Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Shipping in the Harry Potter fandom
One of the most frequently discussed subjects of the Harry Potter fandom are "ship debates", a controversy that has been going on in the Harry Potter fandom for as long as the ruling majority of its members can remember. ("Shipping" refers to the act of supporting a relationship between characters in a piece of fiction.) The main ship debate centers on whether Hermione should/could/will romantically belong with Harry or Ron (for more about the phenomenon of shipping, which is not exclusive to the Harry Potter fandom, see Shipping (fandom)).
J.K. Rowling herself has expressed enjoyment over the "shipper debates" on her website, while letting the shippers know that they should have had the matter figured out by now . She has also referred to the two opposing factions in the Hermione ship debate as "scary and vehement" , which is hardly an exaggeration: in some communities, even mentioning either faction (or mentioning the opposing faction in communities devoted to one faction or the other) is enough to cause a flame war. More recently Rowling seems to have become more aware of just how much controversy and speculation surrounds the romantic future of her characters, and has this to say on the "rumours" section of her website:
- I’ve also heard a whisper about Ron and Hermione’s son time-travelling, so I shall go further and tell you that NONE of the characters in the books has returned from the future. As for the idea of Ron and Hermione having a son…(chuckles as the distant roars of a million shippers reach my ears, all cursing me to an eternity of unsatisfied curiosity).
Ships in the Harry Potter fandom are characterised by either having already happened or having some obstacle(s) which supporters of the particular ship, obviously, believe to be either nonexistent or destined to be overcome by the factors in the story that drive the relationship forward. However, debating between two ships has been quite useless in winning converts, as both factions in each ship debate are quite set in their ways about shipping, to the point that emotions and allegiances to larger fandom personalities tend to dictate ship more often than logic. Most shippers will even admit to avoiding the debates, as they consider them childish, pointless, and generally wanky.
Notable "ships" include:
Harry/Hermione (a.k.a. "HMS Pumpkin Pie")
Being faced with obstacles such as J.K. Rowling, at one point, referring to Harry and Hermione as "very platonic friends" and the widely common viewing of Ron and Hermione as a manifestation of the "bickering lovers" cliché (in the vein of Han and Leia from Star Wars), the fanbase of this pairing prides itself on offering alternate (and usually more elaborate) interpretations to whatever it is that appears to generate these obstacles. These alternate interpretations, according to them, are supported in the series's subtext and are the result of a deeper reading of the text, while the more straightforward interpretations which imply evidence to the contrary are in fact a cleverly-constructed façade—a view which they generally defend by pointing to Rowling's tendency to mislead readers regarding the outcome of the story. The main point in favor of this option is Hermione being the most developed female, making her all but the default choice for Harry, and their close friendship which ties closely into that; supporters also cite many instances of possible symbolism and metonymy that would outline them as a couple.
Harry/Hermione supporters have dealt with the potential damage done to the trio's relationship with regards to Ron by having him get over what are generally regarded as obvious feelings for Hermione, usually pairing him with another character (previously Lavender, now Luna), as they generally feel that Ron and Hermione's personalities create too much conflict for a stable romantic relationship. Moreover, they cite that Harry and Hermione come from rather small "families" (if the Dursleys can be considered family), while Ron has an abnormally large family to fall back on when dealing with rejection; therefore, they say that Ron doesn't need love from Hermione like Harry does. Harry/Hermione shippers tend to think that a more harmonious friendship would be a better base for a romantic relationship, an idea borne out in one of the ship's alternate names, the HMS Harmony, which is a combination of their two names. This does not mean that dislike of Ron's character is necessarily the result of Harry/Hermione support. In fact, there are many Harry/Hermione shippers that adore Ron, though there are admittedly those who strongly dislike him. The Ron-bashing stereotype of H/Hr shippers is a half-truth that was perpetuated by the negative nature of Ron's characterisation or/and role in a few more well-known Harry/Hermione fanfictions.
The "history repeats itself" theory comes into strong play where H/Hr is concerned. Pumpkinites tend to emphasise the similarities between Lily Potter and Hermione Granger, both being exceptional students (which in Lily's case is a purely fanon creation of this ship, unconfirmed by the books), Muggle-borns, and prefects (and in the not-so-distant future, Hermione could be Head Girl). Then, of course, that would pair Harry and Hermione together as future manifestations of Lily and James. However, Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny ships also use this theory in their favour.
Further notable is their names—Harry James Potter and Hermione Jane Granger—the idea being that if they were married, both would have the initials HJP. JKR also stated that she first had Hermione's last name as Puckle, but changed it because it didn't suit her character. This keeps with the theme of HJP.
The nickname HMS Pumpkin Pie is derived from a fan fiction piece posted by a Harry/Hermione supporter, Narri, at FictionAlley Park in late November of 2001 which involved Harry and Hermione kissing after Harry had just eaten pumpkin pie with Hermione stating in the end that he tastes like pumpkin pie.
The Harry/Hermione equivalent to FictionAlley (a widely accepted R/Hr fanfiction library) is the archive Portkey.org, which is exclusively devoted to Harry/Hermione, Draco/Ginny, Ron/Luna, and James/Lily.
Key reading material to better understand their position includes Analysis of quotes by J. K. Rowling by Athena, The Triangle Theory - PoV Can Be Misleading by Innermurk and H/Hr, Love and Flying by Turambar. More of that can be found here. Possibly the most justified pro-Harry/Hermione essay is written by Penny Linsenmayer—Partners and Friends: The Evolving Relationship Between Harry and Hermione.
Ron/Hermione (a.k.a. "The Good Ship R/Hr")
Obstacles to this ship include the observations that Ron and Hermione bicker so often that stable relationships are not possible and the reasoning that putting Ron and Hermione together would bar Harry from the Trio, while JKR has time and again emphasised the importance of having close friends. Also, Ron's feelings for Hermione are pretty evident, but Hermione's feelings for him (or lack thereof) are not.
With the author having referred to "tension" and "something going on" between those two in the not-so-distant past and the numbers supporting this pairing among the general public far outweighing any other, though, it is not so much any obstacles directly provided by Rowling that balance out the evidence for this pairing and create conflict as the insistence of the Harry/Hermione crowd that said evidence is invalid altogether. Although there are ships which equally threaten Ron/Hermione (e.g. Ron/Luna and Hermione/Viktor), it is safe to say that by far the biggest reason the Ron/Hermione shippers are debating in favour of their ship is the alternative interpretations to both Harry Potter canon and several comments by Rowling suggested by the Harry/Hermione supporters, which tend to wildly diverge from their own. The Ron/Hermione supporters, of course, hold that these alternative interpretations are nothing more than unnecessary ad hoc hypotheses that have systematically been taking advantage of underdetermination in order to make the available evidence fit in with Harry/Hermione regardless of what the actual state of available evidence is.
The supporters of this pairing claim that Ron and Hermione are not only close friends like Harry and Hermione, but also fit the well-known convention of bickering lovers.
As for Harry, Ron/Hermione supporters tend to either leave him alone or pair him off with either Luna (less commonly) or Ginny (much more commonly), but, again, this does not mean that supporting Harry/Ginny or Harry/Luna is necessarily the result of supporting Ron/Hermione.
The motto of the Ron/Hermione ship was "isn't it obvious?" in the past, but it seems to have fallen into relative disuse in favor of the more recent "we believe in trees". This is derived from a response of one supporter of this pairing when asked as to the reason she believed in it, which compared the existence of the pairing in canon to the existence of trees as something obvious that doesn't really need any leap of faith to accept. Both mottoes have been the blunt of many an H/Hr joke, however.
"The Good Ship R/H" is the title used by The Sugar Quill, an online fanfiction library that exclusively supports Ron/Hermione shipping and Harry/Ginny shipping. The Ron/Hermione circle is also sometimes known as the HMS Heron, which is most likely a combination of Ron and Hermione's names.
Another online fanfiction library supporting Ron/Hermione shipping is "checkmated".
Key reading material to better understand their position includes The Keeper of Her Heart: The Case for Hermione's Feelings for Ron by Red Monster and Quotes Supporting a Ron/Hermione Romance from MuggleNet.
Harry/Ginny (a.k.a. "HMS Chocolate Orange")
Often met with accusations of being just the naive conclusion of hopeless romantics, this pairing also faces the obvious problems of Ginny Weasley having given up on ever dating Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry having expressed no particular desire to be with her at all.
This has driven supporters of this pairing to look for reasons why it could happen on other fronts, resulting in many theories suffering from the same ad-hoc symptoms characteristic of the Harry/Hermione theories they have been so quick to label as irrational, but also in several meaningful finds—mainly in the areas of literary pattern analysis, relatively simple foreshadowing, and Rowling's teasing comments when asked about Harry and Ginny.
The "fairytale appeal" this pairing had initially and the reasonable evidence pointing in its direction which factored in later, with Ginny being the second most developed female character around Harry's age next to Hermione, have resulted in it gradually gaining popularity to the point of currently being, according to polls, the most popular Harry pairing and second most popular pairing overall.  (Many fans of the pairing, it should be noted, have started doubting whether its emotional appeal is truly "fairytale" per se, given the developments in Order of The Phoenix, a notion that is visible in fanfiction as well.)
The name "Chocolate Orange" is a variation on the original name, "Orange Crush", which was a pun on Ginny's crush and hair colour creating the name of a well-known soft drink. With the crush having disappeared in Order of the Phoenix there was some debate as to whether this name still fitted, and while "Orange Crush" is still in use, the more apt eventually-reached conclusion of "Chocolate Orange" can now be commonly encountered as well. (Yet another variation acknowledged at the moment as a surrogative for Orange Crush is Emerald Flame. It is a teaser meant to match the intense color of Harry's eyes with the bright fire-like hair Ginny possesses.)
Key reading material to better understand their position includes A Rationalist's Guide to Chocolate Orange by Acemyth, Ginny Weasley, Why? by Cressida, and More than Meets the Eye by Celestine de Karamel.
The Ron/Hermione and the Harry/Ginny ships have also given rise to the "One Big Happy Weasley Family" theory, which is the belief in the end that with the marriages between Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny that all of the main characters will eventually be related to each through the Weasley family. Even supporters of the "OBHWF" (as it is commonly abbreviated), however, admit that this scenario would a require a very skillful execution to avoid being unrealistically saccharine. Moreover, many Harry/Ginny fans are beginning to break away from the all-encompassing categorisation of H/G as just a OBHWF ingredient; some go as far from the stereotype as to reject Ron/Hermione altogether (in favor of Ron/Luna, for example), while most OBHWF naysayers just reason that, even given Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny, the OBHWF aspect would only come into effect in the distant future and therefore would not be a prominent aspect of either of these ships, let alone the series as a whole.
Harry/Luna (a.k.a. "HMS Loony Lions")Obstacles to this pairing include the obvious oddity of pairing Luna Lovegood with Harry Potter, seeing as they have only known each other for one year, and the fact that Harry has time and again found Luna slightly mad. Also note that neither party has shown the slightest romantic interest toward the other party, subtle or no. The primary driving force behind Harry/Luna that supporters of this pairing cite is the conclusions drawn from their meeting at the end of the fifth book and various other ways by which they could possibly relate to each other. In the book, Order of the Phoenix, Harry notes that he feels like talking with Luna about Sirius Black's death, when he did not want to talk about it with anyone else, but this could be attributed to the fact that Luna was the only other person available who, like Harry, had also had someone very dear to them die violently in front of them. It should also be noted that other instances in Order of the Phoenix occurred that suggest a possible Harry/Luna matching (Luna observing Harry standing under mistletoe in the Room of Requirement well before Harry's crush, Cho Chang, observed the same thing is a small but noteworthy event, though Luna is the type of character who would notice these things, and also that she thinks they are infested with Nargles). There is a general consensus that the fifth book seems to set up a relationship of at least mildly mutual confidence between the two.
There is also some symbolism for this ship: Harry is the Sun (this is a generalisation based on the fact that events in the Potterverse seems to circle around him and has no concrete evidence, apart from Harry being a Leo), Luna is the Moon. Therefore, another popular name for the ship is HMS Moonlight. Key reading material to better understand their position includes Loonies and Lions: An Essay on Shipping Harry and Luna by Fiera, Harry/Luna: Not as Loony as You Think by Tonya, Eclipse and Full Moon by McBeth.
Ron/Luna (a.k.a. "HMS Red Moon")
Several times throughout the fifth book, Luna displays a (possibly romantic) interest in Ron, staring at him as though he is "a mildly interesting television program," calling him "Ronald," and stating that she would not have minded not dancing at the Yule Ball, which is interpreted by Red Mooners as a statement that she would like to have gone with him.
Supporters of this pairing generally believe that Luna, called by JKR the "anti-Hermione", is a good match for Ron as she is supportive—not critical, as Hermione is. However, Ron, as do most of the other characters, does not understand Luna's personality and considers her to be "loony." This obvious obstacle could only be overcome by Ron attaining a deeper understanding of Luna, which, many argue, Ron seems uninterested and unable to do. However, some also note that before Ron developed his possibly unreturned interest in Hermione, he also thought her to be slightly out of it.
R/L is a Portkey ship, meaning that fanfiction featuring this pairing can be found there.
Draco/Hermione (a.k.a. "Leather & Librarians")
This ship, supposedly started by Gypsy of the Harry Potter Realm, gained a decent bit of popularity before being shot down by J. K. Rowling in the World Book Day chat of March 4, 2004. Despite this, the ship remains popular in fan fiction. It seems to play on the love-hate factor, and is often seen as the "het" (heterosexual) version of the Harry/Draco ship.
A site devoted to Draco/Hermione fanfiction is the Draco/Hermione Fanfiction Archive.
Sirius/Remus (a.k.a. "HMS Wolfstar")
This particular relationship pairs Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, and due to Sirius' death is naturally focused on what has occurred in the past rather than the present or future. This is a slash, or homosexual, pairing, as opposed to a "het", or heterosexual one, and has a great fan following, including many authors of fan fiction (to the point of spurring the most discussion in the Fiction Alley forums of any Sirius ship, Remus ship, and adult ship). The name derives from the fact that Sirius is a dog Animagus (whose first name is the name of the Dog Star) and that Remus is a werewolf.
Most members of the HMS Wolfstar cite the pair's strong connection, ability to overcome obstacles together, long history as friends, and lack of any romantic partners as reasons why Remus and Sirius could have been a couple; some of them believe that J.K. Rowling may have intended Sirius and Remus to be read as such. Remus's partner-less status has been disputed, however. By the way he described Lily Potter to Harry in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, some fans have drawn the conclusion that Remus had a slight romantic interest in Lily before she ended up paired with James. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that Remus is not the sort of person to go after the wife, or even girlfriend or crush, of a friend, so any actual romance is unlikely.
Remus/Tonks (a.k.a. "S.S. Wotcher!Wolvie")
This ship is usually regarded as an "Order ship", or pairing people off within the Order. Why or how this ship manifested is unknown. Canon proof is sorely lacking, but canon disproof is equally as lacking. This ship seems to exist purely for the purpose of finding happiness for poor werewolf Remus.
Wotcher!Wolvie comes from Tonks's very British "wotcher" greeting and Remus's of course being a werewolf.
Harry/Draco (a.k.a. "S.S. Guns'n'Handcuffs")
Although this ship is highly unlikely to find support or fulfillment in canon, the S.S Guns'n'Handcuffs (or the G'n'H for short) has one of the largest followings in the fandom, and should not be overlooked when examining ships within the fandom at large. Those who sail this ship are drawn to the rivalry and intensity between Harry and Draco, regardless of gender. While there may be no obvious love or romance, the evidence for the obsession between the boys is obvious, to include everything from Harry's observation of Draco's hair "shining in the sun" on the Quidditch pitch, to Draco's dropping of his wine goblet upon Harry's entry during the Charms portion of OWL's. This obsession, and fanfic writers' need to create tension, drama, angst, and character development, have led to a fantastic variety of stories involving this unlikely couple. Fan fictions that include this ship are likely to include the "Fanon" Draco (prideful but fundamentally good, often unloved by his parents and devoid of close friends). The name for the ship was drawn from a combination of two "classic" novel-length fanfics' themes: Al's Snitch! and Rhysenn's Irresistible Poison.
A multitude of fandom sites have sprung up for this ship, to include Yahoo groups, fanfiction archives, discussion boards, and livejournal communities. Major sites include the Potter Slash Archive, Armchair Slash, and the Guns'n'Handcuffs spinoff site from the SCUSA forum at FictionAlley.org; although in truth, there are far too many to mention.
More links for reading material and references include Dorrie6's ship manifesto.
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