Flight of the Prince

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

Harry chases Snape, Draco, and the other Death Eaters as they flee Hogwarts, but not before Snape holds back, cursing Harry, revealing that he is the Half-Blood Prince, and reacting when Harry calls him a coward. The Death Eaters disapparate, though, and Harry and Hagrid walk to find Dumbledore’s body, dead on the ground.

Flight of the Prince, by Becky Roberts

Harry felt as though he too were hurtling through space; it had not happened… it could not have happened….
“Out of here, quickly,” said Snape.


The Broken Hourglass, by LynxGriffin

The oak front doors had been blasted open, there were smears of blood on the flagstones, and… the giant Gryffindor hourglass had been hit by a curse, and the rubies within were still falling, with a loud rattle, onto the flagstones below….


Flight, by Snapesforte

Harry tore past Hagrid and his opponent, took aim at Snape’s back, and yelled, “Stupefy!”
He missed; the jet of red light soared past Snape’s head. Snape shouted, “Run, Draco!” and turned.


Snape, by Caladan

He and Harry looked at each other before raising their wands simultaneously.

(by Caladan)


Duel, by Sanna Lorenzen

“Cruc – “

But Snape parried the curse, knocking Harry backward off his feet before he could complete it.


Snape and Harry, by glockgal

Snape closed in and looked down on him where he lay, wandless and defenseless as Dumbledore had been. Snape’s pale face, illuminated by the flaming cabin, was suffused with hatred just as it had been before he had cursed Dumbledore. “You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince!”


Coward, by pojypojy

“Kill me then,” panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. “Kill me like you killed him, you coward -“
“DON’T -” screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman… “CALL ME COWARD!”


Flight of the Prince, by Snapesforte

As Harry raised himself into a sitting position, his head still swimming from its last contact with the ground, he saw Snape running as hard as he could, [Buckbeak] flapping behind him and screeching as Harry had never heard him screech –


The Base of the Tower, by cambium

Harry… gazed down at the wise old face and tried to absorb the enormous and incomprehensible truth: that never again would Dumbledore speak to him, never again could he help….

(by cambium)


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

Snape is almost to the Hogwarts gates, and easily within reach of escape, when he stops and turns back to face Harry. And the reason he does so is mysterious. He certainly isn’t interested in cursing Harry, as he chastises another Death Eater for doing just that. And while he’s certainly goading Harry (when does he not?), it doesn’t come across like this was his full intent, either. In fact many of the things he says to Harry could have been part of a Defense Against the Dark Arts Class – for example, as he blocks Harry’s curses, “Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!” Can he just not resist showing Harry one more time how incapable Harry is of facing him? It doesn’t quite seem to add up, somehow.

Something to Remember

Snape seems cold toward Harry, and almost indifferent to the insults Harry throws at him, until Harry yells to Snape to “kill me like you killed [my father], you coward” – at which point Snape’s face transforms, becoming “demented” and “inhuman” as he yells back – “DON’T CALL ME COWARD!” It’s the second time Harry has called Snape a coward, so it’s certainly possible Snape finally just cracked and hit his breaking point. But it’s interesting to consider what about Harry’s calling him a coward in this circumstance would make Snape so angry….

34 Responses to “Flight of the Prince”


    Just to preempt some of the comments I know this page will get: I’m fully aware that answers to many of the questions I’m posing will be provided in chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows. For those who aren’t aware, my spoiler policy is that while I think spoilers are unavoidable in the comments, I don’t write anything that could spoil an ending on the page itself. Instead I try to write things that are still interesting to those of us who have read the full series, but phrase it in a way that I don’t blow anything for anybody who *hasn’t* finished the full read. Hence, the unanswered questions that yes, I know we really do know the answers to. :)

  2. Great chapter. I think everyone knew that “DON’T CALL ME A COWARD!!!” was important when they 1st read it. I can only think of one other time when I think everyone knew something important was going on and that is “the in essence divided” quote. You knew something was deeper there.

  3. When Harry says ‘Kill me like you killed him’, isn’t he talking about Dumbledore, not James? I love glockgal’s and cambium’s pictures!

  4. Also at the very end of the chapter Harry opens the locket, reads the R.A.B. note and finds out that the Horcrux is a fake. Who was this R.A.B. character? At the time I could only find out a possible match: Sirius brother, and even for that he must be named Regulus A-something Black. And there was any evidence of a locket? Yes, there was the heavy locket that none could open (alas, no more descriptions) on book 5. Afterwards all that remained is to wait and find out if the theory was correct…

  5. Snape’s face in Glockgal’s picture is just as I imagined it. Fantastic!

  6. Eliza: I was under the same impression.

    I remember reading the “R.A.B.” note and not being clever enough to come up with my own theory. I just waited until I had finished the book and went online. I think my favorite theory (though not as plausible as Sirius’ brother) was the Borgin & Burke one.

  7. This may be a stretch, but did Snape go back to Harry just to tell him he was the Half-Blood Prince? He certainly knew Harry had his old Potions book, based on the dialogue in Chapter 24. Besides, this was the last chance he had to tell him.

    WHY he wanted to tell him that is a mystery…

  8. R.A.B. was probably the worst-kept secret of the whole series: the whole fandom had it figured out within a few days — or, at least, the fact that it might have been Regulus was rather widespread, if not wholly accepted. I think Rowling actually said in pre-book 7 interview that she was very proud that the correct guess was out there.

    re: the “kill me” quote

    I’m with Eliza: I haven’t read the scene in a while, but Harry is certainly referring to Dumbledore there, not James. After all, Snape didn’t kill James, although Harry might have held him partly to blame at this point.

  9. JPM – I think Snape was very proud of his spells and he couldn’t resist reavealing this to Harry. He mentions James so it is not surprising he uses the opportunity to make it clear to Harry who exactly the Half-Blood Prince is.

    I feel so sorry for Hagrid in this chapter. He is so child like with his faith in Dumbledore, and my heart just aches for him. For him, the world came to an end that night.

  10. I was looking through an index of HP characters, not expecting to find an R.A.B. Unfortunately, I happened upon the secret and it was ruined. I just wanted to jump up and scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
    It was the only thing I ever discovered early, and I was horrified.

  11. I agree that Snape was so proud of being the Half-Blood Price that he couldnt resist goin back and bragging to Harry about it.

    And cambium’s picture is just beautiful!

  12. I think there is an argument for Harry referring to Snape killing James because he just found out a few hours ago who told Voldemort about the prophecy, so even though Snape’s wand wasn’t responsible, he himself was the impetus for the whole tragedy. Following this logic, though, I’m not sure why Harry singled out his father. Can you imagine how Snape would react if Harry accused him of killing Lily?!

  13. @James or Dumbledore: It it Dumbledore and I think so for one reason only. Because he says “him” not “them”. Why would Harry simply single out James and not Lily? He wouldn’t. So therefore I believe Harry is talking about Dumbledore and not James.

    @Hagrid: I feel terrible for Hagrid in this scene. In ther series 4 boys saw Hogwarts as their home: Voldermort, Snape, Hagrid and Harry. Hagrid and Harry both saw Dumbledore as the father they lost to early. Espically Hagrid because Dumbledore allowed him to stay on campus and he helped him grow. With Dumbledore gone, Hagrid has lost his only constant parental figure.

  14. Here’s the line from the chapter:

    “You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you’d turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don’t think so… no!
    Harry had dived for his wand; Snape shot a hex at it and it flew feet away into the darkness and out of sight.
    “Kill me then,” panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. “Kill me like you killed him, you coward -“

    I think that in the context of that conversation, it’s hard to argue that Harry is talking about anyone other than James. He doesn’t “single out” his father; he reacts to a taunt from Snape about him. And remember that Harry is quite as angry at Snape for having betrayed his parents as he is for his having killed Dumbledore – for Harry, both of those events happened tonight. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all that Harry is using “him” to refer to Dumbledore when the quote also makes sense for the person Snape mentions in the previous sentence.

  15. Josie, I thank you. I have been wrong these four weeks, thinking it was Dumbledore. You’re right. He is talking about James. I hereby officially switch my position.

  16. I was also going to mention that Harry was refering to Dumbledore and not James, however your quote has refreshed my memory of the actual context and I believe you are right on the mark about it referring to James.

  17. It makes a lot more sense when you see the entire quote. I orginally though it was Dumbledore until I saw that. Now it makes sense as to why Harry would call Snape a coward. Snape didn’t actually kill James, he only told Voldemort about the prophecy, which was the reason Voldemort killed the Potters. This cowardly because he did it hoping James would get killed without confronting him.

  18. Technically Harry could also legitimately have (from his perspective) called Snape a coward for murdering a weak, unarmed old man, so what rules in James for “him” instead of Dumbledore is what Josie said about James being referenced in the previous sentence.

  19. Doesn’t Harry try to use Sectumsempra just before Snape tells him he is the Half-Blood Prince? In that case, Snape might not have been planning to tell Harry at all, but chose to explain when Harry tried to use his own specialty against him.

    As for why Snape doubled back when he was supposed to be in such a hurry, maybe Harry was just too close for comfort, but that explanation is tentative at best.

    I wish I had the book for context. That point about James/Dumbledore that Josie made was just perfect.

    I just hope the revelation wasn’t for plot purposes only.

  20. Maybe what he’s saying is “You think I’m evil, so look at yourself: using evil spells created by an evil person. Be careful what you use in future.”

  21. **SPOILER**

    It’s interesting that the Gryffindor hourglass was broken in this chapter, right after Dumbledore dies – when I read it, I wondered if it was intentional symbolism. I think my theory is corroborated by the fact that at the end of DH, either right before or right after Harry kills Voldemort, Rowling mentions that the Slytherin hourglass was broken – it’s the only hourglass she mentions – and that its stones were falling to the floor. I think this was some intentional – and clever – parallelism.

  22. Josie, I think you would agree that Snape is using the taunts as an instructional moment: one of the few moments we see where Snape probably is earnestly attempting to teach something to Harry. It is interesting, also, to assume that at this moment Snape is probably tremendously frustrated with Harry who, up to this point, has utterly failed to mask his intentions. Given how little Snape thought of Harry’s abilities, I can imagine Snape running away from him thinking “When is this kid going to listen to me and learn this trick? I’ve put all of my hope on him winning big, and he can’t manage this simple magic?!” Must have been an interesting moment for him.

  23. he taught him a lesson. It was his last attempt to prepare him. Even if he just hates him, he knew what the boy has to do and what he’d just did. This time he just wanted to make things clear.

  24. Just a small thing – it says Harry jumped the last TEN steps to the SPIRAL staircase….

  25. “James or Dumbledore”: I really think Harry is talking about Dumbledore, for a reason: He was just killed minutes ago by Snape himself, and here’s a quote right before yours:
    “…Snape closed in and looked down on him where he lay, wandless and defenseless *as Dumbledore had been*. Snape’s pale face, illuminated by the flaming cabin, was suffused with hatred *just as it had been before he had cursed Dumbledore*…”
    Since it’s Harry’s perspective, isn’t it clear that he is thinking about Dumbledore’s death when he is lying on the ground and looking up at Snape, remembering how Snape has just killed him? That makes sense to his sentence: “Kill me then. Kill me *like you killed him*, coward…”, because Snape didn’t actually kill James *that way*, he didn’t defeat James and end up killing him. It was completely different. It also explains Snape’s reaction to that: “his face is suddenly demented, inhuman…”. It may not only be because Harry has called him a coward – which he already did a few minutes before – but it can also be that Harry has accused him for killing Dumbledore – which he never wanted to do. It must have been really hard for Snape to kill the only man that ever understood his heart, while I don’t think he feels that sorry for James’s death to come up with such reaction.
    Well, it’s just a thought of mine. What do you guys think?

  26. SPOILEER!!!!!!

    Regardless of what Harry was thinking about, Snape was definitely thinking about Dumbledore, and how very hard it was for him to kill him. If you recall from DH, Dumbledore made Snape Promise to kill him, so that Malfoy wouldn’t need to bear that. and I think Snape taking offense to Harry calling him a coward is mainly due to the fact that it took a lot of strength for Snape to kill probably the only person he could call his friend.

    Also, I think Harry was refering to James as well, because it seems that he is saying this as a retort to Snape insulting his father. But Snape is instead thinking about Dumbledore and becomes instantly infuriated. But, he could also be thinking about James, because right after he realized what he had done, he switched sides, which is also a VERY un-cowardly thing to do, so I think either way makes sense and I don’t blame Snape one bit for being insulted. What does this child think he knows? Snape knows the whole story, and is infuriated that Harry thinks HE knows the whole story.

  27. I think in the last moments before he left, Snape turned back on Harry and was telling him “Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!” because he was trying to teach Harry what he had to do in order to defeat the Dark Lord. After all, Snape DOES turn out to be a good guy, trying to protect Lily’s son.
    Though Snape was mad at Harry for calling him a coward, it was probably because he saw James in Harry, and was upset about how James got Lily when he himself could not. He probably thought of Harry as James in that moment and just got furious at him because of it. He wanted to own up to James somehow, and was doing so by yelling at Harry and ridiculing him.

  28. Now that I’ve delurked, I’ll post another comment…I guess this is a “Something you may not have noticed” kind of comment. At one point when I was re-reading either HBP or PoA, I caught a similarity in chapter titles between this one (Flight of the Prince) and one in PoA (Flight of the Fat Lady). I checked, and I don’t think “Flight of…” is used for any other chapter titles.

    Interestingly, both of these chapters involve someone fleeing after having done something (apparently) bad. Sirius slashes up the Fat Lady and flees; Snape kills Dumbledore and flees. At the time that I noticed this parallel, DH hadn’t come out yet, and I was very startled with where the parallel led me: Everyone thought Sirius was evil when he tore up the Fat Lady and fled, but in fact he wasn’t. Everyone thought Snape was evil when he killed Dumbledore and fled, but…

    And I stopped there, afraid to get too hopeful about Snape. :-)

    Anyway, I’ve never seen the parallel pointed out anywhere else, so I thought I would finally post it myself.

  29. Love your comment, Reebus!

  30. (Spoiler-ish) My feeling about Snape stopping where he did and facing Harry was that he felt/knew he had to protect both Draco and Harry. He managed to get Draco out of the castle and through the gates, but Harry was right behind him with three more Death Eaters following him. If Snape hadn’t stopped, the other Death Eaters would have tried to curse him or kill him (as at least one of them does until Snape shouts them down). Yes, he used this opportunity to try and teach Harry a bit more about dueling, but the purpose, I think, was to distract Harry from trying to attack the Carrows or…the big blond one who’s name escapes me at the moment who surely would have done their best to maim and/or kill him.

  31. Snape must be in a fragile moment here… he’s killed the only man he could confide in, he’s just been forced to begin this reign of darkness between Dumbledore and Harry, and Harry, not understanding, calls him a coward.

  32. *SPOILER* There’s one thing about learning that Snape was the half-blood prince that’s always bothered me: he could have been a fantastic potions teacher. Think of all the notes scribbled in the potions book Harry finds (Harry could hardly find a page without notes on it, and the writing was apparently miniscule). Snape had been brilliant enough to be not only fantastic at potions, but masterful enough to change the directions for the better. Snape could have rewritten the entire potions book and been considered by the wizarding world to be a brilliant wizard. It appears though that he never shared any of his tips or changes with his students though (maybe with the Slytherins, he possibly whispered tips to them when no one was paying attention). It’s just frustrating to know he was sitting on all this and never offered it to anyone. Then in DH the book gets destroyed in the Room of Requirement when Crabbe sets it on fire. Such a shame that no one besides Harry, and possibly Ron and maybe even Hermione, saw that brilliant side of Snape.

  33. Oh, Lovely Luna, what a heartbreaking realization. And it speaks so much about “the nature of a Slytherin.” It just reminds me of students who understand things right away but don’t help others understand. ::sigh:: You’re right. He could have been a great teacher.

  34. Natalia, and Lovely Luna, it’s about choices, isn’t it? I think a wise professor said that, once? And it seems as though Snape made this choice, sharing information as opposed to keeping it to oneself, before he even graduated from Hogwarts. He did become a Potions teacher, but Snape was a better potion master than ever as a teacher of any subject.

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