Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Summary

When Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the world is in turmoil. Voldemort's army is gaining force and momentum, and tragedies are everyday occurrences. The Muggle world is experiencing great loss and havoc as well, and fear abounds. The Prime Minister of the Muggle world meets with both the former and current Ministers of Magic, and the news is not good. It would seem that a war is at hand, and even Hogwarts isn't entirely safe.

After seeing Draco Malfoy conduct sketchy business at Borgin and Burkes at the beginning of the school year (while on a school supply shopping trip with the Weasleys in Diagon Alley), Harry is convinced that Draco now works for Voldemort and is plotting something big. Harry proceeds to spend his year at Hogwarts following Draco's actions carefully. However, few believe Harry's theory that Draco has become a Death Eater.

Hormones are raging at Hogwarts, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione's friendships are put to the test. Ron finds his first girlfriend in Lavender Brown, which sends Hermione into a poorly concealed rage most of the time. Meanwhile, Harry begins to realize that he has feelings for Ginny Weasley, Ron's little sister.

The sixth year homework load is intense, and everyone (including Hermione) seems to struggle under the weight and difficulty of the work assigned. Professor Snape has assumed the illustrious role of Professor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts, and he proceeds to make Harry's life miserable, making sure to give him detention whenever possible. Professor Horace Slughorn joins the Hogwarts faculty as the new Potions teacher, and he finds Harry to be a Potions superstar (thanks to a mysteriously helpful used textbook Harry finds, which once belonged to a former student known as the Half-Blood Prince). To Hermione's frustration, Harry follows the Half-Blood Prince's tips and effortlessly excels in Potions. The sixth year is also the year in which Harry and his friends begin to learn how to Apparate, or to travel from one place to another magically.

Throughout this sixth year, a number of tragedies and inexplicable events strike members of the Hogwarts community. It would seem that there is someone within the walls of Hogwarts conducting dark magic, carrying out orders from the Dark Lord himself, and Harry is bent on figuring out what exactly is going on. At times this mission of Harry's is thwarted by other responsibilities, like captaining the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which turns out to be a really tough job. Everyone expects Harry to lead Gryffindor to victory, but his mind is elsewhere.

Dumbledore decides at the beginning of this school year that he should take a bigger role in Harry's education, and he arranges for Harry to have private lessons with him every so often. Harry, elated by this news, soon discovers that these private lessons involve traveling into the memories of those who knew Voldemort once upon a time. Over the course of several visits, Harry and Dumbledore venture into precious memories, gathering essential information about Voldemort's family, his childhood, his schooling at Hogwarts, and how he came to be the Dark Lord. The final memory is one that Dumbledore needs most but is unable to procure as it belongs to Professor Slughorn, who has intentionally erased it using complicated magic. Dumbledore implores Harry to convince Slughorn to give him this memory, a task that proves almost impossible, as Slughorn will stop at nothing to avoid Harry once he knows what Harry is after.

As luck would have it, Harry possesses a good luck potion, Felix Felicis, which he earned for winning a contest in Potions class (thanks, Half-Blood Prince). One day, when Harry is all out of ideas about how to get the memory from Slughorn, he drinks part of the potion and, through a string of very lucky instances, is able to get the memory from Slughorn.

(Click the infographic to download.)

When Dumbledore and Harry travel into this particular memory, they realize that it shows the moment at which Voldemort first learned about Horcruxes. A Horcrux is a powerful, outlawed kind of Dark Magic that allows the soul to be divided, giving its owner the ability to become immortal. When he was at Hogwarts, Voldemort once convinced Slughorn to give him valuable information about Horcruxes, and what resulted was (Dumbledore supposes) a quest to divide his soul seven times and to hide each piece in various vessels in locations around the world. Using the memories that he has already collected pertaining to Voldemort, Dumbledore can make good guesses about where Voldemort's Horcruxes might be. The only way to kill Voldemort is to destroy every single Horcrux, which, Harry realizes, will be his ultimate goal and mission in life.

After traveling to retrieve the first Horcrux, a task that proves to be incredibly difficult, dangerous, and scary, Harry and Dumbledore arrive back at Hogwarts only to find that the castle has been invaded by Death Eaters. The Dark Mark (the sign of Voldemort) floats like a cloud over the castle tower. As Dumbledore and Harry fly to the tower over which the Dark Mark lingers, they discover that the Dark Mark is a trap intended to lure Dumbledore to that very tower. Before he is cornered by Death Eaters, Dumbledore is able to use his magic to hide Harry and to make him temporarily immobile and mute, so that the Death Eaters will not discover him.

Draco Malfoy arrives first at the scene, his wand pointed at Dumbledore, intent upon killing him. Draco is nervous and shaky – it doesn't look like he'll be able to go through with killing the great wizard. But he's under orders from the Dark Lord, who has specifically stated that no one but Draco is allowed to kill Dumbledore that night. Soon Draco is flanked by his fellow Death Eaters who taunt Dumbledore and urge Draco to pull the trigger. But Draco can't do it. Then Snape arrives. Knowing that powerful Aurors bent on protecting Dumbledore have arrived, Snape kills Dumbledore, sending him tumbling off the edge of the tower.

Harry is overwhelmed with grief. He watches Dumbledore die, and he can't do a thing to save him or help him on account of the protective magic Dumbledore had cast upon him. Harry runs downstairs to get help and finds his friends, teachers, and Aurors fighting the Death Eaters in a violent battle. Blood is everyone, but no one is hurt too badly. The Death Eaters leave, and Harry is unable to stop Snape or to use his magic on him. A crowd has gathered around Dumbledore's body, and Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix, sings a grief-stricken song. The faculty assembles to decide what should be done next, and to consider closing Hogwarts for good.

Dumbledore wished to be buried on school grounds. On the day of his funeral, people from all over the world come to pay their respects. Everyone from the Minister of Magic, to Hagrid's mother, to the mermaids in the lake, to the centaurs in the forest show up to honor the greatest wizard in the world. Deep in his heart, Harry knows what he must do next. He must hunt Voldemort down and destroy each one of his Horcruxes. Ron and Hermione swear to follow and support Harry no matter what. Harry is left with a heavy heart, but with the knowledge that he has good friends.

  • Chapter 1

    The Other Minister

    • The newly elected British Prime Minister waits for a call from the president of a foreign land. He is full of worry as the country has been afflicted with a series of strange, inexplicable tragedies lately, including a bridge collapse and a hurricane. Things are not right.
    • An enchanted portrait requests an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister on behalf of Cornelius Fudge.
    • The Prime Minister isn't too excited about this potential meeting, but he doesn't really have a choice in the matter.
    • Cornelius is flustered. He has recently been replaced as the Minister of Magic by Rufus Scrimgeour.
    • Fudge has come to pay the Prime Minister one last visit and to update him on the state of affairs in the Wizarding world. Things aren't good. He informs the Prime Minister that the bridge collapse and hurricane were caused by magic.
    • "The point is," says Fudge, "we're at war, Prime Minister, and steps must be taken" (1.69).
    • Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Minister of Magic, shows up, meeting with the Prime Minister to introduce himself and to inform him that the Ministry of Magic has decided to take measures to strengthen security around the Prime Minister and his office.
    • At the end of his wits, his mind reeling from all of the bad news doled out to him by both Fudge and Scrimgeour, the Prime Minister cries, "but for heaven's sake – you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out – well – anything!" (1.131).
    • "The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister," replies Scrimgeour (1.132).
  • Chapter 2

    Spinner's End

    • Narcissa Malfoy flees in the dead of night to Snape's house, with Bellatrix Lestrange hot on her heels.
    • Narcissa seeks Snape's help and counsel, but Bellatrix tries to stop her, knowing that she would be going against Voldemort's orders to do so.
    • Snape accepts the two women into his house and orders Wormtail (who Voldemort has sent to Snape as a servant of sorts) to bring some wine.
    • Narcissa wants to tell Snape that Voldemort has ordered Draco to engage upon a dangerous quest, but Bellatrix doesn't trust Snape and tries to keep Narcissa from spilling the beans.
    • As it so happens, Snape already knows about Draco's mission.
    • Narcissa wants Snape to talk to Voldemort and get him to change his mind. Completely beside herself with worry for her son, she cries, "Why, Severus? Why my son? It is too dangerous! This is vengeance for Lucius's mistake, I know it!" (2.129).
    • (Refresher: In Book 5, Lucius led a failed attempt to steal the prophecy about Harry Potter from the Ministry of Magic. He got caught and is now in Azkaban.)
    • Bellatrix and Snape try to tell Narcissa she should be proud that Voldemort has given her son such an important duty.
    • Narcissa asks Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow to protect her son. She makes Snape swear to carry out any task should Draco not be able to do so.
    • Much to Bellatrix's surprise, Snape agrees to all of this.
  • Chapter 3

    Will and Won't

    • We find Harry sound asleep on a summer evening.
    • His room at Privet Drive is strewn with all of his belongings.
    • An article in the Daily Prophet, which lies on Harry's desk, speculates dramatically as to whether Harry is "the Chosen One," having been the only victim ever to survive Voldemort's Killing Curse.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Another article in the Daily Prophet reports on Rufus Scrimgeour's new appointment as Minister of Magic. The article suggests there is already strife and discord between Scrimgeour and Dumbledore.
    • Yet another article tells of the tightened security measures the Ministry of Magic will be enforcing at Hogwarts this year.
    • On the floor of Harry's room, there lies an instructional pamphlet from the Ministry of Magic: "Protecting Your Home And Family Against Dark Forces."
    • A letter from Dumbledore sits next to Harry's alarm clock. It tells Harry that Dumbledore will be picking him up on Friday evening to escort him to the Burrow (the Weasleys' home), where he will spend the remainder of his summer vacation.
    • When Dumbledore arrives that night, the Dursleys are spellbound and fearful.
    • Harry notices that Dumbledore's wand hand is black and dead looking.
    • Dumbledore informs Harry that he has inherited his godfather's house, possessions, money, and house elf, Kreacher.
    • Dumbledore also tells the Dursleys that when Harry turns seventeen in a year's time, he will no longer need to live with them and will be considered an adult. As a child, he has been magically protected in their home. Dumbledore asks the family to continue to allow Harry to return to their home once more before he turns seventeen.
    • Dumbledore is none too pleased about the way in which the Dursleys have treated Harry, and he lets them know this.
    • Harry and Dumbledore leave the Dursleys'.
  • Chapter 4

    Horace Slughorn

    • On their way to the Burrow, Dumbledore takes Harry to visit Horace Slughorn, a former Hogwarts professor.
    • Horace's house is a wreck, almost as if a group of Death Eaters, Voldemort's followers, had trashed it. There's even blood on the walls.
    • They find Horace in the form of a big, overstuffed armchair. Turns out he was trying to make it look like he had been dragged away by Death Eaters.
    • As usual, there's an opening for a new professor at Hogwarts, but Slughorn doesn't want to go back – he loves the comfort of retirement too much.
    • Dumbledore has brought Harry along to meet Slughorn, knowing that the retired teacher loves famous people. Dumbledore conveniently gets up to use the restroom, leaving Slughorn alone with Harry.
    • Harry, without necessarily realizing it, persuades Slughorn to return to Hogwarts. Slughorn is clearly interested in Harry, and also realizes that the safest place during this time of war is in Hogwarts.
    • As Dumbledore and Harry head out into the night, Slughorn tells Dumbledore that he will return to Hogwarts.
    • On their way to the Burrow, Harry and Dumbledore discuss the state of things. Dumbledore proposes that Harry should take private lessons with him this year.
    • This thrills Harry.
    • The two arrive at the Burrow. It is late at night, but lights are still on.
    • Inside, they find Mrs. Weasley and Tonks having some tea – Tonks looks distressed.
    • Tonks decides to leave, and Dumbledore escorts her out, leaving too.
  • Chapter 5

    An Excess of Phlegm

    • Mrs. Weasley rustles up some delicious food for Harry, and the two talk about the state of things at the Ministry.
    • Mrs. Weasley is very worried these days. She carries around a clock with lots of hands – one for every member in her family – which tells her what each person's status is. The hands all point to "mortal peril" and have for a while now.
    • Soon, Mr. Weasley comes home. Harry watches the complex and silly password system that the Ministry has put in place in order to protect Harry while he stays with the Weasleys.
    • The next morning, when Harry wakes up, he tells Hermione and Ron about the prophecy, about his encounter with Slughorn, and about the private lessons he will be having with Dumbledore this year.
    • Fleur Delacour is at the Burrow in the hopes of getting to know the Weasley family a bit better. She and Bill Weasley are engaged.
    • Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, and Hermione can't stand Fleur and her pushy, vain ways. But Ron and Harry can't help but be dazzled by her.
    • The O.W.L. results arrive (results from the big exams Harry, Ron, and Hermione took last year).
    • They all do well on their exams – especially Hermione.
    • However, Harry's less-than-perfect score in Potions reminds him that he won't be able to pursue Potions any longer at the N.E.W.T. level. (N.E.W.T.s are the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests taken by seventh years. They help to determine a wizard or witch's career path.) Harry would need to take N.E.W.T. Potions in order to become an Auror, his life's dream.
    • On a happier note, Harry learns that he's now the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
  • Chapter 6

    Draco's Detour

    • As the Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry travel to Diagon Alley to get outfitted for the school year, they find that it has changed drastically. Lots of shops have closed, and there are Ministry warnings and instructions posted everywhere.
    • They've also been escorted to Diagon Alley by Ministry officials in order to ensure Harry's safety. Once they reach Diagon Alley, Hagrid takes over as their bodyguard.
    • Looking for new robes at Madam Malkin's, Harry, Ron, and Hermione run into Draco Malfoy and his mom, Narcissa.
    • Draco is being fitted for a new robe, and jumps when Madam Malkin touches his left arm.
    • After a bitter verbal fight, during which wands are drawn, Narcissa and Draco leave, saying they'd rather not shop at a place where people like Hermione shop (Hermione is Muggle-born).
    • This really frosts Harry's cookie.
    • Next, Harry, Ron, and Hermione visit Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Fred and George's new joke shop. Despite the hard times and the empty Diagon Alley, the joke shop is packed with customers. It's doing very good business.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione have all kinds of fun browsing through the store. Hermione sees a love potion that looks interesting, and Harry is shown a special line of defense items that the Ministry has been buying up, including a shield charm.

    (Click the map infographic to download.)

    • Harry sees Draco Malfoy walk by the shop, looking extra suspicious. He's clearly bailed on his mom.
    • Using his Invisibility Cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione chase after Draco.
    • They find that he is going to Borgin and Burkes on Knockturn Alley, a sketchy specialty store that buys and sells precious antiques and interesting objects.
    • They try to figure out what Draco is buying or selling, but they can't.
    • Once Draco leaves, Hermione enters the store in the hopes of persuading the owner to tell her what item Draco had been interested in.
    • Mr. Borgin knows she's up to something and doesn't spill the beans.
    • The three return to the Weasleys at the joke shop.
  • Chapter 7

    The Slug Club

    • After what he saw at Borgin and Burkes, Harry is pretty much convinced that Malfoy is a Death Eater working for Voldemort. He thinks that Draco showed Borgin the Dark Mark on his left arm, and that's also why Draco jumped when Madam Malkin touched his arm.
    • Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Harry board the Hogwarts Express, and Harry finds that he is stared at and whispered about everywhere he goes. The fame thing has never been this bad before. Since the incident at the Ministry of Magic last year (in Book 5), the Daily Prophet has been speculating whether Harry is the Chosen One, and everybody is intrigued.
    • Harry rides in a compartment with Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, even though he is invited by a group of admiring girls to sit in their compartment.
    • Slughorn sends Harry an invitation to come to a little get-together in his compartment.
    • Harry nearly dies of boredom and of frustration at Slughorn's gathering. It would seem Slughorn has gathered all of the students with rich or powerful family connections. Ginny Weasley is the only exception – she impressed Slughorn by casing a really great hex on an annoying boy.
    • Slughorn pesters Harry with a bunch of questions about the incident at the Ministry, and whether or not Harry really is the Chosen One. But Harry does his best to avoid answering any of the prying questions.
    • On his way out of Slughorn's compartment, Harry uses his Invisibility Cloak to sneak into Malfoy's compartment. After almost getting caught, he crams himself into the luggage rack.
    • Harry overhears Draco discussing Voldemort and suggesting that he might be working for the Dark Lord.
    • Inadvertently, Harry lets out a little scream when the train approaches the Hogsmeade station. No one seems to notice.
    • When the train stops, everyone clears the compartment except for Malfoy, who knows Harry is there.
    • Malfoy freezes Harry, who falls to the ground, and then stomps on Harry's nose. He leaves Harry, still covered in his Invisibility Cloak.
    • Harry can't move and is filled with hatred for Malfoy.
  • Chapter 8

    Snape Victorious

    • Unable to shout or move, Harry worries that no one will find him frozen on the floor of the Slytherin compartment in the Hogwarts Express.
    • Fortunately, Tonks comes to his rescue. She undoes Malfoy's magic and fixes Harry's broken nose.
    • Tonks is now stationed at Hogsmeade with some other Aurors to provide extra security at Hogwarts.
    • At the gates of Hogwarts, Harry expects to be met by a grumpy Filch, but instead he finds a sneering Snape.
    • Snape escorts Harry to the Great Hall, making obnoxious comments the whole way.
    • Over dinner in the Great Hall, much to Harry's annoyance, people begin asking him about his Chosen One status – it's everyone's favorite subject.
    • During Dumbledore's welcoming speech, he tells the students about the new security measures that have been taken to protect Hogwarts students. There are new rules in place this year as well to ensure that everyone stays safe.
    • Dumbledore also announces that Slughorn will teach Potions and Snape will teach Defense Against the Dark Arts this year. Harry is horrified that his favorite subject will now be taught by Snape.
    • Hagrid greets Harry and Ron, and tells them that Dumbledore has made a nice home in the mountains for his giant brother, Grawp.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione are seized with huge guilt, because neither of them will be taking Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class this year, and neither of them has informed Hagrid of this yet. They know he will be very sad and hurt once he finds out.
  • Chapter 9

    The Half-Blood Prince

    • Lots of stuff happens on the first day of school.
    • Harry discovers that he can, after all, take N.E.W.T. Potions, meaning that his goal of becoming an Auror is again attainable.
    • McGonagall gives Harry the list of students wishing to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team and tells him that he must arrange a tryout soon.
    • In Defense Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.), Snape gives a chilling and unpleasant introduction. He has also redecorated the classroom with portraits of victims who suffered from the Dark Arts.
    • The first lesson is in nonverbal spells. Snape has everyone try to perform a jinx on a partner without speaking a word.
    • Snape sees that Ron, who's partnered with Harry, is struggling, so he shows him how it is done. But Harry instinctively speaks a Shield Charm so powerful that Snape is knocked off kilter.
    • Snape gives Harry detention next Saturday.
    • After D.A.D.A., Harry receives an invitation to his first private lesson with Dumbledore, which will take place the following Saturday evening. Guess he'll have to miss detention with Snape…
    • In Potions class, Slughorn gives the class a contest: they must make a Draught of Living Death potion, a complex undertaking. The student who mixes the best brew will receive a highly prized good luck potion, Felix Felicis.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Draco eagerly sets to work, clearly desperate to win the Felix Felicis.
    • Because Harry didn't think he would be able to take Potions due to his less-than-perfect O.W.L. results, he doesn't have a textbook.
    • Slughorn lets him borrow a used book from the cupboard until Harry can order his own.
    • It turns out this used Potions textbook has lots of helpful notes scribbled in the margins. Harry is happy he has such good luck.
    • With the help of his new textbook, Harry wins the context and, therefore, the Felix Felicis potion.
    • He is elated, but Hermione is not. She thinks that he's cheated and shouldn't follow the handwritten directions in the used textbook.
    • Harry discovers that someone has written in the cover: This Book Is the Property of the Half-Blood Prince.
  • Chapter 10

    The House of Gaunt

    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to figure out who the Half-Blood Prince might be. Hermione suggests that it might be a woman.
    • In the evening, Harry goes to Dumbledore's office for his first private lesson.
    • The two travel by means of the Pensieve into the memory of Bob Ogden.
    • Bob Ogden was an officer working for the Ministry of Magic who has been sent to investigate an illegal instance in which magic had been used on a Muggle.
    • The perpetrator is a shifty, malicious man named Morfin Gaunt who lives in a small, dingy cottage in the woods near a manor house.
    • Once the Gaunts allow Bob Ogden inside, we find that they live in squalor.
    • The head of house, Marvolo Gaunt, is a mangy, mean man who abuses his daughter, Merope, and who refuses to cooperate with Bob Ogden.
    • Marvolo, who speaks in Parseltongue to his children, takes pride in being a pureblood wizard and the descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Merope wears a locket, a Slytherin family heirloom, and Marvolo wears a ring, another heirloom.
    • Bob Ogden is not impressed. It would seem that Morfin has put a hex on a Muggle.
    • The Muggle was Tom Riddle (sound familiar?), who lives in the big manor house near the Gaunts' rundown cottage.
    • When Morfin saw how his sister look longingly at the handsome Tom Riddle as he rode by on his horse one day, he was disgusted with her behavior and hexed the man.
    • The Gaunts are a pureblood family, and the thought of interacting with a Muggle is, to Morfin and Marvolo, sickening. They are full of prejudice and hatred.
    • Marvolo attacks and chases after Bob Ogden.
    • Harry and Dumbledore exit the memory, and Dumbledore tells Harry what happened next: Marvolo is arrested for trying to attack Bob Ogden and is taken to prison. Morfin is also sent to prison for using magic on a Muggle.
    • While they are gone, Merope uses her magic to make Tom Riddle fall in love with her.
    • The two run away, get married, and conceive a child.
    • While she is pregnant, Merope can no longer take knowing that her husband's love for her is the work of a spell. She releases him from the spell in the hopes that he will continue to love her without it.
    • He does not. Tom leaves Merope when she is still pregnant.
    • Merope's heart breaks.
    • Tom and Merope are Voldemort's parents.
    • Marvolo is Voldemort's grandfather.
    • With a sobered and saddened heart, Harry gets up to leave Dumbledore's office. On the way out, he notices the ring that Marvolo was wearing in Bob Ogden's memory. The ring is now cracked.
  • Chapter 11

    Hermione's Helping Hand

    • Harry discovers that Stan Shunpike, a trustworthy bus driver and friend, has been arrested by the Ministry of Magic for being a Death Eater. Harry refuses to believe that Stan could be working for Voldemort.
    • Harry holds Quidditch tryouts and realizes right away how hard it is to be a leader.
    • Katie Bell, Demelza Robins, and Ginny Weasley all make the team.
    • Cormac McLaggen, a brawny seventh year, goes toe to toe with Ron Weasley for the Keeper position on the team, but Ron wins out in the end, saving more goals.
    • McLaggen is furious and nearly takes Harry out.
    • Harry did notice something funny about McLaggen's performance – it was almost as if he had been Confounded.
    • Harry realizes that Hermione used a Confundus charm on McLaggen in order to ensure that Ron would become Keeper.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione visit Hagrid who is very cold and hurt at first, knowing that each one of them has dropped his class this year.
    • Soon, things warm up between the four, and Hagrid returns to his more normal self.
    • What's really been bothering Hagrid is that his long-time friend Aragog, a giant spider who lives in the forest, is dying.
    • Later on, Harry asks Hermione about the Confundus charm and why she intervened with the tryouts. Hermione is defensive, arguing that Harry wouldn't have wanted the hot-tempered McLaggen on the team anyway.
    • Harry receives an invitation to a party Slughorn is throwing, but he is saved by the fact that he has to go to detention with Snapey-Snape.
  • Chapter 12

    Silver and Opals

    • One Saturday morning, Harry tries out a spell scribbled on the margins of his favorite textbook. Immediately, a sleeping Ron across the room is pulled out of his bed and levitates above it, hanging upside down.
    • In the morning, Ron tells Hermione the story of what Harry did to him, which he thinks is hysterical. Hermione, however, doesn't approve.
    • Harry and Hermione bicker about Harry's use of the Half-Blood Prince's textbook. She is not only worried about the ethics of using someone else's book, but she is also worried about the danger of the spells and information inside. She says that the Prince's spells might not be Ministry-approved, and that the Prince seems like a potentially dangerous guy.
    • Later, everyone goes on an outing to Hogsmeade.
    • While on his outing, Harry is confronted by Slughorn, who asks why Harry never comes to any of his parties. Harry blames it on Quidditch practice. Slughorn tries to lock Harry down for another one of his gatherings, but Harry tells him he has an appointment with Dumbledore.
    • Harry sees Mundungus Fletcher outside of the Three Broomsticks tavern.
    • Fletcher drops a suitcase he is carrying, and the contents spill out.
    • Harry realizes that Fletcher has been pilfering items from Sirius Black's house (now Harry's house) at Grimmauld Place.
    • This realization sends Harry into a fury and he attacks Fletcher, but Fletcher gets away before Harry can do anything.
    • Once inside the tavern, Ron and Hermione try to calm Harry down with some butterbeer, but Harry is thoroughly shaken at the thought that someone might be stealing and selling his dead godfather's possessions.
    • Finally, the three decide that they've had enough.
    • They leave the Three Broomsticks and brave the dismal weather, following close behind Katie Bell and her friend.
    • Katie Bell and her friend get into an argument as they are walking. Katie is holding a package. The package falls to the ground and Katie is immediately levitated into the sky, and she is writhing in pain and agony.
    • Below her there is an opal necklace peeping through the packaging.
    • Harry runs to get help, which comes in the form of Hagrid.
    • Hagrid rushes Katie to Hogwarts for medical attention.
    • It would seem someone at the Three Broomsticks someone used an Imperius curse on Katie (to control her). Her friend tells Harry that Katie looked all funny when she came out of the bathroom at the tavern, and that she was carrying a mysterious package, which she was supposed to deliver to someone in Hogwarts. When the package tore open, Katie must have touched the cursed necklace inside it.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Harry realizes that he has seen the necklace before at Borgin and Burkes, and he has a feeling Draco has something to do with this whole incident.
    • Harry tells Professor McGonagall his suspicions that Draco was the one to give Katie the necklace, but McGonagall tells Harry that Draco was in detention with her during the incident.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione hypothesize whom the necklace was meant for. Who was the original target?
  • Chapter 13

    The Secret Riddle

    • Another private lesson with Dumbledore, and more quality time spent with the Pensieve. This time Harry and Dumbledore will encounter a young Tom Riddle at his orphanage.
    • Dumbledore tells Harry that once Tom Riddle, Sr. left Merope, she sold the Slytherin family locket at Borgin and Burkes in order to get some money. She then gave birth to Tom, Jr. (a.k.a. Voldemort) at an orphanage, but died soon after.
    • We travel into Dumbledore's own memory this time. We watch as a young Dumbledore presents himself to the head of the Muggle orphanage where Tom Riddle, Jr. lives and tells the woman, Mrs. Cole, that he would like to offer Tom a place at Hogwarts.
    • With the help of some gin, Mrs. Cole opens right up to Dumbledore. She tells him that Tom is a bit "odd" and that he is a bully.
    • She relates a story of how, on a summer outing by the ocean one day, Tom took two of his fellow orphans into a cave. When the two came out of the cave, they were never the same again, and they never told anyone what had happened. Tom also seems responsible for hanging and killing another child's pet rabbit.
    • Dumbledore meets young Tom in person, and finds him to be a defensive, combative little boy.
    • When Dumbledore offers him a spot at Hogwarts, young Tom is immediately suspicious that Dumbledore means to take him away to an asylum.
    • Tom tells Dumbledore about the things he can do, the ways he can manipulate the world around him, the power he has over others.
    • Dumbledore explains to the young boy that he is a wizard, and this delights Tom immeasurably. He always knew he had special powers.
    • The boy also has a stash of items that he's stolen from other children. Dumbledore warns him that his bad behavior and mean-spirited use of magic will not be tolerated at Hogwarts.
    • Young Tom doesn't want any of Dumbledore's help in getting his school supplies and in getting outfitted for Hogwarts. Dumbledore gives him some money, though, and tells Tom where to find Diagon Alley.
    • Dumbledore notices that Tom doesn't seem to like his name because it is so common.
    • When Harry and Dumbledore return from the memory, Dumbledore asks Harry to keep three things in mind about Tom Riddle:
      1. He hates his name, for it makes him seem ordinary, and he desperately wants to think of himself as special.
      2. He likes to work alone and doesn't have any friends. He's very independent.
      3. He likes to collect trinkets and trophies, reminders of his victims and of the deeds he has done.
  • Chapter 14

    Felix Felicis

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • In Herbology class the next morning, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have way too much to talk about to be able to focus on juicing Snargaluff pods.
    • Harry tries to pretend he's busy hunting pods while Hermione and Ron get into an argument over Slughorn's holiday party.
    • Ron thinks Slughorn's parties are ridiculous, mainly because he never gets invited to them. He's a bit jealous, and taunts Hermione for entertaining the thought of going to the party.
    • Once Hermione is able to get a word in, she tells him that everyone invited to the holiday party gets to bring a guest and that she was planning on asking Ron all along.
    • This shuts Ron up, and makes him quite content and happy, although they both blush a lot.
    • Harry begins to take note of the romantic vibes between Hermione and Ron.
    • Later on, Harry and Ron encounter Ginny and Dean making out in the doorway of the Gryffindor Tower. This makes Ron furious and Harry strangely jealous.
    • Ron and Ginny get into a screaming match in which Ron tells her she's embarrassing him with her PDA (public display of affection), and in which Ginny tells Ron he's only jealous because he's never kissed ("snogged") anyone before. She points out that Hermione has made out with someone before (Victor Krum), which really bothers Ron.
    • The next day, Ron is in a bad mood. At Quidditch practice, he's screaming at people, losing his temper, and, worst of all, he's playing really badly.
    • The match against Slytherin looms large, but by the end of practice, everyone on the team feels discouraged (none more than Ron himself).
    • Feeling like a bigtime loser, Ron tries to quit the team. Harry won't let him.
    • The morning of the Quidditch match, Harry decides to pretend to lace Ron's pumpkin juice with the good luck potion he won in Potions class.
    • Hermione is outraged since using Felix Felicis is illegal for sports games, and she feels it's totally unethical.
    • Ron is relieved, though. He has the best game of his life and leads the team to victory.
    • After the game, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he actually didn't put any potion at all into Ron's juice. Ron was victorious all on his own.
    • Ron is pleased, but mad that Hermione thinks he couldn't have done a good job without the help of the potion.
    • All of Gryffindor is celebrating the win in the common room, and Harry and Hermione watch as Ron makes out hardcore with Lavender Brown.
    • Hermione disappears, and Harry follows her, finding her in a classroom.
    • She is sitting by herself with a halo of yellow, twittering birds around her head.
    • She tells Harry that everything is just fine and that she is A-OK. A big fat lie.
    • Seeking a place to make out in private, Ron and Lavender accidentally stumble upon Harry and Hermione in the classroom.
    • Hermione leaves the classroom, sending her twittering birds to attack Ron's head.
  • Chapter 15

    The Unbreakable Vow

    • Things are not good on the friendship front, but Harry tries hard to be a friend to both Ron and Hermione without getting into the middle of their argument.
    • As the buzz of Slughorn's holiday party gathers steam, all kinds of girls begin batting their eyelashes at Harry in the hopes that he will ask them as his date.
    • Romilda Vane tries to slip Harry a love potion, but Hermione warns him about it in advance.
    • Hoping to escape the hungry wolves, Harry asks Luna Lovegood to come to Slughorn's party with him as a friend. Luna is delighted.
    • Hermione, however, decides to go with McLaggen (the runner-up for the Keeper position) just to make Ron mad.
    • At Slughorn's party, Harry spends most of the time avoiding conversations with fame-loving celebrities or with Hogwarts professors.
    • Draco Malfoy has been caught wandering around the hallways at night, and claims that he was heading to Slughorn's party. He wasn't invited, but Slughorn cordially allows him to remain.
    • Snape, who's also at the party, tells Malfoy he would like to speak with him in private.
    • Harry rustles up his Invisibility Cloak and follows the two to an empty classroom. There, he overhears Snape interrogating Draco about a plan, and Draco tells Snape to butt out of his business.
    • Snape says, "I swore to your mother I would protect you. I made the Unbreakable Vow, Draco –" (15.188).
    • Draco responds, "Looks like you'll have to break it, then, because I don't need your protection!" (15.189).
    • Though he doesn't get any information on what kind of plan Draco is cooking up, Harry does feel like he's getting closer and closer to the truth.
  • Chapter 16

    A Very Frosty Christmas

    • Ron and Harry go to the Burrow for the holidays.
    • Harry's mind is racing about Malfoy and Snape, and he can't help but tell everyone about what he has learned and about his suspicions.
    • Mr. Weasley tells Harry that Snape was probably just pretending to be on Voldemort's side so that he could discover more about what Draco is up to.
    • Remus Lupin tells Harry to drop it: if Dumbledore trusts Snape, then so should they.
    • Harry wonders how Lupin could not hold a grudge against Snape, considering Snape exposed Lupin's werewolf side which got Lupin fired from Hogwarts.
    • Lupin responds that, in spite of this, Snape also made him a Wolfsbane potion every month so that Lupin would not have to suffer under the full moon.
    • Lupin tells Harry about Fenrir Greyback, the leader of the werewolves and a vicious being. Fenrir likes to bite children so that they grow up to be werewolves. Fenrir is responsible for Lupin's becoming a werewolf, having bitten him when Lupin was just a child. Fenrir is allies with Voldemort.
    • Lately, Lupin has been living with werewolves in order to better spy on their actions, and hopefully convince some of them to side with Dumbledore.
    • Soon after, Percy Weasley and Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, make a special visit to the Burrow while the family is in the middle of dinner.
    • Mrs. Weasley, who hasn't seen Percy in a long time, is beside herself with joy that he has finally come home.
    • But Percy doesn't seem too happy to see his family.
    • We come to find out that the real purpose of Percy and Scrimgeour's visit is to give the Minister a chance to speak with Harry Potter alone.
    • Outside in the garden, Scrimgeour plies Harry with lots of questions about the prophecy, whether or not he is the Chosen One, and about the things Dumbledore has told Harry.
    • Harry doesn't like this and avoids answering Scrimgeour's prying questions in detail.
    • Scrimgeour gets to the point of his interrogation – he is hoping that Harry will become a kind of ally of the Ministry of Magic. He believes that if the public knows that Harry Potter supports the Ministry, they will too.
    • Harry doesn't like what the Minister is getting at. He feels like he's being manipulated and used.
    • The Minister then tries to win Harry over by promising to help him become an Auror – another proposal Harry finds manipulative.
    • Harry tells the Minister he doesn't want anything to do with a government that arrests people just for the sake of giving the appearance that they are making progress in the war.
    • The Minister accuses Harry of being "Dumbledore's man through and through" (17.83), to which Harry replies, "Yeah, I am" (17.84).
    • Scrimgeour leaves in a huff.
    • Harry is furious.
  • Chapter 17

    A Sluggish Memory

    • Back at Hogwarts, everyone seems to have the winter blues.
    • Ron is starting to get a little overwhelmed by Lavender's affections.
    • There's also trouble in paradise for Ginny and Dean.
    • Fortunately for the sixth years, Apparition lessons are on the way, proving to be a good distraction. Apparition is a means of transportation in the Wizarding world in which a wizard can travel instantly from one place to another via magic. In order to be able to Apparate legally, a wizard or witch has to be at least seventeen years old and pass a test. The sixth years will soon be able to learn how to Apparate in preparation for the test.
    • Ron is elated by this prospect.
    • Harry returns to Dumbledore's office for another private lesson.
    • He tells Dumbledore about his rough encounter with Scrimgeour, and Dumbledore is moved by Harry's loyalty to him and by Harry's unwillingness to divulge any of Dumbledore's information to the Minister.
    • Harry and Dumbledore travel into the Pensieve to see two memories.
    • The first memory Dumbledore secured from Morfin Gaunt before he died in Azkaban Prison. In it we see Voldemort seeking out the Gaunt family home and encountering his uncle, Morfin, there.
    • Morfin is as mean and wild as ever, and mistakes Voldemort for Tom Riddle, Sr. until Voldemort starts speaking to him in Parseltongue.
    • Morfin tells Voldemort about the Gaunt family history, pointing out the prized Gaunt ring on his finger. He also tells Voldemort where Tom Riddle, Sr. lives.
    • But then the scene goes black. The memory ends.
    • According to Dumbledore, the next thing Morfin knew, he was lying on the floor of the house, his ring gone.
    • Morfin, a known Muggle hater, was charged with the murder of Tom Riddle, Sr. and his parents.
    • Dumbledore can only guess what went on, but he believes that, after visiting Morfin, Voldemort went to the manor house where he found his father and his father's parents. He killed all three Muggles.
    • Dumbledore believes that Voldemort cast a spell on Morfin, causing him to forget Voldemort's actions, and believe that he himself had killed the Riddles. Morfin even confessed to murdering the Riddle family.
    • Lastly, Dumbledore knows that Voldemort stole the Gaunt family ring.
    • Next, Dumbledore and Harry travel into the Pensieve to examine a memory of young Tom Riddle during his time at Hogwarts.
    • In it we see a group of boys gathered at Slughorn's for a casual party. Tom is clearly the leader of the group, and he's also wearing the Gaunt family ring, which means he's already killed the Riddles.
    • Tom Riddle asks Slughorn what a Horcrux is, and, before we can hear the reply, a fog fills the memory.
    • It would seem that Slughorn has put up a wall preventing anyone from seeing what comes next. Slughorn has refused to give Dumbledore the full, original memory.
    • Dumbledore gives Harry a very serious and very important homework assignment: to retrieve the full memory from Slughorn at all costs.
  • Chapter 18

    Birthday Surprises

    • The next day in Potions class, the Half-Blood Prince lets Harry down at first by not providing any hints on how to make an antidote for a poison. However, as an alternative, the Prince notes that you can just use a bezoar to cure a poisoned person.
    • Slughorn is charmed by "Harry's" cheeky bezoar solution, but still thinks Harry should learn to brew an antidote potion.
    • After class, Harry corners Slughorn and asks the Potions professor about Horcruxes.
    • Slughorn quickly clues in to the fact that Dumbledore has sent Harry to collect his Horcrux memory. He nervously tells Harry that there is no other part of the memory, and flees the classroom as quickly as possible.
    • Harry realizes that getting that memory is going to be way harder than he thought.
    • Later on, the sixth years have their first Apparition lesson in the Great Hall. Apparating proves to be very, very tricky, and no one seems to be able to do it at first.
    • Harry overhears Malfoy talking to Crabbe, telling him "it's taking longer than I thought" and instructing him and Goyle to continue to keep "a lookout" (18.77).
    • Harry is immediately suspicious and begins to check his Marauder's Map religiously for signs of Draco's whereabouts. To Harry's confusion, Draco often doesn't show up on the map.
    • Soon after, Ron's birthday arrives. As Ron explores the stack of presents next to his bed on his birthday morning, he stumbles across a box of chocolates and begins eating them.
    • Unfortunately, the chocolates were Harry's chocolates that he had pulled out of his trunk while retrieving the Marauder's Map.
    • The chocolates contain a love potion that Romilda Vane cooked up for Harry when she wanted him to ask her to be his date to Slughorn's holiday party.
    • Ron falls fast and hard for Romilda. Because it's been a few months since the potion was concocted, it's only gotten stronger.
    • Harry decides to take Ron to Slughorn's office immediately, before Ron can do any damage.
    • Slughorn, though still wary of Harry, agrees to help. He gives Ron an antidote.
    • Ron begins to feel better and drinks some mead that Slughorn gives him.
    • Ron immediately begins to twitch and convulse; he's been poisoned.
    • Harry recalls the Half-Blood Prince's tip on poison antidotes and thrusts a bezoar into Ron's mouth.
  • Chapter 19

    Elf Tales

    • Later that night, everyone comes to visit Ron in Madam Pomfrey's infirmary: Hagrid, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Fred, and George.
    • Hermione has gotten over being mad at Ron, and now she's just worried about him.
    • Everyone tries to figure out why Slughorn would have poisoned Ron, or why he would have wine that was poisoned in his possession. How did he get the poisoned drink past Filch?
    • Harry remembers that the wine was a Christmas present that Slughorn had meant to give to Dumbledore.
    • Everyone begins to see that the incident with the opal necklace and Katie Bell's injury is most likely linked to the poisoning of Ron. Both the necklace and the wine were meant to get to somebody in Hogwarts, but in both cases they ended up in the wrong hands.
    • It would seem that the sender of these items does not care about who gets hurt along the way.
    • Hagrid tells Harry that he overheard Dumbledore and Snape having an argument. Snape told Dumbledore that he doesn't want to do something anymore and that he feels Dumbledore takes people for granted.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arrive on the scene kissing and hugging everyone around. They are incredibly worried about Ron but relieved to know that he is OK. They thank Harry profusely for saving Ron's life.
    • Now that Ron is out sick, the Gryffindor Quidditch team needs a new Keeper.
    • Harry allows Cormac McLaggen, the runner-up for the position, to temporarily take Ron's place.
    • Cormac proves to be a terror on the Quidditch field: he yells at people, bosses his teammates around, and doesn't listen to Harry.
    • It's a rough time for the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
    • On the way to his Quidditch match that weekend, Harry runs into Malfoy flanked by two young girls. They are going the opposite direction, which is odd, because all of Hogwarts gathers for a Quidditch match – it's the place to be.
    • The match is a disaster. McLaggen is a terrible team player, and Gryffindor loses terribly. In the process, McLaggen manages to crack Harry's skull, sending Harry straight to the infirmary.
    • Harry and Ron hang out in the infirmary together, but Harry's mind is racing with the information he's recently gathered about Malfoy and Snape. He is frustrated that he's confined to a bed, as there is so much he needs to do in the way of investigating Malfoy.
    • Ron tells Harry that he's getting a bit obsessed over this whole Malfoy thing.
    • Harry summons his house elf Kreacher and his elf friend Dobby and asks the two to tail Malfoy and to report back on his actions and whereabouts.
  • Chapter 20

    Lord Voldemort's Request

    • Couples are falling apart everywhere: Ginny and Dean are locked in a heated argument, and Lavender and Ron (much to Hermione's delight) are also on shaky ground.
    • Harry is summoned to his next lesson in Dumbledore's office where he finds Professor Trelawney. She's angry that she's not the only Divination professor, and she threatens to quit.
    • When Trelawney leaves, Dumbledore asks Harry if he has procured the Horcrux memory yet.
    • Harry has not and tells Dumbledore, and lamely says that he's been busy with other things.
    • Dumbledore grows stern and serious, reiterating to Harry just how important and vital that particular memory is. He implores Harry again to do everything in his power to retrieve the memory from Slughorn.
    • Dumbledore and Harry use the Pensieve to travel into two memories.
    • The first memory is of a young Voldemort who works at Borgin and Burkes.
    • At this time, Voldemort's job is to travel from house to house, convincing witches and wizards to sell their prized possessions and family heirlooms to Borgin and Burkes.
    • Here, we find him visiting Hepzibah Smith, a wealthy, elderly witch.
    • Hepzibah, who's clearly enamored of the handsome, young Voldemort, shows him her two most prized treasures: the golden Hufflepuff cup and the golden Slytherin locket.
    • Both items are ancient and are extraordinarily precious. Voldemort's eyes flash red at the sight of them, and it's obvious that he wants them desperately.
    • The memory ends.
    • Dumbledore tells us that two days later, Hepzibah was found dead, her treasures stolen, and her house elf, Hokey, blamed.
    • This is apparently the first time that Voldemort kills for gain instead of out of revenge.
    • Next, we travel into Dumbledore's memory of encountering Voldemort at Hogwarts some ten years after the Dark Lord had himself graduated from the school.
    • In this memory we see Voldemort ask Dumbledore for a teaching position at Hogwarts, a request Voldemort made once before when he had just graduated.
    • Through a series of questions, Dumbledore is able to discern that Voldemort doesn't really want to teach young wizards and witches – he wants to influence them and to be near the powerful knowledge that Hogwarts holds.
    • Dumbledore implies that he knows about the evil deeds Voldemort has carried out over the last ten years, and he tells Voldemort that it is clear he still hasn't learned the power of love.
    • Voldemort tells Dumbledore he hasn't found any evidence in the world suggesting that love is powerful or important. Voldemort tells Dumbledore that he has pushed the boundaries of magic in a way no wizard has ever done before.
    • This freaks Dumbledore out a little bit, but he doesn't lose his cool. He expresses regret at having been unable to help Voldemort start a new leaf and find love in the world.
    • As a result of Dumbledore's refusal to give Voldemort that Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching job that Voldemort so wanted, Hogwarts has never since been able to keep a D.A.D.A. professor for longer than one year.
  • Chapter 21

    The Unknowable Room

    • There's plenty to discuss these days in the Gryffindor common room with the Apparition test looming large, with Ron and Lavender on the rocks, and with the Horcrux memory yet to be collected.
    • Kreacher and Dobby report that Malfoy has been using the Room of Requirement, and Harry realizes that Malfoy has also been dipping into the Hogwarts supply of Polyjuice Potion in order to disguise his cronies, Crabbe and Goyle, as little girls so that they can inconspicuously keep a lookout while Draco conducts business in the secret room.
    • Harry tries several times to open the Room of Requirement (which requires great brainpower and the right frame of mind), but he is unsuccessful.
    • Moaning Myrtle tells Harry about a boy who has become her friend. This particular boy comes to hang out with her and to cry to her.
    • Harry discovers Tonks near the Room of Requirement one day. She doesn't look very healthy – she looks stressed and sad. Harry wonders whether she was in love with Sirius and if her strange, distracted behavior and disheveled appearance are a sign of her grief for him.
  • Chapter 22

    After the Burial

    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione receive a tear-stained note from Hagrid telling them that Aragog, his giant spider friend, has died. Hagrid is clearly upset and asks them to come help him bury his good friend.
    • The three aren't too keen on the idea, considering it would be violating Hogwarts rules to sneak out of the school walls after dark, and they're busy with plenty of other things. They have a hard time understanding how Hagrid could've loved a freaky, giant spider so much.
    • Ron and Hermione take their Apparition test. Harry is not yet seventeen, and so he isn't qualified to take the test yet. Because most of his classmates are taking the test, Harry is one of the few students in Potions class that day.
    • As soon as Potions ends, Harry tries again to ask Slughorn for the Horcrux memory, but to no avail.
    • Harry returns to the common room to discover that Hermione has passed her Apparition test, but Ron has not due to an eyebrow that got left behind while he was Apparating.
    • Hermione helps Harry strategize about how best to get the Horcrux memory from Slughorn, and Ron has the brilliant idea that Harry should drink a bit of his Felix Felicis (good luck potion) and to seek out the memory that way.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Once Harry drinks a bit of the potion, he knows what he must do: he has to go to Hagrid's house and help him bury Aragog. This seems like a bad plan to Hermione and Ron, but Harry knows in his gut that this is the right path to take.
    • On his way to Hagrid's, Harry runs into Slughorn who agrees to come with Harry and help bury Aragog (Aragog's venom is worth lots of Galleons, and Slughorn can't resist).
    • Hagrid is delighted to see Harry and Slughorn.
    • After a nice burial, the three retire to Hagrid's house where they sit around the table and tell stories to pass the time and to cheer up Hagrid.
    • Lots of wine is shared, but Harry knows not to drink a drop but to remain totally coherent and sober.
    • As Slughorn and Hagrid become more and more sloshed and jovial, Harry begins to ask Slughorn for the Horcrux memory.
    • Slughorn is at first reluctant, but when Harry tells him that he needs the memory because he has to fight Voldemort, Slughorn gives in.
    • We learn that the crux of Slughorn's reluctance to give up the Horcrux memory lies in the fact that he has huge guilt about what it reveals about him.
  • Chapter 23

    Horcruxes

    • Harry returns to the castle immediately after getting the Horcrux memory from Slughorn. He feels the good luck potion wearing off.
    • Upon hearing from the portrait of the Fat Lady (who guards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower) that Dumbledore is back at Hogwarts, Harry turns around and rushes straight to Dumbledore's office.
    • Dumbledore is thrilled that Harry has procured the Horcrux memory.
    • The two travel through the Pensieve into Slughorn's memory.
    • There they watch as Slughorn holds court over the same gathering of students.
    • Then, we watch as, once everyone leaves Slughorn's party, Voldemort remains.
    • He acts all innocent and charming while asking Slughorn to tell him what a Horcrux is.
    • "A Horcrux is a word used for an object in which a person has concealed part of their soul" (23.52).
    • But Voldemort wants to know more. He's very curious about how a Horcrux is made.
    • "'Well, you split your soul, you see,' said Slughorn, 'and hide a part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one's body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged'" (23.55).
    • We watch as a young Voldemort's eyes twinkle upon hearing this information.
    • Slughorn goes on to tell him that one is able to split one's soul only by performing the ultimate act of evil – by killing another person.
    • Voldemort eagerly asks Slughorn whether a wizard would be more powerful if he made multiple Horcruxes and split his soul into, say, seven pieces hidden in seven different places.
    • Slughorn is freaked out and horrified by this question, for splitting one's soul more than once would require killing more than once.
    • The memory ends.
    • This scene confirms Dumbledore's theory. He tells Harry that when Voldemort was at Hogwarts he was planning a way to become immortal. Dumbledore believes that Voldemort did indeed create seven Horcruxes and that six lie hidden somewhere outside of his body.
    • Dumbledore believes that Tom Riddle's diary was a Horcrux (which Harry encountered and destroyed in Book 2), and Harry discovers that Dumbledore has already destroyed a second Horcrux hidden in the form of the Gaunt ring (explaining Dumbledore's blackened hand).
    • This leaves four Horcruxes left to be destroyed and Voldemort himself.
    • Harry and Dumbledore begin to speculate about what vessels Voldemort used for the four Horcruxes: Hufflepuff's cup, Slytherin's locket, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw objects, maybe even Nagini the snake.
    • Harry discovers that Dumbledore's recent absences have been due to his quest to find and destroy these Horcruxes.
    • Dumbledore tells Harry that when he next goes in search of a Horcrux, Harry may come with him.
    • Dumbledore also tells Harry that Voldemort likely does not know when a Horcrux has been destroyed.
    • Dumbledore reminds Harry that even though Voldemort is greatly weakened on account of a diminished soul, his powers remain intact. "It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort" (23.138).
    • Harry begins to worry that he doesn't have the uncommon skill and power necessary to defeat Voldemort, but Dumbledore tells him that his ability to love makes him a uniquely powerful wizard.
    • Just as Harry is about to dismiss this idea, Dumbledore launches into a passionate dialogue through which he hopes to teach Harry why his ability to love is so important and so powerful.
    • He tells Harry that the prophecy of the Chosen One is only powerful because Voldemort chose to make it powerful. And Voldemort's decision to pay attention to the prophecy has led to him creating his own worst enemy: Harry.
    • Dumbledore emphasizes the importance of choice, and assures Harry that he does have a choice with regards to the prophecy.
    • Harry realizes that he wants to defeat Voldemort at all costs, regardless of what the prophecy says.
    • Harry recognizes at the end of this chapter that his quest to defeat Voldemort is a choice not a given, and he chooses that quest willingly.
  • Chapter 24

    Sectumsempra

    • Ron and Lavender finally break up, and so do Ginny and Dean.
    • Katie Bell returns to Hogwarts, completely mended, though she can't remember anything about who gave her the cursed opal necklace.
    • Everyone is gearing up for the final Quidditch match of the year.
    • Harry continues to check the Marauder's Map every chance he gets.
    • One day, he sees that Malfoy is up in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
    • Harry immediately goes to the bathroom in the hopes of overhearing Malfoy and Myrtle's conversation. Malfoy is terrified and sobbing.
    • When Malfoy discovers Harry, he attempts to hex Harry. Harry uses a spell he learned from the Half-Blood Prince (but which he had never used before). The spell proves to be incredibly dangerous and slashes Malfoy apart, causing blood to spill everywhere.
    • As Myrtle screams, Snape arrives on the scene and helps close Malfoy's wounds. Before he takes Malfoy to get medical care, he tells Harry to wait for him in the bathroom.
    • When Snape returns, we learn that Harry has used a bit of Dark Magic. Hoping to find out how Harry learned such a spell, Snape commands him to bring him every single one of his schoolbooks.
    • Scared to lose his Half-Blood Prince, Harry borrows Ron's Potions textbook instead. Snape doesn't seem to believe Harry's lie that Ron's book is really his, and sentences Harry to detention every Saturday for the rest of the school year.
    • This means that Harry won't be able to compete in the final Quidditch match of the year, taking place this Saturday.
    • As Harry is locked away in the dungeon for detention far from the Quidditch field on game day, he can't tell whether Gryffindor is winning or losing. When his detention ends, he returns to the Gryffindor common room to find the entire house celebrating: Gryffindor has won!
    • In a moment of elation, Harry kisses Ginny Weasley in front of the entire house, and so begins their romance.
  • Chapter 25

    The Seer Overheard

    • Hermione's library sleuthing has helped her get closer to discovering who the Half-Blood Prince is. She finds a newspaper article revealing that there was a witch at Hogwarts named Eileen Prince. Hermione says that maybe the Half-Blood Prince was a woman. Harry strongly disagrees.
    • Dumbledore summons Harry to his office, and along the way, Harry encounters Professor Trelawney who is a bit tipsy and a bit confused. She has a tendency to hide her sherry bottles in the Room of Requirement, but when she just recently entered the Room, there was someone else in there.
    • Harry is curious and suspects that the voice Trelawney heard in the Room belonged to Draco.
    • Trelawney tells Harry that the voice she heard seemed to be cheering; it seemed to be very happy.
    • Harry urges Trelawney to tell Dumbledore the story she has just related, and the two set off for Dumbledore's office.
    • Along the way, Trelawney relates the story of having told the prophecy of the Chosen One at her job interview in Hogsmeade. She tells Harry that Snape, of all people, happened to be eavesdropping on the other side of the door during her interview.
    • This sends Harry into a blind fury. He realizes that it was Snape who was responsible for delivering this prophecy to Voldemort, which led to the death of his parents.
    • Harry rushes off to Dumbledore's office, furious that Dumbledore has never before told him that Snape overheard the prophecy.
    • Dumbledore tells Harry that he has found a Horcrux and asks if Harry would like to come with him to retrieve it.
    • Harry tells him he would like to come, but anger at Snape is still boiling underneath the surface of Harry's words.
    • When Dumbledore asks Harry what is wrong, Harry tells him what he has just learned about Snape from Trelawney.
    • Dumbledore is quiet at first and then begins to explain to Harry the guilt Snape has since felt at having had a hand in the death of Harry's parents. He tells Harry that, yes, Snape worked for Voldemort at the time, but he had soon after left the Dark Lord. He also tells Harry that he trusts Snape completely.
    • Harry does not.
    • Things are tense in Dumbledore's office. He tells Harry to go retrieve his Invisibility Cloak and to meet him back in the office in five minutes. They will set off to find the Horcrux immediately.
    • As Harry packs up his things back in his dorm room, he gives Ron and Hermione the Marauder's Map and the good luck potion. He tells them to watch Draco carefully and to drink some of the potion (Ginny too) should any harm come to them while he is away.
    • Harry is clearly worried that Draco's joyful shout means that something terrible will happen tonight.
  • Chapter 26

    The Cave

    • The Horcrux that Dumbledore has discovered lies in the very same cave where a young Tom Riddle terrorized two of his fellow orphans. Voldemort is sentimental like that.
    • Down a craggy cliff, amid crashing waves, Dumbledore and Harry enter the cave.
    • Dumbledore uses magic to help him find his way to the Horcrux.
    • They arrive at a little alcove in the cave, and Dumbledore identifies a doorway hidden in the cave's wall.
    • Dumbledore sacrifices some of his blood to the wall, and the door reveals itself and opens.
    • Once inside, Harry and Dumbledore find a massive, pitch-black lake. The only light comes from a little green glow that sits on an island in the middle of the lake. This, Dumbledore believes, is the Horcrux.
    • Dumbledore at first doesn't know how to get to the Horcrux, but he knows that there is something strange and dangerous about the water – they should avoid touching it.
    • Dumbledore identifies a secret boat hidden beneath the water. When he pulls the boat up, he urges Harry to do everything he can to not touch the water.
    • As they make their way across the lake, Harry realizes that the lake is full of dead bodies.
    • When they arrive on the tiny island, they find a stone basin filled with liquid.
    • Dumbledore realizes that he must drink the liquid in order to get to the Horcrux.
    • He makes Harry promise to force him to drink all of the liquid, no matter what. It is very important that all of the liquid be drunk.
    • As Dumbledore drinks the liquid he grows more and more sick and more and more weak. He writhes in pain, begs Harry not to make him drink anymore, but Harry, horrified, sticks to the promise he made.
    • Dumbledore cries for water, but the only water to be had is in the lake.
    • Harry takes the cup and dips it in the lake and gives it to Dumbledore.
    • The dead bodies (Inferi) do not like the fact that Harry has touched the water; they begin to climb onto the island and encroach murderously on Harry and Dumbledore.
    • With the basin empty, the greatly weakened Dumbledore grabs the locket that lies at the bottom.
    • Dumbledore can hardly hold himself up, and the dead bodies are getting closer and closer.
    • Dumbledore raises his wand and encircles himself and Harry in a ring of fire.
    • The dead bodies back away.
    • Dumbledore and Harry leave the cave the way they entered.
    • Dumbledore is so weak that Harry has to Apparate them both back to Hogsmeade.
  • Chapter 27

    The Lightning-Struck Tower

    • Upon returning to Hogsmeade, Dumbledore and Harry notice the Dark Mark floats above the tower. This means that Death Eaters have invaded the school.
    • Dumbledore and Harry rush to the tower on some of Madam Rosmerta's brooms.
    • Dumbledore commands Harry to go and fetch Professor Snape, the only person who can cure him, but before Harry can do so, footsteps are heard coming up the stairs.
    • The moment before the door opens, Dumbledore wordlessly immobilizes Harry, who is wearing his Invisibility Cloak. Harry is now hidden and can't move or speak.
    • However, Dumbledore now doesn't have time to defend himself against an Expelliarmus spell, and his wand flies out of his hand. He chose to protect Harry rather than defend himself.
    • Draco Malfoy walks through the door and points his wand at the wandless Dumbledore, indicating that he is bent on killing the great wizard.
    • Malfoy is clearly nervous and shaken, and Dumbledore tries to convince him to leave Voldemort's side and to come over to the "right side" (27.154). He tries to coax Malfoy into realizing that he is not a killer.
    • Before Malfoy can make a choice, other Death Eaters arrive on the scene, including the werewolf Fenrir Greyback.
    • The Death Eaters taunt Dumbledore and urge Malfoy to get it over and done with – kill the great wizard.
    • It becomes clear that Voldemort has given orders that only Malfoy should kill Dumbledore; it is his task.
    • Snape arrives on the scene, and the Death Eaters inform him that Malfoy is unable to kill Dumbledore.
    • Dumbledore pleads with Snape in a voice that frightens Harry.
    • Snape raises his wand and says the killing curse, Avada Kedavra. Dumbledore dies and falls off the Tower wall.
    • "Harry's scream of horror never left him; silent and unmoving, he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air" (27.192).

    (Click the infographic to download.)

  • Chapter 28

    Flight of the Prince

    • Once Dumbledore dies, the Death Eaters flee, and Harry is released from the spell Dumbledore cast on him.
    • Harry tears down the Tower stairs, chasing after Snape and Malfoy, but encounters a raging battle in the Hogwarts halls between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters. Everyone from McGonagall to Neville seems to be fighting. Blood is everywhere, but no one seems to be terribly hurt.
    • The Death Eaters continue to flee, and Harry chases after Snape, who deflects every kind of magic Harry throws at him.
    • Outside on the Hogwarts grounds, Snape prevents the Death Eaters from harming Harry, reminding them that Voldemort commanded that Harry be left alone for him to deal with at a later date.
    • Angry, Harry tries the Prince's Sectumsempra spell on Snape.
    • Snape mocks Harry for using the very spells and magic that he himself invented, confirming that he is, in fact, the Half-Blood Prince.
    • Before Snape leaves, he sets Hagrid's house on fire.
    • Harry helps Hagrid put out the fire, and he tells Hagrid that Dumbledore has died.
    • They rush to the place where Dumbledore's body has fallen.
    • Everyone is overcome with grief.
    • Harry discovers that the Horcrux locket has fallen out of Dumbledore's pocket. After examining the locket, he realizes that it is not the right one. It does not have a Slytherin S on the outside and it does not look like the locket Hepzibah Smith showed Voldemort all of those years before.
    • Inside of the locket is a note to Voldemort from a person whose initials are R.A.B. R.A.B. tells Voldemort that he has destroyed the Horcrux: "I face death in the hopes that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more" (28.201).
    • Harry realizes that Dumbledore weakened himself for no good reason – the Horcrux was a fake.
  • Chapter 29

    The Phoenix Lament

    • Ginny leads a sorrowful Harry to the hospital wing where the Order of the Phoenix has assembled to discuss the battle that has just taken place.
    • Bill Weasley has been bitten and maimed by Fenrir Greyback. Lupin doesn't think that Bill will become a werewolf since Fenrir was in his human form during the attack, but Bill will never look the same, and his wounds will never completely heal.
    • Fleur is not rattled by this information, but pledges her undying love for Bill – an act that comes as a surprise to everyone who knows her. As it turns out, she wasn't in love with the handsome Bill Weasley for superficial reasons.
    • Tonks and Lupin reveal their love for one another. When Lupin tries to tell Tonks that he is too old and dangerous for her, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley urge him to realize the depth of Tonks's love.
    • Professor McGonagall comments that it would have made Dumbledore happier to know that there was more love in the world.
    • Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix, sings a mournful lament. There is no other sound but Fawkes's song.
    • Professor McGonagall summons Harry to her office where she asks him to tell her where he and Dumbledore were that night.
    • Harry does not comply, telling her that information is a secret.
    • The heads of the houses and Hagrid assemble to discuss what happens next and whether Hogwarts should remain open next year.
    • Before Scrimgeour arrives, Harry asks for permission to leave.
    • Back in the Gryffindor Tower, Harry tells Ron and Hermione about the mistaken Horcrux and about the message inside from R.A.B.
    • Harry realizes that Fawkes has stopped singing and that he has left Hogwarts for good.
  • Chapter 30

    The White Tomb

    • Dumbledore's funeral attracts wizards and witches from all across the country. Mermaids of the lake and Centaurs of the forest attend.
    • Everyone has come to honor Dumbledore one last time.
    • Hermione tells Harry that she has found evidence that the witch Eileen Prince was Snape's mother. Snape's father was a Muggle. So it seems that Snape was proud of being part Prince.
    • At the funeral, Dumbledore's body is engulfed in white flames, which leave a white tomb in their wake.
    • Knowing that his life from now on will have to do with defeating Voldemort, Harry realizes that it is too dangerous for Ginny to date him. Worried that Voldemort will harm Ginny, Harry decides to break up with her.
    • Ginny understands this, but their parting is difficult.
    • After the funeral, Scrimgeour tries to get Harry to tell him where he and Dumbledore went the night of Dumbledore's death. He tries to woo Harry with promises of protection.
    • Harry tells Scrimgeour that there's no amount of protection that will keep him safe – Voldemort wants him, and so they'll have to fight. He asks Scrimgeour if he has released Stan Shunpike yet, and Scrimgeour doesn't respond.
    • Harry basically tells Scrimgeour to take a hike.
    • As the funeral party disperses, Harry walks along the lake.
    • He is joined by Ron and Hermione, and tells them he won't be coming back to Hogwarts next year. He needs to continue to hunt down Horcruxes and defeat Voldemort.
    • Ron and Hermione pledge to stand by him no matter what.
    • Harry is filled with peace and a sense of love, in spite of the great loss he feels and even in spite of the dangerous unknown that lies ahead.