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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter Nineteen:
Elf Tails

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Notes by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley
Synopsis and links by John Kearns

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 399 - 422
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 374 - 395
Timeframe: 1-8 March, 1997 [Y17]

In which Harry discusses Ron's poisioning with the Weasleys, Hagrid tells Harry that he overheard Dumbledore and Snape arguing, McLaggen accosts Harry to ensure he can play in Ron's place in the upcoming Quidditch match, and Harry finds that Ron has been avoiding Lavender. At the Quidditch match (with Luna commentating!), McLaggen grabs a beater's bat and cracks Harry's skull. Finally, in the hospital wing, Harry summons Kreacher and Dobby and orders them to tail Malfoy and figure out what he's up to.

Elf Tails

The chapter title is a reference to Harry having asked two house-elves to "tail" Draco Malfoy, and also a homonym for "elf tales", that is, listening to their subsequent reports.

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

Hagrid came striding towards them, a crossbow in his hand, bearskin coat flapping behind him

Odd. In previous books Hagrid has always been mentioned as wearing a moleskin overcoat, not bearskin. Possibly this is a glitch, or possibly it's just a different coat.

"I can't see anyone trying to bump off a Quidditch team," said George.
"Wood might've done the Slytherins if he could've got away with it," said Fred fairly.

:) Wood, of course, was the crazed captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team in PS, CS, and PA.

"I dunno, Harry, I shouldn't'a heard it at all! I - well, I was comin' outta the Forest the other evenin' an' I overheard 'em talkin' - well, arguin'."

I hope that somebody sometime gives Hagrid a memory potion or something so that we can find out what exactly was said, but that's only a wistful hope.

Potion master's room (U.K. edition only)

(U.K. edition only) Sigh. I spend a lot of time bawling people out (not Lexicon staffers, but elsewhere) for typos like this. It should be Potions master, and in fact is corrected that way in the US edition.

Loser's Lurgy


"I don't want to stay here overnight," said Harry angrily, sitting up and throwing back his covers. "I want to find McLaggen and kill him."
"I'm afraid that would come under the heading of 'over-exertion'," said Madam Pomfrey, pushing him firmly back on to the bed and raising her wand in a threatening manner.

I've always hesitated to annotate Madam Pomfrey's surname, and at this point I'm not sure whether I ever did. "Comfrey" (note the C, hence the hesitation in tying it to Pomfrey-with-a-P) is a healing herb, also occasionally called knitbone, and we've heard a lot about how good Madam Pomfrey is at mending bones. (Her given name, Poppy, is also of course the name of a flower that can be used to make powerful pain-killers, such as morphine.)

Characters introduced in this chapter:

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • Still to come....

Spells and Potions:

Links and Resources:

  • house-elves

  • Chamber of Secrets

  • Death Eaters

  • bezoar

  • essence of rue

  • Firebolt

  • items and devices, magical

    Memorable lines:

    • "No more than six vixitors at a time!" said Madam Pomfrey, hurrying out of her office.
      "Hagrid makes six," George pointed out.
      "Oh... yes..." said Madam Pomfrey, who seemed to have been counting Hagrid as several people due to his vastness.

    • "I can't see anyone trying to bump off a Quidditch team," said George.
      "Wood might've done the Slytherins if he could've got away with it," said Fred fairly.

    • Surely nobody in their right mind would have let Luna Lovegood commentate?

    • ...but Luna did not seem to have noticed; she appeared singularly uninterested in such mundane things as the score, and kept attempting to draw the crowd's attention to such things as interestingly shaped clouds and the possibility that Zacharias Smith, who had so far failed to maintain possession of the Quaffle for longer than a minute, was suffering from something called "Loser's Lurgy."

    Strictly British:


    The chapter continues on 1 March, Ron's birthday. McLaggen says the Quidditch match is "next week," presumably meaning Saturday, 8 March, and this is the day on which the chapter ends.


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