How adorable were Harry, Ron and Hermione in Philosopher’s Stone, going off to fight evil when they were only 11?
And how bizarre was it to see that Harry and Ron thought Hermione was completely insufferable? Remember – before bonding over their defeat of a 12-foot mountain troll they complained about her. All. The. Time.
From their very first meeting, Ron decided that Hermione was his second-least favourite person on the Hogwarts Express (after Draco Malfoy, of course).
Sure, from the moment Hermione came into Ron and Harry’s compartment, she was very forthright. She even put Ron on the spot, asking if he could perform some magic, which Ron tragically failed to pull off. In the same breath, she revealed that she’d learnt the set books off by heart and done some light background reading in the form of Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century – terrifying Harry.
This, to be fair, would be enough to make almost anyone feel inadequate. When Hermione left the compartment, it’s weird to think that Ron said: ‘Whatever house I’m in, I hope she’s not in it.’
The relationship between the trio didn’t improve once lessons started. At school, Hermione was a teacher’s pet. Harry and Ron, who weren’t yet beneficiaries of their soon-to-be friend’s smarts, disliked her attention to detail. Or rather, attention to the details of school rules.
‘I couldn’t help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying –‘
‘Bet you could,’ Ron muttered.
‘– and you mustn’t go wandering around the school at night, think of the points you’ll lose Gryffindor if you’re caught, and you’re bound to be. It’s really very selfish of you.’
‘And it’s really none of your business,’ said Harry.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
This interaction is particularly strange because it reminds us that even Harry used to be quite snarky towards Hermione.
As a reader, it’s hard to forget that Ron and Hermione bickered like an old married couple (exhibit A through to Z: every scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), but Harry and Hermione’s friendship mellowed so much over the course of the series that it is baffling to see him saying something to her like, ‘it’s really none of your business’. Scandal!
Later, when Hermione tried to stop Harry and Ron from sneaking out of the Gryffindor common room at night, Harry noted to himself that he ‘couldn’t believe anyone could be so interfering’.
Of course, the personality traits that Harry and Ron found so infuriating in Hermione – her brand of unapologetic intelligence and ability to stick her nose into other people’s business – were exactly what made her such a good friend to have around as the years progressed.
Where would Harry and Ron be without Hermione’s keen interest in what other people were doing (like when she noticed Snape muttering what she believed to be a curse, when Harry was nearly thrown from his broom in first year), or her investigative abilities (they would never have found out who Nicolas Flamel was on their own)?
Besides, there’s also the irony of Harry – he who regularly listened in on other people’s conversations, and sneaked into dungeons/classrooms/locked offices – calling anyone ‘interfering’.
Later in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (after Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville had come face-to-face with Fluffy’s three very hungry mouths), Hermione was ‘refusing to speak to Harry and Ron, but she was such a bossy know-it-all that they saw this as an added bonus’.
While Ron never quite grew out of calling Hermione a know-it-all, it’s nice to see that it seemed to become more of an affectionate jibe. And by the time our heroes reached their third year in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron jumped to Hermione’s defence when Snape called her a know-it-all.
It’s a classic case of I can say that about my friends, but you can’t.
It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, ‘You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don't want to be told?’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The antagonism between Ron, Hermione and Harry in the first year reached a tipping point after that Charms lesson. (We will never forget the pronunciation of Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa.)
Ron – in a typically 11-year-old-ish, thoughtless fashion – said: ‘It's no wonder no one can stand her … she's a nightmare, honestly.’ But Hermione overheard him, and left in tears.
Thankfully, all seemed to be forgiven after Harry and Ron rescued Hermione from a scary troll – admittedly after locking her inside a toilet with said creature in the first place.
Of course, even once the Golden Trio became the Golden Trio it wasn’t always smooth sailing – but in every instance Hermione was usually a) right, or b) simply trying to protect her friends. There was Harry fighting with Hermione in Prisoner of Azkaban, after she reported his new Firebolt to Professor McGonagall; Harry and Ron not speaking to Hermione, after Crookshanks ‘ate’ Scabbers; and Ron and Hermione sniping, well, always. (Ah, young love.)
But despite their fights, their bickering and the fact that being best friends with Harry Potter could be a little (a lot) dangerous sometimes, all three of them stuck it out. Because ‘there are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a 12-foot mountain troll is one of them’.