CHAPTER-A-LONG: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Chapter 14

Chapter 14 – Felix Felicis

This chapter is full of so much teenage angst! It’s actually nice to see, something normal for Harry and his friends to experience as opposed to the end of all wizard-kind.

First things first. Harry fills Ron and Hermione in on what he learned at his last meeting with Dumbledore, telling them all about kiddie Voldy. They do this over Herbology class where they are literally fighting with tree stumps to get some sort of fruit out of it that has worms inside it. Which sounds completely disgusting, but hey, Neville is doing well at it and I’m always happy to see Neville get praise.

The conversation turns to Slughorn’s last dinner party, which Harry had made it a point to not attend. Hermione did get to go and mentions that, while Slughorn is a bit obvious in his fawning over the famous, the food was really good. Plus, she got to meet Gwenog Jones, who happens to be a well-known Quidditch player. Ron, being the Quidditch fan he is, is reluctantly impressed by this, but they have to get back to work when Professor Sprout catches them talking too much in class.

“Okay, Professor, we’re starting now!” said Ron, adding quietly, when she had turned away again, “should have used Muffliato, Harry.”

“No, we shouldn’t!” said Hermione at once, looking, as she always did, intensely cross at the thought of the Half-Blood Prince and his spells. “Well, come on . . . we’d better get going . . .”

Just in case anyone thought Hermione was over her issues with the HBP – she’s not.

They continue talking about Slughorn. Hermione mentions that he is planning to have a Christmas party and there is no way for Harry to get out of this one, especially since Slughorn wants Hermione to make sure Harry is free. Slughorn is literally planning his party around Harry’s schedule, that’s how bad he wants to get Harry to one of his shindigs. Ron is still miffed about the fact that he is being looked over, that Hermione and Harry are getting invites and he is left out. Which is understandable, since I know Ron feels insecure like this a lot, but the way he handles it is to lash out and accuse Hermione of wanting to hook up with McLaggen. First of all, ew. Second of all, Hermione wanted to bring Ron as her guest. And here’s where things get awkward.

“You were going to ask me?” asked Ron, in a completely different voice.

“Yes,” said Hermione angrily. “But obviously if you’d rather I hooked up with McLaggen . . .”

There was a pause while Harry continued to pound the resilient pod with a trowel.

“No, I wouldn’t,” said Ron, in a very quiet voice.

Harry missed the pod, hit the bowl, and shattered it.

This is the closest Ron and Hermione have ever come to admitting that they might have feelings for each other beyond just friendship and Harry rightly feels a bit weird about it. They continue to work through class, but Harry can’t help but think about what the repercussions of this might be. He doesn’t have much experience in this area, other than briefly dating Cho the year before, but that ended badly and now he and Cho can barely look at each other. What happens to the friendship of the trio if Ron and Hermione start dating and then break up? Or what happens to Harry if Ron and Hermione get too lovey dovey, like Bill and Fleur? It’s something Harry can’t help but think about over the next few days, but nothing much really changes, other than Ron and Hermione acting a bit more polite towards each other.

Update on Katie Bell. She’s still in St. Mungo’s for the foreseeable future. Whatever was in that necklace packed a punch. Since this leaves a vacancy in the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and Harry doesn’t really want to hold another tryout, he asks Dean Thomas if he wants to fill in. Unfortunately he has to ask Dean while Seamus is around, which makes Seamus a bit miffed, but Dean performed better during tryouts, so fair is fair. Seamus isn’t the only one either. Some other Gryffindors are not too happy about the fact that Harry has two of his roommates on the team, but he rationalizes it with the fact that as long as they win their first match against Slytherin, no one will care at that point.

See! Teenage love and school sports teams! Happy normal life! This is what Harry should have always had!

Their first practice with Dean shows that Harry was right to bring him onboard, but Ron is still an issue. He has so little self-confidence, it’s actually sad. He can play well when he’s not thinking about it too much, but the problem is that once he gets flustered, everything falls apart. In this case, he accidentally punches one of the Chasers in the mouth.

“It was an accident, I’m sorry, Demelza, really sorry!” Ron shouted after her as she zigzagged back to the ground, dripping blood everywhere. “I just –“

“Panicked,” Ginny said angrily, landing next to Demelza and examining her fat lip. “You prat, Ron, look at the state of her!”

“I can fix that,” said Harry, landing beside the two girls, pointing his wand at Demelza’s mouth, and saying “Episkey.” “And Ginny, don’t call Ron a prat, you’re not the Captain of this team –“

“Well, you seemed too busy to call him a prat and I thought someone should –“

Harry forced himself not to laugh.

This is one of the scenes in the book that makes me really love Ginny. I do have a question though. Episkey was the spell that Luna used on Harry on the train when Draco had broken his nose, right? Why is Harry using it on Demelza’s lip? It doesn’t say that her nose is the issue. Is Episkey just a multi-use healing spell?

In any case, it was a terrible practice to have right before their first match. Ron really wants to quit the team, but Harry keeps encouraging him, partially because he’s a good friend, and partially because he really doesn’t want to have to replace Ron with McLaggen. This discussion carries all the way to the castle where they happen to come upon Dean and Ginny making out in a secret passage. Ron is not happy seeing his baby sister with Dean (even though he knew they were dating, right? What does he think they were up to?). What’s telling here is Harry’s reaction. He is oddly furious with Dean because of this. He tries to pass it off as protectiveness towards his best friend’s sister, but soon realizes it’s more than that.

The best part of all of this, though, is Ginny’s response. She sends Dean away and confronts Ron directly.

“Right,” said Ginny, tossing her long red hair out of her face and glaring at Ron, “let’s get this straight once and for all. It is none of your business who I go out with or what I do with them, Ron –“

“Yeah, it is!” said Ron, just as angrily. “D’you think I want people saying my sister’s a –“

“A what?” shouted Ginny, drawing her wand. “A what, exactly?”

Ron, you are not allowed to slut shame your sister! Harry tries to diffuse the situation, but it’s too far gone. Ginny says that the only reason that Ron is angry is basically because he’s never gotten any action himself. I don’t know if that’s really the point here, but Ron definitely takes it personally and draws his wand as well. Now both siblings are about to duel and Harry is trying to step in between them to stop them. Which is probably a good thing, because if I had to place a bet, it would be on Ginny, and Ron would end up on the floor covered in bat bogeys.

“Harry’s snogged Cho Chang!” shouted Ginny, who sounded close to tears now. “And Hermione snogged Viktor Krum, it’s only you who acts like it’s something disgusting, Ron, and that’s because you’ve got about as much experience as a twelve-year-old!”

It’s a rough time for Ron, I get that, but he is behaving badly here. He treats Ginny and Dean with hostility . . . and also Hermione, now that he thinks that she kissed Viktor back in their fourth year. And maybe she did. We don’t have any confirmation on that, but still, Ron has no reason to be mad about it. A bit jealous, maybe. Between all of this and his worries about Quidditch, Ron is not a pleasant person to be around. Add to that Harry’s new found worries that he is developing a crush on his best friend’s sister, and you could say that Harry is having a rough time of it too. Quidditch practices go from bad to worse to even worse, until finally Harry has a brilliant idea.

The morning of the Quidditch match, Ron is really down. Harry makes him a glass of pumpkin juice at breakfast and tries to be sneaky about something, but not sneaky enough to get past Hermione. She sees that Harry put something in Ron’s drink and tells Ron not to drink it. Since Ron isn’t about to listen to Hermione tell him what to do right now, Ron gulps it down. Hermione accuses Harry of cheating, thinking that he put his bottle of Felix Felicis in Ron’s cup.

She looked scandalized. Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that. I’d never have believed it of you, Harry!”

“Hark who’s talking,” he whispered back. “Confunded anyone lately?”

Yeah, let’s not forget that Hermione is not above “cheating” herself if it meant that Ron got on the Quidditch team over McLaggen. Get off your high horse, Hermione!

As they walk down to the pitch, Harry mentions a few things about the morning that could be considered lucky, like the perfect weather. In the locker room, they find out that Slytherin’s best Chaser, Vaisey, is out with an injury, and Malfoy is also out sick for the day. Ron seems to finally pick up on what might have happened, that there might be a certain reason why all these things seem to be going his way. Harry doesn’t confirm or deny anything, just tells Ron to finish getting ready.

I don’t usually do play-by-play of the Quidditch games, so here are the highlights. Zacharias Smith, the annoying Hufflepuff kid from Dumbledore’s Army, has taken over as announcer and he’s still a jerk. Ron has an amazing game, saving everything. Ginny makes some amazing goals. Harry is able to beat out Harper, Malfoy’s replacement, for the Snitch at the last minute, giving Gryffindor the victory. Ginny slams into the commentator’s podium, wiping out Zacharias, and claiming that she “forgot to brake.”

After the game, Hermione comes up to Harry and gets on him again for spiking Ron’s drink with Felix Felicis, but here’s the thing. He didn’t. He shows them the bottle, still full and sealed with wax. He only wanted Ron to think that he was lucky to boost his confidence, which probably worked even better than the potion itself. In fact, I wonder if that’s how Felix Felicis works anyway. You think you will be lucky, it puts you in the mindset to be lucky, and you end up having a great day. Hmmm. Something to think about!

Ron, on the other hand, gets mad at Hermione for doubting that he was able to play such a good game on his own and stalks off. Hermione is really upset that Ron seems angry at her all the time again, as if she can’t do anything right. It’s not her fault, poor girl. And poor Harry, for being stuck in the middle of all this.

It’s time for a party in the Gryffindor common room. Harry notices that Hermione isn’t anywhere to be found. He also sees what everyone else is watching at the moment: Ron making out with Lavender Brown.

“It looks like he’s eating her face, doesn’t it?” said Ginny dispassionately. “But I suppose he’s got to refine his technique somehow. Good game, Harry.”

Oh Ginny. Don’t ever change.

Harry turns and sees that Hermione had come in the common room, must have seen Ron and Lavender, and immediately runs back out. Being the good friend that he is, Harry follows after her and finds her in an empty classroom practicing a spell that conjured a bunch of yellow birds flying around. Harry doesn’t really know what to do or say, but doesn’t really have a chance to say much of anything as Ron and Lavender come in the door. They were clearly looking for some place more private to carry on with things, but were not expecting to see Harry and Hermione there.

Lavender isn’t stupid. She must know how Hermione feels. They’ve been roommates for five years now. Lavender makes a quick exit, leaving Ron to handle the awkward situation. Hermione calmly tells Ron to go back to Lavender and goes to leave, but then sics her birds on him before running off in tears.

Ugh! So much angst! But a nice break from learning about the wizard who wants to take over the world. See you next time for Chapter 15!

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