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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
HP ages
Apologies on the lateness of the upcoming Shifts segment. I'm just having a devil of a time with it.

I put up "Loosey Lippity Lessons" at SQ, but looking at my new version of the ages, they still don't make sense. If Percy is the "right" age for his year (by the August birthday), then Charlie would have to be ahead of his age somehow. Ah, JKR. We were doing fine and perfectly plausibly until that August birthday. Percy can't have been sick for a year, putting him back, because he's homeschooled anyway and it wouldn't make a difference (and anyway, that would mess with the distance from the twins). And we've never seen anyone accelerated at Hogwarts.

Sigh. A later birthday. October. That would have done it, as long as two years could mean two-and-a-half years.

As for Tonks's age, someone said earlier that she had to be something like five years older than Harry. I say there's no way she can be less than seven years older (I gave her an eighth year, for a cushion), because when she arrives at the Dursleys, she's waiting to see what Harry looks like. Anyone less than seven years older than he is would have seen him at his Sorting, playing Quidditch, and being awarded house points at the end of the year in PS/SS. And if she was there the next year, she'd have seen him paraded around as the possible Heir of Slytherin. Etc. So while it's feasible that Harry didn't see her (he's not very observant), it's not possible that she would arrive at the Dursleys not knowing what he looks like (except, presumably, through pictures). Harry doesn't exactly keep a low profile at Hogwarts.
21 comments or Leave a comment
mafdet From: mafdet Date: September 20th, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you can't quite make the dates fit, it's JKR's doing, not yours. ;) I honestly think it's some kind of Flint on her part and that Bill and Charlie are a bit older than she said in the interview. She's as bad at math as I am!

Tonks' age: I see her as 22 or 23 in OOtP, that is around seven to eight years older than Harry. She most likely left Hogwarts the year he started. Since Harry is not observant, I could understand his not knowing her (especially if she is a 'Puff and much older) but Tonks shows herself to be very observant herself, so she would know Harry no matter what, as you said. He's a celebrity.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: September 21st, 2004 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually have Tonks six years older, and in Harry's House his first year. However, I also have that Tonks, for one thing, never used her powers, so Harry barely noticed the raven-haired seventh year. Second of all, they were pretty busy - Tonks had NEWTS, Harry had Voldemort. And besides... what would Tonks say?

As for her comment in OoTP, well, as I said before, I doubt she saw him much, not to mention the fact that looks change over the years. He kept on looking a lot like James, but he was still maturing.

Of course, you two are probably right. :) It really does make more sense.
From: sunshyndaisies Date: September 21st, 2004 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
There's another way to piece together Tonks' age. She tells Harry she's been an Auror for a year, and McGonagall tells Harry that Aurors typically have another three years of training after they leave school, so that would imply that Tonks is about 4 years out of school, making her 22 in OotP...
From: arclevel Date: September 21st, 2004 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)


I've been avoiding JKR's website due to HBP spoilers, but birthdays are the sort of thing I would still like to know. Was it just Percy? Was she trying to clarify the age thing, or perhaps why F/G could apparate before 7th year and Percy not until after it?

As for the age thing (of a variety of characters, but mostly F/G), I simply ignore what she said and go with what's in the books. Charlie is about 6 years older than Percy; JKR can't add.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 21st, 2004 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)

If it's any comfort at all

Angelina is eligible to enter the Triwizard Tournament. There's a comment in there that she's 17. But we know that she's in her 6th year then and technically, she's old enough to be in her seventh.

I think this is just JKR's failing and we need to make the stretches as needed.

malabud From: malabud Date: September 21st, 2004 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: If it's any comfort at all

Angelina turned 17 in late October of her sixth year, just before the arrival of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students. Thus, she was barely eligible to try to enter the Tri-Wizard Tournament. So, she's a bit older than most of her year-mates, but she's still in the correct year.
malabud From: malabud Date: September 21st, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: If it's any comfort at all

Okay, that's just weird. It is not 1:18 AM here. *points to time in above comment* Why is my time all messed up? Very, very odd.
threnody From: threnody Date: September 22nd, 2004 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: If it's any comfort at all

I believe LJ goes on GMT for comments. I find it really annoying, I wish there was a way to change it.

And, I vote for Tonks leaving school the term before Harry got there. Say she was 18 or just short of it when she left, plus four years (training and working one year) puts her leaving Hogwarts spring '91. I think.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: September 21st, 2004 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Trying to make sense of JKR's calendar will rapidly drive you batty, especially once you notice the week with two Mondays.

Both Charlie and Tonks have to be significantly older than Harry to have *not* been at school with him, but JKR is so hand-wavy about maths...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 21st, 2004 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the thing is, Charlie's age made sense if Percy had a late fall birthday--he could be two years older, and Percy could have turned twelve in October of his first year, making Charlie three years ahead of him (and just out of school) the year Harry started. But when she put Percy's birthday in August, that means that he, like Harry and Neville, will always be the "right" age for his year. So there's no messing around with him possibly being a smidge older, and allowing a two-and-a-half year difference between him and the twins. The one thing that did come through loud and clear was that there is no big gap in the Weasley family, which people had thought indicated that they might have lost a child.

I'm not sure where the Tonks-is-five-years-older came from, exactly.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: September 21st, 2004 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, according to the HP Lexicon, she is six years older, so maybe people got mixed up? Who knows. Plus, didn't it say somewhere Tonks finished her Auror training earlier?

mafdet From: mafdet Date: September 21st, 2004 10:29 am (UTC) (Link)
The way I figured Tonks' age: McGonagall told Harry the last time someone was accepted for Auror training was three years ago. So if Tonks left school at eighteen, then spent three years training and one on the job, she's about 22, or maybe 23, but it does fit very well with the idea that she left the year Harry started.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 21st, 2004 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
But do we have to assume that she was the last one picked for Auror training?
biascut From: biascut Date: September 22nd, 2004 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm confused: what do you mean that Harry and Neville will always be the "right" age for their years? The cut-off date for UK school years is the 1st of September, so Harry and Neville are actually the youngest in their year. You do your GCSEs/OWLs in the year that you turn 16, with the year counted from 1st September to 31st August. So I'd think of Harry and Neville as being the "wrong" age for most of their year, because they don't turn sixteen until after the school year has finished.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 22nd, 2004 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Having a summer birthday myself, I tend to think of it as the "right" age for the year, with no changes. So Harry and Neville are eleven throughout first year (never twelve), twelve throughout second year (never thirteen), etc. And unlike Hermione, with her early September birthday, they're never the "wrong" age in the younger direction, either.
biascut From: biascut Date: September 22nd, 2004 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah - my birthday is November, so I think of the older age as the "right" one! Twelve in the first year, thirteen in the second year, etc. Because you're supposed to do GCSEs at 16 and A levels at 18 - you're a freak if you do them at fifteen and seventeen! :)

(Is it canon that Hermione is a year ahead? I always find that hard to believe, since it seems to me that if the students are gathered to Hogwarts by magic, the magical whatever would simply get all the students who have had their eleventh birthdays before 1st September, rather than caring which ones are a year ahead in Muggle schools.)
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: September 21st, 2004 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if it helps, but my daughter Amy is three grades ahead of her brother Mark and only two years and three months older than he. It all depends on which side of the cut-off date you're born. So if we give Percy his August birthday,which is two months before the cut-off date, and make Charlie be born two years plus nine months before him, it might work. I don't suppose Percy would have been held back a year because of his late birthday so as to give him a better advantage at Quidditch---does that happen anywhere else?
ex_ms_katoni171 From: ex_ms_katoni171 Date: September 21st, 2004 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't suppose Percy would have been held back a year because of his late birthday so as to give him a better advantage at Quidditch---does that happen anywhere else?

Why would they do that? First years don't even play Quidditch normally, so by the time he'd be able to get on the team, he might have filled out anyway. Also, I cannot see Dumbledore delay a child's education simply so they'd be better at sports. It wouldn't be doing them any favours. Besides, in Quidditch, you compete against teams drawn from the entire school, of all ages. It would be no advantage to be bigger than the rest of your year, simply because you'd likely be up against older players anyway.

And in Percy's case, it's incredibly unlikely - by the time he reached Hogwarts age, it would be apparent to anyone who knew him that he was neither interested in nor particularly suited for Quidditch. The game isn't compulsory, you know. As I said before, there'd be no point holding back a bright kid like Percy so he could do better at a sport he's not interested in and not likely to be any good at anyway.

persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: September 21st, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Warning, Speculative Ramble Ahead

I think you're entirely right as regards Quidditch.

On the other hand... we don't meet Percy until his fifth year.

I don't know about in the UK, much less the wizarding world, but around here I think it's possible for parents to hold their kids back a year (especially for birthdates near the cutoff) for a number of reasons -- mostly academic or social. And there's more flexibility with homeschooling; I think that may be one reason some parents do choose to homeschool. (Actually, I essentially got to start very slightly early through that method, since I'm a December birthday and got to start first grade at age five.)

If homeschooling is the pre-Hogwarts standard in the wizarding world, and considering there are no wizarding universities (though I'm assuming there are other training programs besides the one for Aurors, and presumably other on-the-job or apprenticeship-type setups suited to the appropriate jobs), I don't know why it would be inordinately unreasonable to suppose that there is some flexibility as to when exactly a child can start Hogwarts.

We don't have any positive indication of it from JKR, but we don't (as far as I know) have anything making it impossible. Following exact standard procedure for Muggle schools may not be necessary. Or at least, deviating from it may be no more objectionable than any of the alternative mental contortions. *g*

Percy is bright, certainly. But sometimes a year can make a rather dramatic difference, and I don't think it's impossible that there might have been some reason, academic or otherwise, for Molly and Arthur to think he'd be better off starting a year late.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: September 21st, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was being facetious.Around here, boys regularly get held back to give them an edge in sports.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: September 21st, 2004 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's important to remember that what JKR says in websites, interviews, etc., is not actually canon. It's very good info that ought to be reconciled with canon if at all possible, but...really, in this case, there's just no good way to do it. So, as far as I'm concerned, Charlie is ~5-7 years older than Percy until I get explicit notice otherwise in canon. I regard as only slightly more reliable JKR's famous fixing of Snape's age which led to all sorts of flurrying theories about the frequency of youthful marriage in the wizarding community--no, it doesn't *contradict* canon, so I'm perfectly willing to accept as fact, but I don't think it should be assumed that JKR actually *meant* anything by it. You just can't trust her with numbers, so I doubt she intended that by the age she gave she was necessarily thinking of James and Lily as superyoung parents--it just seemed like a good age at which to fix Snape at the time.

I have to confess, though, I *was* fond of your Troy-Mullet-Moran theory.

I don't think I commented on LLL when you first posted it, so I'll show some love for it here. I love the way you write the Weasleys; it's as close to ironclad proof as you can get that "complex" doesn't have to mean "morally questionable." Your Weasleys are as genuinely good-faith a family as I've ever known, and yet the myriad lines of relationships between each family member are each absolutely distinct, and fraught with little misunderstandings and envies and affections and protections. It's a good antidote to what I consider to be the Generalized Tolstoy Theory: that good is always uniform and evil always diverse. Your Weasleys are diversely good, and there just isn't enough of that in fandom.
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