The Yule Ball was supposed to be an evening of fun, dancing and even romance. For many it was, but for Ron and Hermione the night was more about anger, jealousy and arguing. Yet, without all that unpleasantness, they might not have ended up together. It was arguably the event that showed that they potentially were more than just friends.
Firstly, while Ron’s behaviour was in no way acceptable – Hermione had every right to attend the ball with Viktor Krum – seeing Hermione go with someone else did wake him up to the fact that she wasn’t just his pal, but someone who he might have different kinds of feelings for (even if he couldn’t recognise it yet). He had always relied on Hermione just being there and didn’t see her as ‘a girl’. In fact, it seemed that particular detail took him by surprise when he asked her to the dance as a last resort – what a charmer.
We also think it was important that Viktor Krum was the one to ask Hermione to be his date. Not only was he someone that Hermione seemed to have a crush on, but Ron also happened to be a massive fan of his. He had even bought his own miniature version of Krum at the Quidditch World Cup. We reckon that if someone else (like Neville for example) had asked her, Ron’s response upon seeing her in the Great Hall wouldn’t have been quite so pronounced.
There’s no doubt that seeing these two together brought a lot of feelings to the surface. To him, it might have almost seemed like a betrayal that his sporting hero would ‘take’ one of the people he was closest to. He probably also felt rather embarrassed about his own previous adoration of Krum. It must have been tricky to come to terms with the idea that neither Viktor nor Hermione had done anything wrong.
Though rather than address things maturely (in all fairness he was only fourteen at the time), Ron tried to deflect his anger by suggesting that Hermione was ‘fraternising with the enemy’ and causing a fight. However, during the screaming match the pair of them had afterwards, Hermione hit the nail on the head when she yelled: ‘Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!’. Due to his embarrassment, Ron tried to play that off, but it was the first time that either of them had acknowledged out loud that there could be something between them. Without Ron’s envy, or Hermione reaching boiling point, they may have left that unsaid, or might not have realised that there was something deeper going on.
You might still believe that without the Yule Ball Ron and Hermione would have eventually realised what they meant to one another. Nevertheless, according to Cursed Child, it was that one night which proved vital to their story. As we discovered, it was crucial that the pair of them didn’t attend the dance together but did allow the green-eyed monster to bubble to the surface. In an alternate reality where they had been each other’s date – they never went any further than being just friends. Instead, they danced together in a purely platonic way. Ron then went on to dance with Padma Patil and realised that there was a spark between the two of them. Rather than ending up married to Hermione with two kids named Rose and Hugo, he married Padma and ended up with a son called Panju. If nothing else, that just strengthens the argument that the entire foundation of their romantic relationship was hinged on this one event.
Ultimately, the Yule Ball was the turning point for both Ron and Hermione. Though Ron had the strongest reaction initially, it also led to Hermione acknowledging that there might be something more between them. It forced feelings to the surface that they had probably tried to suppress. And without this one night, Ron and Hermione may never have existed as a couple at all.