First, a story. When Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released in the summer of 2005, I had just started my first year of college. Yes, it was July, but my school was kinda weird. I won’t go into details. I’m like 95% sure that my degree is real. ANYHOW. I didn’t have a car or anything, so I decided that I would walk to the bookstore in the center of town so I could pick up my copy of the book. The bookstore was one of the religious variety, but it was actually super cool with the whole witches and magic and stuff. It was also closer than the Wal-Mart, which was my only other option. I planned it out so I would get there right at ten when the doors opened. I showed up, slightly out of breath, no more than a goober of a freshman. I paid for the book, which took the entirety of my “fun” money for the month (WORTH IT). I even asked if I could take one of the boxes in which the book came packaged. It’s a sweet box. Every side is plastered in the Harry Potter logo and the vague threat of “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL JULY 16th, 2005.” Now I use the box to store old letters.
So there I was, walking down the street, sweaty hair plastered around my face, carrying a medium-ish box containing what would become one of my most favorite Harry Potter books. A minivan pulled over to the side of the road and the passenger side window rolled down. I froze, desperately trying to recall all of my stranger danger training. Thankfully, it was not some letch offering me candy, but a Molly Weasley-esque mom asking if I wanted a ride “because that box looked heavy.” I weighed my options. It was probably another thirty minutes to walk back to campus and the sooner I got back, the sooner I could start reading. “Eh, what the heck!” I decided. “I’m a grown-up now.” So I clambered into the backseat with their five or six very loud, very round children and gave them directions back to my dorm. They were driving down to Pocatello, ID to visit the husband’s nephew, who had just returned from the army. Oh, but first, we had to stop at McDonald’s to buy hashbrowns so they could hand them out to homeless people on the way down. We went through the drive-thru and they dropped me off at my dorm and at no point did they ask me to be their sister wife. Bullet dodged! I know that all sounds like a bit of a fever dream, but it really happened. So there.
CHAPTER 5: AN EXCESS OF PHLEGM
What time is it? It’s Burrow time! Mrs. Weasley and Tonks are busy with tea and boy talk when Harry and Dumbledore arrive. Dumbledore has to peace out, but Harry gets settled in with a warm meal. They talk about the changes within the ministry and then Arthur gets home from work. They have a system in place to keep dark wizards from infiltrating their home. It’s not so much advanced as it is adorable.
Molly: “What is your dearest ambition?”
Arthur: “To find out how airplanes stay up.”
Arthur: “What do you like me to call you when we’re alone together?”
Molly (mortified): “Mollywobbles.”
Ahhhhh! I can’t even handle how cute that scene is! And poor Harry has to witness the whole thing!
Hermione and Ron are there to wake up Harry the next morning. Ginny shows up shortly thereafter—she’s a part of the group now after what happened at the Ministry. Everyone is complaining about Fleur, whom Ginny has nicknamed “Phlegm.” Well, everyone meaning all of the women in the house and I kind of have a problem with this, okay? I happen to love Fleur and I think she’s the coolest. It bugs me that she doesn’t have any female supporters with her soon-to-be-family. Mrs. Weasley I can ALMOST understand—she tends to hold grudges and it can take a while to win her trust. But I wish Ginny and Hermione were more chill about it.
Harry spills the beans to Ron and Hermione about the whole prophecy deal. They take it rather well. Most importantly, it’s clear that he has their support in the matter. Oh, our best friend is gonna have to murder a dude? We got your back, man. Their O.W.L. results are also arriving soon, which really freaks out Hermione.
Harry and Ron get seven O.W.L.s a piece, which is decent, but Harry’s dreams of being an auror are squashed. (Temporarily.) Hermione gets eleven, which is why she’s the brightest witch of her time. That’s, like, tied with the most Academy Awards won by a film.
-What, exactly, are the logistics of wizard cooking? The food seems to come out of nowhere, already prepared. Are there any acclaimed wizard chefs? Think of all the cool stuff they could do with food and magic!
-We’ve talked about our OWL results, but do you ever think about what your wizard occupation would be? I would probably still be a librarian.
-Okay, how did Titanic win eleven Oscars? It’s not even that good of a movie!
CHAPTER 7: DRACO’S DETOUR
I love buying school supplies. It’s one of the best things in the world. I love the trips to Diagon Alley. They’ve got plenty of security, which turns out to be Hagrid. He is the bookend to Harry’s first and last trip to buy school supplies. Things are less colorful this time around, though. The shops are on high alert.
Here’s another bookend—Harry runs into Draco Malfoy at Madam Malkin’s. Draco’s acting even more bratty than usual, although he does have an audience in his mother, among other reasons. They all get into a tiff and Draco and Narcissa storm out.
Fred and George’s new shop, Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, is something of an assault on the senses. Also, it is magnificent and just what a dreary Diagon Alley needs in these trying times. Fred and George are cunning businessmen. They know to support their backer, Harry, who doesn’t have to pay a cent. Ron’s not quite so lucky.
The joke shop is the perfect distraction to follow Malfoy down Knockturn Alley. He’s doing something super shady with Borgin. Hermione totally botches the undercover follow-up work in the shop. It’s hysterical and pitiful all at once. Too bad, because knowing about what Draco was after would’ve been nice to know. (Understatement of the year.)
-Pygmy Puffs sound so dumb and I want one really bad.
-I know that fans have a tendency to latch onto to minor characters and details, even though they probably don’t mean anything. That being said, I am highly curious about Verity. Who is this girl that helps out Fred and George at the shop? Why did they pick her above all of the other applicants? Did Fred perhaps have a crush on her? Exactly how short is her short blond hair? I wanna know! Can Jo show me? I wanna know about this girl at the shop. (Bam. Now Tarzan’s stuck in your head.)