Sectumsempra

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

Harry learns that Ron and Lavender have split, as have Ginny and Dean, and spends his days trying to figure out what Draco Malfoy is doing – until he encounters Malfoy in the bathroom and uses the Prince’s Sectumsempra spell on him, nearly killing him. Snape gives Harry detentions for the rest of the year, but when he returns from his first one he finds that Gryffindor has won the Quidditch Cup – and he kisses Ginny.
 

Making it Snow, by Mudblood428

“Ron, you’re making it snow,” said Hermione patiently, grabbing his wrist and redirecting his wand away from the ceiling.


 

by Mudblood428

[Ron] brushed some of the fake snow off Hermione’s shoulder. Lavender burst into tears.


 

Catch Her if You Can, by lberghol

Ginny did not seem at all upset about the breakup with Dean; on the contrary, she was the life and soul of the team.


 

Thanks for the Ride, Harry, by reallycorking

Harry could not help himself talking to Ginny, laughing with her, walking back from practice with her; however much his conscience ached, he found himself wondering how best to get her on her own.


 

The Solitude of Draco, by cambium

Draco Malfoy was standing with his back to the door, his hands clutching either side of the sink, his white-blond head bowed. “Don’t,” crooned Moaning Myrtle’s voice… “Don’t… tell me what’s wrong… I can help you…”

(by cambium)


 

Sectumsempra, by TomScribble

Malfoy gasped and gulped and then, with a great shudder, looked up into the cracked mirror and saw harry staring at him over his shoulder.


 

Sectumsempra, by Mudblood428

“SECTUMSEMPRA!” bellowed Harry….


 

Murder in the Bathroom, by FrizzyHermione

Harry did not know what he was saying; he fell to his knees beside Malfoy, who was shaking uncontrollably in a pool of his own blood. Moaning Myrtle let out a deafening scream: “MURDER! MURDER IN THE BATHROOM!”


 

Sectumsempra, by Sayurikemiko

Snape… burst into the room.


 

Sectumsempra, by Snapesforte

Pushing Harry roughly aside, [Snape] knelt over Malfoy, drew his wand, and traced it over the deep wounds Harry’s curse had made, muttering an incantation that sounded almost like a song….


 

by Caladan

Harry was still watching, horrified by what he had done, barely aware that he too was soaked in blood and water.

(by Caladan)


 

What Did You Do? by Dunland

“Apparently I underestimated you, Potter,” he said quietly. “Who would have thought you knew such Dark Magic?”

(by Dunland)


 

In the Dungeon, by Abigail Larson

“Ah, Potter,” said Snape, when Harry had knocked on his door and entered the unpleasantly familiar office…. “Mr. Filch has been looking for someone to clear out these old files.”


 

Gryffindor Won, by gerre

Ginny… had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her.

(by gerre)


 

Seeker No More, by Mudblood428

For… several long moments – or it might have been half an hour – or possibly several sunlit days –


 

Silver Lining, by reallycorking

A long walk in the grounds seemed indicated, during which – if they had time – they might discuss the match.


 

about the chapter

 

Something You May Not Have Noticed

It’s not too hard to put two and two together when it comes to Ginny’s attitude towards Harry: we know she and Hermione talk about boys, because Ginny knows (unlike Harry or Ron) that Hermione has snogged Viktor Krum; Harry fully realizes that Hermione is aware of his feelings for Ginny thanks to the “smug look on her face… when Hermione spotted him staring at Ginny or laughing at her jokes;” and then Ginny breaks up with Dean and doesn’t seem “upset at all.” It’s pretty clear that Hermione and Ginny have had a conversation or two about Harry, and Ginny knows what’s coming when she runs up to throw her arms around him after the Quidditch match.

What I find more interesting is Ron’s reaction – after months of Harry assuming that Ron would be furious, Ron turns out to be a bit surprised but otherwise perfectly okay with the relationship. Perhaps Harry’s fears were unfounded; perhaps the euphoria of winning the Quidditch Cup helped Ron’s attitude, too. But I also think it’s possible that Hermione has been doing her part to prepare Ron for this possibility, as well. If you think about it, Hermione certainly wants this relationship to happen, and fully realizes the importance of Ron’s reaction – and it wouldn’t be hard for her to casually mention that she thinks Harry has been spending a lot of time with Ginny just to get it in Ron’s head. And in fact, we get a clue that it is in his head, because he never once leaves Harry and Ginny alone together, either. It’d be interesting to hear what those conversations might have been like, and think about what’s been going through Ron’s head the past few weeks….
 

Life at Hogwarts

When Harry stashes his book in the Room of Requirement, the enormity of the room, and all the things that have been hidden there in the thousand years of Hogwarts’ existence, blows me away. On the one hand, even though the school’s been around so long, it seems like a lot of stuff – how many students have actually known about the room? But when you think about it, most of them probably discovered it – like Fred and George, when they needed a broom closet to hide in – without knowing what the room actually was. And Harry, too, points out another likely possibility: that things were “hidden by castle-proud house-elves.” We know the elves are aware of the room, because that’s how Harry learned of it; it’s not a stretch to suggest that that’s how most of the stuff in there might have arrived there. I wonder how many times the house-elves might have stashed something away, only to have a teacher later wonder what on earth had happened to it?
 

The Boy Who Lived

What a moment it is for Harry when he casts the Sectumsempra spell. On the one hand, as Ginny points out, “Malfoy was trying to use an Unforgivable Curse, [and] you should be glad Harry had something good up his sleeve.” But on the other hand, Harry is quick to say to Hermione that he “wouldn’t’ve used a spell like that, not even on Malfoy,” had he known what it was. Still, though – he didn’t know what the spell was, and despite its being labeled “For Enemies,” he decided in the spur of the moment to try it out. Regardless, he seems to take the lesson to heart, sitting around feeling terrible about it and seemingly not even blaming Snape or McGonagall (who yelled at him for fifteen minutes) for their reactions. It will be interesting to continue watching him for another year or so, and see how he reacts in similar situations….

While we’re at it, even though she doesn’t exactly surprise me, Hermione does infuriate me with her lectures of Harry after he uses the spell. I mean, of course she was right that Harry shouldn’t have been using random spells out of his textbook, especially ones labeled “for enemies.” But it is completely obvious that Harry completely, entirely regrets using it – for about a thousand reasons. I can’t say that I blame Harry (or, for that matter, Ginny) for lashing out at her.
 

Oops

I can’t decide whether this was an actual oversight on the part of Rowling and her editors, but every time I read that ‘Roonil Wazlib’ is written inside Ron’s Potions textbook I find it a bit jarring. After all, we only heard of him writing that once, and it was on a Potions essay, not in his book. Perhaps he wrote his name in his book at the same time – but the day his spell-check quill went awry was well into the spring semester, and why would he suddenly choose that day to put his name in his book? Is it possible that he wrote his name at the beginning of the year using the same quill, and then he simply didn’t use that quill again until writing his essay months later? It’s certainly funny to have Snape ask why Harry calls himself ‘Roonil Wazlib,’ but logically I can’t make much sense for why that “nickname” would be in Ron’s textbook in the first place.
 

The Final Word

“The plan, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She’s tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she’s gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he’s a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways. He’s a marked man. I think she’s funny, and I think that she’s very warm and compassionate. These are all things that Harry requires in his ideal woman…. Initially, she’s terrified by his image. I mean, he’s a bit of a rock god to her when she sees him first, at 10 or 11, and he’s this famous boy. So Ginny had to go through a journey… I didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed. That’s something I meant to say, and it’s kind of tied in…. And I feel that Ginny and Harry, in this book, they are total equals. They are worthy of each other. They’ve both gone through a big emotional journey, and they’ve really got over a lot of delusions, to use your word, together. So, I enjoyed writing that. I really like Ginny as a character.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2005
 


63 Responses to “Sectumsempra”

  1. I always thought that the magic of the spell checking quill stayed with the words, so that they were spelled correclty as long as the charm held. So, Ron could have written his name in the book when he first got it using the quill and then it changed to Roonil Wazlib when the charm started to wear off.
    By the way, great post!

  2. Ooohh first reviewer! Just wanted to say that I love Rowling’s quote at the end- and I agree, Ginny’s the right girl for Harry. There’s a lot of fans who don’t agree, but I think she is, because he couldn’t be with a girl who’s just “oooh, harry Potter!” all the time, because there’d be no substance to her at all. And as for Hermione- no. They’re friends, not lovers. Leave that to Ron. :D

  3. I wonder what would have happened if any other student had used that spell. Probably it would end up expelled. Harry’s still has on his side the several times he saved someone from the school.
    Try also to imagine this happening one year before, with Umbridge taking care of Hogwarts…
    Something else that works for Harry: Lucius Malfoy is in jail. If he had managed to escape from the MoM like Bellatrix did, he would have used all his connections to try, at least, to expell Harry from Hogwarts.

  4. I am in love with Sayurikemiko’s art here… and great review, as always. Happy to have you back!

  5. I had never thought that Hermione could have had a word with Ron, about Harry and Ginny. We know that she has known for ages, but I had never thought that she might have had a word with Ron. I had just assumed that he was being his usual oblivious self :D but it actually makes sense for Hermione to plant that idea in his head.

  6. I think Ron has always wanted Harry to end up with Ginny, there is a line somewhere in the books that says Ron gives Harry a furtive look when discussing Ginny. Then with your point that Hermione must have talked to Ron about it-makes all the sense in the world. Of course Hermione talked to Ron! I never thought of that but I agree.

    Artwork in this chapter is simply amazing! I love that fiesty one of Ginny-it’s not how I picture her but I like it all the same.

    Josie, you’re really spoiling us with all these updates!! I LOVE IT!

  7. Is this an instance of Harry doing something ‘very brave but very stupid’ or is it just stupid?

  8. Yes, Jennifer, there’s a line at the end of Order of the Phoenix where Ron tells Ginny, who has broken up with Michael Corner, he hopes she picks someone better in the future. That’s when Ron gives Harry a meaningful look. Then Ginny says something like “How about Dean Thomas? Is that better?” Ron’s reaction to that line is one of the funniest moments in the series.

    I’m surprised the inconsistency of detentions wasn’t mentioned. I mean, Sectumsempra is a vicious spell, and all Harry has to do is rewrite old files? It seems like he got off easy, especially when compared to being sent into the Forbidden Forest for wandering the school after hours. I can only picture Dumbledore’s intervention being the sole reason Harry isn’t expelled from school.

    On another note, I wonder how much Dumbledore knew about the Half-Blood Prince…

  9. I don’t know whether Ginny is “right” for Harry. I always felt that their relationship kind of came out of nowhere. It started as suddenly as their other relationships (Harry/Cho, Ginny/Michael, Ginny/Dean) ended. It may be realistic but I always wanted Harry/Cho (I know, I know I’m mad that way) would survive. People have started dating over the death of a friend before why not Harry/Cho?

  10. I get very frustrated over the dumb choices Harry often makes too.

    Also when he passes up chances to make good decisions — like when he is home for the summer and all he does is mope. He could be learning useful muggle skills like the twins do, like picking locks, karate, etc. But what’cha gonna do?

    I have grown to love Ginny, although I was one of the Harry/Hermione supporters when the books first come out. Of course that would have left Ron out, and this scenario makes them all family in the end.

  11. I think that if Ron ever thought about the future (and I assume he did), he would have hoped that Harry and Ginny would marry. He wouldn’t consider anyone but his best friend to be good enough for his little sister, and their marriage would make Harry a member of the family. But I’m sure he wanted them to get together sometime in the dim future and out of his sight so that he wouldn’t have to watch it!

  12. Why wasn`t Harry expelled from Hogwarts for using Sectumsempra?

    Well, Snape had no power to expell students from Hogwarts, and had so given the strictest punishment to Harry, he could give. Snape had known instantly, that Harry had used a spell created by him, and would Snape have Harry referred to Dumbledore in order to have him expelled, Dumbledore would have knowm quickly, that Harry had used a spell created by Snape.

  13. Marco, if that is the case then the only reason Harry isn’t expelled is because Snape does not tell Dumbledore what happened in the bathroom. But McGonagall knew about it too, which means somehow the word got out.

    Perhaps McGonagall did not know the specifics of what occurred, so Snape was still successful at hiding what happened. Either that, or Dumbledore decided not to have Harry expelled.

    In any case, what happened is what happened, and even if Harry had been expelled, it probably would have made little difference anyway, given what happens in Book 7.

  14. Here’s how I took the Roonil Wazlib thing: you’d write with the pen and it would fix any mistakes you made, but after a while the magic starts to wear off, and instead of the magic making all your words right, it messes all your words up. The spell wearing off doesn’t only effect what you write now, but everything you’ve EVER WRITTEN with the quill. So Ron probably put his name in that book with that quill way back at the beginning of the year, but now it, along with everything else he’s written with that quill, has gone wonky. Probably a bunch of his notes are illegible too.
    I’d be pretty annoyed if it was me!

    OR maybe (is it a joke pen of Fred and George’s?) everything the pen writes messes itself up a few minutes after you write it. I actually think this is more likely. It took the length of Ron writing his essay and going back to re-read for his words to have become illegible, so maybe a half-hour after writing his name in the book it had surreptitiously become “Roonil Wazlib”, but he hasn’t noticed or bothered to fix it.

    Hehe.

  15. The first thing makes the most sense, but I would be mightily upset if I lost an entire year’s worth of notes, assuming that’s the quill I was using all year.

  16. Harry used the spell on Malfoy during a fight, but he considered the idea of trying the spell on Cormac McLaggen. That would be even worse, a dark spell used on someone without provocation. I think not even Harry would be able to avoid to be expelled on that situation…

  17. I think one thing that’s missing here is that Dumbledore would never, ever, EVER expel Harry Potter. His remaining in Hogwarts is critical to the survival of the world they are fighting for. It’s like Trelawney staying in the castle, only even more important – Harry just has to stay at Hogwarts, no matter what.

  18. About the quill: I always assumed the twins gave Ron a faulty one as a joke. As Ron barely used it, he didn’t notice it never worked and just assumed the effect had wore off. Probably, he never checked the name on his book, the only other person in his dorm with such a book is Harry who is very possesive of his copy. There would be no need to check he had the right one.
    An obvious possibility is that Ron just recently wrote his name down. He might have been bored in class and started labeling all his stuff.

  19. Ginny’s triumph as both the lady of the hour helping to win the cup and Harry just made me want to jump up down with joy. Finally they get together and I agree with Rowling that she is just perfect for him. I see Hermionie as Harry’s conscience. Yes, she is hard on him but he seems to need this. I feel sorry for her because she cares so much for Harry, and her actions are often misunderstood.

  20. I’ve always been a Harry/Ginny & Ron/Hermione supporter: Harry/Hermione just never seemed right. And one of the most remarkable off screen storylines of this series is Ginny’s growth and the development of her feelings for Harry from pre-adolescent crush to “mature” love. I would have loved to see more of that, even though the subtle way in which Rowling drops her growing awesomeness in every once in a while is great.
    That is probably why I find HARRY’S side of events a little jarring: I mean, he almost never noticed the girl before and now, all of a sudden, she’s the love of his life and he’s got this monster roaring in his chest all the time, just because she’s snogging someone else… Say what?! But then again, Harry IS a 16 years old boy so why should I be surprised… I found Rowling’s handling of the whole situation a little lacking, but it can be explained by the characters relative ages and genders…

    Anyways, ships apart… Josie, I was actually rather disappointed with not finding here a very big “Something to Remember”. There’s a rule writers should always follow, that says that you don’t describe a shotgun propped up on a wall unless someone is al least gonna maim someone with it later on. Rowling does this extremely well throughout the series, dropping little hints and clues here and there (and some well placed red herrings) and the top two occurences are, without a doubt, the locket no one can open at Grimmauld Place in OotP and the tiara Harry places on top of a bust and a wig to mark the spot where he hid the Prince’s book!! I don’t think you forgot about it, so I wanted to ask why you left it out. =/

    (I have a response on the Sectumsempra topic, so I’ll double post to divide it up, sorry about that)

  21. re: Marco’s comment on Harry and Sectumsempra

    I think we all agree that Dumbledore didn’t expel Harry because he never would: Harry’s too important and later info about Dumbledore will prove he’s not above stepping over people and using them to his own ends (although, of course, few ends sound more worthy than stopping Voldemort for good). Although I do agree with Jose Lopes that Harry got off easier also because Lucius was in jail by this point… I mean, Buckbeak opened a little gash on Draco’s arm and he risked McNair’s axe over it!!

    What I don’t agree with is that Snape wouldn’t give Dumbledore the details about Harry’s attack: why would he mind telling him about Sectumsempra? Of course, inventing dark spells at age 16 is not something you’d put on your regular Order of the Phoenix curriculum, but if there’s someone who’s totally in the know about Snape’s story, his past, present and future is Dumbledore. I don’t think he’d mind Snape coming up with that spell around 20 years previously. If anything, the fact Snape invented the spell was probably the only thing that saved Draco’s life and Harry’s reputation, self-esteem and possibly the future of the magical world (a hero who goes into a deep depression because he accidentally killed a schoolmate can’t be very useful).

    Also, regarding that: a point no one brought up yet is how lucky both Harry and Draco were that Snape was the first one on the scene. Or were they?? I always believed Snape was so quick in that bathroom bacause of the Unbreakable Vow that tied his life so tightly to Draco’s: he must have felt something was wrong and immediately acted on it. So the fact that Snape invented Sectumsempra (and thus was able to counter it so quickly) not only saved Draco, Harry, and the world, but Snape himself, who would have been foresworn if Draco had died. But I would love to hear everyone else’s thoughts about it. =)

  22. Irene, I had never thought about the effect of the Unbreakable Vow…that’s really interesting! I kind of like it, although Snape did vow to protect Draco “to the best of [his] ability.” Maybe if he’d been halfway across the castle and found out that Draco had died, he would only have had to fulfill Draco’s mission. *shrug* I don’t know…interesting to think about.

  23. Also, I think Tom Felton did a really good job in the movie of showing Draco’s anguish. I really felt bad for Draco in the book, but probably even more so in the movie. Which is odd, since I prefer the book 99.9% of the time…

  24. Irene M. Cesca, in response to your comment about the “Something to Remember”: even though spoilers abound in the comments, I made a policy when I first started this site that I would avoid spoilers on the pages themselves, so that if somebody wanted to follow along as they first read the books, they could do so. ‘Something to Remember’ is therefore by far the most difficult section for me to write, because I’m trying to point things out that first-time readers should take note of, and simultaneously bring up connections to future events for people who are already familiar with the future events, but in a way that first-time readers won’t know what I’m talking about.

    In some cases, like this one, or in the case of the locket in Grimmauld Place, that type of thing – I chose not to write anything at all because I felt that just the act of pointing it out at all would be too much of a spoiler. I’m definitely aware of the connection, and perhaps it’s worth writing a brief note that it’s worth remembering what’s in the room. But when I was thinking through it before I couldn’t come up with a way to write it that wouldn’t spoil anything but that I thought would still be worth reading, if that makes sense.

  25. You know, I always found it interesting just how easy Sectumsempra was for Harry to use. Harry has no idea what it does, and it works horribly well for him, the very first time he uses it. Compare that to Crucio, which as we all know needs some powerful hate behind it to work…

  26. @ Sean:

    Very interesting, indeed. Could it be that Sectumsempra involves only the victim’s body, while Crucio influences the mind, therefore requiring more willpower on the caster’s part?

  27. Irene, Harry’s feelings for Ginny didn’t come out of nowhere – there were plenty of indications earlier in the book. Remember the love potion in Slughorn’s office in their first class – Harry recognizes the flowery smell in the potion the next time he sees Ginny. On the Hogwarts Express, he asks her to sit with him, and before they go to Hogsmeade he invites her to join him. He’s disappointed both times when she says no. In Hogsmeade, he spends some time reflecting sourly that Ginny is probably snuggling with Dean at Madam Puddifoot’s. And there’s another time when he watches her playing with her pygmy puff in the Griffindor common room. I think we have enough hints before the monster starts roaring in Harry’s chest.

  28. Ron didn’t have to be told by Hermionie about Harry and Ginny. Ron was on the team. He had to notice the two of them walking to the locker rooms together, joking and talking to each other. I’m sure everyone noticed.

    It is true that Harry’s feelings for Ginny were entirely platonic up until sixth year. I love the way Harry sensed her (the flowery scent at the burrow) before he realized he loved her. She kind of crept up on him. It was amusing to get inside his head and see the battle he waged on himself trying to convince himself that he couldn’t possibly love Ginny.

  29. GinGin4, this is Ron we’re talking about. I’m fairly sure everyone BUT Ron noticed!

    I was always rather surprised at the way the detentions were organized here. First, I fully expected McGonagall to be furious and all, btu that she agreed to kick Harry off the team essentially? Definitely not the partisan McGonagall we know. And why on earth did the detentions have to be so spread out. Umbridge has no issue putting Harry in detention every day for a week, woudln’t this method make more sense?

  30. hpboy13, if Ron had not made that hint at the end of Order of the Phoenix, I would agree that he would have been oblivious. But something tells me he knew beforehand, and I also like the theory that Hermione discussed it with him.

    Also, I think Snape’s detention system is just as good as Umbridge’s without being completely unreasonable. He’s given Harry time to study on weeknights, he’s just taken one of his weekend days which he would probably normally spend relaxing with his friends. (Also, taking away that last Quidditch match had to hurt).

    Professor McGonagall may be biased toward the Gryffindor Quidditch team, but there is also no way she would let Harry get away with the type of magic he used against Malfoy. She is as strict a disciplinarian as Snape. I find her reaction both unsurprising and reasonable.

    I hate to disagree with everything you just said, so I am willing to hear rebuttal.

  31. Rebuttal coming!

    I, too, caught Ron’s comment in OotP, and I agree that he had an inkling that he wanted them to end up together in the distant distant future. I’m arguing that Ron woudl not, however, have picked up on Harry and Ginny’s behavior in HBP because he’s so completely oblivious, not until Hermione gave him the 411.

    I think a more effective punishment would be every day for say two or three weeks, because it would make much more of an impact on Harry if he was at it every day. For example: I teach a dance class once a week for three months to get ready for a performance. I get a dance group ready for SING! in my school in three weeks, staying after-school to work on it. Which one takes more out of me, which one do I find myself more exhausted after, which one makes me sick of dancing for a while? The latter.

    I’m not saying McGonagall should let Harry get away with this, I’m just surprised she’s punishing the whole Gryffindor Quidditch Team for Harry’s actions. I expected her to step in and let him play the match in exchange for doing it on Sundays too, or something.

    Your move :D

  32. hpboy13/JPM, I’m going to split the difference.

    I do agree that Ron wouldn’t have noticed. There are plenty of things like this that just fly over his head. It also wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for him to see the two together, think that Ginny was still chasing after Harry, and yet it doesn’t even dawn on him that Harry might now be interested as well.

    In terms of the punishment, though: I think the detention was perfect. Umbridge took away Harry’s study time, but Snape took away Harry’s *free* time. And while Umbridge gave him one heck of a week, Snape made Harry regret his mistake for the rest of the year, because every week for months he had detention with Snape looming over him, taking away his time to play Quidditch, see his friends, and be with Ginny. And much as McGonagall may favor the Quidditch team, she’s not going to do it unreasonably. This is a major crime on Harry’s part – outside of Hogwarts, he could have been sent to Azkaban for it, and most kids inside Hogwarts would have been expelled. Kicking him off of his extracurriculars makes total sense, I think.

  33. hpboy I disagree. After Ginny broke up with Dean, the whole team noticed the change in her. She was the “heart and soul of the team.” She kept everyone laughing and in good spirits. I have a feeling she held everyone up while their captain was in detention.

    I agree, Josie. Snape definitely took pleasure in taking Harry’s “free” time; especially his time with Ginny. This was a major crime, and he is just lucky he is the Chosen One. I think his remorse for the deed helped to curb his punishment.

  34. RE: detentions-

    I feel sure that Snape was in his fair share of detentions in his day, and since he was in Slytherin, and Lily in Gryffindor, Snape knows exactly what type of detention would hurt Harry more. Snape would’ve wanted to have his weekends more than anything to maximize time available for Lily, even if it was only to watch her from afar. Jealous and adolescent as he is, he knows right away that there are a couple of ways to “get” Harry: force him to realize that his father was not the saint Harry thinks he is (before this book, anyway); and keep him away from Ginny and his friends. Snape combines these two in his punishment of harry, which I think is quite tame when Harry could’ve killed Malfoy if he had known precisely how to use that spell. If waving his wand wildly caused Malfoy that extent of damage, imagine what could’ve happened if Harry knew the precise wand movements and thought process involved. It’s a pretty wicked curse, and Harry is pretty lucky to just get the detentions.

    I was at first disappointed with how quickly Harry seemed to fall in love with Ginny, since she is such a background character for so long. However, when you read the books one right after the other, it’s much easier to see how the relationship grows.

  35. I’m not saying McGonagall wasn’t right to punish Harry by taking away his extracurriculars, I’m saying she was wrong to punish the whole Gryffindor Quidditch Team for it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in similar situations and am still 18, but I think that’s distinctly unfair to the other kids on the Team, to suddenly have their Captain and best hope for winning snatched away.

  36. hpboy13, that happens all the time, though – I’m thinking about college football, where players become academically ineligible or get in trouble with the law and are banned from the team. I played soccer in high school and we had kids held out of games several times for things like detentions. It’s unfortunate that it hurts the rest of the team, but ultimately the view is that it’s the *player* who hurt the team by making the stupid decision, not the coaches or teachers or whoever is enforcing it.

  37. That doesn’t make it fair though. In my junior year, the entire junior SING! show was wrecked when the lead actor was informed that he would not be able to participate the afternoon before dress rehearsal. There are surely ways to punish people without putting everyone else in jeopardy.

  38. hpboy13, you have a point there. Angelina was furious about Harry missing Keeper tryouts. But I think the severity of Harry’s actions justifies him missing Quidditch. Keep in mind, also, that Harry missed two games their fifth year and the team rallied to win the Quidditch Cup anyway. Plus, it is true that Ginny takes charge of the team when Harry is away. Perhaps otherwise the team would have struggled a lot more.

    So, maybe it isn’t fair to the team, but Harry’s position shouldn’t give him special privileges to avoid this type of punishment (unfortunately, this kind of preferential treatment does happen in some high schools). And, of course, Snape would be the last teacher to allow Harry these types of privileges anyway!

    P.S. I think Umbridge was completely in the wrong for trying to ban Harry and the twins from Quidditch for life, but that’s a different story…

  39. The fifth year was completely different, because Harry wasn’t Captain. Yes, he was a star player, etc., but he was just a player. And the Team should have substitutes for players(a policy that is shockingly lacking on the Gryffindor Team between 1992 and 1996). Substituting a Captain is much mroe difficult.

  40. hpboy13, that is precisely why it is such a relief that Ginny stepped up in Harry’s absence. You are absolutely correct that there is a difficulty in replacing a leader so suddenly.

    However, my argument still stands. Harry should not be able to circumvent punishment based on his Captaincy.

  41. I always think that Harry shows great maturity and regret by not mentioning that Draco tried to use crucio on him to McGonagall. I’m not sure it could have been proven, but it would have given him some ground to stand on, yet he doesn’t mention it but Hermione doesn’t seem to consider this with her relentless nagging.

  42. Its very hard to believe that so much happens in this chapter, all crammed into no more than 50 pages. Shall we review? A quidditch match, A split between Dean and Ginny, as well as Ron and Lavender, not to mention Ron making it snow (favorite part in the whole series) and Ginny once again falling love, this time, with her likely soul mate. AND Harry nearly kills Draco… but no biggy. He also loses is friend the potions book. Ah well, it must have been a hard write on J.K. Rowling’s part!

  43. Regarding the quill, I agree with hazelwillow (9/11/10) – “So Ron probably put his name in that book with that quill way back at the beginning of the year, but now it, along with everything else he’s written with that quill, has gone wonky. Probably a bunch of his notes are illegible too. I’d be pretty annoyed if it was me!” But Ron doesn’t write or look at notes much, so not a problem! (Fred and George need to issue a recall!)

  44. I’d be interested to find out who Snape practiced Sectumsempra in order to make it work, then often enough to come up with an incantation to stop most of the damage!!!!

  45. Oops, who he practiced it “on” – sorry!

  46. OF COURSE Harry was always going to end up with Ginny. He saved her from the Dragon! I KNOW they were still children at the time, but this is a version of the absolutely classic myth: St George and the Princess (Christian) and Perseus and Andromeda (Classical) I had spotted this motif from the word go and had great fun watching how JKR gently, oh so gently, brought Ginny out and forward. She also used another literary cliche = the little girl who has a crush on the man she later meets and marries as an adult. (My problem has always been the successful union of Hermione and Ron. I just don’t think in “real life” two such characters would jell. FWIW before I read the DH I had guessed that RON would be the one who was killed in the final battle and that Hermione, after mourning him, would have become a most successful (spinster) headmistress of Hogworts. But perhaps THAT solution was too 19th century!!)

  47. I LOVE Mudblood428’s depiction of the kiss! It’s really beautiful!

  48. @ Ginger Kellogg – I wondered the exact same thing! How did Snape create the Sectumsempra spell? Who or what did he test it on? How did he learn the counterspell? I think James and Sirius and the rest of the Marauders were very lucky that they made it through school without ending up like Malfoy here. Snape’s situation reminds me of real-world teens who are bullied and end up harming their classmates in terrible ways. And it really doesn’t seem that anyone else in the wizarding world knows about the curse, or I think it’s very probable that the Ministry for Magic would add Sectumsempra to the list of “Unforgivable Curses.” It seems much more destructive and horrible than even the Cruciatus curse.

  49. This is one of my favorite chapters in the entire series. Harry’s use of the Sectumsempra was shocking, to say the least. I felt bad for both Harry, and Draco in that scene. And the kiss…Every time I read it, I get extremely giddy. I just read it now and got a headrush, I love it so much. If there’s anything that wasn’t well portrayed in the movies, it was that relationship. (i.e. Let me tie your shoes while wearing my bathrobe…) Yech. Anyway, much better in the book.

    I love the pictures here. Draco’s are exceptionally disturbing, with all the blood. The last picture…I can’t stop giggling.

  50. When Harry hides his Poitions book in the Room of Requirement, he notices dragon eggshells. The shells most likely came from Norbert’s egg.

  51. Am I the only one who thinks too many people are being easy on Harry? I don’t even think there should be a doubt whether his punishment was justified, and I am a sports maniac!! The reality of the situation is Harry almost KILLED Draco. And it was all due to his stupidity to try out a spell he knew nothing about! The only reason Draco lived was because of Snape. As nice as it is that Ginny is defending Harry, I can’t help but side with Hermione on this. She may be annoying and Harry certainly regrets what he did, but he almost robbed someone of their life. At sixteen years old, this would be a parent’s place to scold their child and since Hermione is the closest thing Harry has, he could realize she has a point.

  52. @Jennifer C. 14/9/2010

    If Harry had been more controlled and made a single Wand movement I think it would not have hurt Malfoy nearly as much, just a single cut. The way I have always thought of Sectumsempra is that as the character says/thinks the spell it harshly cuts the area in front of the wand. So when Snape, in the memory in OotP, just points his wand at James’ face he leaves a single deep gash along James’ cheek (If that was Sectumsempra he used). Whereas Harry, who waved his wand wildly, created multiple cuts all across the unfortunate Malfoy in front of him.

    @Andrea said 28/5/2011

    I don’t think Sectumsempra is bad enough to be classed as an Unforgivable Curse. I agree it is dark magic and a user should face time in Azkaban, but the rest of their life? After all, they may have only left a cut on another person’s arm.

  53. Maybe someone already said this, but I had Ginny as Harry’s future wife in CoS. For that matter, I knew Ron and Hermione would end up together back then, too.

  54. Yes. What Harry did was bad. But what McGonagall seems to overlook is that what he was combatting was CRUCIO. An Unforgivable Curse which causes the most pain possible. So he used a spell off the top of his head. That’s why I think the punishment is unjustified, because if Harry hadn’t done anything, he would have been under the Cruciatus curse, and he didn’t have the time to think of a proper spell.

    What seems odd is that these “Unforgivable Curses” are becoming pretty forgivable, as Malfoy gets NO punishment for nearly using one.

  55. I think Ron may have had a faint inkling about Harry and Ginny, and while he’s never thrilled at his sister’s relationships, I think he’d rather it was Harry than anyone else. After all, who does he trust most in the world?

  56. Sky, Harry didn’t tell McGonagall that Malfoy was going to use Crucio.

  57. Regarding the whole Sectumsempra thing, Snape did mention that he never thought Harry would have known “such Dark Magic”, which clearly means that Sectumsempra is a complicated piece of curse in a whole new level. GoF has proven that very Dark curses, such as the Unforgivable ones, require more than just simple wand-waving to inflict pain and damage. Plus, your heart really has to be in it! I doubt Harry truly wanted to inflict such gruesome wounding upon Draco (he didn’t even know what the curse is all about beforehand). And is Harry really that great a Defense Against the Dark Arts student to be able to perform a really intense Dark Curse on his VERY FIRST try?

  58. Luna, shouldn’t he have? You’d think that was something you’d want to mention…

  59. My bad, I went over the chapter and realised it doesn’t say it. I think it’s just something I assumed. oops.
    But in any case, it doesn’t seem like he told her:
    Firstly because it doesn’t sound like a very Harry thing to do, remember when he didn’t tell her about the quill? When he didn’t tell Dumbledore about the sounds he heard on the wall in the 2nd book?
    And Secondly because I’m convinced Malfoy would have been punished had Harry told McGonagall he was trying to use crucio. Then again, Snape is the only one who can punish his house, and why would he believe Harry? When has he ever?

  60. Great thoughts about what Hermione has been preparing Ron for! But I also think he takes it so well because earlier this year, he was actually worried that there might be something between Harry and Hermione (as you mentioned in “Hermione’s Helping Hand”).

  61. Snape is the only one that can punish his house? Since when? Teachers at Hogwarts punish students from other houses all of the time.
    As for Sectumsempra, my sympathy goes to Harry alone. He was in a desperate fight against an enemy he strongly suspected of being a Death Eater (they want to kill him) who was in the process of using the Cruciatus curse. Furthermore, the curse itself comes from a book that has only ever given him relatively harmless spells. Lastly, he was in a situation where there was no time for forethought, only reaction, and Sectumsempra was simply the first thing that came to mind. There should be no danger of expulsion, nor of heavy punishment.

  62. Remember in book 2, after the whomping willow incident? Snape says only McGonnagall can decide what punishment they receive since she’s their head of house.

  63. I guess I should have just waited until now to make my comment on the spellchecking quill… It’s the very first post!

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