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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter Twenty-Four:
Sectumsempra

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

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 513 - 534
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 480 - 499
Timeframe: 22 April - 11 May, 1997 [Y17]

In which Ron and Ginny are both single again, Katie Bell returns to Hogwarts but can't remember what happened to her, and Harry sees Malfoy with Moaning Myrtle on the Marauder's Map and runs to eavesdrop - but when Malfoy tries to hex Harry, Harry uses Sectumsempra on him without knowing what it does and slashes him apart. Snape heals Malfoy but gives Harry detention during the Quidditch match, which Gryffindor wins anyway. Then, when Harry arrives at the party, he finally kisses Ginny.

Sectumsempra

No comments on chapter title as yet.

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

the next morning's Charms lesson

So HRH all three take Charms, and sixth-year Charms has at least one morning class. (We at the Lexicon will attempt to draw up a timetable of classes and a calendar for sixth year if the thing can be done.)

Lavender Brown

So Lavender takes N.E.W.T. Charms in sixth year.

turn vinegar into wine

A sixth-year Charms exercise. Why is this a Charms lesson and not Transfiguration? One possible explanation is that, given enough time and exposure to heat, wine will turn itself into vinegar; the substances are not very different chemically.

They let me out of St. Mungo's

Why didn't McGonagall tell Gryffindor House that Katie had been released from St. Mungo's?

on Monday, I had a couple of days at home with Mum and Dad and then came back here this morning.

From the sound of this, the current day in the story isn't a Monday, and seems most likely to be a Thursday.

The balmy days slid gently through May

More timeline information.

Who would have thought you knew such Dark Magic?

If Snape isn't saying this just for the sake of playing with Harry's mind - and I don't get the impression that he is - it's interesting that he himself categorizes the spell that way.

He knew what Snape was going to do and he had never been able to prevent it...

But in fact, Snape doesn't need Legilimency to know that Sectumsempra was developed by the Half-Blood Prince and was written down in one of the old textbooks left lying around Hogwarts' Potions dungeon, as we shall see later (HBP28).

castle-proud house-elves

The usual Muggle expression for this is "house-proud", but as Hogwarts Castle obviously isn't a house...

detention with me every Saturday until the end of term

A little more information to help us figure out timelines.

I've got about a dozen detentions

A little more information to help us figure out timelines, and a reference for The Number Twelve. (In fact, since it's already at least May, "a dozen" is an exaggeration; term never lasts until the end of July at Hogwarts.)

boxes one thousand and twelve to one thousand and fifty-six

44 boxes worth of detention records? Are all of them the Marauders' records? One wonders how many boxes are taken up with the Weasley twins' records...

the clock showed half-past twelve

So Harry's been at this for two and a half hours.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

  • none

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

  • Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

    Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

    Exceptional character moments:

    • Still to come....

    Spells and Potions:

    Links and Resources:

    Memorable lines:

    • "Then why," asked Snape, "does it have the name 'Roonil Wazlib' inside the front cover?"

    • "Oh, don't start acting as though you understand Quidditch," snapped Ginny, "you'll only embarrass yourself."

    • After several long moments - or it might have been half an hour - or possibly several sunlit days - they broke apart.

    • A long walk in the grounds seemed indicated, during which - if they had time - they might discuss the match.

    Strictly British:

    Timelines/Calendar:

    The chapter begins the morning after the end of the previous chapter, or Tuesday, 22 April. But here we encounter our first real problem - Katie Bell says that she was released from St. Mungo's on Monday, then returned to Hogwarts "a couple of days" later... meaning probably not Tuesday after all, unless it was actually a week she spent at home. Nevertheless, a fortnight (or about two weeks) later is "a few days before the match against Ravenclaw," and this would make more sense with the original day being a Tuesday, rather than a Thursday or Friday as Katie implied. So... sticking with the calendar anyway, this should be around Tuesday, 7 May. The Quidditch match, therefore, would be Saturday the 11th.

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