CHAPTER-A-LONG: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Chapter 12

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Chapter 12 – Silver and Opals

This chapter title sounds so ominous to me. I thought that from the very beginning. And I don’t even know why – it just sounds like jewelry, right? What could be more benign?

Heh heh heh.

The chapter starts off with the fact that Harry hasn’t seen Dumbledore in a while. He seems to be leaving school a lot more, which leaves Harry wondering when they will have lessons again. Harry feels abandoned, but honestly, I really thought that Harry needed to get over it. From what he saw in his last lesson, clearly some of this research is hard to come by. Doesn’t he think that maybe Dumbledore is working on that? Hmm?

As they get ready for their first Hogsmeade outing (which has thankfully not been canceled with all the extra security), Harry can’t stop reading the Half-Blood Prince’s notes in his potions book. Not only are there tips on making the potions themselves (which has now made Harry a star potions student, which is weird), but there are jinxes and hexes written in the margins too – some that look to be homemade. He mentions a few of them: a hex that makes your toenails grow super fast (they tried this on Crabbe), a jinx that makes your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth (they tried this on Filch), and the Muffliato spell (which makes it hard for people to eavesdrop on your conversations).

The only person who did not find these charms amusing was Hermione, who maintained a rigidly disapproving expression throughout and refused to talk at all if Harry had used the Muffliato spell on anyone in the vicinity.

One thing you have to say about Hermione. When she has a strong opinion, she sticks to her guns.

Harry sees another spell written in the margin: Levicorpus, with the abbreviation “nvbl” in parenthesis next to it. Assuming that it means “nonverbal,” he tries to think the spell towards no one in particular, and ends up dangling Ron upside down above his bed. Which does turn out pretty funny, since Ron had been asleep at the time. Harry finds the counterjinx and lets Ron down. Dean and Seamus find this all extremely funny, and Ron actually does too. He’s a pretty good sport. My only concern with all of this (which actually does come up later) is that it’s pretty irresponsible to just cast a random spell if you don’t know exactly what it does. This one ended up being pretty innocent for the most part, but Harry could have accidentally hurt someone, and I’m sure he would have felt terrible if Ron, or Dean or Seamus, had gotten injured.

Hermione is probably thinking along these same lines. When Ron is telling the table about this at breakfast, she is not happy about it. She doesn’t trust this Prince fellow at all. Ron tries to say that it was just a funny spell, something Fred and George might come up with. Harry also remembers seeing his dad cast the spell in Snape’s pensieve memory. He briefly wonders if maybe his dad is the Half-Blood Prince, although I don’t think James Potter was a half-blood. Wasn’t he a pureblood? I was pretty sure he was.

Hermione makes a pretty good point, though.

“Maybe your dad did use it, Harry,” said Hermione, “but he’s not the only one. We’ve seen a whole bunch of people use it, in case you’ve forgotten. Dangling people in the air. Making them float along, asleep, helpless.”

Harry remembers this, too. It was at the Quidditch World Cup, back in Goblet of Fire, where the Death Eaters had dangled the Muggle campground manager and his family in the air and paraded them around the site. Which was clearly sick and twisted. Ron tries to defend Harry, saying that the Death Eaters were abusing the use of the spell (which they were) while Harry and James had just been having fun. I would argue that James Potter was also abusing it, since he was using it to bully Snape. Ron’s final jab at Hermione is to say that she is just mad at the Prince because he’s better at Potions than she is.

Hermione bristles at this, and there might be a bit of truth to that, but she’s also right that it is just plain irresponsible to cast unfamiliar spells willy nilly. Harry doesn’t think it’s possible that the Prince was a Death Eater or anything like that, since he’s clearly boasting about being a half-blood instead of a pureblood. Except . . . there have to be some half-blood Death Eaters, not to mention the fact that Voldy is half-blood himself.

They are interrupted by Ginny who gives Harry a scroll. It’s a message from Dumbledore, saying that their next lesson is on Monday. Yay! More information! Harry invites Ginny to come to Hogsmeade with them, but she says she’s going with Dean and takes off. They all leave the castle, after being thoroughly inspected by Filch, and head into the village. It’s very cold and very windy – doesn’t sound like fun to me at all. Besides that, Zonko’s Joke Shop has closed. They head into Honeydukes and enjoy the nice warmth of the crowded candy shop, but are interrupted by Slughorn, who admonishes Harry for not being able to come to his Slug Club dinners. Harry has been getting out of them by purposely scheduling Quidditch practices every time he receives the invitation. The next dinner also just happens to be the same night as Harry’s appointment with Dumbledore.

“Unlucky again!” cried Slughorn dramatically. “Ah, well . . . you can’t evade me forever, Harry!”

Question: who thought there was something weird and nefarious with the way Slughorn seemed so focused on Harry the first time they read this?

They decide to go to the Three Broomsticks, but on the way they see Mundungus Fletcher meeting with the barman from the Hog’s Head. Mundungus was pawning some stuff that Harry instantly recognizes as some of Sirius’s belongings from Grimmauld Place. He is furious, and rightfully so, but before he can do anything Mundungus Disapparates. Tonks appears and tells Harry that there’s no point in doing anything at the moment, because Mundungus is probably already in London by now and out of their reach. Harry keeps fuming in the Three Broomsticks while Hermione tries to get him to calm down so that no one overhears him.

She also mentions that technically, Mundungus isn’t stealing from Sirius – he’s stealing from Harry. Sirius had left all of his possessions, including the house, to Harry in his will. Harry vows to tell Dumbledore about what Mundungus is doing and see if anything can be done. They all decide to head back to school because this Hogsmeade outing has been nothing but cold and miserable. They fall in behind Katie Bell and a friend while Harry thinks about how they never actually met up with Ginny. He also hears Katie start arguing with her friend, Leanne. There is some sort of package they are fighting over, which falls to the ground as this happens:

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 was 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. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Leanne had all halted in their tracks, watching.

Then, six feet above the ground, Katie let out a terrible scream. Her eyes flew open but whatever she could see, or whatever she was feeling, was clearly causing her terrible anguish. She screamed and screamed; Leanne started to scream too and seized Katie’s ankles, trying to tug her back to the ground. Harry, Ron and Hermione rushed forward to help, but even as they grabbed Katie’s legs, she fell on top of them; Harry and Ron managed to catch her but she was writhing so much they could hardly hold her. Instead they lowered her to the ground where she thrashed and screamed, apparently unable to recognize any of them.

Y’all, that is so creepy! Harry takes off towards the school for help and runs into Hagrid. Hagrid comes back, takes one look at Katie, then picks her up and runs to the castle. Hermione goes to comfort Leanne, who is sobbing, and tries to find out what happened. The package they were arguing about tore open and that’s when it all happened. Ron goes to pick it up, but Harry pulls him back and warns him not to touch it. Laying on the ground is a necklace of opals. Harry remembers seeing it at Borgin and Burkes, labeled as a cursed item. He asks Leanne where Katie got it from. Leanne explains that they were arguing because Katie was acting strange. She went to the bathroom and came back with the package, saying that she was supposed to deliver it. They all realize that Katie was probably under the Imperius curse.

Leanne continues to say that Katie would not tell her who had given her the package. She knew something was wrong, so she tried to take it away from her, and that’s when they started fighting. Harry wraps his scarf around his hand and uses it to gingerly pick up the necklace. He also knows that Malfoy knew about the necklace and probably went back and bought it. Ron doesn’t think Malfoy is involved, since Katie had gone in the girls’ bathroom to get it, but honestly, there are other ways. He could have disguised himself and went in the bathroom. He could have waylaid her right outside the bathroom.

McGonagall meets them in front of the castle and escorts them to her office. She takes one look at the necklace and tells Filch to take it to Snape. Leanne begins telling McGonagall what happened, after which McGonagall tells her to go to the hospital wing so that Madam Pomfrey can give her something for the shock. After Leanne leaves, McGonagall asks Harry, Ron and Hermione what they saw, which Harry jumps in to answer, including his suspicions about Malfoy. McGonagall asks about whether he has any proof, since it’s a pretty serious accusation. Harry tries to explain about what he saw at Borgin and Burkes, but Ron and Hermione jump in to tear his explanation to pieces. McGonagall has enough and tells them they can’t just blame Malfoy, mostly because Malfoy wasn’t even in Hogsmeade, as he was in detention with McGonagall herself.

After McGonagall leaves to check on Katie, Harry is frustrated that Ron and Hermione didn’t support his accusation of Malfoy, but he still knows they have to get to the bottom of this. Who knows who Katie was supposed to give the necklace to? It could be Dumbledore, Slughorn . . . heck, it could have been Harry, although then she could have just turned around and gave it to him. Harry still thinks that Malfoy was involved, even though Malfoy wasn’t in Hogsmeade. He could have had an accomplice, like Crabbe or Goyle, but here’s the other thing. Ron brings this up: the plan was really terrible. Whoever this item was for, it never even came close to getting delivered. Not the most well thought-out plan, was it?

“But since when has Malfoy been one of the world’s great thinkers?” asked Harry.

Harry sure won’t let up on this, will he. And for good reason.

See you next time for Chapter 13!

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