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The Woes of Mrs. Weasley

- Chapter 9

"What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?"
-- George Weasley (OP9)

OP9: The Woes of Mrs Weasley

Ron and Hermione become prefects, Harry is jealous, and Mrs. Weasley‘s boggart is revealed.

Calendar and Dates

Here we encounter an example of the impossibility of the dates in this book. Since we know from Chapter 8 that August 12 was a Thursday, August 31 has to be a Tuesday. September 1, then, is a Wednesday, but we will discover in the next chapter that September 2 is not a Thursday, as one might expect after a Wednesday, but a Monday.

Interesting facts and notes

Harry's struggle with his feelings when Ron is made Prefect is eloquently portrayed. Molly's encounter with the Boggart is a fascinating moment as well. Rowling was wise to include this passage, since the reader needs to have some deeper understanding of Molly Weasley in order to accept the change in her personality between the previous four books and this one. In OP, Molly is a crabby, shrill, argumentative woman whose role in the story seems to have degenerated into that of a person to outwit or fool, nothing more. In Chapter 9, we discover the weight of worry and fear which she has been carrying.

'Merlin's beard!' exclaimed Mr Weasley wonderingly, pulling Harry aside to let them all pass. 'You were tried by the full court?'

Merlin holds a place of high honor in the wizarding world.

'Oh, it's a simple enough anti-jinx,' said Mr Weasley as they mounted the stairs, 'but it's not so much having to repair the damage, it's more the attitude behind the vandalism, Harry. Muggle-baiting might strike some wizards as funny, but it's an expression of something much deeper and nastier, and I for one -'

We are being introduced to the darker side of the wizarding world here, a side which was hinted at already in book two. The regurgitating toilets are much nastier than a shrinking door key, in more ways than one. The culprit in this case, Willy Widdershins, is eventually pardoned by the Ministry in exchange for his spying on the first meeting of what would become the DA. The prejudice which is evidenced by Willy's actions is in effect condoned by the Ministry.

'Trying to sneak down to the courtroom, if you ask me,' said Mr Weasley...

No, he wasn't. We are being nicely misled by Rowling here. Lucius is on Level 9 because that is where the prophecy is. He is investigating what protections are in place that will need to be surmounted.

he ought to know Malfoy's been talking to Fudge again.'

How common of an occurrence is this, the Minister of Magic meeting one-on-one with constituents? Is this just a feature of Fudge's tenure, or, being in charge of a smaller populace, are the Ministers in general easier to access than our Muggle counterparts? (Or, perhaps "full pocket(s) of gold" open doors just as easily in both worlds.) --KT

'Mr. Weasley' said Harry slowly, 'if Fudge is meeting Death Eaters like Malfoy, if he's seeing them alone, how do we know they haven't put the Imperius Curse on him?'

'Don't think it hasn't occurred to us, Harry' said Mr. Weasley quietly. 'But Dumbledore thinks Fudge is acting of his own accord at the moment - which, as Dumbledore says, is not a lot of comfort.'

The Ministry had quite a time sorting out true Imperius victims from pretenders after Voldemort's first downfall. One would think that there would be stronger protections in place within the Ministry after this fiasco, especially concerning the Minister and other high-powered figures. Why then is the Minister--especially someone as paranoid as Fudge-- meeting alone with people? Is it just another symptom of his closing his eyes to the threats around him?

Also, Mad-Eye Moody and Cornelius Fudge are both long-term acquaintances of Dumbledore's, yet the former was able to be impersonated for almost an entire year without the headmaster noticing the difference. How can Dumbledore be so sure it--or anything else-- hasn't happened to Fudge? --KT

Harry turned his moneybag upside-down and emptied not just ten Galleons, but the whole contents into the pool.

And what effect might this seemingly innocent (but certainly substantial) contribution to St. Mungo's have somewhere down the line? Might a cure be found for Neville's parents?

Harry, it should be noted, gives anonymously. There is no mention to suggest that even Arthur Weasley saw Harry do it. Compare this to Lucius Malfoy's kind of giving, which is showy and self-centered, and which comes with a price tag of its own:

'Gold, I expect,' said Mr Weasley angrily. 'Malfoy's been giving generously to all sorts of things for years...gets him in with the right people...then he can ask favours...delay laws he doesn't want passed...oh, he's very well-connected, Lucius Malfoy.'

Sirius had put up a very good show of happiness on first hearing the news, wringing Harry's hand and beaming just like the rest of them. Soon, however, he was moodier and surlier than before, talking less to everybody, even Harry, and spending increasing amounts of time shut up in his mother's room with Buckbeak.....

'He just didn't want to get his own hopes up even more,' said Hermione wisely. 'And he probably felt a bit guilty himself, because I think a part of him was really hoping you'd be expelled. Then you'd both be outcasts together.'

Harry more than anyone should be sympathetic to Sirius' feelings. He too was miserable cooped up in a house he hated with relatives he hated only several weeks ago. And, both of them were completely cut off from the rest of the wizarding world for almost twelve years, Harry being in the Muggle world and Sirius wrongly being imprisoned in Azkaban. --KT

'Booklists have arrived,' he said, throwing one of the envelopes up to Harry, who was standing on a chair. 'About time, I thought they'd forgotten, they usually come much earlier than this...'

The booklists arrive on August 31. This is almost unbelievably late. What was Dumbledore thinking? Just imagine the panic as every one of the hundreds of Hogwarts students scramble to buy books at Flourish and Blotts. Mrs Weasley makes the shopping trip this year "off camera", so we can only guess what a busy, frustrating day that must have been for her.

The reason the booklists are late, of course, is that Dumbledore was unable to find a teacher to fill the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, so he didn't know which book the students would need for that class. We learn in Chapter 15 that Fudge passed Educational Decree Number 22 just the day before, thereby allowing himself the authority to appoint Dolores Umbridge to the post. Umbridge chooses the book by Slinkhard.

Harry swept the last of the droppings into a rubbish bag and threw the bag over Ron's head into the wastepaper basket in the corner, which swallowed it and belched loudly.

This enchanted wastepaper basket is quite a handy device to have around, although it spits the owl droppings back out after a few moments.

'One sacked, one dead, one's memory removed and one locked in a trunk for nine months,' said Harry, counting them off on his fingers.

Lupin, Quirrell, Lockhart, and Moody, in that order.

George leapt forwards, seized the envelope in Ron's other hand and turned it upside-down. Harry saw something scarlet and gold fall into George's palm. Harry took it. A large P was superimposed on the Gryffindor lion. He had seen a badge just like this on Percy's chest on his very first day at Hogwarts.

This is an error in the book. The badge Harry saw on Percy's chest on the train platform five years ago wasn't "just like this" at all. It was actually silver, according to PS6.

'Match his what?' said Mrs Weasley absently, rolling up a pair of maroon socks and placing them on Ron's pile.

Poor Ron. We learned in PS12 that he hates maroon, and yet his mother apparently buys maroon socks for him, just like she makes him corned beef sandwiches for the train ride to Hogwarts, even though he hates that kind.

'I don't believe it! I don't believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That's everyone in the family!'

What a bizarre statement for Molly to make. This is patently false, and there seems to be no logical reason for her to say it. Is she intentionally trying to hurt the feelings of her twin sons, not to mention Ginny? This seems a bit out of character for Molly.

the only sounds he could hear were the blank picture on the wall sniggering again...

The picture on the wall is blank, so we might assume that Phineas Nigellus is not present, but is in his portrait in Dumbledore's office. The fact that Harry hears Phineas snigger suggests that he is instead hiding just out of sight. It seems unlikely that Nigellus would have chosen to do this, so we might guess that he's been assigned by Dumbledore the task of keeping an eye on Harry. It seems in character for Nigellus to obey the order in a way that shows his defiance of Dumbledore's authority.

I'm curious to note what Nigellus was laughing about. Harry not getting to be Prefect? Him trying overly hard to be happy for his friends? --KT

'Drawing room...' he growled, as the pupil contracted. 'Desk in the corner? Yeah, I see it... yeah, it's a Boggart... want me to go up and get rid of it, Molly?'

What exactly does Moody see? According to Lupin in book three, no one has ever seen a Boggart in its "normal" state, since it always shape-changes to become the image of what a person fears most. I'm surprised that no one asked Moody about this.

'We're having a little bit of a celebration, actually...' She gestured at the scarlet banner. 'Fourth prefect in the family!' she said fondly, ruffling Ron's hair.

Well, we know that Percy was a Prefect, and Bill was not only a Prefect but also Head Boy. Neither Fred nor George were ever given the job, so we know that Charlie was a Prefect during his time at Hogwarts.

No one would have made me a prefect, I spent too much time in detention with James. Lupin was the good boy, he got the badge.'
'I think Dumbledore might have hoped I would be able to exercise some control over my best friends,' said Lupin. 'I need scarcely say that I failed dismally.'

This exchange is proof in the eyes of many fans (myself included) that James, Sirius, and Lupin were in the same house. Not everyone was convinced, however, but Rowling settled the matter in WBD.

Harry's mood suddenly lifted. His father had not been a prefect either.

But according to PS5, James was Head Boy. It is possible that he was made a Prefect in his sixth year, or even that he was made Head Boy without ever having served as a Prefect. Clearly, James underwent quite a transformation of character between his fifth and seventh years.

'nought to seventy in ten seconds, not bad, is it? When you think the Comet Two Ninety's only nought to sixty and that's with a decent tailwind according to Which Broomstick?'

Which Broomstick is a take-off on the magazine called Which? in the UK. This magazine is similar to Consumer Reports magazine in the US. Both of these magazines test and report on a variety of products, recommending some over others. Neither magazine accepts advertising. [WEB LINK]

'Venomous Tentacula seeds,' said George. 'We need them for the Skiving Snackboxes but they're a Class C Non-Tradeable Substance so we've been having a bit of trouble getting hold of them.'

'Ten Galleons the lot, then, Dung?' said Fred.

That's actually quite a lot of money. At the exchange rate that Rowling proposes in an interview, the seeds cost the twins around fifty pounds (approximately US$75).

'Yeah, his best one so far has been six Sickles for a bag of Knarl quills,' said George.

The Knarl is a rather suspicious magical creature resembling a hedgehog. Six sickles works out to a little less than two pounds, or about US$2.50. That doesn't seem like such a large amount of money to get all worked up about, unless the twins were trying to sell the quills to Dung, not the other way around, and he was trying to pay too little.

It had just occurred to him that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would want to know how Fred and George were financing their joke shop business when, as was inevitable, they finally found out about it. Giving the twins his Triwizard winnings had seemed a simple thing to do at the time, but what if it led to another family row and a Percy-like estrangement? Would Mrs. Weasley still feel that Harry was as good as her son if she found out he had made it possible for Fred and George to start a career she thought quite unsuitable?

It's just like Harry to worry about his adoptive family and wanting to protect them. It's understandable, given the lack of mothering and compassion he received from Petunia as he grew up, for Harry to then worry that other figures in his life will turn on him the same way. Understandable, but incredibly sad. --KT

'… why Dumbledore didn't make Potter a prefect?' said Kingsley.

'He'll have had his reasons,' replied Lupin.

'But it would've shown confidence in him. It's what I'd've done,' persisted Kingsley, 'specially with the Daily Prophet having a go at him every few days…"

We will discover later that Dumbledore believed Harry to be too burdened with other things in his life to want to add the responsibility of prefectship. He also wanted to give Ron a chance to have the spotlight for a change. Nonetheless, Kingsley is right that not seeming to trust Harry with the job--or, we could add, information about the Order's goings-on--makes Harry in turn question Dumbledore's faith in him. --KT

From an inner pocket of his robes Moody pulled a very tattered old wizarding photograph.
'Original Order of the Phoenix,' growled Moody.

The members pointed out are:

He did not know why it had been such a shock; he had seen pictures of his parents before, after all, and he had met Wormtail but to have them sprung on him like that, when he was least expecting it… no one would like that, he thought angrily…

And then, to see them surrounded by all those other happy faces…all waving happily out of the photograph forever more, not knowing that they were doomed… well, Moody might find that interesting… he, Harry, found it disturbing…

On the one hand, Moody might have been trying in his own way to distract Harry from his troubles, by giving Harry a piece of literal history. On the other, Moody is perhaps so desensitized to death and losing people he knew that he didn't think how the photograph and talking about those in it might affect Harry. --KT

Harry's body vanished. A silvery orb hung in the air over the spot where it had lain. Lupin waved his wand once more and the orb vanished in a puff of smoke.

The orb represents Lupin's worst fear: a full moon. The spell both he and Molly were trying to cast is supposed to make the Boggart appear, well, ridiculous. When Neville used this spell on a Boggart in book three, we are treated to the memorable image of Snape dressed in a green dress and carrying a purse.

'This isn't like last time. The Order are better prepared, we've got a head start, we know what Voldemort's up to -'

And what Voldemort is "up to" is trying to get his hands on that Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries. It's too bad that no one thought Harry might need to know this crucial bit of information. Had Harry been informed of this and also that Voldemort might try to affect his mind to get the Prophecy, Sirius would almost certainly still be alive.

'Look, I can't promise no one's going to get hurt, nobody can promise that, but we're much better off than we were last time.'

It's ironic that all three of the Order members who are reassuring Molly - Lupin, Sirius and Moody - end up dead.

He felt older than he had ever felt in his life and it seemed extraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been worried about a joke shop and who had got a prefects badge.

Harry has so much on his plate that he feels silly for being, for a few moments, just like his peers and worrying about normal teenage things.

He, in fact, has seen and is dealing with more than many adults have. He's had to grow up quickly and needs support--information, advice--on how to go forward. Those around him seem to forget this, trying (unhelpfully) to keep him youthfully ignorant as long as possible. --KT

Exceptional character moments

Sirius feeling guilty over what Hermione hypothesizes is his desire for Harry and he to be outlaws together.

Hermione and Ron both surprised that the latter got the badge instead of Harry, apparently not having enough faith that Ron was worthy.

Harry feeling jealous over his friends' accomplishment...then immediately feeling like a lousy friend.

Harry worrying that his giving the twins their start-up funds would start another Weasley family row and make Molly reject him as an adoptive son.

Tonks and Sirius both revealing that they had been too much of a troublemaker to be made prefect, and Lupin admitting he didn't keep his friends much in line.

Moody, breezing through talking about those killed in the first war without noticing Harry's discomfort.

Mrs. Weasley showing vulnerability and concern over her family's welfare (via the boggart).

Memorable lines

Fred and George Apparated right beside Harry. He was so used to them doing this by now that he didn't even fall off his chair.

Mrs. Weasley let out a shriek just like Hermione's. "I don't believe it! I don't believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That's everyone in the family!" "What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?" said George indignantly, as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her youngest son.

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

OP 9 — The Woes of Mrs. Weasley
Abbreviation OP9: The Woes of Mrs Weasley
Canonicity Primary Canon


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