"We'd be best pals if they didn't keep trying to do me in."
-- Harry Potter
Harry tries one of the Half-Blood Prince’s spells while reading in bed and levitates Ron by accident. He argues with Hermione over the danger of the Prince, and gets word of his next lesson with Professor Dumbledore. They then walk to Hogsmeade, where Professor Slughorn corners Harry in Honeydukes and Harry sees Mundungus Fletcher with things stolen from Grimmauld Place. On the way home, an Imperiused Katie Bell touches a cursed necklace and is gravely injured; Harry then suspects Draco Malfoy and tells Professor McGonagall this, though Ron and Hermione don’t believe him.
Calendar and Dates
The entire chapter takes place in one day, which we know is "halfway through October," and which is almost certainly a Saturday like all Hogsmeade days have been. The date is most likely either 12 or 19 October, but as the dates get even more difficult to determine in the next two chapters, there's no way to determine for sure.
Interesting facts and notes
This chapter covers a discussion about Harry's Potions textbook, a stormy Hogsmeade weekend and a shocking curse.
Harry felt, however, that the Half-Blood Prince’s copy of Advanced Potion-Making hardly qualified as a textbook. The more Harry pored over the book, the more he realised how much was in there, not only the handy hints and short cuts on potions that were earning him such a glowing reputation with Slughorn, but also the imaginative little jinxes and hexes scribbled in the margins which Harry was sure, judging by the crossings-out and revisions, that the Prince had invented himself.
As Hermione wisely points out to Harry and Ron, not only are the handwritten spells unlikely to be "Ministry of Magic-approved", they make the Half-Blood Prince seem a bit "dodgy" (a combination of being unkind-mean and menacing-dangerous). She reminds them that the Levicorpus spell had probably been used to levitate Mr Roberts and his family by Death Eaters in the campground after the Quidditch World Cup (GF9).
"Dangling people upside-down by the ankle?" said Hermione. "Who puts their time and energy into making up spells like that?"
Remus Lupin later describes Levicorpus as having been very popular when he and the other Marauders were students at Hogwarts (OP28, HBP16).
"The Death Eaters can't all be pure-blood, there aren't enough pure-blood wizards left...."
Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape are both Half-Bloods, although many of their Death Eater colleagues are from Pure-Blood families. Apparently your Blood Status isn't officially checked when you get your Dark Mark.
This makes it all the more hypocritical that the future Muggle-Born Registration Commission wants to eliminate any Muggle-born wizards (DH11).
....when they finally reached Hogsmeade and saw that Zonko’s Joke Shop had been boarded up, Harry took it as confirmation that this trip was not destined to be fun. Ron pointed with a thickly gloved hand towards Honeydukes, which was mercifully open....
It's a sad thing when businesses close and are boarded-up. The students usually look forward to their Hogsmeade weekends. At least Honeydukes has sugar quills for Hermione to purchase and they can still drink Butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks.
"You took that from Sirius's house," said Harry, who was almost nose-to-nose with Mundungus and was breathing in an unpleasant smell of old tobacco and spirits. "That had the Black family crest on it."
What Harry forgets that Mundungus Fletcher is actually stealing things from him - as he now owns the Grimmauld Place HQ. One of the thefts from the house will prove important later.
At once, Katie rose into the air, not as Ron had done, suspended comically by the ankle, but gracefully, her arms outstretched, as though she were about to fly. Yet there was something wrong, something eerie … her hair was whipped around her by the fierce wind, but her eyes were closed and her face was quite empty of expression.
This incident feels extremely evil. The necklace curse has struck at an innocent. Only a partial explanation is ever given about how this happened. How did the necklace come into Hogsmeade under the noses of the Aurors stationed there? Why was it given to Katie Bell in the women's toilets in the Three Broomsticks rather than to someone else if it was meant for Harry or Albus Dumbledore? How was it going to get past caretaker Argus Filch and his Secrecy Sensor?
Exceptional character moments
Harry seeing stolen things that belonged to Sirius Black being put up for sale by Mundungus Fletcher and then remembering that Sirius wasn't all that fond of those particular silver goblets.
Hagrid at first worrying that it is Hermione or Ron who has been cursed, but then acting decisively to get Katie Bell up to the castle as quickly as possible.
Draco Malfoy failing to do his Transfiguration homework - what is going on with him? He used to have more focus about his schoolwork.
Harry's insistence that Draco Malfoy is behind the cursed opal necklace coming into Hogwarts, but Ron and Hermione agreeing with Professor McGonagall this time that it wasn't likely.
Ron abusing his prefect privileges by turfing a first-year out of an armchair by the Gryffindor fire - and Hermione kicking him out of the chair to give it back.
He did not usually lie in bed reading his textbooks; that sort of behaviour, as Ron rightly said, was indecent in anybody except Hermione, who was simply weird that way.
"Tomorrow," said Ron in a muffled voice, "I'd rather you set the alarm clock."
"So you just decided to try out an unknown, handwritten incantation and see what would happen?"
"There is no way they'd let me be a Death Eater! ....My whole family are blood traitors! That's as bad as Muggle-borns to Death Eaters!"
"What does it matter if we're smuggling Dark stuff OUT?" demanded Ron, eyeing the long thin Secrecy Sensor with apprehension. "Surely you ought to be checking what we bring back IN?"
Words and phrases
From the Web
- Five Things You Should Know About Katie Bell
- MuggleCast Episode #392: #ProtectTheSecrets (HBP Chapter 12, Silver and Opals)
- Borgin, Burke, and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter Wiki:
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) feature: The most disturbing moments for Harry Potter characters
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