Spoilers: all the books
Notes: Thank you so very much to calliope14 for the advice, hand-holding, and support.
JKR: Well I think it is developing in the films as it does in the books, which is to say that they are, they’re much stronger together than apart. They're much more aware, in the second film, of their particular strengths. So they're more effective, the children are able to do more complex things, for example the Polyjuice Potion. And also Chris in the second film has kind of foreshadowed what I don’t do until the fourth book, which is that you get hints of certain feelings between the three of them, that belong to a sort of slightly more mature person.
-From the CoS DVD interview.
When I was first directed to the ship_manifesto community and saw what fandoms and pairings were being claimed, I did not have to think twice as to what pairing I would like to write an essay on. Harry/Ron/Hermione. My pairing is not a pairing, after all. It is a threesome, an OT3…but so much more than that, than any label. The relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione transcends every convention, every notion, ever palpable term ever applied to a normal, healthy relationship between two persons. They are so much more than friends, so much more than soul-mates. They are one another’s life forces. They are what keeps one another going, one another breathing, one another living. They are stronger together than apart. Together they are a perfectly-balanced triangle, each side leaning perfectly against one another, complementing one another, completing one another. Apart they are floundering and in need of someone or someones to keep them afloat and steady them.
Who are these flounderers?
The Hero. Harry James Potter. Harry longs to be Just Harry, but does he even know who that is? Will he be able to accept himself as just Harry, when all is said and done? This remains to be seen. A myriad of emotions and layers rolled into one, Harry is a complex individual and very hard to break down and describe in a way that will do him justice. He is both boy and man, ahead of his time in maturity and yet at the same time yonks behind others in terms of immaturity. This is not his fault, for he was not raised in a loving, caring environment. His Muggle relatives, the Dursleys, certainly did not encourage him to be open, provide him with a family atmosphere, nor did they allow him to express himself. He was shunned, relegated to life in a cupboard under the stairs for a good portion of his life. The Dursleys, with their mental abuse, effectively stunted Harry’s emotional growth. He does not know how to express himself, how to feel. He never had love in his life with the Dursleys. He never had a true family to call his own. He needs to be understood. He needs to be accepted for who he is.
The Sidekick. Ronald Bilius Weasley. Ron longs to be an individual, to be known and loved for himself, not just have a name and a place for being the 6th Weasley child. He is not the brain, the athlete, the curse-breaker, or the jokester like his other brothers nor is he the baby of the family like his sister Ginny. He is Ron, the sixth son…the one who really don’t know what his place in life is. He needs to be understood. He needs to be accepted for who he is.
The Girl. Hermione Jane Granger. Hermione longs for closeness, for friendship. She never indicates as much but if one reads between the lines this message is loud and clear. She is a brilliant young woman and witch. In addition to that, though, she is bossy, a know-it-all, and self-righteous- three things that certainly do not endear her to people. It is highly likely that Hermione had little to no friends as a girl and, judging from her interactions with Harry and Ron, the boys are the first close friends that she has made. Not an easy person to like, Hermione needs friends, people who can understand (or at least attempt to do so) and accept her for who she is.
Canon is absolutely ripe with examples of Trio-moments UST (depending on how you choose to read it, of course) between or involving the Trio. I think that one of the most telling, from Harry’s standpoint, is the following:
But there was no happiness in him.... The dementor's icy fingers were closing on his throat--the high-pitched laughter was growing louder and louder, and a voice spoke inside his head--"Bow to death, Harry.... It might even be painless.... I would not know.... I never died...."
He was never going to see Ron and Hermione again--
And their faces burst clearly into his mind as he fought for breath--
An enormous silver stag erupted from the tip of Harry's wand; its antlers caught the dementor in the place where the heart should have been; it was thrown backward, weightless as darkness, and as the stag charged, the dementor swooped away, batlike and defeated.
Here he thought not just of Ron and not just of Hermione but both of his friends together. This is a particularly important development, especially so when one remembers that in GoF Ron was the thing that Harry would miss the most. One must remember that in GoF Harry and Ron had something of a row over the Goblet of Fire and the Age Line and were on the outs for a time. Perhaps it was only then when they were not on speaking terms did Harry realize the potential depths of his feelings for Ron. Likewise, then, one may draw the same conclusion regarding Harry’s feelings for Ron and Hermione in OotP. In the opening chapter, Harry was very put out with them both because their owls over summer holiday never contained news that he was so desperately looking for – all they could give him were vague hints and he could not stand that they were together while he was stuck at Privet Drive. “He could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at the Burrow when he was stuck in Privet Drive. In fact, he was so angry at them that he had thrown both their birthday presents of Honeydukes chocolates away unopened… (OotP, Chapter One). Could it not be construed, then, that it took something like this to awaken a realisation of sorts within Harry? He had been so angry with them earlier that day but, when faced with death, they were what immediately sprung to his mind -- He would never see them again. The very thought of them both instantly put enough happiness in him that he was able to successfully cast the Patronus Charm after failing several times before.
There are so many scenes from the books that I could analyse – the battle with the troll in the girls’ toilet in SS/PS, Ron’s proclamation of “You’ll have to kill all three of us!” in PoA, the events leading up to the Yule Ball and the moments directly after it, Harry and Ron making up after the First Task (much to Hermione’s approval), Hermione’s assessment of Ron’s emotional range, the kiss on Ron’s cheek in OotP and Harry’s in GoF…
I could analyse these scenes but I won’t get into that here as my essay would be way too long to post. Even if you are unwilling or unable to see a potential romantic spark between the three in any of the scenes I have mentioned above, you cannot deny that each of these scenes showcase an innate closeness shared between the three friends. They give and take from one another in a delicate, well-choreographed dance – occasionally one or more stumbles but it does not take them but a measure to get back into the same beat together.
Interpretation of the Pairings within the Trio & Why I Ship the Menage a Trio
And now we ask: Why these three together? Why can they not pair off?
Pairing them off leaves one on the outside looking in. One the outside it’s cold and one is more susceptible to becoming prey to the green-eyed monster. Jealousy and resentment may set in if two of the Trio were to pair off and leave the third behind. This would be an inevitable reaction for anyone in that particular scenario – two friends in a set of three pair off, leaving the last to feel like an intruder. It leaves the someone left out to search for his or her own sense of place in the world, a place without the type of intimate friendship he or she had with the other two prior to the new relationship. Additionally, the pairing off of two destroys the familial sense between the three. All this aside, the actual pairing possibilities within the Trio simply will not last – they may be able to survive as a couple for a lengthy period of time but, ultimately, things will come to an end.
Calliope presents a quick and dirty (but very astute and to-the-point) summary of why the Trio likely would not last if they paired off:
Plus, they've got this bond that they can have with no one else: to quote lore in a little ficlet she wrote: "Facing that much adventure and blood makes a core inside of you that cannot be touched by those who were not there. "
All three of them are damaged/flawed in some way that makes a threesome between them kind of... not therapeutic, exactly, but different than for any other random three characters in the HP-verse. Harry, for obvious reasons; his neglectful/abusive childhood, his lack of love and attention, and so on. Having two people to love him in this way helps to make up for that.
But it's true for Ron and Hermione also. For all that Ron has a wonderful, loving family, it's almost like his family is too big and he's been pushed aside in favor of Bill the Head Boy, Charlie the awesome Seeker (and both of them have the Coolest Jobs Ever), Fred and George the popular and lovable fools, Percy the genius, and Ginny the Only Girl and the Baby of the Family (and apparently the social butterfly :D). Ron's talents are less obvious and they go unnoticed; he's a good and loyal (yes loyal - he got over GoF) friend who would die for Harry and Hermione if need be, and the three of them together recognizes that.
Hermione, IMO, for all her bossing and organizing and campaigning is actually very insecure deep down inside. She's the youngest in her year, a Muggleborn, incredibly smart (which can really separate a girl from others), with bushy hair and big teeth, and she's not exactly Miss Tact sometimes….they're(Ron and Harry) both funny, reasonably intelligent, and they keep her grounded.
I agree with this whole-heartedly. I love all combinations of the Trio but I do not think they are strong enough to survive on their own without that third being there on the same plane, the same level as them. Harry/Hermione has the potential to be too dark and angst-ridden; Ron/Hermione often is one big squabble-fest followed by a passionate make-up and then rinse, lather, repeat; and Harry/Ron together would stall out at some point due to both their jealous/possessive natures. Harry/Ron/Hermione have a bond that many do not understand nor will ever be able to.
But this is all right. This is all right because it only matters to one another that they understand each other.
And they do.
Why do I ship the Menage a Trio? I ship them because it makes sense. They, like Calliope said, complete one another in a way that pairings between them do not. I love each of them individually so very much that the thought of one of them left to the wayside nearly breaks my heart. Harry needs so very much to be loved and to have a family and he has found that in Ron and Hermione. They accept him for being Harry; they don’t like him simply because he is The Boy Who Lived. They provide him with the stability and love that he has never known. Ron needs so very much to find his own identity and to have someone recognize him as an individual. Harry and Hermione provide that recognition for him. They care about Ron for who he is –- faults and all. They accept him as he is –loud, awkward, loyal, all of him. Hermione needs friends, people who take her at face value and do not balk at her obvious social ineptitude. Harry and Ron are these friends. They keep her grounded and show her that it is all right to not be so serious all the time. They enable her to actually enjoy life rather than let it pass her by.
I have been involved in the HP fandom for three years. I did not become a MaT shipper until nearly 18 months ago when I first stumbled upon Calliope’s Veritaserum (which, to my knowledge, is the first Trio ship fic). I read the fic and it struck a chord with me. Until then, I hadn’t been able to decide whether I preferred Ron/Hermione to Harry/Hermione (I hadn’t even contemplated the notion of Harry/Ron.). I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to choose between them and Calliope’s piece showed me that I didn’t have to choose – they could all be together. This fic opened my eyes to the pairing of Harry/Ron but really set me down the Menage a Trio path. I became absolutely fascinated with the combination and sought out as much Trio fic as I could get my hands on. Sadly, there are only two novel-length Trio fics in existence (if I missed one, it must be very well hidden!) and both are WIPs – one by Calliope and one by LizardLaugh. Prior to the release of Cuaron’s PoA film, Trio fic in general was few and far between. The only people really writing it were Calliope (really the pioneer of Trio Fic) and one or two others. A ship was finally formed at SCUSA on FictionAlley Park and in May 2003 the Triumvirate RPG was founded. After the release of the PoA film in June 2004, Trio fic became much more popular – there was a very noticeable increase of it around the fandom. However, Trio fic is still in the minority around the fandom.
This is an important ship to watch, principally because JKR herself stated that they are ‘much stronger together than apart.’ We can only assume that she will show us how much stronger they are working as one in the books to come.
There is a lot to be said about the Menage a Trio, but I think it’s best to end on JKR’s statement before I get too long-winded, as I am known to do. Thus, I leave you with a Beginner’s Fandom Guide to Menage a Trio:
Novel Length Fics
-Full Circle, a WIP by calliope14. R. It is the sequel to her completed novel-length fic The Last Time. (Ron/Hermione, Harry/Hermione. PG-13)
-Stronger Together, a WIP by lizardlaugh. The LJ journal for this fic is at than_apart.
-Veritaserum. Hard R
-The Night Watchers. NC-17
-Someone Needs a Holiday. NC-17
-Be Careful What You Look For. NC-17
-Safe House. PG
-A Dare's a Dare, Right? R
-One Big Happy Weasley Family. G
-Tag Team. R
-Homecoming Surprise. NC-17
-The Trick of Love. NC-17
-Bed and Board. NC-17
-Paternity. G. Sequel to Bed and Board.
By Victoria P:
-Beneath These Dirty Sheets. NC-17
-Personal Trainer. NC-17
-Rounding Complete Grace. NC-17
-Polyrhythm by arakne. NC-17
-The Very Best Tree by nightfalltwen. NC-17
-Silver Lining by Satella. NC-17
-All That is Now by certifieddork. PG
-That She Hath Thee by sanj. R
-Too Hot to Sleep by starbuckle. NC-17
-Beauty in the Breakdown by angel423. R
-A Bad Taste by tarie. R
-Three Sides by violet_quill. NC-17
-Gestalt by AlexandraLynch. NC-17
-Spring Fever by shocolate. NC-17
-Untitled by fiendling. NC-17
-Two Trio Pics by fiendling. Note: Second one is R for underwear.
-Trio in the Forest by lunulet.
-First Time by lunulet. PG-13
-Love Under Fairy Lights by teawithvoldy. R
-Trio by __hibiscus. G
-HMS Menage a Trio discussion on FAP.
-Menage a Trio YGroup
-calliope14's list can be found HERE.
-triofqf - The Trio Fuh-Q-Fest.
-pottersandwich, a community for those who enjoy reading, writing, making photomanips/art, and discussing the Trio.
-trio100, weekly drabble community challenge.
-hptrio, a community for discussion, art, and fic focusing on the friendship between the Trio.
-semper_arcanum - Not currently Menage a Trio but will be in the future.
-triumvirate - Established Trio relationship.
-The Trio - no_remorse
-The Trio - A Recipe for Disaster - no_remorse
-Love Triangle of Doom - no_remorse
-The Implication of Different Trio Ships - kimby77