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High school sweethearts, true love, and HP - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
High school sweethearts, true love, and HP
First things first--talking out of the wrong orifice, as I've never in my life been in love.

That said...

Several times, I've heard people make the argument that "Oh, come on--Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione, Neville/Trevor won't last, because, let's face it, people don't generally marry their high school sweethearts!"

Sociologically speaking, I don't think that works.


In real life, we've prolonged singleness by extending schooling for a very long time after high school, by changing the expected age of marriage, and by having certain, er, benefits of marriage extended to singles. (No, I'm not talking about health insurance.) Also, the end of the high school world generally means going off to college--even if an individual person doesn't do so, it's as likely as not that the sweetheart in question will. In college, there's a whole new world. And then after college, nine times out of ten, people scatter to different jobs in different places.

None of these factors is in place in the wizarding world.

First, the sex issue, to stop dancing around it--it doesn't seem likely that the kind of common out-of-wedlock sex we have in the real world would go over well in wizarding society. The various urges are still there. When you feel that those urges can't be satisfied outside marriage, the pressure to marry becomes a bit stronger. (Also, given history, probably some after-the-fact marriages would occur.)

Second, Hogwarts is the last of the educational world. You don't leave school and go to a university where you will suddenly be exposed to lots of new people your age, and lots of new and different ideas. Instead, you leave school and go out into the wizarding world--a small world, where you continue to interact with the same people you've always interacted with, just adding people from older generations. The people of your peer group are still the same people they always were. When we talk about "growing in different directions" after high school, it's generally because of this kind of post-school exploration that's built into the culture. If you're with the same people, in all likelihood, growth would occur in a shared context, making people grow together, rather than growing apart.

On the expected age of marriage, we have no particular canon. Lily and James appear to have married rather young, and Andromeda and Ted would have had to for Nymphadora to be the age she is. Lucius would have been twenty-six when Draco was born. In general, because of other factors, I'd assume that the expected age would be a bit lower, but I'll admit, that's not really clear. Bill doesn't seem to be getting pressure from Molly to marry Fleur, which would be a big sign, and he should be around twenty-four (judging from JKR's chat ages).

But the main point is simply the small and closed nature of the wizarding world. Almost none of the conditions that make it unlikely for us to marry our high school sweethearts exist there, so arguing that "it almost never happens in real life" doesn't really apply to the Potterverse. Even when people live in different parts of the country, floo makes it a lot easier to travel. There's no reason for the basic shapes of relationships to change, barring total betrayal, like Peter's. So it's very likely that the people who are friends at Hogwarts are likely to remain friends, people who are sweethearts at Hogwarts likely to remain sweethearts, and people who are enemies at Hogwarts to remain enemies. They don't leave one another behind.

And that's my thought for the day. Or, well, at least the hour.
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Comments
lizbee From: lizbee Date: June 11th, 2004 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
These are all good points. But (I'll play Devil's Advocate, even though I agree with you), the current generation does seem to be playing the game in a different way. None of the older Weasley boys are married, nor is Tonks. Nor do they seem to be in a serious relationship, Fleur aside. Kingsley Shacklebolt seems to be single as well.

On the other hand, they are very much the front line in a war, whose early battles they no doubt remember from childhood.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 11th, 2004 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good points, generally, although I would add sort of in response to Lizbee's point that barring deaths, etc., a little longer delay in getting married doesn't necessarily mean it won't be somebody you already knew. (I also wonder whether having so many siblings as the Weasley kids do perhaps reduces some of the non-physical elements of urgency.)

On the other hand, there is room for emotional volatility such as I believe came up with reference to James and Lily.

And then there's my own personal urge to thwap people who seem to think that having a high school relationship last is not only unusual but actually impossible, simply because I object to having my parents' existence denied. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
And then there's my own personal urge to thwap people who seem to think that having a high school relationship last is not only unusual but actually impossible, simply because I object to having my parents' existence denied. ;)

Yeah, funny thing, that. It also denies the existence of my deliriously happy cousin, my less happy but perfectly stable neighbor, and just quite a few people who actually do seem to exist...
rj_anderson From: rj_anderson Date: June 11th, 2004 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the whole, I find anecdotal arguments ("Well, this is/isn't what happens in my real life experience") to be unhelpful as a guide to what JKR is actually planning to do in canon, or (for the fanfic author who just wants to develop their own ideas rather than speculate about JKR's) what actually makes sense in the context of a well-written story.

All the points you've made are excellent, and I think it quite true that wizarding society differs significantly from our own; but even if that wasn't the case, saying that things "usually" happen in such and such a way doesn't tell us anything about what is going to happen in an individual situation. So much depends on circumstances, timing, and the personalities involved. And there isn't just an exception to every rule, there are often multiple exceptions.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, definitely, it depends on the individual. I'm more arguing with the idea that the various relationships don't need to be taken seriously because, after all, "people don't behave like that."
katinka31 From: katinka31 Date: June 11th, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
First, the sex issue, to stop dancing around it--it doesn't seem likely that the kind of common out-of-wedlock sex we have in the real world would go over well in wizarding society. The various urges are still there. When you feel that those urges can't be satisfied outside marriage, the pressure to marry becomes a bit stronger. (Also, given history, probably some after-the-fact marriages would occur.)

Yep, I agree. I come from a religious culture in which we're taught to save sex for marriage, and so we tend to marry at younger ages. Sex isn't the SOLE reason for that, obviously, but it's a factor. That's why the thought of wizards marrying early has never seemed out of place to me. :)
ladyelaine From: ladyelaine Date: June 11th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I did marry my high-school sweetheart. And so did two pairs of close friends. And as for never having been "in love," that's okay. Frankly, life (and marriage) is a lot easier after the butterflies have gone away.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: June 11th, 2004 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with what you said and would also like to add that if someone ( did go away from England for awhile (say a year or two) for training or whatever and came back, it's still likely that when they got back, they would marry someone that they knew from school because that is where they would feel comfortable... not neccisarily their boy/girlfriend but someone they knew and was familiar to them.

(Personal anticdote- I married at 23 to a boy I knew in high school after going to several years of college and living in Japan for a year... he'd gone to several years of college and lived in Mexico for two years. When we met again, we married quickly because we already had the familiarity from knowing eachother before.)

Riah-chan
mafdet From: mafdet Date: June 11th, 2004 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
You brought up two things that are key, I think: the fact that there is no "wizarding university" beyond Hogwarts, and the small population of the wizarding world.

There's no real need to postpone marrying if one goes to work right out of school. There are a few professions - Aurors and Healers - which seem to require a kind of apprenticeship or "Auror Academy," but three years of post-school training is nothing compared to college, then law school, then entry-level job which many professionals have to go through in RL.

Percy went right from Hogwarts to a cushy Ministry position; Charlie went right from school to a job working with dragons. Bill in his early twenties is already considered responsible enough to go to Egypt and work as a curse-breaker. Because young wizards and witches get "good" jobs right away, they probably feel more able to marry young and start a family because they are "settled."

There's also the fact that the wizarding world is small, and there is probably not the feeling that there are an infinite number of "eligbles," the grass is always greener, and why not play the field forever? Roger Davies might decide to do this, but I doubt very many other people do. Without the idea that there might be someone "better" if one keeps one's options open, young witches and wizards might feel more open to marrying younger than Muggles.

This is only a surmise - but it might well be that there is a surplus of men in the WW. With a shortage of young witches, wizards might be eager to marry and also be nicer to their girlfriends or wives, because there isn't an endless supply of eager, willing women. This would also cut down on the amount of casual sex.

Witches and wizards appear to mature sooner, maybe not sexually - there is not a lot of casual sex in the WW - but emotionally, and may feel "ready" for marriage to their Hogwarts honeys.

As for Tonks, Bill and Charlie not marrying - we don't know what Molly and Andromeda say to them on weekends. Molly might not want to nag Bill about settling down with Fleur in front of "outsiders" like Hermione, or Sirius - or she might realize it would bore Harry and Ron to tears to have to listen to her nag Bill. Andromeda might be on Tonks' case to get married and give her grandchildren but we don't know it because Harry isn't there to hear it. And we do know that Bill and Charlie took jobs in other countries, so any nagging Molly did had to be by owl or Floo. ;)

I wouldn't be surprised if Bill and Fleur got married in the next book, and Tonks married someone by the end of the series.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't be surprised if Bill and Fleur got married in the next book

Yeah, that wouldn't surprise me in the least--it would make a great opportunity for Ron to wear those dress robes and everyone to need dates again. Also, it would just be good opportunity to show us something in the wizarding world that we might not otherwise get a chance to see in the course of the series. (Young or not, I doubt they'll marry during school.)

:imagines Molly nagging by Floo:

:pities Fleur, who may well be being "groomed":
tiferet From: tiferet Date: June 11th, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
All of this is true.

However, Hermione did not grow up in the Wizarding World. She grew up in the Muggle world, had two parents who were professionals, and is the sort of intelligent, gifted, studious girl who is admonished from elementary school onward by parents, teachers, and counsellors alike not to fall in love or get into a serious relationship too early, not to get married and have children too early, and above all, to enter into a serious career where her talents will not go to waste, or to do serious research. She probably did not spend the first eleven years of her life dreaming about her wedding, and the husband and children she longed to have, but rather, becoming a doctor, a scientist, a lawyer, a dentist...what have you. And since these arguments are usually about Hermione, wizarding expectations really do not come into play--since most people's ideas about sex, love and romance are formed at a much earlier age than 11-17.

In the case of R/Hr (ugh, sorry), Ron may very well expect to get married right out of school and probably to have a wife who does what his mother did and a whole lot of children. This is highly unlikely to be Hermione's dream life, because even though she's become a witch she's probably still planning to be a mediwitch, or a researcher, and to devote long hours to her work. In fact, the very suggestion seems quite likely to send her screaming off into the distance or at the very least to be the beginning of a long and bitter series of fights.

If we're talking about H/Hr, we're not only talking about TWO modern Muggle 20th century childhoods but now we're adding in a seriously dysfunctional one where frankly, there's either going to be the desire for 'The Perfect Family' or the desire for no family at all.

In no way have I ever, when I've used this argument in the past, been using it against pureblood-pureblood relationships--in my own fic I've written several pairs who bonded early and often and never really strayed. I've mostly been using it against people who insist that Hermione is going to get married right out of school.

She just doesn't have the personality for that. Muggle/Realworld girls do get married early, but they usually are not much like Hermione.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even with the Muggle-borns, though, there's no move out of the wizarding world, which is small, and there's no new environment to go to. So even if they didn't marry young, they'd still be in the social structure of Hogwarts, and probably dating whomever they were dating.
lasultrix From: lasultrix Date: June 11th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Er, you make some interesting points, but... why on earth do you assume that ordinary Muggle out-of-wedlock sex doesn't happen in the wizarding world? Given GoF and OotP (I'm thinking in particular of the goings-on in the bushes at the Yule Ball and all the Cho stuff in OotP) they seem to be acting exactly like modern British teenagers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
They have to hide in classrooms to kiss--this is not a society where people put up with casual sex. Any society in which the phrase "scarlet woman" is used isn't a sexually free society, and what was going on in the bushes appeared to be some necking--and to be policed by faculty.
verstehen From: verstehen Date: June 11th, 2004 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Slogging in from daily_snitch, I have to say, aside from wizard/Muggle and American/British differences, I'm not certain why there'd be a push to marry young in the WW. These people live to be, at least, 150 years old (and we have examples of witches who are older than that). I gotta imagine the divorce rate (or at least the misery/adultery rate) would be pretty high in couples with that sort of life span.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not really--the high age of marriage is a pretty recent phenomenon in the Muggle world. It wasn't teenage before for the most part (despite urban legend), but it certainly wasn't 30ish. The idea was that people would "grow together" rather than "growing apart," and it still should hold in a society that hasn't quite gotten through the 60s. I mean, everything about the wizarding world strikes me as quite old fashioned... I don't see any evidence in the books of divorce or even the thought of it, so I don't think that's an issue.

As far as the life spans, marriage isn't dependent on life spans, but on the age when people come of age--the time when they take on their adult roles in the community.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: June 11th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking from direct experience, I'd say that somewhere around 1/3 of the weddings I've done are "right outta high school specials", or close to it (a year or so after they get out)... so even if you want to assume that it's not the predominant way things are done, it's still quite common, and in the WW, probably more so for the reasons you give. It's unrealistic to assume that *all* people marry right out of Hogwarts, and equally unrealistic to assume *none* do. There will be a mix. So, if someone suddenly has a run of marriages in a post-7 fic where everyone is hitched, they are overdoing. On the other hand, I'd be shocked if there weren't a few, and if Ron-Hermione were to be one of them... *shrug*.
biascut From: biascut Date: June 12th, 2004 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Speaking from direct experience, I'd say that somewhere around 1/3 of the weddings I've done are "right outta high school specials",

That's surely not in the UK, is it? It sounds incredibly high.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 11th, 2004 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: For real??!!

Some teachers might say, "Hey there, not in the halls." But mostly, it's totally ignored. And of course, we had two teachers who were married to other people who used to snog each other in the bleachers when they chaperoned school dances.

Okay, NONE of that would have flown in my school. I was class of '97 (one year older than the trio) in an American private day school; conservative, but not any more so than Hogwarts. Our plaid kilts (yes, I wore one for 13 years) were not allowed to fall any more than two inches above the knee, and some teachers would actually carry rulers around to measure with--something I can totally picture McGonagall doing! But none of that meant that students weren't having sex. You just had to be stealthy. Discretion was an art form. I bet Fred and George have. If they could tear themselves away from each other long enough. ;)

~Canopus
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2004 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: For real??!!

Yeah, for real. Of course, there was a pregnant girl in my seventh grade class, and I think only one year after that didn't feature at least one pregnancy within a couple of years of me. And that was in a school with an average class size of around 80.

As far as sex at Hogwarts goes, I just don't see any evidence of it. Even when there aren't teachers around--Harry never sees anyone trying to sneak around in the Common Room, and he's very surprised to see the tea shop in Hogsmeade. And since the castle is full of ghosts, portraits, and caretaker's cats who can spy on them. Anyone with an ounce of shyness would have to be a little jumpy!

I'm not saying that nothing ever goes on. It probably does. But it's probably also something that's a huge headache, and only people who were pretty committed to it would bother.
mariagoner From: mariagoner Date: June 12th, 2004 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
But the main point is simply the small and closed nature of the wizarding world. Almost none of the conditions that make it unlikely for us to marry our high school sweethearts exist there, so arguing that "it almost never happens in real life" doesn't really apply to the Potterverse. Even when people live in different parts of the country, floo makes it a lot easier to travel. There's no reason for the basic shapes of relationships to change, barring total betrayal, like Peter's. So it's very likely that the people who are friends at Hogwarts are likely to remain friends, people who are sweethearts at Hogwarts likely to remain sweethearts, and people who are enemies at Hogwarts to remain enemies. They don't leave one another behind.

All of that is perfectly reasonable and true-- but we must remember there's a much larger muggle world ringing around the wizarding world at its core.

If young wizards and witches really don't want to be limited to relationships with people they are already aquainted with, they could always turn to the muggle world for an endless supply of parters. (As long as they don't have a prejudice against having casual romantic encounters with (gasp!) non-wizards.) And I have a feeling that even racist wizards/witches might use muggles as shag partners if the more of the wizarding world conspired to limit the sexual availability of their magical peers.

Come to think of it... there could be many "muggle-borns" who are really "half-blooded" witches/wizards...
no_remorse From: no_remorse Date: June 13th, 2004 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
marionravenwood From: marionravenwood Date: June 12th, 2004 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't see any evidence in the books of divorce or even the thought of it, so I don't think that's an issue.

That's a very good point, and something I hadn't thought of before.

However, wizards seem to marry young (as you pointed out) or not at all. As far as we can tell, none of the teachers at Hogwarts are married. Does that strike anyone else as odd?

(Of course, maybe some of the teachers are married, and it just hasn't been mentioned because it's not important to the story. And just because someone is older and not married yet doesn't mean they never will, as Dumbledore/McGonegall shippers are only to happy to point out. But still.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 12th, 2004 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
However, wizards seem to marry young (as you pointed out) or not at all. As far as we can tell, none of the teachers at Hogwarts are married. Does that strike anyone else as odd?

Alas, no. The downside to a young expected marriage age is the notion of the "old maid"--the woman of thirty or so that people give up on because she's not married yet.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: June 13th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Homemaker!Ron

Do you really see this happening? Ron has shown a lot of signs of being very old-fashioned, a chauvinist of a guy, as a matter of fact, but a nice one. Do you really see him as the kind of guy who willingly sits at home and takes care of the babies while his over-achiever as a wife goes out and conquers the world? Chauvinism aside, part of Ron’s personae includes his insecurity, his envy… It would be hard to see him fitting into the role of Homemaker!Ron for the next century plus of his life.
mariagoner From: mariagoner Date: June 13th, 2004 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Homemaker!Ron

I don't see Ron as a happy little homemaker either. But I can't see Hermione as a mini-Molly-Weasley in the making either, though I can see her as a loving, supportive parents. But hey-- the rich always have the houselves to do the dirty work of parenting. And if Hermione ever gets over her inhibitions, she could always use them to do the dirty work for her.
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