossed over, because in her mind, it's not really that important. It's nice to have in the book, but that's not what she's spent 13 years writing about.
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: July 24th, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy B'day, Barbara
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: July 24th, 2005 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy birthday! *Mongol Birthday Song*

You now are the age you are
Your demise cannot be far...

austenrowling From: austenrowling Date: July 24th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its your birthday? I hope its a good one. I like the little essay, it makes complete sense.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 24th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday!
ashkitty From: ashkitty Date: July 24th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
All of your stuff on the H/G is spot on, I think. :) Lovely, thanks.
merlinssister12 From: merlinssister12 Date: July 24th, 2005 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday!
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: July 24th, 2005 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
So many times you say everything I want to, laying out the arguments calmly, logically, and eloquently. This time is no exception :D
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: July 24th, 2005 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday!

On the subject of H/G, I do wish there'd been a little more one-to-one between them before the kissing. I would have liked to see Harry get to know her, and thereby have us get to know her. I certainly would have liked to see some discussion between them about the diary and posession and how it affected her. It could have added rather brilliantly to Harry learning about 'young Voldemort.'
lilac_bearry From: lilac_bearry Date: July 24th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for what you wrote about H/G. I'd read just about every H/G fic under the sun, and I'd never found what I thought would be how she'd write it. Everything else out there was either too angsty or too fluffy. I couldn't imagine what she'd do when she'd actually write it, so I mostly stopped reading H/G fanfic. :D And then when I read what JKR wrote, it *was* perfect. It was how she described she would write it. It was just the right amount. And it was a respite. I was completely satisfied with it, and I think it was because I had taken away all expectations of what I thought she should do and just let her do what she said she'd do. It was wonderful.

I'm one of those that hoped for Charlie/Tonks with no proof whatsoever, other than their ages being about the same, and their personalities possibly corresponding a bit, but being the canon thumper I am, I adore R/T now. :D And, I find that I am enjoying R/T fics as well.

And, Happy Birthday!
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: July 25th, 2005 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Two things.

One - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! :-)

Two - Yup. Yup. And, of course, yup. Thank you for being the voice of reason. Now, if people would just calm down and remember that they *like* these books.....
djin7 From: djin7 Date: July 25th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)


Just thought I'd pop in to say that.

tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: July 25th, 2005 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Well said. I would have liked to have seen a few more talky introspective scenes between H/G, following on from their library conversation the previous year, but I think they way JKR actually showed them is more appropriate for their ages and characters.

I'm curious about the Draco/Myrtle scene; I mean, obviously it's likely to kick off a bunch of fics but I'm guessing there's a more serious reason unrelated to romance why the two of them might have been talking.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting post and, as everyone else has already said, happy birthday!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: July 25th, 2005 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry's romance with Ginny is a break from the drama of his life

And that's what makes Ginny perfect for him. He certainly had plenty of drama with Cho in that scene at Madam Puddifoot's, and while I sympathize with Cho, Harry has way too much on his plate to worry about that kind of manipulative bull.

Excellent essay as usually, fern. I hope you're having a happy birthday. :)
From: psalm_27 Date: July 25th, 2005 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I admit to being one of those who initially felt that the H/G was glossed over. Then I realized that I'd read too many fanfics where the romance was central to the plot verses being a very small subplot. You put this perfectly into words by pointing out that the romance is supposed to be glossed over. Besides that, I bought the audio book and listened to the last few chapters. The romance didn't seem to be so glossed over afterall, after hearing all of Harry's inner dialogue in the build up to the kiss and the subsequent romance. Perhaps I read too fast the first time through!

Oh, and Happy Birthday!
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: July 25th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I love when ou write about R/T. :) Happy birthday!
dalf From: dalf Date: July 25th, 2005 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
So on point. Infact Just like 15 minutes ago I sent *THIS* to the AtE mailing list:

Actually, More intresting than a sequel to AtE which would be horribly AU at this point. What someone shoudl write is HBP from Ginnys' POV. I mean, a lot of people (mostly H/Hr fans who never seem to read closly enough anyway) have complained that the H/G was not adaquatly set up in the book. However if you look it mentions lots of "off screen" stuff. When they get on the Hogwarts express it says Harry had grown so use to spending time with Ginny over the last WEEKS that he had forgottne that she did not hang out with them at school. Before they get together it says somethign to the effect that Harry coudl not help himself spending time with here laughing with ehr etc etc. After they get together we never see any sceens with them alone but it mentions that they are happening (Harry day dreaming re-ling a particularly nie afternoon spent by the lake with Ginny).

At first I was disapointed that JKR only told us these moments existed but did not share them with us. But then I thought, "well that is just fodder for fan fiction". I mean look at how good HQoW is!

The point being JKR did gloss over all the details by basically omitting the scenes .... but just because we did not see very much of transfiguration class in HBP does not mean they were not going. JKR does tell us of many situations where Harry and Ginny spend timetoghet and even mentions how the evolution of their relationship changes form Harrys Perspective after the fact. She just does not give it much page time.

Now the breakup which you do not mention. Aside form it being one of the more unconvincing breakups ever. I am forced to think about the prophecy. "Neither can live" is what it says. I also think about how DD said that the power of the prophecy is that Harry and Voldemort take it seriously. I think to Harry he sees being Happy, dating Ginny and going on with his life as somethign that he cannot choose to do jut now. From that regard I think we cannot expect to have seen (or to see in the next book) a lot of pages dedicated to (oh god I am going to sound like a Hr/H shipper when I say this) 'our' ship (though R/T is more fun of a ship anyway and I do hope we see it a lot). However I think that H/G will be one of the componets of love that plays a part in th eend so I think it will have more plot signiicane in the next book even if it does not get a substantialy higher number of pages.
kakegoddess From: kakegoddess Date: July 25th, 2005 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday! Thanks for a bit of shipping sanity.
calixa From: calixa Date: July 25th, 2005 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday! Great essay per usual :)
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: July 25th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
On H/G, it was a rereading that showed me how thoroughly Rowling laid down the path to that kiss. I didn't realize how many little mentions Ginny got in HBP, and even OotP. Harry was watching her, he just didn't know he was.

Love your bit about romance being a "normal" aspect of Harry's life. That's a cool way to look at it.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: July 25th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and Happy Birthday!
gmth From: gmth Date: July 25th, 2005 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)

OT, but...

Just wanted to wish you a happy birthday! :-)
coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: July 25th, 2005 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for what you said about H/G. It gives me the strength and reasoning to explain it to one of my friends, who is pretty irritated by it.
And happy birthday! :D
(Deleted comment)
iulia_linnea From: iulia_linnea Date: July 25th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Cheers. That was very well put. :)
paintisevil From: paintisevil Date: July 25th, 2005 09:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit that I was one of those who thought that H/G was glossed over, but after reading this post I think I've changed my mind. I guess since H/G is my OTP I was hoping for some grand part of the plot to be devoted to it, but upon reflection, I like it this way better. So thank you for this wonderful post, it makes a whole lot of sense.

Oh, and I know I don't know you, but I was reading the other comments and noticed that its your birthday, so I hope it is (or perhaps was at this point) a happy one.

here via d_s btw
sophonax From: sophonax Date: July 25th, 2005 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
By it's nature, it's not dramatic

This is exactly why I love the ship--Ginny is a person who makes Harry's life easier, not harder, and while that may not make for the world's most compelling storytelling, it's exactly what makes the two of them right for each other, simply fitting together without too much bothering about the friction involved.

Re: Remus/Tonks, I confess that I was one of those who thought the shippers were going crazy due to a few wispy, paper-thin shreds of evidence, but the more I reread PoA, OotP, and HBP, the more I understand why this ship works, and what it is that the shippers were picking up on--authorial affection. It's so obvious that Rowling really loves these two characters, so it makes sense that she'd want to see them happy with each other. Honestly, that's good enough for me. (Also, I feel like I should have picked up on it before, due to the fact that I identify with Tonks and have a crush on Lupin, but I thought that was just me being silly.)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 25th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
...I identify with Tonks and have a crush on Lupin...

AHA!! Maybe that explains my until-now-mysterious willingness to believe in the ship the moment I became aware that it was in fact a ship... ;)
texasmagic From: texasmagic Date: July 25th, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well Said!
midnitemaraud_r From: midnitemaraud_r Date: July 25th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

part 1

I do agree with you on most of your points.

When I first read the books, I wasn't all that interested in the shippiness of them - I was much more interested in the 'adventure' of them - and the magical world itself - and the characters. Remus and Sirius were my favorite characters - Sirius because his story was so tragic and he had so much potential that was left unfulfilled, and Remus because he struck me as so complex, and so private - he had built such walls around himself and struggled to fit into a world that rejected him for a reason that wasn't his fault. He had reasons to be bitter, resigned, and yet he never seemed to succumb to the hopelessness of it - he persevered and struggled with himself and never gave in to the despair, despite losing everyone who ever meant anything to him in one fell swoop. That Halloween night, his whole world came crashing down around him almost more heavily than it did for Harry, because unlike Harry, Remus was old enough to fully comprehend the implications and really feel the loss.

I began shipping them after reading a few stories, not because I ever actually saw the subtext itself, but I liked the idea of it - the complexity of them together. But before that (and even after), I read and enjoyed stories with Remus and Tonks together. I didn't see any obvious hints of Remus and Tonks as a couple in OotP - before or after I began shipping R/S. What I did see was them meeting, getting to know each other, developing a working friendship and then a more personal friendship, but even on later re-reads, I never noticed any returned 'attention' on Remus' part. I can completely understand that she would be attracted to and fall for Remus - what I have a hard time with is not that he wouldn't find her attractive, but that, given his personality, that he would be able to return her affections very readily. He's private, he's closed - he has trouble opening up to Harry, and while I do like Tonks, I just can't see that she would be able to punch through his defenses.

Also, the idea that Remus would start up a romance with Tonks while his best friend was miserable and, arguably, 'deteriorating' before his eyes does not strike me as a Remus thing to do. Even if it's platonic, he has been depicted as the kind of person who would place Sirius and Sirius' problems before his own - even his acceptance of the mission to get closer to Greyback and the other werewolves shows this side of him - the greater good is more important than his own desires and wants and needs. And this is why I have problems with the idea that Remus and Tonks had started up a relationship before Sirius died. The war - Voldemort's return - and having his best friend back after 12 years of believing him a traitor and murderer would have superceded any personal desires of new romance.

midnitemaraud_r From: midnitemaraud_r Date: July 25th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

part 2

From the moment he fell behind the veil, I knew Sirius wasn't coming back. I don't begrudge Remus finding some happiness in life. I honestly don't. I like Tonks quite a bit. I loved her in OotP, and I while I can understand her 'depression' in HBP, the idea of attributing it solely to 'unrequited love', to me, weakens and belittles her character. The 'battle' at the Ministry was probably the first real dangerous 'action' she saw. She was battling Bellatrix and was unable to immobilize her, which indirectly led to Sirius fighting her and dying. If it were me, that alone would have eaten away at me - Sirius died because I failed. Yes, she should be worried about Remus and his latest mission - it was nasty and dangerous, and obviously she cares a great deal for him. But for her patronus - a guardian figure - to be Remus, and for her to lose her powers and lose herself and her independent nature and vivacious personality solely because of unrequited love? And then to have everyone ambush Remus in the hospital wing moments after they all learn that Dumbledore is dead? And then she's back to 'normal' at the funeral? It felt really tacky and I was very disappointed with the way she depicted it all - with the delivery. It felt far too "plot device"-like, and not true to the way she had originally depicted the two of them. She had so many other plots going that she didn't really need to "use" Remus and Tonks to add another 'mystery' to it.

I did love HBP. It's probably my second favorite book (PoA is my favorite). Being a R/S shipper, I'm obviously a bit torn, but I do try to be objective, and like I said, I do like Tonks a great deal as a character. I have no issues with the age difference between them, the fact that he's poor and a werewolf, nor do I think "she could do better". Obviously for Harry it would come out of nowhere, so that doesn't even bother me much. My issues are with the way she used it as a 'red herring' and plot device (and how she had everyone seem to gang up on poor Remus in the hospital wing! *g*).
calico321 From: calico321 Date: July 26th, 2005 01:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday! I know you don't really know me, but I enjoy reading your thoughts very much and your stories even more. Thank you for turning me into a R/T shipper and making me squeal like a kid when it became canon!
snowaltz From: snowaltz Date: July 27th, 2005 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent thinking! You have said what should be said post HBP =)
43 comments or Leave a comment