J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter Is Fine the Way It Is

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Deathly HallowsWarner Bros via Everett Collection

I bet J.K. Rowling wishes she had a Time Turner.

It seems that she would get a lot of use of the device that her characters used to hop through time in The Prisoner of Azkaban, because the author seems to have some lingering regrets about the choices that she made in her original novels. In a joint interview with Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson at Wonderland Magazine, Rowling admitted that she feels that Hermione should have been paired with Harry, and not Ron.”I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview. “For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

Now the debate of Ron and Hermione vs. Harry and Hermione has waged on the Internet forever (or since like 2000), but those discussions were always tempered by the satisfying story that Rowling’s writing laid out for the Hermione and Ron romance. But this newest revelation throws a wrench into those debates, and will probably anger many of the Harry Potter faithful, a fact with which Rowling is very well aware. “I know, I’m sorry,” she adds. “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

We understand why Rowling feels the need to comment on her regrets. Anyone who fancies him or herself an artist knows the never-ending cycle of loving and hating the things that we create all too well. But there’s something to be said about letting your art stand on its own. Even if while looking back, you see things that you wish were different, those things may be the very reasons that people fell in love with your creation in the first place. Rowling seems to have a problem with letting her story go. We first saw this when she announced that Dumbledore was gay soon after the release of the final Harry Potter book. We’re all for this conceit, but if she wanted to make that point, she should have let her writing do the work for her, and have the the trust in her readership to come to their own conclusions. And now we have the author once again working her way back into the original story and commenting how things should be different then how she originally wrote them, and that does a disservice to her work, and to her readers. And it’s not because we don’t like the changes that she wishes she made, but because it shows a lack of faith in her story.

If she keeps adding and suggesting changes to her original novels, then soon enough, Harry Potter resembles an unsightly patchwork quilt, full of amendments, second guesses, and reworked stitches that crowd the original fibers. Something that that has been corrected over and over again until it’s not the thing you loved anymore but some kind of Frankenstien-like mess. When reading the novels, there’s always going to be a cloud of “what should have happened” hanging over what the author actually wrote.

Furthermore, there was something marvelous about the gangly red-headed sidekick winning the heart of the hypercompetent girl, and if that was J.K. Rowling’s original design, then it was the right one. It feels like sacrilege to suggest it should be different. It’s the most developed relationship in all seven novels, and if Rowling is feeling that Harry got the short shrift in the relationship department, she probably could have developed his relationship with Ginny more, rather then suggesting that Ron and Hermione were wrong for each other.

Rowling needs to take a step back and let her art stand on it’s own. Harry Potter didn’t trap the world under it’s spell because it’s bad or incomplete. It’s not perfect, but then again nothing is. The blemishes are what gives something character, and while it might be maddening to revisit your work and constantly be reminded that what you see as faults, others see as gospel. The story, as read by millions across the globe, are now the definitive version of the characters, That sequence of events is what lives in the hearts of fans, and to say that this should have happened this way, or this should have happened that way sort of cheapens it. Worst of all, it’s tantamount to saying that the things fans love are missteps or mistakes that shouldn’t have happened that way in the first place.

But we do get it. Art, no matter how far reaching and ubiquitous, how far it pervades every molecule of the global popular culture consciousness, is still a very personal thing that first came to life in the mind of a woman living in a tiny flat in Edinburgh. She obviously has a strong connection to her work, but she also needs to let her art speak for itself. It’s more than good enough to stand on its own. Trust us, Rowling.