Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 12

In the twelfth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry starts being a bit risky with his use of the Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book, drawing the concern and ire of Hermione. But a trip to Hogsmeade distracts them all when Katie Bell is attacked. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


Harry is cheating.

There, I said it. I am glad Rowling is pursuing this plotline and it’s entirely in-character for Harry to do exactly what he’s doing in this book, so this is not a criticism of what Rowling’s writing. But it still needs to be said that, ultimately, I side with Hermione on this. (And LOL to that because…oh god I AM BASICALLY HERMIONE.)

I honestly don’t think Hermione is upset because Harry is proving to be better at her at Potions and I’m also inclined to believe that she is genuinely concerned about his well-being. She’s shown that while she certainly is embarrassed any time she gets any thing wrong, she is also ecstatic when Ron or Harry apply themselves and get positive results.

I also understand Harry’s predicament here. He’s been dealt an immeasurably tough deck throughout his entire life and much of his conflict involves him fighting to do things most teenagers take for granted. I don’t think I’m ready to really “judge” Harry, in the sense that I’m not sure I should scold him or frown upon his actions, because I do understand that he found a lucky break and he’s taking advantage of it. That being said, after all that’s happened to him over the previous five books, you’d think he’d exercise some common sense and not just cast handwritten spells he reads in the margins of a discarded Potions book and nonverbally float Ron while he’s sleeping.

It propels the plot and makes me laugh, though. I guess I can’t complain.

Hermione, however, sort of discounts even the simplest, purest defense of Harry’s:

  • ”My dad used this spell,” said Harry. “I—Lupin told me.”

    This last part was not true; in fact, Harry had seen his father use the spell on Snape, but he had never told Ron and Hermione about that particular excursion into the Pensieve. Now, however, a wonderful possibility occurred to him. Could the Half-Blood Prince possibly be–?

    “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 stared at her. With a sinking feeling, he too remembered the behavior of the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup.

Touche, Hermione. And even when Harry tries to counter the fact that half-bloods aren’t exactly the pinnacle of desire of Death Eaters, she makes another good point:

  • ”The Death Eaters can’t all be pure-blood, there aren’t enough pure-blood wizards left,” said Hermione stubbornly. “I expect that most of them are half-bloods pretending to be pure. It’s only Muggle-borns they hate, they’d be quite happy to let you and Ron join up.”

Yikes. For the record, I still have not the slightest clue who the Half-Blood Prince is.

The annual trip to Hogsmeade demonstrates the continuing theme of a world at war and how the wizarding society seems to be affected by it in every place imaginable. Despite that Harry actually looks forward to the brief respite from life at Hogwarts, it proves to be kind of antithetical to anything he’d hoped.

  • The walk into Hogsmeade was not enjoyable. Harry wrapped his scarf over his lower face; the exposed part soon felt both raw and numb. The road to the village was full of students bent double against the bitter wind. More than once Harry wondered whether they might not have had a better time in the warm common room, and 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.

I like that Rowling also uses the weather to further demonstrate how a place that always was a beacon of hope and joy for the trio isn’t that way anymore. ADULTHOOD SUCKS, EVERYTHING GETS RUINED. Oh god, I love you so much, J.K. Rowling.

Two things happen on the Hogsmeade trip that demonstrate the desperate, haggard times. First, Harry runs into Mundungus; instead of it being a joyous occasion (since none of them have spoken to a member of the Order of the Phoenix since Tonks on the first day), it proves to be frustrating: Harry finds out that Mundungus has been stealing objects from Sirius’s house. Well…Harry’s house now. (THAT MADE ME SAD TO TYPE THAT.)

Sidenote: It made me laugh when Tonks just showed up to tell Harry to stop yelling. Please, more Tonks. PLEASE.

After a depressing round of butterbeers in the Three Broomsticks, however, shit gets so goddamn real.

  • They rounded a corner in the lane, sleet coming thick and fast, blurring Harry’s glasses. Just as he raised a gloved hand to wipe them, Leanne made to grab hold of the package Katie was holding; Katie tugged it back and the package fell to the ground.

    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 quite empty of expression. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Leane 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; Leane 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.


Harry manages to get Hagrid, who, upon arriving, immediately whisks Katie off to Hogwarts in his arms. And then things get even weirder.

  • ”It was when that package tore,” sobbed Leanne, pointing at the now sodden brown-paper package on the ground, which had split open to reveal a greenish glitter. Ron bent down, his hand outstretched, but Harry seized his arm and pulled him back.

    “Don’t touch it!”

    He crouched down. An ornate opal necklace was visible, poking out of the paper.

    “I’ve seen that before,” said Harry, staring at the thing. “It was on display in Borgin and Burkes ages ago. The label said it was cursed. Katie must have touched it.” He looked up at Leanne, who had started to shake uncontrollably. “How did Katie get hold of this?”

    “Well, that’s why we were arguing. She came back from the bathroom in the Three Broomsticks holding it, said it was a surprise for somebody at Hogwarts and she had to deliver it. She looked all funny when she said it….Oh no, oh no, I bet she’d been Imperiused and I didn’t realize!”

This isn’t even shit getting real. This is bonkers. THAT NECKLACE FROM BOOKS AGO IS IN THIS BOOK. WHAT. Also…Malfoy had to have done this, I thought. It’s so obvious!

They take the necklace and visit Professor McGonagall, who asks them to relate the story of what happened. Harry, in a moment that I was actually kind of proud of, also straight up admits that he thinks it’s Draco Malfoy who did it, and then explains to McGonagall why he does. It’s kind of comical how Ron, Hermione, and Harry then get into a heated argument about whether this is possible until McGonagall finally decides she’s had enough.

  • ”That’s enough!” said Professor McGonagall, as Hermione opened her mouth to retort, looking furious. “Potter, I appreciate you telling me this, but we cannot point the finger of blame at Mr. Malfoy purely because he visited the shop where this necklace might have been purchased. The same is probably true of hundreds of people—“

    “—that’s what I said—“ muttered Ron.

    “—and in any case, we have put stringent security measures in place this year. I do not believe that necklace can possibly entered this school without our knowledge—“


    “—and what is more,” said Professor McGonagall, with an air of awful finality, “Mr. Malfoy was not in Hogsmeade today.”


  • “…he was doing detention with me. He has now failed to complete his Transfiguration homework twice in a row. So, thank you for telling me your suspicions, Potter,” she said as she marched past them, “but I need to go up to the hospital wing now to check on Katie Bell. Good day to you all.”

Well….there goes that.

;I don’t know what to think about this anymore. Bravo, Rowling, because you’ve got me completely stumped. Poor Katie Bell, though. ::sadfaces forever::