Harry Potter and the quarter-life crisis: what happened to the characters in their twenties?
Hermione and Ron broke up
Sometimes, fiction seems more real than reality. Certainly, for a whole generation of 20-somethings, Harry Potter was as real as our own childhoods. We imagine them as friends, we imagine them as adults, and we have furious opinions about whether or not Ron and Hermione ought to have ended up together.
J K Rowling has kiboshed rumours that she will publish another novel, although this summer there will be a new play featuring a 37-year-old Harry.
But what happened to the characters in their twenties? If you think hard enough, you can imagine where they’ve all ended up.
Hermione is in her third year on the graduate scheme at Gringotts. She joined the actuarial stream, though she arranged to have coffee with one of the seniors on risk assurance last week to emphasise that she’s keeping her options open.
Her work uniform is clean and simple: grey shifts, a belted trench coat, black kitten heels, the silver bracelet with a heart charm that she got for her 21st, from a small stall on Knockturn Alley (which isn’t as rough around the edges any more). If it’s raining, she’ll carry a Gringotts golf umbrella.
Some evenings, if she’s not working late, she goes on dates, using an app called Wander. She’s not that fussed, though: she finds the conversations with people she doesn’t know rather tiresome. She goes to yoga a few times a week. And a couple of times a year, she meets Parvati for drinks in All Star One. Parvati’s at the Wizengamot now. She was just voted third hottest junior member by a scurrilous but well-read industry blog and everyone on their Facebook was talking about it. Last time they met, Hermione didn’t talk about it.
Things didn’t work out with Ron – they were really young, and you change so much in those first few years in London. Obviously, she was really upset when he broke up with her on their anniversary (“I’m sorry: I just guess if we didn’t break up I would always have wondered what would have happened if we had,” he blurted out, incoherently, over a drink) though she’s seen him a couple of times since, mainly at group dinners with the rest of Gryffindor. In anxious moments, she worries he’ll find out she got off with Harry after a night out even though it wouldn’t really matter now.
After he graduated, Ron cast around for a few years – and then one day (around the same time he broke up with Hermione) he got his act very much in gear. Now he runs a successful craft butterbeer brewery on Diagon Alley which also does artisan chocolate frogs. He employs twenty staff full-time and earlier this year he was interviewed for a food feature a popular daily newspaper.
“The Alley” has become a neat synonym for gentrification by hand-wringing columnists; indeed, last year, there was a protest outside the Weasley Brothers’ Craft Butterbeerrerie, when someone found out that a single artisan choccie frog costs £4. Ollivander’s closed down – you can get wands in the Apple shop now – as did George Weasley’s joke shop (who needs jokes when you have memes?). He works for Ron now as neither of his start-ups really got off the ground. He’s sort of like the Jamie Murray to Ron’s Andy: broadly really supportive, though you can see the vein throbbing when someone’s asked him a few too many questions about Ron.
Ron’s homemade jumpers are cool now and he wears his broken wand to tie up his longish hair. And he’s going out with Romilda Vane: she invented Bumble – which is how they met. She tells the story when she pitches for investment. VCs like that. And her legs, which are really, really long. Ron’s into those too.
Harry’s a journalist at Nice – a global youth media company set up by the former opinion editor of the Daily Prophet. He’s angry, and he Has Some Thoughts about the existential state of young masculinity, which he writes, every week, in a column, called Defence Against the Dark Arts. He’s whip-smart though and a lot of people – men and women – have confusing feelings about him. He’s brooding and complicated and confusingly fit.
He’s skinny – fragile, even. Watching him lope about – a bit skittish – makes your heart feel sort of bruised. He has that scar. Out are the hoodies and Blue Harbour jeans – now he wears old Championship football shirts, polo shirts, and big, concertedly uncool knits with black skinny jeans. He’s cropped his hair really close, though he still has the glasses. He likes that they look a bit like the NHS-issue specs that Graham Coxon used to wear. He hates artisan anything – just a Stella for me, mate – and he really likes going to the Leaky Cauldron curry club on a Thursday night, which he thinks is gently parodic but is arguably the sort of class tourism he rails against. This irony eludes him. But he doesn’t mean any harm, really.
He still sees Ron a lot – they’re close, they trust each other, Harry is still an extended member of the Weasley family – though Harry doesn’t care much about the stuff Ron cares about (craft anything, east anything, bro-ga, bikes). And Ron wishes Harry could be a bit less navel-gazing, and not use everything – everything – as a reason to say that “everything’s fucked”. Everything.
This is what a feminist looks like. Ginny Weasley’s agitprop blog (“That Is A Feminist Issue”) started as a bit of fun, and it was neither particularly subtle nor particularly nuanced (a bit about catcalling here, a bit about the gender pay gap there). But slowly, she started to really Get It. Something she wrote about period-shaming went a bit viral after an influential female columnist retweeted it, and Ginny’s been on Fly News a few times. She’s appearing on Top 30 Under 30 lists and she started making enough money to give up her job in social media for a homelessness charity.
She and Harry broke up, though they’re still seeing each all the time. He’s the first person she asks about anything, and vice versa. They don’t acknowledge it, though the set-up works: they are both comforted by their contact, and it means she doesn’t have to think much about it. Also, she’s getting off with one of the Spads at the Ministry of Magic and doesn’t really want to stop doing so right now.
Draco’s fit. He’s working in production – he’s done a few shoots and worked on The Weird Sisters’ latest video – and mixes wavey garms (a bit of Ellesse, some Puma, 90s adidas, Nike for the feet – the really understated ones, with a faded tick) with sheepskin coats, or a North Face puffa. There’s a beanie in circulation.
You fall in with him through a lesser version of him, someone you met at university who went to west London wizarding prep school with Malfoy, before he started at Hogwarts. He’s generous with invitations and occasionally you end up at his house – or rather, his parents’ in Holland Park, where he’s still living. He isn’t much interested in playing at pretend adulthood, moving into some tedious flat in Brixton.
Sometimes, his father’s around. He does something in antiques with Borgin and Burkes. He’s always really interested in what you do. His father asks about the business model of the app company you’re working for; eyebrow cocked, almost but not quite derisively. His questions pick over the details you don’t know much about and that bothers you. Because Malfoy’s dad is, obviously, kind of fit.
His profile picture is his car.
Everyone knows that Neville got fit. It was probably all that Herbology – toiling with a scythe is very Poldark and it gets results.
He’s sensitive, Neville – he’s an actor now, though still does some gardening on the side in between projects. Those baleful eyes are very telegenic, though he’s done some stage stuff, too. He lives in Deptford with a couple of others he met on SpareRoom. He doesn’t see the Hogwarts crowd much – his “main” friends are his drama school mates – though Ron’s been to a few of his plays and they have a pint occasionally. Neville’s proud of Ron, though he’s sort of sad for Hermione.
Luna’s revenue stream is opaque, although she lives in one of those unobtrusively grand houses in Camberwell, with a rolling cast of art school friends on mates’ rates. You think her parents own it. They’re based out in Sussex – you all went for the weekend and the next morning her step-mother – soft, warm, older than you expected – prepared you hot cross buns.
All summer she’s at festivals. Glastonbury, obviously – last year she paid a van driver £150 to sneak her in on the Friday, she just wore a piece of blue string around her wrist instead of a real wristband – but also Secret Garden Party, and Shambala, and Worldwide. She carries a hip flask of firewhisky around with her and a Ziploc bag of mad shrooms from the Forbidden Forest. She’s something of a Herbology expert these days.
You spend much of the weekend furtively checking your face in the reflection of your dead phone’s screen; Luna just twists her hair into plaits, and doesn’t seem to get spots. She can drink more than you can, and she can take more drugs, and she arrived without a tent and one night she just passed out under someone’s verboten gazebo. She recounts the events of that evening when you’re sitting in the Healing Fields having a spliff the next day, but she is not boasting – she is just telling you, rather detachedly, in order to explain what happened after she left Shangri-La.
Seamus comes down the pub on Saturday night. Everyone else is having a quiet pint and a bag of crisps. Seamus gets six in and pisses himself.
Imagined by Phoebe Luckhurst, Bobby Palmer and Roisin Lanigan. Illustrations by Bobby Palmer