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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
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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!
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.....
43 comments or Leave a comment
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