Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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- Chapter 1: The Other Minister
- Chapter 2: Spinner's End
- Chapter 3: Will and Won't
- Chapter 4: Horace Slughorn
- Chapter 5: An Excess of Phlegm
- Chapter 6: Draco's Detour
- Chapter 7: The Slug Club
- Chapter 8: Snape Victorious
- Chapter 9: The Half-Blood Prince
- Chapter 10: The House of Gaunt
- Chapter 11: Hermione's Helping Hand
- Chapter 12: Silver and Opals
- Chapter 13: The Secret Riddle
- Chapter 14: Felix Felicis
- Chapter 15: The Unbreakable Vow
- Chapter 16: A Very Frosty Christmas
- Chapter 17: A Sluggish Memory
- Chapter 18: Birthday Surprises
- Chapter 19: Elf Tails
- Chapter 20: Lord Voldemort's Request
- Chapter 21: The Unknowable Room
- Chapter 22: After the Burial
- Chapter 23: Horcruxes
- Chapter 24: Sectumsempra
- Chapter 25: The Seer Overheard
- Chapter 26: The Cave
- Chapter 27: The Lightning-Struck Tower
- Chapter 28: Flight of the Prince
- Chapter 29: The Phoenix Lament
- Chapter 30: The White Tomb
We join Harry Potter as he enters his sixth year at Hogwarts. This volume is written from the point-of-view of the now 16-year-old Harry, as he takes advanced courses to prepare for the NEWT-level exams required for his chosen career. A darker book than the preceding volumes, it reveals more about Lord Voldemort's history and his impact on the Muggle world. Voldemort has emerged into the open, and his presence is beginning to have an effect on the day-to-day life of the Wizarding world.
While the series progressively covers seven years in Harry Potter's life, each of the first five volumes is largely self-contained. This book is written more as the first half of a two-part novel, and, as such, the ending feels rather incomplete.
Note: While this book is one of the longer ones in the series, at 607 pages (Bloomsbury / Raincoast edition), it is also set in significantly larger type. If it were the same size type as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it would be 414 pages (approximately) to 223 for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
- New places visited: Muggle Prime Minister's office (Number 10, Downing Street), Spinner's End, Marvolo Gaunt's residence, an orphanage in London, the cave where young Tom Riddle tortured two children from his orphanage (Dennis Bishop and Amy Benson), Fred and George Weasley's joke shop: Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Hepzibah Smith's house.
- Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Severus Snape
- New teacher: Horace Slughorn
- Title refers to: previous owner of Harry's borrowed Advanced Potion Making book.
Chapter 1: The Other Minister
A portrait in the Muggle Prime Minister's office requests that he immediately meet with Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge. The Prime Minister is not pleased at the prospect, as every previous meeting has brought bad news, and the week had already been difficult, with a number of crises including a locked-room murder just a short distance from Parliament.
The Prime Minister first met Fudge shortly after his election several years ago when Fudge informed him about the Wizarding world and the Ministry of Magic, the wizard governing body in the UK. There have been other visits over the years, usually to discuss how the magical community was affecting Muggles. Soon, Fudge appears via the Floo Network. With each visit, Fudge had looked increasingly haggard and stressed, and the Prime Minister wonders what bad news Fudge, looking worse than ever, has brought this time. It has been a difficult week for Fudge, also, who reports that recent events, including a bridge collapse and a hurricane in the West Country, involved the Wizarding community. The hurricane, in fact, is an invention to cover an attack by giants.
According to Fudge, He Who Must Not Be Named has returned, and the past week's crises were perpetrated by him and his Death Eaters. Also, members of wizard families have been murdered and Dementors are roaming the countryside, attacking people ever since defecting as Azkaban prison guards. They are breeding, which is causing the bad weather. Fudge, who has resigned as Minister for Magic after mishandling the Voldemort affair, is there to introduce his successor, Rufus Scrimgeour.
Scrimgeour arrives through the fireplace and informs the Prime Minister that wizards will handle his security. Scrimgeour's new secretary, Kingsley Shacklebolt, an Auror, has been assigned to protect the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is displeased that the Wizarding realm has leaked into the Muggle world, but Scrimgeour and Fudge assure him that they are doing all they can.
This marks the third time in the series that a book has opened somewhere other than with Harry Potter at the Dursleys. The first was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, before Harry actually reached the Dursley's. The second was in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where we are presented with some of Voldemort's back story and his apparent return. The student might want to consider how much the story is enhanced by these departures from the main character's point of view.
A point worth mentioning is touched upon in the final three paragraphs of the chapter. Much earlier in the series, Hagrid, explaining to Harry why the Wizarding world had to remain hidden from Muggles, had said, "Blimey, Harry, everyone'd be wantin' magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we're best left alone." In this chapter, the Prime Minister echoes this belief, saying "But for heaven's sake — you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out — well — anything!" This hope for someone else to come along and solve problems for them is all too recognizably human, and one of the strengths of this book is the accuracy and believability in these portrayals.
The meeting between the British Prime Minister and Ministry of Magic officials is a rare instance where wizard and Muggle domains overtly collide. For centuries, wizards have secretly coexisted alongside Muggles, remaining carefully hidden and separate. And while there have always been Muggles who are aware that wizards exists, and even some who have married into that society, what happens in one realm rarely affects the other. This changes when Voldemort's violent attacks begin to include Muggles. Whether or not this is deliberate is, as yet, unclear; Voldemort may intend for the violence to spill over into the Muggle realm as a brazen act to confuse and intimidate other wizards and to demonstrate just how far he can and will go to achieve power. He may also be intending to breach the long-standing divide between the two realms, bringing both under his rule. Whatever Voldemort's intent, the Prime Minister is powerless to protect his own people, and he has little choice but to accept the Wizarding world's help and to hope that Voldemort can be defeated, or at least contained to his own sphere.
It may be worth recalling Dumbledore’s warning to Fudge, at Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's conclusion, that "history will remember you as the man who stepped aside, and allowed Voldemort a second chance to destroy the world we have tried to rebuild!" Clearly, this has now come to pass. When Voldemort was revealed to be alive, thus showing plainly that Fudge's ministry, by discrediting both Harry and Dumbledore, had been systematically lying to the Wizarding world, retribution by the general populace was swift. Despite Fudge's efforts to retain power, he has been ousted and replaced by someone who appears more dynamic and better prepared to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
The Prime Minister recalls an earlier visit, where Fudge mentioned that he was required to inform the Muggle government that they were importing dangerous magical creatures into Britain for a Wizarding competition: three dragons and a Sphinx. This may confuse some readers, who remember that there were four dragon species at that competition; however, one was a Common Welsh Green and therefore a native species. It should also be noted that this conversation was quite likely before Harry's name had unexpectedly come out of the Goblet; the original plan might well have been to import three Dragons, and when a fourth was needed, a native variety was used so they would not have to notify the Muggle government again. It is interesting, perhaps, to note the mix of planning and improvisation that went into the Third Task maze, as we have seen that the challenges Harry faced in that task included one of Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts, creatures that did not even exist, apparently, until the previous September, and here we see that the Sphinx that Harry encountered in the Maze had been planned well-prior to even the First Task in November.
Two points are mentioned in passing: the Death Eaters have allied with the Giants, and Dementors have abandoned Azkaban and are wandering throughout England, and breeding. We note that Dumbledore had warned Fudge that this would happen, which would seem prescient except that Harry had overheard Voldemort planning that earlier and presumably had reported it to Dumbledore.
We note that although the main point of this chapter is to acquaint the reader with the change of power, and so prepare them for the change of direction on the part of the Ministry, we actually hear nothing of how that change of power is effected. We suspect that this is because the book is intended for children who have, appropriately enough for their age, only a sketchy understanding of what government does and how it gets into power. The mature reader may be wondering how a vote for Minister was carried out, if in fact the process is at all democratic.
In yet another of the date confusions endemic to the series, Fudge reportedly says, when first meeting the Muggle Prime Minister, "I must say, you're taking it a lot better than your predecessor. He tried to throw me out of the window . . ." (italics in original). The internal timeline suggests that this book should cover approximately July 1996 to June 1997; if we accept this timeline, this chapter must occur in early to mid July 1996. At that time, the Muggle Prime Minister was John Major, which would make his predecessor Maggie Thatcher, definitely not a "he". Ms. Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, so Fudge would have had to introduce himself to her in 1979. If, as we assume from the same timeline, Voldemort murdered Harry's parents in 1981, that would mean that Fudge would have been in power before Voldemort's fall. However, the story states that Barty Crouch Sr. was being groomed for that position, and when his son went to Azkaban, after the fall of Voldemort, they tried to tap Dumbledore for that position, and only elected Fudge when Dumbledore refused. So Fudge could not have come into power before 1982 or so in our timeline, which would mean that he could not have introduced himself to Ms. Thatcher immediately after her election. One could try and fit the timeline to the tenure of Tony Blair, who took power in 1997, but there is little point: the story does not depend on any specific interaction with our world, and errors of this sort do not even distract the reader unless we let them. (It is also worth noting that Fudge could have visited Thatcher when he became Minister of Magic, and could have forgotten that Thatcher was a she, not a he – although this is extremely unlikely, as he would have had to deal with her repeatedly between his accession to power in about 1982 and Major's arrival in 1990, a period of some eight years. Additionally, would Thatcher have tried to throw the representative of the Wizarding world out the window, if she had been introduced to the previous Minister of Magic, Millicent Bagnold, when she first took office three years earlier?)
- Why does Fudge visit the Muggle prime minister?
- Who does Fudge introduce to the prime minister? Why?
- Why was Fudge forced to resign as Minister for Magic?
- Why might Voldemort's attacks have spilled over into the Muggle world?
- If Fudge was forced to resign, why is he working with Scrimgeour?
- Why did the Dementors defect to Voldemort's side?
- Why were members of the Bones and Vance families murdered?
- Does Scrimgeour's physical description - the lion's mane of hair and the tired, almost battle-worn face - represent his character? In other words, did the author intentionally describe him so that we imagined him as a tough, short-tempered man?
As expected, Scrimgeour's election will result in a new and more aggressive direction for the Ministry of Magic. As a result, Harry, who was denigrated in the Daily Prophet, will now be lionized, hailed as "the boy who lived" once again and as "the Chosen One". Having thus re-elevated him, the Ministry will attempt to tap his celebrity power for their own benefit. At Christmas, Scrimgeour will attempt to persuade Harry to occasionally be seen visiting the Ministry. As a bonus for his cooperation, Scrimgeour hints that Harry may be easily accepted into the Auror branch. Harry recognizes this as a bribe to help sway the general populace's opinion that Harry, the "Chosen One", supports the Ministry and its actions; he refuses, believing the Ministry is still doing a poor job. And though the Ministry's position on Voldemort may have swung from one extreme position to another, they are still evidently more interested in presenting a good public face, than building substance, under Scrimgeour's new leadership.
When Harry later discusses this incident with Dumbledore, we learn that Dumbledore had blocked Scrimgeour from proposing this same scheme to Harry earlier in the school year. Dumbledore knew Harry would never allow himself to be recruited as a Ministry pawn, and that he was still in a fragile mental state over his godfather Sirius Black's death. Dumbledore and Scrimgeour's altercation became loud enough that it was overheard and later leaked to the general public. Dumbledore reveals that this argument was actually the Ministry's second attempt to draft Harry. Prior to his ouster, Cornelius Fudge had made a very similar suggestion to Dumbledore, in an attempt to control the damage and retain his power, and had been similarly rebuffed.
Further to our comments above about the change of power in the Ministry, we note that another part of the reason for the obscurity surrounding the change of office holder is necessary for a later bit of plot. At the beginning of the next and final book, we learn that "the Ministry has fallen" to the Death Eaters, and that the Imperius-controlled Pius Thicknesse has been installed as Minister for Magic. Getting a specific candidate elected is problematic in most democratic regimes, so we can't assume Thicknesse was legitimately voted into power; we have to guess he was elevated in some other way. We never find out how that was actually done, so it's possible the author didn't want to commit to a specific method for the handover.
- The Muggle Prime Minister recalls an earlier occasion when Fudge had informed him that they were importing dangerous magical creatures for a competition. The three Dragons mentioned were for the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, and the Sphinx was for the Third Task of that Tournament.
Chapter 2: Spinner's End
Two cloaked figures Apparate beside a dark, dirty river in a run-down mill town. Narcissa Malfoy and her sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, head for a dilapidated brick row house on Spinner's End. While walking, Bellatrix is apparently trying to dissuade Narcissa from doing something. At the house, they are greeted by Severus Snape, who assures them that they are alone, except for Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew). Snape orders Wormtail to fetch drinks for himself and his guests. Wormtail complies while protesting that he is not Snape's servant. Narcissa says she believes only Snape can help her, but before she can continue, Snape points his wand at a concealed door and sends Wormtail, who is listening from behind, scurrying. Bellatrix, distrusting Snape, interrogates him about where (and with whom) his true loyalties lie. Before responding, Snape asks in turn: does Bellatrix really think that the Dark Lord had not asked him those same questions? Does she think he would be sitting there, talking to her if he hadn't been able to provide The Dark Lord with satisfactory answers? Does she think he could have fooled the Dark Lord, possibly the greatest Legilimens in the world?
Snape then addresses Bellatrix's concerns: when the Dark Lord fell, he was at Hogwarts, where Voldemort had ordered him to spy on Dumbledore. He did not hunt for the Dark Lord after his fall for the same reason many other Death Eaters failed to: he believed the Dark Lord was finished. Bellatrix retorts that she searched for him, prompting Snape to sarcastically remark how "useful" she was in Azkaban prison, while he collected sixteen years' worth of information on Dumbledore for Voldemort. Snape continues that he did not knowingly stand between the Dark Lord and the Philosopher's Stone; he thought Quirrell wanted it for himself and he acted to prevent that. He failed to respond to the Dark Lord's summons when Voldemort returned so that Dumbledore would continue to believe Snape was still his ally, rather than Voldemort's. Bellatrix claims she is Voldemort's most trusted lieutenant and would know of any information Snape passed to him. Snape asks if she still retains this status after the Ministry fiasco. When she is unable to answer, he continues: on the Dark Lord's orders, he stayed away from that battle to protect his position at Hogwarts. The information Snape supplied made Emmeline Vance and Sirius Black's deaths possible, and the Dark Lord was satisfied with his information. Snape has not killed Harry Potter because it was only Dumbledore who was keeping Snape effective as a spy and out of Azkaban. Killing Potter would have lost him that protection, and he would be unable to help Voldemort. It is Dumbledore's continued trust in him that makes him so useful to the Dark Lord.
With Bellatrix's worries seemingly appeased, Narcissa explains her visit. Voldemort has assigned her son Draco a difficult and probably deadly task. Narcissa wants Snape to protect him. Snape replies that Narcissa telling him about this mission is against Voldemort's orders; however, as he already knows about this, there is little harm done by her disclosing this to him. However, he is powerless to interfere with Voldemort's orders, nor will he try. Narcissa believes Draco was assigned this task as revenge for her husband Lucius' failure at the Ministry. Snape admits that the Dark Lord is angry at Lucius. Snape is finally persuaded to swear an 'Unbreakable Vow' to protect Draco and complete his mission should he fail.
This chapter starts off with something of a shock: two avowed Death Eaters visiting Severus Snape. Events to date seem to have polarized readers into two camps: those believing Harry's view of events, and his view that Snape is a Death Eater, and opposing them, those who believe Dumbledore's steadfast championing of Snape. The latter camp points at Dumbledore's track record, showing that in the first five books Dumbledore has been right far more often than he has been wrong in his guesses and conclusions. This chapter deals that understanding a large blow.
Perhaps a key part of this is Snape's being sent on an unexplained mission in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this chapter, we learn that his mission was to rejoin Voldemort and pledge his allegiance. Snape says that his return to Voldemort was delayed to reassure Dumbledore that he was still working on Dumbledore's side, rather than Voldemort's, and that Voldemort is satisfied with his reasoning and pledge. There is no indication as yet whether this return was done purely at Dumbledore's bidding, or whether Snape would have gone to swear allegiance to Voldemort without Dumbledore's orders. At any rate, we can now see that when Voldemort, on his return, spoke of his faithful servant at Hogwarts, he was not referring to Snape but to Barty Crouch, and the one he fears has left him forever would most likely have been Snape, as the one who had run away would have been Karkaroff.
By far the strongest blow against any belief in Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore, established in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is his agreement with Narcissa Malfoy to make an Unbreakable Vow. Snape, whose fidelity to Voldemort is questioned by many Death Eaters, including Bellatrix Lestrange, must be aware that he can help dispel these doubts by swearing a magically binding oath to protect Draco in his mission for Voldemort, even at peril to his own life. Bellatrix probably remains skeptical, despite Snape's convincing answers to her probing interrogation; indeed, it seems that Snape's true allegiance always remains just vague enough to keep each side guessing. Readers know that Snape has been acting as a double agent, and this situation may be forcing him into taking the vow to maintain his cover. To do otherwise would cast even more suspicion on his supposed loyalties. But with double agents, it is always difficult to know where their true loyalties lie; in fact, Snape may be willing to take this oath because he is truly loyal to Voldemort, and the object of the oath is to complete a mission that Voldemort wanted completed. It is also conceivable that Snape is loyal only to himself, maintaining a tenuous and dangerous position where he can align himself with either winning side. A final possibility is that he is protecting Draco, who he has always seemed to favour, and who is still underaged.
Wormtail's loyalty is far less questionable, as he is fully dependent on Voldemort for his very survival. Unlike Snape, he is unable to align himself in any way to Harry, Dumbledore, and their allies. And while it initially seems that Snape has Wormtail under his constant, watchful eye, Wormtail may be secretly keeping tabs on Snape for Voldemort. Even though it appears that Snape has convinced Voldemort that he is his faithful servant, the Dark Lord may have lingering suspicions about him or seeks to reassure his doubtful followers. However, Voldemort may have discovered that Wormtail owes Harry Potter a life debt, an obligation as magically binding as Snape's Unbreakable Vow, and that could be a severe liability to the Dark Lord. Voldemort is likely having Snape and Wormtail watch each other.
Rowling also sheds light on some Death Eaters' personal relationships, as evidenced when sisters Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy affectionately refer to each other as "Bella" and "Cissy." This is a contrast to how Harry has viewed most Death Eaters. Until now, Voldemort's followers have generally been portrayed as two-dimensional evil characters who unwaveringly serve Lord Voldemort. Other than the Malfoys, little is known about Death Eaters' family life, social interactions, or what factors, other than "pure-blood" beliefs, motivates them. Bellatrix, in particular, has been portrayed as purely evil, fanatical, and probably unbalanced, even by Death Eater standards, and she may believe Voldemort is doing too little to rid impurities from the Wizarding world. In this chapter, however, she is seen as caring about her sister, Narcissa, wanting to protect her and Draco from Voldemort.
And while Bellatrix generally remains two-dimensional, the cold and haughty Narcissa, desperate to protect her husband and son, displays love, fear, empathy, and sadness—emotions not generally associated with Voldemort's affiliates, but that help develop her into a more fully-rounded character. Narcissa believes Voldemort has tasked Draco with a near-impossible mission (in which he will likely fail and then be killed) only as a means to punish her husband, Lucius Malfoy, for his failure to retrieve the Trelawney prophecy at the Department of Mysteries (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), and also possibly for Voldemort's diary being destroyed (in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), though this is not mentioned explicitly in this chapter. This could ultimately affect Narcissa's loyalty to the Dark Lord and also to her sister. And despite their seeming affection for one another, it should be remembered that both Bellatrix and Narcissa readily disowned their sister, Andromeda, as a blood traitor for marrying the Muggle-born wizard, Ted Tonks. (Nymphadora Tonks is their daughter, and thus niece to Bellatrix and Narcissa.)
We note that this is only the fourth chapter of the entire series with a viewpoint character other than Harry. The first was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, before Harry actually reached the Dursley's. The second was in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where we are presented with some of Voldemort's back story and his apparent return. The third was the first chapter of this book, where we were acquainted with the interaction between the Muggle and Wizarding governments, and shown the change of power at the Ministry. Finally, of course, this chapter shows us interaction between four Dark wizards and establishes that Draco has been given a perilous mission, one that he is probably expected to fail, that Snape knows about and will act to complete. These will turn out to be four of only five chapters of the entire series that are not seen directly through Harry's eyes. The student may want to examine how much the story is enhanced by these few glimpses of events occurring outside Harry's direct sphere, and consider whether the important events covered in these chapters could have been shown to us through Harry's eyes. In this analysis, the storyteller's edict to "show, don't tell" would be a useful basis for gauging the value of the digression.
Finally, we will mention in passing that there is little if any information about where this town is. The characteristics of the town, as described, could fit any of hundreds of towns in England, towns where the main industry has proven unprofitable and shut down or moved away, leaving an empty plant and rampant unemployment. At least one fan site has concluded that this town, if it existed, would be near Manchester, supporting this in part with Snape's personality and word choice, which seem on inspection to be similar to those found in people from northern England.
- What might happen if Voldemort learns that Snape has made an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa?
- What does Narcissa believe is the real reason Voldemort assigned Draco a nearly-impossible task? Is she correct?
- What is Snape's explanation about why he never killed Harry Potter, even though he had many opportunities to do so? Is his explanation plausible? Why?
- Why does Snape make an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy, a vow that puts his own life at risk? Will he tell Dumbledore about it?
- Considering how much doubt there is about Snape's true loyalties, why does Narcissa choose him to protect Draco?
- Why did Narcissa and Bellatrix disown their sister, Andromeda? Can they trust each other? Explain.
- Why does Bellatrix remain suspicious of Snape? Does he convince her that he is loyal to Voldemort?
- Why do Death Eaters remain loyal to Voldemort, despite his tendency to threaten or eliminate even his most devoted followers or their families?
- Compare and contrast evidence that Snape is loyal to either Dumbledore, Voldemort, or even to no one.
- Why might Peter Pettigrew be at Snape's house? Does Snape trust him? Does Pettigrew suspect Snape might be a traitor? Who might Voldemort trust more?
It may be of interest to compare the reason for Dumbledore's belief in Snape's loyalty to the reason for Voldemort's belief. Dumbledore believes in Snape's loyalty because of a promise made to Dumbledore out of love for Lily Evans. Voldemort bases his belief on legilimency, reading Snape's memories, confident that nobody would be able to conceal thoughts from him. Dumbledore is basing his belief on the strength of Snape's character, while Voldemort is assuming an overwhelming strength in his own abilities. It will turn out, as we discover in the final book, that Dumbledore's faith was placed correctly, and that Snape's skill actually was greater than Voldemort's, a thing Voldemort likely could not have believed. Snape comments that Voldemort is "possibly the greatest legilimens that the world has ever known," but one has to wonder if the weasel word "possibly" was put in there only because he knew himself to be the stronger of the two.
As a side note, although it seems that Bellatrix is satisfied by Snape's answers, she could have insisted on him taking Veritaserum (truth serum) before interrogating him. However, she does not, possibly because, as Dumbledore will suggest later, even Veritaserum can be circumvented if it is expected. Though this is nowhere mentioned in the book, it is likely that those who know Occlumency can also cheat Veritaserum, if only by being able to perceive intent to administer the potion. And for that matter, Snape as Potions Master likely has an antidote to Veritaserum brewed, and may have it with him. Dumbledore will not go into detail about the means of subverting Veritaserum; however, Snape is more likely than most wizards to be aware of them. It is likely, though, that Veritaserum would not have helped Bellatrix in this case, if she had asked the questions that we see her asking. Snape's answers are, in every case, the truth, though perhaps not the full truth.
We will find out near Christmas, at the Slug Club Christmas party, that Bellatrix has been teaching Occlumency to her nephew Draco. As such, it is safe to assume that Bellatrix is a Legilimens herself, and so is confident in her ability to detect any falsehood from Snape. Snape's answers are carefully crafted so as not to trigger the ability of a Legilimens to know when he or she is being lied to; he probably also finds Bellatrix' abilities easy to subvert because of his practice with Voldemort.
Readers see Draco cast in a more sympathetic role here when it appears that he is Lord Voldemort's victim as much as his ally, forced to do his bidding under duress and at extreme risk to himself and his family. We will shortly see how a smug Draco initially revels in his own bloated self-importance at being appointed the Dark Lord's task, woefully unaware and unable yet to comprehend the probable consequences to himself and his parents should he fail. Narcissa, however, has correctly determined Voldemort's true intention: to punish Lucius Malfoy through Draco. She is risking her own life by defying Voldemort in an attempt to save her family. This raises the question as to why so many Death Eaters faithfully serve Voldemort, who demands his servants' total obedience and loyalty while offering little reward in return, and who readily eliminates a follower or their family for any reason; even his most devoted and trusted confidants are capriciously expendable, even for the smallest misstep. This flagrant abuse could eventually create enough dissent and discord from within to undermine or destroy Voldemort's power, although, for now, his continued rise seems unabated.
Snape tells Bellatrix that his information led to the death of Emmeline Vance, who as we have seen is a member of the Order of the Phoenix. We will much later find out that Snape actually is working for the Order himself, as a double agent; it is safe to assume that Snape discusses with Dumbledore the information he will give to Voldemort. At the same time, we hear that Snape has only let those people die that he could not save. That strongly suggests that Dumbledore and Snape were somehow forced to give Voldemort information on Vance, and that they could not prevent her death. From this, we can assume that Vance's death was not preventable, Voldemort had already set his sights on her, but Snape had provided some small piece of information that had helped him find her. It is more than likely that Snape and Dumbledore had also provided Vance with the information that would allow her to fight back. While Vance clearly would not want to simply die, it is likely that she would agree to being put in harm's way, if in the battle she would have a chance to take some Death Eaters with her. While this is never confirmed, it is quite possible that, in fact, she did, and that the retreating Death Eaters had carried away and probably concealed their dead, as they tend to.
At the same time as we learn of Snape's true allegiance, we will learn that Snape's Unbreakable Vow, which would require him to kill Dumbledore in the event that Draco was unable to, was for Snape only reinforcement of a promise he had already made. The injury to Dumbledore's hand, which Harry will note in the next chapter, and which Snape here alludes to, is the outward sign of a curse that will take Dumbledore's life within a year. In a conversation that immediately follows Dumbledore receiving that injury, and so plainly occurs before the events in this chapter, Snape has reluctantly agreed to end Dumbledore's life himself, in order to save Draco's soul and spare Dumbledore's dignity.
- Many of Snape's answers to Bellatrix's questions refer back to events in previous books.
- Snape's attempts to prevent Quirrell from retrieving the Philosopher's Stone form a large part of the backdrop to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Harry, not being privy to the entire discussions between them, believes that it is Quirrell who is trying to protect the Stone from Snape.
- Snape did not respond to Voldemort's summons in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Voldemort said he believed that he had "left my service". We find out here that Snape had delayed his return to Voldemort's service deliberately, to make it appear that he remained faithful to Dumbledore. We will find out later that he really was faithful to Dumbledore. The delayed return, risky as it was for Snape, also consolidated Voldemort's belief in Snape's faithfulness.
- We don't know what information Snape provided that aided Sirius Black' death, but we can suppose that it was likely something learned during Harry's Occlumency lessons, possibly information about the dreams of the Ministry corridor.
- Snape and Bellatrix' conversation about the battle at the Ministry, which occurred at the end of the previous book, provides a few side lights on that battle that may be of interest.
- Snape mentions that Dumbledore has suffered an injury over the summer, which Harry will see and comment on in the next chapter of this book. We will find out in the final book how that injury was inflicted, and that as a result Dumbledore has, as of the time of this chapter, at most a year to live. At the same time, we will learn that Dumbledore already knew of the mission assigned to Draco, before he received his injury.
Chapter 3: Will and Won't
At the Dursleys' house, Harry is leaning against his window, asleep. Scattered about his room are many copies of the Daily Prophet. The paper now hails Harry as 'The Chosen One', who, it is believed, will be instrumental in the recently-returned Voldemort's downfall.
Dumbledore arrives at the house to collect Harry. Despite Harry having received Dumbledore's letter setting the time, and having anxiously awaited Dumbledore's arrival for nearly the entire week, he is astonished and puzzled that Dumbledore is fetching him after only two weeks at the Dursleys; he is further surprised when Dumbledore actually arrives, as are Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, who Harry never told about Dumbledore's visit. Dumbledore merely ignores their dismay and makes himself comfortable, presenting the Dursley family and Harry with glasses of mead. Harry notices that Dumbledore's hand is black and shriveled, but Dumbledore only says he will explain it later.
Dumbledore explains that Sirius Black has bequeathed Harry all his possessions, including 12 Grimmauld Place, Kreacher, and Buckbeak. Uncle Vernon's interest is clearly piqued by the news that Harry now owns a house in London. However, Dumbledore continues, a spell may exist that automatically leaves the inheritance to the eldest surviving Black male or prevents it from passing to a non-pureblood wizard. Because Sirius was the last Black male, it would likely pass to the eldest female relative, namely Bellatrix Lestrange (Sirius's cousin). To test whether Harry is the true heir, Dumbledore summons Kreacher, the loyal Black family House-elf. When Kreacher obeys Harry's command, despite protest, it confirms that Harry is the rightful heir.
At a loss as to what to do with this filthy elf on Aunt Petunia's spotless carpet, Harry accepts Dumbledore's suggestion to order him to work at Hogwarts. Buckbeak (now renamed Witherwings) will be left in Hagrid's care. Dumbledore tells the Dursleys to expect a short visit from Harry in a year's time. The magical charm that has protected Harry from Voldemort since infancy will expire when he comes of age on his seventeenth birthday. However, he must make one final visit to the Dursleys the following summer to maintain its effectiveness, then all ties to his maternal family can be permanently severed. Before departing, Dumbledore reproaches the Dursleys for their bad manners, mistreating Harry, and over-indulging Dudley.
Harry and Dumbledore's vindication at the last book's conclusion had resulted in Harry once again being lionized; while not actively seen here, we somewhat sense Harry's discomfort at again being hailed the hero. While Harry acted heroically based on the information he had, and alerted the Wizarding world to Voldemort's return, he feels duped and indirectly responsible for Sirius' death. Dumbledore can certainly see this ambivalence in Harry, and while he realizes that Privet Drive is the one place he will be unable to emotionally heal, he also knows that Harry's protection from Voldemort depends on his returning there each summer. Dumbledore probably calculated the minimum time that Harry needed to stay at Privet Drive to retain his mother's protection and has arranged for more a appropriate accommodation, almost certainly the Burrow. While Harry cannot believe it, we see that Dumbledore will move Harry away from Privet Drive as soon as safely possible.
Readers may wonder at the reasoning behind Harry's elevation to the role of hero in training. Clearly, Harry will have to be the one to face Voldemort again, as we know from the prophecy, but the Ministry seems to want to keep the content of the prophecy a secret. So there must be some other basis on which the Ministry and its propaganda arm (as we now see the Daily Prophet has become) have decided to tout Harry. The specific reasoning is never made clear, but we suggest that the combination of Harry's surviving Voldemort's killing curse some fifteen years previous, and his involvement with the revelation of Voldemort's return, are the starting point. We have seen that the Ministry is a political organization, meaning that it lives and dies by the popular opinion that it has been spinning, and we believe that they have determined that they need a hero to set against Voldemort. Given Harry's track record, clearly either he or Dumbledore would have to be that hero, and Dumbledore, they almost certainly know, will not stand for the sort of image manipulation that the Ministry would be doing to make him a hero. (Also, Dumbledore is aged, and it is not a good idea to appoint a hero who is likely to die of old age.) So even without the prophecy, the image technicians at the Ministry perforce make Harry into the hero they need, not caring about his wishes in the matter.
Dumbledore's injured hand indicates that sinister events may be underway in the Wizarding world that Harry is not yet privy to. For whatever reason, Dumbledore withholds this information, at least for now.
We note that neither Dumbledore nor Harry seems to show any particular reaction to the idea that Kreacher is considered a chattel, property that can be transferred through inheritance as part of the house in Grimmauld Place. This may highlight the difficulty that Hermione experienced in the previous book, and will continue to experience, in her efforts to gain some measure of equitable treatment for House-elves. Clearly the treatment of house elves has been institutionalized to the point that even the gentle and even-handed Dumbledore has no particular difficulty stomaching the idea of Kreacher as being Harry's property, despite his being willing to pay the free elf Dobby more than Dobby was willing to accept to work in the Hogwarts kitchens. Hermione is almost certainly not going to be able to overcome the inertia of this widespread belief.
In the same vein, we note that while Harry was willing to arrange to free Dobby from the Malfoys, he does not seem equally willing to free Kreacher. The obvious reasoning is that Kreacher still holds secrets that he could reveal to the Black family sisters if he were freed, and that as a Hogwarts kitchen hand he will not be ill-treated the way Dobby was. However, this reasoning is not mentioned here, it simply seems to be accepted that Kreacher is and will remain Harry's property.
A small highlight on Petunia's character is seen here; as part of her nighttime routine, Petunia apparently cleans and disinfects the kitchen. We have already seen her assigning endless cleaning chores to Harry, and Tonks had earlier mentioned that the house seemed overly clean. Petunia may suffer from an obsessive compulsive disorder, resulting in a need to have everything spotless and germ-free. She may also subconsciously be attempting to wash away any magical traces that Harry's presence has caused to spill over into her very Muggle home. Harry's thoughts about her dismay at having Kreacher appear on her parlor carpet are not surprising; Harry clearly is aware of Petunia's cleanliness fetish.
It has been suggested on a number of fan sites that Dumbledore's behavior is out of character in this book. This is particularly obvious in this chapter. While still a peaceful and wise wizard, Dumbledore's actions seem a bit more direct and urgent than usual. He magically sweeps the Dursleys to the couch, chides them for their ill-manners, and actively criticizes how they have treated Harry and raised Dudley. While he is still as good-natured and civil as ever, there seems to be an unanticipated edginess in his manner. As expected, the Dursleys apparently ignore Dumbledore's rebuke and seem as unlikely to ever change.
It might be wondered why the author had Dumbledore's offered mead be so insistent – the mead glasses actually become quite intrusive, even bouncing on the Dursleys' heads when they refuse to acknowledge them, for instance. This is called a "nut of fun", a bit of lighter entertainment designed to keep a serious scene from becoming overwhelming. In this chapter we are faced with Harry's having to handle some aspects of Sirius' will, which of course once again forces the realization on Harry that his godfather is dead. We also are presented with a change in Dumbledore's character, and with a sudden return of the spotlight on Harry. Coupled with the need for Harry to decide what to do with Kreacher, this part of the book could become very grim and very heavy, without the animated mead livening the scene a bit. We suspect that the mead, and its behavior, is also used to point up the Dursleys' gracelessness, a characteristic that hardly needs additional support.
Many readers may be somewhat alarmed when Dumbledore offers Harry and Dudley each a glass of mead. Mead, a wine made from honey, is usually relatively strong at 14% alcohol by volume, and it would be illegal to give it to a minor in North America. Liquor laws are less restrictive in Britain, however, and though someone underage may not purchase liquor in the UK, there is nothing that prohibits someone younger than 18 years from drinking wine or beer if it is offered by an adult.
- Why will Harry no longer be protected at the Dursley's house after his 17th birthday? How will he cope with that?
- What effect will Harry's 17th birthday have on his relationship with the Dursleys?
- What does Dumbledore say to the Dursleys about how they've treated Harry and raised their son, Dudley? Why did he never speak up about this sooner?
- How might Dumbledore have hurt his hand? Why doesn't he tell Harry how it was injured?
- Why would Dumbledore personally fetch Harry from the Dursleys after only two weeks there? Where might he be taking him?
- Dumbledore's behavior and demeanor is somewhat different here. How has it changed, and what might be the reason?
Some theorists believe that Dumbledore used the "Kreacher test" not only to see whether Number 12 Grimmauld Place actually belonged to Harry, rather than Bellatrix Lestrange (Sirius' cousin), but also as a means to determine whether Sirius' younger brother, Regulus Black, was still alive. (It will be learned in the next book that Regulus is the mysterious R.A.B. who had left a note that is found at the end of this novel.) This test may be inconclusive, as the tradition is that property, such as a house, is directly handed down the male family line from eldest to eldest. If there is a charm meant to ensure this (what is called "entailment" in the UK) its parameters are unknown; it is possible that the charm ensuring this, if there was one, would prevent a lateral transfer from the eldest male child, once he had come into his inheritance, to his younger brother. It is also possible that the entailment, if there was one, simply ended when the male Black line did. There is no way of knowing; we only know that the house and property passed successfully to Harry on Sirius' death.
While the Ministry is busily making Harry a hero in the press, we don't see them approaching Harry directly to get his support. We will find out that this is because the Ministry had first approached Dumbledore, as Dumbledore was shielding Harry from Ministry visitations, and Dumbledore had rebuffed them. The Ministry, in the person of Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, will approach Harry directly at Christmas this year. Dumbledore will later reveal that there had been two similar attempts previously, which he had blocked: first when Fudge had attempted to rope Harry in to shore up his crumbling hold on power, and then in the early days of Scrimgeour's administration. There will be a final attempt made by Scrimgeour after Dumbledore's funeral, but then, as earlier, Harry will rebuff him.
The reason for Dumbledore's drastic character change can be attributed to his being injured by a fatal curse embedded in a ring; the curse was apparently intended as a trap to protect a Horcrux, which was housed in that ring. The curse, triggered when he put the ring on, had withered his hand. He was able to get help from Severus Snape, who has kept him alive by extraordinary magical means, though only temporarily. This minute-to-minute awareness that he will soon die, and the resulting sense of urgency, is likely the cause for his changed character.
Dumbledore, speaking directly to Petunia, mentions that they have corresponded before. There were actually at least four letters, though at this point in our reading there is nothing that can be attributed as being "correspondence". Dumbledore wrote a letter, which he left, along with Harry, on the Dursleys' doorstep at the series' beginning, and the Howler addressed to Petunia in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is also revealed to have been sent by Dumbledore. There is no indication that Petunia responded to either, and correspondence does rather imply that messages are being exchanged; despite this, many readers will assume that it is either one of these letters to which Dumbledore is referring. However, we will learn, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that Petunia had earlier written to Hogwarts pleading for admission, and that Dumbledore responded, declining her plea on the grounds that she was unable to perform magic. Dumbledore's implied informational exchange, then, can only have been referring to this first set of letters.
Very little in this chapter, apart from the ongoing plot lines (Kreacher's antipathy for Harry and other "mudbloods", the Dursley family dynamic, Harry's treatment by the government-influenced press), could be considered to constitute any particular connection elsewhere in the series. Rather than explicitly connecting to other events, this chapter is to a certain extent a re-introduction to the Wizarding world and an exposition concerning how Harry's status has changed with the revelations at the end of the previous book.
- Dumbledore's injury, mentioned in the previous chapter of this book, will remain unexplained until late in the final book.
Chapter 4: Horace Slughorn
After leaving the Dursleys', Dumbledore asks Harry to keep his Invisibility Cloak with him, but sends his trunk on to the Burrow. As Harry clings to Dumbledore's arm, Dumbledore Apparates them to a small village. Having never Apparated before, Harry finds the sensation slightly disorienting. Dumbledore explains now that once again, Hogwarts is one instructor short, and Dumbledore has come to Budleigh Babberton to recruit a new faculty member. They arrive at a wrecked house, finding what appears to be destruction and blood-splattered walls within; after examining the wreckage, Dumbledore pokes an armchair with his wand. The armchair grunts and transforms into Horace Slughorn, Dumbledore's old colleague and a former Hogwarts professor. Slughorn created the false destruction to convince intruders that Death Eaters had killed him. However, Dumbledore knew the attack was staged because there was no Dark Mark looming over the building. Dumbledore helps Slughorn repair the house, then attempts to persuade Slughorn to return to Hogwarts. On Slughorn's refusal, Dumbledore excuses himself, leaving Harry and Slughorn alone together.
Slughorn mentions that he taught Harry's father and mother. Lily was a favorite student, always top in Slughorn's class, and he believes she ought to have been sorted into his House—he was head of Slytherin. Observing Harry's reaction, he correctly guesses that Harry is a Gryffindor. Slughorn suggests his reluctance to take a post at Hogwarts is partly because it would be seen as declaring allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix. Harry reminds him that teachers are not required to join the Order and that Hogwarts is safe (as Dumbledore is the only wizard Voldemort has ever feared). The only teacher who died there is Professor Quirrell.
Slughorn remains reluctant to leave his comfortable retirement, though, as Dumbledore points out on his return to the room, he has essentially been in hiding since Voldemort's return. After adroitly manipulating Slughorn's ego and attracting him to Harry's celebrity, Dumbledore finally convinces him to resume his old post. As they depart, Dumbledore tells Harry that Slughorn relishes his creature comforts and likes being the power behind a multiplicity of thrones. He also enjoys being among the rich and influential, and Harry, being famous, is someone he will attempt to cultivate.
Dumbledore then transports himself and Harry to The Burrow, and, before departing, says he and Harry will be having private lessons during the year. Dumbledore also suggests that Harry share the Trelawney prophecy with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and requests that Harry keep his Invisibility Cloak with him at all times.
Dumbledore's suggestion that Harry reveal Trelawney's prophecy to Ron and Hermione emphasizes Dumbledore's understanding that Harry's strength and abilities are enhanced by his friends' assistance and support. Clearly, Dumbledore realizes that Harry has often refused help from others. Although Harry is a talented wizard, it is also Ron's and Hermione's loyalty, support, and their individual skills that have helped him overcome many adversities; each is at their best when they work together. Harry realizes that he cannot remain shut away in response to Sirius' death; it is time to reconnect with his friends and the wizarding world. Dumbledore chooses this moment to reinforce that thought.
Until now, we have seen Dumbledore as an extremely wise wizard genius, but this is the first time he has been observed manipulating someone. He knows Slughorn is vain and likes being connected with powerful and influential people who can provide him favours and allow him to bask in their reflected glory. When Dumbledore offers Slughorn the Hogwarts position, using Harry as bait, he knows Slughorn will be irresistibly intrigued by and attracted to Harry Potter's fame, and will want to hitch his own wagon to Harry's star; Dumbledore cleverly positions himself and Harry so that Slughorn will be fully exposed to Harry's presence. When his initial attempt to recruit Slughorn fails, Dumbledore excuses himself, leaving Slughorn and Harry alone, allowing Slughorn to convince himself that Harry is a celebrity he wants to collect. Finally, as Slughorn is considering the offer, Dumbledore re-appears, snatches Harry from under Slughorn's nose, and departs. His prize about to vanish, and, somewhat desperate, Slughorn accepts Dumbledore's offer. This is a very neat bit of coercion by Dumbledore, particularly in that it allowed Slughorn to convince himself – Harry, unprimed for this, never participated in any coercion.
Although Slughorn is an excellent teacher (otherwise Dumbledore would have been unlikely to recruit him) he could prove problematic for Harry. Slughorn has a vain personality and is attracted to other wizards' celebrity and influence. Harry, who tries to avoid the limelight, may resent having yet another person fawning over him to serve their own purposes. This may put further stress on Harry. Also, Harry's mother, Lily, was among Slughorn's favorite and most talented pupils. He may have an unrealistic expectation that Harry has the same abilities, putting undue (although perhaps somewhat needed) pressure on Harry, a rather lazy student, to perform at a higher level than he currently does.
Harry's assertion that Quirrell is the only teacher that ever died at Hogwarts is an over-simplification. Hogwarts has been a school for a long time, over a thousand years, with teachers in residence year round; it is certain that at least a few teachers have died there, one being, of course Professor Binns, whose spirit is still teaching there. However, it is true that the only teacher who has died there as a result of Voldemort's actions was Quirrell, though he likely will not be the last.
We note that Dumbledore does not Apparate into the Burrow, landing fairly near the house but not adjacent to it. While this might be considered simple courtesy, as when Dumbledore Apparated into Slughorn's village rather than onto the doorstep, and when he appeared near the Dursley home rather than on the doorstep there, we will learn that by the start of the next book, the Weasley home had been made a "safe house" and Apparition onto the property was no longer permitted. Though it is not discussed in this book, it is possible that the apparition-prevention charm is already in place as Harry and Dumbledore arrive. The timing would seem to be reasonable: until the end of the previous book, Voldemort would have wanted to remain concealed, and so would not have moved openly against the Order of the Phoenix. With the revelation of his return, however, that constraint could be lifted, and the opening chapter of this book clearly indicates that he has started operations targeting the Order and its allies.
- Why does Dumbledore take Harry to Budleigh Babberton Village?
- Why was Slughorn hiding? How does Dumbledore see through his disguise?
- Why does Slughorn think Lily Potter, a Muggle-born, should have been sorted into Slytherin House? What was Harry's reaction to that suggestion?
- Why does Slughorn finally agree to leave his comfortable retirement and accept the teaching post at Hogwarts?
- Why is Dumbledore giving Harry private lessons, and what might they be? Why is he teaching Harry this time, unlike when Snape taught him Occlumency?
- Why does Dumbledore ask Harry to take his Invisibility Cloak with him when they go to the village?
- Why would Dumbledore ask Harry to always keep his Invisibility Cloak with him?
- Why does Dumbledore encourage Harry to reveal Trelawney's prophecy to Ron and Hermione?
Harry believes (and readers assume) that Slughorn has been hired as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher to replace Dolores Umbridge. However, Slughorn has actually been recruited to fill another position; this change will significantly affect Harry's future.
Some believe that this chapter contains direct evidence that Horace Slughorn is or was a Death Eater. When Slughorn asks Dumbledore how he knew that he had faked his own kidnapping/death, Dumbledore replies, "My dear Horace, if the Death Eaters really had come to call, the Dark Mark would have been set over the house," to which Slughorn answers, "The Dark Mark. Knew there was something . . . ah well. Wouldn't have had time anyway . . ." As far as anyone knows, only Death Eaters can create the Dark Mark. However, Horace Slughorn neither denied nor asserted that he could do it, he just stated that there wasn't enough time before Dumbledore arrived.
It is unlikely that Slughorn is an active Death Eater. He enjoys his creature comforts far too much to relinquish them, and yet, he has gone into hiding. He seems rather taken aback, in fact, to realize that he has been hidden and incommunicado for a year. If he is a Death Eater, he may have refused to answer the Dark Mark summons; in that case, he likely fears for his life should he be found. This would explain him hiding, and his actions upon detecting a wizard Apparating into his current home village. However, Dumbledore asks if the Death Eaters have "come recruiting"; the implication is that Slughorn is seen as a potential or past ally, rather than an actual Death Eater. Additionally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we will see that Slughorn continues as the Potions master even after the school has become a Death Eater stronghold. With Voldemort's tendency to exact revenge on those who failed to respond to the initial summons (for instance Karkaroff), it is unlikely that Slughorn would have survived the Ministry's fall.
The apparent ease with which Dumbledore manipulates Slughorn into agreeing to be a teacher at Hogwarts should be noted by readers. This shows a side of Dumbledore's character which we have not been aware of until now. An astute reader might wonder, given Dumbledore's skill at convincing Slughorn to come out of hiding, whether Dumbledore might not be using this same skill on Harry. Is he being as forthright with Harry as he seems? If not, what would be Dumbledore's intent? This concern will be brought out in the final book in the series, where Harry will discover that Dumbledore had apparently been concealing his younger life. Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, will tell Harry that this pattern of manipulation was one that Dumbledore had followed for much of his later life.
- The blood spattered around the walls of the house where Slughorn is hiding is, in fact, dragon's blood. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, we saw that Dumbledore's fame comes in part from a treatise on the Twelve Uses of Dragon's Blood. That treatise is mentioned here, amid banter about this being a thirteenth use.
Chapter 5: An Excess of Phlegm
Arriving at The Burrow, Dumbledore and Harry are met by Mrs. Weasley. Also present is Tonks, whose colorless and sad appearance shocks Harry; her usually vibrant pink hair is now a mousy brown. Tonks insists she must go and declines a weekend dinner invitation, hearing that Lupin and Mad-Eye will be there. Mrs. Weasley asks Harry about Slughorn. Apparently, he started teaching at Hogwarts about the same time as Dumbledore, and he taught Mrs. Weasley. She disapproved of Slughorn's favorites, especially since Arthur Weasley was not among them.
Mr. Weasley has recently been appointed head of the new Office of Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. This promotion will help improve the Weasley finances. When Mr. Weasley arrives home, he discusses the counterfeit devices he has found. Harry is actually interested, but when he attempts to stifle a yawn, Mrs. Weasley sends him to bed in the twins' vacant room. They are now living in a little apartment over their Diagon Alley shop.
The next morning, Harry is awakened by Ron and Hermione, who are concerned about his well-being after the battle at the Ministry. Harry tells them about Horace Slughorn, who is replacing former Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor, Professor Umbridge. Ginny slouches in, complaining about her; Harry's curiosity is ended when Fleur Delacour enters with his breakfast tray and Mrs. Weasley in her wake. Fleur says she and Bill Weasley are marrying next summer, then heads back downstairs. Ron is still rather infatuated by Fleur, but the three women feel she is very full of herself and wonder what Bill sees in her. Ginny derogatorily calls her "Phlegm", upsetting Mrs. Weasley, but making Harry and Hermione laugh.
When Mrs. Weasley departs, Ron confides it is hard getting used to having Fleur around when she jumps out like that. Ron, Ginny, and Hermione agree that Mrs. Weasley is unlikely to get Bill interested in Tonks rather than Fleur. Tonks has been depressed since her cousin, Sirius Black, had died. That she blames herself for Sirius' death interests Harry, who carries the same guilt. As a result, Tonks has apparently lost the ability, or perhaps the inclination, to transform her physical appearance at will.
After Ginny leaves, Ron tells Harry that the family and Percy remain estranged, despite Voldemort's return. Ron and Hermione are amazed that Dumbledore wants to give Harry private lessons. Harry reveals the prophecy to them, and Ron and Hermione worry that Harry will have to face Voldemort. Harry is also worried, but on reflection, realizes he has always known he would eventually have to face Voldemort. Privately, he is greatly reassured by Ron and Hermione not abandoning him at the revelation that he is fated to either kill Voldemort or be killed by him.
Shortly, Harry, Ron, and Hermione receive their O.W.L. results. It is revealed that "T" is an actual grade meaning Troll, not Terrible as might be imagined. Harry's grades are:
- Astronomy: Acceptable (A)
- Care of Magical Creatures: Exceeds Expectations (E)
- Charms: E
- Defence Against the Dark Arts: Outstanding (O)
- Divination: Poor (P)
- Herbology: E
- History of Magic: Dreadful (D)
- Potions: E
- Transfiguration: E
These results are good, but Harry's hope to become an Auror has apparently been dashed. He needed an 'O' in Potions for Snape to accept him into his advanced Potions course, one of the N.E.W.T. subjects required to become an Auror.
Ron receives similar grades, minus the one 'Outstanding', and is quite pleased that he only failed Divination and History of Magic. Mrs Weasley is also very proud, noting that Ron has achieved more O.W.L.s than Fred and George together. Hermione, as everyone except herself expected, receives 9 'O's and one 'E' (in Defence Against the Dark Arts). All three have passed into N.E.W.T. level, although Harry privately regrets that he will be unable to join the Auror profession and cannot think what else he would like to be.
Harry is shocked by Tonks' radically changed appearance. There is no explanation yet as to what might have happened since she was last seen about a month ago, but she is no longer the cheerful and vibrant person Harry last saw. Some readers may believe, given the amount of Ministry hysteria about Dark wizards, that Tonks is being controlled by the Imperius curse. Hermione, Ginny, and Ron think she is suffering from grief and guilt over Sirius' death and may even have been in love with him.
Harry also fears, on getting his OWL results, that his professional future has been permanently derailed. The only career that interested him is an Auror (Dark wizard catcher), even though the primary person who encouraged him was actually a Death Eater in disguise (Barty Crouch). Unfortunately, Harry's Potions grade is too low to admit him into Snape's N.E.W.T.-level Potions classes, which he needs to fulfill the Auror prerequisites. This will deeply trouble Harry, and being unable to pursue his chosen career path leaves him discouraged and feeling adrift. Harry's tendency to be single-minded has, as yet, prevented him from seriously considering other professions, and with his chosen career track now apparently closed to him, he is uncertain how to proceed.
In another continuity glitch common in this lengthy series, we see Mrs. Weasley's clock, now with all its nine hands, one for each family member, pointing at Mortal Peril. The astute reader may have noticed that here it is apparently a mantel clock, while in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire it is described as a grandfather clock. Mrs. Weasley claims that nobody else has a clock like that, so presumably someone in the family made it. It is possible that Mrs. Weasley wanted it to be more portable, and had the original builder, or a clock-maker, separate the mechanism from the clock case and build a mantel-type case for it. This continuity problem does not hinder our appreciation of the story; it is only mentioned as a side light.
Another minor problem occurs in early editions of this book. Hermione had initially been taking "everything", which came to twelve graded courses, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She dropped Divination mid-year, and reports that she will no longer need the Time-turner at the end of the year because, having also dropped Muggle Studies, she can now fit all of her courses in a normal schedule. Thus, she must now be taking 10 courses. Early editions of the book show her receiving 10 Outstanding and one Exceeds Expectations grades, for a total of eleven courses. Later editions drop that to nine Outstanding grades.
- Why is Harry worried about his future?
- Why are the Weasleys unhappy about Bill's engagement to Fleur?
- What might account for Tonks' changed appearance and demeanor?
- Are Ron and Hermione right to be concerned about Harry's well being? If so, why?
- Harry wants to be an Auror, but what other careers would he be good at?
Harry's belief that Slughorn is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor is to be expected, as we have seen five different teachers fill that post in the previous five books. The author clearly intends for us to make this erroneous assumption, as Slughorn, Dumbledore, and Mrs. Weasley all fail to mention that Slughorn had previously taught Potions. This revelation, when it occurs in a few chapters, will have major effects on Harry and his future, and will provide a core plot device for this book.
Tonks' forlorn emotional state has nothing to do with Sirius' death, but is actually because she is in love with Remus Lupin, who spurns her affection, believing being a Werewolf makes him unworthy and is also too old for her, and that the times are too unsettled to risk bringing children into the world in any event. Mrs. Weasley comments that in troubled times like these, people "rush into decisions that they'd normally take time over." She is referring to Bill and Fleur's engagement, that she believes was made rather hastily, but it could equally apply to Tonks, who wants to pursue a relationship with Lupin. His refusal causes Tonks' increasing depression. As a result, we will see later that Tonks' Patronus has changed into "something large and hairy." It appears to be a dog, which is what led to the mistaken belief that she was in love with Sirius Black. However, once we learn about Tonks and Lupin, we can guess that her Patronus is now a wolf.
In retrospect, Percy's continued estrangement from the family will be seen as quite in character. Dumbledore at one point will comment that it is sometimes much easier to forgive someone for being wrong, than it is to forgive them for being right. While we note that this makes Dumbledore an observant man and an excellent student of human behaviour, we must also point out that in order for Dumbledore to have this insight, the author must also possess this level of understanding.
Chapter 6: Draco's Detour
Frequent deaths and disappearances are occurring throughout the Wizarding world. On Harry's birthday, Lupin brings news that Death Eaters killed Igor Karkaroff. Others, such as Florean Fortescue, who owns the ice cream parlour in Diagon Alley and Ollivander, the wand maker, are gone or missing.
Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys go shopping for school supplies in Diagon Alley, accompanied by Hagrid. Bill Weasley, who works for Gringotts, has retrieved a sack of money for Harry from his vault because security is so tight. In Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions shop, Harry, Hermione, and Ron have a nasty encounter with Draco Malfoy and his snobbish mother, Narcissa. When the dressmaker tries lifting Draco's left robe sleeve as she is measuring him, he jerks his arm away, claiming she stuck him with a pin; he and his mother quickly leave.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and the other Weasleys head for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Fred and George's joke shop, which is enjoying a booming trade. Not only are joke items selling well, but the Twins are also supplying spell-deflecting Shield Hats, Cloaks, Gloves, and other serious magical items to the Ministry of Magic (presumably for the war against Voldemort).
Harry spots Draco passing the shop alone. Hidden under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione trail Draco into Knockturn Alley and to Borgin & Burkes, the Dark magic shop. Using Weasley's Extendable Ears, they overhear Draco asking how to repair something. Draco threatens Borgin, showing him something on his arm, but the large black cabinet that Harry hid inside four years earlier partially blocks their view. Draco warns that Fenrir Greyback, a 'family friend', will be, "dropping in from time-to-time to see that you're giving this matter your full attention." Draco also reserves an item for himself, ordering Borgin to keep it secret. After Draco exits, Hermione, hoping to learn what Draco reserved, enters the store pretending to be looking for a birthday present for her "friend" Draco. Borgin, suspicious, orders her to leave and puts a "Closed" sign on his door.
They return to Fred and George's store under the Invisibility Cloak. To calm Mrs. Weasley, worried over their absence, they claim they were in the backroom.
That Death Eaters have killed Karkaroff isn't the least bit surprising, as they think nothing of killing traitors. The trip to Diagon Alley physically shows just how much Voldemort's growing power is beginning to affect the Wizarding world. Not only are once-prosperous shops being vacated, but people, including Mr. Ollivander, the wand maker, have disappeared, their whereabouts unknown. The Twins' joke shop is able to thrive in this increasingly hostile environment, though their supplying the Ministry with weapons to fight Voldemort could make them targets.
Harry, meanwhile, is suspicious that Draco's visit to Borgin & Burkes involves something sinister, though Ron and Hermione discount this. Draco threatens Borgin into assisting him by mentioning that someone named Fenrir Greyback is a "family friend." Whoever Greyback may be, the name alone is apparently sufficient to ensure Borgin's cooperation. Whatever Draco must repair, it may be related to the task Voldemort assigned him that was mentioned in the second chapter. It is particularly interesting that Draco may be performing this step of his task without his mother's knowledge – perhaps she is somehow attempting to prevent him from undertaking this mission so Snape will have to complete it for him, as he is now magically bound to do. Draco jerking his arm away from the dressmaker but threateningly showing it to Borgin is significant; his forearm may carry Voldemort's Dark Mark. Harry certainly suspects it does; if he is correct, it would be a clear sign that Draco has become a Death Eater.
Hermione's attempt to gather more information about Draco at Borgin & Burkes shows that she is learning to act more spontaneously under stressful conditions. However, her actions here were not only clumsy, they likely created suspicion that could tip off the Malfoy family that someone is investigating Draco's actions. Just what he is planning is still unclear. And unlike Harry, Ron and Hermione remain skeptical that Draco is a Death Eater, though they still support Harry, even knowing he makes emotion-driven assumptions that are as often wrong as they are right. They are at least willing to consider Harry's speculation here, while offering their own opinions to counterbalance his. Readers, having previously witnessed the encounter at Snape's home in Spinner's End, have a far better idea that Draco has indeed been assigned a significantly important task for Voldemort, though just what that might be is still unknown.
Considering that dire events in the Wizarding world are unfolding at an alarming rate as Voldemort's power grows, it may seem that Ron and Hermione are being unrealistically dismissive regarding Harry's suspicions. However, despite the Malfoy family's affiliation with Voldemort and their affinity for the Dark Arts, Ron and Hermione simply believe that Draco is just too young and inexperienced to be a Death Eater or to have been entrusted with an important mission.
Not only was Harry disappointed (and also jealous) the previous year when Ron was made a Gryffindor Prefect and he was not, but he was also rather offended. However, at the end of the previous book, it is revealed that this was a deliberate decision by Professor Dumbledore. His stated reason was, "I must confess... that I rather thought you had enough responsibility to be going on with." Selecting Ron as Prefect was possibly, in part, to allow Ron an opportunity to assume an independent role apart from Harry's celebrity and influence so he could develop his own abilities and identity. When Harry becomes Quidditch captain, Hermione points out that he now has equal status to a Prefect and shares similar privileges.
This revelation that the house Quidditch Captain has equal privileges to Prefects feels a bit like the author's afterthought. While it is mentioned that Cedric Diggory was Quidditch Captain, nowhere in that book is it mentioned that he is a Prefect, a fact that would have been significantly important to the students. Thus, we must conclude that he was not a Prefect. And yet, he knew about the Prefects' bathroom and was able to give Harry the password to enter it. Likely, we will never know the author's intent, but it seems that granting Quidditch captains access to the Prefects' bathroom could be a means to rationalize Cedric's knowledge about that privilege, knowledge that could not be explained otherwise.
- What prompted Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go to Knockturn Alley? What do they learn?
- How will Harry becoming Quidditch captain affect his relationship with Ron, who was made a Prefect the year before, causing Harry to be jealous?
- Why would Draco jerk away when Madam Malkin attempts to lift his sleeve but he willingly shows the same arm to Borgin?
- What task might Voldemort have assigned Draco? Why would he choose Draco, an under-age and still unqualified wizard?
- Why does Draco go to Borgin & Burkes alone?
- Why would Draco order another item from Borgin for himself, and what might that item be?
- Why do Ron and Hermione doubt Harry's suspicions about Draco?
- Why is the Ministry of Magic ordering magical items from the Weasley twins' joke shop? What are they buying?
Harry will remain convinced that Draco is involved in a sinister plot throughout the entire year. To uncover what that is, he will continually trail Draco, piecing clues together leading to a definitive answer. Harry will become nearly obsessed by this quest.
Items that we see in the Weasleys' shop will prove important in this story and later. In particular, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder will be used in this book against Ron, much to his dismay; and in the next book, the Trio will have use for Puking Pastilles, Extendable Ears, and Decoy Detonators.
While Harry, Ron, and Hermione are spying on Draco, they are unable to see what he shows to Borgin because Draco was behind a Vanishing Cabinet. This cabinet apparently matches one in Hogwarts, which is seen later when Harry hides his Potions textbook in the Room of Requirement. The Hogwarts Vanishing Cabinet was broken during Harry's second year at the school. When Filch took Harry into his office, Nearly Headless Nick convinced Peeves to drop the cabinet over the office as a diversion so Harry could escape. Apparently the Weasley twins once forced Montague into it, before it was hidden away in the Room of Requirement. The cabinet turns out to be a key part of the task Draco has been set, and plays a significant role in the book's conclusion.
Even though Hermione's attempts to learn what Draco was doing at Borgin & Burkes could have inadvertently alerted the Malfoys that Draco's secret mission was being investigated, it will be Draco himself who deliberately allows Harry to eavesdrop on a conversation where Draco boasts that he has been assigned an important task for the Dark Lord.
Readers will learn that Fenrir Greyback, who Draco mentions is a "family friend", is a particularly vicious Werewolf pack leader who serves Voldemort. It was Greyback who attacked Remus Lupin when he was a young boy, turning him into a werewolf. Lupin will eventually infiltrate Greyback's pack as a spy for Dumbledore.
Mr. Ollivander's disappearance will play an important role in the final book. While we never see Fortescue again, it will turn out that Ollivander has been captured by Voldemort, specifically for his knowledge of wand lore.
Chapter 7: The Slug Club
Back at the Burrow, Harry's claims that Malfoy is a Death Eater are met with skepticism by Ron and Hermione, who argue that Draco is too young and inexperienced for Voldemort to entrust him with any important task. Harry, still convinced, cites how Draco yanked his arm away from Madam Malkin, the same arm where Death Eaters carry a Dark Mark. Malfoy also showed Borgin something on the same forearm that apparently caused Borgin to take Malfoy seriously.
Vexed that Ron and Hermione remain unconvinced, Harry heads to the kitchen, interrupting Fleur, who is in full flow with her wedding plans, much to Mrs. Weasley's relief. Mrs. Weasley wants everyone packed the night before leaving for Hogwarts to avoid the usual last-minute chaotic rush. The next morning, Ministry cars arrive to transport them to the station. Surprisingly, everyone is ready on time, their trunks packed, and Hedwig, Pigwidgeon, Crookshanks, and Ginny Weasley's new pet, a Pygmy Puff named Arnold, are all safely caged. Harry speaks privately with Mr. Weasley regarding Draco Malfoy's suspicious behavior. Mr. Weasley is also doubtful that Draco is a Death Eater and says Malfoy Manor was raided; anything even slightly Dark was confiscated.
On the Hogwarts Express, Ron and Hermione report to the Prefects' carriage while Harry, Luna, and Neville find a free compartment. Harry is bemused at being in the spotlight again, and shortly after, fourth-year student Romilda Vane invites Harry to sit with her and some other students. Harry declines, saying he is with friends. Harry discusses O.W.L results, and Neville wonders if he will be able to take N.E.W.T.-level Transfiguration with only an Acceptable test result. Harry muses to himself that it could as easily have been Neville with the scar and the admirers.
Ron and Hermione return with news that Malfoy is just sitting in his compartment; it is unlike him to be doing anything other than lording over other Slytherin students. As Harry ponders Draco's uncharacteristic behavior, a third-year girl appears with lunch invitations for Harry and Neville from Professor Slughorn. There is a large gathering, including Ginny and Blaise Zabini, a Slytherin in Harry's year. As Slughorn interrogates them, it becomes apparent that the invitees are all connected to influential Wizarding families, except for Ginny, who was included because Slughorn was impressed with her Bat-Bogey Hex. Having questioned Harry, Neville, Ginny, Blaise, Cormac McLaggen and Marcus Belby, to assess their family connections and prospects, Slughorn entertains them (excepting Marcus, who is estranged from his famous uncle) for the afternoon, then dismisses them to prepare for arrival at Hogwarts.
Leaving Slughorn's carriage, Harry slips on his Invisibility Cloak and tails Zabini to the Slytherin carriage to eavesdrop on Malfoy. Climbing into the luggage rack, Harry worries that Malfoy glimpsed his trainer (US: sneaker), but Malfoy simply settles back with his head on Pansy Parkinson's lap.
Malfoy is annoyed at being excluded, but Zabini says Slughorn is only interested in students' connections to influential wizards, and speculates he is uninterested in Death Eaters. Malfoy lets slip that he may not return to Hogwarts next year, claiming he has moved on to, "bigger and better things." When Zabini asks what an unqualified wizard could do for Voldemort, Malfoy retorts his task may not require qualifications.
At Hogsmeade Station, Malfoy remains behind in the compartment. In a surprise move, he Petrifies Harry. Malfoy spotted Harry's shoe as he climbed onto the luggage rack. As revenge, Malfoy stomps on Harry's nose, breaking it, then tosses the Invisibility Cloak over him so he will go unnoticed until after the train returns to London.
Harry is frustrated that Ron and Hermione are continually dismissive regarding his suspicions about Draco. However, their frequent skepticism often acts as a counterbalance to his occasional overreaction and drawing conclusions without fully considering all facts and opinions. This time, however, Harry is positive that Draco has become a Death Eater and is involved in some malicious plot, and seems nearly obsessed with proving it. Considering the information readers are already privy to regarding Draco's task for Voldemort, Harry is obviously correct, although he, and also we, are still clueless as to just what that is, other than it requires repairing some object that probably contains Dark magic.
For the first time, Harry's budding romantic feelings for Ginny are seen. As she goes to meet Dean, Harry feels a slightly annoyed twinge which could be interpreted as jealousy. Of course, Harry may not recognize this emotion because he has never thought of Ginny this way before, but he clearly sees her in a different way.
Slughorn's personality is becoming more apparent here as he immediately begins singling out those students connected to influential families. And though Slughorn was formerly the head of Slytherin House, it appears that he does not fully embrace their pure-blood beliefs. In addition to Slytherins, Slughorn invites other well-connected students, and also those, like Ginny Weasley, displaying exceptional magical talent. Draco is offended at being excluded, but someone points out that Slughorn is probably uninterested in Death Eaters, though he may be distancing himself for other reasons. Though Harry was invited for his fame, Slughorn also included him and Neville because both were involved in the Battle at the Ministry. He repeatedly tries to pump them for details about that incident, but each remains silent for their own particular reasons. Curiously, even though Ron and Luna were also involved in the battle, they were uninvited.
Harry also demonstrates personal integrity when he declines Romilda Vane's invitation to sit in her compartment with the other popular students. While he wishes to avoid the attention and others fawning over him, he also prefers Neville and Luna's company, two people he once would have been embarrassed to hang out with, but now feels the most comfortable being around. Their loyalty and bravery at the Ministry of Magic battle has forever altered Harry's opinion and esteem for them, showing his growing maturity in valuing others for their inner worth and accepting these two so-called "misfits" as his peers and friends. His influence has dramatically helped each one to realize their untapped potential, while they, in turn, befriend him for the person he is, rather than his celebrity.
And while Harry shows great maturity and personal integrity in accepting Luna as a friend and equal, Ron does not. When Harry invites her to a party later in the story, Ron will chastise him for asking "Loony" Luna. As Luna herself will accurately note, Ron can sometimes be funny but also hurtful. It does seem that Ron has forgotten Luna's participation in Dumbledore's Army and how she always responded to Harry's distress calls, as well as risked her own life at the Department of Mysteries battle to aid Harry and Ron.
Although Draco has always been portrayed as a cowardly bully, he is a powerful wizard, and his intelligence and magical abilities are often underrated. Throughout the story, he is well aware that Harry is trailing his movements, and he even intentionally lets slip some enticing information within Harry's hearing regarding his connection to Voldemort. Just why he does so is unknown, though Draco seldom resists showing off and extolling his own perceived virtues to others. Draco must also have been relatively confident that Harry would never report the attack (and breaking his nose), thus allowing Draco to indulge himself in his cruel act. However, there may be other underlying reasons for at least some of his brazen behavior.
- Which students are invited to Slughorn's lunch? Why does he select these particular students? Why was Malfoy excluded?
- Why does Harry follow Malfoy on the train?
- Why does Malfoy say he might not return to Hogwarts next year?
- Why does Malfoy reveal such specific, and apparently accurate, information about his connection to Voldemort, even though he knows Harry is eavesdropping?
- Why, despite compelling circumstantial evidence, do Ron and Hermione dismiss Harry's belief that Draco may be a Death Eater? Are their arguments valid?
- On the train, why does Harry decline Romilda Vane's invitation to sit with her and the other more popular students? Who does he prefer to sit with and why?
Over the school year, Harry becomes nearly obsessed with Draco Malfoy's suspicious behavior and goes to extreme lengths to uncover what he is plotting. Eventually he discovers that Malfoy is indeed involved in a sinister scheme, although Draco's participation is not entirely what it seems. Just why Draco purposely allowed Harry to overhear critical information while on the Hogwarts Express is unclear. Whether he was just being careless, arrogantly confident, or subconsciously hoping that Voldemort's plan would be discovered by Professor Dumbledore through Harry is unknown, though the latter reason will seem more plausible by the book's conclusion. Harry will report his suspicions about Draco, and later about Snape, to Dumbledore at various times throughout the year, and, from his point-of-view at least, is seemingly rebuffed each time. It is revealed later, in the final book, that Dumbledore already knows about Draco's mission and Snape's involvement. Careful attention should be paid to how Dumbledore addresses Harry's accusations: Dumbledore never says he disbelieves Harry, rather that the issue is not Harry's concern. Harry, however, fails to perceive this important detail, instead increasing his efforts to uncover some clue that will convince Dumbledore that his suspicions are valid.
Chapter 8: Snape Victorious
Nymphadora Tonks suddenly appears in the compartment and unpetrifies Harry. Before the departing train picks up too much speed, they leap off. Tonks mends Harry's broken nose and then sends a Patronus Charm to the castle. She is not guarding Hogwarts alone; Proudfoot, Savage, and Dawlish are also there. Harry again notices her depressed and unhappy expression, and that her usual vibrantly-colored hair remains faded. Harry speculates that she was in love with Sirius and is mourning his death.
Reaching Hogwarts, they are met by Snape, who ridicules Tonks' new Patronus. Snape deducts 70 points from Gryffindor, then escorts Harry to the Great Hall without allowing him to change into his robes. Embarrassed and ashamed, Harry does not report Malfoy's actions, and when Hermione and Ron ask where he was, he tells them to wait until later.
After the feast (which Harry misses by a few seconds), Professor Dumbledore announces two new appointments. Professor Horace Slughorn is the new Potions Master, while Professor Snape is now the Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor. Everyone is stunned by Snape's appointment, one he has coveted for so long. Harry is particularly angered, though the Slytherin table enthusiastically greets the news. With Voldemort's reappearance, Dumbledore has implemented new security measures, and before dismissing them, he requests that students be patient and cooperative and to report any concerns they may have.
Hermione leads the first-years to the Gryffindor dorms, but Ron remains behind with Harry, who relates what happened on the train, and Draco's discussion. Ron believes Draco was probably just showing off for Pansy. Hagrid approaches and says they can say hello to Witherwings (Buckbeak) if they arrive early enough for Care of Magical Creatures class. When Hagrid departs, Harry and Ron wonder how he will react to the news that his three favorite students are not taking his course.
Harry's growing obsession over Draco caused him to be careless, giving Draco an advantage—he knew Harry was eavesdropping and would likely be monitoring him. Just why Draco purposely revealed so much to Harry is puzzling, however. It would also seem that Harry, having been caught eavesdropping by Draco, would now consider the information to be false and merely intended to manipulate and taunt Harry. Instead, Harry fully believes everything Draco said and continues to act to prove it. Although Ron and Hermione doubt Draco's claims and want Harry to disregard it, readers already know that Draco is being truthful, though exactly what his mission is, remains a mystery. Also, though the Order of the Phoenix is guarding Hogwarts, Tonks finding Harry so quickly indicates that Harry is particularly being protected. When Harry failed to emerge from the train with the other students, Tonks searched for him. Although she says the Order has stationed her in Hogsmeade, she may actually have been assigned to guard Harry; though, of course, as a friend of Harry's, she may simply have wanted to see him as he got off the Express and just wanted to be sure that he arrived safely there.
A wizard's Patronus cannot be consciously chosen, but instead reflects the person casting it. Therefore, Tonks' new Patronus form must signify her current emotional state. Although it is unknown what new form it has taken, or what shape it was before, it is a significant enough change for Snape to jeer at it. This is also the second time the Patronus has been seen as other than a defensive charm, the first time being in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Professor Dumbledore used it to summon Hagrid.
Although Dumbledore has finally appointed Snape to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teaching position he has so long coveted, why he chooses to do so now is unclear and rather mysterious. While Dumbledore has never doubted Snape's loyalty, Snape's past history and his affinity for the Dark Arts has apparently been an ongoing concern. However, both Dumbledore and Snape know there is a specific reason why no one has ever served longer than one year in that post. Ron alludes to this, saying that he believes it is jinxed. If it is, then Dumbledore and Snape must have somehow overcome this particular obstacle, or neither intend for Snape to remain in that position any longer than his predecessors. Although Harry is angry that Snape was appointed, it may actually provide an as-yet-unknown benefit.
- Why does Harry refuse to report Draco's actions?
- Why did Tonks find Harry so quickly?
- Why might Harry, Ron, and Hermione have decided to not take Hagrid's class this year? Why haven't they told him? What might his reaction be?
- What new form might Tonks' Patronus have taken and what could have caused it to change?
- Why would Snape ridicule Tonks' new Patronus, even though a witch or wizard cannot consciously choose its shape?
- Why would Dumbledore appoint Snape as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor after repeatedly denying him the position and knowing that no one has held it for more than one year?
- Why is Tonks so depressed? Is there some reason other than what Harry thinks?
It is revealed later that Voldemort did indeed cast a curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. Ever since Dumbledore rejected him for the job, no teacher has remained in that position for more than one school year. Knowing this, it is curious as to why Snape continually applied for the position each year, or why Dumbledore chooses to appoint him now. It will be learned in the next book that Dumbledore, as a youth, was briefly attracted to the Dark arts when he befriended Gellert Grindelwald, who later became a notorious Dark Wizard that Dumbledore defeated in a famous duel. Dumbledore fully rejected Dark magic, though he never trusted himself to be in a position of power, choosing instead to teach at Hogwarts. One reason Dumbledore may have repeatedly denied Snape the position is because he similarly feared that Snape could be tempted by teaching a subject so closely linked to his Death Eater past. He also knew it was pointless to appoint Snape, assuming he was unlikely to hold the position any longer than his predecessors, and it would risk losing his talented potions instructor. As it turns out, Snape will also only hold the position for the one year. Both Snape and Dumbledore know, however, that Dumbledore's life expectancy is less than a year at this point, and Dumbledore has, as we see in the final book, required Snape to promise that he will take over as Headmaster at Hogwarts after Dumbledore's death, to protect the school and the students. Dumbledore also needed to vacate Snape's position so he could bring back Professor Horace Slughorn, Hogwarts' former potions master, solely to obtain an important memory Slughorn has guarded that is related to Voldemort and his Horcruxes.
Also, Harry notes that Tonks' Patronus is "something large and hairy", and, reviewing recent events, decides that it may be related to Sirius' death, and that her ongoing melancholy is probably due to this as well. The reader may wonder why Tonks will still seem so sad, months later, when Harry sees her inside the castle. In fact, her depression is because Lupin repeatedly rejects her affections. He apparently does love her, but feels he is too old for her, times are too dangerous, and, being a Werewolf, believes it is too risky to father children. As a result, her Patronus has assumed a wolf shape.
Although Snape jeers at Tonks for her new Patronus form, understanding what it represents, it will be revealed in the final book that his own Patronus is its current shape for similar reasons. It is entirely possible that Snape, consciously or otherwise recognizing the reason Tonks' Patronus has changed, feels the need to denigrate it to somewhat salve his own feelings.
Chapter 9: The Half-Blood Prince
The next morning, Harry tells Hermione what he overheard on the train. Ron repeats that Draco was probably just showing off for Pansy, but Hermione thinks that is an awfully big lie just to impress a girl. Ron takes a Fanged Frisbee that Hermione has just confiscated from a student, saying he has always wanted one. Lavender Brown giggles at Ron as she passes by.
Professor McGonagall hands out schedules, a complicated process for sixth-year students because OWL results determine which classes students qualify for. Hermione gets her courses straight away, but Neville's Acceptable OWL grade is too low for NEWT-level Transfiguration. He does qualify for Charms. Harry's lost hope to become an Auror is suddenly revived when he learns that Professor Slughorn accepts a lower OWL grade (Exceeds Expectations) than Professor Snape (Outstanding) for NEWT-level Potions classes. Both Harry and Ron sign up, though Harry worries that Hagrid will be upset that they are not taking Care of Magical Creatures. Professor McGonagall also hands Harry a list with new Quidditch recruits.
In Defence Against the Dark Arts class, Snape demonstrates nonverbal spells (performing magic without a spoken incantation), and uses Harry to demonstrate; Harry instinctively reacts by blasting a spoken Shield Charm at Snape, and (after giving him cheek) earns a detention. A student arrives bearing a message from Professor Dumbledore regarding their private lesson, which happens to be scheduled at the same time as the detention.
Harry finds Potions far more enjoyable without Snape. Hermione, as usual, excels and earns Gryffindor thirty points for correctly guessing three cauldrons' content, Veritaserum, Polyjuice potion, and a Love potion, and for accurately identifying the effects of Felix Felicis. Slughorn is impressed by her abilities, even though she is Muggle-born. Another Muggle-born student, Lily Evans (Harry's mother), was another favorite, though he tends to favor purebloods. That he is the former Head of Slytherin House further supports this tendency.
As the name suggests, Felix Felicis is liquid luck. One tablespoon at breakfast will provide a perfect day. It is dangerous if made improperly and is banned in competitions, examinations, and elections. Excessive consumption can cause giddiness, recklessness, and even death. For the first lesson, whoever brews the best Draught of Living Death will win a tiny flask of Felix Felicis from Slughorn, enough luck for twelve hours.
Draco attempts to curry favour with Professor Slughorn by mentioning his apparently famous grandfather, Abraxas Malfoy; Harry is pleased that it doesn't seem to work. Harry brews his potion using a second-hand textbook, Advanced Potion Making, that Slughorn loans him until he can buy his own copy. In the book's margins are many hand-written new spells and jinxes, as well as revisions to standard potions. The revisions seem more effective than the original instructions, and Harry brews the best Living Death draught in the class, winning him the Good Luck potion.
Hermione is furious when Harry later admits that he used the mysterious book's instructions. Ginny, overhearing, asks if Harry is using instructions from a book. Remembering Ginny's nearly-fatal experience with Tom Riddle's diary, Hermione tests the textbook for any hidden magical properties, but is unable to detect any. Harry notices writing on the back cover: This book belongs to the Half-Blood Prince. Whoever the "Prince" may be, Harry is grateful to this talented unknown student.
Harry is a naturally intelligent and talented wizard, but academically he is a rather lazy student, usually getting by on average or just-above average grades and often relying on Hermione's help. Potions, in particular, has always proved tedious and difficult for him, partially due to his strained relationship with Professor Snape. It is only when a particular subject, like Defence Against the Dark Arts, interests Harry that he works hard and excels at it. For the first time, he is challenged to learn about Potions after discovering a talented former student's innovative methods to brewing standard potions more efficiently. Harry is a non-traditional learner, and while Snape has ineffectively taught him Potions, the Half-Blood Prince, in a brief time period, has inspired him to learn more than he has over the past five years, even though it is with unorthodox methods. Harry may also be feeling somewhat pressured to live up to his mother's reputation in Slughorn's Potions class. And though Hermione is outraged that Harry ignores official potion-making instructions, an action she feels is equivalent to cheating, the Prince's book has given Harry an alternative learning avenue that has aroused his academic curiosity and will serve him later in the story. Hermione's negative reaction, while justified, may also be tinged by jealousy and resentment. She has always earned the top grades in her classes (except Defense Against the Dark Arts), and she revels in the accompanying accolades; now, Harry is outshining her in Potions, something she may have difficulty accepting, especially considering that she feels Harry has done so with illicit methods compared to her diligent studying.
Though Hermione correctly identifies the three cauldrons' contents in Slughorn's class, winning her high praise and House points, it is hardly surprising that she recognizes the Polyjuice Potion, having brewed it herself during her second year (in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). Unfortunately, for Hermione at least, the results were less than successful when she accidentally added cat hair rather than human to her portion, leaving her covered in fur and sporting a tail and whiskers, as well as landing her in the infirmary for weeks.
This chapter drops another hint that Harry has growing feelings for Ginny. In the first Potions class, when Harry sniffs the love potion, he detects "treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle, and something flowery he thought he might have smelled at the Burrow". And later, when the Trio meet Ginny, Harry, "caught a sudden waft of that flowery smell he had picked up in Slughorn's dungeon". Hermione mentions that a love potion contains the scent of what it is that attracts a person to someone, and it is different for each individual; she runs off the scents she detected, but stops short before mentioning the third, possibly afraid that it would identify someone she cares about. By this stage in the series, we should certainly know Harry's feelings about broomsticks and treacle tart, and it is hardly surprising that Hermione characteristically identifies one odor as fresh parchment. Harry's noticing Ginny's scent in the potion, even though he does not yet recognize it, shows his growing attraction to her, while simultaneously oblivious to that fact.
Neville is despondent that he is unable to take NEWT-level Transfiguration, and taking Charms as an option hardly heartens him, saying his grandmother believes it is a "soft" course with little value. However, he is greatly cheered to discover that his fearsome grandmother failed her OWL-level Charms exam. This single, small event puts a human face on Augusta Longbottom, who has only been a starchy, distant presence with a vulture on her hat, but is now revealed as having the all-too-human tendency to discount any skill she performs poorly at. It is one more step on Neville gaining his independence from his grandmother.
- Why does Hermione accuse Harry of cheating at Potions? Are her accusations valid? Explain.
- Does it ever occur to Harry that the suspicious textbook might contain Dark Magic? Why or why not?
- Why are Hermione and Ron so dismissive about Draco's boasts that he is on a mission for Voldemort? Why is Harry so convinced that Draco's claims are true?
- When Harry sniffs the Love Potion, he detects treacle tart, a broomstick handle, and a flowery scent. Who or what might these three items refer to?
- If the Half-Blood Prince was possessive enough to put his name on his book, why was it left in the Potions classroom?
- Why does Harry react as he does during the demonstration in Snape's class? Why did Snape choose Harry for the demonstration?
It is interesting that Harry's mother was so talented at Potions. Particularly given that Snape was in her class, one would expect that Snape would have used Lily as a counter-example to Harry's apparent ineptness. One can almost hear Snape sneering, "Unable to brew a simple Strengthening Solution? Your mother could have done that with one hand tied behind her back. Clearly this apple has fallen far from the tree..." And yet, Snape never once mentioned Lily. There is a reason why not, of course, but it is not revealed until the final book in the series.
Harry will continue searching for hints to the Half-Blood Prince's identity. At Christmas he discovers that the book was printed some fifty years before, which he believes rules out that it may have belonged to his father. Actually, the Half-Blood Prince attended school when Harry's father and mother were there, though, as a poor student, he was unable to afford new books and purchased second-hand. It is curious, perhaps, that Harry fails to consider the possibility that used textbooks can be purchased, even though he saw that second-hand books were bought for Ginny some years before.
This used textbook becomes a large plot device throughout the book, with Harry constantly consulting it in Potions class, and thereby becoming one of Slughorn's best students. Additionally, Harry will find many other unrelated magical spells written in the book's margins, using them through the year. Hermione is never entirely happy with Harry using the book's spells, unsure what their provenance is; her worries eventually prove somewhat valid as Harry will discover the very Dark Sectumsempra spell in the book, using it with no clue as to its effect.
Chapter 10: The House of Gaunt
Over the the next week, Hermione remains angry about Harry using the Prince's notes. She suggests that the "Prince" may be female, based on the book's handwriting, but Harry retorts, "How many girls have been Princes?" Ron is also angered, because even though Harry has offered to share, Ron is unable to read the tiny handwriting and has to rely on textbook formulas. Professor Slughorn, of course, believes Harry is among the best Potions students he has ever taught.
After dodging a tipsy Professor Trelawney in the hallway, Harry arrives at Professor Dumbledore's office for his first lesson. Dumbledore explains that they will try to determine Voldemort's intentions, based on Dumbledore's previous investigation. Dumbledore has shared all he knows with Harry; now they are embarking on guesswork and supposition. Dumbledore produces a vial containing memories from Bob Ogden, who worked in Magical Law Enforcement. Dumbledore pours the contents into his Pensieve, and he and Harry enter.
Near Little Hangleton village, Bob Ogden approaches a ramshackle cottage. A young wizard with several missing teeth and small, dark eyes staring in opposite directions appears and challenges Ogden, speaking in Parseltongue. Ogden is jinxed before stating his business. An older wizard appears and addresses the younger one as Morfin. He identifies himself as Mr. Gaunt. When Ogden says he is there about Morfin, Gaunt invites him in. Inside, Merope, Gaunt's teen-aged daughter, is in the kitchen. She has a plain, heavy face, and, like Morfin, her eyes stare in opposite directions.
Ogden says Morfin jinxed a Muggle, whereupon Merope drops a pot, causing Gaunt to taunt her. Ogden, saying Morfin has broken Wizarding law, produces a summons. Gaunt shows him a ring that he says bears the Peverell coat of arms and also points out Merope's locket, claiming it is Salazar Slytherin's, saying they are his descendants. Ogden dismisses this, their heritage has no bearing on Morfin Jinxing a Muggle. Horses are heard approaching outside. In Parseltongue, Morfin says it is the Muggle that Merope fancies and the one he Jinxed. Gaunt demands to know if Merope is chasing a Muggle. When she does not answer, he attacks her; Ogden defends her and is attacked in turn by Morfin, but Ogden escapes. Harry and Dumbledore exit the memory.
Dumbledore says Ogden quickly returned with Ministry reinforcements; Morfin was sentenced to Azkaban for three years while Marvolo Gaunt received six months. Harry instantly recognizes the name: Marvolo was Voldemort's grandfather. Dumbledore says that Merope was Voldemort's mother, and his father was the elegant Muggle on horseback that Morfin attacked. Harry wonders how the extremely handsome Tom Riddle could possibly have married the equally unattractive Merope; Dumbledore suspects she used a love potion. The two ran away together, causing a scandal; Marvolo never forgave her and died shortly after his release from Azkaban.
A few months later, Riddle returned to his manor house alone, saying he had been hoodwinked. Dumbledore suggests that either Merope believed bearing Tom's child would bind him to her and stopped using the love potion or else she lost her ability to perform magic. Voldemort was raised in an orphanage when Merope died soon after giving birth.
Dumbledore agrees that Harry should share this with Ron and Hermione, but warns against spreading it any further. Harry notices a cracked ring on a table, the same ring Dumbledore wore when they visited Slughorn, and the same ring Marvolo Gaunt was wearing in the memory. Dumbledore says he acquired it recently, but turns aside further questions, and sends Harry to bed.
If another student was using the Prince's textbook, Hermione, who is a Prefect, would likely have confiscated it and reported them. However, she says nothing about Harry, and instead voices her disapproval directly to him, though she knows it will have little effect. This is a typical behavioral pattern for Hermione, who only once has reported Harry for something. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she informed Professor McGonagall that Harry had received a Firebolt broom from an anonymous donor (who she suspected was Sirius Black, then believed to be trying to murder Harry). Hermione's motivation was genuine concern over Harry's safety rather than reporting him for mischief. Unfortunately, her actions resulted in a severe backlash and being shunned by Harry and Ron for months, causing her much anguish. Hermione staunchly believes in obeying school rules, but she fears Harry and Ron's retaliation even more, and she frequently overlooks their minor misconduct. And while Hermione remains disapproving over Harry using the Half-Blood Prince's notes, and resents Harry outperforming her in Potions class, she remains silent, likely fearing another reprisal. Over time, she actually becomes quite curious about the Prince's identity. This has also subtly changed the Trio's relationship. Ron and Harry have usually sought out Hermione mostly for help or information, though they occasionally had to suffer her disdain for their academic laziness. Now Harry has another avenue for finding the information he needs, at least regarding Potions.
Dumbledore's private lessons are hardly what Harry expected. Rather than learning new magic, he is to study Voldemort's past by viewing other people's memories. Exactly how this can aid Harry is still unknown, but learning more about his enemy may help defeat him. Clues about Voldemort's own personality has been gleaned from studying the Gaunts, who had sunk to a low social status and lived in poverty after previous generations squandered the family fortune. Regardless, they still considered themselves superior to other wizard clans based solely on their bloodline's descent from Salazar Slytherin, and therefore expected preferential treatment. This reflects Voldemort's own attitude. And while the Gaunts apparently felt little need to educate or cultivate themselves, the sad, pathetic (and physically unattractive) Merope secretly yearned for a better life, despite her severely limited prospects. When she fell in love with the Muggle, Tom Riddle, she magically entrapped him to escape her abusive family and abysmal life. Unfortunately, as soon as the enchantment wore off, Riddle abandoned the pregnant Merope, who, deeply despondent and either unable or unwilling to use magic to care for herself, died soon after giving birth, leaving her son, Tom Marvolo Riddle (Voldemort), to be raised in an orphanage. While Harry, and readers, may see Merope as a sympathetic character, it should be remembered that she magically entrapped Tom Riddle, Sr., who otherwise would never have had any interest in her. It is unknown why Merope stopped using magic on him, though perhaps it becomes less effective over time, she was affected by pregnancy, or she may have hoped that Riddle would eventually fall in love with her on his own. While Riddle had every right to leave the bogus relationship, if he knew Merope was pregnant, his abandoning an innocent child is inexcusable; Merope may not have revealed her condition before Riddle was gone, though the orphanage where Tom Jr. was raised certainly knew Riddle Sr.'s identity; it is never known if they were ever in contact with him about his son, however.
- Why does Dumbledore want Harry to learn about Voldemort's past? How will it help him?
- Why would Morfin jinx a Muggle?
- What might cause Merope to lose her ability to perform magic?
- Hermione, a Gryffindor Prefect, strongly disapproves that Harry is using the Prince's textbook, believing it is cheating and also dangerous. Why doesn't she report him?
- How could Salazar Slytherin's once-wealthy descendants have fallen to such a lowly social status? Why do they still consider themselves superior to other wizards?
- Considering her father's abusive treatment and her husband's cruel abandonment, why would Merope include "Tom" and "Marvolo" in her son's name?
- Even though Tom Riddle was duped by Merope, why would he abandon his innocent unborn child?
Several things in this little scene will prove important. This is the first time Slytherin's locket and the Peverell ring are seen. Both will be turned into Horcruxes by Voldemort, though we do not know yet what Horcruxes are. In the next book, readers learn why the ring's destruction is necessary, and how Dumbledore injured his hand. In the final book, it is revealed that the ring's stone is one of the three Deathly Hallows.
Harry chides Hermione for claiming that the Half-Blood Prince could be a girl. While he is quite right that a royal female is a princess and not a prince, in this particular instance Hermione was more accurate. The "prince" referred to here is not a royal title at all. Rather, it is someone's surname, and it could therefore have applied to either a male or female. Although Hermione is ultimately wrong that the book's previous owner was a female, nor does she realize yet it is someone's name, that surname did indeed belong to a woman, and she was related to the book's owner. Hermione demonstrates that her logic is more abstract and intuitive than Harry's typical linear reasoning. Rowling is dropping a subtle clue here that readers should look beyond the seemingly obvious.
The Half-Blood Prince's handwriting could possibly reveal his identity. On the notes that were pinned to Harry's Invisibility Cloak, the handwriting was described as "narrow [and] loopy." The note about Number 12, Grimmauld Place was a "narrow handwriting [that] was vaguely familiar." Both were written by Professor Dumbledore, as are a letter in "narrow, slanting handwriting" Harry received earlier in this book, as well as the note Harry just received, also in narrow, slanting handwriting. Harry recognizes the similar style; and we can suppose that Dumbledore deliberately made his writing more ornate and loopy when sending Harry the Cloak as a gift. However, we are not granted this clue regarding the Half-Blood Prince. In the previous book, Snape's grade on Harry's essay is described as a "large, spiky black 'D'," while the Half-Blood Prince's notations are noted as "small, cramped writing." Snape was the Half-Blood Prince, though the handwriting does not reflect this. Snape's writing may have changed over the years, or he adopted a different writing style to cram all his thoughts in the limited book margin space. A hint may have appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when, using the Pensieve, Harry observes the young Snape as he is writing. Harry never notices any similarity, however, leaving us unable to make any connection via the writing style.
Chapter 11: Hermione's Helping Hand
Classes continue with students still trying to learn wordless spells, not only in Defence Against the Dark Arts, but in Charms and Transfiguration. Hagrid has been ignoring Harry, Ron, and Hermione, apparently because they are not taking his Care of Magical Creatures class, so Harry resolves to visit him.
Harry holds Quidditch trials to select a new team. In attempting to explain why so many have turned out for the tryouts, Hermione offhandedly remarks to Harry that he has "never been more fanciable," and that, "it doesn't hurt that you've grown about a foot over the summer." Apparently it is Harry who is popular, rather than Quidditch. Hermione ignores Ron's comment that he is tall.
Harry and Ron's new Potions books arrive. Wanting to keep the Prince's notes, Harry removes and swaps the books' covers, then re-attaches them. The tattered-looking book can be returned to Professor Slughorn.
Dumbledore has been absent since his and Harry's private lesson. As general fear spreads throughout the wizarding population, Eloise Midgeon's parents remove her from Hogwarts, concerned about her safety. Also, Hannah Abbott's mother had been found dead.
The Trio head to the Quidditch pitch for try-outs, passing Parvati and Lavender, who smiles at Ron. When he smiles back, Hermione becomes cold and distant. The trials are a bit of a fiasco. Lavender wishes Ron luck as he flies up for his trial. Hearing this, Hermione later praises Ron for playing brilliantly, pleasing Ron but frustrating Lavender. Harry chooses Katie Bell, Ginny and a new player named Demelza Robins as Chasers, Jimmy Peakes and Ritchie Coote as Beaters. Ron is the new Keeper, much to Cormac McLaggen's dismay. While walking to Hagrid's hut, Ron mentions that McLaggen looked Confunded during the last goal shot; unnoticed by Ron, Hermione blushes.
The talk with Hagrid is awkward, but he and the Trio eventually make up after Hagrid confides that Aragog may be dying, and they tell him (untruthfully) that Professor Grubbly-Plank is an awful teacher. Hagrid thinks they might have fit in his class using Time-Turners, but Hermione says they were all destroyed in the battle at the Ministry.
Returning to the castle, they spot Cormac McLaggen attempting to negotiate the front steps and running into the doors. Pulling Hermione aside, Harry says Cormac looks Confunded. Hermione admits she Confunded him, defensively claiming he made horrible remarks about Ron and Ginny, and his temper would cause problems.
Horace Slughorn invites Harry and Hermione to "a little party, just a few rising stars," while ignoring Ron. Harry declines, citing his detention, but Slughorn says he will ask Snape to excuse him.
The Evening Prophet reports that Arthur Weasley searched the Malfoy residence for suspicious magical objects but found nothing. Hermione insists that Draco could not have smuggled an item into Hogwarts because everything was checked by Dark Detectors. Ron, meanwhile, stares at Lavender Brown, while Harry receives a message from Snape saying he is expected for detention, no matter how many parties he has been invited to.
Hogwarts remains a relatively safe environment, and students have mostly been shielded from the increasingly violent events unfolding in the general wizarding population. However, as attacks increase, readers can see how fear and insecurity have seeped into the castle, creating concerns about safety, to the extent that some parents have removed their children from school. Adding to this, Dumbledore, a symbol of strength, protection, and stability to students and staff alike, is often gone now, and his absences are likely contributing to everyone's stress and concerns, as well as fostering rumors regarding Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Whatever Dumbledore is doing, he probably realizes that his frequent absences particularly affect Harry, and this may be why he re-emphasizes how important friendship and unity are. He encourages Harry to share whatever he learns with Ron and Hermione, knowing they will help protect and support Harry.
Harry is also gaining a clearer picture about the Ministry of Magic and their deceptive tactics. When Stan Shunpike is arrested as a Death Eater, Harry knows he is most likely innocent. Unable to apprehend real Death Eaters, Scrimgeour instead arrests easy-to-target victims like Shunpike as a means to appease the wizarding community's fears about Voldemort and to shine a more positive light on the Ministry.
Meanwhile, Hermione is acting out-of-character by Confunding Cormac McLaggen during the Quidditch trials to help Ron. As she has done before, Hermione will break rules if she feels it is justified. Readers may believe that Harry is also bending rules and using favoritism to select Ron over a stronger player like McLaggen. Harry believes that if Ron can overcome his insecurities, he has the potential to become a talented athlete like his siblings. He also realizes that Ron's personality is better suited to the team, unlike the egotistical McLaggen, who most likely would create turmoil by challenging Harry's authority. Without Hermione's unsolicited help, Harry might have had difficulty justifying choosing Ron over Cormac.
Despite Hermione's helping Ron, their relationship remains strained. Their mutual jealousy may indicate each has deeper feelings for the other than either will acknowledge. Events during the Yule Ball two years earlier showed that Hermione knows her feelings better than Ron, and understands Ron's feelings more than he does. Ron struggled with jealousy when Hermione dated Viktor Krum, and was angry and upset when he learned she was still writing to Viktor, though he never fully understood exactly what those emotions were. The circumstances seem reversed here when someone becomes interested in Ron. Hermione may be remaining silent because she is uncertain what his reaction might be.
Students are also studying more advanced magic, and casting wordless spells is apparently difficult to learn. Being able to cast spells without your opponent knowing what they are is an essential skill for an Auror. Harry struggles to master the technique, but if he is unable to learn this, his future career as an Auror could be affected.
Harry continues to avoid Slughorn's invitations, and we sense he seems pleased that Snape's detention gives him a plausible excuse to skip Slughorn's party. And while Ron probably has no real desire to attend Slughorn's get-togethers, his being slighted only adds to his feeling inferior to Harry and Hermione. Even Ginny has gained Slughorn's notice.
- Why are wordless spells important? Why does Harry have difficulty learning them?
- What does Harry think is the real reason the Ministry of Magic arrested Stan Shunpike? Is he right?
- Did Ron deserve to be chosen for the Quidditch team over Cormac McLaggen, who is a stronger athlete? What was Harry's reasoning?
- Why does Slughorn invite Harry and Hermione to his party, but not Ron?
- Why does Hermione help Ron at the Quidditch trials, even though she is upset with him?
- Are parents justified in removing their children from Hogwarts? What evidence is there for this?
- Why is Dumbledore so frequently absent from Hogwarts? How is this affecting the school?
Harry feels the Ministry has swung too far in the opposite direction. From Fudge's ineffectual denial there was ever a threat, Scrimgeour now attempts to appear as if the Ministry is taking action against the renascent Death Eaters. Twice Scrimgeour will brace Harry directly, seeking "The Chosen One's" support for current Ministry policies. Near Christmas, he offers Harry a position in the Auror branch of the Ministry in return for Harry being frequently seen entering the Ministry. When Harry asks if Stan Shunpike has been released yet, Scrimgeour avoids answering directly. When Scrimgeour repeats his offer in May, the conversation will be remarkably similar.
Aragog's ill health plays an important plot point later on. Slughorn was at Hogwarts when Tom Riddle was a student, and he was present at an event that will prove to be important to Dumbledore's mission. As this event casts Slughorn in a bad light, he has given Dumbledore an altered memory. Aragog's death provides an opportunity for Harry to catch Slughorn off his guard sufficiently enough that he is persuaded to yield the true memory.
When Cormac substitutes for Ron in one Quidditch match, it results in Harry being sent to the Hospital Wing with a broken skull, and for one of Gryffindor's worst Quidditch defeats ever. While this is a minor event, it does show Harry's increasing ability to judge character. Harry is initially reluctant to place McLaggen on the team, but had few grounds to select Ron over Cormac except for his feelings about Cormac and his erratic performance at the trials, which he correctly suspects Hermione tampered with. The one time Cormac does play on the team, Harry's gut feelings about him are confirmed.
As mentioned in the article on Time-Turners, it is necessary that they be destroyed as they are simply too useful. A wizard without scruples, like Voldemort, could use a Time-Turner to replicate himself multiple times over, thus making a virtual army of himself. Harry would stand little chance when faced with twenty Voldemorts... and being effectively in charge of the Ministry from behind the scenes, as he will be in the final book, Voldemort would have unfettered access to any remaining Time-Turners. Their destruction thus becomes necessary for the plot.
Harry will spend considerable energy avoiding Slughorn's soirées, deliberately scheduling Quidditch practices at the same time, and he will be pleased that, at least once, Dumbledore's lessons take precedence over a Slug Club party. Despite oft-repeated invitations, Harry only attends Slughorn's Christmas party.
The object that Malfoy is trying to repair was never at Malfoy Manor because it is at the school. It is a Vanishing Cabinet, one of a pair, which Peeves had damaged some years before. Draco has hidden it and is attempting to repair it as a portal for Death Eaters to invade the school.
Chapter 12: Silver and Opals
Despite telling Harry how important the lessons are, Professor Dumbledore is often absent, and there are no additional lessons before the first Hogsmeade weekend in mid-October. While reading the Half-Blood Prince's textbook one morning, Harry casts a non-verbal one, Levicorpus, and unintentionally levitates a sleeping Ron. Harry frantically invokes the counter spell.
Hermione is unamused when told about Ron's experience. This Prince could be a dodgy character, and Harry is invoking his spells without knowing their effect. Harry recognizes the spell from Snape's memory in the Pensieve as the same one his father used on Snape. Harry briefly considers that his father was the Half-Blood Prince, but discounts this because James was a pure-blood wizard. Meanwhile, Ginny delivers a note to Harry from Dumbledore, scheduling another lesson for Monday evening. Ginny mentions she is going to Hogsmeade with Dean and may see them there.
On Saturday, after being scanned by Filch with Secrecy Sensors, the Trio embark to Hogsmeade. Finding Zonko's joke shop boarded up, they move on to Honeyduke's and run into Professor Slughorn, who extends yet another dinner invitation to Harry and Hermione. Harry is grateful Dumbledore's lesson gives him an excuse to decline, though Ron feels slighted.
On the way to The Three Broomsticks, Harry sees Mundungus Fletcher talking to the Hog's Head Inn barman. Mundungus drops a suitcase, spilling its contents, including a silver goblet bearing the Black family crest. Harry, enraged, seizes Mundungus' throat, claiming he has looted Sirius Black's house. Mundungus blasts Harry away and Disapparates. Tonks appears and says it is useless to hunt for him, but Harry intends to report Mundungus to Dumbledore.
Hermione suggests heading back to Hogwarts, to which Ron and Harry agree - this has been an unpleasant outing. They follow Katie Bell and her friend Leanne, who are arguing over a package. Leanne tries to take it from Katie, but it rips open. Katie, suddenly deathly still, rises into the air, then falls to the ground, writhing and screaming in pain. Harry runs for help and returns with Hagrid, who carries Katie to the school. Harry prevents Ron from touching the package, recognizing a necklace inside as the same one he saw at Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley that bore a label reading, 'Cursed.' Leanne says Katie returned from the toilet carrying a package that she insisted she must deliver to someone at Hogwarts. Leanne suspects Katie was under the Imperius Curse. Harry immediately suspects Draco is involved, though Ron discounts this.
Professor McGonagall meets them at the gate, and Filch takes the necklace to Professor Snape. Harry suspects Malfoy was involved, but McGonagall says Draco was doing detention with her. Dismissed, Harry, Ron, and Hermione wonder who the necklace was intended for. It seems unlikely that anything harmful could get past Filch and his Secrecy Sensor. They conclude it was a poorly thought-out plan.
The attack on Katie Bell bolsters Harry's suspicions that Draco is directly involved in some sinister plot, though there is only circumstantial evidence linking Draco to the necklace, and he has an iron-clad alibi. Regardless, Harry remains positive that Draco was behind the attack. While readers can sympathize with Harry, knowing that Draco has been tasked with some unknown mission for Voldemort and that it probably is linked to this incident, Harry lacks any objectivity whatsoever. He becomes so single-mindedly convinced that Draco is guilty that he stubbornly refuses to consider other possibilities. Also, the Trio's belief that the attack seemed poorly planned may be more significant than they realize.
Adding to Harry's concerns is Dumbledore's increasingly frequent and unexplained absences. Not only is this disturbing to Harry, but probably the entire school. Dumbledore is Hogwarts' symbol of authority and security, and his empty chair in the Great Hall may signal that there is greater turmoil in the wizarding world than anyone realized. Harry, in particular, is affected by his absence. Harry still deeply mourns his godfather Sirius' death, and Dumbledore has become even more a father figure to him. When a parent is away, a child often feels abandoned and unprotected, even when left in capable hands.
Harry physically attacking Mundungus shows a rare side to his personality. While Harry is often quick to anger, he normally maintains control and never reacts physically. Still grieving his godfather's death, he is so outraged that Sirius' possessions (which now belong to Harry) have been violated that he is overcome by rage. Only an extreme circumstance could have provoked such an outburst. And only Tonks' intervention prevents Harry from inflicting serious harm on Mundungus and possibly facing severe legal consequences.
Harry's hope that the clever Half-Blood Prince could actually be his father may indicate he is looking for even more redeeming qualities in James, though he is quickly forced to discount his own theory. Harry may still have conflicted feelings over his father. Although he loves the man he never knew and knows he was a good and brave person, he was deeply disappointed when he accidentally learned (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) that the youthful James was once a rather obnoxious bully. James, along with Sirius Black, often tormented and humiliated Severus Snape purely for their own amusement while they were students at Hogwarts, though James outgrew his childish behavior.
- Who does Harry think might be the Half-Blood Prince? Why does he want to believe this and what finally makes him discount it?
- Who does Harry attack and why?
- Where has Harry seen the necklace before, and who does he connect with it? What does McGonagall have to say?
- Why would Harry use an unknown, and potentially lethal, spell on Ron without knowing its effects? What does Hermione have to say? Is she right?
- What might account for Dumbledore's frequent absences? How does it affect Harry?
- Who might have given Katie the package? Why?
- Why was Katie Bell (unknowingly) chosen to smuggle the necklace into Hogwarts if Filch was likely to detect it with his sensors? Was it a poorly though-out plan as Harry, Ron, and Hermione believe it was?
Despite Hermione's warning, Harry will continue using the Prince's spells without any regard to their function. Although the one he used on Ron resulted in a humorous, and generally harmless, episode, a curse Harry later casts on Draco Malfoy in anger will have a more devastating effect. Snape, recognizing the curse, intervenes in time to save Draco's life.
Katie Bell was put under the Imperius curse, not by Draco, but by one of his agents, Madam Rosmerta, who in turn had been placed under that curse by Draco. This is the first of three failed attempts Draco makes on Dumbledore's life. However, the plan may not be as ill-conceived as the Trio believes. In particular, we discover later that Secrecy Sensors detect secrets; however, bottling a love potion in a perfume bottle is sufficient to allow it to pass both visual scrutiny and the Sensors. As Katie Bell unknowingly was carrying something lethal, had no malign intent, she was therefore not intentionally concealing any secrets, likely enabling her to pass through the Secrecy Sensors undetected. A poisoned mead bottle also makes its way into the school without detection, and the Trio believes it may have entered unscanned, with one of the teachers.
When Harry encounters Mundungus Fletcher in Hogsmeade, Aberforth Dumbledore, the Hog's Head Inn barman, has apparently just refused to buy something and walked away. It is clear that, having ransacked Sirius/Harry's house, Mundungus is attempting to sell his spoils when Harry confronts him. It is learned later that Mundungus sold the mate to Harry's broken two-way mirror to Aberforth, who was told the mirror's function by his brother, Albus. Late in the final book, Aberforth admits he periodically used the mirror to check on Harry. Harry will occasionally catch Aberforth's eye in the mirror, mistaking it for Albus Dumbledore's, which is apparently similar in shape and color.
Another item that Mundungus loots from Grimmauld Place will play an important role in the final book. When Grimmauld Place was being cleaned, "a locket which none of them could open" was found. This locket will prove quite valuable to Harry, but he will have to trace it through a long chain of thieves before reclaiming it. Kreacher had retrieved it from the trash, and by now Mundungus has stolen it from Kreacher. At some point, it is extorted from Mundungus, and it is from this final thief, Dolores Umbridge, that Harry will have to collect it.
Chapter 13: The Secret Riddle
Katie Bell is moved to St. Mungo's Hospital in London. With the exception of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Leanne, students are unaware that someone other than Katie was the intended target. Ron and Hermione ignore Harry's comment that Malfoy knows.
Though Dumbledore has remained unseen all day, Harry reports to his office for his second lesson. Dumbledore is there and reassures Harry that Snape, who has more experience with the Dark Arts than Madam Pomfrey, has done all he can to help Katie. Dumbledore also says that Mundungus Fletcher has apparently gone into hiding, but nothing else will be taken from Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore tells Harry that Draco's involvement will be investigated, but their lesson is more important now.
In Dumbledore's previous lesson, they had determined Merope Riddle, abandoned by her Muggle husband, Tom Riddle, was pregnant and alone in London. Lacking the will to perform magic to care for herself, she needed money. She sold a gold locket once belonging to Salazar Slytherin to Caractacus Burke, one of the founders of Borgin & Burkes. Harry was outraged that Burke only gave Merope ten Galleons for the priceless relic.
In this memory, a younger Dumbledore with auburn hair and beard visits the eleven-year-old Tom Riddle in a Muggle orphanage. The matron comments Tom is a strange boy and leaves the impression she is hoping someone will take him well away, Dumbledore then speaks with Tom. Initially, Tom believes Professor Dumbledore is a doctor who has come to take him to a sanatorium. However, Dumbledore explains that Hogwarts is a school of magic. Even as a boy, Tom manipulated and terrified other children, strangled a pet rabbit, hurt people, and spoke in Parseltongue. When Tom demands proof that Dumbledore is a wizard, Dumbledore conjures flames on Tom's wardrobe, and as suddenly extinguishes them. Dumbledore orders Tom to retrieve a small cache of stolen items and demands he return them to their owners. The young Dumbledore worries about the boy's ambition, his cruelty, his thieving, and his reaction to learning he is a wizard; he resolves to keep a close eye on him.
Back in the office, Dumbledore says he was unaware Tom would become the most feared Dark Wizard in centuries, Lord Voldemort. He draws Harry's attention to several traits about the young Tom Riddle: he disliked his common name, Tom, and wanted to be separate from everyone else. He was already very self-sufficient, secretive, apparently friendless, and he liked collecting trophies.
As he is leaving, Harry notices the ring is gone and comments that he expected to see one of Voldemort's trophies, perhaps the mouth organ? Dumbledore comments that the mouth organ was always only a mouth organ.
By sharing his and others' memories, Dumbledore shows Harry how Voldemort crafted himself from an abandoned, insecure boy into a notorious Dark wizard. While readers may be sympathetic to Riddle's difficult early life, it can be seen that he was a naturally unpleasant person from an early age. Even the orphanage caretakers came to fear him. And despite growing up without knowing his family, young Tom Riddle inherited many unpleasant Gaunt family characteristics. He was egotistical, secretive, aloof, and lacked empathy for others. He was also highly intelligent, far beyond an ordinary eleven-year-old. As a child, Riddle isolated himself from the other orphans, who he considered inferior and frequently stole objects from, saving them as trophies. He also physically and/or emotionally threatened or harmed them, and later learned to manipulate people to obtain what he wanted. When Dumbledore reprimanded Tom for being disrespectful, Riddle's sudden good behavior seemed insincere and designed to appease the strange professor only to ensure his attending Hogwarts. Young Riddle feared being ordinary in any way and needed to feel superior to everyone. However, being introduced to the Wizarding world may have had the opposite effect. Though Riddle learned he possessed special powers the other orphans lacked, upon arriving at Hogwarts, he was no longer unique, but just one among many talented wizard children. Even here, he was driven to rise above his peers and worked hard to learn as much as possible, eventually leading him into mastering Dark magic.
Riddle also shares many similarities to Harry. Both were orphans raised in a loveless environment, they are half-blood wizards, each learned they had magical powers only when they were old enough to attend Hogwarts, and both could perform magic at an early age without any training or using a wand. However, even if both boys had been raised by their respective parents, their outcomes would probably still have been very different from one another. Riddle believes himself to be a wizard immediately, whereas Harry is initially doubtful. And unlike Harry, Riddle hated Muggles, even though his father was one, a fact Riddle loathed about himself and may have been deeply rooted in his Muggle father abandoning his mother. Harry would probably be much the same good-hearted person he is now, only more confident and self-assured, while Tom Riddle's Gaunt heritage likely would still have despised his Muggle origins, even if his father had raised him. Riddle felt forever tainted by this "blood impurity", and it had an adverse effect on his psyche. Learning that he was a wizard inflated his sense of superiority, while his connection to Salazar Slytherin later fueled this egotism, gradually manifesting itself into his new persona as Lord Voldemort and diminishing, in his mind, his sullied Muggle bloodline.
Dumbledore says he kept a close watch on Riddle at Hogwarts. Although Dumbledore never mentions it, during his interviews with the orphanage Matron, we see that he may suspect Riddle could be tempted to learn and perform the three Unforgivable curses. Riddle's speaking to Dumbledore in a commanding voice suggests the Imperius curse, while his boast that he can cause pain in others is similar to the Cruciatus curse. His capacity to kill another child's rabbit to establish dominance and control through fear is a precursor to using the Killing curse. Riddle also showed the potential for quickly learning Legilimency when he stared into Dumbledore's eyes to determine if he is lying. While it is unlikely young Tom had ever performed these difficult spells, particularly without a wand, his emerging abilities strongly suggest he had the potential to become a powerful Dark wizard.
- Why did Merope Gaunt sell the Locket? Whom did she sell it to, and why was she willing to accept so little money for such a valuable object?
- What did the staff at the orphanage think about Tom Riddle? Why?
- Why would Tom Riddle believe that Dumbledore arrived at the orphanage to take him to an asylum? What was Riddle planning to do if that was true?
- What is Dumbledore's initial opinion of Tom Riddle at the orphanage? What did he resolve to do? What does he tell Harry about Riddle?
- Why might Slytherin's locket be gold - Gryffindor's color - and not silver like Slytherin's House color?
- Why wouldn't Merope use magic to support herself?
- Why do Ron and Hermione continually dismiss Harry's suspicions about Draco, despite credible circumstantial evidence against him? What does Dumbledore tell Harry?
Careful attention should be paid to Dumbledore's words when he responds to Harry's concerns about Draco Malfoy. Here, and in later chapters, when Harry reports on Draco's actions, Dumbledore never actually dismisses them, but instead tells Harry, "they are not your concern." Examining the text reveals that he is not belittling Harry's allegations; rather, he is saying that he is aware, but believes Harry has more important things to do than worry about Draco, nor is it Harry's place to know more than he does. In fact, in the final book, we learn that Dumbledore knows what Draco's mission is, though not exactly how he plans to execute it, and is having Severus Snape watch Draco. Snape's surveillance will be less complete than Harry's, and when Draco finishes his plan's main step, it is discovered and reported by Harry rather than Snape.
Dumbledore's comment, that the mouth organ (harmonica) was only ever a mouth organ, is enigmatic to Harry, and to the reader. In the final novel, the ring is revealed to have been a Horcrux before Dumbledore broke it, and it is to this that Dumbledore was probably alluding. That the ring's stone is also one of the three Deathly Hallows probably is not what Dumbledore is thinking about. While that part of the ring's nature is probably predominant in Dumbledore's mind, given the previous summer's events, Dumbledore already believes that Voldemort fails to grasp the Hallows' nature. As such, the ring's stone being a Hallow is irrelevant to his and Harry's discussion here, as it centers on Voldemort.
The ring's absence is curious, and the reader may wonder why it is gone. In fact, we do not see it again in this book. When it reappears, near the end of the final book, it is inside the Snitch that Dumbledore has bequeathed to Harry. It is a safe assumption that Dumbledore has already secreted the ring within the Snitch, in preparation for his demise, which he now knows will be no later than July, no more than nine or ten months in the future.
Chapter 14: Felix Felicis
Hermione says the 'Slug Club' dinners are actually quite enjoyable, and encourages Harry to attend the Christmas one, and says invitees can bring a guest. Ron mockingly suggests she invite McLaggen. Hermione hotly replies that she was going to invite Ron, but as he is acting so stupidly, she will not bother. Ron sheepishly says that he would go with her, however it is uncertain whether or not she will relent. Harry worries that if Ron and Hermione ever do become a couple, a break-up could create an unbridgeable gap between them, or that the two would become so close they would shut Harry out.
Harry recruits Dean Thomas to replace Katie Bell for the Quidditch team while she is in St. Mungo's Hospital. At practice, Ron, overcome with nerves, plays horribly, and even punches Demelza in the mouth.
Heading back to the Gryffindor Common room, Harry and Ron stumble across Ginny and Dean kissing in a corridor; Harry feels jealous while Ron reacts angrily. Ginny is equally angry at Ron, shouting that Harry kissed Cho Chang and Hermione kissed Viktor Krum, but Ron has as much experience as a twelve-year-old; she then storms off. Heading to the Common room, Harry and Ron startle a girl who drops a jar.
Ron, Ginny's words still stinging, broods dark thoughts, apparently about Hermione having kissed Viktor. Harry struggles with his own romantic feelings towards Ginny, though he dismisses it as only friendship. He also fears that if he did start dating Ginny, it could end his and Ron's friendship.
The next day, Ron, still angry, lashes out at everyone, especially Hermione, and cold-shoulders Dean and Ginny. Ron's mood hardly improves over the next several days and plays miserably at practice. He nearly resigns, but Harry snaps him out of it. However, Ron remains dejected before the match against Slytherin. Harry devises a brilliant plan. At breakfast, Hermione glimpses the small flask containing the Felix Felicis potion concealed in Harry's hand and, suspecting Harry spiked Ron's pumpkin juice, berates him. Ron drinks the juice anyway. Apparently, the luck potion works, as Malfoy and another player are not playing that day, though Harry suspects Draco is planning something. When Ron asks if Harry did put the Felix potion in his drink, Harry says nothing.
Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff who is announcing, continually criticizes Gryffindor, but he is forced to stop when they play brilliantly, eventually gaining a 100 point lead. The Slytherin Seeker spots the Snitch, but Harry distracts him and catches it for the win. In the changing room, Hermione bursts in and lambastes Harry for cheating, but Harry reveals he never used the potion, Ron only believed he did.
At the victory party, Ron is kissing Lavender Brown in plain view. Hermione ducks in and out of the common room, and Harry follows her to an unlocked classroom. Conjured birds are flying around her head; he tries consoling her, but Ron barges in with Lavender, who quickly exits. Hermione sends the conjured canaries to attack Ron.
Although Hermione used magic to help secure Ron a place on the Quidditch team, she has apparently fallen back into her usual "follow the rules" way and rebukes Harry for cheating (or so she thinks) by giving Ron the Good Luck potion to enhance his game skills. Ron played brilliantly because he believed the potion would improve his performance, but Harry never actually gave it to him. When Ron believes in himself, he has the ability to perform well in many things.
Harry's skill at utilizing people's flaws and habits is improving; he knows Hermione will intervene if there is any unethical behavior, and that Ron, like a petulant child, tends to resist her. This is why, we believe, he allows Hermione to see the phial of Felix Felicis as he passes it over Ron's pumpkin juice; Harry knows that if Hermione assumes Ron's drink was spiked with the potion, she will object. It is uncertain whether Harry is counting on that to motivate Ron into drinking it; it is certain that Hermione's protest will lead Ron to believe that he has been given a chance at some liquid luck. This is somewhat similar to how Voldemort manipulates people and their thought patterns to his advantage. Unlike Voldemort, however, Harry's aim is to help his friends rather than for his own selfish ends.
Ron once again reacts in a bad way to his unresolved feelings for Hermione. Ginny's taunts regarding his romantic inexperience deeply embarrass him, but it is probably her revelation about Hermione kissing Viktor Krum that truly upsets him, causing him to lash out at Hermione; by failing to recognize his emotions for what they are, he allows himself to be propelled into a questionable relationship with Lavender, a silly, giggly girl who Ron probably never would have noticed had she not overtly flirted with him, thus flattering his ego. Hermione, in turn, becomes even more furious with Ron for succumbing to Lavender's attentions, though she is actually more hurt and upset than angry. And while this is the most openly emotional that she has expressed her feelings about Ron, only Harry, and we, can perceive what he does not.
While Harry wants his two best friends to be happy, he also has concerns. If Ron and Hermione should ever overcome their differences and become a couple, it could mean he would be left behind or be forced to choose sides if they break up. Harry is beginning to realize just how much he relies on each for their friendship and support, a fact Dumbledore has subtly been impressing upon him for some time. Harry also wrestles with budding romantic feelings for Ginny Weasley, though he brushes this off as "brotherly" concern.
Also, Harry is working on two fronts simultaneously. The first, mentioned above, is to instill confidence in Ron by showing that he is able to perform well (here, keeping goal at Quidditch) when he believes in himself. In this endeavor, Harry will be successful. Harry's other battle is to reconcile Ron and Hermione. This has failed so far, possibly due to Ron's emotional immaturity relative to the other two, leaving Harry again having two good friends who are not on speaking terms.
Readers should note the small girl in the seventh-floor hallway who drops the jar.
- Why is Ron in such a bad mood?
- Why is Ron able to perform so well in the game?
- Why does Ron suggest that Hermione invite Cormac to Slughorn's party?
- Why is Hermione upset with Ron?
- Why is Harry concerned if Ron and Hermione should ever became a couple?
- Are Harry's fears about Ron and Hermione ever being together justified? Explain.
- Why would Ron become involved with Lavender? Why is she attracted to him?
- Are Ron and Lavender a good match? Explain why or why not.
We see here what could be considered the formal beginning of the romantic relationship between Ron and Lavender. She had quite clearly set her sights on Ron early in the year, but rather than making any overt move, had simply responded more strongly than necessary to any of his sallies, whether directed at her or not. Ron has been consciously unaware, but now, partially elated by the Quidditch victory over Slytherin, and partly in response to Ginny's accusation that he is romantically inexperienced, he is drawn to Lavender as the quickest way to disprove Ginny's claims. This romance, if it can be called that, will put serious tension on the bond between Ron and Hermione, tension that will gradually ease in the Spring as Ron realizes that he and Lavender actually have little in common, and starts looking to Hermione once more for friendship and advice.
Although she is passed by almost unnoticed, the small girl in the seventh-floor hallway who drops the jar of frog-spawn will be important. The alert reader will note that a small girl is often standing in that hallway, and who invariably drops something noisy as Harry passes. Readers may also note that this occurs near the Room of Requirement. This girl is either Crabbe or Goyle, disguised with Polyjuice Potion and standing guard outside the Room of Requirement while Malfoy works within on his secret task for Voldemort. Harry never realizes this until he has Dobby and Kreacher tail Malfoy later in the spring.
Chapter 15: The Unbreakable Vow
As Hogwarts prepares for Christmas, Harry does his best to avoid giggling girls and mistletoe clumps. Ron now spends every evening kissing Lavender Brown who "seemed to regard any moment that she was not kissing Ron as a moment wasted." Ron and Hermione continue to ignore each other, while Harry and Hermione frequently study in the library together. Harry once again has found himself best friends with two people who are not speaking to each other.
Meanwhile, Harry continues doing well in Potions using the Prince's notes. Hermione warns him that the girls who are infatuated with him might try to slip him a Love Potion. Romilda Vane is particularly determined to go to Slughorn's party with Harry, and gives him a box of chocolates, that Harry puts away unopened. Hermione suggests that Harry invite someone to discourage the other girls. Harry mentions Draco and the necklace again, but Hermione insists the Secrecy Sensors would detect any powerful curse. Hermione is still angered that Harry refuses to stop using the Prince's book.
In Transfiguration, Ron accidentally gives himself a handlebar moustache, causing Hermione to laugh. In retaliation, Ron rudely imitates Hermione, sending her running off crying. Harry cannot wait to leave for the Burrow, hoping the distance will help heal Ron and Hermione's relationship. Harry finds Hermione in a nearby bathroom, being comforted by Luna Lovegood. Hermione collects her things from Harry and leaves.
Luna says that Ron sometimes says funny things, but hurtful ones as well. Harry thinks Luna has a knack for telling unpleasant truths. Luna says she misses the D.A., as she felt she had friends there and mentions how Ginny sticks up for her and stopped two boys from calling her "Loony." Harry suddenly decides to invite Luna to Slughorn's party—just as friends. Luna is surprised and quite happy, as nobody has ever invited her to a party before.
Soon, everyone knows Harry has invited Luna. Ron rebukes Harry, telling him he could have asked anyone other than "Loony Lovegood", though Ginny commends Harry. Lavender appears and starts kissing Ron. In response, Hermione loudly tells Parvati that she is going to Slughorn's party with Cormac which causes Ron to resurface from his kiss in shock. Harry ponders the depths to which girls will sink for revenge.
Luna wears silver-spangled robes to the party, eliciting giggles from other girls. Harry, relieved she has foregone her usual Butterbeer-cork necklace and radish earrings, thinks she actually looks quite nice. At the party, Hermione, having escaped Cormac's attempts to get her under the mistletoe, steers Harry and Luna to the refreshments table, where she can watch for Cormac's approach. Snape is also present. When Slughorn comments that Harry is a natural at Potions, just like his mother, Snape responds sarcastically.
Harry is having a great time until Filch drags in Draco, who Filch caught in the hallway, apparently gatecrashing. Slughorn laughingly reprimands him, but allows him to stay, at which Draco looks surprisingly disappointed. When Snape asks Draco for a private word, Harry, hidden under his Invisibility Cloak, follows and eavesdrops on their conversation. Snape probes Malfoy for information about Katie Bell, but Draco mentally blocks him. Snape remarks that Draco's Aunt Bella must have taught him Occlumency. Snape says he knows Draco is working on some project upstairs and offers to help, citing his Unbreakable Vow. Draco says nothing and storms out.
When Harry overhears Snape questioning Draco regarding his secret activities, Snape appears clueless about what Draco's mission is, and Draco refuses to divulge anything, even though Snape has sworn an Unbreakable Vow to assist him. However, Draco's refusal to confide in Snape, indicating distrust, does little to convince Harry that Snape is not a Death Eater, despite Dumbledore's repeated assurance that he is loyal. Harry's stubbornness and emotions often overrule his judgment and logic, and his hatred for Snape prevents his considering other possibilities regarding him. It also appears that Harry's suspicions regarding Draco may be correct.
Harry seems oblivious that the opposite sex find him so appealing. His interest in girls has mostly been confined to one person, Cho Chang, and he has seldom considered pursuing other relationships up until now, when he experiences budding feelings for Ginny. That he generally ignores girls who are interested in him may show that he lacks confidence, or that he is so preoccupied by more serious matters that it never occurs to him to seek female companionship other than Hermione or Ginny, his platonic friends. To discourage girls' attention, Harry invites Luna Lovegood to Slughorn's party, partly because he considers her "safe," but he also feels bad that other students mistreated her. Nor has he forgotten her participation in the battle at the Ministry of Magic, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, earning her a secure place within his circle. Although Harry knows other students, including Ron, will mock him for inviting "Loony" Luna, he has matured enough that he considers his peers' disapproval is outweighed by one individual's needs. While Hermione and Ginny express their approval, Ron's deplorable behavior not only shows his immaturity, but also his insecurity about himself; he shuns the unpopular students, fearing that associating with them will reflect badly on him.
Luna's observation that Ron often says funny things, but also hurtful ones, is accurate and insightful; but considering how Luna risked her own life to help Harry and Ron during the battle at the Ministry of Magic, Ron's rudeness towards her is inexcusable and disgraceful. Ron has previously demonstrated poor behavior not only with Luna, but also Hermione. His difficulty with girls in general and unresolved feelings for Hermione in particular results in him lashing out at her for any perceived misstep. After Ginny mentioned that Hermione kissed Viktor Krum the previous year, Ron retaliated by dating Lavender Brown, a rather silly, annoying girl he never particularly liked. Ron's motive largely appears to be to hurt Hermione and make her jealous. In that end, he has apparently succeeded. Ron may also be trying to prove he is more romantically adept than Ginny claimed; in this, he has made some progress, having finally gotten kissed by someone other than Auntie Muriel, but likely remains woefully immature emotionally, and just as clueless about girls. And while Ron's intention may have been to hurt Hermione, the silly Lavender's cloying possessiveness may be having an adverse effect on Ron.
Luna's comments about Ron are interesting because she also tends to say what she is thinking. Whether Luna cultivates her abstract air to soften her comments is unknown. She is correct that Ron tends to disregard others' feelings when he speaks, making what he says painful at times. Curiously, though Luna is often equally direct, her words are not hurtful to others.
Hermione's revelation about Secrecy Sensors having weaknesses indicates it is possible that harmful materials can enter Hogwarts in some circumstances. Whether the cursed necklace that Katie Bell was carrying would have set them off is unknown, as Katie, apparently under the Imperius Curse at that time, was unaware she was transporting something dangerous, and thus no secrecy was immediately involved; Hermione seems to imply that the sensors would still be triggered by the jinx within the necklace, but she is interrupted, and we never learn why she thinks that.
- Why does Harry invite Luna to Slughorn's party? Why does Ron object?
- Why does Ron mock Hermione? Was it deserved?
- Why did Hermione invite Cormac McLaggen rather than another student?
- Is Luna right that Ron sometimes says funny things, but also hurtful ones? Explain. What does Harry think?
- Snape seems to not be aware of what Draco is doing. Yet in the start of this book, he tells Draco's mother that he is aware of the plan. Explain why this is not a contradiction. What does Snape not know about Draco's mission?
- If Snape is magically bound to help Draco accomplish his secret task, why does Draco refuse to confide in him?
Draco's mission has him trying to repair something in the Room of Requirement, which is the place upstairs that Snape is referring to. When Filch caught him "skulking about the halls", Draco was not trying to gatecrash the party; it is only Slughorn's self-centredness that prevents his seeing that Draco has no wish to be there. Almost certainly, Draco was en route to the Room of Requirement to continue with his mission. Likely his vexation with Snape is partially due to Snape's preventing him from reaching the Room for what he had probably hoped would be a productive night's work.
Draco's refusal to accept Snape's help initially seems harder to fathom, as Draco is clearly having difficulty carrying out his mission and probably needs some assistance. Snape has risen quite high in Voldemort's inner council, likely to a level that Draco believes rightfully belongs to his father. Draco has been charged with what he sees as a very important mission, specifically eliminating Dumbledore, "the only one he (Voldemort) ever feared". Draco quite possibly sees this mission as the only means to restore his family to its rightful position, and correctly believes that accepting assistance may help him succeed, but would certainly hinder his family's redemption. He also likely has only Snape's word that there was an Unbreakable Vow, his mother would never have revealed this to him, and he knows Voldemort forbids his Death Eaters from discussing their missions with one another. Add these factors to his own pride and the normal distrust teenagers have toward the older generation, and we can see that Draco's refusal to share his mission details with Snape is completely in character.
Some readers, following the events of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, suggested that Luna seemed an important enough character that she might join the Trio more completely, possibly even becoming Harry's girlfriend. Events in this chapter both bolster, and deny, that theory; while Harry does take Luna to Slughorn's party, he remains amused by her actions, which strongly suggests the relationship will never grow deeper.
The cauldron cakes that Romilda gives Harry are spiked with love potion, as Hermione had warned. Ron's finding and sampling them will jeopardize his relationship with Lavender, and will result in his accidental poisoning, in the spring.
Related to that incident, we will find that a poisoned bottle of mead had made it into Hogwarts without tripping Filch's Secrecy Sensors. It is unknown how, though it is suggested that because a teacher was carrying the bottle, it was left unscanned; alternately, as the teacher never knew what he was actually carrying, and the poison may not have been magical in nature, the Secrecy Sensors were unable to detect it. It could be argued that as the teacher carrying it was not keeping any secret, the Sensors would not have triggered, and in fact Hermione suggests as much when Harry asks how the girls are managing to get love potions shipped to them.
Chapter 16: A Very Frosty Christmas
Harry and Ron, at The Burrow for Christmas, talk about what Harry had overheard. Ron agrees it is odd that Malfoy was assigned a task, and is incredulous that Snape made an Unbreakable Vow to help him. Anyone breaking an Unbreakable Vow will die. Fred and George arrive and tease Ron; apparently Ginny told them about Ron and Lavender.
A large crowd is expected at The Burrow over Christmas, though Percy, still estranged from his family, will be absent. Mr. Weasley admits privately to Harry that the Ministry has been arresting and imprisoning innocent people, and says Stan Shunpike is still being detained to avoid bad publicity. Harry tells him and Remus Lupin about the conversation he overheard between Snape and Malfoy. Both say Dumbledore trusts Snape, and that is good enough for them. Lupin neither likes nor dislikes Snape, saying Snape always perfectly prepared his Wolfsbane Potion; and while he revealed that Lupin was a Werewolf, he could have caused worse damage. Although the bitterness between them (and also Harry) cannot be healed, they should still trust Snape.
Lupin, meanwhile, has infiltrated the vicious Fenrir Greyback's Werewolf pack as a spy for the Order. Lupin says Werewolves support Voldemort because they would be free under his rule. It was Greyback who infected Lupin when he was a child. Greyback targets children to raise them to hate Wizarding kind. He wants to infect enough people for the Werewolves to take over.
Harry asks about the Half-Blood Prince and the Levicorpus spell. Lupin explains that spells come in and out of favour, and the "Prince" may not have invented it. He also has no idea about the Prince's identity except that it was not James or Sirius. As Lupin suggested, Harry later checks the book's publication date to help learn the Prince's identity. It was printed fifty years before, which seems to rule out Harry's parents and their contemporaries.
Among Harry and Ron's Christmas presents are the usual jumpers (sweaters), a disgusting necklace for Ron from Lavender, and a package of maggots from House-elf Kreacher to "Master" (Harry). Over Christmas dinner, the family (along with Fleur Delacour and Lupin) discuss Tonks, who declined to attend. Harry asks why Tonks' Patronus would change shape. Lupin suggests that a major upheaval in someone's life can cause a change
Percy and the Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour's unexpectedly arrive. Scrimgeour claims he and Percy had business in the neighbourhood when Percy "decided" to drop in for a visit. Mrs. Weasley is ecstatic to see Percy again, but the other Weasleys react coldly. On the pretext of giving the Weasleys private family time, Scrimgeour asks Harry to show him the garden. Outside, Scrimgeour asks about the prophecy and also wants Harry to be seen frequently at the Ministry. They want to present him as the "Chosen One", and show that he supports the the Ministry's policies. Harry refuses, citing the Ministry's failure to act sooner, and for imprisoning Stan Shunpike, an innocent person. Harry ignores Scrimgeour's probes about Dumbledore. Scrimgeour angrily claims Harry is "Dumbledore's man through and through," to which Harry readily agrees, though not in the way Scrimgeour meant, and abruptly returns to the house.
Scrimgeour's attempt to woo Harry as a Ministry "poster boy", along with the Ministry's continual refusal to release known innocents like Stan Shunpike, again shows how he is more concerned with presenting a good public face to the Wizarding community rather than obtaining actual results. It also appears he wants to separate Harry from Dumbledore's influence. Harry sees through both ruses and refuses to cooperate, turning around Scrimgeour's insult by stating that he is indeed, "Dumbledore's man." Unfortunately, this incident only serves to further estrange the Weasleys from Percy, who obviously colluded with Scrimgeour to exploit his family solely to give Scrimgeour access to Harry. It seems there is no limit to what Percy will do to advance his own career, and this may be the breaking point in his relationship with his parents and siblings.
As events grow more sinister in the Wizarding world, Lupin's perilous mission for the Order of the Phoenix highlights his sad and lonely life as a Werewolf. He is risking himself by infiltrating Fenrir Greyback's dangerous realm. Lupin does provide insight into how Werewolves and other darker creatures like Vampires, Giants, Goblins, and so forth, have been ostracized by the Wizarding community, giving some justification to them supporting Voldemort who offers more advantages. Only the Goblins rebuff Voldemort; as his power increases, he increasingly interferes with their internal affairs, thus losing their allegiance. Lupin also provides a possible reason why Tonks' Patronus has changed its appearance, though he may know more about this than he is revealing.
Readers will recognize Fenrir Greyback's name as the same one Draco Malfoy mentioned at Borgin & Burkes earlier in the book. It is now clear why Mr. Borgin suddenly was so cooperative after Draco mentioned Greyback was a "family friend". Considering Greyback's reputation, Borgin likely feared for his life if he failed Draco's request.
Lavender's gift for Ron, and Ron's reaction to it, are a clear indication that their relationship is probably doomed. Though their union is physically intense, it seems Lavender has no idea what Ron would actually like. Additionally, it seems improbable that Ron has put any thought into what Lavender might want, as we can safely expect that he would have to ask someone, most likely Harry, and then Ginny, before making his selection. Lavender's gift to Ron seems to be something Lavender herself would like, which would indicate that she is more centered on herself in this relationship than on Ron. While Ron's feelings are still unknown, he entered this relationship largely to spite Ginny, and possibly Hermione, and we can guess that his motives also remain selfish. In that respect, Ron and Lavender seem well matched.
- Why does Scrimgeour want to recruit Harry's help? Why does Harry refuse?
- Why does the Ministry refuse to release Stan Shunpike and other innocent people?
- Why does Lupin say he neither likes nor dislikes Snape, even though Snape apparently hates him and was responsible for him leaving Hogwarts?
- Why would magical creatures such as werewolves, giants, centaurs, and others support Voldemort? Why do the goblins not?
- Why would Tonks decline an invitation to The Burrow during Christmas?
- Harry's Potions book was printed fifty years ago. What was happening at Hogwarts at that time, and what might that tell Harry?
The printing date on Harry's book is fifty years before, putting it into a period near Tom Riddle's time at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we are led to believe that Tom was a sixth- or seventh-year student fifty years before Harry was a second-year, so Tom, or a contemporary, could have purchased it new. However, all this really shows is that the Half-Blood Prince attended Hogwarts sometime after that date. We have seen that there is a brisk business in second-hand books, as they appear to change little from year-to-year, so it is entirely possible that one of James Potter's contemporaries owned this book. In fact, it will turn out to be one of James' classmates, one who was impoverished and thus forced to purchase his books second hand.
Curiously, even though text books are infrequently updated, readers are constantly reminded that new spells, jinxes, and hexes are always being invented. These apparently rarely become standard magical practices, and, as Lupin points out, these new ones fall in and out of fashion.
This is not the first time that Scrimgeour attempts to manipulate Harry to help bolster the Ministry's public image; Dumbledore and Scrimgeour, back in September, had also quarreled over this, and it was publicly commented on; Dumbledore will later mention that Fudge had also wanted to exploit Harry this way to help retain his position as Minister for Magic. Scrimgeour hoped to sway Harry by talking to him directly, and he used Percy's family to get to Harry and try to remove him from Hogwarts and Dumbledore. Scrimgeour will make one last attempt later in the book, only to again be refused. This, along with Shunpike's continued incarceration, is a clear indication that Scrimgeour, who is as astute a politician in his own way as Fudge, is as driven by public opinion as Fudge, regardless of their perceived differences. Despite the deep schism between Harry and Scrimgeour, in the last book, when the Ministry falls to Voldemort, Scrimgeour is tortured for information but never reveals Harry's whereabouts, thus allowing Harry, Ron, and Hermione to escape.
Snape's unbreakable Vow has left us wondering, as Ron is, exactly why he would agree to fulfill Draco's task at peril to his own life. The only reason is that Dumbledore had extracted Snape's promise to perform Draco's task. It is only late in the final book that we discover this, and that Snape and Dumbledore were acting together to protect Draco.
Lupin explains to Harry that a major upheaval in Tonks' life could be why her Patronus changed its shape. Unknown to Harry, and readers, just yet, is that Lupin has caused that upheaval.
Chapter 17: A Sluggish Memory
Harry, Ron, and Ginny return to Hogwarts via the Floo Network after Christmas. Evidently, the Fat Lady enjoyed too much wine over holiday, and the new Gryffindor Tower password is Abstinence. In the Common room, Ron is immediately enfolded by Lavender, while Ginny has promised to meet Dean, though Harry senses she is rather unenthusiastic. Harry and Hermione, who is ignoring Ron, find a quiet corner, and he shares what happened during Christmas break, including the conversation with Rufus Scrimgeour. Hermione naturally concurs with Mr. Weasley and Lupin, that Snape was attempting to discover what Malfoy's mission is. She reminds Harry that it was Fenrir Greyback's name that Malfoy threatened Borgin with.
The next morning, a notice on the bulletin board announces Apparition training for students turning 17 before 31st August, which includes everyone in the Sixth Year class. Students are excited about learning how, even after Harry admits he traveled by side-along Apparition, saying the sensation is unpleasant.
That night, Harry arrives at Dumbledore's office for another lesson. Harry relates what happened over Christmas, including Rufus Scrimgeour's visit. Dumbledore displays a rare emotional flicker when Harry tells him about being, "Dumbledore's man through and through". Harry also recounts Snape and Draco's conversation; Dumbledore thanks him for the information, but says Harry need not be concerned and reaffirms his trust in Snape.
Before they enter the memories, Dumbledore recaps: Riddle was admitted to Hogwarts and sorted into Slytherin house, where he learned about Salazar Slytherin's ability to converse with snakes. The staff expected little from Riddle. He was a polite, good-looking, ambitious orphan, so many took pity on him. Dumbledore never shared his opinions about Tom to the staff, allowing him to start anew without any bias. Dumbledore describes how Death Eater forerunners gravitated around Riddle but admits difficulty in obtaining memories of him during his time at Hogwarts. Riddle also became obsessed with his parentage.
The first new memory belongs to Riddle's Uncle Morfin. In it, Riddle arrives at the Gaunts' and converses with Morfin in Parseltongue. Morfin tells Tom about his father, Tom Riddle, Sr., and his mother, Merope, and shows him the Peverell ring, saying that Merope had taken Slytherin's locket. The memory abruptly ends. Morfin remembered nothing until after he awoke the next day and the ring was gone. Dumbledore says when Riddle Sr. and his parents were found murdered, the Ministry fingered Morfin, who readily confessed. Dumbledore speculates that Riddle Stunned his uncle, performed the murders, and then implanted false memories into Morfin's mind.
The second memory is Slughorn's. He and the Slug Club during Riddle's era are chatting. Twice the memory inexplicably turns foggy and only Slughorn's voice is heard, notably when Riddle asks him about Horcruxes. Slughorn seems to respond that he knows nothing about them. Dumbledore explains that the memory was tampered with and tasks Harry with obtaining Slughorn's true memory.
Dumbledore had hoped Tom Riddle would turn over a new leaf, but his underlying suspicions were well founded. It appears Tom began building the foundation for his evil plan while still at Hogwarts, recruiting followers who were to become the first Death Eaters. Riddle also sought retaliation against his father for abandoning him and his mother, even though Riddle Sr. had actually been magically seduced by Merope. That does not completely absolve Riddle, Sr., however, who rejected his child that bore no fault for his mother's duplicity, leaving him stranded in an orphanage. However, this all matters little to Tom, who is so consumed by hate and revenge that he extends his retaliation beyond his doomed father to his innocent paternal grandparents, murdering them to obliterate any ties to his despised Muggle bloodline. Although Riddle succeeded in eliminating his Muggle family, this violent act could never purge what he truly is—a half-blood. He will be continually plagued with and motivated with self-loathing over his perceived tainted lineage. Nor did Riddle feel any loyalty to his pure-blooded Gaunt side, falsely incriminating his Uncle Morfin for the Riddles' murders. By eliminating both his paternal and maternal relations, Riddle took the first step in his "rebirth" as Lord Voldemort, shedding blood ties and have loyalty to no one.
We note, in Slughorn's memory, that Slughorn mentions someone named Lestrange. While it is possible that the person referred to here is Rabastan or Rodolphus, those characters are apparently quite young when we see them at their trial. In support of their apparent age, we understand that one of them has married Bellatrix, sister to Narcissa, who is only slightly older than Harry's father. Recalling this memory is now some fifty years old, we tentatively identify this Lestrange as possibly being the father, or uncle, of Rabastan and Rodolphus.
Although the new Gryffindor password, "abstinence," supposedly refers to the Fat Lady having imbibed too much wine, it could also reflect the older students' burgeoning sexual maturity. With all the confused emotions and chaotic relationships that many characters are experiencing, this may be the author's way of humorously warning them to "slow down." This could certainly apply to Lavender, though Ron seems rather reluctant to return to her arms. Hermione may also have noticed this, which is why she is willing to talk with Harry in the common room, rather than finding an empty classroom as she had done previously. Hermione, being far more observant about human nature than either Harry or Ron, may have noticed that Ron and Lavender's relationship could be unraveling. Harry similarly notes Ginny's apparent reticence to return to Dean's side, though readers may suspect this is merely wishful thinking on Harry's part.
Note is made here that the Floo network had been extended to Hogwarts specifically to allow the students to return after Christmas. This seems something of a contradiction, as Dumbledore had returned to his own office by means of the Floo network in the previous book, Sirius Black's head had appeared on a number of occasions in the Gryffindor common room fireplace, Snape had summoned Professor Lupin using a very similar technique in an earlier book, and Professor Umbridge had mentioned that all the fireplaces were monitored. There is no explanation for this apparent contradiction, but we can speculate. It is possible that, in order to prevent students from slipping away without permission, the vast majority of the fireplaces at Hogwarts were connected to the Floo network by a very small portal, enough to admit a head and no more. Why even this connection would be made is uncertain, unless it is intended to serve as an emergency exit from the common room; a head-sized attachment may be sufficient to keep the grate attached to the Network, but not present a threat of unwanted incursions or excursions, and the charm could be set to expand the connection to full size in an emergency. It is possible that the limitations are removed from the House Heads' and the Headmaster's fireplaces, or of all teachers at the School, on the grounds that they are responsible enough to use them. In this case, the restriction against using the Floo network is not actually one of the school not being connected, but of the House Heads restricting the parade of people through their fireplaces.
- Why did Tom Riddle murder his Muggle grandparents, in addition to his father?
- Why does Dumbledore react the way he does when Harry says he told Scrimgeour that he is, "Dumbledore's man?"
- Why doesn't Snape's conversation with Malfoy worry Dumbledore?
- Why would Slughorn alter his memory?
- Did Dumbledore truly believe Tom Riddle was turning over a new leaf when he started Hogwarts? Give evidence both for and against this.
- Why would Tom Riddle frame his Uncle Morfin for the Riddles' murders?
Harry points out that Tom Riddle was underage when he stunned Morfin, but the Ministry failed to detect it. Dumbledore explains that when an underaged wizard is in a Wizarding residence, the Ministry is unable to tell who performs magic, and must rely on adult wizards to monitor any underage magical activity. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron calls this monitoring a Trace and says it automatically breaks on a wizard's 17th birthday. The Trace apparently detects underage magic and the location, which is why Dobby's Hover charm at the Dursley house was detected just before Harry's second year. This generally would have been ignored if it occurred in a Wizarding residence, but as Harry is the only magical person living at Privet Drive, it was automatically assumed he was the one who cast it. One does rather wonder why the Trace failed to detect Tom Riddle Sr.'s murder and the creation of the resultant Horcrux. We can only speculate, of course, but one possibility is that the Trace does not report magic occurring in the immediate vicinity of an adult wizard; this would also explain the Ministry's failure to detect Harry's use of magic later in this book. If Tom were aware of that, as he likely would be, he could have brought the stunned Morfin with him to the Riddle house; and Morfin's presence would have prevented the Trace from triggering.
Before Dumbledore collected Harry from the Dursleys', he already knew about Draco Malfoy's mission, and quite possibly Snape's Unbreakable Vow almost as soon as Snape made it. This is why he seems unconcerned by Harry's revelation: because to him, it is not a revelation at all, but simply a report on a situation of which he is well aware. The specific wording Dumbledore uses here is important; he does not say that he disbelieves Harry, rather that this is not Harry's concern. Harry, however, fails to hear the actual words, seeing only the dismissal, and believes Dumbledore is discounting this threat, whatever it is.
Of course, Harry's observations that Ginny seems reluctant to return to Dean, and also Ron's hesitation to resume his relationship with Lavender are foreshadowing. Both relationships will break up at the same time, in about four months.
Chapter 18: Birthday Surprises
Harry confides to both Hermione and Ron about Dumbledore's task to retrieve Slughorn's memory. Meanwhile, Slughorn has the Potions class brew an antidote for different poisons. Harry's textbook provides little assistance until, with only a few minutes left, he finds a scrawled note in it, "Just shove a Bezoar down their throats." Harry also remembers Snape once saying that a Bezoar (a stone from a goat's stomach) will protect against most poisons. Finding a Bezoar in the cabinet, Harry holds it up to Slughorn. Amused, yet impressed, Slughorn says Harry thinks like his mother. Harry lingers after class and asks Slughorn about Horcruxes. Realizing what Harry is attempting, Slughorn insists there was nothing more to the memory that he gave Dumbledore, and departs hurriedly.
Students sit their first Apparition training in early February. During the session, Harry eavesdrops on Malfoy and Crabbe. Crabbe seems upset that he has to guard Malfoy while he is doing something. After several attempts, only Susan Bones successfully Apparates, but splinches herself, leaving a leg behind.
After overhearing Malfoy and Crabbe's conversation, Harry resolves to track Draco's movements on the Marauder's Map. Over the next several weeks, he watches Crabbe and Goyle moving around the castle more than usual, sometimes standing in an empty hall. Harry is often unable to locate Malfoy on the map and considers that he is actually leaving the school, but dismisses this due to Hogwarts' increased security.
On his birthday, Ron eats several of the chocolates that Romilda Vane gave Harry. When Ron becomes dreamy over her, Harry realizes the candies were spiked with Love Potion and takes him to Slughorn. En route, they bump into Lavender, and Ron excitedly announces that Harry is taking him to Romilda. Slughorn administers an antidote, then decides they should toast Ron's birthday. Slughorn opens a bottle of mead he intended as a present for Dumbledore. After taking a sip, it quickly becomes obvious Ron has been poisoned. When Slughorn is slow to react, Harry finds the Bezoar in Slughorn's bag, and forces it down Ron's throat.
Obtaining Slughorn's complete memory is more difficult than Harry realized. Slughorn knows Dumbledore wants this information, and, for whatever reason, he refuses to share it, and now carefully avoids being caught alone with Harry. It is apparent that Slughorn will never willingly yield this memory, and Harry must devise a more clever plan if he hopes to retrieve it.
Harry grows more obsessed with discovering Draco's secret and continually watches him on the Marauder's Map, though he is unable to figure out why Draco's name occasionally disappears. That no one else seems concerned about Draco's suspicious activities further frustrates Harry, and he needs some other means to trail him, if he is to discover what Draco is doing.
Although Hermione is disapproving that Harry uses information from the Half-Blood Prince's book, she is perhaps being a little overly critical and obsessive when Harry uses the Bezoar stone in Slughorn's class. It was, after all, something Harry had previously learned about in Snape's class, and the notes in the book only acted as a reminder. It is possible that Hermione not only resents what she considers cheating, but also anyone outshining her in class. We can safely assume that she will be grateful, however, that Harry knows how to use the stone when Ron is poisoned.
Romilda Vane had given Harry a box of chocolates just before Christmas. Harry, heeding Hermione's warning that they might be spiked with a love potion, tucked them away in his trunk unopened. Here, we see the truth in Hermione's words: Ron, finding the treats, assumed they were for his birthday, and ate three, immediately becoming infatuated with Romilda. It is a safe assumption that if Harry had eaten any, he would equally have been in Romilda's thrall, and would have taken her to Slughorn's party.
Harry is 16 years old; Ron is turning 17 on his birthday. American readers who know that mead is alcoholic may be dismayed that Slughorn offers an alcoholic drink to a clearly underage Harry. It is worth mentioning that the drinking age in the UK is much lower than it is in the United States; it is legal to drink at age 18 in a pub, or at 16 in a restaurant with a meal, and at age 5 at home. The laws in the Wizarding world must be even more lenient, as the Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head are clearly pubs, yet third-years (age 13 and 14) can order Butterbeer (which is apparently mildly alcoholic).
- Why is Malfoy arguing with his cronies?
- Why does Ron fall in love with Romilda Vane? Who did Romilda intend to fall in love with her?
- Did Harry actually cheat, as Hermione claimed, when he presented the Bezoar stone to Slughorn during the class? Explain why or why not.
- Why does Malfoy's name keep disappearing from the Marauder's Map? Where might he be during those absences?
- Why is no one other than Harry suspicious about Draco's behavior? Is Harry over-reacting?
- Who could have poisoned the mead, and who might it have been intended for?
- Why was Slughorn unable to react after Ron drank the poisoned mead?
- Are the poisoned mead and the cursed necklace connected to one another? If so, what evidence is there for this?
Disapparating will be a point of contention again between Ron and Hermione, as Ron is among the students who have difficulty with it (he will literally fail his test by half an eyebrow) and Hermione seems to naturally get the hang of it. Hermione's repetition of the technique's mnemonic will be met by Ron using a similar mnemonic to privately insult the Ministry wizard.
When done improperly, Disapparating can be dangerous. And though Susan Bones' Splinched leg is presented as a rather humorous and generally harmless training mishap, in the next book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron's shoulder will be badly Splinched while he is Disapparating under perilous and chaotic circumstances, causing a severe injury with serious blood loss, needing immediate medical attention. When Apparition is first discussed, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, there is a general wince when underage wizards Splinching themselves is mentioned; we do not yet fully understand why, even now, but having to have so many wizards on hand to re-attach Susan Bones' leg is a good indication of how serious it is.
Unknown to Harry just yet, Draco is spending time in the Room of Requirement, working on something related to his mission for Voldemort. Once Harry determines Draco's whereabouts during these disappearances, he will spend considerable time over the next few months trying unsuccessfully to get into the Room of Requirement to discover just what Draco is doing in there. It is unknown why the Room of Requirement does not appear on the Marauder's Map; possibly the Marauders never knew it existed, or whoever first thought it to be a junk warehouse instructed it to be unplottable, so as to be unseen on any map.
While Ron does recover from this accidental poisoning, it should be obvious already that his romantic entanglement with Lavender is unraveling. Injured though she may be by Ron's enthusiasm for meeting Romilda, Lavender will visit him repeatedly in the Hospital Wing, always finding him "asleep." Ron later admits to Harry and Hermione that he was feigning sleep to avoid dealing with Lavender. This rough stretch will prove too much for their relationship to weather, and it will be dealt a final blow very shortly.
It was Madam Rosmerta, placed under the Imperius curse by Draco Malfoy, who poisoned the mead. Two threats have now come from The Three Broomsticks' direction: the necklace back in October and now the mead in December, so the reader should suspect that someone at the Three Broomsticks might be involved. It will turn out also that Madam Rosmerta is reporting when Dumbledore has left the school, and that the threats are aimed at Dumbledore. It is never revealed exactly how the poisoned mead was able to pass the Secrecy Sensors that Filch was using to track things entering and leaving the castle, though the Trio do speculate on this somewhat. Dumbledore later says that Filch would not think to check a bottle of Rosmerta's mead, we suspect that this would particularly be true of one being carried by a teacher. It was also pointed out previously by Hermione that Filch had been mistakenly letting love potions enter the castle through the mail disguised in perfume bottles from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. It would make sense he could similarly be taken in by a poisoned bottle of Rosmerta's mead.
Chapter 19: Elf Tails
Ron is in the Hospital Wing with Hermione, Ginny, and Harry at his bedside. Fred and George, who were in Hogsmeade investigating opening a Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes shop, are also there. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arrive and express their sincere gratitude to Harry for saving yet another member of their family.
Hagrid, who is also visiting Ron, says Aragog is getting worse. He lets slip to Harry and Hermione that Hogwarts could be closed due to the increasingly dangerous incidents. He also overheard Dumbledore and Snape arguing over something Snape no longer wanted to do. Dumbledore firmly reminded Snape that the latter gave his word. There was also a reference about Snape's investigations in Slytherin, which Hagrid assumes is about the cursed necklace. Hagrid's information deepens Harry's suspicions about Snape.
Later, Harry grudgingly agrees to Cormac McLaggen's request to replace Ron as Keeper. Meanwhile, Harry continues watching Draco's movements on the Marauder's Map, though he is beset with classes, homework, Quidditch practice, and Cormac repeatedly pestering him with strategy ideas. Lavender also constantly pesters him about Ron, saying that he is always asleep whenever she visits.
On his way to the next Quidditch match, Harry notices Draco and two sulky-looking girls heading into the castle. Harry is certain that Draco is going to his usual hidden place, and sorely wants to follow, but he is already late. Harry is astonished that Luna has been appointed as the Quidditch match commentator; her dreamy game description has everyone laughing, except Professor McGonagall. McLaggen, attempting to micromanage the team, borrows a Beater's club and accidentally hits a Bludger at Harry, cracking his skull and landing him in the infirmary with Ron.
While recovering in the infirmary, Harry realizes he can order Kreacher to trail Draco. He summons, the Black family House-elf that he inherited with Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Kreacher appears, along with Dobby. The two are fighting, apparently because Kreacher made insulting remarks about Harry. Harry instructs the two elves to trail Draco Malfoy and to bring him regular reports on everywhere Malfoy goes and what he does. He forbids Kreacher from warning Malfoy in any way. Kreacher sulkily obeys, saying he would prefer having Draco as his master.
Harry's quick thinking saved Ron from certain death. Although Hermione continually chastises Harry for using the Half-Blood Prince's methods, in this instance, she is grateful for what the Prince taught him. Hermione's silent vigil by Ron's sickbed is mute testament to her feelings about him; that he may feel the same is evidenced by his response to her voice, when she finally speaks.
Someone obviously knew that Slughorn intended to give Dumbledore the mead and poisoned it to murder him. It is also possible that the cursed necklace that nearly killed Katie Bell was intended for Dumbledore. Harry remains convinced that Draco perpetrated the attacks, but he lacks specific proof tying Draco to either object. Though Draco was at Borgin & Burkes where Harry saw the necklace, many other people could have been there. Regardless, Harry becomes more determined than ever to uncover what Draco is doing.
Though Harry's suspicions as to who was the intended recipient or the delivery agent of either the necklace or the mead is the only proof we have, it would be useful to consider these objects' source.
Draco and the two sulky girls that are often with him is another interesting point. It is unusual for Draco to have girls, particularly younger ones, as companions. Why would he suddenly have sidekicks so different from his usual hangers-on, Crabbe and Goyle?
Although he is magically bound to obey Harry, Kreacher is less than trustworthy and remains loyal to the Black family, and by extension, the Malfoys (through Narcissa), which is why Harry specifically orders him to reveal nothing to Draco. Harry may have been a bit careless in his instructions, however. Although Harry orders Kreacher to reveal nothing to Draco, Kreacher is clever and devious enough that he could bypass his master's orders by relaying information to Draco through someone else. Kreacher previously manipulated Sirius Black's orders after he told Kreacher to "leave", which Kreacher twisted into meaning he should leave Grimmauld Place. He then visited Narcissa Malfoy, providing her with valuable information about Sirius and Harry.
- Why might Hogwarts close?
- Why is Ron always asleep when Lavender visits him in the hospital wing?
- Why did Harry have Kreacher, rather than Dobby, tail Draco? Why does Dobby participate?
- How did Kreacher come to Hogwarts?
- What agreement might Dumbledore and Snape have? Why would Snape want to back out?
- What might Snape be investigating in Slytherin House? Is he a reliable source to do this?
Hagrid's concerns about Aragog are well-founded. Aragog will die shortly, and Hagrid will invite Harry to his funeral. With a little magical help, Harry will be able to use this event to retrieve Slughorn's memory that Dumbledore needs. However, the next lesson with Dumbledore will occur before this happens, and Dumbledore will be disappointed that Harry has been unable to retrieve the memory.
The argument that Hagrid overheard between Snape and Dumbledore will be revisited in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where it is essentially heard in its entirety. Snape threatened to renege on his promise to Dumbledore to kill him in order to spare Draco, under orders from Voldemort, from carrying out this task. Dumbledore believes Snape will follow through, as he presumably knows that Snape has made an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa; still, the threat is real and must be addressed, as Snape could, presumably, somehow convince Draco to kill Dumbledore rather than doing it himself. Hagrid felt that Dumbledore was not his usual self, and seemed angrier than usual. By this time, the curse that had destroyed Dumbledore's hand was gaining force, though bottled up in his hand, for eight months; no doubt it was causing discomfort, and continuous pain can make anyone, even someone as patient as Dumbledore, rather testy.
We know from Katie's friend Leanne, that the cursed necklace that injured Katie Bell was given to her at The Three Broomsticks. Though there is no proof, it is possible that this may have been aimed at Dumbledore, along with the poisoned mead. Whatever its eventual destination, it seems likely that the mead's source would be The Three Broomsticks; Slughorn is unlikely to trust the Hog's Head for his needs, he is too much the aesthete. This points to a center of malevolence in the Three Broomsticks; we discover later that that center is Madam Rosmerta, placed under the Imperius curse by Draco Malfoy.
In the previous chapter, during the Apparition lesson, we heard Crabbe complaining to Malfoy about something Malfoy requires him to do. That turns out to be Malfoy having him and Goyle use Polyjuice Potion to transform into small girls, and stand guard outside the Room of Requirement while Malfoy worked inside on his project for Voldemort. In the next chapter, Dobby and Kreacher will report to Harry that Draco has been in the Room of Requirement; Harry correctly guesses that Crabbe and Goyle appeared on the Marauders' Map loitering in a hallway because they were guarding that doorway. The two sulky-looking girls accompanying Draco prior to the Quidditch match are almost certainly the disguised Crabbe and Goyle, likely upset because they are unable to retain their muscular physiques while guarding the door, and annoyed at the prospect of an hour or more of boredom.
While Kreacher is devious, and claims he would much prefer to have Draco as his master rather than Harry, he is unable to avoid Harry's restriction on informing Draco that he is being tailed. Possibly, this is because Dobby has volunteered to provide the same report, and Kreacher knows that he cannot avoid Dobby. Kreacher's report to Harry will, however, be valueless, consisting only of praise for Draco and insults for Harry. Dobby's account informs Harry where Draco is going, though not what he is doing there.
Chapter 20: Lord Voldemort's Request
Harry and Ron are discharged from the Hospital Wing together. Meeting up with Hermione, they head to breakfast, passing a small girl studying a tapestry. Startled, the girl drops the scales she had been holding; Hermione repairs them for her, and then mentions that Ginny and Dean had an argument. Harry tries to react calmly to this news, but Hermione remains suspicious that he harbors feelings for Ginny.
Continuing on, the Trio runs into Lavender, who is miffed she was not told Ron was being discharged, and also that Hermione is with him. Harry and Hermione walk off, and Ron arrives at breakfast a half hour later; he is upset and not talking to Lavender. Hermione seems secretly pleased by this development.
Later that evening, Harry arrives for his appointment with Professor Dumbledore. He is embroiled in a discussion with Professor Trelawney, who is upset that Firenze is still teaching Divination. After she leaves, Dumbledore gently chastises Harry for failing to retrieve Professor Slughorn's memory. Without it there is little point in continuing their lessons. Dumbledore and Harry then review what they have learned thus far: Voldemort killed his father, framed his uncle, Morfin, and took the Peverell ring; after returning to Hogwarts he asked Slughorn about Horcruxes.
Now they enter the realm of deep speculation. At this session, there are only two memories. The first belongs to Hokey, a House-elf who worked for an elderly rich woman. At that time, Tom Riddle was working as a buyer for Borgin & Burkes. Tom's career choice surprised many, as it was assumed he was headed for a political career and as the Minister for Magic. But Tom had first approached Armando Dippet, the Headmaster then, for a teaching post at Hogwarts. Dippet declined him, saying he lacked experience.
In Hokey's memory, Tom Riddle visits Hepzibah Smith, who claims to be Helga Hufflepuff's descendant. Hepzibah shows Riddle two coveted family treasures. One, a cup once belonging to Helga Hufflepuff that was bought from Borgin & Burke's. The other is a locket once owned by Salazar Slytherin. The locket was sold to Hepzibah by Borgin & Burke's, who bought it off some poor woman. Harry recognizes the locket as the one seen earlier in Merope Gaunt's possession, and Riddle clearly also recognizes it.
Two days later, Hepzibah died, and her treasures went missing; Hokey confessed that she had mistakenly poisoned her. Riddle considered the locket was rightfully his, and Dumbledore suggests that he also stole the cup because of his deep attachment to Hogwarts; why he wanted it must wait for another lesson.
The second memory is Dumbledore's as Hogwarts Headmaster meeting with Riddle. Ten years after Hepzibah Smith's death, Riddle has again applied to be the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. His facial features have changed somewhat; while unlike the snake-like mask that Harry remembers, this is certainly not the handsome Tom Riddle seen in the previous memory. Dumbledore confronts him about his true motives for wanting the position and his rumored behavior. He turns down Riddle for the job, saying he knows Riddle has a new name (Voldemort) and that his Death Eaters are in Hogsmeade.
Returning to the office, Dumbledore tells Harry that ever since he refused Voldemort's request, there has never been a Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher who lasted more than one year.
There is now a possible explanation for Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers having such short tenures: Dumbledore believes that Voldemort cursed the position after he was rejected for it. Dumbledore must either have been hoping that the curse would be broken when he appointed Professor Snape as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, or otherwise never expected him to last any longer than his predecessors. Dumbledore trusts Snape, though it is still unclear why; at least two of the previous five incumbents have been driven mad: (Professor Lockhart by a self-inflicted backfiring charm, and Professor Umbridge by the Centaurs). One, (Professor Quirrell), has died, and another (the false Professor Moody) had his soul sucked out by a Dementor. Only Professor Lupin left the post relatively unscathed, at least physically. Thus, the post does have a definite risky element to it, leaving us wondering why Dumbledore would appoint such a valued teacher and someone he deeply trusts in a position where harm could easily befall him.
As Dumbledore implies, the memories seen tonight do not significantly increase our understanding about Voldemort. Dumbledore clearly believes that the missing memory contains vital information for Harry to understand Voldemort's plans.
Also, in the previous chapter, Draco was seen accompanied by two girls, both looking sulky and rebellious. Now there is a small girl standing in the seventh-floor corridor studying a tapestry; we also saw a small girl standing in the seventh-floor corridor earlier. Each time the girls drop something, presumably from being startled.
The tenor of Lavender and Ron's encounter is another clear indication that their relationship is on the rocks. Whether they can patch up their differences and go on is unknown, but we suspect not. Ron seems to have little inclination (or ability) to deal with the issues, instead avoiding them, in this case, by feigning sleep.
- Why did Ginny argue with Dean? What is Harry's reaction to the news? Why is Hermione suspicious of this?
- What do the two memories reveal about Voldemort?
- Why does Dumbledore tell Harry there will be no more lessons? What does Harry need to do?
- What is significant about the seventh floor?
- Why would Tom Riddle have taken such a lowly job at Borgin & Burke's?
- What reasons might Dumbledore have had to refuse Tom Riddle the Defense Against the Dark Arts position? What's the long-term result of this decision?
- Why does Harry continually see one or two young girls loitering in the halls?
Aberforth is Dumbledore's brother, and according to an interview with the author and information in the seventh book, the bartender of the Hog's Head. It is safe to assume he has been so for some time, and likely was at the time that Voldemort approached Professor Dumbledore for a job. That is most likely the reason Dumbledore knows there are Death Eaters in Hogsmeade.
There is some speculation, both within the book and by fans, about Voldemort's true purpose in visiting Hogwarts to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Dumbledore states that Voldemort probably wanted a teaching position there so he could investigate Hogwarts and all its secrets with impunity. There would also be many impressionable young minds to recruit to his peculiar beliefs. Dumbledore also apparently suspected that Voldemort was attempting to make a Horcrux – possibly using Godric Gryffindor's sword. Some fans suggest that he was planting a Horcrux there (which proves to be true in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). That would fit his "style" — hiding a Horcrux under Dumbledore's nose, basically saying that he knew Dumbledore's school better than Dumbledore himself did. Voldemort may have partially used the interview as a ruse so he could hide Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, one of his Horcruxes, inside Hogwarts. His intent here was actually to keep the Diadem safe, convinced he was the only living person who knew about the Room of Requirement.
Voldemort probably told Draco how to summon the Room of Requirement. Putting the clues together, as Harry does in the next chapter, we will see that Draco is working on his project in this room. Crabbe and Goyle, disguised as little girls by stolen Polyjuice Potion, stand guard outside, dropping objects when it is unsafe to exit the room. Although Draco would already have known about the Room of Requirement after Dumbledore's Army was discovered there the previous year (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), it seems Voldemort will continue to be under the assumption throughout the next book that he and Draco are the only ones who know it exists. Clearly Draco failed to mention to the Dark Lord that he already knew the Room of Requirement existed; one might wonder what other information Draco is keeping from Voldemort. Presumably, despite working in the room where it is hidden, Draco knows nothing about the Diadem Horcrux.
In the summer preceding this school year, Dumbledore learned he had approximately one year left to live after he was inflicted with a fatal curse. He specifically required Snape to kill him by the school year's end, thus protecting Draco Malfoy from executing Voldemort's assassination plot. Realizing he will only last out the year, and that Snape will be accused of murdering him, Dumbledore knows that Snape's tenure as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher would be limited in any case. This is likely why Dumbledore repeatedly refused Snape the post: Snape is too talented a teacher, too valuable an ally, to risk losing. After this year, it will no longer matter, so placing him in the cursed post will do no harm. More importantly, it aids Dumbledore's plan to retrieve Slughorn's true memory by bringing him back to Hogwarts to fill Snape's vacated potions position.
The ongoing byplay with an increasingly alcoholic Sybill Trelawney is actually aimed at two related revelations. First, Harry discovers that Trelawney has been hiding her sherry supply in the Room of Requirement, and that she heard Draco celebrating his success. As Trelawney accompanies Harry to Dumbledore's office to report this, she reveals that it was Snape who carried the prophecy's first half to Voldemort, which in turn resulted in James and Lily Potters' deaths.
Chapter 21: The Unknowable Room
Harry spends much spare time devising a way to retrieve Professor Slughorn's memory. As his potions book has been so useful, Harry studies it carefully. But Hermione points out that Slughorn will likely be protected against anything in the textbook. Harry notices a new curse in it, Sectumsempra, that is labeled, "For Enemies." He wants to test it, but knowing Hermione's objections to using the Prince's spells, he refrains. When Ron's Spell-Checking quill stops working, Hermione offers to correct the spelling on his essay. Ron jokingly responds that he loves her, causing a blushing Hermione to warn not to let Lavender hear him say that. Ron thinks maybe he should; he has been trying to dump her.
Kreacher and Dobby report to Harry regarding Malfoy's activities. Draco has spent considerable time inside the Room of Requirement. A "variety" of students stand watch while Draco is inside. Harry surmises these "students" are Crabbe and Goyle disguised by Polyjuice Potion stolen from Slughorn. He also guesses that the Room was not on the Marauder's Map because the map's creators never knew it existed, though Hermione suggests the room may be "unplottable" if the user needs it to be. Harry thinks he should be able to enter the Room of Requirement, just as Malfoy had when Dumbledore's Army was there. But Hermione counters that Draco knew what the Room was being used for.
The next day, Harry attempts to enter the Room of Requirement, but is unable to make the door appear. Later, in Defence Against the Dark Arts class, Seamus Finnigan asks about the difference between Ghosts and Inferi; Professor Snape says that a story in the Daily Prophet was actually was about Mundungus Fletcher, who was arrested for impersonating an Inferius. After class, Ron and Harry duck into a bathroom so Ron can avoid Lavender. There they find Moaning Myrtle, who says she was expecting someone else — a boy who has been crying.
Ron decides to take the extra Apparition classes being offered in Hogsmeade village. Hermione, meanwhile, repeatedly urges Harry to try and get Slughorn's memory. Harry is trying, but Slughorn, knowing what Harry is after, avoids being alone with him. Harry spends another day looking for Malfoy in the Room of Requirement. Tonks suddenly appears, claiming she is there to see Dumbledore, though Harry notices she is teary eyed. Harry relates this to Hermione, suggesting Tonks was in love with Sirius. Her Patronus' changed shape could reflect Sirius' Animagus dog form. Hermione thinks it is possible, but is doubtful.
Harry learns that Malfoy has been spending time in the Room of Requirement, which is why he periodically disappears from the Marauder's Map. However, Harry still has no idea what Malfoy is doing, and anyone he tells seems unconcerned. Harry only becomes more obsessed with following Draco, which could cause Harry to neglect Dumbledore's task to retrieve Slughorn's memory. Here, Harry does seem to be trying to handle both, along with his schoolwork, but he is becoming increasingly distracted by Malfoy's suspicious activities.
Harry is having significant difficulty entering the Room of Requirement. As we have seen, the Room can be anything that is required, but apparently it can be only one thing at a time; for instance, it can be a room full of chamber pots, as Dumbledore apparently discovered, it can be a place for a House-elf to sleep off a Butterbeer binge, as Dobby and Winky have done, and it can provide a space for Dumbledore's Army to practice Defence Against the Dark Arts. But once the room is occupied, in order to gain entrance, you must have that same specific need. Hermione is likely correct that Harry will be unable to enter until he knows what Draco needs, and, at least in this chapter, he is unsuccessful.
Ron may believe he is only joking when he tells Hermione he loves her, but he may actually be revealing his strong feelings for her, though he hardly realizes what those feelings are. And while he remains confused about what he actually feels for Hermione, there is no doubt about his feelings for Lavender—he wants to be rid of her.
Tonks' ongoing depression remains a mystery, but it has deeply affected her, to the extent that her Patronus has changed its shape. Harry believes she was in love with Sirius, while Hermione doubts this, and Hermione's beliefs are seldom wrong. One thing seems obvious, Tonks is secretly guarding Harry, twice now appearing just as he lands himself in trouble.
It may be interesting to note the difference in just how Kreacher and Dobby relay their report to Harry. Though Harry is nominally Kreacher's master, Kreacher begins his account with abuse and insults for Harry and compliments for Draco. Dobby cuts him off to tell Harry what he actually wants to know. Kreacher's behavior seems almost childish, and so seems accurate for what we know of House-elf character in general.
Readers should perhaps wonder why a boy would be crying in Moaning Myrtle's lavatory and why Myrtle seems to be expecting him.
Inferi are mentioned, though not for the first time, but it is only now that they are defined. We should take note, as the author is generally efficient, and they will likely be mentioned again. We also may suspect that the Sectumsempra spell, which is at least a jinx, and more likely a curse, will also reappear.
- Why does Harry decide not to test the Prince's Sectumsempra spell?
- Why does Harry believe his Potions book can help him retrieve Slughorn's memory? What does Hermione say?
- Why does Tonks say she is looking for Dumbledore? What does she mean by "nothing in particular"?
- Why is Tonks always so sad? Why does Hermione doubt that Tonks was in love with Sirius?
- What might Draco be doing in the Room of Requirement?
- Ron jokingly tells Hermione he "loves" her. Is he really joking or do his words reveal deeper feelings? What is Hermione's reaction?
- Who might the sobbing boy in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom be and why does he go to that particular place? Why would he be crying?
It is perhaps surprising that the Room of Requirement can be used to carry out what we assume is a task for Voldemort, as Hogwarts is supposed to be protected from Dark Magic. There are several possibilities here. One possibility is that the Room of Requirement is an exception, or that someone has performed a spell which allows it. Another possibility is that what is being done is not Dark as such, but can be used for Dark purposes. What Draco is doing is repairing a Vanishing cabinet, a task which in isolation is not Dark. It is the use it is put to once it is repaired that makes it so useful to the Dark side.
Draco, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly distraught over the task he must perform for the Dark Lord and the real danger his family is in should he fail. He eventually seeks solace from Moaning Myrtle, frequently sobbing to her in the lavatory.
When Voldemort found the Room of Requirement, he was apparently looking for someplace to hide something, likely the result of some Dark experiment gone awry. Thus, when he told Draco how to open the Room of Requirement, he shared only what he knew about the room, its "hiding place" form. Harry would be able to open the Room while Draco occupied it if he told it that he needed a place to hide something, that being the way that Voldemort and Draco were opening it; but Harry, knowing that the Room could be anything, persists in asking it to be a place where he can work on something. This is, strangely perhaps, a case where Harry has too much understanding for the task at hand.
Harry's decision to heed Hermione's advice and refrain from testing the Prince's spells on someone without knowing the results was a wise one. Sectumsempra has a devastating effect, which, had it been used in a different circumstance, could have cost someone their life, and in a later chapter, it will be nearly fatal for someone. It is somewhat curious that Harry never guesses its purpose from the incantation; we have seen that spell incantations are based on Latin, and this spell's incantation appears to be based on the Latin for "cut forever", a fair description of its action.
It is revealed later that Tonks is in love, not with Sirius, but with Remus Lupin. While Lupin also cares for Tonks, he has rejected her feelings because he believes he is too old for her, is generally concerned about bringing children into the current world, and about them having a Werewolf father in particular. Not wanting to risk passing on his affliction to his offspring, Lupin refused to marry Tonks. Note that this being a book intended for children, it is assumed that there is no extramarital sex, so Lupin and Tonks must get married as the next stage in their relationship, and marriage implies children.
Chapter 22: After the Burial
Ron and Hermione are studying the Apparition handbooks in preparation for their test, and Harry, too young to take the test, is keeping them company. Hagrid sends a message saying that Aragog, the giant spider, has died. He asks if Harry, Ron, and Hermione could attend the funeral. Between the three, they decide not to go; it is such a silly thing to get detention over, after all.
Hermione suggests Harry have another try at Professor Slughorn's memory during class, as it will be pretty sparse with students off taking Apparition tests. Ron suggests using the Felix Felicis potion to help Harry get Professor Slughorn's memory. Hermione agrees, but Harry is reluctant; he had been saving it, although he is unsure for what – but it has something to do with Ginny breaking up with Dean, and Ron somehow getting a girlfriend he actually likes.
With only three people in Potions class (Harry, Ernie, and Draco), Professor Slughorn sets an open challenge: make whatever they like. Harry notices that Draco is looking thinner and rather unhealthy, and believes that whatever he is doing in the Room of Requirement is not going so well. Slughorn is impressed with Harry's Euphoria Elixir, but he again escapes when they are left alone. Returning to the Gryffindor Common room, Harry learns that Hermione passed Apparition, but Ron failed for splinching half an eyebrow.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron head for the dorm, where Harry drinks some Felix Felicis. To Ron and Hermione's amazement, Harry suddenly decides to attend Aragog's funeral. Covered by his Invisibility cloak, Harry returns to the Common room, followed by Ron and Hermione. Lavender seeing only Ron and Hermione emerging from the boy's dorm, flies into a jealous rage. Heading out the portrait hole, Harry brushes against Ginny; she thinks it is Dean, and rounds on him.
Following a detour that the potion seems to suggest, Harry runs into Slughorn who, upon learning about Aragog's death, notes that Acromantula venom is particularly valuable. Recognizing that this might entice Slughorn to share his memory about Tom Riddle, Harry invites him to the funeral. Slughorn arrives at Hagrid's hut, well dressed and carrying bottles of mead. After an emotional service, and with help from Harry's flawless and surreptitious refilling charm, Hagrid and Slughorn become drunk. Knowing Slughorn will remember nothing the next morning, Harry talks about his parents' death. Hearing how his favorite student, Lily Evans, died, causes Slughorn to become extremely sad. Harry says he needs the memory about Tom Riddle, and, as a persuasion tactic, reminds Slughorn that he is Lily's son. After being convinced that Harry is the "Chosen One", the teary-eyed professor yields his memory to Harry, then falls asleep.
This is the first time Harry's persuasion powers have been truly observed, though as he was using Felix Felicis at the time, we are uncertain if he would be so persuasive without it. This is also the first time that Harry has spoken about his parents' death in this manner, and probably the only time without experiencing extreme emotion, knowing it will help secure Slughorn's memory and to fight Voldemort. Even in death, James and Lily are still able to battle the Dark Lord. Readers should recall some chapters back that Professor Dumbledore said Harry was uniquely equipped to obtain Slughorn's memory. Dumbledore may have known about the Felix Felicis, though using it may actually have been unnecessary; Dumbledore knows that Harry having Lily's eyes, and Lily being one of Slughorn's favorite students, would be a powerful and emotional persuasion tactic. That, and being well plied with alcohol, is enough to coax Slughorn into divulging the memory; remembering Lily's sacrifice in fighting Voldemort also helped. Although Slughorn will have forgotten the incident when he awakes, he probably would have appreciated the irony that it was his own Good Luck potion that allowed Harry to retrieve a memory that he tried so hard to keep hidden.
Slughorn's self-centredness also becomes more evident here. He mentions that all the mead he brought is quite safe, he had a House-Elf drink some from each bottle to ensure it was not poisoned. This revelation disquiets Harry, as it shows that Slughorn sees nothing wrong with risking a House-elf's life to protect his own. We can give him the benefit of the doubt, here, and assume that he had another Bezoar on hand in case a bottle was poisoned, though this is not mentioned. However, this rather callous display might lead Harry to be more involved with, or at least less dismissive of, Hermione's Society for the Protection of Elvish Welfare.
Hagrid's almost child-like simplicity is seen again. His reaction to most setbacks is to get drunk, which he manages quite quickly here. Hagrid's amazement at Aragog's children not affording him safe passage is also a sign of his innocence. Though he is probably at least 65-years-old, he still fails to understand that obligations are not indefinite, and that a covenant Aragog considered binding may not extend to his descendants, nor will it protect Hagrid's friends.
Harry's first year at Hogwarts started in September after he turned 11-years-old, though this is the first time that his, Hermione's, and Ron's relative ages have been mentioned. Hermione, whose birthday falls in September, is nearly a year older than Harry, while Ron, who has a March birthday, is four or five months older than Harry and six months younger than Hermione. Harry's birthday falling in July means he is unable to take his Apparition test until the summer.
Ron's failing the Apparition test by such a small margin is fully in character; his use of magic seems somewhat slap-dash and, perhaps, marginally competent at times. One wonders if the author's reason for his failure is a nod to idiom; "missed it by half an eyebrow" seems a very likely sort of colloquialism. And while Ron's magical ability can sometimes be marginal, his natural intelligence is becoming more overt when he suggests Harry use the good luck potion to get Slughorn's memory.
- Why does Harry invite Slughorn to the funeral?
- What might Harry have been intending to save the Felix Felicis potion for?
- How does Harry persuade Slughorn to give him the memory? What helps him?
- Why is Acromantula venom so valuable? Slughorn also seems impressed by Hagrid's collection of Unicorn hair; why is that valuable?
- What does Slughorn's comment about the mead being safe say about him and wizards in general? How does Harry feel about his comment?
- Why might Draco be looking so unwell? What does Harry think?
- Why does Slughorn finally agree to Harry's request?
Ron's failing his Apparition test will result in him signing up for additional classes, held in Hogsmeade, over the next few weeks. This will be mentioned in passing, as will his eventual success in the test, but will not have any significant effect on the story.
As mentioned, Harry has been saving the potion to help improve both his and Ron's situations regarding girlfriends. As luck and Felix Felicis would have it, he manages that as a side effect of his efforts to retrieve Slughorn's memory. We will find out that the blazing row Lavender started when Ron and Hermione appeared unaccompanied from the dorm ended that relationship, leaving Ron free to pursue a relationship with Hermione, one that turns out significantly better. At the same time, Ginny, already annoyed by Dean's over-solicitousness, will misinterpret Harry's invisibly pushing past them as a final instance of that and will break up with Dean, leaving her free to answer Harry's pursuit.
In the next chapter, we learn that Slughorn's memory is critical to understanding what Voldemort is doing.
Chapter 23: Horcruxes
Harry returns to the castle as the Felix Felicis potion is wearing off. Memory in hand, Harry presents himself to Professor Dumbledore, who seems amazed and pleased with Harry's success. He fetches his Pensieve, and they enter Slughorn's fifty-year-old memory.
Tom Riddle asks Slughorn about Horcruxes. Slughorn explains it is the darkest of Dark magic that can split a soul to encase it into another object; if killed, the perpetrator never actually dies because his soul shard remains earthbound. Souls are not meant to be split, and it takes the ultimate evil, murder, to rip a soul apart. Prodded further, Slughorn reveals there is a spell, but claims not to know it. Riddle asks if, as one Horcrux can keep someone alive, would more not be better? Seven is a very powerful number. Slughorn, horrified, tries calming himself by saying this is all hypothetical. Riddle agrees, but as he departs, Harry sees the same wild joy on Riddle's face as when he learned he was a wizard.
Back in his office, Dumbledore says the diary that Harry destroyed four years before, was not only a Horcrux, but also a weapon, intended to possess a Hogwarts student to reopen the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore also theorizes that Voldemort may have divided his soul into seven pieces (Tom Riddle had claimed that seven was the "most powerfully magical number") to obtain immortality. As long as any Horcrux survives, Voldemort is unable to be killed. Dumbledore also speculates that Voldemort only used unique items to house his Horcruxes — objects with a significant history and value to Riddle. Two Horcruxes have been destroyed: Tom Riddle's diary (seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and a ring once belonging to Marvolo Gaunt, Voldemort's maternal grandfather. Dumbledore's injured hand resulted from destroying the ring, and it was only his own skill and Professor Snape's timely action that contained the damage. Of the four remaining Horcruxes, Dumbledore believes that one will be Hufflepuff's cup and the other Slytherin's locket; the third may be a Ravenclaw artifact. The only known Gryffindor artifact, the sword, remains safe in Dumbledore's office. The final Horcrux may be Nagini, Voldemort's pet snake. Placing a Horcrux in a live being is risky, however, as living creatures can be killed. Dumbledore also notes that his recent absences were due to his searching for Horcruxes, and says Harry can accompany him if he finds additional ones.
Dumbledore believes Voldemort is unaware when a Horcrux is destroyed, and that he can only be be killed when all his Horcruxes are destroyed by someone with uncommon skill and power, someone like Harry, who possesses the ability to love.
While Dumbledore never explicitly says so, a reader piecing clues together can see that Dumbledore has only counted six Horcruxes: with two destroyed, four remain to be found. While this seems to counter Riddle's belief in seven being the most magical number, we should remember that Voldemort retains one soul piece within himself. It should be mentioned that a Horcrux is not "used up" when Voldemort returns from the dead; when his body is killed, his main soul remains anchored to the Earth by the Horcruxes, and that is used to re-animate him.
It is easy to assume that the artifacts Voldemort chose to house his Horcruxes in are based on their economic value, and that an artifact dating back to Salazar Slytherin would be protected by its antiquity. However, Dumbledore never says anything like that. The artifacts were selected because they are valuable to Riddle. The ones we know of are the diary, valuable because it contains proof that Riddle is the heir of Slytherin, and the Gaunt ring which links him to the old Peverell family. The Slytherin locket and the Hufflepuff cup that Dumbledore mentions, are associated with the founding of Hogwarts, the first place Riddle could call home. The one within Nagini was likely placed there in haste, and the snake happened to be a convenient receptacle; but the one unknown Horcrux will be an object that is valuable to Riddle, whether or not it is valuable to anyone else.
Trelawney's prophecy stated that "The Chosen One" would have powers the Dark Lord lacked. That power is love, and Dumbledore realizes that it is Harry's abilities, combined with his capacity to love, that will empower him to defeat Voldemort. Unlike Harry, who is emotionally intact, and whose friends support him out of loyalty and amity, Voldemort is psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally shredded, feeling only hate, envy, and rage, and controls his followers through fear, intimidation, and coercion. And while Harry finds it difficult to fathom that something so simple as love is the more powerful force, he understands that, once again, it is also about choices: Voldemort's actions regarding Harry are based on the prophecy, but Harry would choose to fight Voldemort whether or not the prophecy had been made. That choice, and the ability to make that choice, is largely what gives Harry powers that Voldemort lacks and prevents Harry from falling victim to the Dark side. Some years earlier, Dumbledore had stressed to Harry that it is one's choices that makes a person what they truly are, just as it had with Harry's father, James, when he chose to overcome his youthful bad behavior.
Dumbledore believes that Voldemort's snake, Nagini, is also a Horcrux. It has been suggested that Voldemort's final Horcrux might have been generated when Voldemort murdered Frank Bryce, the Riddle Manor caretaker. Voldemort's wand was also used to murder Bertha Jorkins in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so it could have been her death that allowed Voldemort to create a Horcrux that he may have embedded within Nagini. It is also possible that all his Horcruxes were in place when he encountered Baby Harry; weak and disembodied, Voldemort may have been unable to create Horcruxes after that incident. This would then rule out a Horcrux being made from either Bertha Jorkins' or Frank Bryce's deaths. However, Dumbledore is correct that Nagini is much more self-aware than an ordinary snake, and that Voldemort seems to have far more control over her than expected. As Dumbledore noted, we have entered the realm of speculation: as Dumbledore knew nothing about the circumstances surrounding Frank Bryce's or Bertha Jorkins' deaths, his speculation does not quite tally with readers' understanding. Nagini was already acting most decidedly un-snake-like when Frank Bryce was killed, so the best assumption is that Voldemort's final Horcrux was actually created from the earlier Bertha Jorkins' death, and was retained in Nagini.
Dumbledore is mistaken in saying that the sword is Gryffindor's only known artifact; there is also the Sorting Hat, which says it once belonged to Gryffindor. The Hat is somewhat sentient, and it is questionable as to whether it is properly an artifact.
- Why might Voldemort have created so many Horcruxes? Was this wise? If not, explain.
- What is the significance of each object Voldemort hides the Horcruxes in?
- Why was Dumbledore so frequently absent from Hogwarts?
- How would love be able to defeat Voldemort? Does Harry truly understand its significance?
One Horcrux was previously seen in Grimmauld Place. "A heavy locket that none of them could open," matching Slytherin's locket that has been seen in the Pensieve memories a few times now, was discovered and discarded during the cleanup of Grimmauld Place. A note inside a fake locket that will be found later in a secret sea cave is signed R.A.B., which are the initials of the late Regulus Arcturus Black, a repentant Death Eater and Sirius's younger brother. The locket at Grimmauld Place will prove hard to find; originally Kreacher, retrieving it from the trash, had set it aside, unable to part with any Black heirlooms. It is later stolen by Mundungus Fletcher, who was seen earlier busily looting Grimmauld Place. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione eventually catch up with Mundungus, he informs them that the locket was extorted from him by Dolores Umbridge at the Ministry of Magic.
Curiously, even though Harry clearly sees Slytherin's distinctively-shaped locket during his and Dumbledore's forays into the Pensieve, Harry fails to recognize it as the same one that was found and then discarded at Grimmauld Place, nor will he fully realize that another locket that will be collected from a sea cave near the book's end is also different until he finds a note inside explaining that it is a fake Horcrux. Dumbledore also never notices the difference; however, he will be in an extremely weakened physical and mental state after recovering the locket, and did not necessarily record the small details so accurately.
Dumbledore believes Voldemort is unable to feel when his Horcruxes are being destroyed, given that he was unaware the diary had been dispatched until Lucius Malfoy told him. What Dumbledore has withheld from Harry is that a second Horcrux, the ring, has also been destroyed, with no apparent response from Voldemort. It is learned later that Snape is able to bring information about Voldemort to Dumbledore, and he would have reported Voldemort's reaction to the ring's destruction had Voldemort known about it. While Harry learns that the ring Horcrux has been destroyed, he must remain unaware of just what Snape's true role is for a while longer.
If Riddle was truthful when he spoke to Slughorn, it indicates that he found nothing about Horcruxes in the library and that the book, Secrets of the Darkest Art (which we learn in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an authoritative source on the making and destruction of Horcruxes) had already been hidden away. Even then, though, Tom Riddle and the truth had, at best, no more than a nodding acquaintance. So it is entirely possible that Riddle had a greater understanding about how to create Horcruxes than he let on and could have created one. The author has stated that the ring Horcrux was made via the death of Tom Riddle Sr., which happened at the same time as Tom collected the ring from Morfin Gaunt; thus, if the ring was on Tom's finger in the memory, it must already have been a Horcrux. One of Dumbledore's infrequent mistakes is seen here: Dumbledore stated that once the ring was made into a Horcrux, Tom no longer wanted to wear it. He is wearing it in this memory, and it is presumably already a Horcrux. Possibly, a better statement would have been, "Once he had made a second Horcrux, he felt a need to keep them all safe and separate from himself." Thus the ring Horcrux would have been hidden once he had made the diary Horcrux.
It is certain that Riddle would have waited to hide the ring Horcrux in the Gaunt shack until Morfin and Marvolo were no longer there. He had learned from Morfin that Marvolo had died. Having framed Morfin for Tom Riddle Sr.'s murder, Riddle would have known that Morfin was in Azkaban, but there is always the possibility, slim though it may be, that he would escape or be released. Presumably it was only after hearing about Morfin's death in prison that Riddle thought it safe to return to the Gaunt shack and hide the ring there. Having taken great pains to conceal his original name, and especially his middle name, Voldemort thought it would be impossible to make the connection back to the Gaunt shack.
Chapter 24: Sectumsempra
In Charms class the next day, Harry shares with Ron and Hermione what he and Dumbledore learned from Slughorn's memories. Ron, in return, mentions that he and Lavender have broken up. Hermione comments that Ginny and Dean have also split. Though he tries hard to conceal his elation, Hermione senses Harry is hiding something.
Ginny and Dean's mutual silence leaves Harry worrying whether they can Chase together on the Quidditch team. Luckily, Katie Bell returns from the hospital and can resume playing. Unfortunately, she cannot recall who gave her the necklace.
With McLaggen gone and Katie back, Quidditch practice is wonderful now. Ginny becomes the life of the team, cracking jokes and doing marvelous imitations. Harry is glad to have a reason to look at her, happy to be able to walk alongside her, but he is still seriously worried about his friendship with Ron if he started dating her. Harry remembers Ron's expression when he caught Ginny and Dean together; how would he react to Ginny and him together? Meanwhile, interest grows about the upcoming Quidditch match against Ravenclaw; the Quidditch championship is still in doubt. Gryffindor must win by three hundred points to get the championship; that is still possible, but if they lose by as much as a hundred points, they will still be in second place.
Harry, making his usual pass by the Room of Requirement, sees on the Marauder's Map that Draco is in a bathroom one floor below with Moaning Myrtle. Harry investigates and finds Draco sobbing: whatever he is planning, he is frightened that he is unable to do it and fears for his parents' lives (and his own) if he fails. Malfoy spots Harry and casts a Cruciatus curse; Harry, defending himself, using the Half-Blood Prince's Sectumsempra spell without knowing its effects. It slashes Draco, spilling his blood everywhere. Moaning Myrtle flies off, screaming. Professor Snape responds swiftly and saves Draco's life, rushing him to the Hospital Wing.
Returning, Snape demands to know where Harry learned the spell, and, despite Harry's attempts at occlumency, Snape apparently gleans some information about Harry's Potions book. Snape demands to see his textbooks. Harry runs to the Common room and borrows Ron's books, including the Potions textbook, and, asking the Room of Requirement for a place to hide something, enters and finds himself in a vast warehouse filled with broken and discarded objects. Passing the damaged Vanishing Cabinet in which Montague had run into trouble the previous year, Harry hides his book in a large cupboard, placing an old stone bust, a wig, and a battered tiara on top to locate it again.
Snape seems unconvinced that the Potions book, which is signed "Roonil Wazlib", is actually Harry's. For using Dark Magic, albeit unknowingly, to cause serious harm, Snape gives Harry detention every Saturday until school ends. Snape dismisses Harry's protests, as does McGonagall, who later tells Harry he was lucky not to be expelled. Hermione, of course, affirms that she knew that the Prince was involved in Dark magic, though Harry disputes this, saying the Prince could have copied down the spell. Hermione is upset that Harry intends to retrieve the Prince's book, but Ginny tells her to leave Harry alone. Ron and Harry are both amazed, given how close Ginny and Hermione have been. Harry cannot help feeling cheered by Ginny defending him.
Ginny replaces Harry as Seeker, and Dean Thomas takes over as Chaser. That Saturday, Harry reports to Snape's office for detention and is assigned copying over old detention files for Filch. Snape suggests Harry start with the boxes detailing his father's misbehaviour. When Harry returns to the Common room, he learns that Gryffindor won the match 450 to 140, and thus the Quidditch Cup. Ginny runs into his arms and he kisses her. When he looks around: Dean Thomas is holding a broken glass, Romilda Vane looks angry, Hermione approving. Ron appears stunned, but gives a small nod, as if bowing to the inevitable. Harry suggests, wordlessly, to Ginny that they should go for a long walk.
This is the first time Draco is seen attempting an Unforgivable curse, and his familiarity with it suggests he has been practicing privately. Although Harry was justifiably defending himself against Malfoy, who was about to cast the Cruciatus Curse, using an unknown spell was dangerous and reckless. However, despite this grievous action that could have permanently expelled him from Hogwarts, Snape only assigns Harry detention. It is also the first time Draco is seen as anything but a swaggering, obnoxious bully, and his uncontrollable sobbing shows he possesses a more human side. Draco is obviously terrified for his and his family's safety should he fail in his task, indicating he is under extreme emotional duress. Harry catching him in such a vulnerable state prompted his severe reaction, which, in turn, caused Harry to react just as rashly.
Ginny defending Harry when Hermione is chastising him for wanting to retrieve the Half-Blood Prince's book serves several purposes. First, Ginny reminds Hermione that Draco was about to cast an Unforgivable curse, and shows that there is a definite possibility that Harry was acting on impulse, not rational thought. Second, this is the first time that someone other than Ron or Harry has defended the Half-Blood Prince, though in this instance, it is more to justify Harry's actions; Hermione's long-standing animosity toward the Prince seems to be based as much on her jealousy over Harry outperforming her in Potions, as it is concern that the Prince might be a Dark wizard. In particular, Hermione sees Harry using the Prince's work and claiming it as his own. For Hermione, it seems that this issue may be more about that rather than the Prince's spells possibly having Dark aspects, though she uses the Sectumsempra spell's Dark nature as justification for her excoriating the Prince. And finally, this helps set the scene for Harry and Ginny's kiss. Seeing Ginny standing up for him, Harry now knows that she is not angry with him, and this gives Harry hope that she may still have feelings for him.
While Ginny and Harry's relationship has been gradually building almost from the series' beginning, this is the first time it has been declared openly. It would seem that it took this long because they were often at cross purposes. At first, Harry simply was uninterested romantically in Ginny, having first set his sights on Cho Chang and considering Ginny only as Ron's little sister. It is only later that Harry realized that he and Cho were incompatible and that he not only had feelings for Ginny, but that they were suited to each other in nearly every way. She, however, appeared to have moved on and became involved with someone else, though she never actually lost interest in Harry; she simply gave up. Harry need not have worried about what Ron thought, however. In fact, when Ginny announced that she had broken up with Michael Corner at the end of the previous book, Ron subtly hinted to Harry that he was a better choice than Michael, even if Harry was oblivious about what he meant at the time.
The reader should take careful note of the artifacts Harry finds in the Room of Requirement when he goes to hide his textbook.
- Why does Malfoy fear for his and his family's lives should he fail to complete his task?
- What task has Draco Malfoy been asked to perform?
- Why would Harry cast a spell without knowing what it does? Was he justified in using it? Explain.
- Why does Snape only assign Harry detention for such a serious offense, rather than recommend he be expelled?
Harry and Ginny's relationship, which begins publicly here, will be thrown into turmoil near this book's end. Knowing that Voldemort will attack anyone close to him, Harry ends his and Ginny's relationship to protect her. This separation, as ill-advised as it may seem (discussion in a later chapter), is temporary, much to the reader's relief.
While inside the Room of Requirement, Harry unknowingly touches another Horcrux, putting it atop the dresser that he hides his Potions book in. This is something that he will need to remember in the next book. The fact that the Horcrux is here, meaning that Voldemort must have been able to enter this room, may reveal something about what Draco is working on; however, as we have not yet knowingly seen a Horcrux, this hint is lost to us at the moment. The Vanishing Cabinet being here could also be a clue; it was last seen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, barely a year ago, and at that time it was in the hallway where the Twins could push Montague into it. How did it get into the Room of Requirement? This is actually a very adroit use of tension on the part of the author: Harry is under such pressure to find a hiding place for his textbook that he does not think twice about the presence of the Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement, and we readers are perforce dragged along with him. The reader interested in writing technique should carefully note how the author carries our attention past the Vanishing Cabinet, showing us the clue to what Draco is attempting, yet not giving us the necessary time to process that clue.
This will not be the last time Snape gives a light sentence for a student's serious offense. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Ginny, Neville, and Luna attempt to steal Gryffindor's Sword from the Headmaster's office, Snape, the then-Headmaster, catches them, but he only assigns them detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. There may be a reason for the latter punishment's lightness, though the reason that Harry got off so lightly in this instance remains uncertain. It is possibly because both Dumbledore and Snape know that Draco, involved with the Voldemort's Dark task, fears for his and his family's life, and that Harry, having no understanding regarding Draco's predicament and feeling disfranchised by Dumbledore, has become obsessed with and highly emotional over trying to uncover what this task is. Another possibility is that Snape is aware of the origin of the hex Harry cast upon Draco. Snape's immediate demand to see Harry's Potions book suggests strongly that Snape knows where the Sectumsempra spell originated, and also perhaps that he is its original author. Whether Snape is concerned about having his half-blood past exposed (as it would be if the title he gave himself in that book, the "Half-Blood Prince," comes to light) is debatable; however, if it was determined that Snape was the source of this very Dark spell that Harry had used, there could be serious repercussions on Snape, possibly losing him his job. Snape may have eased off on Harry's punishment out of hope that the Half-Blood Prince's book would not reappear. While the reason is not explained, the analytical reader may want to examine this chapter to determine why Snape's relatively lenient punishment seems in character, despite his earlier antipathy towards Gryffindor house and Harry.
Chapter 25: The Seer Overheard
Harry and Ginny are happy together, laughing over the circulating rumors about them; for once, everyone talking about Harry actually makes him happy. Ron and Hermione seem to be growing closer as well, and Harry's concerns that his and Ginny's relationship could affect his friendship with Ron have largely evaporated.
Harry dares not enter the Room of Requirement to recover his Potions textbook, worried that Snape might confiscate it. As a result, his Potions work is suffering, though Professor Slughorn attributes this to his relationship with Ginny. Hermione, meanwhile, theorizes about the 'Half-Blood Prince'. A write-up she found about a former Hogwarts student named Eileen Prince, suggests that if she was a half-blood, she could have been the "Prince".
When Harry is summoned to Dumbledore's office, he encounters Professor Trelawney sprawled on the hallway floor, outside the Room of Requirement. She admits to using the Room of Requirement to hide her sherry stock, but she is unable to get in. Harry thinks the 'whooping' she heard from within is Malfoy finally finishing his task. When Trelawney called out in the darkness to see who was there, she was pushed out into the hall. Harry suggests she tell Dumbledore. Trelawney accompanies him, and along the way, she recounts the evening that Dumbledore hired her. When she mentions that Severus Snape had interrupted their interview, Harry realizes that he was the one who passed the prophecy to Voldemort, resulting in his parents' deaths.
After a fiery exchange with Harry about Trelawney's revelation, Dumbledore simply states he has reason to trust Snape, despite Snape's skills at Occlumency. Dumbledore has located another Horcrux, and if Harry wishes to accompany him to retrieve it, he must follow Dumbledore's instructions explicitly. Harry promises, and Dumbledore orders him to fetch his Invisibility Cloak and meet him in the Entrance Hall.
Before leaving the castle, Harry gives Ron and Hermione his Marauder's Map and the phial of Felix Felicis potion, believing there could be some imminent danger now that Draco has finished his task. Harry tells Ron, Hermione, and Ginny to use Felix to protect themselves, and wants Dumbledore's Army to guard the Room of Requirement and also Snape.
Harry and Ginny are happy, finally realizing they were meant to be together. However, their happiness may be short-lived: the book's mood is rapidly becoming markedly darker, especially when Harry learns it was Snape who betrayed his parents. Also, Harry knows that whatever task Draco has been working on appears to be completed. Just what this task is and how it will affect Hogwarts is still unknown, and Harry is exceedingly frustrated that his warnings about Draco's suspicious activities have been repeatedly ignored by Ron and Hermione, and apparently also by Dumbledore. However, it is actually unlikely that Dumbledore ever ignored Harry's warnings, and he likely knows what has been happening within his own school. Harry fails to realize that a Headmaster is unable to divulge sensitive information to a student, even Harry. There have been hints that Dumbledore assigned Snape to investigate Draco's suspicious behavior. And while Harry continues to suspect Snape, Dumbledore reiterates his complete trust in him.
Many story lines in this book are rapidly coming to a peak in this chapter. It was Trelawney's prophecy that was conveyed to Voldemort, while Draco has apparently completed a major portion of his mission. Also, Dumbledore is preparing to leave the school with Harry to hunt down another Horcrux. Because Draco's task has apparently reached this point, Harry fears that the the Order of the Phoenix guards patrolling are now insufficient. They are only guarding the school's perimeter and the known entrances into Hogwarts; Harry suspects the threat is Draco, and also Snape, from inside the Room of Requirement. His instructions to Ron and Hermione are based on that suspicion.
At least one reader has commented that Madam Rosmerta is acting out-of-character in this chapter when she is seen tossing out an unruly customer: we have been led to believe that she generally runs an orderly pub, and should not have to resort to physically ejecting wizards, and yet she is seen doing exactly that. Of course, we have never been in Hogsmeade during the evening, so we have no idea what generally goes on then.
- What exactly did Snape hear when Trelawney related the prophecy to Dumbledore?
- What might have Snape done or said that has made Dumbledore trust him implicitly?
- Why did Dumbledore never tell Harry who overheard the prophecy?
- Why were Harry's repeated warnings about Draco Malfoy continually ignored, especially considering Malfoy's obviously suspicious behavior?
We have the clue needed to determine why Harry was unable to enter the Room of Requirement while Draco was working in there, and Harry has the option of going in and finding out what Draco has been doing. Trelawney reveals she was hiding her sherry in the Room, which was in the same warehouse form as when Draco was using it. We can guess that the invocation, "I need some place to hide my sherry," caused the junk warehouse to appear, which was the same form as when Harry hid his Potions book there in the previous chapter. It is likely that whatever Draco is working on is inside that warehouse. The other revelations that Trelawney revealed, however, are profound enough that he, and we, failed to notice this clue.
It is interesting to note that after this book's publication and before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, many "good Snape" theorists based their opinions on Professor Trelawney's identifying Professor Snape as the intruder the night she gave the prophecy. Since we know from Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney's Prediction in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that Trelawney is oblivious to her surroundings while experiencing a true prophecy, she could only have seen Snape before or after she related the prophecy to Dumbledore. This contradicts Dumbledore's story that the intruder (Snape) only heard the prophecy's first half before being ejected from the Hog's Head Inn. Furthermore, since we know from Voldemort's actions in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Snape only heard the prophecy's first half, many people assume that Snape either heard the entire prophecy or none, and either way, only reported as much of it to Voldemort as Dumbledore ordered him to. This would certainly go a long way towards explaining why Dumbledore trusts Snape. However, it is also necessary to remember that in both instances, Trelawney repeated the prophecy's beginning. Therefore, the prophecy's critical part was the middle. If Snape heard only the end, and relayed that to Voldemort, that would be the same as carrying only the beginning.
Later information leads us to believe that Snape was Voldemort's ally, but after sharing the prophecy's content, he was revolted by how Voldemort utilized this information. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows it is learned that Lily Evans was Snape's great unrequited love, and so when Voldemort determined that the prophecy meant that she and her child (Harry) must die, Snape was effectively lost to the Death Eaters.
Snape's memories in that chapter suggested that Dumbledore never ignored Harry's information about Draco and Snape; his response to Harry was always, "Put that out of your mind." Literally, he was saying that this was not Harry's concern, not that it was unimportant. In Snape's memories, Dumbledore already knew about Draco's mission before Snape told him, and before this book had even opened, though we never know how he learned this. (Dumbledore and Snape talk of Draco's mission when Snape has just finished containing the curse which killed Dumbledore's hand; and the damage to his hand is alluded to in chapters 2 and 3 of the book.) So Dumbledore's response to Harry's information is more along the lines of, "I already know all about this, and you should not concern yourself with it." Dumbledore had said previously that he is an old man, and old men tend to forget how young men think and feel. Perhaps dismissing Harry's concerns this way is another case of this forgetfulness?
Hermione's belief that Eileen Prince could have been the Half-Blood Prince is incorrect, but her theory is actually closer to being accurate than she, or anyone, realizes.
Madam Rosmerta's greeting Dumbledore in passing is more important than it seems. We shortly discover that she is under Draco Malfoy's control, which may account for her uncharacteristic aggressive behavior when she ejects a customer from her establishment. It was because she was under Draco's control that she sent the poisoned mead and the cursed necklace to the school, in an attempt to kill Dumbledore. Tonight, when Rosmerta sees that Dumbledore has left Hogwarts, she notifies Draco, who uses this opportunity to allow Death Eaters into the school through the Vanishing Cabinet.
Chapter 26: The Cave
Professor Dumbledore Apparates himself and Harry to the foot of a seaside cliff. This is where the young Tom Riddle led two younger orphans on a horrifying outing. As Dumbledore and Harry approach the cliff, Dumbledore illuminates his wand, revealing a fissure that he and Harry swim to.
Inside they find a sea cave, but it is only an antechamber; their actual destination lies further ahead. Dumbledore finds a slit in the cave's wall, but it does not open. Divining its secret, Dumbledore cuts his arm and sheds blood on the rock, explaining that Voldemort likely prefers to weaken those seeking his artifacts. An opening appears, and inside is an underground lake with a strange green glow in its center. As Dumbledore searches for something, he cautions Harry against touching the water. When Harry suggests Summoning the Horcrux Dumbldore urges him to try. Far out in the lake, something large jumps, intercepting Harry's spell. Dumbledore says that is likely what they will have to face in order to retrieve the Horcrux.
Dumbledore summons a submerged chain and reels in a tiny boat that has surfaced. Harry and Dumbledore climb in, and the boat propels itself towards a small island. Harry, peering into the water, sees dead bodies floating beneath the dark surface. Dumbledore assures him that as long as the bodies are merely floating, there is no danger, they will avoid light and warmth.
On the island is a basin filled with green glowing liquid. Presumably the Horcrux is immersed within. Dumbledore determines that he must drink the substance to uncover the locket and makes Harry promise to force him to finish every drop. He produces a goblet and begins drinking. As he progresses, the potion appears to cause intense pain, and, in delirious agony, Dumbledore begs Harry to kill him. When he suddenly collapses, Harry persists in refilling the goblet and forcing Dumbledore to drink it all. Dumbledore finishes it and, to Harry's horror, lapses into temporary unconsciousness. Recovering, and seeming weak and thirsty, Dumbledore requests water. Harry conjures water, but it vanishes as soon as he gives it to Dumbledore. When Harry is forced to draw water from the lake, Inferi (the corpses floating beneath the surface, now animated) emerge and attempt to drag Harry into the lake. Harry tries fending them off, but finds himself outnumbered and overpowered. Dumbledore recovers enough to surround them with magical fire, driving the Inferi back into the water. After collecting the locket, he and Harry climb into the boat. The Inferi, dully, lose interest in Harry and Dumbledore, who return to the lake shore. Harry leads the weakened Dumbledore from the cave.
The only explanation we ever receive for Dumbledore asking Harry to accompany him on his mission to retrieve the Horcrux is that Harry "has earned that right," through his recovery of the memory from Professor Slughorn. It was actually critical that Harry go with Dumbledore, not only for his magical abilities, but also for his incomplete mastery of them. Dumbledore believes Voldemort charmed the boat to carry only one adult wizard at a time; it cannot be summoned to and from the island with magic while it is empty - a passenger must be in it. However, two people are needed to retrieve the locket from the basin. Harry is underage and small, so his presence in the boat goes undetected. If Dumbledore did not know this before he actually entered the cave, it is then fortuitous that he brought Harry with him.
It is a measure of Dumbledore's character that he deliberately undertakes the mission's hardest part. He refuses Harry's offer to provide the blood that opens the portal, and chooses to drink the unknown potion himself, rather than subjecting Harry to it.
- What was the green liquid that Dumbledore drank?
- Why would Dumbledore ask a still-unqualified student to accompany him on such a dangerous mission?
- Why did Dumbledore wish Harry to kill him?
- If, when Harry used Aguamenti to pour water into the goblet, it did not work, why didn't he simply attempt spraying a small quantity of water into Dumbledore's own mouth? He has seen Inferi in the lake, and, even if he doesn't know what exactly that means, he is frightened by it; why would he want to touch the water in the lake?
- We learned earlier in this book that Tom Riddle had taken two of his fellow orphans to a cave on a seaside trip, and they had never been the same after. We now learn that this is the same cave. Why would Riddle have brought the two orphans here?
- How could Tom Riddle have discovered the cave?
As mentioned, it takes two to recover the Horcrux, and one must be small and an unqualified wizard. It will soon be learned that Harry and Dumbledore are not the only ones who overcame this obstacle: Kreacher had been used by the Dark Lord for the same purpose, and had returned to his master afterwards, and Kreacher and his master had then also made the same trip.
The way this Horcrux was retrieved clearly indicates that Voldemort's power has limits, and demonstrates how his blindness to those limitations ultimately results in his defeat. This pattern is repeated throughout the series. In this case, Voldemort believes that his hiding place is impenetrable because he concealed his past history, forgetting that it was Dumbledore who retrieved him from the orphanage and that he probably knew about Tom's behavior at the orphanage. It is also apparent to us now that Dumbledore is familiar enough with Tom Riddle's thought patterns, that he is able to deduce how Tom conceals and protects his valuables. That the real Horcrux itself is gone is another piece of the same pattern; Voldemort, having protected his hiding place against wizards, discounts House-elves' magical abilities, and never considers Kreacher's knowledge about the cave to be an issue. Kreacher, of course, was unhindered by the anti-Apparition spells placed on the cave, and could return home after Voldemort left him for dead. This allowed Kreacher's master to learn about the Horcrux and to take steps against it.
It is worth noting Dumbledore's comment that Harry is more valuable than he is himself. Dumbledore now knows his time on Earth is very nearly done; it has been some eleven months since he was cursed by the Peverell ring, and Snape had given him no more than a year to live at that time. His time is even shorter than he can predict, as his death at Snape's hand is now only hours away. However, whether it is because of his own impending demise, or as a more general statement, we cannot be certain.
Compare Harry's feelings of "revulsion" and "self-hatred" as he forced Dumbledore to drink the potion, to Snape's expression as he performs the Avada Kedavra in the next chapter. Both Harry and Snape have been forced, by promises they have made to Dumbledore, to inflict harm on him. While Harry has accepted Dumbledore's promise out of love, it is uncertain what Snape feels for Dumbledore; we will discover later why Snape does Dumbledore's bidding, but not what his true feelings are. We will see in the next book that Snape continues to do Dumbledore's bidding even past his death, which suggests strongly that Snape did have some feelings for Dumbledore.
Chapter 27: The Lightning-Struck Tower
Harry Apparates a weakened Dumbledore back to Hogsmeade. Collapsing, Dumbledore tells Harry to get him to Severus Snape. Madam Rosmerta runs up, reporting that the Dark Mark is floating over Hogwarts. She lends them brooms, and they fly to the Astronomy Tower, with Dumbledore mumbling incantations to allow them through Hogwarts' protective spells. Harry fears for his friends' lives.
As they land atop the tower, Dumbledore orders Harry to fetch Snape, but hearing footsteps in the stairwell, petrifies Harry under his Invisibility Cloak. Draco Malfoy bursts through the door and Disarms Dumbledore. Draco reveals that his task is to murder Dumbledore, and that he has helped the Death Eaters invade Hogwarts via a Vanishing Cabinet that he repaired. Draco also used the Imperius curse on Madame Rosmerta, forcing her to poison the bottle of mead and to send the deadly necklace to the school.
Malfoy seems reluctant to kill Dumbledore, but believes he has no other choice, as his and his mother's lives are at forfeit should he fail. Dumbledore calmly reasons with the frightened and conscience-stricken boy to abandon his mission, promising protection from Voldemort. Malfoy falters, apparently considering Dumbledore's offer. As he lowers his wand, four Death Eaters arrive: Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Fenrir Greyback, and one other. Despite their taunts spurring on Draco, he is unable to kill Dumbledore. Harry, still immobilized under his Cloak, can hear the Hogwarts defenders yelling below as Snape suddenly appears on the scene. When Dumbledore calls out his name almost pleadingly, Snape, revulsion and horror on his face, casts the Killing curse directly at him, hurling Dumbledore's lifeless body over the parapet and to the ground below, Harry watching in frozen, silent terror.
Perhaps the greatest mystery in the entire series is, did Snape actually murder Dumbledore or was there a prearranged plan? Evidence supports either conclusion, and despite Dumbledore's unwavering trust in Snape, his loyalty remains questionable to Harry and readers. Regardless, it appears that Snape had little choice; he must either kill Albus Dumbledore or die, since he is bound by the Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco Malfoy and complete his mission should Draco fail. Though many readers may believe that if Snape was truly loyal to Dumbledore, then he should have willingly sacrificed himself to protect him and Harry, yet he does not. It is possible that Snape and Dumbledore were communicating with each other using Legilimency, and Dumbledore's pleas may represent a request for Snape to sacrifice him to protect Harry and allow Snape to remain in the Dark Lord's favor, implying that Snape might play a key role if Harry is to destroy the Dark Lord. These speculations, and whether or not Dumbledore was actually dead, were hotly debated by readers until the seventh and final Harry Potter book was released.
Whenever the Avada Kedavra curse has previously been seen, the victim merely collapsed and died. Yet in this instance, Dumbledore is hurled into the air and spun around before falling dead to the ground. This was cited as evidence that Snape's curse was not actually the killing curse, but something else; it was suggested that he had spoken the Avada Kedavra incantation, but had actually voicelessly cast something like Expelliarmus, to make it appear that Dumbledore was dead but sparing his life.
Snape's killing Dumbledore may not actually be murder. That is, there may have been a prearranged agreement that Snape would kill the Headmaster if events deemed it necessary to protect the Order's and Harry's missions. Indeed, during their confrontation on the Astronomy Tower, Dumbledore is almost pleading with a conflicted Snape to curse him. In a previous conversation between them, Snape was overheard telling Dumbledore that he would refuse to do something, to which Dumbledore insisted he must follow through. This may have been a reference to Snape's Unbreakable Vow that would require him to kill Dumbledore if Draco failed.
Voldemort himself may have unintentionally prevented Dumbledore's death. When Dumbledore drinks the potion in the cave, he says it will not immediately kill him, because Voldemort would want to keep whoever stole the locket alive long enough to learn how he was able to penetrate the Dark Lord's defenses. Is it possible that the potion protected Dumbledore from the Avada Kedavra curse, keeping him in a deathlike state? If this were true, there may be an antidote to the potion's poisonous effects, and which could be why Dumbledore wanted Harry to fetch Snape rather than Madam Pomfrey, when they returned to Hogwarts.
Countering these speculations is the author's assertion in an interview after the sixth book's release that Dumbledore is "definitely dead." And though Rowling has often planted "red herrings" in the storyline, she has never been prone to outright deception by issuing false statements to her fans. The Headmasters do live on, in a fashion, within their portraits, interacting with people and retaining the headmasters' memories. Should Dumbledore's portrait appear in the Headmaster's office, to join the other portraits there, it should be able to speak with Harry and provide information regarding unresolved events. Additionally, Dumbledore will also have stored memories in his Pensieve, which Harry may be able to access.
In previous books, Rowling included a particular character who demonstrated suspicious behavior (e.g. the implication that Snape was trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone in book 1), before revealing it was actually someone else (e.g. Quirrell was attempting to obtain the Philosopher's Stone). Given her tendency to plant red herrings, it is impossible to say conclusively where Snape's loyalty lies. His actions have been such that he has been useful to both sides, and he has done nothing that would force him to choose one over the other.
Dumbledore seems either to have been intending to die or was taking a tremendous gamble. The Death Eaters were able to quickly conjure an impenetrable barrier on the stairway, which begs the question why Dumbledore did not react similarly after hearing footsteps on the Astronomy Tower staircase. This would have allowed both Harry and himself an opportunity to escape, but instead he chose to incapacitate Harry, preventing him from intervening and allowing himself to be disarmed by Draco Malfoy, an unqualified wizard. He was either expecting (or planning) to be killed by either Draco or Snape, or he hoped to turn Malfoy over to his side. Dumbledore's already seemingly weakened condition, followed by the events in the sea cave, may have left him extremely vulnerable, resulting in his failure to defend himself and Harry against this attack.
- If Dumbledore did not know about Snape's Unbreakable Vow, he nevertheless suggests to Draco Malfoy that "perhaps Severus may have told you so," implying that Snape might not really be disobeying Dumbledore. Is it possible he was bluffing to Malfoy?
- Why did Malfoy choose Madam Rosmerta to be his spy? Explain in detail.
- Why did Dumbledore paralyze Harry Potter under his Invisibility Cloak upon Draco's arrival on the Tower?
- Why would Snape kill Albus Dumbledore? Was it ruthless murder or a prearranged plan?
- If Snape actually is loyal to Dumbledore (as Dumbledore always claimed), why wouldn't he be willing to sacrifice himself to save Dumbledore and Harry?
- Why did the Avada Kedavra curse affect Dumbledore differently than it has others?
Nothing is mentioned in this chapter about what happened to Dumbledore's wand after Draco sent it over the tower parapet. However, it is revealed in book seven that the wand was interred with Dumbledore's corpse, and it becomes an important plot element in the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort.
Dumbledore's death was, we discover later, premeditated by both himself and Snape; Snape was charged to kill him at an appropriate time to spare Malfoy from completing Voldemort's task, thus saving Draco's soul, which would be forever damaged by committing murder. Dumbledore was slowly dying from a deadly curse that was inflicted when he put on the now-destroyed Horcrux (Gaunt's ring). Wishing to die by his own design, to spare Draco's soul, and to retain the dignity that Death Eaters such as Fenrir Greyback or Bellatrix Lestrange would have denied him, Dumbledore tasked Snape with his death. The potion Dumbledore drank in the cave had left him too weak to defend himself. His final plea to Snape was not to spare him, as Harry naturally believed, but to carry out his final wish, which Snape reluctantly executed.
It is never explained why Dumbledore allows a Cloaked Harry to witness his death. We can only guess at his motives, though the circumstances may have prevented him from making another choice. Dumbledore, who has known that his death is impending, fully expects that either Draco or a Death Eater is on their way up the tower. Dumbledore has stated that Harry is far more valuable than he is himself, and so his primary purpose is to protect Harry and keep him out of the battle. Dumbledore knows Harry will defend him and would be over matched by the invading Death Eaters, so he disables Harry. Whether Dumbledore deliberately chose the freeze spell that would immediately free Harry upon Dumbledore's death, must remain unknown. The nature of the spell, Harry's witnessing the events atop the tower, and his immediately being released from the spell's effects, is clearly necessary from the author's viewpoint. Our protagonist must see these events at the book's climax.
As a side note, the unnamed fourth Death Eater present at Dumbledore's death, is later identified as Yaxley. Yaxley, a Death Eater in Voldemort's old organization, will play a moderately significant role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Chapter 28: Flight of the Prince
Snape forces Draco Malfoy back down the tower stairwell, followed by the Death Eaters. Harry, released from the paralyzing spell by Dumbledore's death, Petrifies the last one and charges down the steps after the others. At the bottom is a melée of Hogwarts students, teachers, and Order of the Phoenix members fighting Death Eaters. Ginny is dueling Amycus Carrow. Harry Jinxes Amycus, as Snape and the other Death Eaters break away and run.
At the the front entrance, Harry sees a Death Eater on the grounds, Snape and Draco further away. The large blond Death Eater casts multiple curses at Hagrid, but his massive body deflects them. Harry hurls the Prince's spells at Snape, but Snape easily blocks every one, proclaiming he created them—he is the Half-Blood Prince. Although Snape blocks every curse Harry casts, he does nothing to harm him and continually tells him what he is doing wrong. Snape prevents the other Death Eaters from attacking Harry, claiming he belongs to Voldemort. Harry calls Snape a coward. Enraged, Snape jinxes Harry before escaping with Draco and the other Death Eaters.
Seeing that Hagrid's hut is afire, Harry, finding his dropped wand, helps douse the flames. Hagrid cannot believe that Dumbledore is dead, but as he and Harry approach a huddled crowd, Dumbledore's twisted corpse is seen lying on the ground. Harry takes the locket that has fallen out from the old wizard's robe pocket. Inside is a note reading:
- To the Dark Lord
- I know I will be dead long before you read this
- but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
- I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
- I face death in the hope that when you meet your match,
- you will be mortal once more.
Harry chases Snape in a blind rage and with one intent: to kill him. Snape, who easily eludes him, has every opportunity to murder or capture the outmatched Harry. Instead, he merely deflects Harry's ineffective curses. Snape continually does nothing to harm Harry, and actually tells him what he is doing wrong and how to correct it. He also prevents the other Death Eaters from cursing him. Why? Although he claims he wants Harry left alive for the Dark Lord, he could easily have stunned and presented him to Voldemort. By leaving Harry at Hogwarts, Snape not only risks having the determined and vengeful Harry single-mindedly hunting him down, but also the Dark Lord's deadly wrath by letting his number one enemy remain alive and free. For Harry, learning that his admired mentor (the Half-Blood Prince) is actually his hated nemesis is shocking and revolting.
It is interesting to note Snape's enraged reaction when Harry calls him a coward, even though murdering the unarmed Dumbledore is an extremely cowardly act, as was his subsequent running away. One must wonder if there is something beyond what Snape has actually done, some way in which Snape can still see himself as honourable and living up to some form of standard.
Harry learns that someone with the initials R.A.B. stole the true Horcrux from the sea cave. However, in that chapter, it was learned that two people were needed to recover the locket from the basin on the island. R.A.B. must have had some assistance. Although R.A.B. is probably dead, if someone else was involved, it is possible he or she may still be alive and could provide valuable information. It also appears that R.A.B. may have known about the prophecy, as that person refers to Voldemort meeting his match. However, it also seems that R.A.B. may have mistakenly believed that the locket was the only Horcrux, as he seems to assume that destroying it will be sufficient to make Voldemort mortal once more.
- Why does Snape not curse or kill or capture Harry during his escape? Why would Snape tell Harry what he is doing wrong as Harry attempts to curse him?
- Who might R.A.B. be?
- Why would Snape react so strongly when Harry called him a coward?
- During his duel with Snape, why didn't Harry cast any spells nonverbally, one of Snape's first lessons in Defence Against the Dark Arts?
In the final book, it is revealed that "R.A.B." are the initials of Regulus Black (Sirius' brother). Regulus' middle name is "Arcturus," a name appearing on the Black Family tree. The person who stole the Horcrux had to be someone close to Voldemort, most likely a Death Eater, which Regulus Black was. It is usually, although not exclusively, Death Eaters who refer to Voldemort as the Dark Lord. Our understanding of the timing leads us to believe that Regulus cannot have been aware of the prophecy, as it likely had not yet been made.
It was believed that Regulus had gotten into Voldemort's hierarchy, and not liking what he found, wanted out, but had been killed. This is not what actually happened. Kreacher will know more about it, as he was involved; it is noted in the Analysis that it would have taken two people to remove and replace the locket, and that will turn out to have been Regulus and Kreacher. Regulus decided that he wanted out, but rather than simply leaving (and being killed), he had decided to make his death count for something. Having learned of the existence of a Horcrux, and having determined, from Kreacher, where something valuable was hidden, Regulus determined to destroy what he believed was Voldemort's only Horcrux.
Snape is this book's titular Half-Blood Prince, and the textbook that Harry used so successfully was originally Snape's. The book was fifty years old when Harry looked at it, which seemed to rule out his father owning it, as well as Snape. However, it is learned later that Snape comes from a poverty-stricken household, and likely had second-hand textbooks. From seeing Ginny's books in her first year, we know used books are available, and so it is entirely possible that the young Snape would have them. Quite possibly, having to use a text that was already a quarter century old, would have increased his dislike of the more-privileged students.
In the previous year, as Sirius, Harry, and the Weasleys sorted through the various family heirlooms at 12 Grimmauld Place, the Black family home, a heavy locket that none of them can open is tossed aside. Unknown to anyone, Kreacher saved the locket, keeping it hidden in his cupboard, though it will be stolen by Mundungus Fletcher, and then extorted from him by Dolores Umbridge. It will turn out to be the Horcrux locket, once belonging to Salazar Slytherin, and can only be opened by someone speaking in parseltongue. That would explain why no one could open the locket, and why Regulus was unable to destroy it as he intended. Since no one suspected the locket was a Horcrux, Harry did not speak Parseltongue to it (although he does so later to destroy it). Voldemort probably did not create the charm that prevented the locket from opening, though he was likely glad that it was difficult as it protected his Horcrux within. Slytherin's descendants were proud of their ability to speak to snakes; it is entirely possible that Slytherin himself, when he created the locket, charmed it to prevent it from opening unless spoken to in Parseltongue.
Chapter 29: The Phoenix Lament
Ginny leads a grief-stricken Harry to the Hospital Wing where everyone has gathered. Harry, remembering the Dark Mark, fearfully asks who is dead. Surprisingly, only Professor Dumbledore and a Death Eater have been killed. The "body" Harry fell over was Bill Weasley, who was savagely mauled by Fenrir Greyback. Bill will survive, but is permanently disfigured, and the long-term effects are unknown. Because Fenrir was not transformed at the time, Bill probably escaped being infected as a Werewolf. Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were protected during the battle because they took Felix Felicis potion.
While Harry and Dumbledore were away, the Death Eaters appeared when Tonks, Lupin, and Bill were on patrol. Ron says that he, Ginny, and Neville were watching the Room of Requirement when Draco appeared, carrying the Hand of Glory. Draco threw something into the corridor, darkening it, and blinding Ron, Ginny, and Neville so they were unable to Jinx the people they heard running past. Lupin found the Death Eaters at the Astronomy Tower while Hermione and Luna had gone to Snape's office. Confused sounds were heard from within, then Snape emerged, saying Professor Flitwick had fallen inside and to help him.
During the battle, Draco disappeared, apparently going up the Astronomy tower. Four Death Eaters followed, casting a barrier behind them, with one Death Eater firing curses in all directions. Then Snape arrived and went through the barrier, returning soon with Draco, passing unheeded through the fighting.
Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley, and Fleur Delacour arrive. Fleur becomes angry when Mrs. Weasley suggests she will want to cancel the engagement because Bill is scarred. Fleur's declaration that she still loves Bill bonds her with Mrs. Weasley. Tonks reveals she loves Remus Lupin who, because he is a Werewolf and older, had discouraged her attachment. Harry suddenly realizes that Tonks' new Patronus is a wolf. Lupin is still reluctant, but Mr. Weasley points out that the future is always uncertain.
Hagrid reports that he moved Dumbledore's body, the students are back in bed, and the Ministry has been alerted. Professor McGonagall takes over as interim Headmistress and calls a meeting with the House Heads plus Hagrid. McGonagall first meets with Harry in the Headmaster's office, where Dumbledore's sleeping portrait now hangs among the other past headmasters. Harry, still honoring Dumbledore's wishes, refuses to say what happened after he and Dumbledore left the school, though he has told McGonagall about Snape revealing the Prophecy's contents to Voldemort; Dumbledore said he trusted Snape because he claimed he was remorseful. Harry also warns McGonagall that Madam Rosmerta is under the Imperius curse. The House Heads arrive, and all agree Hogwarts will remain open and that Professor Slughorn should head Slytherin House; the Governors will make the final decision. It is also unanimously agreed to honour Dumbledore's wish to be laid to rest at the school.
Hearing that Rufus Scrimgeour is just arriving with a delegation, Harry, wanting to avoid questions, heads to Gryffindor tower. Thankfully, only Ron is in their dormitory. Harry tells him that the Horcrux was a fake; the real one was stolen. Ron reads the note. Harry says he has no idea who R.A.B. is.
Whether or not Dumbledore is really dead was endlessly debated by fans. The author left many hints that Dumbledore may still be alive or will return in some manner - either physically or spiritually. His portrait in the Headmaster's office "appears" to be sleeping. It is possible it is not a real portrait, but only imitating those of other former Headmasters and Headmistresses as a ruse to deceive enemies. If, however, the portrait starts interacting in a similar manner as the others, this would be some proof that Dumbledore is actually dead.
That Dumbledore's animal familiar is a Phoenix is unlikely a coincidence. A Phoenix dies by bursting into flames and is reborn from its own ashes. This could be symbolic that Dumbledore may experience a similar resurrection. Phoenix tears are healing, and Fawkes' lament was heard as he soared over his master's body, though we never see any tears falling, and it has never been said they can resurrect the dead.
On a completely separate subject, the author makes several statements on the nature of love and relationships in this chapter.
First, we again see the romance between Harry and Ginny. When Hagrid tells Harry that he must leave Dumbledore's body, Harry does not move; it is only when Ginny leads him away that Harry moves. Also, in the Hospital Wing, Ginny stays next to Harry, possibly to give him comfort if he needs it, possibly to receive some from him herself. He stays by her side until Professor McGonagall summons him to the headmaster's office.
A previously unsuspected strength in Fleur is seen. To date she has seemed very self-centered, as well as being somewhat weak in witchcraft, despite having been named Beauxbatons Champion in the fourth book of the series. Her willingness to take on Bill's care is totally unexpected, both by Mrs. Weasley and by us, and shows a previously unseen aspect of Fleur.
Additionally, Tonks' ongoing depression over her unrequited love for Lupin is finally resolved. The catalyst here is Mr. Weasley pointing out that times are always hard, with the implication that if their race had waited for a guaranteed good time to raise children, it probably would have died out. Love's power to overcome adversity is highlighted here by Lupin's finally accepting Tonks affections.
It is uncertain whether Hogwarts will be re-opened next year. McGonagall states that decision will be left to the governors. Many readers assume that McGonagall will be Headmistress if the school does continue, but that decision is also one that will be made by the governors.
- Why does Mrs. Weasley believe Fleur will end her engagement to Bill Weasley? What is Fleur's reaction?
- Can Tonks and Lupin's relationship last? What precautions must they take?
- Why does Hogwarts close early? Will it reopen next year?
- Why does Harry refuse to tell McGonagall what happened after he and Dumbledore left for the cave? Couldn't she get this same information from Dumbledore's portrait?
- What reasons might Snape have killed Dumbledore? Is it possible he is still loyal to Dumbledore even after causing his death?
- What might happen to Bill Weasley in the future?
- Who is likely to be the new headmaster/headmistress? What challenges will they face?
- Where does the portrait of Dumbledore come from?
- How could the portrait help Harry?
The speculation surrounding Dumbledore's death was ended when the seventh and final book was published. It revealed that Dumbledore had been cursed by the Peverell ring, which had been cursed to protect the Horcrux it contained. Despite Snape's best efforts to contain it, the curse left Dumbledore with about a year to live. Dumbledore, knowing that Voldemort tasked Draco Malfoy with murdering him, also knew that Draco would likely be reluctant, subjecting him to constant torment from Voldemort's Death Eaters to comply. Dumbledore had exacted Snape's promise that Snape would undertake this task, so as to spare Draco's soul and allow Dumbledore to retain some dignity in his death.
Also, it hardly seems surprising that Dumbledore would wish to be entombed at Hogwarts. It was his beloved home for many years. However, in Deathly Hallows it is learned that his mother and sister, who both died tragically, and who he loved dearly, are buried in Godric's Hollow, and in the same cemetery as James and Lily Potter. Upon this revelation, it then seems rather odd that Dumbledore would request to be laid to rest alone, apart from those closest to him, and perhaps where Harry may eventually be buried (to be near his parents). There is never any explanation given for Dumbledore's choice, though many secrets about his past will be uncovered in the next book, revealing much about his character and motives, and providing us a few clues, but no definitive answers, as to why this is where he requested to be interred.
When Harry tells McGonagall his theory about why Dumbledore trusted Snape, she will seem taken aback, as if wondering why such loyalty could be commanded by a relatively small act. The reader is also somewhat surprised that it is believed Dumbledore could give his trust based on a simple remorseful statement. However, the final book reveals that there was more behind this. Lily Evans, Harry's mother, was Snape's one great, though unrequited, love. Snape was devastated by the threat against her, and promised "anything" in return for Dumbledore protecting her and her family. This revelation, near the last book's conclusion, finally explains Dumbledore's trust.
While the school does re-open for Harry's seventh year, Harry does not attend. Dumbledore's mission is far more important to him than formal schooling, and instead he elects to pursue it rather than returning to Hogwarts. Events will show that this is the correct decision, as the school will become an unhealthy place for him, and many other students, to be, under its auspicious new Headmaster and teachers.
Chapter 30: The White Tomb
Over the next few days, some students leave the school with their parents. Others, like Seamus Finnigan, refuse to go until they have paid their last respects to Dumbledore. Meanwhile, wizards and witches pour into Hogsmeade to attend the funeral. Harry and Ginny, Hermione and Ron now spend all their time together. They visit the Hospital Wing often. While Neville is healed, Bill remains under constant care. Apart from being permanently disfigured, the only lasting effect seems to be a preference for very rare steaks.
Hermione's library research has uncovered that Eileen Prince, the likely original owner of Harry's Potions text, was Snape's mother. Prince, "married a Muggle named Tobias Snape and later gave birth to a son, Severus." Harry is maddened that Snape, unknown and unknowingly, was helping him. He sees a similarity between the half-blood Lord Voldemort and his assumed title, and the Half-Blood Prince and his adopted moniker. How could Dumbledore have missed it?
At Dumbledore's request, he is laid to rest at Hogwarts in a glorious white tomb overlooking the lake. Many students and the staff attend the funeral, as well as the Merpeople and the Centaurs, who fire arrows into the air in salute.
Harry ends his relationship with Ginny—for now. Harry realizes that Voldemort attacks him through those he loves—his parents, Sirius, and Dumbledore. By ending their romance, he hopes to protect Ginny.
Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, takes Harry aside to ask for details about the night Dumbledore was killed. Harry refuses to tell him anything, and wants to know whether Stan Shunpike has been released yet. Harry reiterates that he is, "Dumbledore's man through and through."
Harry tells Hermione and Ron he is leaving Hogwarts, even if the school remains open. Finding the remaining Horcruxes and killing Voldemort are his only focus now. He intends to visit his parents' former home in Godric's Hollow after a brief stay at Privet Drive to fulfill Dumbledore's wish that he remain under his mother's protective charm. Ron and Hermione pledge to join his quest, despite Harry's preference to go it alone. Harry finds comfort in spending one last peaceful day with his friends, and he looks forward to Bill and Fleur's wedding.
Unlike the first five books, the story ends with Dumbledore's funeral, rather than the students arriving at Platform 9¾ in King's Cross Station, London on the Hogwarts Express and bidding each other goodbye for the summer. If Harry follows through on his mission, which seems certain, the next book will probably also deviate from the traditional opening with students headed back to school in the fall. In any event, without Dumbledore, Hogwarts will be a far different place. His effect on the school has not only been deeply significant but, as seen by the many magical creatures that attended his funeral, far-reaching. For Harry, Hogwarts has always been a source of comfort and security. Without Dumbledore, it may have been too much for him to return. One thing seems certain—the Dursleys will probably make an appearance, as Harry must make one last visit to Privet Drive to reinforce his mother's protective charm before it expires on his next birthday. This will be the Dursleys' final opportunity to reconcile with Harry, although their mutual loathing is probably too deep to bridge.
Ron and Hermione inform Harry they are joining the Horcrux mission, whether he wants them to or not. Their decision is an affirmation of their love, friendship, and loyalty for their friend. Harry intended to search for the Horcruxes alone, wanting to protect those he cares about, driven by the need to battle Voldemort himself. He has, however, finally accepted that it takes unity, support, and cooperation to defeat evil.
We also see here Harry's unwillingness to ally himself with the Ministry. Harry has correctly determined that the Ministry is more interested in maintaining a good public face, rather than in dealing with Voldemort directly.
Harry unhappily and regretfully ends his relationship with Ginny to protect her from Voldemort, though she is probably still in grave danger. Harry never mastered Occlumency, and Voldemort could possibly penetrate his mind and see images involving Ginny. It was earlier mentioned, though, that he found being inside Harry's consciousness extremely unpleasant, and he may never attempt this again. This would hardly prevent Voldemort from obtaining information about Harry, and also Ginny, from others who are close to him, and possibly even from Ginny herself.
Snape, Voldemort, and Harry share an important characteristic: they are all half-bloods. Snape, however, apparently grew up connected to the Wizarding world, unlike Harry and Voldemort, though his home life was certainly just as unpleasant. As much as Harry always disliked and resented Snape, he is now driven solely by hatred and vengeance. This vigilante desire to avenge Dumbledore's death has clouded Harry's judgment; rather than seeking justice, Harry is consumed with inflicting revenge. This could jeopardize his mission to find and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. Harry will need to control his extreme emotions if he is to succeed.
It is also an unpleasant irony for Harry that his least favorite and most ineffective teacher (Snape) is also an admired and influential mentor (the Half-Blood Prince), someone who inspired him and from whom he has learned so much. This conflict will continue to affect Harry.
- What does Harry mean when he says he is, "Dumbledore's man, through and through"?
- Why does Harry end his relationship with Ginny? Is it likely they will reunite in the future?
- Why did Harry not want Ron and Hermione to join his search for the remaining Horcruxes?
- Why would Dumbledore want to be buried at Hogwarts?
Harry ends his and Ginny's relationship to protect her from Voldemort. This actually is a bad decision. Saying that a relationship is over does not end it, and even if Harry no longer had romantic feelings for Ginny, he would still care about her as a friend. Their relationship, however brief, actually puts her in more danger, as Voldemort, if he is monitoring matters as closely as we believe, probably knows about the attachment and will likely attempt to use it against Harry. Voldemort's using Sirius against Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was greatly assisted by poor communication between Harry and Sirius. If Harry wants to protect Ginny, his best course is to keep her at his side throughout his travels. Fortunately, this never become a problem; though Ginny returns to Hogwarts for her sixth year while Harry wanders England hunting Horcruxes, Voldemort attacks Hogwarts only at the book's conclusion, and Ginny handles herself quite well. We also learn that Ginny and Harry marry, finally.
As the book ends, it is unclear if Dumbledore was truly dead or merely in some deathlike state. This led to much speculation among readers as to whether or not he would return in some form in book 7. Voldemort is not the only one who knows how to create Horcruxes, though Dumbledore would never result to murder to create one. It is always possible that there are other magical means for a resurrection in Book 7. There were certainly many clues that he could return. Dumbledore was acting uncharacteristically when he pleaded with Snape just before he killed him. Was Dumbledore begging for his life or asking Snape to strike him according to some prearranged plan? Readers noticed that the Avada Kedavra curse that Snape used reacted differently than others seen in the series. Also, Dumbledore has always been closely associated with a Phoenix, a bird that dies and is reborn from its own ashes. The smoke from Dumbledore's funeral pyre appeared to have briefly assume a Phoenix form. Whether that symbolized a corporeal resurrection or only a spiritual one, Dumbledore does return in some form in the next book.
Also, it is unknown where Dumbledore's portrait appeared from or how it was hung in the office. Presumably, no one had entered the office since his death, and yet it is already hanging on the wall when Professor McGonagall and Harry arrive there. Portraits may magically appear when a headmaster or headmistress dies. It is also unclear how closely associated portraits are with those they represent. They may merely be talking autobiographies of their subjects, or they may retain their essence, including the ability to develop mentally and/or gain new insights. Later evidence does suggest that portraits remain able to think and reason, as it seems that Dumbledore's portrait continues advising Snape and Harry.
J. K. Rowling had stated, following this book's publication, that Dumbledore was definitely dead, though readers may still hope for a resurrection; while we do see him again, it is now known that he is definitely not resurrected.