The Half-Blood Prince (HBP)

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The Half-Blood Prince is the ninth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Recapping

Harry, Ron and Hermione meet in the Gryffindor common room the next morning before breakfast. Harry tells them everything he heard in the Hogwarts Express from the mouth of Draco Malfoy himself (HBP8). His friends, however, aren't all that interested—they figure that the Slytherin was lying to impress Pansy Parkinson.

In the middle of the way, Hermione confiscates a Fanged Frisbee, which Ron quickly gets from her hands ("Excellent, I've always wanted one of these."). Lavender Brown, who is passing by, giggles loudly.

Harry tells his friends about his conversation with Hagrid as well. Hermione despairs; how could the half-giant have believed that they would continue taking Care of Magical Creatures? No one else in their year will.

Timetables

Minerva McGonagall distributes timetables more slowly this year than usual: she has to check whether each student got enough OWLs to be in the class they had selected.

  • Hermione:
  • Herbology (he got an 'O');
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts ('E');
  • Transfiguration: unfortunately, Neville's 'A' grade does not allow him to take part in McGonagall's NEWT-level class. When McGonagall asks Neville why he'd want to continue the Transfiguration course despite not enjoying it, he confesses that his grandmother wants him to;
  • Charms ('E'): Mrs. Longbottom also believes Charms to be a "soft option". McGonagall convinces Neville to take the class and states, "I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms OWL, the subject is not necessarily worthless."
  • Harry:
  • Charms;
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts;
  • Herbology;
  • Transfiguration;
  • Potions: McGonagall asks Harry why he did not apply to continue with Potions, since he wishes to become an Auror (OP29). He reminds her that an 'O' in the OWL was necessary for him to go on to NEWT-level Potions—and so it was, when Severus Snape taught the class. Slughorn is happy enough with an 'E'.

Harry points out that he did not buy any books or ingredients. Minerva reassures him, saying Horace will certainly lend him some. She also says that twenty students have already applied for the Gryffindor Quidditch team; the teacher will pass the list on to Harry so he can schedule tryouts.

Ron is cleared to take the same subjects as Harry.

Quidditch

The Trio returns to the common room. Katie Bell, the last remaining member of the original team Harry joined in his first year (PS10), congratulates him on becoming captain, and asks to be warned when trials begin. Harry attempts to say he doesn't need her to try out, but she warns him that he mustn't let his friends join the team for no reason other than talent.

Ron is uncomfortable to hear this, and toys around with the Fanged Frisbee.

An hour later, the boys left the room to head to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom four floors below. They meet Hermione on the way in; she complains abotut the amount of homework due for Ancient Runes.

The first Defence Against the Dark Arts class of the year

The room is darker than it was under its previous occupants. Pictures on the walls portrayed people in pain or injured.

"The Dark Arts," Snape tells his class, "are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible. Your defences must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo."

When the teacher mentions Inferi, Parvati Patil asks whether it is certain, therefore, that Voldemort is using them. Severus replies that it is safe to assume that he might, considering that the Dark Lord has used them in the past.

Snape starts teaching the class the advantages of non-verbal spells. When he asks the class what they are, Hermione offers a response almost quoted word-for-word from The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6: "Your adversary has no warning about what kind of magic you're about to perform, which gives you a split-second advantage."

The teacher adds that not all wizards are able of casting non-verbal spells. He commands the students to split into pairs and duel using that new brand of magic.

Ten minutes into the lesson, Hermione succeeds in repelling the Jelly-Legs Jinx that Neville is muttering his breath. Snape ignores this, and approaches Harry and Ron; Severus takes Ron's place. Harry instinctively yells a Shield Charm. Snape is knocked off-balance and scowls.

"Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?"

"Yes," Harry replies.

"Yes, sir."

"There's no need to call me 'sir', Professor."

Harry's cheek angers Severus, who gives him detention on Saturday night. The Trio leaves the room a bit later, and Harry rants on about how Snape loves the Dark Arts; his post as teacher is inappropriate.

Hermione points out that the teacher's speech resembled Harry's in a way (OP16).

The invitation

Jack Sloper approaches them, handing Harry a roll of parchment. He asks Harry when trials will be, and the Captain dismisses him; he doubts Sloper will make it back on the team.

Harry recognises the handwriting at once: it's a letter from Albus Dumbledore, inviting Harry to his office on Saturday at 8 P.M. ("P.S. I enjoy Acid Pops."). This means, of course, that the boy will not be able to serve detention with Snape.

The Trio spends the entire break speculating on what Dumbledore intended on teaching Harry. Hermione is of the opinion that it is advanced Defensive magic; Ron believes that it will be spectacular hexes of the type the Death Eaters had never heard of.

After break, Hermione heads off to Arithmancy, and the boys return to the common room to start the Defence homework. They finish it only in the after-lunch free period; the bell rings for double Potions.

Potions

There are only a dozen students in NEWT-level Potions: four Slytherins (among which Draco, but not Crabbe or Goyle), four Ravenclaws and one Hufflepuff (Ernie Macmillan), in addition to the Trio.

Slughorn enters the classroom, which is full of vapours and odd smells, and greets Harry and Blaise Zabini with particular enthusiasm. He allows Ron and Harry to use ingredients from the store cupboard, and lends them copies of Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage from the stocks.

The three Gryffindors share a table with Ernie. Slughorn announces that he has prepared a few interesting potions for the students to look at, all of which Hermione names easily:

  • Veritaserum (a colourless, odourless potion that forces the drinker to tell the truth – GF35);
  • Polyjuice Potion (CS12);
  • Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in the world; steam rises from it in characteristics spirals, and it smells differently to each person according to what attracts them (Hermione smells mown grass and new parchment).

Horace is amused by her knowledge. He inquires as to her name, and wonders if she is related to Hector Dagworth-Granger, who founded the Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers. Hermione says that she is Muggle-born, and Slughorn remembers Harry's previous statement on the subject ("One of my best friends is Muggle-born, and she's the best in our year"HBP4), and gladly awards Gryffindor twenty points.

Draco looks rather off-put. Hermione is delighted to hear that Harry told that to the teacher.

Slughorn continues talking about Amortentia, clarifying that the potion does not create love, which is impossible to manufacture, but an infatuation or obsession. He says that it is probably the most dangerous potion in the room.

Felix Felicis

Ernie points out that the teacher has not revealed the contents of the small cauldron on his desk, which is full of a molten-gold-coloured liquid. Slughorn says that is it called Felix Felicis—liquid luck. This potion is very tricky to make; the person who takes it has all of his or her endeavours succeed until its effects wear off.

Terry Boot asks why people don't drink it all the time. In excess, Felix Felicis can cause recklessness and overconfidence. It is also banned in organised competitions, such as exams or sporting events. Slughorn has taken it twice in his life: once when he was twenty-four, and once when he was fifty-seven.

He announces that a tiny bottle of Felix Felicis (enough for twelve hours' luck) is the prize of the lesson.

Draught of the Living Death

Slughorn instructs all students to turn to page ten of their book, and make an attempt at the Draught of the Living Death. The best attempt—it is the most complex potion any of students has made yet in the course, so perfection is not expected—will deserve the bottle.

Harry notices with annoyance that the book Slughorn gave him is full of scribbled notes. After having a hard time making out the actual potion instructions despite the writings, he sees that a specific set of instruction seems to apply to what he is doing at the moment.

Draco asks Slughorn whether he remembers Abraxas Malfoy (Lucius' father). Horace replies that he was sorry to hear that the man died, but dragon pox at his age was not unexpected.

Harry follows the instructions in the book, and finds that his potion is nearing the perfect development described by the original author.

None of the other students' potions acquire a pale shade of pink quite like Harry's. When Slughorn orders them all to stop stirring, he announces the clear winner (not even Hermione's is nearly as perfect): "Excellent, excellent, Harry! Good lord, it's clear you've inherited your mother's talent. She was a dab hand at Potions, Lily was! Here you are, then, here you are—one bottle of Felix Felicis, as promised, and use it well!"

Suspicion

Hermione is rather miffed. She claims that Harry cheated by following the second set of instructions, but Ron points out that Harry took a chance that could have been disastrous.

Ginny, who is passing by, is alarmed to hear that Harry is following instructions written in a book. He assures her that this is very much unlike Tom Riddle's diary—it's just an old textbook.

Hermione attempts to have the book reveal whatever secrets it might hold (using the spell Specialis Revelio), but nothing happens.

Harry accidentally lets the book fall on the ground. When he retrieves it, he notices an inscription on the back cover, written on the same handwriting as the instructions he has just followed:

"This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince."

Trivia

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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Snape Victorius The Half-Blood Prince The House of Gaunt
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