Hermione’s Helping Hand

chapter eleven of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Saturday comes, bringing with it news of more disappearances and deaths – as well as Harry’s Gryffindor Quidditch trials. The trials are memorable, but despite Cormac McLaggen’s interference Harry picks a team; then, the trio visits Hagrid, cheering him up over Aragog and his lack of a N.E.W.T. class. Finally they head to dinner, where Hermione privately admits to Confunding McLaggen and Slughorn unsuccessfully invites Harry to dinner.

Hermione (HBP) by Amanda Grazini

“Oh, come on, Harry,” said Hermione, suddenly impatient. “It’s not Quidditch that’s popular, it’s you! You’ve never been more interesting, and frankly, you’ve never been more fanciable.”


Gossip Girls, by Loleia

When they left the Gryffindor table five minutes later to head down to the Quidditch pitch, they passed Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil…. Harry was unsurprised to see that the two best friends were whispering together, looking distressed. What did surprise him was that when Ron drew level with them, Parvati suddenly nudged Lavender, who looked around and gave Ron a wide smile.

(by Loleia)


Afternoon, by Hannah-Dora

Hermione… departed to find a place in the stands…. As Harry had expected, the trials took most of the morning.


He Looked Positively Alarming, by Abagail Larson

But before he could say anything else, the door flew open as Harry had known it would, and there stood Hagrid, glowering down at him and looking, despite the flowery apron, positively alarming.


When the Kids Make Up With Hagrid, Hermione Asks if There's Anything They Can Do to Help with Aragog's Illness, by Drew Graham

“Hagrid,” said Hermione… “we really wanted to carry on with Care of Magical Creatures, you know.”


about the chapter


I always feel so bad for poor Ron in his encounters with Slughorn. He’s spent his whole life in the shadow of his older brothers and his best friend – and we know from his first year that the deepest desire of his heart is to be the best at something. And here’s Slughorn, now completely ignoring him (literally) for the sake of both of his friends, and obviously because he expects them to be more successful. No wonder Ron ends up in a bad mood. Can you even think of anything that would play more on his insecurities?

Something to Remember

Ron will go to bed tonight thinking of his victory in Keeper tryouts, to be sure – but it likely won’t be the only thing on his mind. After all, he doesn’t know what Hermione did to help him out, and if you look at his day from his perspective, he has reason to wonder about his best friends. Hermione started the morning paying Harry incredible compliments and ignoring Ron’s interjections; she and Harry then hung back chatting without him and denied doing so (when Harry was confronting Hermione about Confunding McLaggen), and then the two were invited to a party together at Ron’s exclusion. It’s not hard to read how Ron feels about his interactions with Hermione, and it’s also not hard to imagine how he might feel about Harry and Hermione’s friendship as a result. The question is just, where will these fears of Ron’s lead?

The Final Word

(When asked about all the Hogwarts students who, like Hannah Abbott, lose family members to the war against Voldemort)
“I very consciously wanted to show what is one of the great evils of war, which is that totally innocent people are slaughtered. Another great evil of war is that children lose their families.”–J.K. Rowling, October 2007

23 Responses to “Hermione’s Helping Hand”

  1. Just one curiosity: looks like the Reparo spell manages to fix things even when you swap the fragments of the broken objects.

  2. I just love all the little things I notice on the umpteenth read-through, these books are so rich. Usually I don’t keep up with all the charms and spells the trio learn, but the charm they learn in this chapter will come up in a very suspenseful scene later on, so it triggered something when I came across it.

  3. “Since when have yeh called me ‘sir’?”

    “Since when have you called me ‘Potter’?”

    How the characters address each other is interesting, and I’m sure we American readers miss some subtleties in the dialog, being unfamiliar with British conventions.

    McGonagall and Snape address all male students by their surnames, and all female students as “Miss Surname.” Is this typical of British schools? For a few minutes later in this book, Professor McGonagall addresses Harry as “Harry.” Harry notices this, and notices when she goes back to calling him “Potter.” The changes communicates something to him – that she very briefly views him as a peer, perhaps?

    Lupin and Dumbledore, by contrast, address everyone by their first names. In Harry’s first DADA class with Lupin in book 3, Lupin knows the names of all the students and calls them all by their first names. Both Lupin and Dumbledore are consistent in never referring to anyone by their surname only. They use the first name, or give them the dignity of a title and surname.

    All non-humans in the series (centaurs, elves, and goblins) address Harry as “Harry Potter.” First and last names, no title. Voldemort does this as well – but he brags that he’s not completely human, doesn’t he?

    Jo Rowling’s choices of how to refer to her characters are also interesting. In book 3, Sirius Black is referred to as “Black” until the end of the Shrieking Shack scene, when he becomes “Sirius.” But Lupin remains “Lupin” long after the trio have started calling him “Remus.”

    Just rambling here . . .

  4. At the very top, it says ‘chapter 11 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, not Half-Blood Prince. Just thought I’d mention =)

  5. Billie, once again, your thoroughness is impressive.

    Also, if it’s so easy to confound someone in a Quidditch trial, how come it doesn’t happen more often in a match?

  6. Hmm, good question Anna. You’d think there would be a Shield Charm to defend the players. Maybe they have one up during matches? But then Snape, Quirrell, and Dumbledore have all used spells on Harry from the stands. I guess, in a Muggle world context, it’s comparable to the risk of having spectators throwing bricks or something at NBA basketball players . . . Just a risk the players have to take. ;-)

    I like reading these chapters, where the characters go through their daily lives. It just makes them easy to relate to and care about.

    There is one thing I’m confused about. Why does Lavender walk away grumpy with Parvati after Ron’s tryout? Shouldn’t she be happy her “Won-Won” succeeded?

  7. Roonil: I thought that Lavender was upset because Hermione came running over and started telling Ron what a good job he had done. Lavender saw Hermione as a rival (and with good reason), and maybe she didn’t feel like competing with Hermione for Ron’s attention. She got her chance later, though, didn’t she? :-)

  8. She’s grumpy because Won-Won is leaving the field with Hermione. Her plan had probably been to get to Ron first, in hopes that he’d walk with her back to the castle.

    I LOVE Loleia’s picture of Parvati and Lavender. Lavender’s cupcake pocketbook is a hoot!

  9. “McGonagall and Snape address all male students by their surnames, and all female students as “Miss Surname.” Is this typical of British schools?”

    Not currently. These days, students are almost universally referred to by their first name only. Surnames are seldom used at all. At least, that’s how it’s always been for me in almost 12 years and couting of British schooling. However, I imagine JKR would have drawn more on her own experience than the current situation, and I believe things were somewhat different for her generation. At least, my dad, who is 7 years older than JKR, says he was referred to by just his surname, and my mum, who is 6 years older than JKR, says she was referred to by her first name and surname together.

  10. I teach College, but I would be shocked if a student called me “Ray” instead of Dr. (blank). So, I give them the same respect by calling them Mr. and Miss. Plus I have lots of students with the same given names in classes, very few with the same surnames. The students are my students and not “friends” such that it is inappropriate to call them by their first names. I have a certain affection for them, but there needs to be a line there.
    BTW I loved the cupcake messenger bag. You have to figure even with school uniforms (I never went to a school with uniforms) that inividuality will be expressed in many ways. I always wondere about young women and jewelry as ways of standing out or guys and their ties (if they didn’t have a required tie).

  11. Oh, that makes sense. Thanks Billie!

  12. I think the name thing depends entirely on the school. In general at my school we called all the teachers Mr. X or Mrs Y or Dr Z. They would tend to call us by our first names, they occasionally tried last names but it can get a bit awkward at times if the last name is a adjective. e.g. calling Brown across a multicultural class room is not in general a good idea. Certain people were called by their surnames more often than others even by fellow pupils, though usually in a joking manor. By 6th form interactions with teachers tended to be much more informal in the sense that we would joke around with them alot more, but even then I can’t think of a teacher I’d call by their first name to their face while I was at school. This is just personal experience mind you.

    Saying that the transition to calling a teacher by their first name is a big step. When my favourite teacher, who I’m still in touch with, asked me to do so it felt like a huge step into adulthood. At Uni on the other hand calling lecturers by their first name is encouraged by some and for others it just wouldn’t feel right!

  13. Add me to the list of people who loved the Parvati-Lavender picture! I always thought of them as identical-except-for-the-colour, and that picture beautifully conveys both their personality and their friendship!

    Regarding forms of address – yes, very important clues there! Nowadays Muggle teachers use first names and pupils use Mr/Mrs Surname. However, Hogwarts runs on the line of an old-fashioned boarding school, and wizarding society in general is more conservative.

    We should watch the actions of McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout, who are the three best long-term staff and who are held up to us as examples of good teaching. If they agree about something, then that is the Hogwarts norm. They address the boys as Surname and the girls as Miss Surname, so that is what teachers are meant to do. What about the exceptions?

    Yes, Dumbledore and Lupin do address everyone by their first names, and this is a sign of intimacy. When speaking OF people, they alwyas use an honorific (MR Malfoy, PROFESSOR Snape) and this is a sign of respect.

    Hagrid is inconsistent. He has referred to “Harry and Malfoy” in the same sentence. It’s actually a sign of his lack of professionalism; his personal biases are slipping out.

    Snape sometimes lapses into addressing girls as Surname only. This is bad manners; it shows his disrespect. Similarly, when young James Potter refers to a girl in his own class as “Evans,” this is a sign that he is deliberately creating distance between them!

    Gryffindor students (and probably Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws too, and perhaps even female Slytherins) use first names for personal friensd (usually in their own house) and for all girls, but surnames for boys who are not friends, i.e. Slytherins.

    Male Slytherins, on the other hand, seem to address even their friends by surname (Crabbe, Goyle). This is probably telling us about the nature of Slytherin friendshps: they are not based on personal liking or shared hobbies!

    Addressing someone by his full name is the formality of the law court (“Dean Thomas, stop hurting that mouse!”). It usually only happens if the person is in trouble. Billie’s point that it also occurs in cross-species communication is interesting. In thsi case, “Harry Potter” suggests a formality that is not necessarily unfriendly but lacks the how-may-I-help-you-sir? politeness of “Mr Potter”.

  14. As this is the first time I’m commenting here, I have to thank Josie for creating this amazing web-site. Reading your thoughts have really changed my way to read Harry Potter-books!

    About non-humans addressing humans by their full names: since for example centaurs don’t have surnames, why would they call people only by their first or family name? It’s only my personal opinion, but I believe they think someone’s name is what it is, and there is no reason to shorten it anyhow nor add any titles, no matter how people refer to themselves. It would be very rude if Harry called Firenze ‘Firrie’, so perhaps non-humans think addressing someone by something else than their full name is impolite?

    By the way, I have always found it somehow amusing how people in Hogwarts call each other. Since here in Finland teachers hardly ever call their students by surnames and students can call their teachers anything from first name to nicknames, the way people address each other in English-speaking countries has always seemed to me extremely polite and old-fashioned.

    Oh, and just as a curious addition: since we don’t have a word that’s close enough to ‘sir’, in Finnish translations of Potter book students call their teachers as professors. Only when very hight respect is shown, word ‘sir’ is used (for example when Harry speaks to Dumbledore).

  15. Wow, Grace. I really like how you get the subtleties.

  16. It feels weird for me to read all of these first and surnames- theories. I live in Sweden, and it’s been decades since teachers or students used surnames for eachother. In Sweden every teacher is adressed by their first name, as well as they adress the students with our first names or even nicknames. I guess it creates a more friendly atmosphere, but maybe also disrespect?
    Anyway, just a sidenote. Great chapter, artwork and analysis as always.

  17. I know it’s been a few months, but if Nemo is reading this I’d be curious to know the Finnish translation for the scene between Harry and Snape from a few chapters ago… The one where Harry gets (a totally deserved) detention for telling Snape he didn’t need to call him “sir”… Does translation keep “sir”, then, or do they use “Professor”? It seems like “Professor” would make less sense in that context.

    In Italy we not only address teachers as Professor Surname (or simply Prof., which is more colloquial — so in college it’s always Professor) but we also use the third person formal address, which doesn’t exist in English. Or, rather, it ceased existing when the colloquial form “thee” was dropped (since “you” was the formal address, I guess English is just very, very formal… As in, people Are formal even when speaking to friends and such). Teachers are not friends and, more importantly, are in a position of authority with regards to students, so it makes sense that they’d be addressed formally in school… Even if they happen to be friends or relatives (much as I guess the next generation of Weasley children will call Neville Prof. Longbottom, when at Hogwarts).
    On the contrary, in small schools or when teachers have a close relationships with their students, they might use first names and informal address, but in general (and always in college) they’ll reciprocate with surnames and informal address (although they never use Mr. and very rarely Miss). The great and amusing exception is my Criminal Law Professor, who calls us by name, uses informal address, relates the most extraordinary anecdotes regarding sexual crimes and uses us as foils for his examples.

    One of the (numerous, I must admit) things that drive me up the wall about the Italian translation of the books is the constant inconsistency (!!) in this area: teachers address students as Mr. Potter and Miss Granger but then talk to them in second person informal… Which makes no sense at all!! The only sensible combination of Surname informal address is among friends, when someone is mockingly or normally addressed by surname (eg. it makes sense if Malfoy’s talking to Crabbe or Goyle).

  18. One thing I noticed as soon as I read this chapter… Why are first years even trying out for the Quidditch team? Have they changed the rule banning first years from trying out? I thought when Harry was made seeker, he was the exception to the rule, rather than having the rule discarded completely for future students as well. Plus we can see why the rule was there in the first place, with most of the first years being unable to fly at all.

  19. Samantha, I think the rule about first-years is only that they can’t bring their own brooms to school; my assumption was then that they would theoretically be allowed to play on their house teams if they flew school brooms, it just would hardly ever happen.

  20. I went to a private school and, like others on here, students were addressed by first name and teachers by title and surname. When I went to Sixth Form and University everyone was on first name terms. I expect some posher schools still use more formal terms of address for the students, and boarding schools.

    Re: About The Chapter. You mention about Ron’s brothers and friends, but I think there’s another person he now has to live up to as well – Ginny. His brothers have left the school, but instead of finally being able to step out into the light, Ron is left instead in the growing shadow of his sister. She is talented and popular AND a girl, which he believes he was supposed to have been. When you think about it, Ron and Ginny are very similar – same temper, same rashness, same sarcastic sense of humour, same talents, same interests. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ron sometimes feels like she’s the next model of a make of broom, possessing all the same features of the previous model but with the imperfections fixed (she’s better at their shared talents, better looking and a girl which gets her brownie points from their mother). Poor Ron.

    I like the little moments between Harry and Hermione, like Harry confronting her about confunding McClaggan, or reminding her of the same when she chastises him for the Felix, that show how their friendship has developed.

  21. Shame the trio couldn’t take Care for magical creatures cuz that’s one subject I’d like to take – I’m dead curious about about the zoology of the Wizarding world.

  22. In the US, teachers always call students by their first names, and if the student goes by a nickname, they call them that. (EX boy named john goes by jack) I always call other students by their first name, except in the case of my best friend. We refer to each other either by nicknames, surnames, or first names, but that is in jest, not in the way that Malfoy calls Crabbe and Goyle by their surnames.

  23. Elizabethauthor, I really like your point about Ron’s potential new jealousy of Ginny. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it would help explain why he reacts so strongly when she shows him up in another area–snogging experience.

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