Silver and Opals

chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

On a Saturday morning, Harry accidentally uses one of the Prince’s spells to suspend Ron in the air. The trio then heads to Hogsmeade, where Slughorn attempts to invite Harry to dinner, Harry encounters Mundungus with goods stolen from Grimmauld Place, and on the way back, Katie Bell touches a mysterious cursed necklace – though McGonagall doesn’t believe Harry when he suggests Malfoy was responsible.

The Slug Club, by lberghol

“Harry, that’s three of my little suppers you’ve missed now!” said Slughorn, poking him genially in the chest. “It won’t do, m’boy, I’m determined to have you! Miss Granger loves them, don’t you?”


Furious, Harry Realizes What Mundungus Fletcher Has in his Hands... by Drew Graham

“You took that from Sirius’s house,” said Harry, who was almost nose to nose with Mundungus and was breathing in an unpleasant smell of old tobacco and spirits. “That had the Black family crest on it.”


Nasty Necklace, by Becky Roberts

Katie rose into the air… gracefully, her arms outstretched…. Yet there was something wrong, something eerie…. Then, six feet above the ground, [she] let out a terrible scream.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

The opal necklace that Katie touched is interesting for lots of reasons. But one point that the trio seems to have forgotten might just be the most important aspect of the whole situation. Here’s a quick look back to Hermione’s foray into Borgin and Burkes:

Hermione strolled through the jumble of objects on display.
“Is this necklace for sale?” she asked, pausing beside a glass-fronted case.
“If you’ve got one and a half thousand Galleons,” said Mr. Borgin coldly. (HBP6)

It’s not 100% clear that the necklace Hermione pointed out is the same one Harry saw four years previously. But how many prominently displayed necklaces can a dark arts store have? We also know the necklace is ornate, is made of opals, and carries an immensely powerful curse – and so is likely to be expensive. And the person who purchased it is likely to have plenty of dispensable cash….

On the other hand, while the trio didn’t quite put two and two together, you’d have to think that McGonagall was quick to report to Dumbledore that Harry had seen the necklace at Borgin and Burkes. And surely, as one of the most important politicians in the country, Dumbledore has the means (obtaining a warrant or what have you) to find out when the necklace was sold, and to whom? After all, a girl was nearly killed; surely the headmaster (and chief of the Wizengamot) will want to get to the bottom of it. In other words, Dumbledore might just be more on top of things than Harry realizes.

The Wizarding World

Upon arriving in Hogsmeade Harry notices, with a tinge of sadness, that Zonko’s Joke Shop has closed. There are lots of possibilities as to why this might be the case, of course. But I think there’s one explanation that seems most likely: competition. After all, a new store has just opened that provides far superior products. And while it’s located hundreds of miles away in London, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes has been selling products for years to Zonko’s primary clientele – Hogwarts students – in the halls of the school itself (not to mention by Owl order). Zonko’s didn’t see it coming, and never stood a chance. I wonder how Fred and George feel about more or less personally forcing a favorite establishment of their childhood out of business?

Something to Remember

It seems Katie Bell was put under an Imperius Curse in the bathroom of the Three Broomsticks – while Harry, Ron, and Hermione were there. There were surely lots of people in the establishment that the trio didn’t notice, of course, and McGonagall points out that Malfoy wasn’t in Hogsmeade, ruining Harry’s theory. But it would be worth their while (and ours) to pay attention to those they did happen to see….

29 Responses to “Silver and Opals”

  1. The first time I read this chapter after having read the final book, I was flabbergasted. There she writes this tiny scene which will later turn out to be such a huge deal and noone even notices what this is about. Amazing! I’m talking about the Aberforth-Mundungus encounter and I don’t only mean that Mundungus selling stuff from Sirius’ house will later give us a clue as to where to search for the locket.

    Also I just love the humorous writing in this chapter (when Ron turfs a first year out a chair so he can sit down and Hermione prods him out of it again).

  2. The only clue we’re given that the Aberforth-Mundungus encounter is something worth remembering is the title of the chapter: “Silver and Opals.” The opals are obvious – we’re not about to forget the scene involving the necklace. But Mundungus’s stolen goods are the only silver in the chapter. If this transaction is important enough to figure in the title of the chapter, it must be more important than it seems at first sight.

  3. Under Wizarding World…I always assumed Zonko’s was one of the businesses that went under due to the climate of fear that had started to permeate Hogsmeade.

  4. Also — and this probably just shows I’m not paying as good attention as I should — I always pictured the “silver” in the title as being the necklace, i.e. made of silver and opals. That’s probably a red herring…

  5. Billie, I was thinking of Sirius’ mirror. It’s not mentioned in the chapter title or anywhere in this chapter really, but we later learn that Aberforth got it from Mundungus and I just figured this was when. I think it’s rather important to the plot of the next book, but only noticeable after having read what’s about to come.

    Part of the reason is that at this point we don’t actually know that the barman of the Hog’s Head is Aberforth. Though I remember being pretty sure about it when reading this. Does anyone remember if it was just rumors within the fandom or if JRK actually gave a hint towards this conclusion besides the clues in the books?

  6. Kim, we knew it was Aberforth based on clues that had been given in book five, and because when a fan confronted Rowling with these clues, she had admitted to it. Here’s the quote:

    (Question: “Why is the barman of the Hog’s Head vaguely familiar to Harry? Is he Dumbledore’s brother?”)
    Rowling: “Ooh—you are getting good. Why do you think that it is Aberforth?
    (“Various clues. He smells of goats and he looks a bit like Dumbledore.”)

    “I was quite proud of that clue. That is all that I am going to say. [Laughter]. Well yes, obviously. I like the goat clue—I sniggered to myself about that one.”

    This was in August of 2004, roughly a year before Half-Blood Prince was released. The full transcript of the Q&A is here.

  7. McGonagall points out that Malfoy (not Maloy) wasnt in Hogsmeade…

  8. Thanks, Jose Lopes – fixed!

  9. Am I right in remembering that Hermione points out to Ron that “someone” (referring to Madame Rosemerta) must be in the back getting more butterbeer/firewhiskey? I know that if I go check my book, I will be sucked into reading them yet again! Which I don’t mind too much, but I was trying to read something else for a change! LOL!

  10. Kim: Also, in the Pensieve in HBP, Voldemort calls Dumbledore “as omniscient as ever” when Dumbledore reveals his knowledge of the Death Eaters’ meetings in the Hog’s Head. But Dumbledore says he is “merely friendly with the local barman,” who is actually Aberforth.

  11. Jennifer: That sounds right to me, but I’m away from my books as well.

    I never really thought about the fact that the opal necklace was crazy expensive (1,500 Galleons? Yeesh.) and that that could be tied to Malfoy’s ridiculous wealth. And what kind of bank situation do they have that his mother wouldn’t care about money being squandered like that? And I like Josie’s theory about Dumbledore being Chief Warlock and having access to sales records of some sort. But wouldn’t B&B just use a bunch aliases or something? I mean, they work lots of shady people and pride themselves on the privacy of their clientèle, don’t they?

  12. Matalia, I think it’s safe to say that Narcissa will let Draco do whatever he has to do! She knows he has to kill or be killed and she isn’t asking too many questions.

  13. Kim and Anna – I agree that the chapter title isn’t much of a clue and that the silver goblets aren’t ultimately important. It’s the fact that the Hog’s Head barman was buying something from Mundungus that we need to remember. It would have been a bit of a stretch, without having read book 7, to notice that the kind of metal in the necklace is never mentioned and that the “silver” in the title must be Sirius’s goblets. If we did notice that, our first thought would probably be that the goblets themselves were going to be important in the future. It would take a real flash of inspiration to realize that since the barman wasn’t buying the goblets, there must have been something else that belonged to Sirius that he’d be interested in.

    Of course, people who (unlike me) figured out the barman’s identity would have an advantage here!

  14. Billie, you’re absolutely right. For me this wasn’t really a clue moment, but more like a “Wow, she really does plan these things so thoroughly and way in advance” moment.

  15. About Mundungus, does it make anyone else furious that Dumbledore would trust this thief enough to let him in the Order? I get the “we need a thief and his connnections” explanation, but why let him in the Order? Can’t they just ask him for favors when they need them? He leaves Harry unguarded to do the stolen cauldrons deal in OotP, he steals Sirius'(now Harry’s) stuff in HBP, and *spoiler* he abondons Moody on the broomstick getting him killed in DH. And he’s in on the deepest secrets of the order? One other question: if Harry was hanging on tight to Mundungus when he disapparated, how come Harry didn’t go with him?

  16. Fred and George really ought to have marketed to the muggle world as well. That would really have given them alot of business opportunities.

  17. How do you know they didn’t?

    The wizarding economy basically doesn’t work UNLESS a Muggle market is included. Otherwise there are too many shops for too small a community.

    F&G would have had to be careful what they marketed to Muggles, but I’m sure they found a way.

  18. Ah then it makes sense in how they made so much. They could certainly have sold pygmy puffs and edible dark marks to muggles. They don’t seem to be magical.

  19. BestSeriesEver, maybe Dung isn’t in on the deepest secrets of the Order. He doesn’t seem to be at Grimmauld Place as much as other members.
    Also, the Apparating thing with Mundungus is probably just a plot hole. Usually to Side-Along-Apparate, you have to hold on to the person’s arm; (SPOILER) however, in the 7th, Yaxley grabs hold of Hermione’s hair (I think?) as she Apparates and comes with them to Grimmauld Place. Tricky question, though…

  20. Maybe you have to have the intent to go to the same place as the other person in order for side-along apparition to be successful? You wouldn’t necessarily have to know where the other other person is headed, but you would probably have to focus on going with them. In the case of Harry and Mundungus, Harry was focused on keeping him where he was instead of going wherever Dung was headed.

  21. @The “Prince’s” Spell: I find it fascinating that Snape can create his own spells. Is this difficult to do? Is there any other references to orginal spells?

  22. Harry didn’t disapparate with Mundungus because he wasn’t holding onto him when Mundungus left. The way I read it was that when Tonks appeared she cast a spell and “Harry felt his hands let go”. Then as soon as Mundungus was free, he picked up the suitcase and disapparated.

  23. Re Zonkos closing. I always assumed that it closed becasue of the rise of Voldemort and the deatheaters. People are not going to want to let their kids go to Hogsmead when it is too dangerous, there were already families pulling their kids out of school. Fred and/or George even state that opening a Hogsmead branch wouldn’t work if kids aren’t allowed to go into the village.
    But I never thought about it being due to competition. Hmmmm

  24. I’m not sure, but I remember reading one of the earlier chapters that Fred and George were thinking of buying Zonko’s. Don’t have any of the books with me now, currently staying on campus while the books I left at home lol.

  25. Realizing I’m almost a year late to the Disapparating conversation, but Samantha has the gist of it:

    “There was a bang, and Harry felt his hands fly off Mundungus’s throat. Gasping and spluttering, Mundungus seized his fallen case, then –CRACK– he Disapparated.” (HBP, CH 12)

    So, no plot hole there. Harry wasn’t holding Dung when he Disapparated.

  26. Spoiler?(if you haven’t read 7th book yet and don’t know who dies)
    i’m sure ron and george did put out a branch into hogsmeade affer the war though, i’m assuming

  27. I also find it fascinating that Snape invented his own spells (and probably a reasonable amount of potions at that). I think it points at him being a pretty skilled wizard. I wonder if Dumbledore has invented a couple of spells himself, too :)

  28. This line always makes me laugh: “On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far.” Oh the irony!

  29. something I just noticed in this chapter is that aberforth is actually with mundungus just before harry and co talk to him – it’s likely that this was the point where aberforth bought sirius’ mirror!

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