Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 – An Excess of Phlegm

Harry is finally at the Burrow! With the Weasleys! This is wonderful! Dumbledore knocks on the door and waits for Mrs. Weasley to answer. I notice that he didn’t get on her case about not asking about his jam preferences, but that’s okay. Maybe there are other enchantments on the Burrow that make such caution unnecessary.

Also at the Burrow is Tonks, but Tonks . . . doesn’t look good. She looks tired and her usually pink hair is a plain brown. Very un-Tonks-like. She leaves quickly and Dumbledore leaves soon after. Mrs. Weasley immediately starts mothering Harry, which of course, he desperately needs. He’s also starving. As he sits down at the table, he almost sits on a large ginger cat. Crookshanks! That means Hermione is there as well! Yay! Everyone is together again!

Mrs. Weasley asks about whether Slughorn agreed to teach and then asks Harry what he thinks about him. Harry still doesn’t really know. Slughorn is an odd duck, but then, so are most people in the wizarding world. Mrs. Weasley understands, since Slughorn likes the ambitious and never really gave her or Mr. Weasley much of a glance. The big news is that Mr. Weasley got a promotion! He is heading a new office at the Ministry – the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. Basically, since Voldy’s been back, a black market has sprung up with all these things that are supposed to help you. Potions that are really useless, spells that don’t really do much, and the occasional dangerous item planted by a Death Eater.

Of course, Mr. Weasley misses working with plugs and Muggle appliances. But he has ten people working under him in his department now! He’s still at work, but Mrs. Weasley expects him home soon.

She turned to look at a large clock that was perched awkwardly on top of a pile of sheets in the washing basket at the end of the table. Harry recognized it at once: It had nine hands, each inscribed with the name of a family member, and usually hung on the Weasleys’ sitting room wall, though its current position suggested that Mrs. Weasley had taken to carrying it around the house with her. Every single one of its nine hands was now pointing to “mortal peril.”

“It’s been like that for a while now,” said Mrs. Weasley, in an unconvincingly casual voice, “ever since You-Know-Who came back into the open. I suppose everybody’s in mortal danger now . . . I don’t think it can be just our family . . . but I don’t know anyone else who’s got a clock like this so I can’t check. Oh!”

Mr. Weasley’s hand on the clock moves to “traveling” and there is soon a knock on the door. Mrs. Weasley follows protocol by asking the security question – I guess as a Ministry employee, Mr. Weasley feels he should set an example. We find out that Mr. Weasley’s dearest ambition is “to find out how airplanes stay up,” and that his nickname for Mrs. Weasley is “Mollywobbles.” I love them so much!

Mr. Weasley comes in and greets Harry, apologizing for being late. Harry is very sleepy and Mrs. Weasley notices immediately. She has Fred and George’s room set up for him to stay in, since the twins are living in a small apartment above their shop in Diagon Alley. Business is booming and even Mrs. Weasley is starting to get impressed by the twins’ business acumen. Their room is filled with a bunch of boxes full of who-knows-what. Hedwig has already arrived along with Harry’s trunk. Harry feels extremely content and falls asleep immediately.

He awakes the next morning to the door slamming open – Ron and Hermione have just been told he was there. They both want to hear about Harry’s outing with Dumbledore. Harry swears it wasn’t that exciting and tells them a bit about Slughorn. Well, tells them that he looks like a walrus and used to be Head of Slytherin. Harry also notices that Hermione keeps looking at him oddly, but she brushes it off when asked.

Ginny comes in complaining about “her” downstairs, treating her like a child. Harry thinks Ginny is talking about her mother and is shocked when Hermione chimes in, claiming that “she’s so full of herself.” Ron jumps on the defensive and Ginny snaps back at him for it. It’s all very strange until . . .

The bedroom door flew open again, and Harry instinctively yanked the bedcovers up to his chin so hard that Hermione and Ginny slid off the bed onto the floor.

A young woman was standing in the doorway, a woman of such breathtaking beauty that the room seemed to have become strangely airless. She was tall and willowy with long blonde hair and appeared to emanate a faint, silvery glow. To complete this vision of perfection, she was carrying a heavily laden breakfast tray.

“‘Arry,” she said in a throaty voice. “Eet ‘as been too long.!”

It’s Fleur Delacour! Followed by Mrs. Weasley, who is a bit irritated that Fleur brought up the tray before she could. Fleur greets Harry happily and informs him that she and Bill are getting married next summer. Um, yay? Hermione and the other Weasleys don’t seem too happy about the situation, but Fleur is oblivious. She tells Harry that Bill is working a lot and since she is only working part-time at Gringotts, he brought her to stay with his family for a bit so that she can get to know them better.

After Fleur leaves, Ginny tells them all that Mrs. Weasley doesn’t like her. Mrs. Weasley denies this – she just thinks they’ve rushed into their engagement. She understands a bit, since similar things happened when Voldemort was in power before. Including, incidentally, her and Arthur, which Ginny points out. But that’s different, of course! They were perfect for each other. What do Bill and Fleur have in common? They’ve been dating for a year now and Ginny suspects that Bill’s love of adventure is part of what drew him to Fleur.

Except that Ginny likes to call her Phlegm. Oh Ginny.

After Mrs. Weasley leaves, Ginny says that she’s pretty sure that her mom will stop the wedding. She thinks that Mrs. Weasley has been inviting Tonks over a lot to try and get Bill to fall for Tonks instead. But Tonks hasn’t been the same, not since the incident at the Ministry last year. Hermione claims that Tonks hasn’t gotten over Sirius’s death. Ron thinks that’s crazy, since Tonks and Sirius barely knew each other. Hermione says that Tonks blames herself for Sirius’s death since she had been fighting Bellatrix but wasn’t able to take her down. Harry and Ron find this ridiculous, but Hermione understands.

“It’s survivor’s guilt,” said Hermione. “I know Lupin’s tried to talk her round, but she’s still really down. She’s actually having trouble with her Metamorphosing!”

“With her –?”

“She can’t change her appearance like she used to,” explained Hermione. “I think her powers must have been affected by shock or something.”

“I didn’t know that could happen,” said Harry.

“Nor did I,” said Hermione, “but I suppose if you’re really depressed . . .”

Once again, I have to wonder how they treat mental health in the wizarding world. They didn’t mention it at St. Mungo’s, but here it looks like it’s a known problem. I would love to have a companion book that talks about this.

Mrs. Weasley calls Ginny downstairs to help with lunch (probably so she doesn’t have to be alone with Fleur). Hermione picks up a small telescope and asks what it is. Probably just some of Fred and George’s stuff – so you might want to be careful. The twins are doing really well – their store is making out like gangbusters in Diagon Alley. Ron says he hasn’t had a chance to visit it yet because his parents want to make sure to have extra security when they go. Speaking of seeing family, what about Percy? How has he taken the news that he was wrong this entire time? The answer is: not well. He’s still not speaking to his parents, despite knowing that they were right about Voldemort.

Harry lets slip that Dumbledore will be giving him private lessons and speculates that it has to have something to do with the prophecy.

“Nobody knows what it said, though,” said Hermione quickly. “It got smashed.”

“Although the Prophet says –” began Ron, but Hermione said, “Shh!”

“The Prophet‘s got it right,” said Harry, looking up at them both with a great effort: Hermione seemed frightened and Ron amazed. “That glass ball that smashed wasn’t the only record of the prophecy. I heard the whole thing in Dumbledore’s office, he was the one the prophecy was made to, so he could tell me. From what it said,” Harry took a deep breath, “it looks like I’m the one who’s got to finish off Voldemort . . . At least, it said neither of us could live while the other survives.”

There is a stunned silence . . . and then Hermione disappears in a cloud of smoke. She’s fine, she’s fine! That little telescope she picked up? She squeezed it too tightly and it punched her in the eye. She brushes this off though, much more concerned about Harry. She asks if he’s scared, but he’s started to get used to the idea. He was much more scared at first, but now it does sort of seem obvious. This whole mess started with him and Voldemort, so it makes sense that the two of them would need to finish it. They speculate for a bit what Dumbledore might teach Harry: advanced defensive spells, countercurses, anti-jinxes. Harry starts to feel better just knowing that his two best friends are there for him. No matter how scared or shocked they are, they will do whatever they need to in order to help Harry through this. Friendship is magic, y’all! Oh wait – wrong franchise.

Hermione mentions wondering when their O.W.L. results will arrive and Harry remembers Dumbledore mentioning that they would arrive today. Time for a Hermione freak out! She runs downstairs to see if any owls have come (they haven’t yet) and also to see if Mrs. Weasley can fix her very impressive black eye. Oddly enough, nothing that she tries will make the bruising go away. Instead, Hermione stews over all the questions she probably got wrong during their exams.

The owls arrive, three of them, one for each of them. Harry opens his and finds that he actually did pretty well. Acceptable in Astronomy. Exceeds Expectations in Magical Creatures, Charms, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. Outstanding in Defense (as if we doubted).

And a Poor in Divination. And a Dreadful in History. But the rest are pretty good! Ron didn’t do too bad either, although he didn’t get an Outstanding. Hermione . . . got nine Outstandings and one Exceeds Expectations. And she’s actually really disappointed in the EE grade, although she’s trying to hide it. One thing that Harry is disappointed in is his Potion grade. According to Snape, he would only be able to advance to N.E.W.T. level Potions if he got an Outstanding. Which he didn’t. And he needed his N.E.W.T. in Potions in order to become an Auror. Personally, I think being the Chosen One would probably also help in that endeavor, but Harry really thinks that joining the Aurors would be the best way to go after Voldemort. After all, it is basically their job, right?

See you next time for Chapter 6!



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