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An Excess of Phlegm

- Chapter 5

"He's a curse-breaker, isn't he, he likes a bit of adventure, a bit of glamour ... I expect that's why he's gone for Phlegm."
-- Ginny Weasley

HBP5: An Excess of Phlegm

Harry speaks with Mrs. Weasley (and later Mr. Weasley) about the latest Ministry of Magic news. We see Fleur Delacour, who was nicknamed Phlegm by Ginny, and learn that she and Bill Weasley are engaged, to his family’s dismay. Harry tells Ron and Hermione about Horace Slughorn, his private lessons with Professor Dumbledore, and the prophecy – while they tell him about Fleur and Tonks. The O.W.L. results then arrive, with Harry and Ron each earning seven O.W.L.s. Hermione earned eleven, ten Outstandings and one Exceeds Expectations. Harry realizes that Professor Snape won’t allow him to take N.E.W.T. level Potions with only an Exceeds Expectations grade and, therefore, he won’t be able to become an Auror.

Calendar and Dates

Ron Weasley 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 HBP6 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.

Interesting facts and notes

In this chapter, Harry returns to the Burrow, is brought his breakfast by Fleur Delacour, updates Ron and Hermione, and gets his O.W.L. exam results.

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 Misuse of Muggle Artefacts 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 Horace Slughorn's hideout took about an hour all told.

"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 "sleepy" 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. Then again, she is a Muggle-born.

Ordinary Wizarding Level Results

The only grades below "Exceeds Expectations" that Harry got on his O.W.L. exam results 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. Without their time in Dumbledore's Army, would their Defence Against the Dark Arts marks have been lower?

Hermione's OWL results.

Exceptional character moments

Ginny, Hermione and Molly Weasley all irritated by Fleur Delacour's "foreign ways".

Arthur Weasley's pet name for Molly being used as a security phrase, and Molly's embarrassment at Harry hearing it.

Hermione worrying about her exam results when she and everyone else really knows how well she will do.

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.

Words and phrases

HBP 5 — An Excess of Phlegm
Abbreviation HBP5: An Excess of Phlegm
Canonicity Primary Canon


Related images:

Hermione's OWL results. This picture depicts the Weasley's home, the Burrow.  Molly Weasley in the kitchen.

Pensieve (Comments)

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The Harry Potter Canon