Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 28

In the twenty-eighth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we learn the identity of the Half-Blood Prince and, unbelievably, the traumatic events of the last chapter are made even more awful than anyone could possibly imagine. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


I don’t feel any better at all. I know this is a book and these people aren’t real, but I’ve always felt a strong connection to fiction and reading and this is not getting any easier to think about. I just want to cry at weird parts of the day whenever Dumbledore’s final moments replay in my mind. And I can’t turn it off.

This series in particular has affected me in a way that few things do. I’ve bawled at a lot of film and television, but books rarely make me cry. The last book that did was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. (Read it. Life-changing.) Something about this experience and the way I’ve read Harry Potter has amplified how much it might have made me think about these books, but it’s undeniable at this point to express anything but love and admiration for the world Rowling has created and the great risks she has taken to give us a world that isn’t safe or perfect.

It doesn’t make Dumbledore’s death any easier, but it gives it a purpose. He died because he was doing his best to rid the world of evil, of oppression, of bigotry. And I’ll always love him for that.

  • As they vanished through the door, Harry realized he could move again. What was now holding him paralyzed against the wall was not magic, but horror and shock.

There’s no moment where I believed he wasn’t dead, but this is absolute confirmation. Dumbledore is dead, so his magic is as well.

Snape and Draco begin their escape, but my immediate concern becomes a game of elimination: Harry has to step over two bodies, facedown in a pool of blood. Who died???

Harry runs straight into a furious battle; thankfully, the first person we see is Ginny. Phew. That would have made things just too awful.

Immediately after this, we get confirmation that Ron, Lupin, Tonks, and Professor McGonagall are also alive and well. He trips over Neville, who is hurt, but also not dead.

The scene is so chaotic that I couldn’t even think of who was left and who might have died during this fight. Harry doesn’t seem to concern himself with this either; his goal is to catch Snape and Draco before they escape. He frantically sprints through the Hogwarts halls, briefly encountering a frightened Ernie Macmillan, before realizing Snape and Draco have left the building.

Shit gets painfully real at this point:

  • Another flash, shouts, retaliatory jets of light, and Harry understood: Hagrid had emerged from his cabin and was trying to stop the Death Eaters from escaping, and though every breath seemed to shred his lungs and the stitch in his chest was like fire, Harry sped up as an unbidden voice in his head said: not Hagrid…not Hagrid too….

I could not handle Hagrid’s death. Plain and simple.

  • And now he saw the vast outline of Hagrid, illuminated by the light of the crescent moon revealed suddenly behind the clouds: the blond Death Eater was aiming curse after curse at the gamekeeper; but Hagrid’s immense strength and the toughened skin he had inherited from his giantess mother seemed to be protecting him.

Oh fuck yes, Hagrid! Whew.

  • Harry heard an explosive bang and a dancing orange light spilled over all of them: Hagrid’s house was on fire.

YOU FUCKING BIGOTS. Burn Hagrid’s house down? THIS MEANS WAR.

The battle turns to the inevitable: Snape and Harry begin to fight. Snape easily deflects the spells Harry casts his way and taunts him repeatedly.

  • Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!” sneered Snape, deflecting the curse once more. “Now come!” he shouted at the huge Death Eater behind Harry.

Which now puts the entire Occlumency stuff in a new context; is it possible Snape purposely taught him poorly and did whatever he could to get out of it on purpose? I had brought that up before because it was Snape’s fault, partially, that Harry couldn’t close his mind and was fed that fake vision of Sirius being tortured, which lead to…well, we all know. So what does this mean? It’s surprising that throughout all that’s happened in the last chapter and this one, we are no closer to determining if Snape ever was a true member of the Order of the Phoenix or if he was a Death Eater the whole time.

This is so fucked up.

  • But before he could finish this jinx, excruciating pain hit Harry; he keeled over in the grass. Someone was screaming, he would surely die of this agony, Snape was going to torture him to death or madness—

Except he doesn’t. Snape reminds the Death Eaters that Harry is to be remained unharmed: he belongs to the Dark Lord.

UGH. This is so stressful.

  • Pushing himself to his feet again, he staggered blindly toward Snape, the man he now hated as much as he hated Voldemort himself—


    Snape flicked his wand and the curse was repelled yet again; but Harry was mere feet away now and he could see Snape’s face clearly at last: He was no longer sneering or jeering; the blazing flames showed a face full of rage. Mustering all his powers of concentration, Harry thought, Levi—

    “No, Potter!” screamed Snape. There was a loud BANG and Harry was soaring backward, hitting the ground hard again, and this time his wand flew out of his hand. He could hear Hagrid yelling and Fang howling as Snape closed in and looked down on him where he lay, wandless and defenseless as Dumbledore had been. Snape’s pale face, illuminated by the flaming cabin, was suffused with hatred just as it had been before he had cursed Dumbledore.

    “You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them—I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you’d turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don’t think so…no!


Holy shit, guys. IT’S SNAPE??? Oh my god IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. Oh my god, the reason he freaked out when Harry used Sectumsempra…his confusion at Harry doing well in Potions….OH MY GOD THIS IS WILD.

That means that Harry did well in Potions when he finally took Snape’s advice.

100% unexpected. Wow.

That excitement dies immediately, though, because Snape excapes. Hagrid arrives to make sure Harry is ok, and then the worst conversation ever takes place.

  • ”But what happened Harry? I jus’ saw them Death Eaters runnin’ down from the castle, but what the ruddy hell was Snape doin’ with ‘em? Where’s he gone—was he chasing them?”

    “He…” Harry cleared his throat; it was dry from the panic and the smoke. “Hagrid, he killed…”

    “Killed?” said Hagrid loudly, staring down at Harry. “Snape killed? What’re yeh on abou’, Harry?”

    “Dumbledore,” said Harry. “Snape killed…Dumbledore.”

It’s even more awful again. Saying it makes it more real and more terrible than ever before.

  • Harry heard Hagrid’s moan of pain and shock, but he did not stop; he walked slowly forward until he reached the place where Dumbledore lay and crouched down beside him. He had known there was no hope from the moment that the full Body-Bind Curse Dumbledore had placed on him lifted, known that it could have happened only because its caster was dead, but there was still no preparation for seeing him here, spread-eagled, broken: the greatest wizard Harry had ever, or would ever, meet.

Sobbing. I can’t help it. This is the worst fucking thing ever.

Except it’s actually not. The locket Dumbledore took from the bottom of the basin in the cave had fallen out of his pocket. Inside, Harry finds a small piece of parchment inside.

  • To the Dark Lord I know I will be dead long before you read this But I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, You will be mortal once more. R.A.B.

No. It can’t be. No fucking way. What the fuck, oh my god./m,asdflkjds;adfskl dd;asf;jl

  • Harry neither knew nor cared what the message meant. Only one thing mattered: This was not a Horcrux. Dumbledore had weakened himself by drinking that terrible potion for nothing. Harry crumpled the parchment in his hand, and his eyes burned with tears as behind him Fang began to howl.

Fuck everything. This is the most awful thing I have ever read. I can’t handle this at all. There is no worse thing in this series.

Ugh. I just can’t. It’s like being punched in the face all over again.

No, actually, it’s like this:

Everything hurts.