I. Hermione’s Career Choice
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss their careers but Hermione doesn’t reveal what she wants to do other than that she wants “to do something really worthwhile.” 1 Yet when Harry points out that becoming an Auror is worthwhile, she discounts this notion, hinting toward doing something along the lines of helping others such as taking S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare) further.2 Although her passion for S.P.E.W. declines somewhat, the idea that she wants to help others is still prevalent. In the chapter on career advice, the trio again discuss their careers but Hermione still hasn’t settled for nor is she leaning toward one. Ron recites the stringent requirements in becoming a Healer and Hermione merely responds that they’re stringent because being a Healer is “a very responsible job.” However, she says this “absently,” 3 which implies that she is not interested.
We learn that Hermione has no interest in banking (“I don’t much fancy banking” 4) and we can tell by the diversity in her examination of career advice leaflets (Muggle Relations, Training Security Trolls, and the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes5) how undecided she really is toward her career. Beyond this, we have no substantial clues as to her choice of profession. Or do we? If Hermione were in school in the real world, she’d go on to college and probably end up becoming a researcher at a University. We can be fairly certain she won’t be teaching at Hogwarts, as J.K. Rowling herself has claimed that “one of Harry’s class mates, though it’s not Harry himself, does end up a teacher at Hogwarts, but it is not maybe the one you’d think.” 6 I will show that Jo Rowling has indeed provided us with several clues as to Hermione’s career post-Hogwarts.
II. She starts to develop respect for Fred and George and their magic.
From the onset, we see Hermione as an academic overachiever who abides by the rules. Despite the fact that she starts toeing the line, and even breaking a few rules along the way, for the most part she remains firm in her opposition to rule breaking. Exposure to the Weasleys helps her to lighten up and experience the fun side of living, including the joy of having lots of siblings. This is evident early in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when she’s at the Weasley household just before the start of the term. Bill and Charlie are dueling with flying tables, “Fred and George were cheering, Ginny was laughing, and Hermione was hovering near the hedge, apparently torn between amusement and anxiety.” 7
Despite her appreciation for the Weasley family, Hermione initially didn’t think much at all of Fred and George’s magic. Throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we see her at odds with the twins over their antics. They laugh about Ron as a prefect8 and advertise for (and use) students as testers for their products, 9 much to Hermione’s dismay.
At first, Hermione believes that Fred and George don’t know any real magic, saying “they only know flashy stuff that’s of no real use to anyone.” 10 However, in chapter four, we already see her benefiting from using one of their inventions, the Extendable Ears. When Harry arrives at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, he demands to know what’s going on with Voldemort. Hermione and Ron respond:
“We’ve told you, the Order don’t let us in on their meetings,” said Hermione nervously. “So we don’t know the details — but we’ve got a general idea,” she added hastily, seeing the look on Harry’s face.
“Fred and George have invented Extendable Ears, see,” said Ron. “They’re really useful.” 11
We don’t see the old Hermione who’d have been complaining about invasion of privacy nor do we see her argue with Fred and George about the Extendable Ears they’ve invented. Ron even points out that they’re useful, thus associating a practical invention with the twins.
Soon Hermione even starts to develop an appreciation for the twins’ brand of magic.
“How do those hats work, then?” said Hermione, distracted from her homework and watching Fred and George closely. “I mean, obviously it’s some kind of Invisibility Spell, but it’s rather clever to have extended the field of invisibility beyond the boundaries of the charmed object… I’d imagine the charm wouldn’t have a very long life though.” 12
Despite her newfound respect for the twins’ abilities, Hermione at this point still believes the twins to be careless rule breakers who would go to any length for a laugh. However, with a few masterful strokes of her pen, Jo Rowling gives Hermione a more intuitive understanding. In the following passage, Hermione finds out exactly to what extent Fred and George will go to to cause mayhem and mischief at Hogwarts, and she shows deep concern for them actually getting into serious trouble:
Hermione looked very shocked.
“But you’ll get into terrible trouble!”
“Not until Montague reappears, and that could take weeks, I dunno where we sent him,” said Fred coolly. “Anyway… we’ve decided we don’t care about getting into trouble any more.”
“Have you ever?” asked Hermione.
“Course we have,” said George. “Never been expelled, have we?”
“We’ve always known where to draw the line,” said Fred.
“We might have put a toe across it occasionally,” said George.
“But we’ve always stopped short of causing real mayhem,” said Fred.
“But now?” said Ron tentatively.
“Well, now —” said George.
“— what with Dumbledore gone —” said Fred.
“— we reckon a bit of mayhem —” said George.
“— is exactly what our dear new Head deserves,” said Fred.
“You mustn’t!” whispered Hermione. “You really mustn’t! She’d love a reason to expel you!” 13
A few pages later, Jo Rowling continues to impress upon the reader Hermione’s appreciation for Fred and George’s abilities:
Fred and George were heroes that night in the Gryffindor common room. Even Hermione fought her way through the excited crowd to congratulate them.
“They were wonderful fireworks,” she said admiringly.
“Thanks,” said George, looking both surprised and pleased. “Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-Bangs. Only thing is, we used our whole stock; we’re going to have to start again from scratch now.”
“It was worth it, though,” said Fred, who was taking orders from clamoring Gryffindors. “If you want to add your name to the waiting list, Hermione, it’s five Galleons for your Basic Blaze box and twenty for the Deflagration Deluxe…”
Hermione returned to the table where Harry and Ron were sitting staring at their schoolbags as though hoping their homework would spring out and start doing itself.
“Oh, why don’t we have a night off?” said Hermione brightly, as a silver-tailed Weasley rocket zoomed past the window. “After all, the Easter holidays start on Friday, we’ll have plenty of time then.”
“Are you feeling all right?” Ron asked, staring at her in disbelief.
“Now you mention it,” said Hermione happily, “d’you know . . . I think I’m feeling a bit . . . rebellious.” 14
Rowling accentuates the fact that Hermione no longer thinks that Fred and George are just a couple of pranksters; she even congratulates them on such a splendid job. The fact that she decides to take a night off of studying shows she is starting to lighten up a bit.
Hermione’s character continues to develop whereby the reader is aware that she knows the twins are rather considerate:
“What was the point, we asked ourselves, of disrupting leisure time?” continued Fred. “No point at all, we answered ourselves. And of course, we’d have messed up people’s studying, too, which would be the very last thing we’d want to do.”
He gave Hermione a sanctimonious little nod. She looked rather taken aback by this thoughtfulness.15
At the close of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Hermione gets an impartial positive review regarding Fred and George’s magic from someone she holds in high esteem: a Professor.
“Well, Flitwick’s got rid of Fred and George’s swamp,” said Ginny, “he did it in about three seconds. But he left a tiny patch under the window and he’s roped it off—”
“Why?” said Hermione, looking startled.
“Oh, he just says it was a really good bit of magic,” said Ginny, shrugging.16
Even as we progress into the next book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hermione’s respect for the twins continues to appreciate, When Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the Weasleys go to Diagon Alley for school supplies, they visit Fred and George’s newly established joke shop. Hermione sees first hand the twins’ success and realizes how good their products (and magic) really are:
Hermione had managed to squeeze through to a large display near the counter and was reading the information on the back of a box bearing a highly colored picture of a handsome youth and a swooning girl who were standing on the deck of a pirate ship.
“ ‘One simple incantation and you will enter a top-quality, highly realistic, thirty-minute daydream, easy to fit into the average school lesson and virtually undetectable (side effects include vacant expression and minor drooling). Not for sale to under-sixteens.’ You know,” said Hermione, looking up at Harry, “that really is extraordinary magic!” 17
As we can see, Rowling has established the fact that Hermione considers Fred and George’s magical abilities as something to really appreciate. Her character development includes understanding of how far the twins will go for laughs: they may push the envelope a bit but never go too far. And despite their fondness to commit mayhem, they are considerate of their fellow students. This is very important for Hermione because she is an advocate of staying in bounds. It’s obvious that she has developed a strong appreciation for the twins’ abilities but she respects their character as well.
III. Fred and George need Hermione.
We have seen that Fred and George are talented with their abilities in magic and in coming up with new ideas for their joke shop. They’re also good at marketing. Unfortunately their biggest weakness is in research and development. We see them struggle with a few problems throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
“Fair point, little bro,” said Fred, scanning the column. “You can have a bit of Nosebleed Nougat cheap if you like.”
“Why’s it cheap?” said Ron suspiciously.
“Because you’ll keep bleeding till you shrivel up, we haven’t got an antidote yet,” said George, helping himself to a kipper.18
We never do learn whether or not they come up with an antidote for their Nosebleed Nougat but the clue remains that they could use some help.
In the next chapter, Hermione interrupts Fred and George who are using first-years as testers (“That’s enough!” Hermione said forcefully to Fred and George, both of whom looked up in mild surprise. “Yeah, you’re right,” said George, nodding, “this dosage looks strong enough, doesn’t it?” 19). Even though George is joking, he seems to be accepting Hermione’s comment as input.
Hermione actually solves one of their problems for them without realizing it. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione creates a solution of Murtlap Essence for Harry to use to relieve the pain from his injured hand due to detentions with Dolores Umbridge.
“Here,” she said anxiously, pushing a small bowl of yellow liquid towards him, “soak your hand in that, it’s a solution of strained and pickled Murtlap tentacles, it should help.”
Harry placed his bleeding, aching hand into the bowl and experienced a wonderful feeling of relief.20
Later, the twins are discussing a problem they’re having with one of their products. They haven’t yet solved how to get rid of a side affect of their Fever Fudge - another of the products from their Skiving Snackboxes.
“Does it work?” enquired Ron hopefully, as the hammering of rain on the roof intensified and wind howled around the building.
“Well, yeah,” said Fred, “your temperature’ll go right up.”
“But you get these massive pus-filled boils, too,” said George, “and we haven’t worked out how to get rid of them yet.” 21
Harry later tells Lee Jordan about the Murtlap essence when he notices Lee’s injured hand following a detention with Dolores Umbridge. 22 Lee then tells Fred and George, who use the Murtlap Essence to solve their problem with the Skiving Snackboxes (“The Snackboxes are ready to roll, we found out how to get rid of those boils, just a couple of drops of Murtlap Essence sorts them, Lee put us on to it . . . .” 23).
Although Hermione is unaware (as far as the reader knows) of Fred and George’s Shield clothing product line sold to the Ministry of Magic,24 once she learns of it, she’s very likely to become interested in working with the twins to further improve their products making them more effective and longer lasting. And, especially considering the twins’ current planned expansion to include a broader range of Defense Against the Dark Arts products,25 along with perhaps a slew of her own ideas, Hermione could contribute immensely. Her knowledge of magic and her penchant for spell research not only make her a great fit for the joke shop, but make the joke shop a great fit for Hermione.
It is obvious that Fred and George need Hermione.
Over the course of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione comes to realize that Fred and George are thoughtful and that they’re really very good at what they do; their magic impresses her. They’ve discovered unique uses for magic despite getting only three O.W.L.s each.26 Her respect for their abilities increases tremendously throughout the course of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and on into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
I anticipate Hermione coming to realize that all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. I strongly believe that she’ll branch out and start to have fun with her knowledge of magic as a partner in Fred and George’s joke shop, working in the field of research and development of new joke items. If this were academia, she’d go on to college and end up being a researcher. The next best thing in the wizarding world is indeed magical research but since there were no fields of study revealed to the reader that related to magic research, Fred and George’s joke shop would be the most appropriate choice for Hermione to continue her studies.
1. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 228.
2. Ibid., 228.
3. Ibid., 656.
4. Ibid., 657.
5. Ibid., 656-7.
6. Ibid., Interview by Christopher Lydon, part 24.
7. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 60.
8. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 164.
9. Ibid., 221-2, 226, 252-4, 368-9.
10. Ibid., 369.
11. Ibid., 67.
12. Ibid., 540.
13. Ibid., 627.
14. Ibid., 634.
15. Ibid., 658.
16. Ibid., 848.
17. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 117.
18. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 225-6.
19. Ibid., 253.
20. Ibid., 324.
21. Ibid., 378-9.
22. Ibid., 551.
23. Ibid., 574.
24. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 119.
25. Ibid., 119.
26. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 368.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.
———. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1997.
Rowling, J. K. Interview with Christopher Lydon. The Connection. WBUR Radio (Boston, MA), October 12, 1999. Transcript, AccioQuote!. Member of the Floo Network. http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1099-connectiontransc2.htm#p24.