After the Burial

chapter twenty-two of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

As Ron and Hermione head off to their Apparition tests, Harry tries one last time to get the memory from Slughorn, with no luck. So that night he takes Felix Felicis, and guided by the potion, heads to help Hagrid bury Aragog. Naturally he encounters Slughorn en route and Slughorn joins for the burial, and afterward, as Slughorn and Hagrid drown Hagrid’s sorrows, Harry finally convinces Slughorn to give him the precious memory.

Heavy Burden, by Helene Sirois

Was it [Harry’s] imagination, or did Malfoy… look thinner? … There was no air of smugness, excitement or superiority; none of the swagger that he had had on the Hogwarts Express…. There was only one conclusion, in Harry’s opinion: The mission, whatever it was, was going badly.


Felix Felicis, by Fox Estacado Arts

Harry… raised the little bottle and took a carefully measured gulp…. Then, slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him….


Harry, by Abigail Larson

This evening, he was the luckiest person at Hogwarts.


Aragog - the Burial, by cambium

The moon was glistening palely through the trees now, and its rays mingled with the light spilling from Hagrid’s window to illuminate Aragog’s body.

(by cambium)


In Vino Veritas, by mneomosyne

“And Odo the hero, they bore him back home
To the place that he’d known as a lad,
They laid him to rest with his hat inside out
And his wand snapped in two, which was sad.”


After the Burial, by TomScribble

“I am the Chosen One. I have to kill him. I need that memory.”
Slughorn turned paler than ever; his shiny forehead gleamed with sweat.
are the Chosen One?”


about the chapter


The Power of Magic

Seeing the effects of Felix Felicis from Harry’s point of view is fairly amusing, but it’s even more fun to read between the lines and see what his actions must look like from the perspective of those around him. After all, he’s doing things that a normal human would never consider – like describing his parents’ deaths in detail, or yanking his Invisibility Cloak off, without warning, directly in front of Slughorn. But while these types of actions would normally arouse suspicion, Felix of course gives Harry the lucky benefit of not making anyone suspicious while he does them. It seems to me like a rather surreal experience.

Life at Hogwarts

When Harry runs into Slughorn and Sprout in the vegetable patch, it isn’t the first time we see another Hogwarts teacher talking Herbology with Sprout – but it is rather different this time around. Contrast Slughorn’s attitude:

“I do thank you for taking the time, Pomona,” Slughorn was saying courteously, “most authorities agree that they are at their most efficacious if picked at twilight.”
“Oh, I quite agree,” said Professor Sprout warmly. “That enough for you?”

with another teacher we saw chatting with Sprout just a few years back:

“Oh, hello there!” he called, beaming around at the assembled students. “Just been showing Professor Sprout the right way to doctor a Whomping Willow! But I don’t want you running away with the idea that I’m better at Herbology than she is! I just happen to have met several of these exotic plants on my travels…”

Of course, comparing anybody to Gilderoy Lockhart isn’t quite fair. But it is interesting when we see Hogwarts professors’ jobs interact like this – for instance, Snape has made potions for other teachers on more than one occasion, too, and Flitwick always seems to be called on for charming the Christmas decorations. And it’s likely Slughorn isn’t the only professor that Sprout has helped out, given that her plants would be necessary for Madame Pomfrey, too. I do wonder, though, how much the various teachers dare to go to Madame Pince and the library for anything….


One of the most common things I heard around the internet in the days following the release of Half-Blood Prince was something along the lines of, “I caught a mistake! J.K. Rowling accidentally used the wrong name for Ron!” It wasn’t actually an error – she intentionally wrote Slughorn getting Ron’s name wrong several times, to show how little Slughorn cared about Harry Potter’s less-famous friend. But what might not have been the best idea was the name she used instead, at least in this chapter: Slughorn says, “I had a house-elf taste every bottle after what happened to your poor friend Rupert.” Rupert, of course, is the first name of the actor who portrays Ron in the movies. I certainly don’t think Rowling made an actual mistake (and perhaps she used the name in homage to the actor, who knows), but I personally always find it a bit jarring to read this line – as though the world of the books and the world of the movies have suddenly collided in a very strange way. And I doubt that was her intention, whatever her reason for using the name ‘Rupert.’

35 Responses to “After the Burial”

  1. I thought Rowling’s use of the name Rupert was used deliberately in reference to the actor. Since Slughorn always got Ron’s name wrong, I thought it was very clever of the writer to use that particular name.

  2. Yeah, that’s what I had thought, too. I thought maybe she was honering Rupe’s hard work by putting a little hint in the books. Otherwise, I guess it is just another name that begins with “r” that popped into her mind.

  3. This is one of my favorite chapters in all the books. How JKR describes Harry’s experience on the Felix potion cracks me up every time. I also like when he tells Slughorn that he is the Chosen One. It sets the stage for many coming events.

    As for the Rupert, I agree that it was an homage to the actor. It also startles me every time I read it!

  4. I think the only time when the movies added something to the story (that wasn’t in the books) that I really liked, was when Slughorn was describing to Harry the little fish that Lily left on Slughorn’s desk. I think that was an excellent touch by the filmmakers. And as for Slughorn calling Ron ‘Rupert’, I don’t think JKR intentionally meant to do it, it was probably just a name that popped into her head while searching for ‘R’ names.

  5. I have always assumed Felix Felicis was an homage to Red Dwarf, Series V, Episode 4, “Quarantine” where they have the luck virus.

    I have always hoped that I would read in some interview with JKR that she based Felix Felicis on that, but I haven’t yet. Has anyone else?

  6. Given the number of edits the books have to go through, I have to think JKR would’ve realized at some point about Rupert and changed it if she didn’t want it that way. “I still see my Ron; I still see my Harry; I still see my Hermione…Occasionally I will [think of the actors] – Ron/Lavender, I did kind of think of Rupert. I mean, it was always planned that way, obviously, but I would kind of emerge for a coffee break and I might have a wry smile about Rupert.” Mugglenet, 2005.
    Erica, I agree that the Felix Felicis scene of the movies was done surprisingly well, particularly Harry’s behavior and Slughorn’s story.

  7. Wow – I love the Fox Estacado image. I don’t remember seeing that artist in other chapters. Thanks for including it here!

    And I agree about the other teachers’ probably aversion of Madame Pince! I think one of the most interesting things Rowling has done in the series is contrast stereotypical teachers (you know, mean, demanding, insensitive, oblivious to life’s other demands) with Harry’s love for the school.

  8. I have to say, the interactions between the teachers of Hogwarts are some of my favorite moments in the book. Snape vs Umbridge in Book 5? Or vs Lockhart in Book 2 at the Dueling Club? And who can forget the memorable McGonagall vs Trelawney in Book 3’s Christmas? Slughorn’s interactions are also interesting on another level, because he’s a “good Slytherin,” and brings out some of the biases in other teachers. In particular, when McGonagall gives him the ultimatum in DH about whether he’ll fight with them or against them.

  9. Felix Felicis seems to make Harry lucky but moreover to think clearly and make connection. There are three main personality and character traits of Slughorn Harry takes advantage of:
    He is greedy/ambitious. Slughorn can’t let the opportunity to acquire Acromantula poison. This trait has been established quite well with the Slug Club.
    He is prone to drinking without too much of an excuse. Slughorn opens a botlle of mead he meant for somebody else just to pick up a student he doesn’t particularly care for (Ron) moments after waking up.
    He has a soft spot for Lily. When he was introduced, this was made quite clear.
    Felix just provides an opportunity to tell Slughorn about Aragog’s funeral. Harry must know there will be drinking (it’s Hagrid after all) and that drunk people often let stuff slip they wouldn’t in another context.
    It also helps Harry with his magic, he is able to refill the bottle; a feat he knows he can’t do.
    I guess that when Dumbledore first asked Harry to do this, he was actually thinking of Harry pulling something like this in a Slug Club meeting. Probably, Harry should have taken some tips from young Tom Riddle, he “worked” for weeks to get Slughorn to tell him about Horcruxes.
    I would love to know what would have happened if Harry hadn’t taken the potion this day. Which circumstances would Felix have created? It is possible he could have gotten lucky in other ways, not neccessarily getying the memory. Note that in this very chapter he also gets lucky by making Ginny & Dean break up for a rather stupid reason, which it seems brought to the spotlights the issues that were already there, a fact Harry could have exploited earlier if he had been thinking clearly (and if he felt inclined to do such a questionable thing).

  10. Wouldn’t it be just interesting if we could just see what the staff room is like one of these days? Maybe we could see scenes like McGonagall playing chess with Flitwick~ I wonder what the staff think of Binns lol

    And I was always fascinated when reading Harry’s experience in taking Felix Felicis. Wish I had one of those sensations during my exams^^

  11. Interesting thing about Harry refilling the wine bottles. Is this the effects of Felix or is Dumbledore in on this? He is an underage wizard and should not be practicing magic outside the classroom. So how did he get away with this? It seems certain privileges were granted to Harry to achieve this goal. Also, I think the “accidental” brush Harry gives Ginny that ultimately brings and end to Ginny’s and Dean’s relationship has more to do with fate than Felix. The actor who portrayed Slughorn was brilliant. I also loved the story about the fish and how the memory of that moment caused Slughorn to give Harry what he needed.

  12. GinGin4, the students all get away with quite a bit of magic at Hogwarts. Remember, it was revealed earlier in the book that the Ministry can only monitor where magic was done and what kind – not who did it. There’s nothign fishy about magic at Hogwarts, and it’s perfectly plausible that Slughorn was refilling the bottle, so why would anyone get Harry in trouble?

  13. @GinGin4 hpboy13:

    Of course all students are allowed to do magic within the premises of Hogwarts and even in Hogsmade, and they do it all the time. At last there are no muggles around in Hogwarts or Hogsmade, so there can be no breech of secrecy, and at last the students habe to practise spells as part of their homework.

    Underaged students are only not allowed to perform magic in holidays, when they are at home.

  14. Wow. i never noticed the name she used was Rupert, thats funny. And i thought the best part in the movie was when Harry took the potion and was getting the memory.

  15. Erica, I agree; Slughorn’s story about Lily’s fish-present was my favorite movie addition. It was so well done (imo), that after first watching the film, I thought it must have been a detail from the book that I somehow completely forgot.

  16. My theory on Felix Felicis is that it doesnt actually change events. Instead, it shows the drinker how to use events to their advantage. In Harry’s case he was shown the unlikely series of actions to get the memory. If it was taken at a casino it would show which slot machine is about to hit the jackpot.

  17. Marco, Dumbledore clearly reminds the students that no magic is to be done in the corridors, and they are punished if they are caught. That said I still have to wonder how Harry got away with refilling the wine bottles. Can you imagine the consequences if the kids did this in their dorms?

  18. GinGin4, I think “the corridors” is a special off-limits area, so kids aren’t jinxing each other between classes (although Harry gets away with ripping open Cedrid’s bag in GoF).

    They are sent away from class with homework to practice, and they have to do it somewhere. While it most often would be in their common room, it is sometime in an empty classroom, or on the grounds in warm weather.

    So Hagrid’s Hut would seem to be included in that…?

  19. Matt W–YES, I agree with that entirely! Great point.

  20. InkySquirrel, I did that too. After I saw the movie, I actually went to my book and looked through it to see if I’d somehow missed that memory :) And I’ve been wondering, if it’s that easy to fill a wine bottle, then why do they still buy new drinks? Can’t they just keep refilling things?

  21. @Matt W: I think you are 100% right. Look at the battle a few chapters forward. It doesn’t change the events b/c Death Eaters are never lucky. But it keeps the 3 save from harm

  22. I think this also gives Ron a little insight into how Percy must have felt when his boss kept calling him Weatherby.

  23. I don’t think there is any way for the teachers to detect magic in the corridors if they don’t see it happening. As for the common rooms and such, prefects are made responsible for the, most likely.

    As for the refilling charm, perhaps every time one does it, the quality of the drink is diminished, therefore making it an inefficient bit of magic unless in times of need (in this case, getting people drunk).

  24. Wow, the fox estacado picture is wonderful!

  25. What confused me most is the price of a unicorn hair, “ten galleons a hair!”. When Harry gets his wand in PS it costs 7 galleons. As Ollivander needs to make a profit on each wand, so the wand must be worth a fair bit more than it’s core.

    This could mean either a phoenix feather is much cheaper to acquire than a unicorn hair (I would imagine dragon heartstring to be even more expensive as you would have to kill a dragon to get it!), meaning a phoenix feather wand is much cheaper to make. Or based on what Ollivander says in GoF he must rely on hunting the creatures himself, as he did for Cedric’s unicorn hair, meaning Ollivander could charge the same for each wand. Or his shop relies on accepting donations from people, Dumbledore donated two of Fawkes’ feathers, which is why Harry’s wand was so cheap as the core was free. If anyone else has an explanation, please respond!

    If the third explanation is correct it would require a lot of generosity from the magical community, I could imagine Dumbledore being that generous, but illegal dragon breeders(who have to kill the dragon to get a piece of the heart)? If the second explanation is true, why don’t people buy a series of 7 galleon unicorn feather wands, break open the wand and sell on the hair for 10 galleons? If the first is true it leaves me with an depressing image of families in a financial situation like the Weasleys hoping above all else their children will be suited for phoenix feather and apologizing but they can not afford the, I guess at least 15 galleon, price of the unicorn hair wand their child is suited for.

  26. David, that is a very interesting reflection. The only thing I can think of is that Ollivander buys them in bulk for a lot less. But that begs the point of people stealing them to break them open for the unicorn hair. Unless, once it’s used in a wand it’s not worth as much (like a used car)?

  27. The “Ralph” and “Rupert” bits never bothered me, but if you’d like a different possible Oops for this chapter, well…Hem, hem:

    HBP, Chapter 9:
    “One tiny bottle of Felix Felicis,” said Slughorn, taking a minuscule glass bottle with a cork in it out of his pocket and showing it to them all. “Enough for twelve hours’ luck…”


    HBP, Chapter 22:
    “So, Harry–you going to use the Felix Felicis or what?” Ron demanded.
    “Yeah, I s’pose I’d better,” said Harry. “I don’t reckon I’ll need all of it, not twenty-four hours’ worth, it can’t take all night…”

    Of course, it’s always possible the bottle grew, or that Felix Felicis, like Love potions, grows stronger with time, or that maybe, given the apparent differences in weight and metabolism between Harry and Slughorn, their tolerances would be different and less would work longer for Harry than they would Horace, sort of like alcohol.

  28. @David, Anna – Maybe the entire strand is worth 10 galleons, but only half or a quarter strand is used in a wand? Think of how long a typical horse tail is compared to the average length of a wand. I’d think you could make two or three wands out of one hair pretty easily…
    And maybe the dragon heartstrings are donated by professional Dragon tamers (like Charlie) after the dragon died? Kind of like organs being donated to science?

  29. I have a question I hope someone here can answer. In this chapter we see Harry refilling the bottles of wine (I think or some sort of alcohol). IN DH Hermione tells us that food is one of the 5 exceptions to Gamp’s law of elemental transfiguration. So, how was he able to do this? Does Hogwarts have an unlimited supply in the kitchens? Seems then that teachers like Slughorn and Trelawney would run a dangerous risk of bankrupting the school.

  30. purplesparklies, I think there are two possibilities. One is that the wine is coming from *somewhere* – be it the kitchens, Slughorn’s office, or what have you. I don’t think this implies an unlimited supply; it could simply mean that the refilling charm only works until the supply has run out! I like to think of it as coming from a bottle in Slughorn’s office, or even the still-partially-full bottle that he brought down with him.

    The other possibility is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but when Hermione explains Gamp’s law she says “You can Summon [food] if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some -” I’m not sure how increasing the quantity would work, exactly, but it could also be an explanation for where the wine is coming from.

  31. Ahhh. Thanks, Josie! Your first explanation makes a lot of sense. And now that you say it I remember Ron saying that he’d rather Hermione not increase the amount of mushrooms (in DH).

  32. I never even noticed that “Rupert” is the same name as the actor… I think it’s because I’ve never been very interested in the details of the movies, so I simply wasn’t thinking of them at all. I do see why it bothers people, though.

  33. The whole issue of “Rupert” tends to let us forget that Slughorn has just admitted to using a house-elf to taste test for poison. Harry was right in believing that Hermione would be livid about this, though it doesn’t seem to change his view of Slughorn. Harry hasn’t quite learned how valuable a house-elf is yet.

  34. In regards to the wine thing, I had always assumed there was some still left in the bottles and that Harry just increased the quantity that was already in the bottles. Its never said in the book that the bottles are empty, but that they were emptying and that they were running out fast. If that is the case, I would love to have that spell would save a lot of money if you ran out of milk or food in the house haha.

  35. @toshella; I don’t believe only a piece of the hair could be used as the core. Several references are made throughout the series to the symbolic importance of keeping a whole object and the sheer bad luck of injuring a unicorn. Therefore, does it seem likely to you that after acquiring a hair a wandmaker would chop it into several pieces?

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