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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter Five:
An Excess of Phlegm

Notes by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley
Synopsis and links by John Kearns

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 81 - 104
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 81 - 102
Timeframe: Saturday, 13 July, 1996 [Y16]

In which Harry talks with Mrs. Weasley (and later Mr. Weasley) about the Ministry, we see Fleur and learn that she and Bill are engaged to his family's dismay, and Harry tells Ron and Hermione about Slughorn, his private lessons with Dumbledore, and the prophecy, while they tell him about Fleur and Tonks. O.W.L. results then arrive, with Harry earning seven O.W.L.s but realizing that Snape won't allow him to take N.E.W.T. potions, and therefore he won't be able to become an Auror.

An Excess of Phlegm

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

Rufus Scrimgeour has set up several new offices in response to the present situation

The Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects was created by this action, headed by Arthur Weasley, who now has ten people reporting to him (as opposed to his old post as head of the Muggle Artifacts Office, wherein only Perkins reported to him).

He said he'd be back around midnight

So the conversation with the Dursleys and the trip to Slughorn's hideout took about an hour all told.
Also an entry for The Number Twelve.

"What is your dearest ambition?"
"To find out how airplanes stay up."

Arthur Weasley's dearest ambition. Not exactly a power-hungry politician...

all for ten Galleons!

Harry's wand cost three Galleons less than this only five years before this conversation.


Translated from sleepmud into English, "What's going on?"

"About one o'clock this morning."

OK, two hours.

"Today?" shrieked Hermione. "Today? But why didn't you - oh my God - you should have said - "

One of the few even vague religious references in the books so far, give or take the utterances of Draco Malfoy.

Ordinary Wizarding Level Results

The only grades below "Exceeds Expectations" that Harry got were in History of Magic (he passed out during the exam), Astronomy (the exam during which Hagrid was arrested in full view of the examinees), and Divination (lost cause).

"Seven OWLs, that's more than Fred and George got together!"

Good grief, they really didn't care, did they? They must be great at Charms and Potions, at the very least.

"Yep - ten 'Outstandings' and one 'Exceeds Expectations' at Defence Against the Dark Arts."

Interesting that neither Hermione nor Ron managed an O but only an E in that subject.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

  • none

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • Still to come....


  • Apparition

  • Backfiring Jinx

  • Stretching Jinx

  • (unnamed) misc. nonverbal cooking spells Mrs. Weasley performs

  • (unnamed) supposed defensive jinxes that actually make your ears fall off

  • (unnamed) charms Mrs. Weasley tries for fixing Hermione's black eye

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • Mrs. Weasley ended her speech with a stern look, as if it had been Harry suggesting that it was natural to miss spark plugs.

  • "What is your dearest ambition?"
    "To find out how airplanes stay up."

  • "Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right."

  • But when Harry arrived downstairs... it was to find Hermione sitting at the kitchen table in great agitation, while Mrs. Weasley tried to lessen her resemblance to half a panda.

Strictly British:


Ron says "it's been a month" since O.W.L.s finished, and the exams probably finished on 18 June (OP31). We also know from HBP06 that Harry spends "a few weeks" at the Burrow prior to his birthday on 31 July - so it's likely that it's been a little less than a month, rather than a little more. That, plus our date reference from HBP18, means that this is most likely Saturday, 13 July.


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