Sunday, August 9, 2015

Harmony Moments in Deathly Hallows

Originally posted 10/10/2013

As a diehard Harry Potter fan, like most, I have been pulled into the world of shipping. I have been a Harry/Hermione fan from the beginning, and will defend them to the death. However, unlike some of my fellow Harmonians, Deathly Hallows is my favorite book. I have read – and loved – essays that have gone through one of the books and pulled all the Harmony parts. This has been done for every book (yes, even Half-Blood Prince). I decided to do one for Deathly Hallows because it is my favorite book.

All page numbers refer to the US hardback editions. Enjoy!



~*~
He had never learned how to repair wounds, and now he came to think of it – particularly in light of his immediate plans – this seemed a serious flaw in his magical education. Making a mental note to ask Hermione how it was done, he used a large wad of toilet paper to mop up as much of the tea as he could, before returning to his bedroom and slamming the door behind him. (13-4)
A cute opening scene for a great book. Like usual, when Harry has a question or a problem his first thought is to turn to Hermione.
The idea of a teenage Dumbledore was simply odd, like trying to imagine a stupid Hermione or a friendly Blast-Ended Skrewt. (21)
Out of all the people he knows, he thinks of Hermione. This shows not only that he thinks of Hermione often (which he does) but that he also thinks very highly of her – he can't imagine her being stupid.
Wrenching open the back door, Harry hurtled into their midst. There was a general cry of greeting as Hermione flung her arms around him, Ron clapped him on the back, and Hagrid said, “All righ', Harry? Ready fer the off?” (45)
Harry is so happy to see his friends he can't contain himself – hurtled means to “move at a great speed, typically in a wildly uncontrolled manner”.

Hermione, on the other hand, flings herself on Harry at the sight of him. To fling yourself means “to throw (oneself) into an activity with abandon and energy”. Abandon means “to surrender (oneself) to emotion without restraint”. Hermione completely gives in to her joy of seeing Harry.
No!” he said loudly, his voice ringing through the kitchen. “No way!”I told them you'd take it like this,” said Hermione with a hint of complacency. (48)
This shows how well Hermione knows Harry – she was able to predict his reaction exactly. Complacency means “an instance of contented self-satisfaction”. She's pleased with her ability to know what Harry thinks and how he reacts.
No need!” snarled Moody. “With You-Know-Who out there and half the Ministry on his side? Potter, if we're lucky he'll have swallowed the fake bit and he'll be planning to ambush you on the thirtieth, but he'd be mad not to have a Death Eater or two keeping an eye out, it's what I'd do. They might not be able to get at you or this house while you mother's charm holds, but it's about to break and they know the rough position of the place. Our only chance is to use decoys. Even You-Know-Who can't split himself into seven.”Harry caught Hermione's eye and looked away at once. (49-50)
Harry and Hermione communicate silently, like they do many times throughout the series. Also, Ron knows about the Horcruxes, but neither of them so much as glances at Ron – only at each other.
Ooh, you look much tastier than Crabbe and Goyle, Harry,” said Hermione, before catching sight of Ron's raised eyebrows, blushing slightly, and saying, “Oh, you know what I mean – Goyle's potion looked like bogies.” (50)
This scene has two parts. The first is the blatant sexual innuendo from Hermione, about Harry tasting good.

The second is Ron's look, which confirms the innuendo. He hears it, and raises his eyebrows. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that Ron is jealous and suspicious about Harry and Hermione's relationship (OP 458, HBP 186, 219, 232). Considering the fact that he is closer to them than anyone else, that validates the possibility of a romantic relationship between Harry and Hermione in a way no one else can (Molly (GF 618-9), McGonagall (CS 256), Krum (GF 339, 552-3), Cho (OP 562, 637), Colin/Skeeter (GF 315)).
He felt like asking them to show a little more respect for his privacy as they all began stripping off with impunity, clearly much more at ease with displaying his body than they would have been with their own. (52)
There are other people here, of course, but Hermione has now seen Harry without any clothes on, and Harry has seen what kind of underwear she uses! For two people who toe the line between friends and lovers, that is important!
But the owl lay motionless and pathetic as a toy on the floor of her cage. He could not take it in, and his terror for the others was paramount. (56)
Hedwig has just died, Harry is stunned and terrified for his friends. Paramount means “more important than anything else”. This is in no way a shipping moment, but it gives us a good look into Harry psyche. This also leads to another point of mine – Harry is a very abused child, and is clear in his thoughts throughout the books. Even this one – especially this one. This leads to Harry's feelings at the Tonks house:
A mixture of fear and guilt gripped Harry at the sight of their expressions; if any of the others had died, it was his fault. He had consented to the plan, given them his hair... (66)
Classic thinking of an abused child. Anything that goes wrong is automatically my fault. I'm to blame for everything. If I hadn't/wasn't X everything would be fine.

Now, of course, we know that that is not true. Everyone is of age and knows about the kinds of risk that comes with the job. But it is important to remember Harry does not know that, as we'll see this thought process provide explanations for his behavior later.
Two figures had appeared in the yard, and as Harry ran toward them he realized they were Hermione, now returning to her normal appearance, and Kingsley, both clutching a bent coat hanger. Hermione flung herself into Harry's arms, but Kingsley showed no pleasure at the sight of any of them. Over Hermione's shoulder Harry saw his raise his wand and point it at Lupin's chest. (72)
This is the second time in this book Hermione flings herself on Harry. I know we talked about it above, but we're going to talk about it again.

Hermione flings herself into Harry's arms when she sees that he is safe; they don't have to speak a word. Now, above, she “flung her arms around him”. Here, she “flung herself into Harry's arms”. Into Harry's arms. Meaning that, never breaking his run, he opened his arms. He grabbed her just like she grabbed him.

To fling yourself means “to throw (oneself) into an activity with abandon and energy”. Abandon means “to surrender (oneself) to emotion without restraint”. Hermione melts into Harry's arms, surrendering herself to the emotion of seeing him alive and unhurt.

They then separate when the conversation between Kingsley and Lupin turns to who has arrived safely, as that's when Hermione stifles a moan behind her hand (same page).
Ron tripped dazedly toward Harry and Hermione.You're okay,” he mumbled, before Hermione flew at him and hugged him tightly.I thought – I thought -”'M all right,” said Ron, patting her on the back. “'M fine.”Ron was great,” said Tonks warmly, relinquishing her hold on Lupin. “Wonderful. Stunned one of the Death Eaters, straight to the head, and when you're aiming at a moving target from a flying broom -”You did?” said Hermione, gazing up at Ron with her arms still around his neck.Always the tone of surprise,” he said a little grumpily, breaking free. “Are we the last back?” (76)
This is Ron's return. Let's compare the two.

Ron walks towards Harry and Hermione. He sees them and mumbles that they're alright. Then Hermione hugs him. With Harry and Hermione, they ran to each other the moment Hermione landed, they didn't take up time by speaking first. However, with Ron and Hermione, they don't run to each other. Hermione doesn't even move towards him. She waits for him to speak before hugging him.

To fly at someone means “to move suddenly and quickly”. She holds onto him for about the same amount of time she held onto Harry. Hermione moved quickly and hugged him tightly, but she did not fling herself into his arms. She did not surrender to any emotion. In fact, when Tonks says Ron did great, she's surprised.

Gaze means “to look steadily, intently, and with fixed attention”. When people gaze at something there is usually an emotion attached, in this scene it's surprise. So she steadily gazes at Ron in surprise. Steadily means “not easily excited or upset”. There very little emotion here. Yes, she was worried, but Hermione is a very caring person and he's one of her best friends. We're not given any deep emotion, like we were when Harry and Hermione hugged.

Harry and Hermione's hug is filled with emotion and romantic imagery. You often hear of lovers running towards each other and flinging themselves into each other's arms. The two hugs are in no way similar, with Harry and Hermione's being the romantic and emotional one.

Also, one other point about this scene. I've seen the line “Always the tone of surprise” as a catch-phrase for a lot of Ron/Hermione groups and sites. But how is that a pro Ron/Hermione moment? Grumpily means “crossly: in an ill-natured manner”. Ron's mad because Hermione never believes in him. That's an anti moment, not a pro one.

Hermione does say that phrase, once (with a smile), when Ron says she “looks great” all dressed up for Bill and Fleur's wedding (page 142). I'm not sure how that makes this line so special.
Wait till it gets out yeh did it again, Harry,” said Hagrid. “Escaped him, fought him off when he was right on top of yeh!”It wasn't me,” said Harry flatly. “It was my wand. My wand acted of its own accord.”After a few moments, Hermione said gently, “But that's impossible, Harry. You mean that you did magic without meaning to; you reacted instinctively.”No,” said Harry. “The bike was falling, I couldn't have told you where Voldemort was, but my wand spun in my hand and found him and shot a spell at him, and it wasn't even a spell I recognized. I've never made gold flames appear before.”Often,” said Mr. Weasley, “when you're in a pressured situation you can produce magic you never dreamed of. Small children often find, before they're trained -”It wasn't like that,” said Harry through gritted teeth. His scar was burning: He felt angry and frustrated; he hated the idea that they were all imagining him to have power to match Voldemort's.
No one said anything. He knew that they did not believe him. Now that he came to think of it, he had never heard of a wand performing magic on its own before.His scar seared with pain; it was all he could do not to moan aloud. Muttering about fresh air, he set down his glass and left the room. (83)
Harry says it wasn't him 'flatly'. Flatly means “unmodulated; monotonous”. Monotonous means “lacking in variation in tone or pitch.” There is little emotion here. His anger and frustration could easily be coming from his connection to Voldemort; and we see a hint of abused!Harry – he doesn't think he's powerful or a match for Voldemort.

Hermione, in this scene, gently counters Harry belief about his wand acting on it's own (although we'll find out at the end of the book that Harry was right).
Harry?”It was over as quickly as it had come: Harry stood shaking in the darkness, clutching the gate into the garden, his heart racing, his scar still tingling. It was several moments before he realized that Ron and Hermione were at his side.Harry, come back in the house,” Hermione whispered. “You aren't still thinking of leaving?”Yeah, you've got to stay, mate,” said Ron, thumping Harry on the back.Are you all right?” Hermione asked, close enough now to look into Harry's face. “You look awful!”Well,” said Harry shakily, “I probably look better than Ollivander...”When he had finished telling them what he had seen, Ron looked appalled, but Hermione looked downright terrified.But it was supposed to have stopped! Your scar – it wasn't supposed to do this anymore! You mustn't let that connection open up again – Dumbledore wanted you to close your mind!”When he did not reply, she gripped his arm.Harry, he's taking over the Ministry and the newspapers and half the Wizarding world! Don't let him inside you head too!” (85)
Hermione and Ron come to find Harry, and Hermione takes the lead in talking to Harry. She must be standing very close to him, because he can clearly hear her whisper. To whisper means “something uttered very softly”. She asks him if he's alright, and looks him in the face. Again, she must be standing very close to him to see his face, as it is dark. To look someone in the face means “to face someone directly (facing someone this way is a sign of sincerity)”. She's worried about him.

After Harry tells them what he saw, Hermione is terrified. Terrified means “cause to feel extreme fear”. She grabs Harry, filled with fear for him.
Fleur said his wand was blasted out of his hand,” said Harry.Well, all right, if you want him to be dead,” said Ron grumpily, punching his pillow into a more comfortable shape.Of course we don't want him to be dead!” said Hermione, looking shocked. “It's dreadful that he's dead! But we're being realistic!” (94)
Once again, Harry and Hermione's thoughts are on the same page. We see this happen many times throughout the series.
Don't!” squealed Hermione. Startled, Harry looked over just in time to see her burst into tears over her copy of Spellman's Syllabary.Oh no,” said Harry, struggling to get up from the old camp bed. “Hermione, I wasn't trying to upset -” (94)
When Harry's theorizing what the Death Eater's must have done with Moody's body, Hermione bursts into tears. Harry's immediately sorry, and tries to get up so he can comfort her.
Listen!” said Harry.No, Harry, you listen,” said Hermione. “We're coming with you. That was decided months ago – years, really.” (96)
She's not leaving him. Ever. It's been that way since the beginning, and it always will be. And she is the only one to never leave him. Even Ron has abandoned him. But Hermione? She never has, and she never will.
I've also modified my parents' memories so that they're convinced they're really called Wendell and Monica Wilkins, and that their life's ambition is to move to Australia, which they have now done. That's to make it more difficult for Voldemort to track them down and interrogate them about me – or you, because unfortunately, I've told them quite a bit about you.” (96-7)
This isn't really a shipping moment, as it's completely logical that Hermione singles Harry out over Ron when talking about Voldemort and the Death Eaters. However, it's still a sweet moment where Hermione tells us that she has told her parents all about Harry.
I – Hermione, I'm sorry – I didn't -”Didn't realize that Ron and I know perfectly well what might happen if we come with you? Well, we do. Ron, show Harry what you've done.” (97)
It's Hermione's story that makes Harry stop arguing about them coming with him. He starts stuttering out an apology, stunned by her words. Hermione, however, knows exactly what he's thinking (even though Harry doesn't know it himself, as he's stuttering). She finishes his sentence and assures him that they know the risks about coming with him.
The measures they had taken to protect their families made him realize, more than anything else could have done, that they were really going to come with him and that they knew exactly how dangerous that would be. He wanted to tell them what that meant to him, but he simply could not find words important enough. (99)
This isn't really a shipping moment, but it shows that Ron and Hermione are the most important people in the world to him. He is closer to them than to any other person.
Well... it was easy,” said Hermione in a small voice. “I just did a Summoning Charm. You know – Accio. And – they zoomed out of Dumbledore's study window and right into the girls' dormitory.”But when did you do this?” Harry asked, regarding Hermione with a mixture of admiration and incredulity. (102)
Harry is full of admiration for Hermione.
It doesn't have to be a basilisk fang,” said Hermione patiently. “It has to be something so destructive that the Horcrux can't repair itself. Basilisk venom only has one antidote, and it's incredibly rare -”- phoenix tears,” said Harry, nodding. (104)
Harry finishes Hermione's sentience, having the exact same thought as her. This shows how in sync with each other they are.
Do me a favor and don't tell Hermione,” said Harry. “Although how she expects me to stop seeing stuff in my sleep...” (112)
The topic of Occlumency is really the only big conflict Harry and Hermione ever have. We will talk more about this later on.
Come on, then, open Hermione's!” said Ron.She had bought him a new Sneakoscope. (114)
Hermione gives Harry a thoughtful birthday gift that will become very useful when they are on the run.
I have some questions for the three of you, and I think it will be best if we do it individually. If you two” - he pointed at Harry and Hermione - “can wait upstairs, I will start with Ronald.”We're not going anywhere,” said Harry, while Hermione nodded vigorously. “You can speak to us together, or not at all.”Scrimgeour gave Harry a cold, appraising look. Harry had the impression that the Minister was wondering whether it was worthwhile opening hostilities this early.Very well then, together,” he said, shrugging. He cleared his throat. “I am here, as I'm sure you know, because Albus Dumbledore's will.”Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another.A surprise, apparently! You were not aware then that Dumbledore had left you anything?”A-all of us?” said Ron. “Me and Hermione too?”Yes, all of -”But Harry interrupted.Dumbledore died over a month ago. Why has it taken this long to give us what he left us?”Isn't it obvious?” said Hermione, before Scrimgeour could answer. “They wanted to examine whatever he's left us. You had no right to do that!” she said, and her voice trembled slightly.I had every right,” said Scrimgeour dismissively. “The Decree for Justifiable Confiscation gives the Ministry the power to confiscate the contents of a will -”That law was created to stop wizards passing on Dark artifacts,” said Hermione, “and the Ministry is supposed to have powerful evidence that the deceased's possessions are illegal before seizing them! Are you telling me that you thought Dumbledore was trying to pass us something cursed?”Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?” asked Scrimgeour.No, I'm not,” retorted Hermione. “I'm hoping to do some good in the world!”Ron laughed. Scrimgeour's eyes flickered toward him and away again as Harry spoke.So why have you decided to let us have our things now? Can't think of a pretext to keep them?”No, it'll be because the thirty-one days are up,” said Hermione at once. “They can't keep the objects longer than that unless they can prove they're dangerous. Right?”Would you say you were close to Dumbledore, Ronald?” asked Scrimgeour, ignoring Hermione. Ron looked startled. (122-4)
A common theme of the books is that Harry and Hermione think similarly, that they have a similar thought process that Ron does not have. We see that clearly here, as Harry and Hermione theorize and keep the conversation on track, while Ron just interrupts the flow (Harry interrupts him, he laughs and the other two don't). Harry and Hermione naturally work together to solve problems.
Oh, it can't be a reference to the fact Harry's a great Seeker, that's way too obvious,” she said. “There must be a secret message from Dumbledore hidden in the icing!” (127)
Hermione complements Harry on his Quidditch skills, even though she's mocking Scrimgeour.
It belongs to Harry!” said Hermione hotly. “It chose him, he was the one who found it, it came to him out of the Sorting Hat -” (129)
Hotly means “in an intense or fiery way”. Hermione intensely defends Harry's right to Gryffindor's sword when Scrimgeour says he has no rights to it.
Meet us upstairs,” Harry whispered to Hermione, while they helped Mrs. Weasley restore the garden to its normal state. “After everyone's gone to bed.” (132)
Harry is the one to tell Hermione to meet them so they can discuss Dumbledore's will, not Ron. Also, the fact that Harry whispered and Hermione heard, means they are standing very close to each other.
Ron, you know full well Harry and I were brought up by Muggles!” said Hermione. (135)
Just one more thing Harry and Hermione have in common with each other.
Hermione turned and beamed at Harry; her eyes too were full of tears.... then I declare you bonded for life.” (145)
They are at a wedding, Bill and Fleur are getting married, and Hermione turns to Harry to share the moment with him. This has to be one of the most romantic moments in the books, and Hermione wants to share it with Harry. Ron was sitting right next to them, she could have turned to him. But no, she chose to share it with Harry. If you didn't know the scene, it reads as if it is them (Harry and Hermione) getting married. They are at a wedding, vows of love and commitment are being made, and they share the moment with each other!

He stared ahead of him, barely noticing what was going on around him, and did not realize that Hermione had appeared out of the crowd until she drew up a chair beside him.
I simply can't dance anymore,” she panted, slipping off one of her shoes and rubbing the sole of her foot. “Ron's gone looking to find more butterbeers. It's a bit odd, I've just seen Viktor storming away from Luna's father, it looked like they had been arguing -” She dropped her voice, staring at him. “Harry, are you okay?”
Harry did not know where to begin, but it did not matter. At that moment, something large and silver came falling through the canopy over the dance floor. (159)

Hermione seeks out Harry when Ron goes to get butterbeers. She realizes something's off and asks him if he's alright. A beautiful moment for them.

Everything seemed fuzzy, slow. Harry and Hermione jumped to their feet and drew their wands. Many people were only just realizing that something strange had happened; heads were still turning toward the silver cat as it vanished. Silence spread outward in cold ripples from the place where the Patronus had landed. Then somebody screamed.
Harry and Hermione threw themselves into the panicking crowd. Guests were sprinting in all directions; many were Disapparating; the protective enchantments around the Burrow had broken.
Ron!” Hermione cried. “Ron, where are you?”
As they pushed their way across the dance floor, Harry saw cloaked and masked figures appearing in the crowd; then he saw Lupin and Tonks, their wands raised, and heard both of them shout, “Protego!”, a cry that was echoed on all sides -
Ron! Ron!” Hermione called, half sobbing as she and Harry were buffeted by terrified guests: Harry seized her hand to make sure they weren't separated as a streak of light whizzed over their heads, whether a protective charm or something more sinister he did not know -
And then Ron was there. He caught hold of Hermione's free arm, and Harry felt her turn on the spot; sight and sound were extinguished as darkness pressed in on him; all he could feel was Hermione's hand as he was squeezed through space and time, away from the Burrow, away from the descending Death Eaters, away, perhaps, from Voldemort himself... (160-1)

Harry and Hermione are not only in sync verbally, but physically as well, as this passage shows. They move at the exact same time, drawing their wands and throwing themselves into the crowd. To throw yourself means “to hurl or fling with great force or speed”. They move forcefully through the crowd, trying to find Ron so they can get out of there.

Cried means “shout or scream, esp. to express one's fear, pain, or grief”. Hermione shouts out in fear, calling for Ron so they can get out of there. Then, when the Death Eaters arrive, she gets even more scared. To call means to “cry out to (someone) in order to summon them or attract their attention”. To sob means to “cry uncontrollably”. She keeps trying to find Ron, while starting to cry. The fact that Hermione starts crying exactly when the Death Eaters arrived shows that the situation is what is making her cry, not worry for Ron (although I'm sure she was worried, and with good reason). If I had just been having a great time with my friends, celebrating; and then being thrown into battle with only a second's notice, I would cry too!

Harry grabs Hermione so they won't be separated, and focuses entirely on her hand. Holding someone's hand is also much more intimate than grabbing someone's arm.

Why didn't I make sure I had the Invisibility Cloak with me?” said Harry, inwardly cursing his own stupidity. “All last year I kept it on me and -”
It's okay, I've got the Cloak, I've got clothes for both of you,” said Hermione. “Just try and act naturally until – this will do.” (161)

Hermione reassures Harry and stops him from blaming himself (as she's already taken care of it).

Thank you,” said Hermione, managing a small smile as she pushed the robes into the bag. “Please, Harry, get that Cloak on!”
Harry threw the Invisibility Cloak around his shoulders and pulled it over his head, vanishing from sight. He was only just beginning to appreciate what had happened. (162)

Hermione urges Harry to wear his Invisibility Cloak, even though they are in Muggle London.

Never mind what they're called!” said Hermione a little hysterically. “How did they find us? What are we going to do?”
Somehow her panic seemed to clear Harry's head. (166)

Only Hermione's panic can clear Harry's head. Only Hermione can bring him back.

What are we going to do with them?” Ron whispered to Harry through the dark; then, even more quietly, “Kill them? They'd kill us. They had a good go just now.”
Hermione shuddered and took a step backward. Harry shook his head. (166-7)

Harry and Hermione are on the same page. Both of them hate the idea of killing the Death Eaters (although Ron sounds “profoundly relieved” when they don't, he still came up with the idea).

She took a deep, calming breath, then pointed her wand at Dolohov's forehead and said, “Obliviate.”
At once, Dolohov's eyes became unfocused and dreamy.
Brilliant!” said Harry, clapping her on the back. “Take care of the other one and the waitress while Ron and I clean up.” (167)

Harry compliments Hermione on her spell-casting ability.

If I can't use magic, and you can't use magic near me, without us giving away our position -” he began.
We're not splitting up!” said Hermione firmly. (168)

Firm means “with resolute determination”. Resolute means “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering”. Determination means “firmness of purpose; resolve”. Hermione is very clear and determined here. They are not leaving Harry. She is not leaving Harry.

Grimmauld Place,” said Harry.
The other two gaped.
Don't be silly, Harry, Snape can get in there!”
Ron's dad said they've put up jinxes against him – and even if they haven't worked,” he pressed on as Hermione began to argue, “so what? I'd like nothing better than to meet Snape!”
But -”
Hermione, where else is there? It's the best chance we've got. Snape's only one Death Eater. If I've still got the trace on me, we'll have whole crowds of them on us wherever we go.”
She could not argue, though she looked as if she would have liked to. (168-9)

Harry is being assertive, and telling Hermione that Grimmauld Place is the best place for them to go.

That... that was...” Hermione whimpered, as Ron helped her to her feet.
Yeah,” said Harry, “but it wasn't really him, was it? Just something to scare Snape.” (171)

Harry reassures Hermione after seeing the Dumbledore dust figure left in the entryway to Grimmauld Place. He's the voice of reason in this scene.

Harry had given a cry of pain: His scar had burned again as something flashed across his mind like a bright light on water. He saw a large shadow and felt a fury that was not his own pound through his body, violent and brief as an electric shock.
What did you see?” Ron asked, advancing on Harry. “Did you see him at my place?”
No, I just felt anger – he's really angry -”
But that could be at the Burrow,” said Ron loudly. “What else? Didn't you see anything? Was he cursing someone?”
No, I just felt anger – I couldn't tell -”
Harry felt badgered, confused, and Hermione did not help as she said in a frightened voice, “Your scar, again? But what's going on? I thought that connection had closed!”
It did, for a while,” muttered Harry; his scar was still painful, which made it hard to concentrate. “I – I think it's started opening again whenever he loses control, that's how it used to -”
But then you've got to close your mind!” said Hermione shrilly. “Harry, Dumbledore didn't want you to use that connection, he wanted you to shut it down, that's why you were supposed to use Occlumency! Otherwise Voldemort can plant false images in your mind, remember -”
Yeah, I do remember, thanks,” said Harry through gritted teeth; he did not need Hermione to tell him that Voldemort had once used this selfsame connection between them to lead him into a trap, nor that it had resulted in Sirius's death. He wished that he had not told them what he had seen and felt; it made Voldemort more threatening, as though he were pressing against the window of the room, and still the pain in his scar was building and he fought it: It was like resisting the urge to be sick. (172-3)

Ron is the one making Harry feel badgered and confused. Badgered means “ask (someone) repeatedly and annoyingly for something”. Confused means “unable to think clearly”. The pain in his scar is also hindering his ability to think. Hermione does not help, no, but she doesn't make it worse; because if she did we would see Harry still having trouble talking. I also don't believe she was going to bring up Sirius, as that would have been a very uncharacteristic and low-blow for her to give Harry. Personally, I think she was going to say something like “remember that!”. We can't know for sure, though.

Muttered means to “say something in a low or barely audible voice, esp. in dissatisfaction or irritation”. Gritted means “to clench or grind together (two objects, esp the teeth)”. These two terms show that Harry is frustrated and irritated in this scene. How much of that is truly him and how much comes from his scar, we don't know.

The Patronus dissolved into nothingness. Ron let out a noise between a whimper and a groan and dropped onto the sofa: Hermione joined him, gripping his arm.
They're all right, they're all right!” she whispered, and Ron half laughed and hugged her.
Harry,” he said over Hermione's shoulder, “I -”
It's not a problem,” said Harry, sickened by the pain in his head. (173)

Many people see this as a Ron/Hermione scene. I do not. I see this as a boy terrified for his family, and a girl who loves his family as well. The Weasley's have been nothing but kind to Hermione, after all, and she has a very tender heart. Of course she would be worried for her friends. If Harry joined in, I'm sure neither Ron nor Hermione would have had a problem.

Is there some connection between Ron and Hermione here? Yes, of course. But like their hug earlier, any slight connection Ron and Hermione have that may be evidence for a possible healthy and long-term romantic relationship is greatly overshadowed by the deep, everlasting, truly soul-bound connection Harry and Hermione have.

Not to mention that the negative far outweighs the positive in Ron and Hermione's relationship. But that is a topic for another essay.

There was a sharp rap on the door, and Harry jumped as Hermione's voice rang out.
Harry, do you want your toothbrush? I've got it here.”
Yeah, great, thanks,” he said, fighting to keep his voice casual as he stood up to let her in. (175)

Harry goes to the bathroom because he gets a vision (and wants to keep it a secret). Hermione follows him after a few minutes, asking if he wants his toothbrush. She's taking care of him because she loves him. Like a wife asking her husband which shirt he wants for the day. This situation has that same kind of feel to it. It's a very domestic scene.

Her arm curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron's. Harry wondered whether they had fallen asleep holding hands. The thought made him feel strangely lonely. (176)

One definition for lonely is “dejected because of a lack of companionship”. Dejected means to be “sad and depressed”. Harry is depressed after seeing Ron and Hermione together, and he doesn't know why. But he's not thinking of Ginny, because that would be in the text. He's not missing the one he's supposedly in love with.

So why is Harry so depressed at the sight? He doesn't know. Silly, oblivious Harry! We know why, though. Harry has had a strong, negative, and jealous reaction to the idea of Ron/Hermione since OotP. He does not want them together (OP 8, 63-6, 184 and HBP 282-4).

Harry? Harry! Harry!”
I'm here!” he called. “What's happened?”
There was a clatter of footsteps outside the door, and Hermione burst inside.
We woke up and didn't know where you were!” she said breathlessly. She turned and shouted over her shoulder, “Ron! I've found him!”
Ron's annoyed voice echoed distantly from several floors below.
Good! Tell him from me he's a git!”
Harry, don't just disappear, we were terrified! Why did you come up here anyway?” She gazed around the ransacked room. “What have you been doing?”

We hear Hermione franticly screaming for Harry, as she runs around looking for him. To burst means “to force open (as a door or a way) by strong or vigorous action”. Hermione is full of frantic emotion, trying to find Harry. She is obviously terrified that he left, or that something had happened to him.

Compare this to Ron's reaction. We don't actually see him, but we hear his annoyed voice once Hermione finds Harry. To annoy means “to cause slight irritation to (another) by troublesome, often repeated acts”. There is very little emotion in annoyed. We also know Ron wasn't screaming for Harry – Harry could easily hear Hermione's screams, and then Ron's response. There is also no mention of him being relieved by Hermione finding Harry. While I'm sure he was worried somewhat, there is no indication that he was terrified, like Hermione says.

Look what I've just found.”
He held out his mother's letter. Hermione took it and read it while Harry watched her. When she reached the end of the page she looked up at him.
Oh Harry...”
And there's this too.”
He handed her the torn photograph, and Hermione smiled at the baby zooming in and out of sight on the toy broom.
I've been looking for the rest of the letter,” Harry said, “but it's not here.”
Hermione glanced around.
Did you make all this mess, or was some of it done when you got here?”
Someone had searched before me,” said Harry.
I thought so. Every room I looked into on the way up had been disturbed. What were they after, do you think?”
Information on the Order, if it was Snape.”
But you'd think he'd already have all he needed, I mean, he was in the Order, wasn't he?”
Well then,” said Harry, keen to discuss his theory, “what about information on Dumbledore? The second page of this letter, for instance. You know this Bathilda my mum mentions, you know who she is?”
Who?”
Bathilda Bagshot, the author of -”
A History of Magic,” said Hermione, looking interested. “So your parents knew her? She was an incredible magical historian.”
And she's still alive,” said Harry, “and she lives in Godric's Hollow, Ron's Auntie Muriel was talking about her at the wedding. She knew Dumbledore's family too. Be pretty interesting to talk to, wouldn't she?”
There was a little too much understanding in the smile Hermione gave him for Harry's liking. He took back the letter and the photograph and tucked them inside the pouch around his neck, so as not to have to look at her and give himself away. (183-4)

Harry and Hermione share an important moment without Ron, theorizing about Lily's letter and picture, and getting information about Dumbledore. That will play a crucial role later in the book.

On a more personal note, Harry has no problem sharing very personal things with Hermione. We hear on page 181 how much the letter effects Harry:
Harry's extremities seemed to have gone numb. He stood quite still, holding the miraculous paper in his nerveless fingers while inside him a kind of quiet eruption sent joy and grief thundering in equal measure through his veins.”
and:
Impatiently brushing away the wetness in his eyes, he reread the letter, this time concentrating on the meaning. It was like listening to a half-remembered voice.”

The letter and picture are very personal, private things, and Harry wants to share that with Hermione. He watches her, waiting for her to share in his joy of finding these pieces of his mother. She is also the only person to ever touch them, other than Harry (430-3).

Also, keen means “having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm”. Harry is eager to share his theory on Dumbledore and Godric's Hollow. Hermione then finishes his sentience on Bathilda Bagshot and gives him an understanding smile, showing just how much she understands him. She understands him so much that he has to look away to keep from letting his emotions take control, to not lose it in front of her. And to an abused child like Harry, who has been told that emotions are weakness – especially tears – that's a big thing.

Hermione,” he said, and he was surprised that his voice was so calm. “Come back up here.”
What's the matter?”
R.A.B. I think I've found him.”
There was a gasp, and then Hermione ran back up the stairs.
In your mum's letter? But I didn't see -”
Harry shook his head, pointing at Regulus's sign. She read it, then clutched Harry's arm so tightly that he winced.
Sirius's brother?” she whispered.
He was a Death Eater,” said Harry, “Sirius told me about him, he joined up when he was really young and then got cold feet and tried to leave – so they killed him.”
That fits!” gasped Hermione. “If he was a Death Eater he had access to Voldemort, and if he became disenchanted, then he would have wanted to bring Voldemort down!” (186)

Another crucial moment in the book, that Harry and Hermione share with just each other. Together, they figure out who R.A.B. is. They are also standing very close to each other – for Harry to hear Hermione whisper or gasp clearly, he must be close to her. Also, words like whispering or gasped have a subtle and stimulating effect. They are words used to describe lovers talking with each other.

Hermione also grabs Harry's arm. This is not the first time in the series one of the two of them grabs the other in a scene of intense emotion. They have an instinctive reaction to grab onto each other. This is the third time in this book – Hermione grabbed onto Harry when he told them about Ollivander, Harry grabbed onto Hermione as soon as the Death Eater's arrived at the wedding.

Harry reacted instinctively: As Kreacher lunged for the poker standing in the grate, he launched himself upon the elf, flattening him. Hermione's scream mingled with Kreacher's, but Harry bellowed louder than both of them: “Kreacher, I order you to stay still!”
He felt the elf freeze and released him. Kreacher lay flat on the cold stone floor, tears gushing from his sagging eyes.
Harry, let him up!” Hermione whispered.
So he can beat himself with the poker?” snorted Harry, kneeling beside the elf. “I don't think so. Right, Kreacher, I want the truth: How do you know Mundungus Fletcher stole the locket?” (192)

*snorts* I'm sorry, I just love this part so much! I'll try to stop laughing now. Why am I laughing? After all, this scene is not supposed to be a funny one. I just find Harry and Hermione too adorable to not laugh.

Again, she whispered and he heard her clearly. They must be standing really close to each other. Given how many times they whisper, in this book alone, we can assume that they naturally stand very close to each other.

They both show their care for house-elves, albeit in different ways. Harry shows it as he “instinctively” launches himself at Kreacher so Kreacher won't be able to harm himself, and then kneels beside him. He doesn't do it because he likes Kreacher, because he doesn't at this point. He does it because he cares. Hermione shows it when she tells Harry to “let him up!”, as she doesn't want him mauled or hurt in any way. Harry knows better, though, and refuses to let Kreacher hurt himself.

I told you not to call her 'Mudblood'!” snarled Harry, but the elf was already punishing himself: He fell to the ground and banged his forehead on the floor.
Stop him – stop him!” Hermione cried. “Oh, don't you see now how sick it is, the way they've got to obey?”
Kreacher – stop, stop!” shouted Harry. (197)

Harry is filled with fury when Kreacher calls Hermione a mudblood (to snarl means “to utter with anger or hostility”). However, he stops Kreacher at Hermione's suggestion (although I think he would have stopped Kreacher anyway, given the situation above and his past treatment of house-elves).

I don't understand you, Kreacher,” he said finally. “Voldemort tried to kill you, Regulus died to bring Voldemort down, but you were still happy to betray Sirius to Voldemort? You were happy to go to Narcissa and Bellatrix, and pass information to Voldemort through them...”
Harry, Kreacher doesn't think like that,” said Hermione, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand. “He's a slave; house-elves are used to bad, even brutal treatment; what Voldemort did to Kreacher wasn't that far out of the common way. What do wizard wars mean to an elf like Kreacher? He's loyal to people who are kind to him, and Mrs. Black must have been, and Regulus certainly was, so he served them willingly and parroted their beliefs. I know what you're going to say,” she went on as Harry began to protest, “that Regulus changed his mind... but he doesn't seem to have explained that to Kreacher, does he? And I think I know why. Kreacher and Regulus's family were all safer if they kept to the old pure-blood line. Regulus was trying to protect them all.”
Sirius -”
Sirius was horrible to Kreacher, Harry, and it's no good looking like that, you know it's true. Kreacher had been alone for a long time when Sirius came to live here, and he was probably starving for a bit of affection. I'm sure 'Miss Cissy' and 'Miss Bella' were perfectly lovely to Kreacher when he turned up, so he did them a favor and told them everything they wanted to know. I've said all along that wizards would pay for how they treat house-elves. Well, Voldemort did... and so did Sirius.”
Harry had no retort. As he watched Kreacher sobbing on the floor, he remembered what Dumbledore had said to him, mere hours after Sirius's death: I do not think Sirius ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human's...
Kreacher,” said Harry after a while, “when you feel up to it, er... please sit up.”
It was several minutes before Kreacher hiccuped himself into silence. Then he pushed himself into a sitting position again, rubbing he knuckles into his eyes like a small child.
Kreacher, I am going to ask you to do something,” said Harry. He glanced at Hermione for assistance. He wanted to give the order kindly, but at the same time, he could not pretend it was not an order. However, the change in his tone seemed to have gained her approval: She smiled encouragingly.
Kreacher, I want you, please, to go and find Mundungus Fletcher. We need to find out where the locket – where Master Regulus's locket is. It's really important. We want to finish the work Master Regulus started, we want to – er – ensure that he didn't die in vain.” (198-9)

There are a lot of little Harmony moments in this scene. Once again Hermione knows what Harry is thinking; Harry takes in what she says about Sirius without getting defensive and upset. We know he truly listened to her because he changes how he talks to Kreacher. He looks to Hermione for support, and she encourages him. Lots of little, but beautiful, moments for them.

I think you're feeling a bit of a daredevil,” Harry said. “You fancy stepping into Sirius's shoes -”
Harry, no!” Hermione begged him, but he continued to glare into Lupin's livid face.
I'd never have believed this,” Harry said. “The man who taught me to fight dementors – a coward.”
Lupin drew his wand so fast that Harry had barely reached for his own; there was a loud bang and he felt himself flying backward as if punched; as he slammed into the kitchen wall and slid to the floor, he glimpsed the tail of Lupin's cloak disappearing around the door.
Remus, Remus, come back!” Hermione cried, but Lupin did not respond. A moment later they heard the front door slam.
Harry!” wailed Hermione. “How could you?”
It was easy,” said Harry. He stood up; he could feel a lump swelling where his head had hit the wall. He was still so full of anger he was shaking.
Don't look at me like that!” he snapped at Hermione.
Don't you start on her!” snarled Ron.
No – no – we mustn't fight!” said Hermione launching herself between them.
You shouldn't have said that stuff to Lupin,” Ron told Harry.
He had it coming to him,” said Harry. Broken images were racing each other through his mind: Sirius falling through the veil; Dumbledore suspended, broken, in midair; a flash of green light and his mother's voice, begging for mercy...
Parents,” said Harry, “shouldn't leave their kids unless – unless they've got to.”
Harry -” said Hermione, stretching out a consoling hand, but he shrugged it off and walked away, his eyes on the fire Hermione had conjured. He had once spoken to Lupin out of that fireplace, seeking reassurance about James, and Lupin had consoled him. Now Lupin's tortured white face seemed to swim in the air before him. He felt a sickening surge of remorse. Neither Ron nor Hermione spoke, but Harry felt sure that they were looking at each other behind his back, communicating silently.
He turned around and caught them turning hurriedly away from each other.
I know I shouldn't have called him a coward.”
No, you shouldn't,” said Ron at once.
But he's acting like one.”
All the same...” said Hermione.
I know,” said Harry. “But if it makes him go back to Tonks, it'll be worth it, won't it?”
He could not keep the plea out of his voice. Hermione looked sympathetic, Ron uncertain. Harry looked down at his feet, thinking of his father. Would James have backed Harry in what he had said to Lupin, or would he have been angry at how his son had treated his old friend?
The silent kitchen seemed to hum with the shock of the recent scene and with Ron and Hermione's unspoken reproaches. The Daily Prophet Lupin had brought was still lying on the table, Harry's own face face staring up at the ceiling from the front page. He walked over to it and sat down, opened the paper at random, and pretended to read. He was sure Ron and Hermione had resumed their silent communications on the other side of the Prophet. He turned a page loudly, and Dumbledore's name leapt out at him. (214-6)

A few things about this scene. As someone who came from a broken family, I can understand Harry completely in this scene. However, that does not mean he should have gone as far as he did. Remus also shouldn't have used such a nasty hex.

Something that bothers me greatly about this scene is the idea that Ron and Hermione can communicate silently. That is one of our main points for Harry and Hermione, and we see them do it multiple times in this book alone, much less the rest of the series. They are able to have entire conversations without saying a word.

Ron and Hermione, on the other hand, have no proof of communicating silently. What we see them do is exchange looks after both have already made their feelings clear. They have both said that Harry was out of line. We have seen this a few times before (HBP 97, 131, 256) and will see it once more (235). That is very different from communicating silently.

Also, look at Harry's actions when they're supposedly 'communicating silently'. He doesn't want to look at them (which is understandable, as they just reproached him), but that doesn't explain why he turned the paper 'loudly'. It's a small hint of aggression at the thought of Ron and Hermione connecting.

Back to Hermione. Hermione rarely ever begs. To beg means “ask (someone) earnestly or humbly for something”. Earnestly means “of an important or weighty nature”. So we know that when someone begs, they find it important.

Why is it so important that Harry listen to her now? What's happening? Well, he's about to cross a huge line. He mentioned Sirius – accused Remus of wanting to take Sirius' place as a daredevil. He's about to shatter something that can probably never be fixed or forgotten. And he does. He crosses that line. But why is that so important to Hermione? It's not the first time one of the boys has made a careless remark in anger. So what makes this different from all the other times before?

It's important because Remus is important to Harry. Remus is the last Marauder, the last connection Harry has to his parents. Remus taught Harry a very important skill – how to cast a Patronus. Hermione knows all of this. She knows that Harry will be hurt if he damages the relationship he has with his friend and teacher. It's important to her because it's important to Harry.

She then reaches out consolingly, after the damage has been done. Consoling means to “comfort (someone) at a time of grief or disappointment.” Hermione reaches out, wanting to comfort Harry. She may not agree with his actions, but it's obvious that he's upset, and she wants to help him.

Yes, Harry shrugged off her hand. He feels awful and he doesn't want to be touched. But notice where he moves to – the fire she conjured. And he thinks about her conjuring it. He's still seeking comfort from her, even if he won't admit it. One of Hermione's specialties is conjuring fires. There is an essay about her conjuring the Bluebell Flames charm, and it's symbolism. Considering this is the only fire she conjures that we're not explicitly told is the Bluebell Flames charm, we cannot be certain it is that charm. But I think it is. The essay explains how the symbolism connected to it is constancy, faithfulness, and devotion. Her constant, faithful, devotion to Harry.

She also looks sympathetic when he seeks comfort. Sympathetic means “characterized by, feeling, or showing sympathy; understanding.” She understands where he's coming from, and she's not mad. All she wants to do is comfort him.

Phineas Nigellus,” Hermione explained as she threw the bag onto the kitchen table with the usual sonorous, clanking clash.
Sorry?” said Ron, but Harry understood. (228)

Harry understands what Hermione's thinking, while Ron needs it spelled out for him.

Wouldn't make any difference to her, she was so evil in the first place,” Harry shrugged.
Hermione was biting her lip, deep in thought.
We know everything important,” Harry went on, addressing Hermione. “We know they've stopped Apparition in and out of the Ministry. We know only the most senior Ministry members are allowed to connect their homes to the Floo Network now, because Ron heard those two Unspeakables complaining about it. And we know roughly where Umbridge's office is, because of what you heard that bearded bloke saying to his mate -”
'I'll be up on level one, Delores wants to see me,'” Hermione recited immediately.
Exactly,” said Harry. “And we know you get in using those funny coins, or tokens, or whatever they are, because I saw that witch borrowing one from her friend -”
But we haven't got any!”
If the plan works, we will have,” Harry continued calmly.
I don't know, Harry, I don't know... There are an awful lot of things that could go wrong, so much relies on chance...”
That'll be true even if we spend another three months preparing,” said Harry. “It's time to act.” (230-1)

Harry focuses on Hermione, only talking to her, even though Ron has been an active part of the conversation, and breaking into the Ministry is something they all will do. We also see them finish each other's sentences again – in this case, Hermione finishing Harry's.

We also see the contrast between them, how Harry is able to calmly talk to Hermione when she's panicking, convincing her. They are truly the perfect team.

Fine, I'll stay here,” said Harry. “Let me know if you ever defeat Voldemort, won't you?”
As Ron and Hermione laughed, pain shot through the scar on Harry's forehead. His hand jumped to it: He saw Hermione's eyes narrow, and he tried to pass off the movement by brushing his hair out of his eyes.
Well, if all three of us go we'll have to Disapparate separately,” Ron was saying. “We can't all fit under the Cloak anymore.”
Harry's scar was becoming more and more painful. He stood up. At once, Kreacher hurried forward.
Thanks, Kreacher, but I'll be back in a minute – er – bathroom.”
Aware that Hermione was watching him suspiciously, Harry hurried up the stairs to the hall and then to the first landing, where he dashed into the bathroom and bolted the door again. (231-2)

This scene shows how much close attention Hermione gives Harry all the time. She picked up on his scar hurting immediately. Ron, on the other hand, noticed nothing.

Harry! HARRY!”
He opened his eyes; he had sunk to the floor. Hermione was pounding on the door again.
Harry, open up!”
He had shouted out, he knew it. He got up and unbolted the door; Hermione toppled inside at once, regained her balance, and looked around suspiciously. Ron was right behind her, looking unnerved as he pointed his wand into the corners of the chilly bathroom.
What were you doing?” asked Hermione sternly.
What d'you think I was doing?” asked Harry with feeble bravado.
You were yelling your head off!” said Ron.
Oh yeah... I must've dozed off or -”
Harry, please don't insult our intelligence,” said Hermione, taking deep breaths. “We know your scar hurt downstairs, and you're white as a sheet.”
Harry sat down on the edge of the bath.
Fine. I've just seen Voldemort murdering a woman. By now he's probably killed her whole family. And he didn't need to. It was Cedric all over again, they were just there...”
Harry, you aren't supposed to let this happen anymore!” Hermione cried, her voice echoing through the bathroom. “Dumbledore wanted you to use Occlumency! He thought the connection was dangerous – Voldemort can use it, Harry! What good is it to watch him kill and torture, how can it help?”
Because it means I know what he's doing,” said Harry.
So you're not even going to try to shut him out?”
Hermione, I can't. You know I'm lousy at Occlumency, I never got the hang of it.”
You never really tried!” she said hotly. “I don't get it, Harry – do you like having this special connection or relationship or what – whatever -”
She faltered under the look he gave her as he stood up.
Like it?” he said quietly. “Would you like it?”
I – no – I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean -”
I hate it, I hate the fact that he can get inside me, that I have to watch him when he's most dangerous. But I'm going to use it.”
Dumbledore -”
Forget Dumbledore. This is my choice, nobody else's. I want to know why he's after Gregorovitch.”
Who?”
He's a foreign wandmaker,” said Harry. “He made Krum's wand and Krum reckons he's brilliant.” (233-4)

This is an extremely important scene, on a crucial part of the Harry/Hermione relationship. To truly understand what is going on in this scene, we have to go back to the beginning of the problem – back to the fifth book and Harry's Occlumency lessons. We have to understand what is going on and why it's like this. But we'll get there in a minute.

Every couple has conflicts, that is not a bad thing. What matters is if you are fighting or arguing. There is a very big difference, according to psychology.

One article says:

But is there a difference between "arguing" and "fighting?" Actually, there is. And the difference can mean creating either understanding and harmony, or confusion and bitterness.

So what’s the difference between arguing and fighting and what is it that most of us do? A lot of families simply engage in trading insults, taking nasty swipes or expressing mean sentiments. That’s not arguing. That’s much more indicative of fighting and it’s very destructive. Arguing, on the other hand, is a lot more productive than that. It’s usually characterized by the effective expression of opposing ideas and feelings and usually evolves from an atmosphere of caring, understanding and of feeling safe. And arguing is much more likely to result in coming to a happy and mutual resolution than fighting is.

Another psychologist says:

I've never seen a healthy couple that doesn't argue. They never fight, however - they argue. If a couple comes into my office and tells me they've never argued, something isn't quite right. You can argue without fighting. Arguing is non-combative - you and your partner state your points of view without name-calling or raising your voice. Sometimes you agree to disagree - and that's okay.

And (from the same psychologist):

Healthy couples don't fight - they argue. There's a big difference.


Fighting:
  • Raising voices
  • Bringing up the past
  • Name-calling
  • Problem-focused
Arguing:
  • Calm voices
  • Mutual respect
  • Focused on one issue
  • Solution-focused

A similar concept is assertiveness vs aggressiveness. To be aggressive means “hostile or destructive behavior or actions”. Aggressiveness is not healthy. Like with fighting, it has a healthy alternative. Assertiveness. Psychology Today says this about assertiveness:

Behaviorally, assertiveness is all about asking for what you want in a manner that respects others. Assertive people don't shy away from defending their points of view or goals, or from trying to influence others. In terms of affect, assertiveness means reacting to positive and negative emotions without aggression or resorting to passivity.

So let's go back to the fifth book, we'll be back to this fighting vs arguing and aggressiveness vs assertiveness topic soon. Harry has a clear case of PTSD in the fifth book (see this essay), and one of the main symptoms for that is sudden irritability or anger. But at the same time, Dumbledore tells us that, after the attack on Mr. Weasley (and the Occlumency situation starts) that Voldemort realizes Harry's presence – that Voldemort can “manipulate and misdirect” his thoughts, and that Dumbledore sees “a shadow of him stir behind your eyes” (OP 827-8). Dumbledore tells us that every time Harry yearned to see in the Department of Mysteries, it was really Voldemort's yearning (OP 829). We know that when Harry has a vision, he believes he is Voldemort (OP 462-3, 584-6, 726-8).

So what does that mean for Harry and Hermione? It means this is a complicated subject, and that they are not just arguing between themselves, but that Harry is fighting Voldemort for control at the same time. There are two scenes where it is clearly more than the PTSD affecting Harry, and each scene is crucial to the Harry/Hermione relationship. Let's go through them. Underlining is my emphasis.

No, I wasn't!” she said angrily. “As a matter of fact, I was going to ask Harry when he's going to go back to Snape and ask for Occlumency lessons again!”
Harry's heart sank. Once they had exhausted the subject of Fred and George's dramatic departure, which admittedly had taken many hours, Ron and Hermione had wanted to hear news of Sirius. As Harry had not confided in them the reason he had wanted to talk to Sirius in the first place, it had been hard to think of things to tell them. He had ended up saying to them truthfully that Sirius wanted Harry to resume Occlumency lessons. He had been regretting this ever since; Hermione would not let the subject drop and kept reverting to it when Harry least expected it.
You can't tell me you've stopped having funny dreams,” Hermione said now, “because Ron told me last night you were muttering in your sleep again...”
Harry threw Ron a furious look. Ron had the grace to look ashamed of himself.
You were only muttering a bit,” he mumbled apologetically. “Something about 'just a bit farther.'”
I dreamed I was watching you lot play Quidditch,” Harry lied brutally. “I was trying to get you to stretch out a bit farther to grab the Quaffle.”

Stop. Harry lies brutally? To be brutal means to be “extremely ruthless or cruel”. Harry is not a ruthless or cruel person, that is clearly shown throughout his actions in all of the books. Voldemort, on the other hand, is.

Ron's ears went red. Harry felt a kind of vindictive pleasure: He had not, of course, dreamed anything of the sort.

Harry feels a “vindictive pleasure” by humiliating his best friend. Vindictive means “marked by or resulting from a desire to hurt”. He's pleased that he's hurt and embarrassed Ron. That is not Harry. That is Voldemort.

Last night he had once again made the journey along the Department of Mysteries corridor. He had passed through the circular room, then the room full of clicking and dancing light, until he found himself again inside that cavernous room full of shelves on which were ranged dusty glass spheres...
He had hurried straight toward row number ninety-seven, turned left, and ran along it... It had probably been then that he had spoken aloud... Just a bit farther... for he could feel his conscious self struggling to wake... and before he had reached the end of the row, he had found himself lying in bed again, gazing up at the canopy of his four-poster.
You are trying to block your mind, aren't you?” said Hermione, looking beadily at Harry. “You are keeping going with your Occlumency?”
Of course I am,” said Harry, trying to sound as though this question was insulting, but not quite meeting her eye. The truth was that he was so intensely curious about what was hidden in that room full of dusty orbs that he was quite keen for the dreams to continue.

This confirms that Harry's conscious is Voldemort right then. Not a full possession in any way, but their minds have melded together. Harry is acting as if he's Voldemort, with Voldemort's range of emotions. He thinks he's yearning for the Department of Mysteries, when in reality it's Voldemort's yearning.

The problem was that with just under a month to go until the exams and every free moment devoted to studying, he mind seemed saturated with information when he went to bed so that he found it very difficult to sleep at all. When he did, his overwrought brain presented him most nights with stupid dreams about the exams. He also suspected that part of his mind – the part that often spoke in Hermione's voice – now felt guilty on the occasions it strayed down that corridor ending in the black door, and sought to wake him before he could reach journey's end. (OP 681-2)

There. Right. There. There is the undeniable proof that Hermione is a fundamental part of Harry. The most loving, forgiving, and ethical part of him, the best part of him, he identifies as Hermione. Even when he's channeling Voldemort, like in this scene, he's still able to recognize the part of him that's her. Voldemort has been able to numb out his feelings for everyone else (we see that with Ron in this scene), be he still recognizes and feels her. Only her.

This brings me to another psychology quote:

People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self and add to who they are as a person,” Dr. Lewandowski says. “If your partner is helping you become a better person, you become happier and more satisfied in the relationship.”

Ron/Hermione fans usually say that Harry is afraid of Hermione's nagging, that's why he resolves to work harder with schoolwork, etc. However, that is not true, as it's defined in psychology as a very good thing for a relationship – you're making your partner a better person (see this essay and this one for some more on Harry and Hermione).

This goes beyond that. She's not just helping him be a better person, she is the best part of him.

This next scene is a crucial scene for the Harry/Hermione relationship in many ways. It's also a completely pro Harry/Hermione scene. As Later Player said, “If I was ever in doubt before, this scene made me pro H/Hr to the grave”. Let's go through this amazing and vital scene.

We are also going to be looking at the fighting vs arguing in this scene. I want to go over one grammar definition before we start – about exclamation marks:

An exclamation mark usually shows strong feeling, such as surprise, anger or joy. Using an exclamation mark when writing is rather like shouting or raising your voice when speaking.

So we know that if there is an exclamation mark, it means the character is yelling. Let's go through the scene. I'm sure you can guess which one it is!

He wheeled around and strode blindly from the hospital wing into the teeming corridor where he stood, buffeted by the crowd, the panic expanding inside him like poison gas so that his head swam and he could not think what to do...
Ron and Hermione, said a voice in his head.
He was running again, pushing students out of the way, oblivious to their angry protests and shouts. He sprinted back down two floors and was at the top of the marble staircase when he saw them hurrying toward him.
Harry!” said Hermione at once, looking very frightened. “What happened? Are you all right? Are you ill?”

Frighten means “to fill with fear”. Hermione's filled with fear for Harry because of his collapse, and can't stop firing off questions to him, showing how afraid she is.

Where have you been?” demanded Ron.
Come with me,” Harry said quickly. “Come on, I've got to tell you something...”
He led them along the first-floor corridor, peering through doorways, and at last found an empty classroom into which he dived, closing the door behind Ron and Hermione the moment they were inside and leaning against it, facing them.
Voldemort's got Sirius.”
What?
How d'you -?”
Saw it. Just now. When I fell asleep in the exam.”
But – where? How?” said Hermione, whose face was white.

She's pale with fear.

I dunno how,” said Harry. “But I know exactly where. There's a room in the Department of Mysteries full of shelves covered in these little glass balls, and they're at the end of row ninety-seven... He's trying to use Sirius to get whatever it is he wants from in there... He's torturing him... Says he'll end by killing him...”
Harry found his voice shaking, as were his knees. He moved over to a desk and sat down on it, trying to master himself.
How're we going to get there?” he asked them.
There was a moments silence. Then Ron said, “G-get there?”
Get to the Department of Mysteries, so we can rescue Sirius!” Harry said loudly.
But – Harry...” said Ron weakly.
What? What?” said Harry.
He could not understand why they were both gaping at him as though he was asking them something unreasonable.
Harry,” said Hermione in a rather frightened voice, “er... how... how did Voldemort get into the Ministry of Magic without anybody realizing he was there?”
How do I know?” bellowed Harry. “The question is how we're going to get in there!”

Harry is fighting, as he is bellowing.

But... Harry, think about this,” said Hermione, taking a step toward him, “it's five o'clock in the afternoon... The Ministry of Magic must be full of workers... How would Voldemort and Sirius have got in without being seen? Harry... they're probably the two most wanted wizards in the world... You think they could get into a building full of Aurors undetected?”

Hermione, on the other hand, is arguing.

She also moves towards him. She's not afraid of him, she trusts hims and knows he wouldn't hurt her.

I dunno, Voldemort used an Invisibility Cloak or something!” Harry shouted. “Anyway, the Department of Mysteries has always been completely whenever I've been -”
You've never been there, Harry,” said Hermione quietly. “You've dreamed about the place, that's all.”

Harry's still fighting and Hermione's still arguing. She's standing up to him and calmly contrasting his thoughts. She's being assertive.

They're not normal dreams!” Harry shouted in her face, standing up and taking a step closer to her in turn. He wanted to shake her. “How d'you explain Ron's dad then, what was all that about, how come I knew what had happened to him?”

Ron/Hermione fans have made a big deal out of the fact that Harry wants to shake Hermione. They say it's unhealthy and abusive, that Harry needs counseling, etc. Putting aside the complete hypocrisy – Ron and Hermione are abusive to each other all the time – that simply isn't true. Harry is overwhelmed with emotion, he's not emotionally or mentally able to problem solve right now. He needs Hermione, his rock, to be there and support him. Not to mention the common expression of wanting to “shake some sense” into someone. It doesn't mean it literally.

Even if Harry means it literally (and I think he does, based on the wording) that doesn't make this a bad thing. He never states that he intends to hurt Hermione. He doesn't do it. If he had, it definitely would have been unhealthy and abusive. But he doesn't. It's a one second impulse when he's filled with chaotic emotion that he doesn't follow through on. We've all gotten those impulses. What matters is if we follow through on them. He doesn't.

Also, he moves towards her. They're standing very close to each other. You don't let just anyone get that close to you, especially when you're fighting, if you don't just them implicitly. She knows he could never hurt her.

He's got a point,” said Ron quietly, looking at Hermione.
But this is just – just so unlikely!” said Hermione desperately. “Harry, how on earth could Voldemort have got hold of Sirius when he's been in Grimmauld Place all the time?”

Hermione starts slipping into fighting, with her strong emotions. Desperately means “suffering or driven by great need or distress”. She's hurting greatly, she has not lost her fear for Harry and now Sirius might be in danger too.

Sirius might've cracked and just wanted some fresh air,” said Ron, sounding worried. “He's been desperate to get out of that house for ages -”
But why,” Hermione persisted, “why on earth would Voldemort want to use Sirius to get the weapon, or whatever the thing is?”

Hermione has gone back to being assertive and arguing. To persist means “to hold firmly and steadfastly to a purpose, state, or undertaking despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks”. She will not give in, and continues to stand up to Harry.

I dunno, there could be loads of reasons!” Harry yelled at her. “Maybe Sirius is just someone Voldemort doesn't care about seeing hurt -”
You know what, I've just thought of something,” said Ron in a hushed voice. “Sirius's brother was a Death Eater, wasn't he? Maybe he told Sirius the secret of how to get the weapon!”
Yeah – and that's why Dumbledore's been so keen to keep Sirius locked up all the time!” said Harry.
Look, I'm sorry,” cried Hermione, “but neither of you are making sense, and we've got no proof for any of this, no proof Voldemort and Sirius are even there -”

Hermione's slipping back into fighting, as to cry out meansto utter loudly”. So far she has stayed focused, so she is not fully fighting.

Hermione, Harry's seen them!” said Ron, rounding on her.
Okay,” she said, looking frightened yet determined, “I've just got to say this...”

Frighten means “to fill with fear”, determined means “of unwavering mind; resolute; firm”. She is afraid of what Harry's reaction is going to be, but she knows it needs to be said.

And for Ron/Hermione fans who think that because she is frightened she is being dominated and that this is unhealthy, she is not. Being dominated is unhealthy and a sign of abuse, but Hermione is not being dominated. To dominate means “to control, govern, or rule by superior authority or power”. She is not being controlled by Harry, far from it. She is being assertive. It is natural to be afraid of upsetting someone you love when talking about a sensitive topic.

What?”
You... This isn't a criticism, Harry! But you do... sort of... I mean – don't you think you've got a bit of a – a – saving-people-thing?” she said.

Stuttering is a form of nervousness, so we know Hermione is still nervous about saying this to Harry. She makes sure to point out that this is not a criticism, she is not making a negative judgement about Harry's personality (to be a critic means “one who tends to make harsh or carping judgments; a faultfinder”), but merely the fact that this is a part of his personality.

He glared at her. “And what's that supposed to mean, a 'saving-people-thing'?”
Well... you...” She looked more apprehensive than ever. “I mean... last year, for instance... in the lake... during the Tournament... you shouldn't have... I mean, you didn't need to save that little Delacour girl... You got a bit... carried away...”

Apprehensive means “anxious or fearful about the future”. Hermione is still extremely nervous about Harry's reaction.

A wave of hot, prickly anger swept Harry's body – how could she remind him of that blunder now?

Now, this is very interesting. This is the first line that made me think that it's not just PTSD at work here. Let's start with the word prickly. One definition for prickly is “prickling or tingling or smarting” another definition is “causing trouble or vexation”.

We see the word prickly appear a few times in the books. One at the end of Goblet of Fire, when Harry's holding back tears, “burning, prickling feeling in the inner corners of his eyes” (GF 714); two times in Half-Blood Prince, “the sight of them made the back of Harry's neck prickle unpleasantly” (HBP 67), and “A hot, prickly feeling of shame spread from the top of Harry's head all they way down his body.” (HBP 428); and we see it once more in this book, when Ron and Hermione have a “prickly silence” (164).

However, these four appear to be anomalies, as most of the time the word prickly (or a variation of it) is used to describe Harry's scar – more importantly, the feeling Harry gets when the connection is active. It prickles 12 times in Order of the Phoenix, and 19 times in this book (it does not prickle in the sixth book as the connection is never open).

So which one is this? Is this just another anomaly, or a sign that the connection is open and more than PTSD is at work here? Let's take a look at the rest of the sentence to find out.

Blunder. Harry specifically refers to his caring about others, including Fleur's sister, as a blunder. Blunder means “a gross, stupid, or careless mistake”. So it is stupid to care about people? This flashes me back to Voldemort's speech in the graveyard, where he talks about Lily's “foolish sacrifice” and how he was “foolish to overlook it” (GF 653). Foolish. Foolish means “resulting from folly or stupidity”. So, both blunder and foolish mean stupid. And we never, not once, see Harry regret saving anyone – even if the people around him don't agree.

That, the fact that this is a fundamental part of Harry's personality, makes me think their minds have melded together again. Harry is operating with Voldemort's emotions. It makes sense, especially when you think about the fact that Voldemort went through the trouble to make an elaborate trap for Harry, that he would keep an eye on Harry, leaving it easy for their minds to meld together. After all, he doesn't show up at the DoM right away. What else would he really be doing?

... I mean, it was really great of you and everything,” said Hermione quickly, looking positively petrified at the look on Harry's face. “Everyone thought it was a wonderful thing to do -”

Petrified means “to stun or paralyze with terror”. So Harry's look is making her feel terrified (which means “deeply afraid”), as it's obviously not a positive look. It means Harry is taking this the wrong way. I also wonder how much of Voldemort came through with that look?

That's funny,” said Harry through gritted teeth, “because I definitely remember Ron saying I'd wasted time acting the hero... is that what you think this is? You reckon I want to act the hero again?”

Harry's still obviously angry, but he tries to manage and control it, as he slides more towards arguing.

No, no, no!” said Hermione, looking aghast. “That's not what I meant at all!”


Aghast means “filled with horror or shock”. Hermione is completely horrified that Harry interpreted her words that way. Horror means “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust”. This is a powerful, full-body emotion to have – and all because Harry thinks she wants him to 'act the hero'? This is a desperate situation, yes. But Hermione cannot make it any clearer that Harry's opinion is exceptionally important to her.

Well, spit out what you've got to say, because we're wasting time here!” Harry shouted.

Harry's still fighting.

I'm trying to say – Voldemort knows you, Harry! He took Ginny down into the Chamber of Secrets to lure you there, it's the kind of thing he does, he knows you're the – the sort of person who'd go to Sirius's aid! What if he's just trying to get you into the Department of Myst -?”

Give the trophy to Hermione for being spot on! She's slid back towards fighting here, as she's yelling, but that doesn't change the fact that everything she says is correct!

Hermione, it doesn't matter if he's done it to get me there or not – they've taken McGonagall to St. Mungo's, there isn't anyone left from the Order at Hogwarts who we can tell, and if we don't go, Sirius is dead!”

Still more fighting from Harry.

But Harry – what if your dream was – was just that, a dream?”

Hermione's gone back to arguing.

Harry let out a roar of frustration. Hermione actually stepped back from him, looking alarmed.

Another line that makes me think Harry and Voldemort's minds are connected. To roar means “to utter a loud, deep, prolonged sound, especially in distress, rage, or excitement”. There is something distinctly animal-like and uncontrolled in roaring. Harry is a person who doesn't lose control – not really. We see him lose control, shouting and throwing things after Sirius' death; and we see him truly getting angry and shouting for the first time, with the PTSD in Order of the Phoenix. But we never see him truly lose control.

Voldemort, on the other hand, is insane and has very little control. Let's look at what Hermione said, and what frustration means. To frustrate means “to prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart”. Thwart means “to oppose and defeat the efforts, plans, or ambitions of”. So Hermione saying it was just a dream defeats Harry's plan? Ahh, no.

It defeats Voldemort's plan. Because the last thing Voldemort wants is Harry not coming. Harry must believe the dream is true. So when Hermione sees and says the truth, he loses control. That. Must. Not. Happen. Harry must come.

The other word that stands out to me for Voldemort's influence is the word actually. Actually means “used to emphasize that something someone has said or done is surprising”. So it's surprising for Hermione to take a step away from Harry? Surprise means “to fill with often sudden wonder or disbelief as being unanticipated or out of the ordinary”. So it's out of the norm for Hermione to take a step away from Harry? Other than being more proof for our ship (which it is), it also means that something out of the norm is going on here. Perhaps the presence of Voldemort?

Also, this is another line Ron/Hermione fans like to use to say this fight is unhealthy and abusive, and that Harry is dominating Hermione. That's not true in any way. Even if we take out my theory about Voldemort, it's still not true. Harry's getting even more upset, and alarmed means to “cause (someone) to feel frightened, disturbed, or in danger”. His out-of-control reaction is frightening Hermione, and she (rightly) takes a step away. That does not make this abuse as he doesn't do anything. Is this a healthy moment? No. But one fight where they never even really verbally attack each other does not make this fight – or the relationship – abusive.

You don't get it!” Harry shouted at her. “I'm not having nightmares, I'm not just dreaming! What d'you think all the Occlumency was for, why d'you think Dumbledore wanted me prevented from seeing these things? Because they're REAL, Hermione – Sirius is trapped – I've seen him – Voldemort's got him, and no one else knows, and that means we're the only ones who can save him, and if you don't want to do it fine, but I'm going, understand? And if I remember rightly, you didn't have a problem with my saving-people-thing when it was you I was saving from the dementors, or” - he rounded on Ron - “when it was your sister I was saving from the basilisk -”
I never said I had a problem!” said Ron heatedly.
But Harry, you've just said it,” said Hermione fiercely. “Dumbledore wanted you to learn to shut these things out of your mind, if you'd done Occlumency properly you'd never have seen this -”

More proof that Hermione is not being dominated. If she was she wouldn't continue holding her ground and challenging him. Fiercely means “extremely intense or ardent”. Ardent means “displaying or characterized by strong enthusiasm or devotion”. She's intense and devoted to him. She's the only person in the world who has the courage and will to stand up to him and challenge him. That is so far away from someone being dominated that I have no words.

IF YOU THINK I'M JUST GOING TO ACT LIKE I HAVEN'T SEEN -”

Harry's still fighting.

Sirius told you there was nothing more important than you learning to close your mind!”

Hermione's sliding back towards fighting as she holds her ground. They are still on equal footing, like they have been the entire time.

WELL, I EXPECT HE'D SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT IF HE KNEW WHAT I'D JUST -”
The classroom door opened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione whipped around. Ginny walked in, looking curious, closely followed by Luna, who as usual looked as though she had drifted in accidentally.
Hi,” said Ginny uncertainly. “We recognized Harry's voice – what are you yelling about?”
Never you mind,” said Harry roughly.
Ginny raised her eyebrows.
There's no need to take that tone with me,” she said cooly. “I was only wondering whether I could help.”
Well, you can't,” said Harry shortly.
You're being rather rude, you know,” said Luna serenely.
Harry swore and turned away. The very last thing he wanted now was a conversation with Luna Lovegood.
Wait,” said Hermione suddenly. “Wait... Harry, they can help.”

Hermione's coming up with a plan!

Harry and Ron looked at her.
Listen,” she said urgently, “Harry, we need to establish whether Sirius really has left headquarters -”

Urgently means “conveying a sense of pressing importance”. Well, that makes sense. This is a pressing matter. Hermione has switched gears; she can't get him to agree, but maybe she can show him the truth.

I told you, I saw -”
Harry, I'm begging you, please!” said Hermione desperately. “Please let's just check that Sirius isn't at home before we go charging off to London – if we find out he's not there then I swear I won't try and stop you, I'll come, I'll d-do whatever it takes to try and save him -”

Desperately means “suffering or driven by great need or distress”. To beg means “ask (someone) earnestly or humbly for something”. Earnestly means “of an important or weighty nature”. Well, that all makes sense. This is a desperate situation. Note what Hermione then says. She's at the end of her rope, she doesn't believe that Voldemort has Sirius; but if he does, if Sirius is really in trouble, she'll be right next to Harry, doing whatever it takes to save him. She reassures Harry she'll be by his side, like always.

Sirius is being tortured NOW!” shouted Harry. “We haven't got time to waste -”

More fighting from Harry.

But if this is a trick of V-Voldemort's – Harry, we've got to check, we've got to -”

Hermione's arguing, of course.

How?” Harry demanded. “How're we going to check?”

Harry's arguing now, as demanded means “to ask for urgently or peremptorily”. He's urgent, of course, but he's not yelling.

We'll have to use Umbridge's fire and see if we can contact him,” said Hermione, who looked positively terrified at the thought. “We'll draw Umbridge away again, but we'll need lookouts, and that's where we can use Ginny and Luna.”

Hermione's willing to do something that terrifies her – I would be terrified too about breaking into Umbridge's office – to help Harry. And she offers it unhesitatingly.

Though clearly struggling to understand what was going on, Ginny said immediately, “Yeah, we'll do it,” and Luna said, “When you say 'Sirius,' are you talking about Stubby Boardman?”
Nobody answered her.
Okay,” Harry said aggressively to Hermione, “Okay, if you can think of a way of doing this quickly, I'm with you, otherwise I'm going to the Department of Mysteries right now -”

Bit of an empty threat there, Harry! You only now, after all of this interaction, say you're going to go with or without her? And you say it right after Hermione promises she'll do whatever it takes to help you? Silly boy, you're showing how much you desperately need her (not that we mind).

Harry's not yelling, but he's speaking aggressively, so it's more on the fighting end.

The Department of Mysteries?” said Luna, looking mildly surprised. “But how are you going to get there?”
Again, Harry ignored her.
Right,” said Hermione, twisting her hands together and pacing up and down between the desks. “Right... well... One of us has to go and find Umbridge and – and send her off in the wrong direction, keep her away from her office. They could tell her – I don't know – that Peeves is up to something awful as usual...”
I'll do it,” said Ron at once. “I'll tell her Peeves is smashing up the Transfiguration department or something, it's miles away from her office. Come to think of it, I could probably persuade Peeves to do it if I met him on the way...”
It was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that Hermione made no objection to the smashing up of the Transfiguration department.
Okay,” she said, her brow furrowed as she continued to pace. “Now, we need to keep students away from her office while we force entry, or some Slytherin's bound to go and tip her off...”
Luna and I can stand at either end of the corridor,” said Ginny promptly, “and warn people not to go down there because someone's let off a load of Garroting Gas.” Hermione looked surprised at the readiness with which Ginny had come up with this lie. Ginny shrugged and said, “Fred and George were planning to do it before they left.”

Just more proof that Hermione's Harry's equal, and that the others could never begin to match up. Hermione comes up with the plan, giving out orders and directing the others.

Okay,” said Hermione, “well then, Harry, you and I will be under the Invisibility Cloak, and we'll sneak into the office and you can talk to Sirius -”

This is a huge and crucial thing that speaks volumes about their relationship. Usually after a fight, people want to be apart to calm down. Hermione could easily have sorted herself with one of the others, but she didn't. She made it so she would be right at Harry's side the entire time. No matter what happens, or what disagreement they have, she will never leave Harry's side. She will never leave him. That is a hugely profound thing.

He's not there, Hermione!”
I mean – you can check whether Sirius is at home or not while I keep watch, I don't think you should be in there alone, Lee's already proved the window's a weak spot, sending those nifflers through it.”

Hermione's not even arguing, just talking. We get a look at her thoughts, which is all about protecting Harry.

Harry's still see-sawing between fighting and arguing.

Even through his anger and impatience Harry recognized Hermione's offer to accompany him into Umbridge's office as a sign of solidarity and loyalty.
I... okay, thanks,” he muttered.

I can't stress how huge this part is. Let's go over some definitions first. Solidarity means “a union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group”. Union means an “agreement or harmony resulting from the uniting of individuals”. Loyal means “faithful to a person, ideal, custom, cause, or duty”.

So Harry's recognizing that he and Hermione are united, and that Hermione is faithful to him. Can you see how huge that is? He's not recognizing anybody else, and they all agreed right away. Just like the scene before, Voldemort has numbed out his feelings for any of his other friends. But Harry is still able to feel Hermione. Hermione is still able to reach him. Only her.

Also, note what word showed up in the definitions. Harmony. One of the names for our ship!

Right, well, even if we do all of that, I don't think we're going to be able to bank on more than five minutes,” said Hermione, looking relieved that Harry seemed to have accepted the plan, “not with Filch and the wretched Inquisitorial Squad floating around.”
Five minutes'll be enough,” said Harry. “C'mon, let's go -”
Now?” said Hermione, looking shocked.
Of course now!” said Harry angrily. “What did you think, we're going to wait until after dinner or something? Hermione, Sirius is being tortured right now!”
I – oh all right,” she said desperately. “You go and get the Ivisilibty Cloak and we'll meet you at the end of Umrbidge's corridor, okay?” (OP 730-7)

I included this last bit even though the emotional cycle of the fight ended after Harry said thank you. It just has a feeling of completion to it. This easily could have been the start of another fight, but it isn't as they progress with the plan.

I want to look at two excerpts from other Harry/Hermione essays about this scene:

Every person he thought he could trust seemed to turn their backs on him. Ron distanced himself from Harry again this year. Even Hermione seemed to disbelieve Harry at the end of OotP when he is so desperate to get to the MoM. This is where we see him at his emotional worst. He is frantic, and looking to her for help, and his rock, his foundation, his one believer, says that she doesn’t believe him.

Harry is now put on the defensive. He releases the tension and frustration this causes, by once again yelling. He moves closer to her. He feels like shaking her. This is where his physical violence is most likely to come out…yet, it doesn’t. He shouts, he uses logic back at her, he yells, he glares at her, he points out his past deeds, he asks her to clarify her statements, he acts aggressively, and he agrees with her plan, and thanks her. He masters those emotions in the end. He never physically contacts her. He never even verbally attacks her. He never gives a barbed comment through the whole conversation. Even when he brings up how he’s saved her before, he doesn’t bring up the troll incident which has been her most desperate situation, but the dementors, when he saved more than just her.

innermurk has some very good points about this scene. In all of the interaction, Harry never really verbally attacks her. He doesn't insult her, or put her down. He doesn't bring up the Troll, which was the only situation someone could (unfairly) blame Hermione for starting, when she was at her most vulnerable, not knowing many spells. All the truly toxic things that happen in a fight didn't happen here.


Harry dreams of Sirius being tortured. He wants Hermione and Ron to go directly to London with him to fight Voldemort and save his life because of what he saw in a dream. Hermione sees right through this fuse of Voldemort’s and stands up against his decision. Does not agree to go with him unless some prove is gotten of the accuracy of his dream. Shout match ensues.

Difficult case of study but very illustrative of Harry’s way of handling Hermione in the worst circumstances. Firstly we have a case of life or death for one of the most important persons to Harry. It is very strange that Harry actually decides to have a complete discussion with Hermione, given how important was time for him under the circumstances and in his complete assurance of certainty. He could have easily gone off to London only with Ron who accepted Harry’s word without discussion. But no, he stays and spends valuable time trying to convince Hermione to go with him. She resists him for the first time ever which drives him completely out of control at first. Obviously, he is not used to her being in disagreement with him. Her approbation is of great consequence to him even under a death-threatening situation.

Now, if we follow the nature of this fight, we see a gradual change from a complete aggressive behavior to an assertive one: At its worst Harry even feels like shaking Hermione, but finds the will power not to do it, then listens to her, accepts her plan to find out if Sirius is at GP12 if that is what it takes for her to go with him. Finally, they both arrive to an agreement that finishes the aggressiveness, turning it into communication, a joint effort to make the plan work, and Harry finally thinking to himself that she is loyal and show solidarity, and after so much shouting, find the presence of mind to even THANK her.

Interesting, from the worst possible scenario, shouting, possessiveness and tears, we have two people who find their way into understanding and mutual support. Something that starts badly works into a logic and constructive way of action. Aggressiveness end up in assertiveness.

I agree with all of this, they end with assertiveness, not aggressiveness. That is a huge thing. It is not easy for two people to do that. There needs to be a firm foundation of respect, trust, and love in the relationship for them to do that. And we see over and over again throughout the series that Harry and Hermione do have all of the respect, trust, and love needed for a healthy romantic relationship.

Now, lets go through the argument in this book. I will copy the text here so we can go through it line by line.

Harry! HARRY!”
He opened his eyes; he had sunk to the floor. Hermione was pounding on the door again.

Hermione's screaming out his name and pounding on the door. To pound means “to strike vigorous, repeated blows”. She's using all of her energy to try and get to Harry.

Harry, open up!”
He had shouted out, he knew it. He got up and unbolted the door; Hermione toppled inside at once, regained her balance, and looked around suspiciously. Ron was right behind her, looking unnerved as he pointed his wand into the corners of the chilly bathroom.

This confirms that Hermione was putting all of her energy into trying to get to Harry, as topple means “to lean over as if about to fall”. She wouldn't fall when the door opened if she didn't have all her weight against it.

Hermione looks around suspiciously. Suspicion means “the act of suspecting something, especially something wrong, on little evidence or without proof”. She knows somethings wrong, and she's not going to stop until she figures out what.

Ron, on the other hand, is unnerved. Unnerved means “to make nervous or upset”. Harry's screaming has made him nervous, shown by him moving his wand around.

What were you doing?” asked Hermione sternly.

Sternly means “hard, harsh, or severe in manner or character”. Hermione has a good idea of what was going on and she's not happy about it. Note that she's not fighting, either. She's just not pretending to be happy with the situation.

What d'you think I was doing?” asked Harry with feeble bravado.
You were yelling your head off!” said Ron.
Oh yeah... I must've dozed off or -”
Harry, please don't insult our intelligence,” said Hermione, taking deep breaths. “We know your scar hurt downstairs, and you're white as a sheet.”

Hermione takes some deep breaths to calm herself down, and stays on topic. She's arguing.

Harry sat down on the edge of the bath.
Fine. I've just seen Voldemort murdering a woman. By now he's probably killed her whole family. And he didn't need to. It was Cedric all over again, they were just there...”

Harry doesn't get upset, he knows he's been caught. He then explains what he saw.

Harry, you aren't supposed to let this happen anymore!” Hermione cried, her voice echoing through the bathroom. “Dumbledore wanted you to use Occlumency! He thought the connection was dangerous – Voldemort can use it, Harry! What good is it to watch him kill and torture, how can it help?”

Hermione starts sliding towards yelling, as she raises her voice. But it is crucial to note that she does none of the other things associated with fighting. She does not insult him, does not bring up past situations, and focuses on the solution – Harry closing his mind.

She then stops yelling, and goes back to arguing, asking him how can it help.

Because it means I know what he's doing,” said Harry.

Harry gives Hermione the same reason he gave Snape at the beginning of Occlumency lessons (OP 531).

So you're not even going to try to shut him out?”
Hermione, I can't. You know I'm lousy at Occlumency, I never got the hang of it.”

They're still arguing instead of fighting.

You never really tried!” she said hotly. “I don't get it, Harry – do you like having this special connection or relationship or what – whatever -”

Hermione calls him out on his excuse, telling him he never really tried. She's right, he's admitted it himself, that she kept telling him to and he didn't (OP 829). She speaks hotly, meaning “in an intense or fiery way”. Her voice is intense, and she slides closer to fighting with that line. But she does not, she stops yelling.

She goes farther here than ever before, asking Harry if he likes the connection. This is a huge thing. Hermione's instincts are almost always right – is she right? Does Harry like the connection? The possibility is in our minds now, we can't forget it. And it will stay there, in the back of our minds, until we get an answer.

She faltered under the look he gave her as he stood up.
Like it?” he said quietly. “Would you like it?”
I – no – I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean -”

Harry doesn't get angry with her question, he responds quietly. Quietly means “with low volume”. He's not fighting, he arguing.

And Hermione? Hermione realizes that she has made a mistake and apologizes. Both responses are mature and healthy.

I hate it, I hate the fact that he can get inside me, that I have to watch him when he's most dangerous. But I'm going to use it.”
Dumbledore -”
Forget Dumbledore. This is my choice, nobody else's. I want to know why he's after Gregorovitch.”
Who?”
He's a foreign wandmaker,” said Harry. “He made Krum's wand and Krum reckons he's brilliant.” (233-4)

More arguing that slides into talking. Also, I can't forget what Hermione said. I know that Harry said that he hates it, but we haven't seen that. I will be looking out for proof, one way or the other.

Harry, you keep talking about what your wand did,” said Hermione, “but you made it happen! Why are you so determined not to take responsibility for your own power?”
Because I know it wasn't me! And so does Voldemort, Hermione! We both know what really happened!”
They glared at each other: Harry knew that he had not convinced Hermione, and that she was marshaling counterarguments, against both his theory on his wand and the fact that he was permitting himself to see into Voldemort's mind. To his relief, Ron intervened.
Drop it,” he advised her. “It's up to him. And if we're going to the Ministry tomorrow, don't you reckon we should go over the plan?”
Reluctantly, as the other two could tell, Hermione let the matter rest, though Harry was quite sure she would attack again at the first opportunity. In the meantime, they returned to the basement kitchen, where Kreacher served them all stew and treacle tart. (235)

Hermione's frustrated with Harry for not seeing his own power – because she knows he's a powerful wizard – and toes the line between fighting and arguing.

Harry, on the other hand, is fighting. Like with the first time they talked about this, we see a hint of abused!Harry – he still doesn't think he's powerful or a match for Voldemort, and is highly uncomfortable with anyone thinking he is.

Ron then interferes and tells Hermione to let it go. This is not a shipping point, as I have heard many times by Ron/Hermione fans, but a point of familiarity. If you know someone well, you can say things strangers couldn't. Now, if this happened often (with Hermione listening to Ron), it could be a valid shipping point. However, it doesn't. It has happened four times before this; two times Hermione listened (GF 230, OP 856) and two times she didn't (OP 660, 667). Therefore, it is not a shipping pattern.

Besides, just look at all of the times Hermione gives in to Harry's reasoning in this book alone. And she doesn't get upset when that happens!

Ah, Mafalda!” said Umbridge, looking at Hermione. “Travers sent you, did he?”
Y-yes,” squeaked Hermione.
Good, you'll do perfectly well.” Umbridge spoke to the wizard in black and gold. “That's that problem solved, Minister, if Mafalda can be spared for record-keeping we shall be able to start straightaway.” She consulted her clipboard. “Ten people today and one of them the wife of a Ministry employee! Tut, tut... even here, in the heart of the Ministry!” She stepped into the lift beside Hermione, as did the two wizards who had been listening to Umbridge's conversation with the Minister. “We'll go straight down, Mafalda, you'll find everything you need in the courtroom. Good morning, Albert, aren't you getting out?”
Yes, of course,” said Harry in Runcorn's deep voice.
Harry stepped out of the lift. The golden grilles clanged shut behind him. Glancing over his shoulder, Harry saw Hermione's anxious face sinking back out of sight, a tall wizard on either side of her. Umbridge's velvet hair-bow level with her shoulder. (246-7)

Harry has no choice to leave Hermione's side. But that doesn't stop him from glancing back at her in worry as she disappears from view.

Speeding back toward the lifts, Harry reviewed his options. It had never been likely that the locket was here at the Ministry, and there was no hope of bewitching its whereabouts out of Umbridge while she was sitting in a crowded court. Their priority now had to be to leave the Ministry before they were exposed, and try again another day. The first thing to do was to find Ron, and then they could work out a way of extracting Hermione from the courtroom. (253-4)

Harry knows what the smart thing to do is – find Ron so when Hermione joins them they can all get out. However, when Ron gets called away to his task and gets separated from Harry again (255), that doesn't change the fact that Harry still is going after Hermione:

Harry pulled out the Invisibility Cloak and put it back on. He would try to extricate Hermione on his own while Ron was dealing with the raining office. (256)

Hermione is stuck with Umbridge, and Harry is going after her. Getting Hermione is the most important thing to him right now.

Mrs. Cattermole's sobs masked Harry's footsteps as he made his way carefully toward the steps that led up to the raised platform. The moment he had passed the place where the Patronus cat patrolled, he felt the change in temperature: It was warm and comfortable here. The Patronus, he was sure, was Umbridge's, and it glowed brightly because she was so happy here, in her element, upholding the twisted laws she had helped to write. Slowly and very carefully he edged his way along the platform behind Umbridge, Yaxley, and Hermione, taking a seat behind the latter. He was worried about making Hermione jump. He thought of casting the Muffliato charm upon Umbridge and Yaxley, but even murmuring the word might cause Hermione alarm. Then Umbridge raised her voice to address Mrs. Cattermole, and Harry seized his chance.
I'm behind you,” he whispered into Hermione's ear.
As he had expected, she jumped so violently she nearly overturned the bottle of ink with which she was supposed to be recording the interview, but both Umbridge and Yaxley were concentrating upon Mrs. Cattermole, and this went unnoticed. (259-60)

Harry is worried Hermione will jump when he talks. Now, since they're surrounded by enemies, it makes sense that he doesn't want to alarm her and draw attention to her. But Harry goes beyond that – he's so worried about alarming Hermione he won't even cast a spell. He's not worried about Umbridge and Yaxley finding out he's there, no. What he's worried about is upsetting Hermione.

Also, to whisper into someone's ear you must be standing very, very close. As for Hermione, Hermione reacts just like Harry thought she would – he knew her exact reaction.

It was Umbridge's lie that brought the blood surging into Harry's brain and obliterated his sense of caution – that the locket she had taken as a bribe from a petty criminal was being used to bolster her own pure-blood credentials. He raised his wand, not even troubling to keep it concealed beneath the Invisibility Cloak, and said, “Stupefy!
There was a flash of red light; Umbridge crumpled and her forehead hit the edge of the balustrade: Mrs. Cattermole's papers slid off her lap onto the floor and, down below, the prowling silver cat vanished. Ice-cold air hit them like an oncoming wind: Yaxley, confused, looked around for the source of the trouble and saw Harry's disembodied hand and wand pointing at him. He tried to draw his own wand, but too late: “Stupefy!
Yaxley slid to the ground to lie curled on the floor.
Harry!”
Hermione, if you think I was going to sit here and let her pretend -”
Harry, Mrs. Cattermole!”
Harry whirled around, throwing off the Invisibility Cloak; down below, the dementors had moved out of their corners; they were gliding toward the woman chained to the chair: Whether because the Patronus had vanished or because they sensed that their masters were no longer in control, they seemed to have abandoned restraint. Mrs. Cattermole let out a terrible scream of fear as a slimy, scabbed hand grasped her chin and forced her face back.
EXPECTO PATRONUM!
The silver stag soared from the tip of Harry's wand and leaped toward the dementors, which fell back and melted into the dark shadows again. The stag's light, more powerful and more warming than the cat's protection, filled the whole dungeon as it cantered around and around the room.
Get the Horcrux,” Harry told Hermione.
He ran back down the steps, stuffing the Invisibility Cloak back into his bag, and approached Mrs. Cattermole.
You?” she whispered, gazing into his face. “But – but Reg said you were the one who submitted my name for questioning!”
Did I?” muttered Harry, tugging at the chains binding her arms. “Well, I've had a change of heart. Diffindo!” Nothing happened. “Hermione, how do I get rid of these chains?”
Wait, I'm trying something up here -”
Hermione, we're surrounded by dementors!”
I know that, Harry, but if she wakes up and the locket's gone – I need to duplicate it – Gemino! There... That should fool her...”
Hermione came running downstairs.
Let's see... Relashio!
The chains clinked and withdrew into the arms of the chair. Mrs. Cattermole looked just as frightened as ever before.
I don't understand,” she whispered.
You're going to leave here with us,” said Harry, pulling her to her feet. “Go home, grab your children, and get out, get out of the country if you've got to. Disguise yourselves and run. You've seen how it is, you won't get anything like a fair hearing here.”
Harry,” said Hermione, “how are we going to get out of here with all those dementors outside the door?”
Patronuses,” said Harry, pointing his wand at his own: The stag slowed and walked, still gleaming brightly, toward the door. “As many as we can muster; do yours, Hermione.”
Expec – Expecto patronum,” said Hermione. Nothing happened.
It's the only spell she ever has trouble with,” Harry told a completely bemused Mrs. Cattermole. “Bit unfortunate, really... Come on, Hermione...”
Expecto patronum!
A silver otter burst from the end of Hermione's wand and swam gracefully through the air to join the stag. (261-3)

Another crucial moment in the book, that Harry and Hermione share without Ron. They meet him in the lift afterwards (264).

Amusingly, they are able to have an entire, regular conversation about what to do, while fighting for their lives. Then, Harry takes the time to explain how great Hermione is, that this only the spell she has trouble with. Because it's vital that Mrs. Cattermole knows how smart Hermione is.

And then he cheers her on, so she's able to cast the spell. Then her Patronus moves gracefully to join Harry's. A symbol of Harry and Hermione fighting side by side, always.

Come on!” Harry shouted at Hermione; he seized her hand and they jumped into the fireplace together as Yaxley's curse sailed over Harry's head. They spun for a few seconds before shooting up out of a toilet into a cubicle. Harry flung open the door; Ron was standing there beside the sinks, still wrestling with Mrs. Cattermole.
Reg, I don't understand -”
Let go, I'm not your husband, you've got to go home!”
There was a noise in the cubicle behind them; Harry looked around; Yaxley had just appeared.
LET'S GO!” Harry yelled. He seized Hermione by the hand and Ron by the arm and turned on the spot.
Darkness engulfed them, along with the sensation of compressing bands, but something was wrong... Hermione's hand seemed to be sliding out of his grip...
He wondered whether he was going to suffocate; he could not breathe or see and the only solid things in the world were Ron's arm and Hermione's fingers, which were slowly slipping away...
And then he was the door of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, with its serpent door knocker, but before he could draw breath, there was a scream and a flash of purple light; Hermione's hand was suddenly vicelike upon his and everything when dark agin. (267)

Harry is keenly aware of touching Hermione. We hear Harry only mention holding onto Ron twice, but he mentions Hermione five times. Again, holding someone's hand is much more intimate than grabbing someone's arm. Harry also measures what's going on by Hermione's grip on his hand.

Also, Harry didn't even need to grab Hermione's hand the first time – they weren't apparating, and he had already shouted for her to come. But he does.

How did he get hurt? I mean” - Harry shook his head, trying to clear it, to make sense of whatever had just taken place - “why are we here? I thought we were going back to Grimmauld Place?”
Hermione took a deep breath. She looked close to tears.
Harry, I don't think we're going to be able to go back there.”
What d'you -?”
As we Disapparated, Yaxley caught hold of me and I couldn't get rid of him, he was too strong, and he was still holding on when we arrived at Grimmauld Place, and then – well, I think he must have seen the door, and thought we were stopping there, so he slackened his grip and I managed to shake him off and I brought us here instead!”
But then, where's he? Hang on... You don't mean he's at Grimmauld Place? He can't get in there?”
Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears as she nodded.
Harry, I think he can. I – I forced him to let go with a Revulsion Jinx, but I'd already taken him inside the Fidelius Charm's protection. Since Dumbledore died, we're Secret-Keepers, so I've given him the secret, haven't I?”
There was no pretending: Harry was sure she was right. It was a serious blow. If Yaxley could now get inside the house, there was no way they could return. Even now, he could be bringing other Death Eaters in there by Apparition. Gloomy and oppressive though the house was, it had been their one safe refuge: even, now that Kreacher was so much happier and friendlier, a kind of home. With a twinge of regret that had nothing to do with food, Harry imagined the house-elf busying himself over the steak-and-kidney pie that Harry, Ron, and Hermione would never eat.
Harry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!”
Don't be stupid, it wasn't your fault! If anything, it was mine...”
Harry put his hand in his pocket and drew out Mad-Eye's eye. Hermione recoiled, looking horrified.
Umbridge had stuck it to her office door, to spy on people. I couldn't leave it there... but that's how they knew there were intruders. (270-1)

Harry asks why are they in a forest instead of Grimmauld Place. Hermione takes a deep breath to brace herself while her eyes fill with tears. She then tells Harry why they can't go back. The tears are still in her eyes as she nods in conformation to Harry's question. He doesn't say anything, and she quickly starts apologizing for her mistake.

Now, let's take a look at what that tells us about her emotions, because it gives us a good look into Hermione's psyche. Hermione is a very insecure person. We know this for a few reasons. Her boggart, her worst fear, is failure (PA 319). If you are secure in yourself you know you will be alright and that you are a good person, so failure does not effect you as much. However, Hermione is absolutely terrified of failing. At schoolwork, yes, but most importantly she is terrified of failing Harry.

Judging by Hermione's lack of social skills, I would be very surprised if she had any friends before Hogwarts. When she enters Hogwarts, she clearly notices Harry, singling him out multiple times over Ron (PS 154, 155, 159, 160, 166) (A crucial note – while she is clearly aware of him and curious about him, she never acts like a fangirl or like she's jealous; she's not in awe of him. I personally think that she's drawn to him and that she sees someone in him she would like to be friends with.) We all know how they become friends. But Harry gives her something no one else does, from the very beginning, even before coming friends (and certainly after). He doesn't insult her, or make fun of her. He respects her, admires her, defends her, and treats her well. Ron, even after becoming friends, doesn't stop insulting her or making fun of her. After all, that's one of our biggest shipping points – that Harry treats her well and Ron doesn't.

Harry is her rock, her best friend, the one who treats her well. She would do anything for him. She also plays a crucial role in his life. She provides him with all the information he needs, and does everything she can to make sure he's successful. In my opinion, she seems to define herself by how much she helps Harry.

Here, she fails at helping him. In fact, she has made their situation worse. She has single-handily lost them Grimmauld Place (note – that's what she's thinking, not what I believe). She has to take a deep breath to brace herself because he means so much to her and she can't stand the thought of him being angry and disappointed in her. She can't stop the tears from pooling in her eyes. She finishes explaining, and he doesn't say anything. He just sits there. She gets even more scared and starts apologizing rapidly - “I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!” - is a cry of complete desperation.

Miraculously (at least to her), instead of being angry, Harry reassures her that there is nothing to be sorry for and that he's not mad. He tries to take responsibility for it instead.

In the woods where they held the Quidditch World Cup,” said Hermione. “I wanted somewhere enclosed, undercover, and this was -”
- the first place you thought of,” Harry finished for her, glancing around at the apparently deserted glade. (271-2)

Harry finishes Hermione's sentence, knowing what she was thinking.

Cave Inimicum,” Hermione finished with a skyward flourish. “That's as much as I can do. At the very least, we should know they're coming, I can't guarantee it will keep out Vol -”
Don't say the name!” Ron cut across her, his voice harsh.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other.
I'm sorry,” Ron said, moaning a little as he raised himself to look at them, “but it feels like a – a jinx or something. Can't we call him You-Know-Who – please?” (273)

Now we know that there is a Taboo on the name. But Ron doesn't know that, that's not his reason for saying they shouldn't call Voldemort, Voldemort. Harry and Hermione are the only two 'kids' who ever use Voldemort's name, once again making them equals in a way no one else is.

Harry looked over at Hermione and the question he had been about to ask – about whether Mrs. Cattermole's lack of a wand would prevent her Apparating alongside her husband – died in his throat. Hermione was watching Ron fret over the fate of the Cattermoles, and there was such tenderness in her expression that Harry felt almost as if he had surprised her in the act of kissing him.
So, have you got it?” Harry asked her, partly to remind her that he was there.
Got – got what?” she said with a little start.
What did we just go through all that for? The locket! Where's the locket?”
You got it?” shouted Ron, raising himself a little higher on his pillows. “No one tells me anything! Blimey, you could have mentioned it!”
Well, we were running for our lives from the Death Eaters, weren't we?” said Hermione. “Here.” (274-5)

No, Ron. No, they don't. But that's not exactly new.

Once again Harry has a strong, negative reaction to the idea of Ron/Hermione. Like any decent human, Ron was worried about the Cattermoles. Harry was worried too, and his words died in his throat. One definition for died is “(of something inanimate) to cease to exist”. His words ceased to exist because of Hermione's look. Then he makes a comment to remind her that he's there. Harry is not happy.

As for Hermione's look, Ron had just gotten splinched. Tenderness means “a tendency to express warm and affectionate feeling”. It is a soft look, yes, but not a look of deep emotion. If one of my closest friends was hurt because of me and expressing concern for others, I would give them a tender look too. It means that Hermione cares for Ron, and I will never deny that. He's one of her best friends. I just don't think she's in love with him (we'll talk more about that later).

With the Sneakoscope Hermione had given Harry for his birthday set carefully upon the table in the tent, Harry and Hermione spent the rest of the day sharing the role of lookout. However, the Sneakoscope remained silent and still upon its point all day, and whether because of the protective enchantments and Muggle-repelling charms Hermione had spread around them, or because people rarely ventured this was, their patch of wood remained deserted, apart from occasional birds and squirrels. Evening brought no change; Harry lit his wand as he swapped places with Hermione at ten o'clock, and looked out upon a deserted scene, noting the bats fluttering high above him across the single patch of starry sky visible from their protected clearing. (276-7)

We get to see the genius of Hermione's thinking, as her birthday present to Harry proves to be extremely useful. As Ron has been hurt, it would be unfair to expect him to take a watch. What this does show, though, is how well Harry and Hermione work as a team. It's natural for them.

Hermione had not packed any food in her magical bag, as she had assumed that they would be returning to Grimmauld Place that night, so they had had nothing to eat except some wild mushrooms that Hermione had collected from amongst the nearest trees and stewed in a billycan. After a could of mouthfuls Ron had pushed his portion away, looking queasy; Harry had only persevered so as not to hurt Hermione's feelings. (277)

Harry cares about Hermione's feelings so much that he is willing to eat horrible food to keep her happy; not only is he conscious of her feelings, he's also considerate, going out of his way not to hurt her. People don't do that for just anyone, just the people you love most. And Harry doesn't do it for anyone else.

Sick images swarmed into Harry's head and he tried to push these away too, for there was nothing he could do for Kreacher: He and Hermione had already decided against trying to summon him; what if someone from the Ministry came too? (278)

Ron may be injured, but by this point he is awake and alert. Harry and Hermione could have included him when they made their plans, but they didn't.

A scream that went on and on and then a burst of green light –
Harry!
He opened his eyes, panting, his forehead throbbing. He had passed out against the side of the tent, had slid sideways down the canvas, and was sprawled on the ground. He looked up at Hermione, whose bushy hair obscured the tiny patch of sky visible through the dark branches high above them.
Dream,” he said, sitting up quickly and attempting to meet Hermione's glower with a look of innocence. Must've dozed off, sorry.”
I know it was your scar! I can tell by the look on your face! You were looking into Vol -”
Don't say his name!” came Ron's angry voice from the depths of the tent.
Fine,” retorted Hermione. “You-Know-Who's mind, then!”
I didn't mean it to happen!” Harry said. “It was a dream! Can you control what you dream about, Hermione?”
If you just learned to apply Occlumency -”
But Harry was not interested in being told off; he wanted to discuss what he had just seen.
He's found Gregorovitch, Hermione, and I think he's killed him, but before he killed him he read Gregorovitch's mind and I saw -”
I think I'd better take over the watch if you're so tired you're falling asleep,” said Hermione coldly.
I can finish the watch!”
No, you're obviously exhausted. Go and lie down.”
She dropped in the mouth of the tent, looking stubborn. Angry, but wishing to avoid a row, Harry ducked back inside. (280-1)

Hermione screams Harry's name, snapping him out of the vision. To glower means “to look or stare angrily or sullenly”. Sullen means “showing irritation or ill humor by a gloomy silence or reserve”. So Hermione's upset and irritated that Harry is still having visions. She also starts fighting, as her voice is raised. However, she said one very interesting thing – she could tell from the look on Harry's face. Not from the noise he made (if he made any). With a single look she can know exactly what's happening inside Harry's head.

Harry, who doesn't want to close his mind, fights back. Hermione then slides back to arguing, as she's not yelling. She's not going to humor him, either, by letting him go on about things he shouldn't be seeing. She tells him he should go lie down, and she says it coldly. Cold means “not affectionate or friendly”. She's not happy, and she's not going to pretend otherwise.

Harry then does a very important thing – he controls his temper. That's a very big thing, because in the past (and with anyone else) he doesn't try to control his anger or irritation. Now, for Ron/Hermione fans who say that doesn't mean anything, or it doesn't mean anything good, I disagree.

It has been psychologically proven to be a good thing. One psychologist says:

Conflict is an inevitable part of every relationship, but the damage caused by conflict can be addressed and minimized. Conflicts arise when someone becomes reactive to “news of difference.” Successful couples are able to understand their partner’s positions and be sensitive to the depth of meaning the other person has around this issue. Seventy percent of arguments never get resolved, even in the happiest of couples. Understanding each other allows partners to move beyond the hurt of the conflict. Successful couples also monitor and are sensitive to the feelings of their partner, especially negative and hurt feelings. By being tuned into our partners, we ensure that feelings of safety and security are always in the foreground.

Another (general) psychology article expands on that, saying:

Discipline is important for mastering the outer world; it also applies to the inner, the spiritual, the moral, the relational worlds we occupy. For example, we control our tempers so as not to harm others; we think before we speak out of respect for those who are receivers of our words; we judge before we act so we can avoid harm and do good.

So we see that controlling your anger is a crucial thing for your (and others') psychological health. This isn't really a new concept, as pretty much everything written to help you control your anger says take a deep breath and remove yourself from the situation. But it is more proof that Harry and Hermione have a good, healthy, working relationship.

I don't know,” said Harry slowly. “Maybe. But wouldn't it be dangerous for him to make another one? Didn't Hermione say he had pushed his soul to the limit already?” (282)

A short, sweet moment. Harry remembers something Hermione said over a month ago.

Harry and Hermione felt that it was best not to stay anywhere too long, and Ron agreed, with the sole proviso that their next move took them within reach of a bacon sandwich. (284)

Harry and Hermione once again make the plans, and then Ron agrees with them. J.K. Rowling could have written it that they all agreed that they needed to move, put them all at equal level, but she didn't. It sounds like parents talking, while the kid agrees if they can get something out of it.

Of course!” cried Hermione, clapping a hand to her forehead and startling both of them into silence. “Harry, give me the locket! Come on,” she said impatiently, clicking her fingers at him when he did not react, “the Horcrux, Harry, you're still wearing it!”
She held out her hands, and Harry lifted the golden chain over his head. The moment it parted contact with Harry's skin he felt free and oddly light. He had not even realized that he was clammy or that there was a heavy weight pressing on his stomach until both sensations lifted.
Better?” asked Hermione.
Yeah, loads better!”
Harry,” she said, crouching down in front of him and using the kind of voice he associated with visiting the very sick, “you don't think you've been possessed, do you?”
What? No!” he said defensively. “I remember everything we've done while I've been wearing it. I wouldn't know what I'd done if I'd been possessed, would I? Ginny told me there were times when she couldn't remember anything.”
Hmm,” said Hermione, looking down at the heavy gold locket. “Well, maybe we ought not to wear it. We can just keep it in the tent.”
We are not leaving that Horcrux lying around,” Harry stated firmly. “If we lose it, if it gets stolen -”
Oh, all right, all right,” said Hermione, and she placed it around her own neck and tucked it out of sight down the front of her shirt. “But we'll take turns wearing it, so nobody keeps it on too long.” (286-7)

Hermione, our brilliant witch, figures out that the Horcrux is negatively effecting Harry. Like always, she is able to solve Harry's problem.

To stave off Harry/Ginny fans, the fact that Harry remembered what Ginny said is not proof for them to be a couple. How can I say that when I just included a moment where he remembered something Hermione said? Easy. They are two completely different situations.

Harry remembered a detail Hermione said in a conversation that was not emotionally important, that was just them talking about the Horcruxes. That is very different from Harry remembering the only thing Ginny contributed to the emotionally important conversation to convince Harry he had not been possessed (in the fifth book). Both situations are completely different, and cannot be compared.

We see more assertiveness from Harry as he tells Hermione they can't leave the Horcrux lying around, and compromise from both Hermione and Harry as she accepts that and then proposes they take turns.

Isn't it amazing how much important stuff gets talked about and decided by Harry and Hermione?

So where next?” was his constant refrain. He did not seem to have any ideas himself, but expected Harry and Hermione to come up with plans while he sat and brooded of the low food supplies. Accordingly Harry and Hermione spent fruitless hours trying to decide where they might find the other Horcruxes, and how to destroy the one they had already got, their conversations becoming increasingly repetitive as they had no new information. (288)

Ron is still sulking like a child over the food, and Harry and Hermione are doing all the researching and planning. I'm not trying to insult Ron – I love him – but I'm trying to show that Harry and Hermione connect on a much more mature level with each other, and that Ron can't even begin to reach them. We see a little bit of that, every time Hermione and Harry pick up on something, and Ron doesn't. That is something that happens quite often in the books.

As the days stretched into weeks, Harry began to suspect that Ron and Hermione were having conversations without, and about, him. Several times they stopped talking abruptly when Harry entered the tent, and twice he came accidentally upon them, huddled a little distance away, heads together and talking fast; both times they fell silent when they realized he was approaching them and hastened to appear busy collecting wood or water. (291)

A few things to take away from this part. The first thing I take away from this is that Ron and Hermione were not spending alone time together before. If they had been, why would Harry only now be suspicious? The second thing I take away from it is that Harry is still having a strong, negative reaction to the idea of Ron/Hermione. Suspicion means “the act of suspecting something, especially something wrong, on little evidence or without proof”. He can't make it much clearer that he doesn't want them together.

I mean, yes. No one is going to be happy about their best friends talking about them behind their back. But this is just another scene that fits the pattern of Harry not liking the idea of Ron/Hermione.

Harry could not help wondering whether they had only agreed to come on what now felt like a pointless and rambling journey because they thought he had some secret plan that they would learn in due course. Ron was making no effort to hide his bad mood, and Harry was starting to fear that Hermione too was disappointed by his poor leadership. In desperation he tried to think of further Horcrux locations, but the only one that continued to occur to him was Hogwarts, and as neither of the others thought this at all likely, he stopped suggesting it. (292)

Harry gets scared and desperate at the thought of Hermione being disappointed in him. Ron has been in a bad mood for a while, and while Harry is extremely frustrated at him, he's not worried. He doesn't get scared at the thought of Ron being disappointed at him. The thought of Hermione being disappointed in him, however, sends him into panic-stricken thought.

Harry caught the fish and I did my best with it! I notice I'm always the one who ends up sorting out the food, because I'm a girl, I suppose!” (293)

Hermione and Ron are fighting. Again. But that's not the topic of this particular essay. What's important for us here is what Hermione says. Harry caught the food and Hermione cooked it. They are working as the harmonious team they truly are.

He was listening hard, his hands still raised, warning them not to talk. Then, over the rush and gush of the dark river beside them, he heard voices again. He looked around at the Sneakoscope. It was not moving.
You cast the Muffliato charm over us, right?” he whispered to Hermione.
I did everything,” she whispered back, “Muffliato, Muggle-Repelling and Disillusionment Charms, all of it. They shouldn't be able to hear or see us, whoever they are.” (293)

A reminder of how well they work as a team.

Goblins! Hermione mouthed at Harry, who nodded. (295)

Harry and Hermione communicate silently again. Neither of them informs Ron.

So is Severus Snape, though he does not know it,” said Griphook, and the two goblins roared with malicious laughter. Inside the tent Harry's breathing was shallow with excitement: He and Hermione stared at each other, listening as hard as they could. (297)

Ron is listening in too, but Harry and Hermione choose to share the excitement with each other, not him.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione reeled in the Extendable Ears. Harry, who found the need to remain silent increasingly difficult the longer they eavesdropped, now found himself unable to say more than, “Ginny – the sword -”
I know!” said Hermione.
She lunged for the tiny beaded bag, this time sinking her arm in right up to the armpit.
Here... we... are...” she said between gritted teeth, and she pulled at something that was evidently in the depths of the bag. Slowly the edge of an ornate picture frame came into sight. Harry hurried to help her. As they lifted the empty portrait of Phineas Nigellus free of Hermione's bag, she kept her wand pointing at it, ready to cast a spell at any moment.
If somebody swapped the real sword for the fake while it was in Dumbledore's office,” she panted, as they propped the painting against the side of the tent, “Phineas Nigellus would have seen it happen, he hangs right beside the case!”
Unless he was asleep,” said Harry, but he still held his breath as Hermione knelt down in front of the empty canvas, her wand directed at its center, cleared her throat, then said:
Er – Phineas? Phineas Nigellus?”
Nothing happened.
Phineas Nigellus?” said Hermione again. “Professor Black? Please could we talk to you? Please?”
'Please' always helps,” said a cold, snide voice, and Phineas Nigellus slid into his portrait. At once, Hermione cried:
Obscuro!
A black blindfold appeared over Phineas Nigellus's clever, dark eyes, causing him to bump into the frame and shriek with pain.
What – how dare – what are you -?”
I'm very sorry, Professor Black,” said Hermione, “but it's a necessary precaution!”
Remove this foul addition at once! Remove it, I say! You are ruining a great work of art! Where am I? What is going on?”
Never mind where we are,” said Harry, and Phineas Nigellus froze, abandoning his attempts to peel off the painted blindfold.
Can that possibly be the voice of the elusive Mr. Potter?”
Maybe,” said Harry, knowing that this would keep Phineas Nigellus's interest. “We've got a couple of questions to ask you – about the sword of Gryffindor.” (300-1)

Some little points here. Harry and Hermione are thinking the same thing again, as Harry doesn't need to finish his sentence – Hermione already knows. She starts pulling the large and heavy picture frame out, and Harry 'hurries' to help her. Hurry means “to move or act with speed or haste”. Harry rushes to help Hermione with her heavy load. You're such a gentleman, Harry, rushing to help your beloved!

Ahm. Humor aside now. We see, once again, how they work as the perfect team, as they question Phineas together.

Muggle-borns,” he said. “Goblin-made armor does not require cleaning, simple girl. Goblins' silver repels mundane dirt, imbibing only that which strengthens it.”
Don't call Hermione simple,” said Harry. (303)

Harry reacts when Phineas insults Hermione. What makes this a shipping moment is the fact that Harry had no reaction to Phineas insulting Hagrid, Neville, Luna, or even Ginny (302). And yet he reacts and defends Hermione.

I believe that the last time I saw the sword of Gryffindor leave its case was when Professor Dumbledore used it to break open a ring.”
Hermione whipped around to look at Harry. Neither of them dared say more in front of Phineas Nigellus, who had at last managed to locate the exit. (304)

Harry and Hermione look at each other in excitement when they realize that Dumbledore had used Gryffindor's sword to destroy a Horcrux. Neither of them so much as glances at Ron.

Harry!” Hermione cried.
I know!” Harry shouted. Unable to contain himself, he punched the air; it was more than he had dared to hope fore. He strode up and down the tent, feeling that he could have run a mile; he did not even feel hungry anymore. Hermione was squashing Phineas Nigellus's portrait back into the beaded bag; when she had fastened the clasp she threw the bag aside and raised a shining face to Harry.
The sword can destroy Horcuxes! Goblin-made blades imbibe only that which strengthen them – Harry, that sword's impregnated with basilisk venom!”
And Dumbledore didn't give it to me because he still needed it, he wanted to use it on the locket -”
- and he must have realized they wouldn't let you have it if he put it in his will -”
- so he made a copy -”
- and put a fake in the glass case -”
- and he left the real one – where?”
They gazed at each other; Harry felt that the answer was dangling invisibly in the air above them, tantalizingly close. Why hadn't Dumbledore told him? Or had he, in fact, told Harry, but Harry had not realized it at the time?
Think!” whispered Hermione. “Think! Where would he have left it?”
Not at Hogwarts,” said Harry, resuming his pacing.
Somewhere in Hogsmeade?” suggested Hermione.
The Shrieking Shack?” said Harry. “Nobody ever goes in there.”
But Snape knows how to get in, wouldn't that be a bit risky?”
Dumbledore trusted Snape,” Harry reminded her.
Not enough to tell him that he had swapped the swords,” said Hermione.
Yeah, you're right!” said Harry, and he felt even more cheered at the thought that Dumbledore had had some reservations, however faint, about Snape's trustworthiness. (304-5)

Harry and Hermione are excited over figuring out the sword. A shining face means “experience a feeling of well-being or happiness, as from good health or an intense emotion”. Hermione's face is beaming with happiness when she looks at Harry. They are so excited, they keep finishing and continuing each other's sentences as they theorize. Neither of them thinks about Ron.

Plunk, plunk, plunk. The rain was falling harder and heavier; it pattered on the leaf-strewn bank all round them and into the river chattering through the dark. Dread doused Harry's jubilation: Ron was saying exactly what he had suspected and feared him to be thinking.
It's not like I'm not having the time of my life here,” said Ron, “you know, with my arm mangled and nothing to eat and freezing my backside off every night. I just hoped, you know, after we'd been running round a few weeks, we'd have achieved something.”
Ron,” Hermione said, but in such a quiet voice that Ron could pretend not to have heard it over the loud tattoo the rain was now beating on the tent.
I thought you knew what you'd signed up for,” said Harry.
Yeah, I thought I did too.”
So what part of it isn't living up to your expectations?” asked Harry. Anger was coming to his defense now. “Did you think we'd be staying in five-star hotels? Finding a Horcrux every other day? Did you think you'd be back to Mummy by Christmas?”
We thought you knew what you were doing!” shouted Ron, standing up, and his words pierced Harry like scalding knives. “We thought Dumbledore had told you what to do, we thought you had a real plan!”
Ron!” said Hermione, this time clearly audible over the rain thundering on the tent roof, but again, he ignored her.
Well, sorry to let you down,” said Harry, his voice quite calm even though he felt hollow, inadequate. “I've been straight with you from the start, I told you everything Dumbledore told me. And in case you haven't noticed, we've found one Horcrux -”
Yeah, and we're about as near getting rid of it as we are to finding the rest of them – nowhere effing near, in other words!”
Take off the locket, Ron,” Hermione said, her voice unusually high. “Please take it off. You wouldn't be talking like this if you hadn't been wearing it all day.”
Yeah, he would,” said Harry, who did not want excuses made for Ron. “D'you think I haven't noticed the two of you whispering behind my back? D'you think I didn't guess you were thinking this stuff?”
Harry, we weren't -”
Don't lie!” Ron hurled at her. “You said it too, you said you were disappointed, you said you'd thought he had a bit more to go on than -”
I didn't say it like that – Harry I didn't!” she cried.
The rain was pounding the tent, tears were pouring down Hermione's face, and the excitement of a few minutes before had vanished as if it had never been, a short-lived firework that had flared and died, leaving everything dark, wet, and cold. (306-8)

Hermione tries to interfere and stop Ron, he doesn't listen. She starts getting nervous about the fight, as her voice goes up. She only starts panicking and crying when Ron accuses her of whispering behind Harry's back. Cried means to “shout or scream, esp. to express one's fear, pain, or grief”. “I didn't!” she screams fearfully, as she starts crying heavily. We know she's crying heavily because the tears are “pouring” down her face. To pour means “to send forth, produce, express, or utter copiously, as if in a stream or flood”. She's filled with horror and terror that Harry will believe she agrees with Ron.

I believe her when she says she didn't say it like that. Not only is her strong reaction proof she didn't, that she doesn't agree with Ron, but I can just hear her - “Well, yes, Ron, I do wish we had a little more to go on. But Harry's doing his best, and we need to trust that Dumbledore had a plan.” Or something to that effect.

This reminds me of the Yule Ball, where Hermione “looked as though Ron had slapped her” when he accuses her of helping Viktor get to Harry (GF 422). I truly do think she would die before she would ever betray Harry.

Ron made a sudden movement: Harry reacted, but before either wand was clear of its owner's pocket, Hermione had raised her own.
Protego!” she cried, and an invisible shield expanded between her and Harry on the one side and Ron on the other; all of them were forced backward a few steps by the strength of the spell, and Harry and Ron glared from either side of the transparent barrier as though they were seeing each other clearly for the first time. Harry felt a corrosive hatred toward Ron: Something had broken between them. (309)

This is a very interesting part. J.K. Rowling could have written it with Ron and Hermione on the same side of the barrier. It would not change the plot at all. But she didn't. When Harry and Ron are fighting, when they're about to duel, Hermione separates herself and Harry from Ron. Unconsciously, she's stating that she's on Harry's side. She has never left his side, and she never will.

Ron wrenched the chain from over his head and cast the locket into a nearby chair. He turned to Hermione.
What are you doing?”
What do you mean?”
Are you staying, or what?”
I...” She looked anguished. “Yes – yes, I'm staying. Ron, we said we'd go with Harry, we said we'd help -”
I get it. You choose him.”
Ron, no – please – come back, come back!”
She was impeded by her own Shield Charm; by the time she had removed it he had already stormed into the night. Harry stood quite still and silent, listening to her sobbing and calling Ron's name amongst the trees. (309-10)

Ron has decided to leave. He's asked Hermione what's she doing. Anguished means “experiencing or expressing severe mental or physical pain or suffering”. She loves Ron, and thinks that she fancies him. She doesn't want to lose him. But she chooses Harry. Harry comes first. Harry always comes first. That's a fundamental part of Hermione, and she answers with her heart.

I've heard it argued that she didn't choose Harry, that she chose to keep her promise and do the right thing. Hermione has a very strong moral code, so that makes sense. But it doesn't explain why she was on Harry's side of the shield. Impeded means to “delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them”. Hermione's own shield prevented her from going after Ron. Her own, unconscious choice prevented her from following Ron.

Corrosive means “gradually destructive; steadily harmful”. Harry feels steady hatred towards Ron – all of the frustration, all of the fighting, manifests and accumulates at this moment. Harry feels something between them break, something that can never be fixed.

Something breaks between Hermione and Ron as well. Up to this point they could pretend that they chose each other, would choose each other no matter what. But Ron forces her to really make that choice – to choose between him and Harry. And she chooses Harry. That is something they will never be able to forget, no matter how much they try to. Ron will always come second to Harry.

Of course she runs after Ron, that is not proof that she is hopelessly in love with him. Some say the fact she's sobbing shows extreme emotion, and so that's proof she's in love with Ron. It isn't. To sob means to “cry uncontrollably”. Like when the Death Eaters showed up at the wedding, it is the situation making her cry. One of her best friends is leaving her and the other in the middle of nowhere, on a dangerous, life-threatening mission, and with very little hope of succeeding (Harry's feeling it, Ron's said it, just because she doesn't agree with Ron doesn't mean she hasn't gotten the feeling too). I would be crying too! Especially since this comes right after something happy.

Harry felt dazed. He stooped, picked up the Horcrux, and placed it around his own neck. He dragged blankets off Ron's bunk and threw them over Hermione. Then he climbed onto his own bed and stared up at the dark canvas roof, listening to the pounding of the rain. (310)

Harry has just suffered through a huge loss. He has lost Ron, his first true friend. Dazed means “to stun, as with a heavy blow or shock”. Harry is completely shocked, and is struggling to process what happened. But even with all the turmoil going on in his head, he still remembers to take care of Hermione. He can't stop her tears, he can't make Ron come back. But he can make sure she is warm, that she is physically taken care of. The fact that he remembered to do this shows how much he loves Hermione, how much she means to him.

When Harry woke the following day it was several seconds before he remembered what had happened. Then he hoped, childishly, that it had been a dream, that Ron was still there and had never left. Yet by turning his head on his pillow he could see Ron's deserted bunk. It was like a dead body in the way it seemed to draw his eyes. Harry jumped down from his own bed, keeping his eyes averted from Ron's. Hermione, who was already busy in the kitchen, did not with Harry good morning, but turned her face away quickly as he went by.
He's gone, Harry told himself. He's gone. He had to keep thinking it as he washed and dressed, as though repetition would dull the shock of it. He's gone and he's not coming back. And that was the simple truth of it, Harry knew, because their protective enchantments meant that it would be impossible, once they vacated this spot, for Ron to find them again.
He and Hermione ate breakfast in silence. Hermione's eyes were puffy and red; she looked as if she had not slept. They packed up their things, Hermione dawdling. Harry knew why she wanted to spin out their time on the riverbank; several times he saw her look up eagerly, and he was sure she had deluded herself into thinking that she heard footsteps through the heavy rain, but no red-haired figure appeared between the trees. Every time Harry imitated her, looked around (for he could not help hoping a little, himself) and saw nothing but rain-swept woods, another little parcel of fury exploded inside him. He could hear Ron saying, “We thought you knew what you were doing!”, and he resumed packing with a hard knot in the pit of his stomach.
The muddy river beside them was rising rapidly and would soon spill over onto their bank. They had lingered a good hour after they would usually have departed their campsite. Finally having entirely repacked the beaded bag three times, Hermione seemed unable to find any more reasons to delay: She and Harry grasped hands and Disapparated, reappearing on a windswept heather-covered hillside. (311-2)

A little side note before we start – Like Hermione, Harry's still in shock over Ron leaving, and can't help but look around for Ron even though he knows Ron isn't there. They both delay and look around before they finally have to leave. So Hermione looking around for Ron is not proof that she is in love with him, because then Harry would have to be in love with Ron too. Now, let's start.

Here we get to the heart of it.

There's a theory I and many other H/Hr shippers seem to share. That Harry and Hermione are in love with each other, but due to their insecurities and their lack of self worth they don't think the other feels the same way (also, I highly doubt Harry ever subconsciously thought he would survive the war). Both of them are well aware of Ron's feelings for Hermione. It has been noted by many that Harry's crush on Ginny surfaced after Hermione asked Ron to Slughorn's party. They settled, never believing the other could be in love with them.

And we know that Harry does fancy Hermione. He would not get hot when she calls him fanciable if he didn't (HBP 219), he also would not talk to her severely at the thought of her kissing another guy (HBP 317), or react negatively every time the idea of Ron/Hermione comes up (see above). All of this is proof that Harry does fancy Hermione, he just can't admit it.

There are two ways to look at this, and what comes after this. The Ron/Hermione shippers claim that Harry and Hermione can't function without Ron, that they fall apart. On the contrary, we have copious amounts of evidence that this isn't true. Harry and Hermione do just fine spending time without Ron in all of the other books, not to mention everything we've already gone over and will go over in this book.

Yes, Ron's absence cost them. Of course it did. They're the Golden Trio! One definition for cost is “to cause to lose, suffer, or sacrifice”. Ron is an essential part of the group, of the Trio. But we have seen in the previous books that Harry and Hermione can still work wonderfully as a pair without Ron.

So why the change here? Why is there a huge strain between them? We see it as Hermione turns her face away from Harry.

Here's option two: The strain comes not from Ron leaving, but the reason why he left. The words will be forever etched into our minds – and Harry and Hermione's minds. “I get it. You choose him.” Ron has now stated, without any ambiguity, that he believes there is something romantic and deep going on between them. That they are in love with each other (or at least that Hermione is in love with Harry), while he's kind-of dating Hermione.

I don't blame Ron for leaving. We know he wanted to come back right away. But by focusing on that we miss why he left. He left, not because they had no leads (although I'm sure that didn't help), but because he thought they had betrayed him.

The Ron/Hermione fans will say it's just his insecurities, that there is nothing romantic between Harry and Hermione. I have two things to say to that – first, Ron may be insecure, but he's not stupid. He would not just make up something like that if it that wasn't there. Second, if it's not there, if there is truly nothing going on between Harry and Hermione, then why not try to comfort each other? If they truly know there is nothing between them, why not have them talk about it and have Harry think how utterly wrong Ron is?

Because Ron is not wrong. He is right. And they know it. Deep down, both know how they truly feel about the other. This is something that we have seen hints of since the beginning of the fifth book (those who know me know that I believe there is indisputable canon evidence of Hermione being in love with Harry in the fifth book, and beginning signs of Harry's interest in return).

When Malfoy asks Harry how it feels “being second-best to Weasley”, Hermione sharply responds and Malfoy says, “I seem to have touched a nerve” (OP 194). Well, Ron has just touched that same nerve. He has just brought everything they have been trying to hide out into the open. In fact, the nerve has not only been touched, it's been hammered. Like I said earlier, Ron can validate the Harry/Hermione relationship in a way no one (but themselves) can.

The instant they arrived, Hermione dropped Harry's hand and walked away from him, finally sitting down on a large rock, her face on her knees, shaking with what he knew were sobs. (312)

This is very interesting to me. The 'instant' they stop, Hermione 'dropped Harry's hand'. Instant means “occurring at once; immediate”. So Hermione immediately drops Harry's hand? Not let go of it, not even just walking away from him, she drops his hand. The way it's worded draws attention to the fact that Hermione immediately lets go of Harry's hand. It's the classic guilty reaction, like getting caught in the act. Like I said before, if there's truly nothing there, why not comfort each other? If Hermione knows there's nothing more than friendship between her and Harry, why does she immediately 'drop' his hand?

Because there is more going on, and they both know it. As for her tears – now Ron really can't come back, as they have moved to a new campsite. He won't be able to find them. With Ron gone, and with those final words of “I get it. You choose him.” hanging in the air, she can't hide. All of the feelings she has been trying to ignore, trying to keep secret, are out in the open.

He watched her, supposing that he ought to go and comfort her, but something kept him rooted to the spot. Everything inside him felt cold and tight: Again he saw the contemptuous expression on Ron's face. (312)

Harry wants to comfort her. He really does. But something stops him. What is that? Ron. His “contemptuous” expression. Contempt means “the attitude or feeling of a person towards a person or thing that he considers worthless or despicable”. When did Ron make this look? Well, the text doesn't explicitly say. There is only one moment it can realistically be, though. “I get it. You choose him.” What other words could stop Harry from comforting Hermione? Ron never said anything else about the two of them.

Harry's feeling “cold and tight”. He wants to comfort Hermione, but Ron's last words stand between them. Ron thinks he's despicable (look at the definition above), that he (Harry) betrayed him (Ron) by being with Hermione. He feels guilty. Guilt means “self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing”. Harry, our insecure and abused Harry, is blaming himself for all of it (we'll see the text say that in a minute). He can't betray Ron more than he already has, and I think Harry thinks that all of Hermione's tears are over Ron. Also, that, particularly with this, he doesn't think they could ever be together.

Harry strode off through the heather, walking in a large circle with the distraught Hermione at its center, casting the spells she usually performed to ensure their protection. (312)

A symbolic moment. We will be talking more about literary alchemy later, but this is just one of many times when Harry and Hermione make the symbol for gold (and that is the whole point of literary alchemy – to transform the hero into gold/the Philosopher's Stone). It's a slightly bittersweet reminder of their bond and how they complete each other.

They did not discuss Ron at all over the next few days. Harry was determined never to mention his name again, and Hermione seemed to know that it was no use forcing the issue, although sometimes at night when she thought he was sleeping, he would hear her crying. (312-3)

I have heard that the fact that Harry doesn't comfort Hermione when she cries means that he is an insensitive jerk that doesn't care. However, the Horcrux influences them to be cold and uncaring, and Hermione is not the only one grieving.

Hermione also doesn't want Harry to know she's crying. It's only when she thinks that Harry is asleep, does she allow herself to cry. If Harry were to go over and comfort her, it would be against her own wishes. She doesn't want him to see her like that. Ron's final words still stand between them.

Meanwhile Harry had started bringing out the Marauder's Map and examining it by wandlight. He was waiting for the moment Ron's labeled dot would reappear in the corridors of Hogwarts, protected by his status of pureblood. However, Ron did not appear on the map, and after a while Harry found himself taking it out simply to stare at Ginny's name in the girls' dormitory, wondering whether the intensity with which he gazed at it might break into her sleep, that she would somehow know he was thinking about her, hoping that she was alright. (313)

Supposedly a Harry/Ginny moment. However, there are a few key things about this. Meanwhile means “at the same time”. So Harry starts bringing out the Map at the same time Hermione continues to cry? To me, this shows that Harry is trying to find a little bit of solace in what is still left. Yes, right after this Harry goes on about how much he misses Ginny and Hogwarts – and he spends more time on thinking about Hogwarts and being a kid then he does Ginny (314-5). I go more in depth on this part in my anti Harry/Ginny essay. I'm mentioning it here because Harry thinks he has lost Hermione, and so he, just like in the sixth book, turns to Ginny. Trying to find some amount of happiness and solace.

Hopelessness threatened to engulf him. He was staggered now to think of his own presumption in accepting his friends' offers to accompany him on this meandering, pointless journey. He knew nothing, he had no ideas, and he was constantly, painfully on the alert for any indication that Hermione too was about to tell him that she had had enough, that she was leaving. (313-4)

We see that abused child coming out in Harry again. He's blaming himself for everything (like I said above), and painfully on the alert that his rock, the one person he can't survive without, is going to leave him. He is terrified that Hermione is going to leave him, like everyone else in his life.

They were spending many evenings in near silence, and Hermione took to bringing out Phineas Nigellus's portrait and propping it up in a chair, as though he might fill part of the gaping hole left by Ron's departure. (314)

We will go over the near silence thing later. What is noteworthy here is the last part of the sentence. 'The gaping hole left by Ron's departure' Not Ron's absence, not 'by not having Ron'. Ron's departure. Departure means “the act of leaving”. It is Ron's 'act of leaving', how he left, that causes the gaping hole. This is more proof that the Ron/Hermione shippers are incorrect when they say Harry and Hermione can't function without Ron, because the hole is explicitly stated to come from Ron hammering that nerve.

The weather grew colder and colder. They did not dare remain in any one area too long, so rather than staying in the south of England, where a hard ground frost was the least of their worries, they continued to meander up and down the country, braving a mountainside, where sleet pounded the tent; a wide, flat marsh, where the tent was flooded with chill water; and a tiny island in the middle of a Scottish loch, where snow half buried the tent in the night.
They had already spotted Christmas trees twinkling from several sitting room windows before there came an evening when Harry resolved to suggest, again, what seemed to him the only unexplored avenue left to them. (315)

This shows us that a few weeks have past, putting the next part into perspective. Resolve means “to make a firm decision about”. Harry has decided that he's going to be firm and assertive about what they should do next.

They had just eaten an unusually good meal: Hermione had been to a supermarket under the Invisibility Cloak (scrupulously dropping the money into an open till as she left), and Harry thought she might be more persuadable than usual on a stomach full of spaghetti Bolognese and tinned pears. He had also had the foresight to suggest that they take a few hours' break from wearing the Horcrux, which was hanging over the end of the bunk beside him.
Hermione?”
Hmm?” She was curled up in one of the sagging armchairs with The Tales of Beedle the Bard. He could not imagine how much more she could get out of the book, which was not, after all, very long; but evidently she was still deciphering something in it, because Spellman's Syllabary lay open on the arm of the chair.
Harry cleared his throat. He felt exactly as he had done on the occasion, several years previously, when he had asked Professor McGonagall whether he could go into Hogsmeade, despite the fact that he had not persuaded the Dursleys to sign his permission slip.
Hermione, I've been thinking, and -”
Harry, could you help me with something?”
Apparently she had not been listening to him. She leaned forward and held out The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Look at that symbol,” she said, pointing to the top of a page. Above what Harry assumed was the title of the story (being unable to read runes, he could not be sure), there was a picture of what looked like a triangular eye, its pupil crossed with a vertical line.
I never took Ancient Runes, Hermione.”
I know that, but it isn't a rune and it's not in the syllabary, either. All along I thought it was a picture of an eye, but I don't think it is! It's been inked in, look, somebody's drawn it there, it isn't really part of the book. Think, have you ever seen it before?”
No... No, wait a moment,” Harry looked closer. “Isn't it the same symbol Luna's dad was wearing round his neck?”
Well, that's what I thought too!”
Then it's Grindelwald's mark.”
She stared at him, openmouthed.
What?”
Krum told me...”
He recounted the story that Viktor Krum had told him at the wedding. Hermione looked astonished.
Grindelwald's mark?”
She looked from Harry to the weird symbol and back again. “I've never heard that Grindelwald had a mark. There's no mention of it in anything I've ever read about him.”
Well, like I say, Krum reckoned that symbol was carved on a wall at Durmstrang, and Grindelwald put it there.”
She fell back into the old armchair, frowning.
That's very odd. If it's a symbol of Dark Magic, what's it doing in a book of children's stories?”
Yeah, it is weird,” said Harry. “And you'd think Scrimgeour would have recognized it. He was Minister, he ought to have been expert on Dark stuff.”
I know... Perhaps he thought it was an eye, just like I did. All the other stories have little pictures over the titles.” (315-7)

Our Harry and Hermione are back! Just look at this passage; they're sitting close together, giving and taking information from each other as they theorize.

Not only is this more proof that the R/Hr shippers' option is completely negated by the text (but we already knew that), but Harry and Hermione are starting to grow together again.

She did not speak, but continued to pore over the strange mark. Harry tried again.
Hermione?”
Hmm?”
I've been thinking. I – I want to go to Godric's Hollow.”
She looked up at him, but her eyes were unfocused, and he was sure she was still thinking about the mysterious mark on the book.
Yes,” she said. “Yes, I've been wondering that too. I really think we'll have to.”
Did you hear me right?” he asked.
Of course I did. You want to go to Godric's Hollow. I agree, I think we should. I mean, I can't think of anywhere else it could be either. It'll be dangerous, but the more I think about it, the more likely it seems it's there.”
Er – what's there?”
At that, she looked just as bewildered as he felt. (317-8)

They cannot always know what the other is thinking, and I find this part (and their confusion) adorable!

This moment also shows how deep and personal the relationship is between them. Remember Harry's reaction to finding his mother's letter? It was very emotional and personal (and he shared that with Hermione too!). This will be even more so. It will probably be one of the most emotional, painful, and extremely personal moments in his life. And he wants to share it with Hermione.

Well, the sword, Harry! Dumbledore must have known you'd want to go back there, and I mean, Godric's Hollow is Godric Gryffindor's birthplace -”
Really? Gryffindor came from Godric's Hollow?”
Harry, did you ever even open A History of Magic?”
Erm,” he said, smiling for what felt like the first time in months: The muscles in his face felt oddly stiff. “I might've opened it, you know, when I bought it... just the once...” (318)

Hermione being Hermione is what makes Harry smile for the first time in months. Not Ron, not thoughts of Ginny, just Hermione being Hermione. This is the first mention of a smile or laughter since page 287, soon after they escape from the Ministry.

Not to mention the fact that it's more playful banter between them!

Well, as the village is named after him I'd have thought you might have made the connection,” said Hermione. She sounded much more like her old self than she had of late; Harry half expected her to announce that she was off to the library. “There's a bit about the village in A History of Magic, wait...”
She opened the beaded bag and rummaged for a while, finally extracting her copy of their old school textbook, A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot, which she thumbed through until finding the page she wanted. (318)

Here the text states what I've been saying – they are acting like their old selves. I'm sure I'm not the only one of us whose heart lightens at the thought of Hermione rushing to the library!

You and your parents aren't mentioned,” Hermione said, closing the book, “because Professor Bagshot doesn't cover anything later than the end of the nineteenth century. But you see? Godric's Hollow, Godric Gryffindor, Gryffindor's sword; don't you think Dumbledore would have expected you to make the connection?”
Oh yeah...”
Harry did not want to admit that he had not been thinking about the sword at all when he suggested they go to Godric's Hollow. For him, the lure of the village lay in his parents' graves, the house where he had narrowly escaped death, and in the person of Bathilda Bagshot. (319)

Remember what I just said? This will be one of the most emotional, painful, and extremely personal moments in Harry's life, what with those three things being the draw, and he's perfectly comfortable with sharing this experience with Hermione. That's a huge thing. It shows that he loves and trusts her so completely and utterly that he has no problem with her seeing him at his most vulnerable and emotional moment.

Remember what Muriel said?” he asked eventually.
Who?”
You know,” he hesitated: He did not want to say Ron's name. “Ginny's great-aunt. At the wedding. The one who said you had skinny ankles.”
Oh,” said Hermione. It was a sticky moment: Harry knew that she had sensed Ron's name in the offing. He rushed on:
She said Bathilda Bagshot still lives in Godric's Hollow.” (319)

Hermione doesn't want to mention Ron either, a sticky moment is a “painful or difficult” moment. Bringing up Ron is painful for both of them. They have been acting like their old selves, and Harry doesn't want to bring up Ron; he doesn't want to ruin things between them.

Bathilda Bagshot,” murmured Hermione, running her index finger over Bathilda's embossed name on the front cover of A History of Magic. “Well, I suppose -”
She gasped so dramatically that Harry's insides turned over; he drew his wand, looking around at the entrance, half expecting to see a hand forcing its way through the entrance flap, but there was nothing there.
What?” he said, half angry, half relieved. “What did you do that for? I thought you'd seen a Death Eater unzipping the tent, at least -”
Harry, what if Bathilda's got the sword? What if Dumbledore entrusted it to her?” (320)

I find it notable that Harry doesn't get angry with Hermione for scaring him. It would be very easy for him to yell at her, angry for making him scared. The text makes it clear that he was somewhat angry. But he doesn't get upset, he doesn't lash out at her. That's a wonderful thing that speaks volumes about their relationship.

Harry considered this possibility. Bathilda would be an extremely old woman by now, and according the Muriel, she was “gaga.” Was it likely that Dumbledore would have hidden the sword of Gryffindor with her? If so, Harry felt that Dumbledore had left a great deal to chance: Dumbledore had never revealed that he had replaced the sword with a fake, nor had he so much as mentioned a friendship with Bathilda. Now, however, was not the moment to cast doubt on Hermione's theory, not when she was so surprisingly willing to fall in with Harry's dearest wish.
Yeah, he might have done! So, are we going to go to Godric's Hollow?”
Yes, but we'll have to think it through carefully, Harry.” She was sitting up now, and Harry could tell that the prospect of having a plan again had lifted her mood as much as his. “We'll need to practice Disapparating together under the Invisibility Cloak for a start, and perhaps Disillusionment Charms would be sensible too, unless you think we should go the whole hog and use Polyjuice Potion? In that case we'll need to collect hair from somebody. I actually think we'd better do that, Harry, the thicker our disguises the better...”
Harry let her talk, nodding and agreeing whenever there was a pause, but his mind had left the conversation. For the first time since he had discovered that the sword in Gringotts was a fake, he felt excited.
He was about to go home, about to return to the place where he had had a family. It was in Godric's Hollow that, but for Voldemort, he would have grown up and spent every school holiday. He could have invited friends to his house... He might even have had brothers and sisters... It would have been his mother who had made his seventeenth birthday cake. The life he had lost had hardly ever seemed so real to him as at this moment, when he knew he was about to see the place were it had been taken from him. (320-1)

Don't you just want to cry for Harry here, when he's thinking about the life he might have had? I do. The text can't make it any clearer that this is going to be extremely emotional and personal trip for him.

With Hermione, he's not really lying – he's just agreeing. There is a subtle but crucial difference here. To lie means “to convey a false image or impression”. It's usually done to manipulate someone for your own benefit, it's not sincere. Harry's not doing that. What he's doing is agreeing with her without his heart being totally in what she's saying. He's not trying to manipulate her, there is no malice, he's not only interested in what he wants, doing whatever it takes to trick her into saying what he wants. None of that is going on. What is going on is that Hermione is coming up with a logical reason they have to go and going over all of the technical things they have to do, while Harry just wants to go and see things that are emotionally important to him.

Harry would gladly have set out for Godric's Hollow the following day, but Hermione had other ideas. Convinced as she was that Voldemort would expect Harry to return to the scene of his parents' deaths, she was determined that they would set off only after they had ensured that they had the best disguises possible. It was therefore a full week later – once they had surreptitiously obtained hairs from innocent Muggles who were Christmas shopping, and had practiced Apparating and Disapparating while underneath the Invisibility Cloak together – that Hermione agreed to make the journey. (321)

Just Harry and Hermione being Harry and Hermione. :) Harry just wants to rush in head first and Hermione makes him do all the preparing. Oh, how I love those two!

They were to Apparate to the village under cover of darkness, so it was late afternoon when they finally swallowed Polyjuice Potion, Harry transforming into a balding, middle-aged Muggle man, Hermione into his small and rather mousy wife. (322)

Harry and Hermione transform into husband and wife for what will be the most romantic scene in the entire series.

They could have just taken hairs from siblings, or just random people on the street. But the text clearly states they turn into man and wife.

Heart beating in his throat, Harry opened his eyes. They were standing hand in hand in a snowy lane under a dark blue sky, in which the night's first stars were already glimmering feebly. Cottages stood on either side of the narrow road, Christmas decorations twinkling in their windows. A short way ahead of them, a glow of golden streetlights indicated the center of the village. (322)

A very romantic scene. Standing hand in hand in a snowy village, under the starry sky, is classic romantic imagery.

All this snow!” Hermione whispered beneath the cloak. “Why didn't we think of snow? After all our precautions, we'll leave prints! We'll just have to get rid of them – you go in front, I'll do it -”
Harry did not want to enter the village like a pantomime horse, trying to keep themselves concealed while magically covering their traces.
Let's take off the Cloak,” said Harry, and when she looked frightened, “Oh, come on, we don't look like us and there's no one around.” (322)

Hermione is worrying about their tracks and frightened they will be seen. Harry calms her down and is assertive about taking off the cloak.

Harry, I think it's Christmas Eve!” said Hermione.
Is it?”
He had lost track of the date; they had not seen a newspaper for weeks. (323)

Having it be Christmas Eve makes this part even more romantic.

I'm sure it is,” said Hermione, her eyes upon the church. “They... they'll be in there, won't they? Your mum and dad? I can see the graveyard behind it.”
Harry felt a thrill of something that was beyond excitement, more like fear. Now that he was so near, he wondered whether he wanted to see after all. Perhaps Hermione knew how he was feeling, because she reached for his hand and took the lead for the first time, pulling him forward. (323-4)

A sweet moment, where Hermione can read Harry's feelings, guiding him forward. A hint of what's to come.

Halfway across the square, however, she stopped dead.
Harry, look!”
She was pointing at the war memorial. As they had passed it, it had transformed. Instead of an obelisk covered in names, there was a statue of three people: a man with untidy hair and glasses, a woman with long hair and a kind, pretty face, and a baby boy sitting in his mother's arms. Snow lay upon all their heads, like fluffy white caps.
Harry drew closer, gazing up into his parents' faces. He had never imagined that there would be a statue... How strange it was to see himself represented in stone, a happy baby without a scar on his forehead...
C'mon,” said Harry, when he had looked his fill, and they turned again toward the church. As they crossed the road, he glanced over his shoulder; the statue had turned back into the war memorial. (324)

Hermione points out the statue, and stands with him (still holding his hand), giving him all the time he needs to look. She's silently supporting him.

Keeping his hand closed tightly on the wand in his jacket pocket, Harry moved toward the nearest grave.
Look at this, it's an Abbott, could be some long-lost relation of Hannah's!”
Keep your voice down,” Hermione begged him. (325)

Hermione is begging Harry to keep his voice down as she is obviously terrified about their identities being found out. Considering that Harry is talking loudly about an obvious classmate of theirs, I can understand that.

Harry, here!”
Hermione was two rows of tombstones away; he had to wade back to her, his heart positively banging in his chest.
Is it -?”
No, but look!”
She pointed at the dark stone. Harry stooped down and saw, upon the frozen, lichen-spotted granite, the words KENDRA DUMBLEDORE and, a short way below her dates of birth and death, AND HER DAUGHTER ARIANA. (325)

Hermione finds the Dumbledores' graves, and Harry's heart is racing because he thinks it might be his parents. That leads us to this:

Hermione was looking at Harry, and he was glad that his face was hidden in shadow. He read the words on the tombstone again. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. He did not understand what these words meant. Surely Dumbledore had chosen them, as the eldest member of the family once his mother had died.
Are you sure he never mentioned -?” Hermione began.
No,” said Harry curtly, then, “let's keep looking,” and he turned away, wishing he had not seen the stone: He did not want his excited trepidation tainted with resentment. (326)

Harry doesn't want Hermione looking at him, not because he doesn't trust her, but because his thoughts about Dumbledore are torturous enough without having to speak about them. Curtly means “rudely brief or abrupt, as in speech or manner”. Harry is slightly rude as he stops the conversation before it can really begin. The text is clear that his curt behavior comes from his resentment towards Dumbledore, and not from anything Hermione said or did. He also keeps talking after saying no, smoothing things over between them.

We get an insight into Harry's emotions overall when it mentions his excited trepidation. Trepidation means apprehension, and apprehension means “fearful or uneasy anticipation of the future”. He is excited and scared about finding his parents' grave, which is perfectly understandable.

Here!” cried Hermione again a few moments later from out of the darkness. “Oh no, sorry! I thought it said Potter.”
She was rubbing at a crumbling, mossy stone, gazing down at it, a little frown on her face.
Harry, come back a moment.”
He did not want to be sidetracked again, and only grudgingly made his way back through the snow toward her.
What?”
Look at this!”
The grave was extremely old, weathered so that Harry could hardly make out the name. Hermione showed him the symbol beneath it.
Harry, that's the mark in the book!”
He peered at the place she indicated: The stone was so worn that it was hard to make out what was engraved there, though there did seem to be a triangular mark beneath the nearly illegible name.
Yeah... it could be...”
Hermione lit her wand and pointed it at the name on the headstone.
It says Ig – Ignotus, I think...”
I'm going to keep looking for my parents, all right?” Harry told her, a slight edge to his voice, and he set off again, leaving her crouched beside the old grave. (326-7)

All Harry wants to do is find his parents, he doesn't really care about any other graves. However, he doesn't get rude, or tell her he's not coming. Yes he's reluctant (grudgingly means reluctant), but he still goes to her. A vocal edge means “a slight but noticeable sharpness or harshness”. So it's very slight and hardly noticeable, because it says slight and the definition then includes another slight. All of this is understandable because finding his parents' graves is a very emotional thing, and as he doesn't insult or lash out at Hermione, it's perfectly acceptable.

Then Hermione's voice came out of the blackness for the third time, sharp and clear from a few yards away.
Harry, they're here... right here.”
And he knew by her tone that it was his mother and father this time: He moved toward her, feeling as if something heavy were pressing on his chest, the same sensation he had had right after Dumbledore had died, a grief that had actually weighed on his heart and lungs.
The headstone was only two rows behind Kendra and Ariana's. It was made of white marble, just like Dumbledore's tomb, and this made it easy to read, as it seemed to shine in the dark. Harry did not need to kneel or even approach very close to it to make out the words engraved upon it.
James Potter Lily Potter
Born 27 March 1960 Born 30 January 1960
Died 31 October 1981 Died 31 October 1981
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Harry read the words slowly, as though he would have only once chance to take in their meaning, and he read the last of them aloud.
'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death'...” A horrible thought came to him, and with it a kind of panic. “Isn't that a Death Eater idea? Why is that there?”
It doesn't mean defeating death in the way the Death Eaters mean it, Harry,” said Hermione, her voice gentle. “It means... you know... living beyond death. Living after death.”
But they were not living, thought Harry: They were gone. The empty words could not disguise the fact that his parents' moldering remains lay beneath snow and stone, indifferent, unknowing. And tears came before he could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on his face, and what was the point in wiping them off or pretending? He let them fall, his lips pressed hard together, looking down at the thick snow hiding from his eyes the place where the last of Lily and James lay, bones now, surely, or dust, not knowing or caring that their living son stood so near, his heart still beating, alive because of their sacrifice and close to wishing, at this moment, that he was sleeping under the snow with them.
Hermione had taken his hand again and was gripping it tightly. He could not look at her, but returned the pressure, now taking deep, sharp gulps of the night air, trying to steady himself, trying to regain control. He should have brought something to give them, and he had not thought of it, and every plant in the graveyard was leafless and frozen. But Hermione raised her wand, moved it in a circle through the air, and a wreath of Christmas roses blossomed before them. Harry caught it and laid it on his parents' grave.
As soon as he stood up he wanted to leave: He did not think he could stand another moment there. He put his arm around Hermione's shoulders, and she put hers around his waist, and they turned in silence and walked away through the snow, past Dumbledore's mother and sister, back toward the dark church and the out-of-sight kissing gate. (327-9)

To me, this is the most romantic and heartbreaking scene in the series. But the meaning of this scene goes much deeper than that.

There has been a lot of discussion over the years on alchemical symbolism in Harry Potter. There is no doubt that Harry is sulphur and Hermione is mercury (see here and here). The Chemical Wedding happens when the hero (sulphur) and their partner (mercury) join together, transforming the hero into gold. Hermione conjures a circular wreath, and the circle symbolizes unity and the completed opus alchymicum (the alchemical process). This scene is the final Chemical Wedding between Harry and Hermione.

So here we have Harry and Hermione, on Christmas Eve, seeing his parents' grave for the first time. Graves that Hermione found, not Harry. Hermione is the one to call and connect Harry to his parents. Then, they work in tandem, not needing to say anything, conjuring up a wreath (which symbolizes eternity or eternal rebirth) and placing it on the grave. This is the first time Harry allows himself to grieve for his parents, and his grief is so deep and powerful that he's close to wishing he was dead and buried with them. And with Hermione by his side, lending her support, he is able to transform, to rise again, to overcome his grief. He is ready to learn the truth and knowledge he needs to bring down Voldemort and understand the past. And from this point on in the text, he steadily gains that truth and knowledge.

As for Hermione herself, her voice is gentle as she explains the spiritual message of the series – of life (and love) enduring beyond death. No amount of words can sum up the magnitude and importance these emotional words carry, both for us and for Harry. And it is Hermione that gives them to us.

There is one last thing I want to touch on before we continue. This is the first and only time, in the entire series, that Harry cries in front of someone, and that someone is Hermione. Only Hermione. He had to “dry his eyes” after Dumbledore tells him of his mother's love (PS 299); he could feel “a burning, prickling feeling in the inner corners of his eyes” in the Hospital Wing after Cedric died (GF 714); he rages at Dumbledore after Sirius' death (OP 820-44); when talking about Sirius with Dumbledore “his eyes burned suddenly and he blinked” (HBP 77); at Dumbledore's body “his eyes burned with tears” (HBP 610); at the funeral “a sharp pain rose in Harry's throat” (HBP 643); and when Hedwig died “tears stung his eyes” (DH 67); but he did not cry, he did not let the tears fall. The definition of cry is to “shed tears”. Shed means “to cause to pour forth”.

The fact that Hermione is the only person Harry ever cries in front of is a big thing. You only let someone you truly love and trust see you that vulnerable – particularly if you have been abused. You don't let just anyone in that far – only the one person you love and trust beyond all others. We see, many times, that that person, for Harry, is Hermione. Only Hermione. He never lets anyone else in like he does her. I'll continue showing that to you.

He then pulls her into an embrace, and they walk out holding on to each other.

Harry, stop.”
What's wrong?”
They had only just reached the grave of the unknown Abbott.
There's someone there. Someone watching us. I can tell. There, over by the bushes.”
They stood quite still, holding on to each other, gazing at the dense black boundary of the graveyard. Harry could not see anything. (330)

Even though Hermione thinks something's wrong, they're still holding on to each other! Also note that holding on to someone means to “cling”. Cling means “to hold fast or adhere to something, as by grasping, sticking, embracing, or entwining”. They're not just touching each other loosely, they're in a tight and firm embrace.

Are you sure?”
I saw something move, I could have sworn I did...”
She broke from him to free her wand arm. (330)

Oh, so now you let him go! Took you a fair amount of time, Hermione! ;) Note that broke is the past tense of break, to break off means “to separate or become separated, as by twisting or tearing”. It emphasizes the fact that they were holding each other closely and firmly.

We look like Muggles,” Harry pointed out.
Muggles who've just been laying flowers on your parents' grave! Harry, I'm sure there's someone over there!”
Harry thought of A History of Magic; the graveyard was supposed to be haunted: what if -? But then he heard a rustle and saw a little eddy of dislodged snow in the bush to which Hermione pointed. Ghosts could not move snow.
It's a cat,” said Harry, after a second or two, “or a bird. If it was a Death Eater we'd be dead by now. But let's get out of here, and we can put the Cloak back on.”
They glanced back repeatedly as they made their was out of the graveyard. Harry, who did not feel as sanguine as he had pretended when reassuring Hermione, was glad to reach the gate and the slippery pavement. (330-1)

Harry ignores his own worry to reassure Hermione, caring more about her feelings than his own fear. We know that because they both glance back. Also, when he didn't think there was anything there, he was considerate and polite when contradicting her.

For a moment Harry considered suggesting they take refuge inside it, but before he could say anything Hermione murmured, “Let's go this way,” and pulled him down the dark street leading out of the village in the opposite direction from which they had entered. (331)

Murmur means “a low, indistinct, continuous sound”. It is a very soft sound, hardly able to hear. This enforces the fact that a) they are standing very close together under the Cloak, and b) Hermione wants them to be very quiet.

There's more touching – Hermione pulls Harry in the direction she wants to go.

How are we going to find Bathilda's house?” asked Hermione, who was shivering a little and kept glancing back over her shoulder. “Harry? What do you think? Harry?”
She tugged on his arm, but Harry was not paying attention. He was looking toward the dark mass that stood at the very end of this row of houses. Next moment he had sped up, dragging Hermione along with him; she slipped a little on the ice. (331)

They just can't keep their hands off each other, can they! Tugging someone is apparently the only way to get their attention, and Hermione must be at his side at all times. Goodness forbid something separates them so much as an inch.

Joking aside, neither touch was necessary. Harry could easily have sped up by himself, Hermione would have to follow him because of the Cloak anyway.

Harry -”
Look... Look at it, Hermione...”
I don't... oh!”
He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily. (331-2)

Harry urges Hermione to look at his childhood home, wanting to share it with her.

He and Hermione stood at the gate, gazing up at the wreck of what must once have been a cottage just like those that flanked it.
I wonder why nobody's ever rebuilt it?” whispered Hermione.
Maybe you can't rebuild it?” Harry replied. “Maybe it's like the injuries from Dark Magic and you can't repair the damage?”
He slipped a hand from beneath the Cloak and grasped the snowy and thickly rusted gate, not wishing to open it, but simply to hold some part of the house.
You're not going to go inside? It looks unsafe, it might – oh, Harry, look!”
His touch on the gate seemed to have done it. (332)

Poor Harry, wanting his childhood and parents back so much he's content to just hold a part of the house. Hermione worries that Harry will get hurt, and both theorize together about why it was never rebuilt.

They shouldn't have written on the sign!” said Hermione, indignant.
But Harry beamed at her.
It's brilliant. I'm glad they did. I...”
He broke off. A heavily muffled figure was hobbling up the lane toward them, silhouetted by the bright lights in the distant square. (333)

You what, Harry?

Indignation means “anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment”. Hermione's annoyed because the sign has been defaced. Harry, on the other hand, is beaming. To beam means “to express by means of a radiant smile”. Note that he doesn't just beam, he beams at her. The messages of support are making him happy, but when she gives a very Hermione-ish protest (come on, we all know that's our girl), he turns 100% of his focus on to her, telling her how amazing it is.

I would also like to state again that they are acting completely like themselves – and have been for a while.

He did not need Hermione's pinch to his arm. There was next to no chance that this woman was a Muggle: She was standing there gazing at a house that ought to have been completely invisible to her, if she was not a witch. Even assuming that she was a witch, however, it was odd behavior to come out on a night this cold, simply to look at an old ruin. By all the rules of normal magic, meanwhile, she ought not to be able to see Hermione and him at all. Nevertheless, Harry had the strangest feeling that she knew that they were there, and also who they were. Just as he had reached this uneasy conclusion, she raised a gloved hand and beckoned.
Hermione moved closer to him under the Cloak, her arm pressed against his.
How does she know?”
He shook his head. The woman beckoned again, more vigorously. Harry could think of many reasons not to obey the summons, and yet his suspicions about her identity were growing stronger every moment that they stood facing each other in the deserted street.
Was it possible that she had been waiting for them all these long months? That Dumbledore had told her to wait, and that Harry would come in the end? Was it not likely that it was she who had moved in the shadows in the graveyard and had followed them to this spot? Even her ability to sense them suggested some Dumbledore-ish pwer that he had never encountered before.
Finally Harry spoke, causing Hermione to gasp and jump.
Are you Bathilda?”
The muffled figure nodded and beckoned again.
Beneath the Cloak Harry and Hermione looked at each other. Harry raised his eyebrows; Hermione gave a tiny, nervous nod. (334)

Harry is the one who came to the right conclusion this time, showing how he and Hermione can give and take, how they're both equally intelligent, although different. And Hermione instinctively pressed herself against Harry at the sight of (possible) danger. She pinched him to get his attention, although we know that she didn't need to. But by focusing on that, we miss how big it is that Hermione rightly thought that a simple pinch would get Harry's complete attention, and give him an idea on what to focus on.

Then, with just a single glance, they can tell what the other is thinking and make a plan.

Bathilda shuffled past them, pushing Hermione aside as though she had not seen her, and vanished into what seemed to be a sitting room.
Harry, I'm not sure about this,” breathed Hermione.
Look at the size of her; I think we could overpower her if we had to,” said Harry. “Listen, I should have told you, I knew she wasn't all there. Muriel called her 'gaga'.”
Come!” called Bathilda from the next room.
Hermione jumped and clutched Harry's arm.
It's okay,” said Harry reassuringly, and he led the way into the sitting room. (335-6)

How dare Bathilda ignore Hermione? Doesn't she know that there is no Harry without Hermione? That itself should have told them she's a fake – only someone like Voldemort, who cannot understand love, would ignore Hermione.

Ahem. Joking aside now.

Once again, Hermione breathes something to Harry. That tells you how extremely physically close they must be.

We also see again that they have an instinctive reaction to grab onto each other – in this case, it's Hermione grabbing onto Harry. Harry quickly reassures her that everything is alright.

Oh, right... Hermione, I think she wants me to go upstairs with her.”
All right,” said Hermione, “let's go.”
But when Hermione moved, Bathilda shook her head with surprising vigor, once more pointing first at Harry, then to herself.
She wants me to go with her, alone.”
Why?” asked Hermione, and her voice rang out sharp and clear in the candlelit room; the old lady shook her head a little at the loud noise.
Maybe Dumbledore told her to give the sword to me, and only to me?”
Do you really think she knows who you are?”
Yes,” said Harry, looking down into the milky eyes fixed upon his own, “I think she does.”
Well, okay then, but be quick, Harry.”
Lead the way,” Harry said to Bathilda.
She seemed to understand, because she shuffled around him toward the door. Harry glanced back at Hermione with a reassuring smile, but he was not sure she had seen it; she stood hugging herself in the midst of the candlelit squalor, looking toward the bookcase. (338)

Harry has been going out of his way to reassure Hermione every time he possibly can. This shows how much he loves her, otherwise he wouldn't care if she was afraid.

And Hermione? Hermione does not want to be separated from Harry. That's not an option in her mind. They go together, or they don't go at all. Her voice is loud and sharp when asking why. Sharp means “harsh or biting in tone or character”. So her voice is loud and hard. Someone is suspicious! However, she gives in to Harry's reasoning, trusting him.

He rolled sideways, narrowly avoiding the snake's tail, which thrashed down upon the table where he had been a second earlier: Fragments of the glass surface rained upon him as he hit the floor. From below he heard Hermione call, “Harry?”
He could not get enough breath into his lungs to call back: Then a heavy smooth mass smashed him to the floor and he felt it slide over him, powerful, muscular –
No!” he gasped, pinned to the floor. (340)

Hermione calls out to see if Harry is alright when she hears strange noises. Harry want to answer, but he can't, because of Nagini.

He was abruptly awake in the sour-smelling darkness; Nagini had released him. He scrambled up and saw the snake outlined against the landing light: It struck, and Hermione dived aside with a shriek; her deflected curse hit the curtained window, which shattered. Frozen air filled the room as Harry ducked to avoid another shower of broken glass and his foot slipped on a pencil-like something – his wand – (341)

Hermione rushes upstairs, not caring for her own safety as she tries to get to Harry.

He bent and snatched it up, but now the room was full of the snake, its tail thrashing; Hermione was nowhere to be seen and for a moment Harry thought the worst, but then there was a loud bang and a flash of red light, and the snake flew into the air, smacking Harry hard in the face as it went, coil after heavy coil rising up to the ceiling. Harry raised his wand, but as he did so, his scar seared more painfully, more powerfully than it had done in years.
He's coming! Hermione, he's coming!
As he yelled the snake fell, hissing wildly. Everything was chaos: It smashed shelves from the wall, and splintered china flew everywhere as Harry jumped over the bed and seized the dark shape he knew to be Hermione –
She shrieked with pain as he pulled her back across the bed: The snake reared again, but Harry knew that worse than the snake was coming, was perhaps already at the gate, his head was going to split open with the pain from his scar –
The snake lunged as he took a running leap, dragging Hermione with him; as it struck, Hermione screamed, “Confringo!” and her spell flew around the room, exploding the wardrobe mirror and ricocheting back at them, bouncing from floor to ceiling; Harry felt the heat of it sear the back of his hand. Glass cut his cheek as, pulling Hermione with him, he lept from bed to broken dressing table and then straight out of the smashed window into nothingness, her scream reverberating through the night as they twisted in midair... (341-2)

Blood chilling horror, this scene is. All Harry can focus on is getting Hermione and getting out of there. What makes this a Harmony moment to me is that even with all the pain in his scar, and the snake flailing around, Harry always knows where Hermione is. Everything is measured by where she is and if he has hold of her.

Also, this is the only time in the series Harry faces Voldemort with someone else, and that someone is Hermione.

And now he stood at the broken window of Bathilda's house, immersed in memories of his greatest loss, and at his feet the great snake slithered over broken china and glass... He looked down and saw something... something incredible...
No...”
Harry, it's all right, you're all right!”
He stooped down and picked up the smashed photograph. There he was, the unknown thief, the thief he was seeking...
No... I dropped it... I dropped it...”
Harry, it's okay, wake up, wake up!”
He was Harry... Harry, not Voldemort... and the thing that was rustling was not a snake... He opened his eyes. (345)

Hermione's voice reminds him of who he is and helps him pull out of Voldemort's mind. Like we went over earlier, she is the only one who can reach him when he's channeling Voldemort. Only this goes further, he's been trapped in a vision, trapped in Voldemort's mind. And it's Hermione's words of reassurance that help bring him out of it.

He was in the tent, lying on one of the lower bunks beneath a heap of blankets. He could tell that it was almost dawn by the stillness and the quality of the cold, flat light beyond the canvas ceiling. He was drenched in sweat; he could feel it on the sheets and blankets.
We got away.”
Yes,” said Hermione. “I had to use a Hover Charm to get you into your bunk, I couldn't lift you. You've been... Well, you haven't been quite...”
There were purple shadows under her brown eyes, and he noticed a small sponge in her hand: She had been wiping his face.
You've been ill,” she finished. “Quite ill.”
How long did we leave?”
Hours ago. It's nearly morning.” (346)

Harry wakes up and finds out that it has been hours since they escaped from Godric's Hollow. We, however, find out what Hermione has been doing. What she says is very telling.

She couldn't lift him. Meaning, she tried. She tried to lift him into bed. Then, once she got him in bed, she covered him in blankets. She's been sitting by his side for hours, wiping the sweat off his face. She hasn't left his side for even a moment. That's love, people.

Note that this is the first time in the entire series we get told Hermione's eye color. They just had the most romantic scene in the series and then faced Voldemort together, making Hermione the only one to face him with Harry. This leads us to his first description of her eyes in the series, as he learns she's been by his side all night.

Now, who can honestly claim to make that more romantic than it already is?

And I've been... what, unconscious?”
Not exactly,” said Hermione uncomfortably. “You've been shouting and moaning and... things,” she added in a tone that made Harry feel uneasy What had he done? Screamed curses like Voldemort, cried like the baby in the crib?
I couldn't get the Horcrux off you,” Hermione said, and he knew she wanted to change the subject. “It was stuck to your chest. You've got a mark; I'm sorry, I had to use a Severing Charm to get it away. The snake bit you too, but I've cleaned the wound and put some dittany on it...”
He pulled the sweaty T-shirt he was wearing away from himself and looked down. There was a scarlet oval over his heart where the locket had burned him. He could also se the half-healed puncture marks to his forearm.
Where've you put the Horcrux?”
In my bag. I think we should keep it off for a while.”
He lay back on his pillows and looked into her pinched grey face. (346-7)

We find out that Hermione really has thought of everything and that she really doesn't look good. A pinched face means “if someone's face is pinched, it looks thin and pale, usually because they are ill or old”. Grey means “(of a person’s face) pale, as through tiredness, age, or illness”.

So we have just been told twice that Hermione's face looks as if she is ill (extremely ill, as it's said twice), all because of what happened to Harry. Let's compare this to when Ron was injured earlier.

When Harry goes to get the Dittany, Ron faints (probably from blood loss) and Hermione looks “rather pale” and her hands shake, she then speaks shakily (270). Rather means “to a certain extent; somewhat”. Shake means “a trembling or quivering movement” and shakily means “trembling or quivering”. So she's a little pale and her hands and voice are trembling. A very understandable reaction, as they have just escaped from the Ministry and she has had to heal a gory wound that she caused.

However, it's only when she has to explain to Harry that they can't go back to Grimmauld Place that “she looked close to tears” and “her eyes sparkled with unshed tears” (270-1). The tears and emotion clearly come from the fact that she feels like it's her fault that they have lost Grimmauld Place and not Ron's injury. That is very different from what we've seen here (with Harry). Both scenes are more proof of the pattern that her reactions and feelings are much stronger towards Harry than towards Ron.

We shouldn't have gone to Godric's Hollow. It's my fault, it's all my fault, Hermione, I'm sorry.”
It's not your fault. I wanted to go too; I really thought Dumbledore might have left the sword there for you.”
Yeah, well... we got that wrong, didn't we?” (347)

Harry's blaming himself for things outside of his control, and Hermione is able to bring him out of it and convince him that it wasn't his fault.

He remembered the snake coming out of Bathilda's neck: Hermione did not need to know the details. (348)

He knew the thought of Nagini inside Bathilda was making Hermione nauseated, so he spared her the horrific details of the scene. Once again looking out for her.

If he had only managed to kill the snake, it would have been worth it, all of it... Sick at heart, he sat up and threw back the covers.
Harry, no, I'm sure you ought to rest!”
You're the one who needs sleep. No offense, but you look terrible. I'm fine. I'll keep watch for a while. Where's my wand?”
She did not answer, she merely looked at him.
Where's my wand, Hermione?”
She was biting her lip, and tears swam in her eyes.
Harry...”
Where's my wand?
She reached down beside the bed and held it out to him.
The holly and phoenix wand was nearly severed in two. One fragile strand of phoenix feather kept both pieces hanging together. The wood had splintered apart completely. Harry took it into his hands as though it was a living thing that had suffered a terrible injury. He could not think properly: Everything was a blur of panic and fear. Then he held out the wand to Hermione.
Mend it. Please.”
Harry, I don't think, when it's broken like this -”
Please, Hermione, try!”
R-Reparo.
The dangling half of the wand resealed itself. Harry held it up.
Lumos!
The wand sparked feebly, then went out. Harry pointed it at Hermione.
Expelliarmus!
Hermione's wand gave a little jerk, but did not leave her hand. The feeble attempt at magic was too much for Harry's wand, which split into two again. He stared at it, aghast, unable to take in what he was seeing... the wand that had survived so much...
Harry,” Hermione whispered so quietly he could hardly hear her. “I'm so, so sorry. I think it was me. As we were leaving, you know, the snake was coming for us, and so I cast a Blasting Curse, and it rebounded everywhere, and it must have – must have hit -”
It was an accident,” said Harry mechanically. He felt empty, stunned. “We'll – we'll find a way to repair it.”
Harry, I don't think we're going to be able to,” said Hermione, the tears trickling down her face. “Remember... remember Ron? When he broke his wand, crashing the car? It was never the same again, he had to get a new one.” (348-9)

This part begins with Harry wanting to take watch, telling Hermione that she looks horrible, and that she needs to rest. He's trying to take care of her, even though he was the one injured. Then he finds out his wand is broken. A wand is an extension of the wizard, an irreplaceable part of Harry. He literally could not think, so overwhelmed with fear and panic, and yet he nicely asked Hermione to fix it twice.

It can't be fixed, and Hermione takes responsibility. It would be so easy for him to yell at her, lose it and blame her, but he doesn't. This is a huge step from the Harry in OotP, who was yelling at everyone for everything. He refuses to lash out at her.

Let's look at Hermione here, as well. Harry asks for his wand, and she says nothing. She bites her lip (usually a nervous habit) and her eyes fill with tears. She knows how much his wand means to him, that it's an irreplaceable part of him, and she feels absolutely horrible that she broke it. She can't bring herself to tell him his wand is broken, so she shows it to him. Harry asks her to fix it, and she tries to explain that she doesn't think it can be fixed. Nevertheless, she tries, and it doesn't work.

Then, she whispers, saying she's “so, so sorry” and that she thinks she broke it. She explains what she thinks happened, still speaking softly from the guilt of breaking it, she still feels horrible; she then can't bring herself to say the words, to say that her Blasting Curse must have hit his wand.

Harry, who is still absolutely stunned, “mechanically” says it was an accident. Mechanical means “performed or performing in an impersonal or machinelike manner; automatic”. He automatically says it was an accident, even though he's still having trouble processing the situation. He knows she would never do anything to hurt him on purpose. He tries to reassure both of them by saying they'll find a way to fix it.

Then, when she explains that they won't be able to find a way, the tears start “trickling” down her face. Trickle means “to flow or fall in drops or in a thin stream”. The tears slowly start falling down her face as she feels even more horrible about the situation.

Well,” he said, in a falsely matter-of-fact voice, “well, I'll just borrow yours for now, then. While I keep watch.”
Her face glazed with tears, Hermione handed over her wand, and he left her sitting beside his bed, desiring nothing more than to get away from her. (349)

He wants to be by himself so he can process what happened and grieve for the loss of his wand. Like I said before, Harry, like most abused children, is uncomfortable with showing deep emotion, emotion that makes him vulnerable, in front of another person. That has nothing to do with Hermione. We see Harry try and pretend it's not affecting him, matter-of-fact means “straightforward or unemotional”. He's using a falsely unemotional tone of voice that I don't think fools either of them.

As for Hermione? Her face is “glazed” with tears. Glazed means “a thin smooth shiny coating”. Hermione hands Harry her own wand, her faced covered with tears, as she blames herself for breaking his wand and hurting him.

Without realizing it, he was digging his fingers into his arms as if he were trying to resist physical pain. He had spilled his own blood more times than he could count; he had lost all the bones in his right arm once; this journey had already given him scars to his chest and forearm to join those on his hand and forehead, but never, until this moment, had he felt himself to be fatally weakened, vulnerable, and naked, as though the best part of his magical power had been torn from him. He knew exactly what Hermione would say if he expressed any of this: The wand is only as good as the wizard. But she was wrong, his case was different. (350-1)

Here is proof of what I just said – he feels “fatally weakened”. That's a lot of emotion. Then, Harry knows Hermione so well he knows exactly what she would say if she heard him doubting himself, which leads to another line of abused thinking: that all of his power and skill was his wand, not him. This paragraph proves that his wanting to get away from Hermione had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with his own grief and lack of self-worth.

And his fury at Dumbledore broke over him now like lava, scorching him inside, wiping out every other feeling. Out of sheer desperation they had talked themselves into believing that Godric's Hollow held answers, convinced themselves that they were supposed to go back, that it was all part of some secret path laid out for them by Dumbledore; but there was no map, no plan. Dumbledore had left them to grope in the darkness, to wrestle with unknown and undreamed-of terrors, alone and unaided: Nothing was explained, nothing was given freely, they had no sword, and now, Harry had no wand. And he had dropped the photograph of the thief, and it would surely be easy now for Voldemort to find out who he was... Voldemort had all the information now...
Harry?”
Hermione looked frightened that he might curse her with her own wand. Her face streaked with tears, she crouched down beside him, two cups of tea trembling in her hands and something bulky under her arm.
Thanks,” he said, taking one of the cups.
Do you mind if I talk to you?”
No,” he said because he did not want to hurt her feelings. (351-2)

Hermione is still blaming herself for breaking Harry's wand, she knows how much that wand means to him, and she's afraid he is too. She comes outside and sees his face covered with fury, which frightens her more – she thinks all of the fury is because of her, that he holds her responsible for breaking his wand. Her hands are trembling from all of the emotion. I want to note the fact that even though she's scared he's blaming her, she has no problem approaching him (that's a big deal, considering how furious he looked), her voice does not shake, she doesn't stutter. She's afraid, but she's not afraid of him.

Harry isn't blaming her, though. And even though he's upset over his wand and angry at Dumbledore, he still takes the time to thank her for the tea. He is considerate of her feelings, and doesn't want to hurt her. This reminds me of a quote from a psychology article (about 10 nonverbal ways to say I love you):

Being extra considerate on a daily basis works wonders. Saying "please" and "thank you," opening doors, helping your partner put on a coat, or putting a little love note in his or her pocket are a few of the little things that make a big difference.

So here we see that every time they do something considerate for each other, they're strengthening their bond. Harry's able to do this even when he's suffering a huge loss. Can't you see how important that is?

Harry looked down upon Dumbledore's face and experienced a surge of savage pleasure: Now he would know all the things that Dumbledore had never thought it worth telling him, whether Dumbledore wanted him to or not.
You're still really angry at me, aren't you?” said Hermione; he looked up to see fresh tears leaking out of her eyes, and knew that his anger must have shown in his face.
No,” he said quietly. “No, Hermione, I know it was an accident. You were trying to get us out of there alive, and you were incredible. I'd be dead if you hadn't been there to help me.”
He tried to return her watery smile, then turned his attention to the book. (352)

We have confirmation of what Hermione has been thinking, that she believes his fury is directed at her. She can't help but cry more at another look of anger on his face, feeling wretched about breaking his wand and causing him this pain.

Harry then responds, saying that he could never blame her, that he knows it was an accident. He says how incredible she was, and how he would be dead without her. And he would. I don't think he could have survived first year, much less longer, without her in his life. He tries to comfort and complement her, and the best thing is he means every word.

This makes Hermione smile, even though her face is still covered with tears. His reassurance obviously means the world to her. We see him still trying to be considerate and comforting as he tries to return her smile, a smile he doesn't feel like he has in him. Nevertheless, he tries.

Harry gaped at the last word for several long moments. Grindelwald. His friend Grindelwald. He looked sideways at Hermione, who was still contemplating the name as though she could not believe her eyes. Slowly she looked up at Harry.
Grindelwald?
Ignoring the remainder of the photographs, Harry searched the pages around them for a recurrence of that fatal name. (353)

Harry's first reaction (other than shock, of course) is to turn to Hermione. However, she's just as shocked as he is!

Together, he and Hermione started to read: (353)

Can't you just picture them, huddled together as they both read the book (held by Harry)?

The chapter ended here and Harry looked up. Hermione had reached the bottom of the page before him. She tugged the book out of Harry's hands, looking a little alarmed by his expression, and closed it without looking at it, as though hiding something indecent.
Harry -”
But he shook his head. Some inner certainty had crashed down inside him; it was exactly as he had felt after Ron had left. He had trusted Dumbledore, believed him the embodiment of goodness and wisdom. All was ashes: How much more could he lose? Ron, Dumbledore, the phoenix wand...
Harry.” She seemed to have heard his thoughts. “Listen to me. It – it doesn't make very nice reading -” (359-60)

Harry is not the only one who can read the other's mind, as Hermione starts trying to comfort him.

I thought you'd say that,” said Harry. He did not want to let his anger spill out at her, but it was hard to keep his voice steady. “I thought you'd say 'They were young.' They were the same age as we are now. And here we are, risking our lives to fight the Dark Arts, and there he was, in a huddle with his new best friend, plotting their rise to power over the Muggles.” (360-1)

Again, Harry knew what Hermione would say before she said it. He's not angry at her, he's angry at Dumbledore, and he doesn't want to hurt her by unleashing his anger. He's still being considerate of her.

Harry, I'm sorry, but I think the real reason you're so angry is that Dumbledore never told you any of this himself.”
Maybe I am!” Harry bellowed, and he flung his arms over his head, hardly knowing whether he was trying to hold in his anger or protect himself from the weight of his own disillusionment. “Look at what he asked from me, Hermione! Risk your life, Harry! And again! And again! And don't expect me to explain everything, just trust me blindly, trust that I know what I'm doing, trust me even though I don't trust you! Never the whole truth! Never!”
His voice cracked with the strain, and they stood looking at each other in the whiteness and the emptiness, and Harry felt they were as insignificant as insects beneath that wide sky.
He loved you,” Hermione whispered. “I know he loved you.”
Harry dropped his arms.
I don't know who he loved, Hermione, but it was never me. This isn't love, the mess he's left me in. He shared a damn sight more of what he was really thinking with Gellert Grindelwald than he ever shared with me.”
Harry picked up Hermione's wand, which he had dropped in the snow, and sat back down in the entrance of the tent.
Thanks for the tea. I'll finish the watch. You get back in the warm.”
She hesitated, but recognized the dismissal. She picked up the book and then walked back past him into the tent, but as she did so, she brushed the top of his head slightly with her hand. He closed his eyes, at her touch, and hated himself for wishing that what she said was true: that Dumbledore had really cared. (361-2)

Hermione is right, she calls Harry out on the real reason he's angry. But it's more than that, he's hurt. He's just learned that everything he thought he knew about his mentor was a lie. He looks at Hermione, overwhelmed with feeling, and she whispers to him. You have to be standing close to someone to hear them whisper. Her words took away all of his anger, leaving him feeling drained and abandoned.

She realizes he wants to be left alone, but she refuses to leave without giving him one last piece of comfort. One touch. Just one brief touch from her calms and comforts him. This bond, the bond between Harry and Hermione, eclipses every other relationship in their lives. And you can feel that, so strongly, in this scene.

Finally he got up in the darkness and joined Hermione, who was huddled in the entrance to the tent reading A History of Magic by the light of her wand. The snow was still falling thickly, and she greeted with relief his suggestion of packing up early and moving on.
We'll go somewhere more sheltered,” she agreed, shivering as she pulled on a sweatshirt over her pajamas. “I kept thinking I could hear people moving outside. I even thought I saw somebody once or twice.”
Harry paused in the act of pulling on a jumper and glanced at the silent, motionless Sneakoscope on the table.
I'm sure I imagined it,” said Hermione, looking nervous. “The snow in the dark, it plays tricks on your eyes... but perhaps we ought to Disapparate under the Invisibility Cloak, just in case?”
Half an hour later, with the tent packed, Harry wearing the Horcrux, and Hermione clutching the beaded bag, they Disapparated. (363-4)

Here we see something that has happened many times, since the first time they met (PS 110). Harry takes in what Hermione says, automatically believes it, and then looks to how to move forward. Because he does it without thinking, it an intrinsic and instinctive part of him. It is, essentially, trust (trust means “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”). He unconsciously trusts her from the day they met.

They spent most of the day inside the tent, huddled for warmth around the useful bright blue flames that Hermione was so adept at producing, and which could be scooped up and carried around in a jar. Harry felt as though he was recuperating from some brief but severe illness, an impression reinforced by Hermione's solicitousness. (364)

Another mention of the Bluebell Flames charm. We talked about it before, and how the symbolism connected to it is constancy, faithfulness, and devotion. Hermione's constant, faithful, devotion to Harry. That is then continued by Hermione's “solicitousness”. Solicitousness means “a feeling of excessive concern”. So we get a reminder of Hermione's constant, faithful, devotion to Harry as she fusses around him two days after Godric's Hollow.

After two nights of little sleep, Harry's senses seemed more alert than usual. Their escape from Godric's Hollow had been so narrow that Voldemort seemed somehow closer than before, more threatening. As darkness drew in again Harry refused Hermione's offer to keep watch and told her to go to bed. (364)

Harry's senses are on the alert and he wants Hermione to sleep. Another instance of him being considerate towards her.

He was on the point of taking out the Marauder's Map, so as to watch Ginny's dot for a while, before he remembered that it was the Christmas holidays and that she would be back at the Burrow. (365)

This is the first mention of him watching Ginny since the first one, where Hermione was crying over Ron (supposedly). That, and the fact that it is already the 26th of December, tells me it has been probably weeks since he looked at her dot. Why does he do it now, then? Because his instincts are great - “And yet he could not throw off the feeling that something was different tonight” (365). This is the night Ron returns, and I think he subconsciously knows that.

Harry and Hermione have been growing even closer, with the most romantic scenes in the entire series. I think they are subconsciously letting themselves hope for more – they may think the other is in love with someone else, but that someone else is not there. Harry and Hermione are there, though, and their friendships with the Weasley's have gone beyond no return. Finally, they have the chance for their love for each other to grow into an actual romantic relationship.

His impulse to shout for Hermione, which had been so strong a moment ago, had gone. He knew, he would have staked his life on it, that she had come for him, and him alone. (366)

Impulse means “an abrupt inclination”. His instinctive reaction to something new is to shout for Hermione. The text could easily have said something like “his desire for Hermione, for backup”, but it didn't. It clearly states that his instinctive reaction is to shout for Hermione.

With fumbling fingers Harry started to remove his many layers of clothing. Where “chivalry” entered into this, he thought ruefully, he was not entirely sure, unless it counted as chivalrous that he was not calling Hermione to do it in his stead. (369)

A sweet yet funny moment I've always liked. Rueful means “feeling or expressing sorrow or repentance”. Harry really doesn't want to go into a freezing cold pond naked, and he briefly wonders if it's chivalrous to not call Hermione (can't you just picture that, Hermione getting naked to get the sword with Harry watching? I would love to see that! :)).

Choking and retching, soaking and colder than he had ever been in his life, he came to facedown in the snow. Somewhere close by, another person was panting and coughing and staggering around. Hermione had come again, as she had come when the snake attacked... Yet it did not sound like her, not with those deep coughs, not judging by the weight of the footsteps... (370)

It's sweet how Harry automatically assumes that his rescuer is Hermione. It also speaks volumes that he is not uncomfortable with that – he is completely at ease with the thought of being that vulnerable and (both literally and metaphorically) naked with her. There is nothing about him Hermione doesn't already know, and he's perfectly fine with that.

Also, look at how many times Hermione features in his thoughts. This is something that has been going on since the fifth book. According to one psychology article (12 ties to bond long-term relationships):

Thinking about your partner when apart. When you leave your partner for the day, the evening, or for an extended period of time, do you forget about his or her existence? Is it out of sight and out of mind for you? If so, this may be a sign that you’re not that much in love. You don’t have to spend every second apart sighing longingly, but the fact that your partner isn’t there should at least cross your mind some of the time during the course of the average day.

This shows that thinking about someone often is a sign of romantic love – and Harry thinks about Hermione more than anyone else.

How come you're here?”
Apparently Ron had hoped that this point would come up later, if at all.
Well, I've – you know – I've come back. If -” He cleared his throat. “You know. You still want me.”
There was a pause, in which the subject of Ron's departure seemed to rise like a wall between them. Yet he was here. He had returned. He had just saved Harry's life. (372)

A supremely awkward moment between Harry and Ron, and note what caused it. Ron's departure. Once again we get told that it is Ron's 'act of leaving', how he left, that caused everything. Harry will have a choice to make, very soon.

Presumption!” echoed the Riddle-Hermione, who was more beautiful and yet more terrible than the real Hermione: She swayed, cackling, before Ron, who looked horrified yet transfixed, the sword hanging pointlessly at his side. “Who could look at you, who would ever look at you, beside Harry Potter? What have you ever done, compared with the Chosen One? What are you, compared with the Boy Who Lived?
Ron, stab it, STAB IT!” Harry yelled, but Ron did not move: His eyes were wide, and the Riddle-Harry and the Riddle-Hermione were reflected in them, their hair swirling like flames, their eyes shining red, their voices lifted in an evil duet.
Your mother confessed,” sneered Riddle-Harry, while Riddle-Hermione jeered, “that she would have preferred me as a son, would be glad to exchange...
Who wouldn't prefer him, what woman would take you, you are nothing, nothing, nothing to him,” crooned Riddle-Hermione, and she stretched like a snake and entwined herself around Riddle-Harry, wrapping him in a close embrace: Their lips met.
On the ground in front of them, Ron's face filled with anguish. He raised the sword high, his arms shaking. (376-7)

So Harry, you think Hermione is beautiful? After all, to be “more” beautiful she has to be beautiful in the first place!

The kiss is a very sexy kiss. This whole part, Riddle-Harry and Riddle-Hermione, are tantalizing yet terrifying (a little side note, Voldemort knows desire, not love. The locket got to know all three of them very well when it was around their necks. It sensed Ron's insecurity, definitely. But to show this – it must have sensed desire when around Harry and Hermione).

However, what's really important is why Ron saw this. These are Ron's greatest fears – being unloved and unwanted. But it is extremely important that it was manifested in this way. Like I said before, Ron may be insecure, but he's not stupid. He would not just make up something like this if it isn't there. Considering the fact that he is closer to them than anyone else, he can validate the possibility of a romantic relationship between Harry and Hermione in a way no one else can (Molly (GF 618-9), Krum (GF 339, 552-3), Cho (OP 562, 637), Colin/Skeeter (GF 315)). And he has, time and time again. This scene makes sure that there is no way we can miss that.

When Harry and Hermione kiss, when his greatest fears are not just being spoken, but being shown right before his eyes, his face fills with anguish. Anguish means “agonizing physical or mental pain”. This hurts Ron deeply.

Slowly, Harry walked back to him, hardly knowing what to say or do. Ron was breathing heavily: His eyes were no longer red at all, but their normal blue; they were also wet.
Harry stooped, pretending he had not seen, and picked up the broken Horcrux. (377)

But he has seen. He knows exactly how Ron feels. Nothing could have confirmed it more – Ron is in love with Hermione (of course, we could get into if Ron meets the psychological (here and here) and scientific requirements for being in love, but we won't, as he believes he is, and that is all that matters right now).

It is time for Harry to make his choice. Knowing that Ron is in love with Hermione, and believing that Hermione is in love with him (Ron), will he get in the way, or will he stand aside so his friends can be happy? We all know the answer. We all know that Harry would sacrifice his very soul for his loved ones (and that subconsciously he knows he won't survive the war – he later says “Don't think I don't know how this might end. I've known it for years.” (569)). He steps aside, burying his feelings, to let his best friend and the woman he loves be happy together.

The sword clanged as Ron dropped it. He had sunk to his knees, his head in his arms. He was shaking; but not, Harry realized, from cold. Harry crammed the broken locket into his pocket, knelt down beside Ron, and placed a hand cautiously on his shoulder. He took it as a good sign that Ron did not throw it off.
After you left,” he said in a low voice, grateful for the fact that Ron's face was hidden, “she cried for a week. Probably longer, only she didn't want me to see. There were loads of nights when we never even spoke to each other. With you gone...”
He could not finish; it was only now that Ron was here again that Harry fully realized how much his absence had cost them.
She's like my sister,” he went on. “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It's always been like that. I thought you knew.” (378)

Ron/Hermione fans have made a big deal out of this passage. So let's talk about it.

First of all, no only child knows what it's like to have a sibling. Harry especially, because he grew up in an abusive home. Harry doesn't know what it feels like to have your parents' love, much less a sibling's. All he knows is that he loves Hermione deeply and unconditionally.

Now, let's go over a few things about how this is written. Harry never thinks he loves Hermione like a sister. He says it to Ron, after just seeing Ron's greatest fears, but he never thinks it. He's also grateful that Ron isn't looking at him. That's important to note. Why doesn't he want Ron to see him? Some would say he doesn't want to see Ron's pain, but if that is the case why does he approach Ron at all? One of the key signs of lying is to be unable to look at who you're lying to. We know he's lying.

Harry “reckons” she feels the same way. Reckon means “to think or assume”. He's not even 100% sure Hermione thinks of him like a brother. This is the only time in all seven books he says he loves someone – and that someone is Hermione.

Yes, Ron's absence cost them. Of course it did. They're the Golden Trio! One definition for cost is “to cause to lose, suffer, or sacrifice”. They suffered when Ron left. Not because they can't function without him, like Ron/Hermione shippers claim (on the contrary, we have just gone over and over why that isn't true), but because he's their friend. They love him and miss him. He is essential to the group, not the pair.

As for the statement that Harry and Hermione did not speak to each other, that is contradicted by the text. This is not the first time J.K. Rowling has made a statement that contradicts the rest of the text. Harry and Hermione were doing all of the talking even before Ron left (see above), and every important, personal, and emotional conversation in this book takes place without Ron (Lily's letter, RAB's identity, Gryffindor's sword, Rita's Dumbledore book, etc). The text also shows that our Harry and Hermione have been back for the last two chapters.

The book does say, on page 314, that “they were spending many evenings in near silence”. But this is right after, on page 313, Harry says “By day, they devoted themselves to trying to determine the possible locations of Gryffindor's sword, but the more they talked about the places in which Dumbledore might have hidden it, the more desperate and far-fetched their speculation came”. They are running out of ideas. Even when Ron was with them (and not taking part in any conversations) the text says “their conversations becoming increasingly repetitive as they had no new information” (see above). They have no new information. They have nothing more to analyze. Why keep having the same conversation over and over?

Though the walk through the dark forest with the doe had seemed lengthy, with Ron by his side the journey back seemed to take a surprisingly short time. Harry could not wait to wake Hermione, and it was with quickening excitement that he entered the tent, Ron lagging a little behind him. (379)

Why, you ask, if Harry is in love with Hermione, does he want them to reunite? Because he wants her to be happy. Like Hermione 'beaming' when he kissed Ginny (HBP 534 (we also see Hermione falsely beam before this (HBP 313))), he thinks this will make her happy. And all either of them wants is for the other to be happy.

It was gloriously warm after the pool and the forest, the only illumination the bluebell flames still shimmering in a bowl on the floor. Hermione was fast asleep, curled up under her blankets, and did not move until Harry had said her name several times. (379)

This is our symbolic reminder that Harry is wrong, that Hermione is in love with him and has chosen him time and time again. He comes back to Hermione and the bluebell flames. He comes back to Hermione and the physical symbol of her constancy, faithfulness, and devotion. This is a painfully bittersweet moment.

Hermione!
She stirred, then sat up quickly, pushing her hair out of her face.
What's wrong? Harry? Are you all right?”
It's okay, everything's fine. More than fine. I'm great. There's someone here.”
What do you mean? Who -?”
She saw Ron, who stood there holding the sword and dripping onto the threadbare carpet. Harry backed into a shadowy corner, slipped off Ron's rucksack, and attempted to blend in with the canvas. (379)

This is the physical proof that Harry doesn't want to get in their way. He wants them to be happy, and even literally backs off so they can reunite.

Hermione slid out of her bunk and moved like a sleepwalker toward Ron, her eyes upon his pale face. She stopped right in front of him, her lips slightly parted, her eyes wide. Ron gave a weak, hopeful smile and half raised his arms.
Hermione launched herself forward and started punching every inch of him that she could reach. (379-80)

The beginning paragraph sounds like it could be leading to a very romantic reunion, however the last sentence negates that.

Ouch – ow – gerroff! What the -? Hermione – OW!”
You – complete – arse – Ronald – Weasley!”
She punctuated every word with a blow: Ron backed away, shielding his head as Hermione advanced.
You – crawl – back – here – after – weeks – and – weeks – oh, where's my wand?
She looked as though ready to wrestle it out of Harry's hands and he reacted instinctively.
Protego!
The invisible shield erupted between Ron and Hermione: The force of it knocked her backward onto the floor. Spitting hair out of her mouth, she leapt up again.
Hermione!” said Harry “Calm -”
I will not calm down!” she screamed. Never before had he seen her lose control like this; she looked quite demented. “Give me back my wand! Give it back to me!(380)

Demented means “insane”. Hermione is driven out of her mind with fury by Ron's return. She wants to hurt him badly.

Hermione, will you please -”
Don't you tell me what to do, Harry Potter!” she screeched. “Don't you dare! Give it back now! And YOU!”
She was pointing at Ron in dire accusation: It was like a malediction, and Harry could not blame Ron for retreating several steps. (380)

Accusation means “an allegation that a person is guilty of some fault, offense, or crime”. Malediction means “the calling down of a curse”. Curse means “an appeal or prayer for evil or misfortune to befall someone or something”.

This tells us that Ron has committed a crime and she wants him hurt.

I came running after you! I called you! I begged you to come back!”
I know,” Ron said, “Hermione, I'm sorry, I'm really -”
Oh, you're sorry!
She laughed, a high-pitched, out-of-control sound; Ron looked at Harry for help, but Harry merely grimaced his helplessness.
You come back after weeks – weeks – and you think it's all going to be all right if you just say sorry?
Well, what else can I say?” Ron shouted, and Harry was glad that Ron was fighting back.
Oh, I don't know!” yelled Hermione with awful sarcasm. “Rack your brains, Ron, that should only take a couple of seconds -”
Hermione,” interjected Harry, who considered this a low blow, “he just saved my -”
I don't care!” she screamed. “I don't care what he's done! Weeks and weeks, we could have been dead for all he knew -”
I knew you weren't dead!” bellowed Ron, drowning her voice for the first time, and approaching as close as he could with the Shield Charm between them. “Harry's all over the Prophet, all over the radio, they're looking for you everywhere, all these rumors and mental stories, I knew I'd hear straight off if you were dead, you don't know what it's been like -”
What it's been like for you?
Her voice was now so shrill only bats would be able to hear it soon, but she had reached a level of indignation that rendered her temporarily speechless, and Ron seized his opportunity. (380-1)

Indignation means “anger aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy”. We get told again that Ron has committed a crime against her.

Also, Harry, you're glad they're fighting? You, who has never been able to stand their fights?

I wanted to come back the minute I'd Disapparated, but I walked straight into a gang on Snatchers, Hermione, and I couldn't go anywhere!”
A gang of what?” asked Harry, as Hermione threw herself down into a chair with her arms and legs crossed so tightly it seemed unlikely that she would unravel them for several years.
Snatchers,” said Ron. “They're everywhere – gangs trying to earn gold by rounding up Muggle-borns and blood traitors, there's a reward from the Ministry for everyone captured. I was on my own and I look like I might be school age; they got really excited, thought I was a Muggle-born in hiding. I had to talk fast to get out of being dragged to the Ministry.”
What did you say to them?”
Told them I was Stan Shunpike. First person I could think of.”
And they believed that?”
They weren't the brightest. One of them was definitely part troll, the smell off him...”
Ron glanced at Hermione, clearly hopeful she might soften at this small instance of humor, but her expression remained stony above her tightly knotted limbs. (381-2)

Stony means “exhibiting no feeling or warmth; impassive”. It is a negative look that has little emotion.

Anyway, they had a row about whether I was Stan or not. It was a bit pathetic to be honest, but there were still five of them and only one of me and they'd taken my wand. Then two of them got into a fight and while the others were distracted I managed to hit the one holding me in the stomach, grabbed his wand, Disarmed the bloke holding mine, and Disapparated. I didn't do it so well, Splinched myself again” - Ron held up his right hand to show two missing fingernails; Hermione raised her eyebrows coldly - “and I came out miles from where you were. By the time I got back to that bit of riverbank where we'd been... you'd gone.” (382)

Cold means “not affectionate or friendly; aloof”. Aloof means “distant physically or emotionally”. She still has little emotion on her face, and what she does have is negative.

Gosh, what a gripping story,” Hermione said in the lofty voice she adopted when wishing to wound. “You must have been simply terrified. Meanwhile we went to Godric's Hollow, and, let's think, what happened there, Harry? Oh yes, You-Know-Who's snake turned up, it nearly killed both of us, and then You-Know-Who himself arrived and missed us by about a second.” (382-3)

Lofty means “haughty or supercilious”. Haughty means “scornfully and condescendingly proud”. Supercilious means “feeling or showing haughty disdain”. Disdain means “to regard or treat with haughty contempt”. Contempt means “the feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless”. Still wishing to hurt, Hermione's tone makes it obvious that she is above him. That he is beneath her and not worth anything – just like her insult to his intelligence.

What?” Ron said, gaping from her to Harry, but Hermione ignored him.
Imagine losing fingernails, Harry! That really puts our sufferings into perspective, doesn't it?”
Hermione,” said Harry quietly, “Ron just saved my life.”
She appeared not to have heard him.
One thing I would like to know, though,” she said, fixing her eyes on a spot a foot over Ron's head. “How exactly did you find us tonight? That's important. Once we know, we'll be able to make sure we're not visited by anyone else we don't want to see.”
Ron glared at her, then pulled a small silver object from his jeans pocket.
This.”
She had to look at Ron to see what he was showing them.
The Deluminator?” she asked, so surprised she forgot to look cold and fierce. (383)

Cold means “not affectionate or friendly; aloof”. Aloof means “distant physically or emotionally”. Fierce means “savage or threatening in appearance”. She looks distant yet threatening.

It doesn't just turn the lights on and off,” said Ron. “I don't know how it works or why it happened then and not any other time, because I've been wanting to come back ever since I left. But I was listening to the radio really early on Christmas morning and I heard... I heard you.”
He was looking at Hermione.
You heard me on the radio?” she asked incredulously.
No, I heard you coming out of my pocket, Your voice,” he held up the Deluminator again, “came out of this.”
And what exactly did I say?” asked Hermione, her tone somewhere between skepticism and curiosity.
My name. 'Ron' And you said... something about a wand...”
Hermione turned a fiery shade of scarlet. Harry remembered: It had been the first time Ron's name had been said aloud by either of them since the day he left; Hermione had mentioned it when talking about repairing Harry's wand. (383-4)

Fiery means “having the color of fire; brightly red”. Scarlet means “a strong to vivid red or reddish orange”. This is a very deep blush. Blush means “to become red in the face, especially from modesty, embarrassment, or shame”. Embarrassed means “to cause to feel self-conscious or ill at ease”. Why is Hermione so embarrassed? After all, it was just an 'innocent' conversation (we'll get to the real reason in a minute).

So I took it out,” Ron went on, looking at the Deluminator, “and it didn't seem different or anything, but I was sure I'd heard you. So I clicked it. And the light went out in my room, but another light appeared right outside the window.”
Ron raised his empty hand and pointed in front of him, his eyes focused on something neither Harry nor Hermione could see.
It was a ball of light, kind of pulsing, and bluish, like that light you get around a Portkey, you know?”
Yeah,” said Harry and Hermione together automatically.
I knew this was it,” said Ron. “I grabbed my stuff and packed it, then I put on my rucksack and went out into the garden. The little ball of light was hovering there, waiting for me, and when I came out it bobbed along a bit and I followed it behind the shed and then it... well, it went inside me.”
Sorry?” said Harry, sure he had not heard correctly.
It sort of floated toward me,” said Ron, illustrating the movement with his free index finger, “right to my chest, and then – it just went straight through. It was here,” he touched a point close to his heart, “I could feel it, it was hot. And once it was inside me I knew what I was supposed to do, I knew it would take me where I needed to go. So I Disapparated and came out on the side of a hill. There was snow everywhere...”
We were there,” said Harry. “We spent two nights there, and the second night I kept thinking I could hear someone moving around in the dark and calling out!”
Yeah, well, that would've been me,” said Ron. “Your protective spells work, anyway, because I couldn't see you and I couldn't hear you. I was sure you were around, though, so in the end I got in my sleeping bag and waited for one of you to appear. I thought you'd have to show yourselves when you packed up the tent.”
No, actually,” said Hermione. “We've been Disapparating under the Invisibility Cloak as an extra precaution. And we left really early, because, as Harry says, we'd heard somebody blundering around.” (384-5)

Blundering, Hermione? Really? Blunder means “to move clumsily or blindly”. She's started to calm down, as she listens to Ron's story, but she's still mad at him.

Well, I stayed on that hill all day,” said Ron. “I kept hoping you'd appear. But when it started to get dark I knew I must have missed you, so I clicked the Deluminator again, the blue light came out and went inside me, and I Disapparated and arrived here in these woods. I still couldn't see you, so I just had to hope one of you would show yourselves in the end – and Harry did. Well, I saw the doe first, obviously.”
You saw the what?” said Hermione sharply.
They explained what had happened, and as the story of the silver doe and the sword in the pool unfolded, Hermione frowned from one to the other of them, concentrating so hard she forgot to keep her limbs locked together. (385)

Proof of what I just said. She's calming down, focused so much on the story that she's forgotten to be angry.

But it must have been a Patronus!” she said. “Couldn't you see who was casting it? Didn't you see anyone? And it led you to the sword! I can't believe this! Then what happened?”
Ron explained how he had watched Harry jump into the pool and had waited for him to resurface; how he had realized that something was wrong, dived in, and saved Harry, then returned for the sword. He got as far as the opening of the locket, then hesitated, and Harry cut in.
- and Ron stabbed it with the sword.”
And... and it went? Just like that?” she whispered.
Well, it – it screamed,” said Harry with half a glance at Ron. “Here.” (385-6)

A reminder to us of the decision Harry just made. He doesn't tell Hermione the truth, he doesn't tell her about his feelings.

He threw the locket into her lap; gingerly she picked it up and examined its punctured windows.
Deciding that it was at last safe to do so, Harry removed the Shield Charm with a wave of Hermione's wand and turned to Ron.
Did you just say you got away from the Snatchers with a spare wand?”
What?” said Ron, who had been watching Hermione examining the locket. “Oh – oh yeah.”
He tugged open a buckle on his rucksack and pulled a short, dark wand out of its pocket. “Here. I figured it's always handy to have a backup.”
You were right,” said Harry, holding out his hand. “Mine's broken.”
You're kidding?” Ron said, but at that moment Hermione got to her feet, and he looked apprehensive again.
Hermione put the vanquished Horcrux into the beaded bag, then climbed back into her bed and settled down without another word. (386)

So. Let's talk about all of this. Hermione will stay cold, communicating “by dirty looks and pointed silences” (388). Harry will think about her sulkiness (means “sullenly aloof or withdrawn”, sullen means “showing a brooding ill humor or silent resentment”) (389). She will have a “baleful presence” (means “harmful or malignant in intent or effect”) (389), she will stalk off (means “to walk with a stiff, haughty, or angry gait”) (392), and she will be speaking coldly (396). This will go on for two days, until everything at the Lovegood's house.

That is not the reaction one has to their lover. One would yell and then fling themselves into the other's arms, or fling and then yell. But not this.

So why this? She completely loses control, wanting nothing more than to hurt him. There is no joy in any of this, no relief that Ron is back. Nothing that shows she has missed him. She calls him an arse, insults him, and says, “You come back after weeks – weeks – and you think it's all going to be all right if you just say sorry?

Indeed. Because it is not going to be alright. She has been subconsciously hoping for more, for Harry, and now that future has been taken from her. Look at her blush, that was a deep, all-consuming blush; her deep embarrassment. Or is it shame? Shame means “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace”.

Or is it, perhaps, both? Embarrassment fueling shame, a torrent of feelings of not being good enough? Because here is a man, who is her friend, who obviously wants her, and yet her heart doesn't call for him. It calls for Harry. A man she thinks is overjoyed to have Ron back. She did not see Harry, asking Ron why he came back. She did not see Harry, make that crucial choice. She doesn't even know that choice existed. To her, Harry is happy and Ron is back. That's all she knows.

So what can she do? Her heart is breaking because of Ron, and she rages and screams at him, doing all she can to tell him that he is worthless, that he has committed a horrendous crime. But not by leaving, as some fans think, but by coming back. By wordlessly demanding that she forget the last few weeks, forget the intense and intimate moments with Harry. Forget the possibility of that future, and go back to pretending with Ron.

You just need to practice,” said Hermione, who had approached them noiselessly from behind and had stood watching anxiously as Harry tried to enlarge and reduce the spider. “It's all a matter of confidence, Harry.”
He knew why she wanted it to be all right: She still felt guilty about breaking his wand. He bit back the retort that sprang to his lips, that she could take the blackthorn wand if she thought it made no difference, and he would have hers instead. (392)

Anxious means “uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried”. Scared, she has been watching Harry with the new wand, hoping it works. She still feels horrible and blames herself, no matter what Harry says.

Harry knows what she's thinking (showing how well he knows her), and lets his irritation go because he doesn't want to cause a fight.

Remember what I quoted before, about conflict? Here it is again:

Harry then does a very important thing – he controls his temper. That's a very big thing, because in the past (and with anyone else) he doesn't try to control his anger or irritation. Now, for Ron/Hermione fans who say that doesn't mean anything, or it doesn't mean anything good, I disagree.

It has been psychologically proven to be a good thing. One psychologist says:

Conflict is an inevitable part of every relationship, but the damage caused by conflict can be addressed and minimized. Conflicts arise when someone becomes reactive to “news of difference.” Successful couples are able to understand their partner’s positions and be sensitive to the depth of meaning the other person has around this issue. Seventy percent of arguments never get resolved, even in the happiest of couples. Understanding each other allows partners to move beyond the hurt of the conflict. Successful couples also monitor and are sensitive to the feelings of their partner, especially negative and hurt feelings. By being tuned into our partners, we ensure that feelings of safety and security are always in the foreground.

Another (general) psychology article expands on that, saying:

Discipline is important for mastering the outer world; it also applies to the inner, the spiritual, the moral, the relational worlds we occupy. For example, we control our tempers so as not to harm others; we think before we speak out of respect for those who are receivers of our words; we judge before we act so we can avoid harm and do good.

So we see that controlling your anger is a crucial thing for your (and others') psychological health. This isn't really a new concept, as pretty much everything written to help you control your anger says take a deep breath and remove yourself from the situation. But it is more proof that Harry and Hermione have a good, healthy, working relationship.

I know that all of this is true, I've done it myself. There is no one I love more and care for more than my mother, and yet I bite back retorts at least twice a week. Not because of her, but because she caught me at the wrong time, or wants to talk about something I don't, or even when I just want some peace and quiet and she starts talking. None of that makes me love her any less. None of that means we don't have a close and caring relationship. It just means that everyone gets on someone else's nerves sometimes. And you know what? That's okay.

She took a deep breath, as though bracing herself, and said, “It's that mark, the mark in Beedle the Bard. Look at this!” (394)

Just like Harry planned how to approach Hermione about Godric's Hollow, she has obviously thought about broaching the symbol subject with Harry. This shows they not only know each other well (to know how the other would react) but also that they know how handle conflict in a healthy manner. They both calmly and assertively make their cases to the other, without any put downs or insults.

Er – what are you -?” said Ron tentatively, but Hermione quelled him with a look and turned back to Harry. (394)

Hermione makes it clear that Ron is not wanted in their conversation about the Deathly Hallows mark. As I don't want to go through the whole conversation, I just want to note that Hermione had “a faint air of clutching at straws” (395). They all know this is a long stretch.

They walked for a few hours, Harry, at Hermione's insistence, hidden beneath the Invisibility Cloak. (397)

Hermione's trying to protect Harry again, by having him wear the Cloak.

You'd better take off the Invisibility Cloak, Harry,” said Hermione. “It's you Mr. Lovegood wants to help, not us.”
He did as she suggested, handing her the Cloak to stow in the beaded bag. (398)

Harry has no problems taking Hermione's advice, showing their relationship of giving and taking, and equality.

Mr. Lovegood – what's that?”
She was pointing at an enormous, gray spiral horn, not unlike that of a unicorn, which had been mounted on the wall, protruding several feet into the room.
No it isn't!”
Hermione,” muttered Harry, embarrassed, “now's not the moment -”
But Harry, it's an Erumpent horn! It's a Class B Tradeable Material and it's an extraordinary dangerous thing to have in a house! (401)

Come now Harry, you know Hermione wouldn't interrupt without a good reason! *snickers*

Well,” said Harry, glancing at Hermione, who nodded encouragingly, “it's about that symbol you were wearing around your neck at Bill and Fleur's wedding, Mr. Lovegood. We wondered what it meant.” (404)

Once again, Harry looks to Hermione for support, and she does, giving him encouragement.

But then... do you mean...” said Hermione slowly, and Harry could tell that she was trying to keep any trace of skepticism out of her voice, “that you believe these objects – these Hallows – actually exist?”
Xenophilius raised his eyebrows again.
Well, of course.”
But,” said Hermione, and Harry could hear her restraint starting to crack, “Mr. Lovegood, how can you possibly believe -?”
Luna has told me all about you, young lady,” said Xenophilius. “You are, I gather, not unintelligent, but painfully limited. Narrow. Close-minded. (410)

Harry knows Hermione so well, and is so in tune with her, he can recognize the slightest changes in her voice.

As for why he doesn't get angry at Mr. Lovegood for insulting Hermione, he knows they need more information out of Mr. Lovegood, and that insulting him would not help. At all. We saw how quickly he came down on Kreacher and Phineas Nigellus (above), so we know that he normally would do so. We see this once before, when he and Ron are questioning Draco (CS 224).

So the Elder Wand,” said Harry quickly, before Hermione could retort, “you think that exists too?” (412)

Harry is not angry at Hermione, or annoyed by her thinking; he is just trying to keep them on track, as listening to Hermione and Mr. Lovegood fight about methods of scientific enquiry is not really helping.

Harry glanced at Hermione. She was frowning at Xenophilius, but she did not contradict him. (412)

Harry looks to Hermione to know if what he's getting told is true. He trusts that she has the knowledge they need to figure things out.

What do you think?” he asked Hermione.
Oh, Harry, she said wearily, “it's a pile of utter rubbish. This can't be what the sign really means. This must just be his weird take on it. What a waste of time.” (413-4)

The first thing Harry does is turn to Hermione to see what she thinks. That shows how highly he thinks of her, and how much he depends on her.

Also, the 'oh, Harry' thing. Does anyone want to go through the series and count how many times Hermione says it? It's practically her catch phrase! (a sexy one, too. ;))

Hermione looked exasperated; The expression was so endearingly familiar that Harry and Ron grinned at each other. (415)

All three of them really do love each other.

I don't suppose there have been loads of other stories about a stone that can raise the dead, have there?” he asked Hermione.
No,” she replied sadly. “I don't think anyone except Mr. Lovegood could kid themselves that's possible. Beedle probably took the idea from the Sorcerer's Stone; you know, instead of a stone to make you immortal, a stone to reverse death.” (416)

Hermione is sad because she knows Harry, and she knows how much he misses his loved ones.

As they argued in whispers, Harry moved around the room, only half listening. Reaching the spiral stair, he raised his eyes absently to the next level and was distracted at once. His own face was looking back at him from the ceiling of the room above.
After a moment's bewilderment, he realized that it was not a mirror, but a painting. Curious, he began to climb the stairs.
Harry, what are you doing? I don't think you should look around when he's not here!”
But Harry had already reached the next level. (417)

Funny, even when she's busy fighting with Ron, Hermione still knows exactly where Harry is and what he's doing.

Hermione stooped down and picked up one of the magazines, her wand still pointing at Mr. Lovegood.
Harry, look at this.”
He strode over to her as quickly as he could through all the clutter. The front of The Quibbler carried his own picture, emblazoned with the words UNDESIREABLE NUMBER ONE and captioned with the reward money.
The Quibbler's going for a new angle, then?” Harry asked coldly, his mind working very fast. (418-9)

Hermione notices The Quibbler, and calls Harry over. He comes, sees the cover, and starts trying to figure out a plan. Once again, we see Harry and Hermione working as a team, figuring things out. They are truly partners, in every sense of the word.

HARRY!” Hermione screamed.
Figures on broomsticks were flying past the windows. As the three of them looked away from him, Xenophilius drew his wand. Harry realized their mistake just in time: He launched himself sideways, shoving Ron and Hermione out of harm's way as Xenophilius's Stunning Spell soared across the room and hit the Erumpent horn. (419)

Hermione yells for Harry to do something, to warn him about the incoming Death Eaters. Not to Ron. To Harry, to protect Harry. It's always Harry with Hermione.

As for Harry, he of course is only focused on getting his loved ones out of harm's way.

All right,” breathed Hermione, as the broken printing press blocking the top of the stairs began to tremble; Xenophilius was feet away from them. She was still white with dust. “Do you trust me, Harry?”
Harry nodded.
Okay then,” Hermione whispered, “give me the Invisibility Cloak. Ron, you're going to put it on .”
Me? But Harry -”
Please, Ron! Harry, hold on tight to my hand, Ron, grab my shoulder.”
Harry held out his left hand. Ron vanished beneath the Cloak. The printing press blocking the stairs was vibrating: Xenophilius was trying to shift it using a Hover Charm. Harry did not know what Hermione was waiting for.
Hold tight,” she whispered. “Hold tight... any second...”
Xenphilius's paper-white face appeared over the top of the sideboard.
Obliviate!” cried Hermione, pointing her wand first into his face, then at the floor beneath them. “Deprimo!
She had blasted a hole in the sitting room floor. They fell like boulders, Harry still holding onto her hand for dear life; there was a scream from below, and he glimpsed two men trying to get out of the way as vast quantities of rubble and broken furniture rained all around them from the shattered ceiling. Hermione twisted in midair and the thundering of the collapsing house range in Harry's ears as she dragged him once more into darkness. (422-3)

They're surrounded by Death Eaters, and a man who has sold them out. Hermione comes up with a plan, and asks Harry a very important question: does he trust her?

And his answer is yes. Unequivocally yes. And notice that Harry never questions her, not once. It's Ron who does.

This is the third time they have to escape, and Harry measures everything by Hermione's hand holding his. Like I said before, holding someone's hand is much more intimate than grabbing someone's arm/shoulder. She could have held Ron's hand, the Death Eater's wouldn't have noticed. But she didn't. She held Harry's.

You're a genius,” Ron repeated, looking awed.
Yeah, you are, Hermione,” agreed Harry fervently. “I don't know what we'd do without you.”
She beamed, but became solemn at once. (425)

Hermione only beams after Harry compliments her. Fervent means “having or showing great emotion or zeal”. To beam means “to express by means of a radiant smile”. So, Hermione only gives a radiant smile after Harry complements her with great emotion.

She will,” said Harry. He could not bear to contemplate the alternative. “She's tough, Luna, much tougher than you'd think. She's probably teaching all the inmates about Wrackspurts and Nargles.”
I hope you're right,” said Hermione. She passed a hand over her eyes. “I'd feel sorry for Xenophilius if -” (425)

Harry says the comforting words about Luna's imprisonment.

Oh, why did we go there?” groaned Hermione after a few minutes' silence. “Harry, you were right, it was Godric's Hollow all over again, a complete waste of time! The Deathly Hallows... such rubbish... although actually,” a sudden thought seemed to have struck her, “he might have made it all up, mightn't he? He probably doesn't believe in the Deathly Hallows at all, he just wanted to keep us talking until the Death Eaters arrived!” (425-6)

Hermione has no problem admitting that she made a mistake and that Harry was right.

He saw concern and something less easily definable in Hermione's expression. Then, as she glanced at Ron, Harry realized that it was fear: He had scared her with his talk of living with dead people.
So that Peverell bloke who's buried in Godric's Hollow,” he said hastily, trying to sound robustly sane, “you don't know anything about him, then?”
No,” she replied, looking relieved at the change of subject. (427)

Hermione is concerned about Harry (she knows how much he misses his loved ones), but she's also scared – scared of Harry truly wanting to live with dead people. Harry, being able to read her so clearly, notices that and 'hastily' tries to comfort her. Hastily means “characterized by speed; rapid”. Harry is very quick to comfort Hermione by sounding 'robustly' sane. Robust means “full of health and strength”. He wants to make sure he sounds completely sane so she doesn't worry. We see that his words work and comfort her, as she then looks relieved.

The Peverell coat of arms?” said Hermione sharply. “Could you see what it looked like?”
Not really,” said Harry, trying to remember. “There was nothing fancy on there, as far as I could see; maybe a few scratches. I only ever saw it really close up after it had been cracked open.”
Harry saw Hermione's comprehension in the sudden widening of her eyes. Ron was looking from one to the other, astonished. (428)

Harry is only looking at Hermione, watching her and reading her.

Yes... and that's all very interesting,” said Hermione cautiously, “but Harry, if you're thinking what I think you're think -”
Well, why not? Why not?” said Harry, abandoning caution. (429)

Hermione knows exactly what Harry's thinking. I like the play on words – Hermione's being cautious while Harry's abandoning caution. That's our couple!

Hermione had lept to her feet, looking exasperated and angry. “Harry, you're trying to fit everything into the Hallows story -”
Fit everything in?” he repeated. “Hermione, it fits of its own accord! I know the sign of the Deathly Hallows was on that stone! Gaunt said he was descended from the Peverells!”
A minute ago you told us you never saw the mark on the stone properly!” (429)

Remember what we talked about earlier, about fighting vs arguing? Well, Harry and Hermione are starting to fight.

Harry,” said Hermione, moving across to him and handing him back Lily's letter, “I'm sorry, but I think you've got this wrong, all wrong.”
But don't you see? It all fits -”
No, it doesn't,” she said. “It doesn't, Harry, you're just getting carried away. Please,” she said as he started to speak, “please just answer me this: If the Deathly Hallows really existed, and Dumbledore knew about them, knew that the person who possessed all three of them would be mater of Death – Harry, why wouldn't he have told you? Why?” (432-3)

Hermione has gone back to arguing, and has a very valid question.

He had his answer ready.
But you said it, Hermione! You've got to find out about them for yourself! It's a Quest!”
But I only said that to try and persuade you to come to the Lovegoods'!” cried Hermione in exasperation. “I didn't really believe it!” (433)

Oh, we know that, Hermione! You had “a faint air of clutching at straws” and admitted out loud that it didn't make sense when you said it (395). I don't see that as a lie, because of the way she said it and because she admitted at the time it didn't make sense. Oh, we're also back to fighting.

Harry took no notice.
Dumbledore usually let me find out stuff for myself. He let me try my strength, take risks. This feels like the kind of thing he'd do.”
Harry, this isn't a game, this isn't practice! This is the real thing, and Dumbledore left you very clear instructions: Find and destroy the Horcruxes! That symbol doesn't mean anything, forget the Deathly Hallows, we can't afford to get sidetracked -”
Harry was barely listening to her. He was turning the Snitch over and over in his hands, half expecting it to break open, to reveal the Resurrection Stone, to prove to Hermione he was right, that the Deathly Hallows were real. (433)

Even though he's not listening to her, he's still focused on her – specifically on trying to prove to her he's right. Everything does seem to revolve around Hermione, doesn't it?

But Harry hardly slept that night. The idea of the Deathly Hallows had taken possession of him, and he could not rest while agitating thoughts whirled through his mind: the wand, the stone, and the Cloak, if he could just possess them all...
I open at the close... But what was 'the close'? Why couldn't he have the stone now? If only he had the stone, he could ask Dumbledore these questions in person... and Harry murmured words to the Snitch in the darkness, trying everything, even Parseltongue, but the golden ball would not open...
And the wand, the Elder Wand, where was that hidden? Where was Voldemort searching now? Harry wished his scar would burn and show him Voldemort's thoughts, because for the first time ever, he and Voldemort were united in wanting the very same thing... Hermione would not like that idea, of course... But then, she did not believe... Xenophilius had been right, in a way... Limited. Narrow. Close-minded. The truth was that she was scared of the idea of the Deathly Hallows, especially of the Resurrection Stone... and Harry pressed his mouth again to the Snitch, kissing it, nearly swallowing it, but the cold metal did not yield... (434)

Harry and Voldemort's minds have melded together again, for the first time in this book. We know that, because for the first time in his life, Harry is insulting Hermione. Harry insult Hermione. And not just any insult, but a cold yet arrogant one, full of scorn. She does not believe. She is limited and cannot see the big picture. It is fear that stops her, nothing more.

Can't you see how wrong that is, and so utterly like Voldemort? It is not Harry. Harry would never think those things about Hermione. Hermione, his best friend and the only reason he is alive. In fact, this almost parallels exactly what Voldemort says to Harry in the Final Battle, about Dumbledore:

You mean he was weak!” screamed Voldemort. “Too weak to dare, too weak to take what might have been his, what will be mine!” (739)

Can't you see the parallel? Hermione is just scared, like Dumbledore was just weak. But not all hope is yet lost. After all, Harry spends most of this focusing on Hermione. She can still reach him, and have an effect on him, no matter about how twisted his thoughts are.

He could think only of the Deathly Hallows. It was as though a flame had been lit inside him that nothing, not Hermione's flat disbelief nor Ron's persistent doubts, could extinguish. And yet the fiercer the longing for the Hallows burned inside him, the less joyful it made him. He blamed Ron and Hermione: Their determined indifference was as bad as the relentless rain for dampening his spirits, but neither could erode his certainty, which remained absolute. Harry's belief in and longing for the Hallows consumed him so much that he felt quite isolated from the other two and their obsession with the Horcruxes.
Obsession?” said Hermione in a low fierce voice, when Harry was careless enough to use the word one evening, after Hermione had told him off for his lack of interest in locating more Horcruxes. “We're not the ones with an obsession, Harry! We're the ones trying to do what Dumbledore wanted us to do!”
But he was impervious to the veiled criticism. Dumbledore had left the sign of the Hallows for Hermione to decipher, and he had also, Harry remained convinced of it, left the Resurrection Stone hidden in the golden Snitch. Neither can live while the other survives... master of Death... Why didn't Ron and Hermione understand?
'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,'” Harry quoted calmly.
I thought it was You-Know-Who we were supposed to be fighting?” Hermione retorted, and Harry gave up on her. (435-6)

We get even more proof that Harry and Voldemort's minds have melded together – he has no joy, only the longing for the power of the Hallows. Hermione and Ron just have an 'obsession'. Obsessed means “having or showing excessive or compulsive concern with something”. It is portrayed as a negative thing.

But there is a bright light in all of this – Hermione is still able to reach Harry, in whatever way. Her reaction is listed first (therefore making it more important) and he responds to her criticism, even though he doesn't comprehend it. Look at the last sentence – 'and Harry gave up on her.' Meaning, that before that, he hadn't. He had still been trying to convince her that he was right, he had still been trying to get her on his side.

Even the mystery of the silver doe, which the other two insisted on discussing, seemed less important to Harry now, a vaguely interesting sideshow. The only other thing that mattered to him was that his scar had begun to prickle again, although he did all he could to hide this fact from the other two. He sought solitude whenever it happened, but was disappointed by what he saw. The visions he and Voldemort were sharing had changed in quality; they had become blurred, shifting as though they were moving in and out of focus. Harry was just able to make out the indistinct features of an object that looked like a skull, and something like a mountain that was more shadow than substance. Used to images sharp as reality, Harry was disconcerted by the change. He was worried that the connection between himself and Voldemort had been damaged, a connection that he both feared and, whatever he had told Hermione, prized. Somehow Harry connected these unsatisfying, vague images with the destruction of his wand, as if it was the blackthorn wand's fault that he could no longer see into Voldemort's mind as well as before. (436)

There. Right. There. There is the answer to our earlier question. Hermione's instincts were right. Harry likes the connection. Not only does he like it, he prizes it. Prize means “to value highly; esteem or treasure”. It's important to him. Very important.

And she picked up on that. Somehow, something inside Hermione told her that was the case. She was able to read that part of him.

As the weeks crept on, Harry could not help but notice, even through his new self-absorption, that Ron seemed to be taking charge. Perhaps because he was determined to make up for having walked out on them, perhaps because Harry's descent into listlessness galvanized his dormant leadership abilities, Ron was the one now encouraging and exhorting the other two into action. (436-7)

Exhort means “to urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal”. Listless means “lacking energy or disinclined to exert effort”. So interestingly enough, when Harry's mind melds with Voldemort's (and he has no energy for Horcruxes), Hermione also loses her ability to keep going.

Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, the Riddle House, Borgin and Burkes, Albania, every place that they knew Tom Riddle had ever lived or worked, visited or murdered, Ron and Hermione raked over them again, Harry joining in only to stop Hermione pestering him. (437)

Harry only joins in because of Hermione. She can still reach him.

I'd tell him we're all with him in spirit,” said Lupin, then hesitated slightly. “And I'd tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.”
Harry looked at Hermione, whose eyes were full of tears.
Nearly always right,” she repeated. (441)

This could just be about Harry (maybe) being right about the Deathly Hallows, but that doesn't explain Hermione's tears. The sheer amount of emotional intensity and intimacy is extremely apparent; they are connecting on a whole other level (just like Godric's Hollow and the conversation about Dumbledore).

Why? I can't say for certain. All I know is the sheer emotion of this scene. But the fact that they look at each other, and are talking about 'nearly always right', makes me think it's about their relationship, about the possibility of choosing each other.

But did you hear what Fred said?” asked Harry excitedly; now the broadcast was over, his thoughts turned again toward the all-consuming obsession. “He's abroad! He's still looking for the Wand, I knew it!”
Harry -”
Come on, Hermione, why are you so determined not to admit it? Vol -”
HARRY, NO!”
- demort's after the Elder Wand!” (444-5)

Harry gets them captured when trying to convince Hermione about the Elder Wand. 'Gave up on her', my arse.

He saw Hermione point her wand, not toward the outside, but into his face; there was a bang, a burst of white light, and he buckled in agony, unable to see. He could feel his face swelling rapidly under his hands as heavy footfalls surrounded him. (446)

Hermione's first instinct, when they are in danger, is to protect Harry.

Delicious girl... what a treat... I do enjoy the softness of the skin...”
Harry's stomach turned over. He knew who this was: Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf who was permitted to wear Death Eater robes in return for his hired savagery. (447)

Greyback has set his sights on Hermione.

A Weasley?” rasped Greyback. “So you're related to blood traitors even if you're not a Mudblood. And lastly, your pretty little friend...” The relish in his voice made Harry's flesh crawl. (448)

Another comment from Greyback about Hermione.

Anyone still got a wand?”
No,” said Ron and Hermione from either side of him.
This is all my fault. I said the name, I'm sorry -” (449)

Harry apologizes; and we learn that he is in the middle, touching both of them.

As Scabior said it, Harry's scar, which was stretched tight across his distended forehead, burned savagely. More clearly than he could make out anything around him, he saw a towering building, a grim fortress, jet-black and forbidding; Voldemort's thoughts had suddenly become razor-sharp again; he was gliding toward the gigantic building with a sense of calmly euphoric purpose...
So close... So close...
With a huge effort of will Harry closed his mind to Voldemort's thoughts, pulling himself back to where he sat, tied to Ron, Hermione, Dean, and Griphook in the darkness, listening to Greyback and Scabior.
'ermione Granger,'” Scabior was saying, “'the Mudblood who is known to be traveling with 'arry Potter.'(451-2)

This part has so much importance, I can hardly speak. Remember everything we've gone over, about Harry's scar? About his mind melding with Voldemort's? Here's the resolution. Harry, for the first time in his life, closes his mind. And not just closes his mind, but closes it when the connection is razor-sharp and Voldemort is about to get what they both want most. Voldemort's desire for the Wand is coming to a head, he thinks it is within his grasp. Harry closing his mind now should be impossible.


But he does it. And he does it because of Hermione. Scabior is talking about Hermione at the same time Harry closes his mind for the first time ever. That is what 'was saying' means. So the biggest disagreement they've ever had, the biggest conflict between Harry and Hermione, is solved when she's in danger. She matters more than anything.

Love, his love for her, triumphs. The central theme of the series is that love is truly the most powerful thing in the world, and we see that so clearly in this book (in many different ways).

Harry's scar burned in the silence, but he made a supreme effort to keep himself present, not to slip into Voldemort's mind. He heard the creak of Greyback's boots as he crouched down in front of Hermione.
You know what, little girly? This picture looks a hell of a lot like you.”
It isn't! It isn't me!”
Hermione's terrified squeak was as good as a confession.
'... known to be traveling with Harry Potter,'” repeated Greyback quietly.
A stillness had settled over the scene. Harry's scar was exquisitely painful, but he struggled with all his strength against the pull of Voldemort's thoughts: It had never been so important to remain in his own right mind. (452)

Never Harry? Not even when you were actually being possessed? This part makes it clear: nothing is more important than Hermione. Nothing.

Hermione's presence is what tells them that Harry is there. Not Ron's, Hermione's. There is no Harry without Hermione. The entire Wizarding World knows that. This scene makes that painfully clear.

Nobody spoke: Harry sensed the gang of Snatchers watching, frozen, and felt Hermione's arm trembling against his. (452)

Harry only notices Hermione's feelings, her movement. He's also touching Ron, but is there any mention of his reaction? No.

The prisoners were dragged to their feet. Harry could hear Hermione's breathing, fast and terrified. (454)

Again, no mention of anyone else's reaction, even though Ron is right next to him and Dean is behind him. Only Hermione.

HERMIONE!” Ron bellowed, and he started to writhe and struggle against the ropes tying them together, so that Harry staggered. “HERMIONE!”
Be quiet!” Harry said. “Shut up, Ron, we need to work out a way -”
HERMIONE! HERMIONE!”
We need a plan, stop yelling – we need to get these ropes off -” (463-4)

Some would say since Harry hasn't completely lost his head, he doesn't care about Hermione. That couldn't be further from the truth. Harry knows that the only way to help her is to get out. To do that, they need a plan.

Hermione was screaming again: The sound went through Harry like physical pain. Barely conscious of the fierce prickling of his scar, he too started to run around the cellar, feeling the walls for he hardly knew what, knowing in his heart that it was useless. (466)

Undeniable proof of what I just said, this is torturing Harry. It's hurting him so much that it even blocks out the pain from his scar – from Voldemort. Hermione wins again. Love wins again.

We only met him tonight!” Hermione sobbed. “We've never been inside your vault... It isn't the real sword! It's a copy, just a copy!” (467)

Hermione is being tortured, and yet she still is able to come up with a cover story. She is still able to protect Harry in any way she can. No amount of torture could get her to betray him – she would die first.

An awful scream drowned Harry's words: Hermione was being tortured again. He cut to the essentials. (468)

Hermione's scream makes Harry forget his questions and jump to getting out of there.

He felt Voldemort's fury, but as Hermione screamed again he shut it out, returning to the cellar and the horror of his own present. (469)

We are now to our fourth time of Harry shutting out Voldemort because of Hermione. I don't think the point can be made any clearer.

STOP OR SHE DIES!”
Panting, Harry peered around the edge of the sofa. Bellatrix was supporting Hermione, who seemed to be unconscious, and was holding her short silver knife to Hermione's throat.
Drop your wands,” she whispered. “Drop them, or we'll see exactly how filthy her blood is!”
Ron stood rigid, clutching Wormtail's wand. Harry straightened up, still holding Bellatrix's.
I said, drop them!” she screeched, pressing the blade into Hermione's throat: Harry saw bead of blood appear there.
All right!” he shouted, and he dropped Bellatrix's wand onto the floor at his feet. Ron did the same with Wormtail's. Both raised their hands to shoulder height. (472-3)

It's Harry who drops his wand first with Bellatrix threatening to kill Hermione. Not Ron, who is supposedly the one in love with her. Both boys love her. Both have been distraught by the sounds of her torture. But it's Harry that makes the move to save her life.

Harry's voice was still saying, “Dobby... Dobby...” even though he knew that the elf had gone where he could not call him back.
After a minute or so he realized that they had, after all, come to the right place, for here were Bill and Fleur, Dean and Luna, gathering around him as he knelt over the elf.
Hermione?” he said suddenly. “Where is she?”
Ron's taken her inside,” said Bill. “She'll be alright.” (477)

The first thing Harry says when he pulls through his grief and becomes aware of his surroundings, is what happened to Hermione. She's the first thought on his mind. Suddenly means “quickly and unexpectedly”. He's quick to ask about Hermione and the others don't expect it.

Harry lost track of time. He knew only that the darkness had lightened a few degrees when he was rejoined by Ron and Dean.
How's Hermione?”
Better,” said Ron. “Fleur's looking after her.” (479)

Harry has been digging Dobby's grave, like Bill suggested. His first thought when joined was to ask after Hermione.

I need you two as well!” he called to Ron and Hermione, who had been skulking, half concealed, in the doorway of the sitting room.
They both moved into they light, looking oddly relieved.
How are you?” Harry asked Hermione. “You were amazing – coming up with that story when she was hurting you like that -”
Hermione gave a weak smile as Ron gave her a one-armed squeeze. (485)

Harry asks Hermione how she is, and tells her that she was amazing, when they are pressed for time. Making sure Hermione is alright and that she knows she was amazing is more important than talking to Griphook or Ollivander.

Did you know that it was Harry who set Dobby free?” she asked. “Did you know that we've wanted elves to be freed for years?” (Ron fidgeted uncomfortably on the arm of Hermione's chair.) “You can't want You-Know-Who defeated more than we do, Griphook!”
The goblin gazed at Hermione with the same curiosity he had shown Harry. (489)

Our Harry and Hermione are really one of a kind. Harry and Hermione are on the same mindset, doing things like burying Dobby and freeing house-elves. Ron is on an entirely different moral plane. And you know what? Sharing the same values and morals is essential for a romantic relationship.

Harry,” whispered Hermione, pulling them both away from the door, into the middle of the still-dark landing, “are you saying what I think you're saying? Are you saying there's a Horcrux in the Lestranges' vault?” (490)

Hermione caught on to what Harry was thinking while he questioned Griphook. More physical contact, as Hermione pulls Harry towards her.

Yes, he asked,” whispered Ollivander. “He wanted to know everything I could tell him about the wand variously known as the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny, or the Elder Wand.”
Harry glanced sideways at Hermione. She looked flabbergasted. (496)

Harry only cares about Hermione's reaction. Speaking of her reaction, flabbergast means “to cause to be overcome with astonishment”.

But he'll know soon, if he doesn't already, that mine's broken beyond repair,” said Harry quietly.
No!” said Hermione, sounding frightened. “He can't know that, Harry, how could he -?”
Priori Incantatem,” said Harry. “We left your wand and the blackthorn wand at the Malfoys', Hermione. If they examine them properly, make them re-create the spells they've cast lately, they'll see that yours broke mine, they'll see that you tried and failed to mend it, and they'll realize that I've been using the blackthorn one ever since.”
The little color she had regained since their arrival had drained from her face. (496)

Another very strong reaction from Hermione. Frighten means “to fill with fear”. There is also an exclamation point, which means she has raised her voice. Filled with fear, Hermione shouts no, Voldemort can't know that. However, Harry is right, and all the color drains from her face.

Obviously, the thought of the protection of the cores being gone and having Voldemort know about it terrifies her. Not for herself, but for Harry.

Harry!” Ron said furiously. “How long have you known this – why have we been wasting time? Why did you talk to Griphook first? We could have gone – we could still go -”
No,” said Harry, and he sank to his knees in the grass. “Hermione's right. Dumbledore didn't want me to have it. He didn't want me to take it. He wanted me to get the Horcruxes.”
The unbeatable wand, Harry!” moaned Ron.
I'm not supposed to... I'm supposed to get the Horcruxes...”
And now everything was cool and dark: The sun was barely visible over the horizon as he glided alongside Snape, up through the grounds toward the lake. (500)

I love Ron. I really do. But it's interesting that out of the Trio, he is the one most easily corrupted. We've seen that, first with the Horcrux and now with this. Harry and Hermione are on a whole other level. Harry associates Hermione with the most loving, forgiving, and ethical part of himself; and indeed she is the one least tempted by the Hallows or the Horcruxes (along with her very strong moral code). Harry strives to embrace that part of himself, and be the better and wise person he has within.

But Ron? He grew a lot when he came back to them, yes. However, morally and spiritually, he is nowhere near the same level as Harry and Hermione.

The odd thing was that Hermione's support made him feel just as confused as Ron's doubts. Now forced to accept that the Elder Wand was real, she maintained that it was an evil object, and that the way Voldemort had taken possession of it was repellent, not to be considered.
You could never have done that, Harry,” she said again and again. “You couldn't have broken into Dumbledore's grave.” (503)

Of course she's supporting you, Harry! You made the right decision and she knows it – it is the one she herself would have chosen. She is also right that you could never have broken into Dumbledore's grave.

Is it true?” Harry asked Hermione. “Was the sword stolen by Gryffindor?”
I don't know,” she said hopelessly. “Wizarding history often skates over what the wizards have done to other magical races, but there's not account that I know of that says Gryffindor stole the sword.” (506)

Harry turns to Hermione for answers. Unfortunately, she can't give any.

A grin spread slowly across Ron's face. Hermione, however, looked alarmed.
Harry, we can't -”
He can have it,” Harry went on, “after we've used it on all of the Horcruxes. I'll make sure he gets it then. I'll keep my word.”
But that could be years!” said Hermione.
I know that, but he needn't. I won't by lying... really.”
Harry met her eyes with a mixture of defiance and shame. He remembered the words that had been engraved over the gateway to Nurmengard: FOR THE GREATER GOOD. He pushed the idea away. What choice did they have?
I don't like it,” said Hermione.
Nor do I, much,” Harry admitted.
Well, I think it's genius,” said Ron, standing up again. “Let's go and tell him.” (508)

Harry and Hermione feel bad about tricking Griphook, but Ron doesn't. Another moral issue, like we just talked about – and again, Harry and Hermione are on one side and Ron is on the other.

Hermione looked frightened that the wand might sting or bite her as she picked it up.
I hate this thing,” she said in a low voice. “I really hate it. It feels all wrong, it doesn't work properly for me... It's like a bit of her.”
Harry could not help but remember how Hermione had dismissed his loathing of the blackthorn wand, insisting that he was imagining things when it did not work as well as his own, telling him to simply practice. He chose not to repeat her own advice back to her, however; the eve of their attempted assault on Gringotts felt like the wrong moment to antagonize her. (519)

Harry holds back his impulse to make a retort, again showing that he can maintain positive conflict resolution.

But that's my point!” said Hermione. “This is the wand that tortured Neville's mum and dad, and who knows how many other people? This is the wand that killed Sirius!”
Harry had not thought of that: He looked down at the wand and was visited by a brutal urge to snap it, to slice it in half with Gryffindor's sword, which was propped against the wall beside him. (520)

Harry finds out that no, Hermione's reasoning for disliking the wand is not the same as his, and she has a very good point.

As they had lost Perkins's old tent on the night that the Snatchers caught them, Bill had lent them another one. It was now packed inside the beaded bag, which, Harry was impressed to learn, Hermione had protected from the Snatchers by the simple expedient of stuffing it down her sock. (521)

Harry is greatly impressed by Hermione's ingenious thinking.

Hermione disapproved so heartily of the planned double-cross that Harry had given up attempting to pick her brains on how best to do it; Ron, on the rare occasions that they had been able to snatch a few Griphook-free moments, had come up with nothing better than “We'll just have to wing it, mate.” (521)

Harry really can't function without Hermione – or make a plan. :)

He was not heavy, but Harry disliked the feeling of the goblin and the surprising strength with which he clung on. Hermione pulled the Invisibility Cloak out of the beaded bag and threw it over them both.
Perfect,” she said, bending down to check Harry's feet. “I can't see a thing. Let's go.” (524)

Once again, Harry and Hermione give and take as they work together.

Too polite,” Harry whispered in Hermione's ear as they passed out of the inn into the tiny backyard. “You need to treat people like they're scum!”
Okay, okay!” (524-5)

To reach Hermione's ear, he has to be really, really close. So Hermione's walking along, Harry gets right up behind her, and (with the movement of walking) his lips touch her skin, through the cloak.

He's another Death Eater!” breathed Griphook, and Harry sidled sideways to repeat the information into Hermione's ear. (526)

Again, close contact! I mean, alright, it's not like they're flirting, but all contact counts. It especially shows how comfortable they are with each other, as they are frequently close together.

Then what do we do?” said Harry, glaring at the goblin. “If you want the sword, Griphook, then you'll have to help us more than – wait! Can I touch stuff with the sword? Hermione, give it here!”
Hermione fumbled inside her robes, drew out the beaded bag, rummaged for a few seconds, then removed the shining sword. Harry seized it by its rubied hilt and touched the tip of the blade to a silver flagon nearby, which did not multiply.
If I can just poke the sword through a handle – but how am I going to get up there?” (538-9)

More give and take, with Harry and Hermione working together.

Hermione,” said Harry as the clanking grew louder, “I've got to get up there, we've got to get rid of it -”
She raised her wand, pointed it at Harry, and whispered, “Levicorpus.(539)

Harry looks to Hermione for help in grabbing the Cup. Ron has played no part in any of this.

This way!” Harry yelled, and still shooting Stunning Spells at the advancing goblins, he sprinted toward the blind dragon.
Harry – Harry – what are you doing?” cried Hermione.
Get up, climb up, come on -”
The dragon had not realized that it was free: Harry's foot found the crook of its hind leg and he pulled himself up onto its back. The scales were hard as steel; it did not even seem to feel him. He stretched out an arm; Hermione hoisted herself up; Ron climbed on behind them, and a second later the dragon became aware that it was untethered. (541-2)

Even more give and take – they truly are equals. Also, note the last sentence. Hoist means “to raise or haul up with or as if with the help of a mechanical apparatus”. The text makes it clear that Harry helps Hermione onto the dragon. Because really, Hermione is completely incapable of getting up on her own (even though Harry and Ron both did).

She also doesn't protest at his caring and protective action, instinctively trusting and depending on him.

We'll never get out, it's too big!” Hermione screamed, but the dragon opened its mouth and belched flame again, blasting the tunnel, whose floors and ceiling cracked and crumbled. By sheer force the dragon clawed and fought its way through. Harry's eyes were shut tight against the heat and dust: Deafened by the crashing of rock and the dragon's roars, he could only cling to its back, expecting to be shaken off at any moment; then he heard Hermione yelling, “Defodio!
She was helping the dragon enlarge the passageway, carving out the ceiling as it struggled upward toward the fresher air, away from the shrieking and clanking goblins: Harry and Ron copied her, blasting the ceiling apart with more gouging spells. (542)

Go Hermione! Harry has the idea to escape on the dragon, but you figure out how to make that possible!

Hermione collapsed, coughing and shuddering. Though Harry could happily lain down and slept, he staggered to his feet, drew out his wand, and started casting the usual protective spells around them. (547)

Ron should know the spells too, after all the times Hermione has cast them. But he doesn't. Harry is the one to pick up the responsibility, doing what Hermione does but can't at the present moment. This is the only time someone other than Hermione casts the spells – and that person is Harry.

Wait, wait!” cried Hermione as Ron caught up the Horcrux and Harry pulled out the Invisibility Cloak again. “We can't just go, we haven't got a plan, we need to -”
We need to get going,” said Harry firmly. He had been hoping to sleep, looking forward to getting into the new tent, but that was impossible now. “Can you imagine what he's going to do once he realizes the ring and the locket are gone? What if he moves the Hogwarts Horcrux, decides it isn't safe enough?”
But how are we going to get in?”
We'll go to Hogsmeade,” said Harry, “and try to work something out once we see what the protection around the school's like. Get under the Cloak, Hermione, I want to stick together this time.”
But we don't really fit -”
It'll be dark, no one's going to notice our feet.” (552-3)

Just like when they talked about when to break into the Ministry, Harry is assertive with Hermione and tells her it's time to act. Another scene in the pattern of giving and taking, of being equals.

It was of Ron and Hermione that he thought as he whispered, “Expecto Patronum!(556)

No one matters more to Harry than Hermione and Ron.

Mr. Dumbledore?” said Hermione rather timidly. “Is that your sister? Ariana?”
Yes,” said Aberforth tersely. “Been reading Rita Skeeter, have you, missy?”
Even by the rosy light of the fire it was clear that Hermione had turned red.
Elphias Doge mentioned her to us,” said Harry, trying to spare Hermione. (563)

Harry's not going to let anyone get away with embarrassing Hermione. The text explicitly states that he's “trying to spare” Hermione the embarrassment. He's trying to protect her by defending her.

They can help.” He dropped his voice and said, so that none of them could hear but Hermione, who stood between them, “We don't know where it is. We've got to find it fast. We don't have to tell them it's a Horcrux.”
Harry looked from Ron to Hermione, who murmured, “I think Ron's right. We don't even know what we're looking for, we need them.” And when Harry looked unconvinced, “You don't have to do everything alone, Harry.” (583)

Ron comes up with the idea, but Harry doesn't believe it until Hermione adds her say, and convinces him. It always seems to end up being Hermione who convinces him of things, doesn't it? It just goes to show how much she effects him.

Where's Ron?” asked Harry. “Where's Hermione?” (607)
However, as Harry skirted the walls, scanning the Gryffindor table for Ron and Hermione, Ernie Macmillan stood up at the Hufflepuff table and shouted, “And what if we want to stay and fight?” (608)
Harry moved up the Hall alongside the Gryffindor table, still looking for Ron and Hermione. (609)
Where are Ron and Hermione?” (611)
What? Oh,” said Harry, “oh yeah!”
He had almost forgotten about the Horcrux, almost forgotten that the battle was being fought so that he could search for it: The inexplicable absence of Ron and Hermione had momentarily driven every other thought from his mind. (611-2)

Really Harry? You spend a good six pages just looking for Ron and Hermione. In fact, you even forgot the Horcruxes! That is a very, very strong reaction for just having two of your friends missing. Inexplicable means “difficult or impossible to explain or account for”. There is no possible reason for them to be gone, and having them gone is so important that is has driven everything else from your mind. Yes, you're about to go into battle, but that is too strong a reaction for just a friend.

I dunno exactly,” said Harry, making another random turn, “but Ron and Hermione must be around here somewhere...” (619)

Harry, you've just talked to the Grey Lady, and you're still spending your time trying to find Hermione and Ron?

And then he skidded around a final corner and with a yell of mingled relief and fury he saw them: Ron and Hermione, both with their arms full of large, curved, dirty yellow objects, Ron with a broomstick under his arm.
Where the hell have you been?” Harry shouted. (622)

Harry's not happy, and he continues to have an extremely strong reaction. Fury means “violent anger; rage”. Rage means “violent, explosive anger”. He is not just angry that they scared him by disappearing, no. Harry's anger is so extreme it is violent and uncontrollable. We see that as he swears and shouts at Hermione and Ron. Shout means “to utter (something) in a loud cry”. They are right in front of him, there is no logical reason to shout. But logic isn't in Harry's mind right now, he's upset. Upset that they disappeared, and what that means for him.

Chamber of Secrets,” said Ron.
Chamber – what?” said Harry, coming to an unsteady halt before them.
It was Ron, all Ron's idea!” said Hermione breathlessly. “Wasn't it absolutely brilliant? There we are, after you left, and I said to Ron, even if we find the other one, how are we going to get rid of it? We still hadn't got rid of the cup! And then he thought of it! The basilisk!”
What the -?”
Something to get rid of Horcruxes,” said Ron simply.
Harry's eyes dropped to the objects clutched in Ron and Hermione's arms: great curved fangs, torn, he now realized, from the skull of a dead basilisk.
But how did you get in there?” he asked, staring from the fangs to Ron. “You need to speak Parseltongue!”
He did!” whispered Hermione. “Show him, Ron!”
Ron made a horrible strangled hissing noise.
It's what you did to open the locket,” he told Harry apologetically. “I had to have a few goes to get it right, but,” he shrugged modestly, “we got there in the end.”
He was amazing!” said Hermione. “Amazing!”
So...” Harry was struggling to keep up. “So...”
So we're another Horcrux down,” said Ron, and from under his jacket he pulled the mangled remains of Hufflepuff's cup. “Hermione stabbed it. Thought she should. She hasn't had the pleasure yet.”
Genius!” yelled Harry.
It was nothing,” said Ron, though he looked delighted with himself. “So what's new with you?” (622-3)

So Harry's yelling genius, and Hermione's exclaiming amazing. Hermione is eager to tell Harry all about Ron's idea, and prods Ron to show him (Harry). I don't see anything romantic about this scene, though; especially since Harry's reaction was as strong as Hermione's. Also note that Ron is delighted with himself, not the fact that Harry and Hermione are showering praise on him. Anyone else reminded of a child with their parents?

Hang on a moment!” said Ron sharply. “We've forgotten someone!”
Who?” asked Hermione.
The house-elves, they'll all be down in the kitchen, won't they?”
You mean we ought to get them fighting?” asked Harry.
No,” said Ron seriously, “I mean we should tell them to get out. We don't want any more Dobbies, do we? We can't order them to die for us -”
There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione's arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There's a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
I know, mate,” said Ron, who looked as though he had recently been hit on the back of the head with a Bludger, “so it's now or never, isn't it?”
Never mind that, what about the Horcrux?” Harry shouted. “D'you think you could just – just hold it in until we've got the diadem?”
Yeah – right – sorry -” said Ron, and he and Hermione set about gathering up fangs, both pink in the face. (625-6)

We all know this scene. It's probably the ultimate Ron/Hermione scene. They kiss.

Let's start with Hermione. I think she's feeling a mix of things. First, all the excitement from the Chamber and the battle. She's caught up in the moment. Then, Ron does something completely unexpected. He makes a comment showing he cares about house-elves (I personally think that it's a humane comment that anyone with a heart would have made, that Dobby really influenced him, and that none of this is necessarily connected to him believing they should have rights).

But it's more than just Ron valuing their lives, to Hermione. House-elf rights is an integral part of herself, a manifestation of her strong moral code. And Ron, who has continually insulted and made from of her, especially of her concern for house-elves, makes a comment showing that he's concerned about and values them. It's not a far stretch to say she correlates that with herself. He has finally, after seven years, shown genuine concern and validation for her thoughts and beliefs.

Also don't forget the fact that she believes Harry is in love with Ginny. She has already decided that she's going to try and love Ron in a romantic way. Caught up in the moment, she gets the push she needed to make things final, to kiss him. But when she comes back to reality, her reaction is extremely interesting. Throughout all of this, Ron is the only one to talk to Harry. Indeed, the text doesn't even mention if she looks at Harry. So she can't talk and can't look at Harry after kissing Ron. She feels guilty, because her heart is saying she betrayed him (Harry) (not looking at someone is a classic sign sign of guilt).

Let's move on to Harry. Harry almost never says anything weakly. A synonym for weak is frail. One definition for frail is “easily broken or destroyed”. Even though he has decided not to come between Ron and Hermione, he almost breaks at the sight of them together.

Then, when the agonizing scene in front of him doesn't change, he starts shouting at them. Look at his words - “Never mind that” when Ron agrees that a war is going on and that's why now is a good time. He isn't really protesting because of the battle. That tactic didn't work, so now it's time to try another one.

Also, shout means “to utter (something) in a loud cry”. He's yelling at them, even though Ron has already replied to him and they are right in front of him. While shouting, he stammers and asks them to “just – just hold it in.” He obviously can't bring himself to say the words, to accept that Ron and Hermione have kissed. He can't accept it, even though he had already chosen to let them be together. It's too painful.

It's that Mudblood! Avada Kedavra!
Harry saw Hermione dive aside, and his fury that Crabbe had aimed to kill wiped all else from his mind. (630)

Crabbe calling Hermione a Mudblood and almost killing her makes Harry so furious he forgets everything else. Compare this to when Crabbe almost kills Ron:
Crabbe wheeled around and screamed, “Avada Kedavra!” again. Ron leapt out of sight to avoid the jet of green light.” (631)

Harry's mind shuts down when Hermione almost gets killed, but has no reaction to Ron being in the same situation.

The wandless Malfoy cowered behind a three-legged wardrobe as Hermione charged toward them, hitting Goyle with a Stunning Spell as she came.
It's somewhere here!” Harry yelled at her, pointing at the pile of junk into which the old tiara had fallen. “Look for it while I go and help R -”
HARRY!” she screamed.
A roaring, billowing noise behind him gave him a moment's warning. He turned and saw both Ron and Crabbe running as hard as they could up the aisle toward them. (631)

Hermione to the rescue! Then, Harry is firm that she should stay there and look and he should go after Ron, even though she's the one supposedly in love with the bloke. Hermione then sees what's coming their way, and screams Harry! She could have screamed Ron, he was closer to the fire and Harry would still have turned at her scream, but she didn't. Just like at the Lovegood's house, she screamed for Harry.

Then he heard a terrible cry that pulled at his insides, that expressed agony of a kind neither flame nor curse could cause, and he stood up, swaying, more frightened than he had been that day, more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life...
And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage, and three redheaded men were grouped on the ground where the wall had blasted apart. Harry grabbed Hermione's hand as they staggered and stumbled over stone and wood. (637)

Harry hears a cry that means death, and it terrifies him. It's written like a horror film, gaining momentum – you can feel it in the text and grammar, “more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life...”

That leads to the line of Harry's salvation, “And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage”. This is crucial. And means “together with or along with”, or “used to connect words, phrases, or clauses that have the same grammatical function in a construction”. The word and connects things.

So Harry, frightened more than he has ever been in his life, looks to make sure that Hermione is alive. She is the only one who he can't lose. It is only after he sees her alive that he turns towards the Weasleys.

If this wasn't true there would be no reason for him to grab her hand. Grab means “to take or grasp suddenly”. Harry suddenly grasps Hermione's hand. That's an extremely instinctive reaction, and a very normal one. If you think you have lost someone, you are going to touch them to reassure yourself they're still there.

Remember after Godric's Hollow? “All was ashes: How much more could he lose? Ron, Dumbledore, the phoenix wand...” (360). He will grieve, and it will hurt, but he can go on after losing the others. He didn't break after Sirius or Dumbledore died, he didn't break the two times Ron left him. Hermione? She has never left him; but he would break if he lost her. He can't survive without her.

We know that because of this scene, and what happened in the fifth book at the DoM:

It passed right across Hermione's chest; she gave a tiny “oh!” as though of surprise and then crumpled onto the floor where she lay motionless.
HERMIONE!”
Harry fell to his knees beside her as Neville crawled rapidly toward her from under the desk, his wand held up in front of him. (OP 792)

Harry “fell to his knees”. To bring someone to his knees means “to force someone into submission or compliance”. Submit means “to yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another”. We are specifically told that Harry loses all will, all ability without her. He has never had this strong of a reaction, not even when Sirius died (for more on this read this essay). And it continues:

Dolohov grinned. With his free hand, he pointed from the prophecy still clutched in Harry's hand, to himself, then at Hermione. Though he could no longer speak his meaning could not have been clearer: Give me the prophecy, or you get the same as her...
Like you won't kill us all the moment I hand it over anyway!” said Harry.
A whine of panic inside his head was preventing him thinking properly. He had one hand on Hermione's shoulder, which was still warm, yet did not dare look at her properly. Don't let her be dead, don't let her be dead, it's my fault if she's dead... (OP 792-3)

He's so scared he can't think, he can't even look at her. He can't function.

Harry seized his chance: “PERFICIUS TOTALUS!”
The spell hit Dolohov before he could block it, and he toppled forward across his comrade, both of them rigid as boards and unable to move an inch.
Hermione,” Harry said at once, shaking her as the baby-headed Death Eater blundered out of sight again. “Hermione, wake up...”
Whaddid he do to her?” said Neville, crawling out from under the desk again to kneel at her other side, blood streaming from his rapidly swelling nose.
I dunno...”
Neville groped for Hermione's wrist.
Dat's a pulse, Harry, I'b sure id is...”
Such a powerful wave of relief swept through Harry that for a moment he felt light-headed.
She's alive?”
Yeah, I dink so...” (OP 793)

Harry comes back to himself just long enough to save himself and Neville. The text says he called Hermione “at once” after casting the spell. At once means “all at one time; simultaneously”. So at the same time his spell takes out the Death Eaters, he's pleading to Hermione. Still unable to think. Once Neville says she's alive, “Such a powerful wave of relief swept through Harry that for a moment he felt light-headed.”

That is the most powerful reaction he has in the entire series, for anyone or anything. Nothing and no one matters more than Hermione. Without her, he can't survive.

Get down!” Harry shouted, as more curses flew through the night: He and Ron had both grabbed Hermione and pulled her to the floor, but Percy lay across Fred's body, shielding it from further harm, and when Harry shouted, “Percy, come on, we've got to move!” he shook his head. (638)

Harry's instinctive reaction is to grab Hermione and pull her down so she's safe.

Let's move, NOW!”
Pushing Hermione ahead of him with Ron, Harry stooped to seize Fred's body under the armpits. (639)

Hermione refuses to leave Harry, staying with him. Ron has followed orders and moved. Harry pushes her forward, protecting her, so she's safe; while he stays behind for a moment.

Harry, in here!” Hermione screamed.
She had pulled Ron behind a tapestry: They seemed to be wrestling together, and for one mad second Harry thought that they were embracing again; then he saw that Hermione was trying to restrain Ron, to stop him running after Percy. (640)

Even though she's using all her force to restrain Ron, she still notices Harry and tells him where they are. Like at the Lovegoods' house, no matter how much of her attention Ron has, he never has all of it.

And Harry? In British English mad means “crazy” or “insane”. So the one second he thought they were embracing was insane.

You need to find out where Voldemort is, because he'll have the snake with him, won't he? Do it, Harry – look inside him!”
Why was it so easy? Because his scar had been burning for hours, yearning to show him Voldemort's thoughts? He closed his eyes on her command, and at once, the screams and the bangs and all the discordant sounds of the battle were drowned until they became distant, as though he stood far, far away from them... (641)

He learned to close his mind for her, and “on her command” he opens the connection and finds out what they need to know. All because of her.

With a gasp, Harry pulled back and opened his eyes; at the same moment his ears were assaulted with the screeches and cries, the smashes and bangs of battle.
He's in the Shrieking Shack. The snake's with him, it's got some sort of magical protection around it. He's just sent Lucius Malfoy to find Snape.”
Voldemort's sitting in the Shrieking Shack?” said Hermione, outraged. “He's not – he's not even fighting?”
He doesn't think he needs to fight,” said Harry. “He thinks I'm going to go to him.”
But why?”
He knows I'm after Horcruxes – he's keeping Nagini close beside him – obviously I'm going to have to go to him to get near the thing -” (642-3)

Harry reports, Hermione gets outraged, and Harry explains. More give and take, more of them being perfect equals and the perfect team.

Harry, you get the Cloak on,” said Hermione. “Never mind us -”
But he threw it over all three of them; large though they were, he doubted anyone would see their disembodied feet through the dust that clogged the air, the falling stone, the shimmer of spells. (644)

Hermione puts Harry's safety and Harry's well-being, not only before her own, but before Ron's. If she truly was in love with Ron, she would not say “never mind the risk” when it came to his safety.

But she's not in love with Ron, and Harry has and always will come before anyone or anything else.

RUN!” Harry roared; the night was full of hideous yells and blows as the giants wrestled, and he seized Hermione's hand and tore down the steps into the grounds, Ron bringing up the rear. (648)

This is the second time Harry has grabbed Hermione's hand in the battle. Ron is not holding hands with them, because it says he's bringing up the rear. Harry and Hermione are the only ones holding hands.

Ron and Hermione closed in beside him as the sounds of fighting behind them grew suddenly muted, deadened, because a silence only dementors could bring was falling thickly through the night, and Fred was gone, and Hagrid was surely dying or already dead...
Come on, Harry!” said Hermione's voice from a very long way away. “Patronuses, Harry, come on!”
He raised his wand, but a dull hopelessness was spreading through him: How many more lay dead that he did not yet know about; he felt as though his soul had already half left his body...
HARRY, COME ON!” screamed Hermione.
A hundred dementors were advancing, gliding toward them, sucking their way closer to Harry's despair, which was like a promise of a feast... (648-9)

Hermione calls for Harry to cast a Patronus, focusing on and encouraging him.

At last the tunnel began to slope upward and Harry saw a silver of light ahead. Hermione tugged at his ankle.
The Cloak!” she whispered. “Put the Cloak on!”
He groped behind him and she forced the bundle of slippery cloth into his free hand. (652)

She is most insistent about that Cloak! Of course, nothing matters more than Harry's safety.

Now he was looking through the tiny crack between crate and wall, watching a foot in a black boot trembling on the floor.
Harry!” breathed Hermione behind him, but he had already pointed his wand at the crate blocking his view. It lifted an inch into the air and drifted sideways silently. As quietly as he could, he pulled himself up into the room. (657)

Hermione breathes Harry's name after Severus has just been attacked. What she wants isn't clear, but it is clear that all of her focus is on Harry.

Something more than blood was leaking from Snape. Silvery blue, neither gas nor liquid, it gushed from his mouth and his ears and his eyes, and Harry knew what it was, but did not know what to do –
A flask, conjured from thin air, was thrust into his shaking hands by Hermione. (657)

Hermione knows what Harry needs, and provides it.

Both Ron and Hermione shook their heads frantically, looking at Harry.
Don't listen to him,” said Ron.
It'll be all right,” said Hermione wildly. “Let's – let's get back to the castle, if he's gone to the forest we'll need to think of a new plan -” (660)

Frantic means “feeling or showing a lot of fear and worry”. It is completely understandable that both Ron and Hermione are showing a lot of fear, because Voldemort just challenged Harry with his loved ones. They know Harry, they know that kind of attack will work.

Wild means “full of, marked by, or suggestive of strong, uncontrolled emotion”. Both Ron and Hermione are scared, but it's Hermione that speaks wildly, that is completely taken over by her fear of Harry going to Voldemort. She has to reassure herself – “It'll be all right”. But a part of knows it won't, because she knows Harry.

Ron and Hermione seemed a long way away, in a far-off country; he felt as though he had parted from them long ago. There would be no good-byes and no explanations, he was determined of that. This was a journey they could not take together, and the attempts they would make to stop him would waste valuable time. (693)

Harry knows. A part of him has known for a while. He will not let Ron and Hermione sacrifice themselves for him, he would have them live and be happy (silly Harry, can't you see that without you in her life Hermione will never be happy?)

People were moving around, trying to comfort each other, drinking, kneeling beside the dead, but he could not see any of the people he loved, no hint of Hermione, Ron, Ginny, or any of the other Weasley's, no Luna. (695)

Harry lists his loved ones. When you make a list the most important comes first, that's human nature. He lists Hermione first. Hermione is the one he loves most.

If that is not enough proof for you, consider this. First, nothing is accidental in writing. Second, when a pattern is broken it is broken for a reason. 'Ron and Hermione' is how it is in Harry's thoughts, it has been that way since the first book, that is the pattern. But the pattern is broken here, in this crucial moment of Harry listing his loved ones. If the pattern had been maintained, I wouldn't have given it a second thought (except to say that both Ron and Hermione come before Ginny); but it isn't, and that stands out.

This is the second and final time in the series where the pattern is broken, and Hermione's name comes first. The first time was at the beginning of book five:

As far as Harry could tell from the vague hints in their letters, Hermione and Ron were in the same place, presumably at Ron's parents' house. He could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at the Burrow when he was stuck in Privet Drive. (OP 8)

Filled with emotion, Harry puts Hermione first. This is the first sign in the fifth book of how Harry's feelings are becoming romantic.

It's got to be killed. Ron and Hermione know that, but just in case they -”
The awfulness of that possibility smothered him for a moment, made it impossible to keep talking. (695-6)
Just in case they're – busy – and you get the chance -” (696)

His reaction to the thought of Hermione and Ron being dead is stronger than his reaction to anyone else. He “could not bear to contemplate” Luna's death (425), and “he could not permit that idea to form in his mind” about Ginny's death (640). But with Hermione and Ron, the thought smothers him, and is so painful he can't talk. That is a much stronger reaction than the other two.

All those visits to Hagrid, and the gleam of the copper kettle on the fire, and rock cakes and giant grubs, and his great bearded face, and Ron vomiting slugs, and Hermione helping him save Norbert... (697)

Harry thinks of Hagrid, Ron, and Hermione as he walks to his death. Note that while he thinks of Ron and Hagrid, he doesn't think about a moment that connects them to him – he thinks about situations and things that were out of his control, things he just witnessed. But with Hermione, he thinks of one of their private adventures (just her and him), and how she helps him. He thinks about them being together.

Dumbledore's smile was tremulous.
I am afraid I counted on Miss Granger to slow you up, Harry. I was afraid that your hot head might dominate your good heart.” (720)

The only one of Harry's friends Dumbledore mentions is Hermione. Not Ron, Hermione. Dumbledore counted on Hermione to be there, to help Harry. And she was, every step of the way. She always will be.

No!”
No!
Harry! HARRY!”
Ron's, Hermione's, and Ginny's voices were worse than McGonagall's; Harry wanted nothing more than to call back, yet he made himself lie silent, and their cries acted like a trigger; the crowd of survivors took up the cause, screaming and yelling abuse at the Death Eaters, until – (730)

They are all distraught at the sight of Harry dead; but, to me, Hermione's reaction is the strongest. We know her reaction is the second one, because that's how it's listed. Ron shouts “No!”, this can't be true. Ginny screams “Harry! HARRY!”, knowing it's true, and wishing desperately that it's not.

But Hermione? Her scream of “No!” is in italics. Italics are used to emphasize, in this case emphasize Hermione's despair and anguish at the sight of Harry dead. No one else's reaction gets emphasized.

The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him, and the first to reach him were Ron and Hermione, and it was their arms that were wrapped around him, their incomprehensible shouts that deafened him. (744)

The first ones to hug him are Ron and Hermione. His beloved Hermione.

Everywhere he looked he saw families reunited, and finally, he saw the two whose company he craved most. (746)

The only people he wants to be with after the Battle is Hermione and Ron. No one can ever compare to them. No one can ever compare to her.

It's me,” he muttered, crouching down between them. “Will you come with me?”
They stood up at once, and together he, Ron, and Hermione left the Great Hall. (746)

Note that Harry is 'between them'. He could easily have crouched down next to them, but no, he goes in between them. That also tells us that Ron and Hermione were sitting far enough apart for Harry to easily fit his body in between them. They also stood up 'at once', being with Harry is more important than anything else (although, I don't think they were talking, because that would have been written).

But first he owed an explanation to Ron and Hermione, who had stuck with him for so long, and who deserved the truth. (746)

Telling everything to Ron and Hermione is more important to Harry than getting food or rest.

He rummaged in the pouch hung around his neck, and pulled out the two halves of holly still just connected by the finest thread of phoenix feather. Hermione had said that they could not be repaired, that the damage was too severe. All he knew was that if this did not work, nothing would. (748)

It's always about what Hermione said, isn't it? More give and take, of them working together, because she gave him the information and now he has the idea.

Are you sure?” said Ron. There was the faintest trace of longing in his voice as he looked at the Elder Wand.
I think Harry's right,” said Hermione quietly.
That wand's more trouble than it's worth,” said Harry. “And quite honestly,” he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, “I've had enough trouble for a lifetime.” (749)

And so the seventh and final book ends with Harry and Hermione being on the same moral ground, and Ron not (no epilogue, because I pretend that doesn't exist).

~*~

We see, throughout the book, how Harry truly does love Hermione. She, and only she, can reach him at his darkest point, and pull him back. And Hermione loves him. No one can complete them like the other does. They are literally made for each other, they are the embodiment of what romantic love truly looks like, at it's best.

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