Chapter 14 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 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.