Spoilers: through Order of the Phoenix
Email: hpfemme @ gmail.com
Personal Website: http://potionsmaster.slashcity.net
Notes: The following abbreviations are used to refer to the various books. (U.S. editions)
PS/SS: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone
PoA: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
GoF: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
OotP: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In my life I'll love you more.
--In My Life, The Beatles
The characters: "Ron and Harry are best friends...they practically live out of each other's pockets." (calliope14)
Harry Potter is complex young man. Raised by abusive Muggles who lied to him about the circumstances of his parents' death, he was thrust into a world of magic at the age of eleven, wide-eyed and scared. As the years have progressed, Harry has discovered more about his hidden past, culminating with the revelation at the end of his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that he must face down the Dark Lord himself-an encounter which will leave at least one of them dead.
Harry is a bit of an unlikely hero, with his unruly hair and his unprepossessing disposition. He is not a brilliant wizard, although his skill as a Seeker is nearly unparalleled. While quite often generous, sympathetic and kind, he also has a number of moments when he expresses sentiments that are angry, bitter, and all too often sullen. He has lost every parental figure in his life, from his mother and father to his godfather. He has been manipulated and used to further the greater good of the wizarding world at large. And this annoys him. Just a tad.
In other words, he's quite human. A teenager with a great deal of responsibility thrust upon him and no idea how to accomplish what is expected of him.
Ron Weasley is Harry's best mate, his closest friend and a pureblood wizard. The next-to-youngest child in a family of seven children, Ron has spent his entire life living up to his sibling's accomplishments and the expectations of others-including those of his parents. He is frequently embarrassed and dismayed by his family's lack of wealth and frustrated by his seeming inability to shake his elder brothers' reputations (both good and bad.)
Ron has a quick temper and a jealous nature, but he also has a warm and generous heart and is willing to overlook the foibles of those for whom he cares. An adequate student, he is much more interested in discussing Quidditch and pranks with Harry than accompanying their other best friend, Hermione Granger, to the library.
Ron is a bloke's bloke, friendly and giving and loyal to a fault, save for the occasional moment when his jealousy gets the better hand.
The relationship: "It's about that bond where you're such good friends with someone it's almost as if you're a part of one another." (fivil)
One of the most delightful aspects of the Harry/Ron pairing is the fact that, when considering the various Harry Potter slash ships (with the possible exception of Remus/Sirius), this is the most natural and organic of the relationships available for fanfic writers to toy with.
The Harry/Ron pairing is, without doubt, a friendship first, one that over time blossoms into attraction, then the slow, subtle realization that a love exists between the two. In the great majority of Harry/Ron fiction, the relationship between the two takes time to unfold, not with the angst and entanglements of such popular pairings as Harry/Snape or Harry/Draco, but with a quiet whisper, a soft unfurling of complex emotions of which the characters are almost unaware.
Emotions which are really rather canonical in nature.
From the first moment Harry and Ron meet on the train to Hogwarts in their first year, we as readers recognize their immediate connection, particularly in contrast with Harry's earlier meeting with Draco Malfoy while being fitted for his school robes. In Madame Malkin's shop, Harry has his first encounter with a pureblood wizard of his own age, one which rankles him and leaves him questioning his own place in this new world.
However, upon meeting Ron, he finds himself immediately comfortable with the youngest Weasley boy, most notably shown as they sit in their compartment, eating candy. "'Go on, have a pasty,’ said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry's pasties, cakes, and candies... " (PP/SS). As calliope14 notes, this moment on the train "really sets the tone for their relationship. They share a lot with each other..."
Neither one prior to this meeting has had much of his own to share with others. Harry has always been a loner, a boy tormented by his family, lost and adrift with no real emotional tethers. Ron, though he is part of a large, loving clan, has always suffered from Younger Child Syndrome, feeling pushed aside and put upon. Never having anything that is only his, to give or to take.
"I heard you went to live with Muggles," said Ron. "What are they like?"
"Horrible -well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though. Wish I'd had three wizard brothers."
"Five," said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. "I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left -- Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat...." (PS/SS)
Now, suddenly, the possibility exists for both that they might have something--someone--all their own. A friend, one chosen by each boy not because of what he might obtain from the other or as a hand-me-down from a family member, but rather because they truly like each other for whom they are.
In the same train trip, Draco Malfoy confronts Harry again, and this time Harry makes a clear choice in whom he will stand beside, thus underscoring the connection beginning to build between Harry and Ron.
"Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle," said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.
"Think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford."
He turned back to Harry. "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."
He held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it.
"I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," he said
shadowpryde points out that, "in a world [Harry] barely knows, when he's spent almost his whole life learning to be cautious of angering others and bringing extra punishments down on himself-he still refuses Draco's hand of friendship in favor of Ron's freshly minted acquaintanceship." Because of this initial choice, Ron and Harry's friendship is an integral part of both characters' development in canon. And as a result, in Harry/Ron fiction, it is impossible not to address the friendship as it twines its way through the relationship.
Friends first is the mantra of Harry/Ron shippers. Friends first, which begs the question of how such a close friendship can fare when it runs headfirst into the tumult and uncertainty of a romantic relationship. And it is this element that brings a touch of angst and apprehension to the pairing.
While Harry/Ron fiction writers may not have the instant drama that other more antagonistic pairings provide, there is the definite question of how the two boys can weather the possible trauma to a friendship that is so important to both. Are desire and want enough to push one or both into revealing their feelings? Could the friendship be destroyed? Would one reject the other? Is it worth the possible loss of someone whose friendship has supported you through difficult times? "I think Ron/Harry has that sort of aspect more than a lot of the other pairings," everythingisaid says, "because they are such good friends. Because there is a risk if the other person doesn't feel that same way, or you have that one friend always pining or the other."
The emotional support that exists between the two boys is another important aspect of the relationship for Harry/Ron aficionados. Ron's simple acceptance of Harry for who and what he truly is provides a level of normalcy that Harry is unable to receive on other fronts. His home life with his Muggle relatives is abusive and wrought with anger, tension and hatred on all sides. His interaction with the great majority of the wizarding world is based on a mythology that has built up around him, on a prophecy which has dictated the course of his life up until this point. He keeps many people at arm's length, wary and not caring to make himself any more vulnerable before them than he already is. In Ron he has one person willing to accept him as Harry, rather than Lily's son or James' boy or the Saviour of the Wizarding World. Ron allows Harry the freedom to be "just Harry." As calliope14 points out, Ron "knows when Harry wants to talk and when he just wants to be left alone. And he can put up with Harry's outbursts and petulance a lot better than other people can."
schocolate's eight-year-old daughter agrees. "Harry is NOTHING without Ron."
During the times when Ron's support is noticeably absent (the extended rift between the two in Goblet of Fire, for instance), it is obvious just how much Harry relies upon Ron. His friendship with Hermione, though cherished, does not meet Harry's emotional needs in the same manner.
Hermione was furious with the pair of them; she went from one to the other, trying to force them to talk to each other, but Harry was adamant: He would talk to Ron again only if Ron admitted that Harry hadn't put his name in the Goblet of Fire and apologized for calling him a liar.
"I didn't start this," Harry said stubbornly. "It's his problem."
"You miss him!" Hermione said impatiently. "And I know he misses you-"
"Miss him?" said Harry. "I don't miss him. . ."
But this was a downright lie. Harry liked Hermione very much, but she just wasn't the same as Ron. There was much less laughter and a lot more hanging around in the library when Hermione was your best friend. (GoF)
And when the rift between Harry and Ron is finally healed, it's done in the simplest manner by two individuals who obviously understand each other's personalities quite clearly.
Harry didn't want to sit still: He was too full of adrenaline. He got to his feet, wanting to see what was going on outside, but before he'd reached the mouth of the tent, two people had come darting inside - Hermione, followed closely by Ron.
"Harry, you were brilliant!" Hermione said squeakily. There were fingernail marks on her face where she had been clutching it in fear. "You were amazing! You really were!"
But Harry was looking at Ron, who was very white and staring at Harry as though he were a ghost.
"Harry," he said, very seriously, "whoever put your name in that goblet - I - I reckon they're trying to do you in!"
It was as though the last few weeks had never happened - as though Harry were meeting Ron for the first time, right after he'd been made champion.
"Caught on, have you?" said Harry coldly. "Took you long enough."
Hermione stood nervously between them, looking from one to the other. Ron opened his mouth uncertainly. Harry knew Ron was about to apologize and suddenly he found he didn't need to hear it.
"It's okay," he said, before Ron could get the words out. "Forget it."
"No," said Ron, "I shouldn't've -"
"Forget it, "Harry said.
Ron grinned nervously at him, and Harry grinned back. (GoF)
However, it's not only Harry whose emotional needs are met by the relationship between the two. To begin with, as several shippers pointed out, prior to Harry walking into his life, Ron truly had no one who was just his. No one whom he discovered first, whom he brought into his family fold. In many ways Harry belongs to Ron. He is Ron's friend, he is Ron's support. And for Harry/Ron shippers, Ron's love.
And Harry likes Ron for himself. Not because of his family or his position or what he might give Harry or any reason other than the fact that in Harry's eyes Ron is worth caring for. Ron is foremost in Harry's heart, even to the point of being the one thing in the world Harry would miss most.
Ron. Not his godfather, not his Firebolt, not Hermione, or Ginny, or any of his other friends.
But his Wheezy.
"Harry Potter will do the task!" squeaked the elf. "Dobby knew Harry had not found the right book, so Dobby did it for him!"
"What?" said Harry. "But you don't know what the second task is -"
"Dobby knows, sir! Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his Wheezy -"
"Find my what?"
"- and take his Wheezy back from the merpeople!"
"What's a Wheezy?"
"Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy-Wheezy who is giving Dobby his sweater!" Dobby plucked at the shrunken maroon sweater he was now wearing over his shorts.
"What?" Harry gasped. "They've got. . . they've got Ron?"
"The thing Harry Potter will miss most, sir!" squeaked Dobby. (GoF)
According to thetreacletart, this scene is pivotal for her acceptance of Harry/Ron as a ship. "I got goosebumps," she says. "He cared for Ron the way other cared for girlfriends and family. That said a lot to me."
There is loyalty, respect, humor, and yes, even love as a canon basis for the development of a relationship between the two. The connection that was first forged between them on the train has grown stronger throughout the years, weathering angry arguments, misunderstandings, jealousies, and even the prospect of a war.
In such an uncertain time for the wizarding world, Harry and Ron can find within each other a certain modicum of comfort and understanding. For Harry in particular, there is a stability in knowing the person standing beside him will be there through thick and thin, as Ron has proved time and time again.
"It was more than two people who liked each other enough to hang out once in a while," thetreacletart muses. "It was Ron sacrificing his life so that Harry could go after the Philosopher's Stone. It was Ron yelling 'If you kill him, you'll have to kill us all' when he thought Harry's life was in danger. It was Harry feeling incomplete without Ron in GoF. Harry's world was thrown off kilter without Ron, and both he and Ron felt it....They don't know the ways of the world, but they know each other, and are both willing to die for that as they have proved repeatedly."
The taunt about his father rang in Harry's ears as though Black had bellowed it. A boiling hate erupted in Harry's chest, leaving no place for fear. For the first time in his life, he wanted his wand back in his hand, not to defend himself, but to attack... to kill. Without knowing what he was doing, he started forward, but there was a sudden movement on either side of him and two pairs of hands grabbed him and held him back.... "No, Harry!" Hermione gasped in a petrified whisper; Ron, however, spoke to Black.
"If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too!" he said fiercely, though the effort of standing upright was draining him of still more color, and he swayed slightly as he spoke. (PoA)
'You know what?' said Seamus heatedly, casting Harry a venomous look. 'He's right, I don't want to share a dormitory with him any more, he's mad.'
'That's out of order, Seamus,' said Ron, whose ears were starting to glow red - always a danger sign.
'Out of order, am I?' shouted Seamus, who in contrast with Ron was going pale. 'You believe all the rubbish he's come out with about You-Know-Who, do you, you reckon he's telling the truth?'
'Yeah, I do!' said Ron angrily.
'Then you're mad, too,' said Seamus in disgust.
'Yeah? Well, unfortunately for you, pal, I'm also a prefect!' said Ron, jabbing himself in the chest with a finger. 'So unless you want detention, watch your mouth!'
Seamus looked for a few seconds as though detention would be a reasonable price to pay to say what was going through his mind; but with a noise of contempt he turned on his heel, vaulted into bed and pulled the hangings shut with such violence that they were ripped from the bed and fell in a dusty pile to the floor. Ron glared at Seamus, then looked at Dean and Neville.
'Anyone else's parents got a problem with Harry?' he said aggressively. (OotP)
In the minds of many Harry/Ron shippers, the duo's relationship goes far beyond the concept of mere sexuality to incorporate the affection and emotional bond the two boys obviously share in canon. This is a strong friendship, one that has withstood external and internal pressures to the point where in OotP Ron follows Harry into the Department of Mysteries with only the barest hesitation. This is a friendship that is already based upon the concepts of philia (love between friends) and agape (unconditional, self-sacrificial love) and storge (familial love). Is it so difficult to think it possible that it could slip into eros?
The question of the boy's intrinsic sexuality is on occasion debated in this regard, particularly due to canonical references that indicate an attraction between Ron and Hermione as well as Harry and Cho Chang. Are there indications that they are in fact gay or bisexual? Or are they straight, with merely a close friendship? One might argue either side of the fence. However, many shippers shrug off such complaints. Gay, straight, bisexual, it doesn't seem to matter. Their sexuality is a secondary issue, as schocolate points out: "They're not gay, they just love each other more than anything in the world. And they both happen to be male."
A Beginner's Guide to Harry/Ron: "One can write fluff without it seeming uncharacteristic, and angst works equally well. There's no situation we can put these characters into that just flat out could never work." (cyanei)
(Note: The following recs are from a cross-sample of the Harry/Ron corner of the fandom, not personal recs. There are some that I have yet to read myself....)
Chocolate Frog (lizardspots)
Harry and Ron kissing and color version (coldbeverage)
Less Than Three (godonthewater)
Absolutely Not (calliope14) "There's nothing better after Quidditch practice than a good soak in the Prefects' Bathroom tub. Well, nothing except for one thing..."
A Lacking in Foresight (keeleywolfe)
A Trifle (kassrachel) "Harry, Ron, and pudding."
At Fauntleroy and Diagon Alley (icarusancalion) In which a naive Harry is taught what 'Gay-dar' is in a seedy part of Diagon Alley, "I'm drawing too much attention." A more worldly Ron Is Very Amused.
Circle of Power (Mad Martha)
Close Enough (helenish) A rather twisted view of a Harry/Ron relationship post-Hogwarts/post-Voldemort.
Frost (lardencelover) "Sometimes the silences curled just like frost; complicated, freezing patterns of quiet that Ron needed more than a mere finger to melt."
Get There Faster (Jintian) "Post-OotP traumatized Harry spends the summer at the Burrow taking increasingly desperate steps towards preparing for his battle with Voldemort."
Guy Talk (icarusancalion) "The Gryffindor dorm is abuzz with laughter and gossip after curfew as the boys cover for their friends' hot date. The talk turns to sex, and Harry gives away a little too much information."
Hagrid's Hut (icarusancalion) "Harry, Ron and the book of Eros."
Home (resonant8) comfort
It Was All Right (icarusancalion) That strange blurry line between friends and something more
Learning (glockgal) "Harry is not very worldly."
Memoria Brevis (thywillbedone)"It had broken him, the months of watching Harry slowly rebuild his broken life."
Misunderstandings and Missing Owls (Eggbert) "Ron's worried about Harry. He decides to find out what's going on leading to a showdown at the Dursley's and finding out what Harry's *really* been up to since they left Hogwarts."
Oh, What The Hell (icarusancalion) Poor Neville knows more than he'd like.
One Thing Left to Give (moshi)
Predictable by (hackthis)
Primer to the Dark Arts (icarusancalion) "Harry learns he is to be given private (and secret) tutoring in the Dark Arts to protect himself next time he meets Voldemort. His teacher? Professor Snape." (Starts Harry/Ron; ends Harry/Snape.)
Prince Pleasant (Pale Rider) "Ron's not exactly a fairy-tale prince. Then again, Harry's life isn't exactly a fairy tale. So maybe it's okay that Ron is no Prince Charming."
Sacrifices (simons_flower) "Twenty years later, Harry remembers Ron."
Since Always (wildebeth) "Ron's dreams for a "normal" life are dashed when Hermione forces him to face that they’re not happy together. He instinctively turns to Harry, who pushes him into admitting why."
The Hang Of It and Hanging (resonant8) "Harry and Ron figure it all out."
The Second Best Christmas (nattish) "Harry doesn't think he'll ever have as good a Christmas as the one he spent with Sirius. Ron tries to give him one, anyway."
We Are Each Other (musesfool)
Water (shocolate) An answer to venivincere's HP Hydrosmut Challenge
calliope14's Harry/Ron rec list
lardencelover's Harry/Ron rec list
hp_dungeons (Harry/Ron is one of several slash pairings featured.)
Many thanks to the following, all of whom provided help with this essay: calliope14, thetreacletart, lilybloom, everythingisaid, schocolate, mizbean, cyanei, significantowl,shadowpryde, fivil, goseaward.