The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 7-8: A Trail of Slime

Harry is on his way to Hogwarts again, but to get there, he follows a trail of slime. From someone who voluntarily nicknames his favorite students the Slug Club to Draco “Eat Slugs” Malfoy to the slimiest teacher in all the land (according to Harry), our hero is in for an unpleasant run. 


Harry Potter, for once in his life, is the most right out of anyone in his immediate surroundings. His only problem is, not a one believes him. Not Hermione, not Ron. Harry knows that Draco is up to no good, but he can’t even convince Mr. Weasley that it’s something worth looking into.

So off to Hogwarts it is, without any real assurance that anyone will look into what Draco was keeping on hold at Borgin and Burkes. He’s so distracted by this thought, that he doesn’t fully appreciate Mrs. Weasley’s goodbye. But don’t worry, my heart exploded enough for the both of us.

“You make sure you look after yourself and–” The train was gathering speed. “–be good and–” She was jogging to keep up now. “–stay safe!”

And, wait, before you pick up all your feelings from where they landed after that explosion: When Ginny goes off to sit with Dean without a second thought, Harry feels a twinge of jealousy/sadness – though he labels it “annoyance”.

Enter Neville and Luna, lovely as ever. While at first they think they’re getting stared at just for walking with Harry – newly dubbed, “The Chosen One” by the media – but he points out that their names have been in the papers recently, too. Once they reach their compartment, Neville asks Harry if they would still have D.A. meetings, but Harry said there wasn’t really a point since Umbridge wouldn’t be teaching them – or not teaching them, rather – Defense Against The Dark Arts this year. Oh, sorry, did you just finish picking up those heart pieces again? Let Luna fix it for you.

“I enjoyed the meetings too,” said Luna serenely. “It was like having friends.”

Maybe it’s me, but I feel like this chapter is playing 52 card pickup with my feelings. And I don’t like that game.

Anyway, after sticking up for Neville and Luna by rejecting some twit’s invitation to ditch them, Ron and Hermione join them in their compartment. Ron tells Harry that Malfoy isn’t tormenting first years, like he usually does, and while Hermione tries to shrug it off as inconsequential, Harry eats it up like a clue sandwich. While he’s adding this to his evidence list, someone enters their compartment with an invitation from Professor Slughorn for Harry and Neville to meet him for lunch.

Harry and Neville are the last to arrive in Slughorn’s compartment. There they find a slew of well-connected kids…and Ginny. It becomes clear that most of the people got their invitations because of their last names. Slughorn boasts about each of them, and when he gets to Harry, the kid named Zabini scoffs and Ginny pipes up to Harry’s defense.

That’s when we find out why Ginny is there. Slughorn walked by her performing a Bat-Bogey Hex so impressive that he was compelled to stop and invite her. Now, I don’t know how hard a Bat-Bogey Hex is, but if this fame-whore thought it was good enough to extend her an invitation, you know it’s good. (My favorite thing is that she hexed that jerk from the D.A. Zacharias just for being annoying. With a hex so impressive. I love her? I love her. I recently watched the first few movies and they make me forget how awesome Book Ginny is. But now I’m remembering. Book Ginny is awesome.)

The biggest downfall to not being able to convince Hermione that you’re right, is that you then don’t have Hermione there to tell you when you’re being an idiot. This is the predicament Harry finds himself in, and he decides to use his invisibility cloak to hide out in a Slytherin compartment – not even gracefully, mind you.

This girl definitely never won a game of hide and seek.

What he overhears is that Malfoy wants to leave school and become evil full time. And get this – the other Slytherins are jealous of his Junior Death Eater status. (Side note: I know they SAY that some great witches and wizards have come out of Slytherin but honestly they all seem like big assholes and should probably just have been sent to Azkaban as soon as they were sorted. Or at least some kind of school for the potentially insane. Don’t even try to use Snape as proof against this. Hero or not, he was an asshole. To Harry, Ron, Neville, even Hermione.)

When they get to Hogwarts, Harry gets smacked by some luggage and lets out an audible gasp, but somehow thinks he got away with it. He did not, however, and Malfoy petrificus totaluses him, breaks his nose, throws the invisibility cloak back over him, and steps on his fingers, leaving him for dead.

Okay, I guess it’s possible that the house elves (train elves?) who clean the Hogwarts Express between trips (surely it does more than travel back and forth between Platform 9 3/4 and Hogwarts at start of term and holidays, right?) would have found him in a few hours time. But I don’t know, what if they just do an eyeball sweep for sleeping kids and forgotten luggage until right before the holidays? Harry could have died of thirst before anyone found him. They’d go to tidy the place up before Christmas break and find Harry there, still under his cloak, shriveled like a raisin.


  • Marietta still can’t get Hermione’s SNEAK hex off her face. Don’t mess with Hermione.
  • “Gryffindor and Slytherin students loathed each other on principle.” On what principle?! That Slytherin wizards are generally giant dickheads? And the Gryffindors are usually proving it?
  • Blaise Zabini? That’s what you named your kid? Further proof Syltherins are assholes.
  • It is established in this chapter that Ginny is good looking – even to Zabini, who is apparently picky, probably because he has high cheekbones.
  • I took notes on these chapters while I read them and I have “Harry is an idiot” written more than once. “I get by with a little help from my friends” would be an understatement for him.



I just…I don’t even know.

Please hold, I need to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Eh hem. Where were we? Ah yes, Harry is on the floor of the Hogwarts Express under an invisibility cloak unable to move or speak.

Which, by the way, sounds absolutely terrifying. I don’t think I previously fully appreciated that being cursed with petrificus totalus meant being like in that movie Awake that I couldn’t go see because the previews gave me legitimate mini panic attacks. Or like Willow in the Buffy episode Same Time, Same Place when not only can her friends not hear or see her and she’s totally paralyzed, but also she’s being eaten alive by a super-gross monster thing.

Traumatizing images from my childhood.

Moving on please and thank you. Harry somehow manages to stay relatively calm, considering. Luckily, since he has been put on super-security this year, it’s not long before Tonks finds Harry and gets him off the train. Times have left Tonks sad and worn-looking. No pink hair, no cheery smile. Just business and sadness. When she gets him off the train, she sends a message by patronus to let them know she has Harry and they’re on their way.

When they reach the gate to Hogwarts, Harry tries to use alohomora on the gate. I really wish Hermione had been there to sigh and roll her eyes and quote from Hogwarts, A History. Harry is an idiot.

Snape is the one to come let them in, because he had intercepted the patronus message. He tells Tonks that he notices her patronus has changed and that it looks weak. Which doesn’t help with her cheery attitude.

By the way, how does that work? First of all, the patronus message in general. Everyone’s patronus is an animal, so does it just make animal noises at the person and they magically understand? Tonks didn’t state a message out loud so it’s not like it recorded her voice somehow. Or does the patronus just sort of dive into a person’s head and they just know the message? And the fact that they can change over time intrigues me. Do they always change based on people you love? I know, I know, magic. I’m just so curious. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they change. I have a million more questions about that.

And, no, seriously, why is Hermione’s an otter?

While slimy Snape and Harry are walking to Hogwarts, Harry, still feeling pretty rageful about the Malfoy thing, plus also partially blaming Sirius’s death on Snape, is positively seething. Jo describes it so well:

“Harry felt as though his body was generating waves of hatred so powerful that it seemed incredible that Snape could not feel them burning him.”

At the feast, the rest of the school sees Dumbledore’s dead hand, though he still makes no big thing of it. The headmaster announces that Professor Slughorn is here to teach potions, and that Professor Snape is going to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts (to which Harry exclaims, “NO!” like the teenager he is. It doesn’t matter what he’s teaching you, Harry! He’s still going to be mean to you!)

After the feast, Harry told Ron about Malfoy freezing him and kicking him in the face.

“It was a mark of the strength of their friendship that Ron did not laugh.”

Or the strength of Ron’s…humanity?? That’s not a funny thing?? I guess maybe a younger Ron might have sniggered? But I don’t know, kicking your face so hard it breaks your nose is not funny. Harry tells Ron all the other things he overheard Malfoy say, but Ron is still not entirely convinced that Malfoy is a Junior Death Eater. Maybe because it’s easier to think of him as a regular ol’ bully, maybe because Harry very recently lead them straight into an ambush based on his own theories, but either way, Ron’s going to need more evidence than Malfoy boasting to fellow Slytherins to get him on board Harry’s train of thought.


  • Hermione cleaned the blood of Harry’s nose, no problem, no hesitation. Seriously her and Ginny could rule the world.
  • Nearly Headless Nick telling Ron, “Once again, you show all the sensitivity of a blunt ax” made me laugh pretty hard.
  • The Trio isn’t taking Care of Magical Creatures, and that possibility hadn’t yet occurred to poor Hagrid. 😦
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6 thoughts on “The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 7-8: A Trail of Slime

  1. hannanimal says:

    “Now, I don’t know how hard a Bat-Bogey Hex is, but if this fame-whore thought it was good enough to extend her an invitation, you know it’s good.”

    YES. I love book Ginny so much. The movies just did not do her justice.

  2. Kevin O'Shea says:

    “I’m gonna kick you in the face / I might do it twenty-seven times just in case~”

  3. Dan says:

    Oh, Luna…how can someone who looks so angelic in a giant lion hat rip our hearts out so effortlessly? Though, this bit about the DA being like having friends is nothing compared to the mural on her bedroom ceiling that we see in Deathly Hallows. Oh. God. It hurts just thinking about it!

  4. Jennie says:

    Doesn’t Kingsley send his patronus to Bill and Fleur’s wedding to warm them that “they are coming?” But I still don’t know if his patronus talks or just, like, his voice is amplified somehow.

    Also! That episode of Buffy is legitimately TERRIFYING.


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