This whole thing has been causing me A LOT of consternation the past few days. And it still is. I almost started twitter ranting about it (for a second time) but my thoughts were too jumbled and complicated for 140 character segments so we're word vomiting everything into a blog post. This is going to be rambly and all over the place. Here we go.
I was on board with Ron/Hermione as a couple from the beginning, when I started reading the books at age 12. It was obvious to me. It never even occurred to me that a different outcome could happen, and in the end I felt so vindicated that I was right. I wouldn't have cared so much if there hadn't been SO MANY PEOPLE trying to say something else was going to happen. I wasn't fully involved in the Ship Wars but I was also not an innocent civilian. I remember arguing with other girls in my high school about it, people who wanted Harry/Hermione to happen (or Harry/Luna, which was less upsetting to me, though still wrong). So when the initial article about this interview Emma Watson did with J.K. Rowling came out and said "ROWLING REGRETS RON/HERMIONE RELATIONSHIP," I was livid. The full excerpt is, of course, much less cut and dry than that - it says she thought Ron and Hermione would probably need counseling but that they would ultimately be fine after Ron got over his insecurities and Hermione worked on not being so over-critical. Which is fine, and makes sense, and doesn't ruin anything for me because lots of people go to counseling if they have to, and that doesn't make them weak.
My thing is... what difference does it make if you've thought about the other ways you could have written the books and decided "oh, maybe those two characters would have worked better together"? I'm pretty sure every writer in existence has looked back at something they wrote and wanted to go back and edit. I am not shocked to see JKR is not immune to that. But when it's something like THIS, I REALLY don't want to know. Why, why, why did she even bother telling people about wondering if it would have worked better a different way? She KNOWS this is a weirdly sensitive topic for MANYYYYY Harry Potter fans. It did nobody any good to dredge up this argument again. Literally no one needed this. IT'S UPSETTING. And I realize it's probably crazy to be this invested in the relationship between two figments of our collective imaginations, but it is what it is.
I will stand by this: whatever JKR has decided to say now about the books, it is irrelevant. All that matters is what is actually in the books. Ron and Hermione got married, had kids, and were happy. You know how I know they were happy? IT SAYS SO IN THE BOOK. That's all it takes for me. THEY ARE FINE!!!
All that being said. I, too, have some perspective on this now, and I have to say that if the people in the books were REAL, it would not surprise me at all if Ron and Hermione had failed, or at least had some troubles along the way. I still have a hard time believing something between Hermione and Harry could have ever developed, as that would require Ron to be dead, because Harry would never do that to him otherwise. It would also require Harry and Hermione to un-adopt each other as siblings. Because that is how they saw each other through the entire series. If JKR thinks otherwise she is as delusional as she once said the Harry/Hermione shippers were. That's right, I went there.
Now if she's like, "I could have written those two characters through the books differently and in an alternate universe version of the story, Harry and Hermione could have ended up together," that is something different. However, that would require fundamentally revamping a very important relationship in the books and for me, really ruining it. Hermione is Harry's family. As Rainbow Rowell, one of my favorite authors (and someone who had a very similar reaction to this whole thing as I did), said on twitter: "it was amazing and beautiful that Harry and Hermione loved each other and needed each other without wanting to kiss." I don't want to see that change.
But I could see Ron and Hermione's bickering being a real problem. I've had that kind of relationship before, and if that is all you do all the time, eventually it stops being playful and funny. You just wake up one day to the realization that this person is no longer someone you like or want to be around. It doesn't matter how long you've known them or how close you were. The bickering becomes malicious and it hurts you and then everything is over, and you cut them out of your life as a means of self-preservation. So if that's the kind of relationship Ron and Hermione continued to have after Deathly Hallows, YEAH, I could see them not working out.
What I don't think is really being considered, though, is the fact that we didn't get to see whatsoever how the trio was changed emotionally by the events of that last book. We have NO IDEA what they were like immediately after that, or in their twenties, or as actual adults, or anything. It's just... here they are at 17, then here they are in the epilogue in their late thirties. That is a lot of time being glossed over. OBVIOUSLY they are not going to stay exactly like they were as teenagers for the rest of their lives. They are already different people at the end of Deathly Hallows than they were at the beginning. They went through a LIFETIME in that book. And I'm sure when we meet up with them again in the epilogue, they're STILL processing that stuff. You don't just get over an experience like that. Maybe - MAYBE - after 19 years, you're sort of coming to terms with it. Maybe. But that stuff is going to stay with them for their rest of their lives. Ron and Hermione might need counseling, sure, but they are most assuredly not the only ones who do. EVERYONE IN THIS SERIES NEEDS COUNSELING AFTER EVERYTHING THEY WENT THROUGH.
Here is what we know for certain: Harry married Ginny, which I have no problems with (though I do wish Ginny had gotten more "onscreen" character development, but she makes Harry happy and if he deserves anything after all he went through, it's happiness, so whatever - Harry's relationship was honestly always the one I cared about the least). They had kids with terrible names (Albus Severus, REALLYYYYY). We know Ron and Hermione got married, too, and they also have kids (with better names). They are all happy, sending their kids off to Hogwarts and not dealing with any dark wizard overlords.
There are a million things we don't know. We don't know, for example, that maybe Ron and Hermione broke up for a while, after Hermione graduated from Hogwarts and Ron went on to be an Auror. Maybe she went and travelled the world - she would have to go get her parents from Australia where she hid them from Voldemort, after all. And once her parents were re-settled wherever they live in Britain, I hope she went on a tour of the world, Apparating all over the place, meeting new people and absorbing everything like the knowledge sponge she is. I imagine this would prepare her quite sufficiently for her future career in politics and eventual Minister of Magic.
Meanwhile, Ron would have thrown himself into becoming the best Auror he could possibly be, because that's the only thing that could take his mind off Hermione dumping him (because of course that's how it happened). He probably lived with Harry and Ginny, who I imagine got married as soon as possible. I could see Ron working longer hours than anyone and becoming the best Auror in the department, even better than Harry, and first he does it because he thinks it will impress Hermione one day but then he realizes he really does love his job and the work. Harry of course tells him he's working too hard, maybe tries to take him out for drinks or something once in a while, and Ron goes, but his heart isn't really in it, because his heart is travelling around the world with someone else.
I think they both would have grown up. A lot. And when Hermione came back, maybe a year or so later, she would have asked Ron to meet up for butterbeers, and he would maybe have hesitated, just for a second. What if she just wants to reminisce for a bit and then leave again? Or what if she found someone else? What if he's just going to get his heart broken all over again? I think he would consider not going. He would go, but he would have to think about it. And meanwhile Hermione is steeling herself, expecting HIM to have moved on, trying not to think about that as a possibility but also trying to be okay with it if he has, because she knows from experience that there's plenty more out there for her if Ron says no. She just doesn't want him to.
And so they meet up, and it's formal at first, a little awkward, but then they see each other again, really see each other, and see everything that has changed and, more importantly, the things that haven't. Everything falls into place, and they realize - yes, this is right. This is what I was missing. This is what I want. And then they're together. For good this time. And they take it slow, and they communicate with each other like adults, and he makes her laugh, and she keeps him on his toes, and they're happy.
And that is the closest I will ever get to writing Harry Potter fan fiction.