In Harry Potter and the HBP, Harry and Ron, I believe stay at the Burrow, and Mrs. Weasley asked them to cut sprouts for dinner. This is what it says,

"'Aaah, George, look at this. They're using knives and everything. Bless them.'

'I'll be seventeen in two and a bit months' time,' said Ron grumpily, 'and then I'll be able to do it by magic!'"

Later on Fred and George refused to help them, so Harry and Ron continued to cut them manually like Muggles.

The Trace Wikia states,

The Ministry trusts magical parents to properly discipline their children if they perform magic due to the fact that the parents' own magic will constantly interfere with the Trace. Children who grow up in the Muggle world, such as Harry Potter, are more closely monitored — any magic that was performed at or near 4 Privet Drive was assumed to have been caused by him because he was the only known magical person living in his neighbourhood. Thus, when the house-elf Dobby used magic at that location, the Ministry blamed Harry.

If the parents' own magic will constantly interfere with the Trace, then why wouldn't Harry and Ron use magic considering that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Fred and George, who are all of age, are near them? If they are near and the Trace sends info to the ministry, the ministry will think it was one of the adults performing magic around them. When Dobby did magic in front of Harry in 1992, Harry was blamed. Isn't this almost the same case, in the way that, instead of Harry being blamed, the Ministry will just think it was an over aged wizard?

  • 4
    Ron's parents probably wouldn't approve of underage magic. Especially considering his dad works for the Ministry of Magic. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 23:45
  • Yes, however his parents would not physically see them, and the Ministry would have no idea if it was underage due to the fact that is was an entire wizarding home.
    – Jake
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 1:20
  • @MeatTrademark Arthur Weasley took full advantage of loopholes (I.E. the car could fly as long as you didn't INTEND to fly it and he didn't punish his sons for flying it until Molly said something) so I don't believe he would have minded this loophole either. Molly on the other hand...
    – Bishop
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:32
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/209070/…
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:44

2 Answers 2

  1. Harry and Ron aren't above some casual rule-breaking (unlike Hermione) but they aren't out and out juvenile delinquents who delight in violating the law. We see very few cases (outside flying Ford Anglia and DA activities) where either of them deliberately do something illegal just for kicks or just because they could get away with it, at least until the Ministry is under Voldemort's control.

  2. Ron, to top it off, is part of Arthur Weasley clan, and is raised to respect the rule of law (I'm not quite sure what happened with Fred and George upbringing-wise, but said Ford Anglia surely didn't modify itself in violation of the rules, if you know what I mean :)

    And Ron has a very healthy amount of respect for Mrs Weasley, who's a formidable witch AND a formidable mother; and as such would rather not violate the law and risk her wrath even if he could get away with violating the Ministry's. And she clearly has her ways of finding out the truth, as most good parents do (hell, she even finds out what the troublesome twins are up to at times).

  • 2
    Note that despite growing up around his wizard brothers, Ron doesn't learn any real magic spells until his first day at Hogwarts.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 9:24
  • 3
    @Richard you just put "Ron" and "learn" in the same sentence. That's your first mistake Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 9:36
  • You'd think he would have memorised at least one spell. Hermione only had a spell book for three weeks and was able to repair glasses.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 9:50
  • @Richard - Actually, Hermione memorized ALL of her textbooks before boarding the train. And Ron doesn't need to memorize spells. He has Quidditch Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 15:16
  • 1
    @DVK-in-exile Modifying the Ford Anglia was not in violation of the rules. "There's a loophole in the law, you'll find... As long as he wasn't intending to fly the car, the fact that the car could fly wouldn't--" - Arthur Weasley
    – Bishop
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:35

DVK makes a good point that they were probably afraid of Mrs. Weasley's wrath if they used magic, but there may be more basic reasons why they didn't use magic. In Chapter Seventeen of Half-Blood Prince Harry thought that the Ministry could actually detect underage magic, until Dumbledore disabused him of this notion:

"But how come the Ministry didn't realize that Voldemort had done all that to Morfin?" Harry asked angrily. "He was underage at the time, wasn't he? I thought they could detect underage magic!"

"You are quite right — they can detect magic, but not the perpetrator: You will remember that you were blamed by the Ministry for the Hover Charm that was, in fact, cast by —"

"Dobby," growled Harry; this injustice still rankled. "So if you're underage and you do magic inside an adult witch or wizard's house, the Ministry won't know?"

"They will certainly be unable to tell who performed the magic," said Dumbledore, smiling slightly at the look of great indignation on Harry's face. "They rely on witch and wizard parents to enforce their offspring's obedience while within their walls."

The scene you ask about occurred in Chapter Sixteen of Half-Blood Prince; thus, at that point Harry (and presumably Ron as well) was still under the impression that the Ministry would know if they did magic.

Another more basic reason for not doing it via magic is that they probably lacked the ability to do so. Harry's magical talent seems to be almost entirely in dueling spells, and Ron's magical talent is... closer to non-existent. Magically peeling sprouts is presumably something that neither of them have done before, and it would be unlikely that they would suddenly figure out how to do it and do a good job of it. Consider that several months later (Chapter Twenty-Four) we have the following instance of Harry and Ron utterly failing at a new charm:

"Flitwick," said Ron in a warning tone. The tiny little Charms master was bobbing his way toward them, and Hermione was the only one who had managed to turn vinegar into wine; her glass flask was full of deep crimson liquid, whereas the contents of Harry's and Ron's were still murky brown.

"Now, now, boys," squeaked Professor Flitwick reproachfully. "A little less talk, a little more action... Let me see you try...."

Together they raised their wands, concentrating with all their might, and pointed them at their flasks. Harry's vinegar turned to ice; Ron's flask exploded.

"Yes... for homework," said Professor Flitwick, reemerging from under the table and pulling shards of glass out of the top of his hat, "practice."

Or consider that when Harry was about to come of age (Deathly Hallows Chapter Two), and therefore be able to do magic all the time, he realized that he didn't even know how to do a simple healing spell:

It was stupid, pointless, irritating beyond belief that he still had four days left of being unable to perform magic…but he had to admit to himself that this jagged cut in his finger would have defeated him. He had never learned how to repair wounds, and now he came to think of it – particularly in light of his immediate plans – this seemed a serious flaw in his magical education. Making a mental note to ask Hermione how it was done, he used a large wad of toilet paper to mop up as much of the tea as he could before returning to his bedroom and slamming the door behind him.

So in short, there may be a few reasons why they didn't use magic in the Burrow. They probably wouldn't have been able to do it anyway, they didn't yet know that the Ministry couldn't detect their magic, and they would have been afraid of Mrs. Weasley anyway.

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