Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 27

In the twenty-seventh chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore learn that the Dark Mark has been cast over Hogwarts. Anticipating the worst, what they discover atop the Astronomy Tower changes everything forever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


If it wasn’t obvious, the events of the previous chapter struck me with a fierce voracity, a stunning brutality; here, Rowling disposes of any of the previous tropes or themes she’s been known to address or use and heads straight towards absolute terror. I still can’t shake the image of a childlike Dumbledore, weakened, begging for Harry to kill him. This is the man that’s the only father figure left in Harry’s life. It’s a testament to the extreme lengths Voldemort will go to ensure that anyone who attempts to stop him will suffer in immeasurable ways.

I was relieved that Dumbledore and Harry arrived back at Hogsmeade in one piece. (Well…two pieces? There are two of them, after all, but that just sounds strange.) It’s a relief because the present danger is gone and Hogwarts is safe and things will be fine.

Dumbledore isn’t completely in the clear, as he is obviously hurt; he begs Harry to fetch Snape as soon as he can and thankfully Madam Rosmerta arrives when she witness them Apparate into Hogsmeade.

  • ”He’s hurt,” said Harry. “Madam Rosmerta, can he come into the Three Broomsticks while I go up to the school and get help for him?”

    “You can’t go up there alone! Don’t you realize—haven’t you seen–?”

    “If you can help me support him,” said Harry, not listening to her, “I think we can get him inside—“

    “What has happened?” asked Dumbledore. “Rosmerta, what’s wrong?”

    “The—the Dark Mark, Albus.”

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no. Oh god. It can’t be true.

  • There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they entered a building…wherever they had murdered….

Oh fucking hell. This is not happening. This is not happening.

Did they know Dumbledore was gone? I thought. I began to think about the pattern of past books and it seemed inevitable that a confrontation with Voldemort was oncoming.

Besides that, it’s apparent how dire the situation is when Dumbledore recovers as best as he can so they can ride brooms to Hogwarts:

  • As they sped towards the castle, Harry glanced sideways at Dumbledore, ready to grab him should he fall, but the sigh of the Dark Mark seemed to have acted upon Dumbledore like a stimulant: He was bent low over his broom, his eyes fixed upon the Mark, his long silver hair and beard flying behind him on the night air.

You know what this means: It’s time for BADASS DUMBLEDORE TO TAKE CHARGE.

But despite my confidence in Dumbledore, I immediately knew something was horribly wrong when they landed on the Astronomy Tower. Dumbledore’s certainty fades to an urgent fear:

  • In the dim green glow from the Mark, Harry saw Dumbledore clutching at his chest with his blackened hand.

    “Go and wake Severus,” said Dumbledore faintly but clearly. “Tell him what has happened and bring him to me. Do nothing else, speak to nobody else, and do not remove your cloak. I shall wait here.”


    “You swore to obey me, Harry—go!”

This is not good. When something strikes fear in Dumbledore, when he orders Harry around like this, it speaks to the severity of the situation.

And then everything goes to hell:

  • Harry hurried over to the door leading to the spiral staircase, but his hand had only just closed upon the iron ring of the door when he heard running footsteps on the other side. He looked around at Dumbledore, who gestured him to retreat. Harry backed away, drawing his wand as he did so.

    The door burst open and somebody erupted through it and shouted, “Expelliarmus!”

    Harry’s body became instantly rigid and immobile, and he felt himself fall back against the tower wall, propped like an unsteady statue, unable to move or speak. He could not understand how it had happened—Expelliarmus was not a Freezing Charm—

    Then, by the light of the Mark, he saw Dumbledore’s wand flying in an arc over the edge of the ramparts and understood….Dumbledore had wordlessly immobilized Harry, and the second he had taken to perform the spell had cost him the chance of defending himself.

No. This is awful. What the fuck is going on? Oh god, it’s Voldemort, isn’t it?

  • Standing against the ramparts, very white in the face, Dumbledore still showed no sign of panic or distress. He merely looked across at his disarmer and said, “Good evening, Draco.”


No. Oh my fucking god. Voldemort’s task. This can’t be it. Oh…oh my god. WHAT IS HE DOING. Oh my god oh my god what tajsdfs;adkls;af asfd;klsafdjk

Dumbledore’s calm confidence prevented me from convulsing wildly; the way he coolly eggs Draco on to do what he was assigned to do: kill Dumbledore.

As I suspected, Rowling spends a great deal of time using dialogue to begin to tie up the narrative threads she started in this novel, but here she chooses to use Dumbledore’s character and attitude to fuel everything. Dumbledore understands that Draco is not capable of murder and also knows that he wants to gloat as much as possible. Therefore, he does everything he can to egg him on to reveal how this moment came to be.

  • ”You don’t know what I’m capable of,” said Malfoy more forcefully. “You don’t know what I’ve done!”

    “Oh yes, I do,” said Dumbledore mildly. “You almost killed Katie Bell and Ron Weasley. You have been trying, with increasing desperation, to kill me all year. Forgive me, Draco, but they have been feeble attempts….So feeble, to be honest,t hat I wonder whether your heart has really been in it.”


Oh my god, guys. HARRY WAS RIGHT. HE WAS RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME. I also love that I think Dumbledore is being truthful here: Draco doesn’t seem to have his heart in it and, based on the few glimpses we’ve gotten into his life this year, he’s not happy at all.

Jesus Christ.

The goading continues; Dumbledore continues to tell Draco he’s not going to kill him and, despite constantly angering Draco, Draco seems no closer to doing the deed than he was before. If anything, he appears more unsure and more nervous as the seconds pass. He tries to regain some confidence by stating that Dumbledore had no idea who was behind Katie Bell’s and Ron’s attacks.

  • ”As a matter of fact, I did,” said Dumbledore. “I was sure it was you.”

Wait. What??? If Dumbledore knew, why didn’t he do anything? ME NO UNDERSTAND, BRAIN HURTS.

Dumbledore then further confuses Draco when he tells him that Snape has known the entire time as well and has been doing his best to spy on him the entire time. I believed Dumbledore when he said this, but something still doesn’t make sense: Why didn’t Dumbledore confront him about this?

We learn more about this elaborate set-up: the Death Eaters used the repaired Vanishing Cabinet that Montague got stuck in during Order of the Phoenix; Madam Rosmerta was under the Imperius Curse; they used enchanted coins to communicate; the Dark Mark was merely a trick to get Dumbledore to end up on the tower and trapped by Draco.

  • ”But am I to take it, then, that nobody has been murdered?”

    “Someone’s dead,” said Malfoy, and his voice seemed to go up an octave as he said it. “One of your people…I don’t know who, it was dark….I stepped over the body….I was supposed to be waiting up here when you got back, only your Phoenix lot got in the way….”

Please do not let it be Lupin. Please. Oh my god, this is fucking stressful.

For now, though, it’s not going to be Dumbledore. Malfoy, as Dumbledore points out, has had all the time in the world to kill him and hasn’t done a thing.

  • ”I haven’t got any options!” said Malfoy, and he was suddenly white as Dumbledore. “I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!”

    “I appreciate the difficulty of your position,” said Dumbledore. “Why else do you think I have not confronted you before now? Because I knew you would have been murdered if Lord Voldemort realized I suspected you.”

    Malfoy winced at the sound of the name.

    “I did not dare speak to you of the mission with which I knew you had been entrusted, in case he used Legilimency against you,” continued Dumbledore.

I am in awe. I cannot believe this. Dumbledore has spent an entire school year putting himself at risk of death in order to save people who do not even like him.

This is amazing and so goddamn noble. Oh god, Dumbledore, you are the best.

  • ”But I got this far, didn’t I?” he said slowly. “They thought I’d die in the attempt, but I’m here…and you’re in my power….I’m the one with the wand….You’re at my mercy….”

    “No, Draco,” said Dumbledore quietly. “It is my mercy, and not yours, that matters now.”

Chilling. Powerful. Dumbledore, you are a certified badass.

In the midst of all this, the Death Eaters arrive. And I was totally taken by surprise that Fenrir Greyback is one of the people present.

  • ”Pleased to see me, Dumbledore?”

    “No, I cannot say that I am.”

    Greyback grinned, showing pointed teeth. Blood trickled down his chin and he licked his lips slowly, obscenely.

    “But you know how much I like kids, Dumbledore.”

I think that I’ll be perfectly happy if I don’t have to read this line ever again. WWWWWWHHHHHHYYYYYYY

But all hope is not lost; there’s a commotion on the stairs and the sounds of approaching members of the Order of the Phoenix frighten the Death Eaters above. When Draco is ordered to kill Dumbledore, his hand shakes so badly that he does nothing; Fenrir offers to do the deed, but is blasted by an unnamed Death Eater. And then:

  • ”Draco, do it or stand aside so one of us—“ screeched the woman, but at that precise moment, the door to the ramparts burst open once more and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his black eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore slumped against the wall, to the four Death eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy.

OH FUCK YES. Y’all are totally fucked.

  • But somebody else had spoken Snape’s name, quite softly.


    The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading.

Wait. Wait. No. No. What the fuck. Wait. WAIT. THIS CAN’T BE.

  • Snape said nothing, but walked forward and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed.

    Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.


    Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.

    “Avada Kedavra!”

    A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape’s wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry’s scream of horror never left him; silent and unmoving, he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air. For a split second he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he fell slowly backward, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight.

Chrstofthemoment: i’m dead

KASPER: yeah

KASPER: yeah

Chrstofthemoment: i’m dead

Chrstofthemoment: kasper

Chrstofthemoment: snape kills dumbledore


Chrstofthemoment: i thought it was in book seven

KASPER: he does

Chrstofthemoment: i thought it was in the next book

Chrstofthemoment: i’m just going to lay on the floor and maybe i will never wake up

KASPER: you have no idea how much it breaks my heart that you had to read that

KASPER: like

Chrstofthemoment: oh my god that was the worst thing

KASPER: i knew you thought it was in book seven

Chrstofthemoment: kasper

KASPER: and it made my heart ache that you would find out that you were wrong

KASPER: ewhpsdifuhjdsafhsadas

Chrstofthemoment: dumbledore begged him not to

Chrstofthemoment: he trusted him

Chrstofthemoment: and he was wrong

Chrstofthemoment: oh my god he was wrong

Chrstofthemoment: oh my god

KASPER: malfoy couldn’t do it

Chrstofthemoment: and Snape lived up to the Unbreakable Vow

Chrstofthemoment: he did

Chrstofthemoment: he did it*

Chrstofthemoment: oh my god kasper

KASPER: yeah

Chrstofthemoment: i’m just fucking destroyed

KASPER: yeah seriously

Chrstofthemoment: i thought it couldn’t get worse than Sirius

Chrstofthemoment: this is worse

Chrstofthemoment: this is so much worse

Chrstofthemoment: Snape didn’t even hesitate

KASPER: yeah because now harry has no one

Chrstofthemoment: jesus christ

KASPER: like, dumbledore was always there and he always knew what to do

Chrstofthemoment: and he even had a plan here

Chrstofthemoment: he wasn’t ignoring Harry’s claims about Malfoy


Chrstofthemoment: at his own expense

Chrstofthemoment: that is like the most noble, amazing thing ever.

KASPER: yeah, seriously


KASPER: but yeah seriously

KASPER: it is the saddest thing of all time

Chrstofthemoment: seriously

Chrstofthemoment: like

Chrstofthemoment: if i read these books in real time

Chrstofthemoment: it would be like

Chrstofthemoment: watching my childhood killed in front of me

KASPER: yeah

KASPER: now you understand why everyone freaked the fuck out over that spoiler

KASPER: like i was around at the time and shit was so insane

Chrstofthemoment: oh god

Chrstofthemoment: were you spoiled?

KASPER: everyone was spoiled

KASPER: it was impossible to be on the internet without seeing it

Chrstofthemoment: oh god

KASPER: actually i think a friend of mine was spoiled on a bridge in london

KASPER: not even on the internet

Chrstofthemoment: WAIT WHAT


Chrstofthemoment: oh god

KASPER: but yeah 100% of people who were on the internet were spoiled

Chrstofthemoment: people are shitty

KASPER: and people were losing their minds

Chrstofthemoment: did Rowling say anything about it?

KASPER: and there were so many theories about what it meant, people trying to convince themselves that it didn’t really happen in the book

KASPER: i can’t remember, actually

Chrstofthemoment: oh shit

Chrstofthemoment: that’s horrible

KASPER: because the actual page that leaked had harry talking about it (it’s in the next chapter) rather than the actual scene where it happens

Chrstofthemoment: ohhhhhhhhhhhh ok

KASPER: so people saw the actual words “snape killed dumbledore”

Chrstofthemoment: jesus christ


Chrstofthemoment: wow

KASPER: like people LOST THEIR FUCKING MINDS over this

Chrstofthemoment: i mean, i knew it was going to happen

Chrstofthemoment: but i seriously believed it was in Deathly Hallows

Chrstofthemoment: hence the name

Chrstofthemoment: “death”

Chrstofthemoment: in hindsight

Chrstofthemoment: that’s pretty stupid

KASPER: hajwhewjahdasjhdsahdas

Chrstofthemoment: haahahahaha

KASPER: oh god you are my favourite of all time

Chrstofthemoment: but i thought that spoiler came out in 2007?

KASPER: nope, 2005

Chrstofthemoment: oh god i just looked on the AFI board

Chrstofthemoment: i remember when that happened

Chrstofthemoment: [not in 2007] totally 2005

KASPER: mark i literally remember where i was and how i was spoiled and who i talked to and how much we freaked out

Chrstofthemoment: They had to ban HUNDREDS of people

KASPER: oh god

KASPER: yeah i am not surprised

Chrstofthemoment: oh my god tell me

KASPER: oh god i think i saw the spoiler on a band message board actually

KASPER: lulz

KASPER: not AFI, fyi jsyk btw

KASPER: and people thought it was HILARIOUS to spam threads with it

KASPER: and my lj flist just fucking lost it

KASPER: people were crying in comments of each others’ posts


KASPER: and theorising, like i just said

KASPER: and jesus it was just insane

KASPER: and i mean like, i was never properly in the HP fandom like some people

Chrstofthemoment: oh god

KASPER: those lj friends of mine were people i knew through other stuff, some of us just liked harry potter

KASPER: so like

KASPER: take my internet experience of it and multiply it by like A THOUSAND and you’ll get close to what it was like for the core of the fandom

KASPER: it was just

KASPER: insane

Chrstofthemoment: wow

Chrstofthemoment: fucking JK Rowling

KASPER: how does she do this to us

Chrstofthemoment: what an insanely brave thing to write

Chrstofthemoment: like

Chrstofthemoment: she had to know how this would destroy people

Chrstofthemoment: oh god fuck it

KASPER: yeah, seriously

KASPER: yeah it is

KASPER: really really painful

Chrstofthemoment: i just re-read Snape’s appearance

Chrstofthemoment: and it’s so much more brutal

Chrstofthemoment: than i could ever imagine

The truth is that this has gutted me completely and totally. Sirius dying was horrible, shocking, and necessary. (It pains me to say it, but it makes sense in hindsight.)

This is senseless. And cruel. And awful. And has just made me want to disappear forever. This is just so fucking miserable.

I can’t believe I am upset over the death of a fictional character and I even knew he was going to die. I find it pretty ironic that I misjudged the date of the spoiler, because this entire time, I kept thinking, “It won’t be that bad. He’ll make it. He doesn’t die until Deathly Hallows.

I was so wrong. Dumbledore was wrong. Oh my god, Dumbledore was wrong. That in itself is more heartbreaking than anything else. He trusted Snape; we don’t know why, but he was so vehement in his defense of him. And he was betrayed in the worst way possible. He paid the price for his trust with his life.

This was the only father figure Harry had left. His father was murdered, Sirius was murdered, and now the one constant in this series, the one person who always has a plan, who always errs on the side of compassion and love, who always wants to do everything to help and protect those around him, the one who gave us a steady, constant sense of assurance, is dead.

This is so dreadful and appalling. I don’t want it to be real.

I want to write about how this completely changes how I think about Snape and Draco, but I’m simply too goddamn sad to say anything. Fuck this. This is so awful. It’s not getting any easier to think about it.

Fucking hell, guys. Snape kills Dumbledore. Fuck.