The Slug Club

chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry concludes that Draco Malfoy is a Death Eater, but his friends don’t take him seriously; finally summer ends and they all board the Hogwarts Express, where Harry gets an invitation for lunch with Slughorn. Afterward he sneaks into the Slytherin compartment to spy on Malfoy, but Malfoy discovers him and puts a full-body bind on him before heading off the train.

by Heather Campbell

“Hi, Harry!” said a familiar voice from behind him.
“Neville!” said Harry in relief, turning to see a round-faced boy struggling toward him.
“Hello, Harry,” said a girl with long hair and large misty eyes, who was just behind Neville.


I'm Romilda. Romilda Vane, by reallycorking

“Hi, Harry, I’m Romilda, Romilda Vane,” she said loudly and confidently. “Why don’t you join us in our compartment? You don’t have to sit with them,” she added in a stage whisper….
“They’re friends of mine,” said Harry coldly.


Spectrespecs, by lberghol

“That’s a very nice thing to say,” beamed Luna. Then she pushed her Spectrespecs farther up her nose and settled down to read The Quibbler.


The Slug Club, by Cambryn

“Harry, m’boy!” said Slughorn, jumping up at the sight of him.

(by Cambryn)


Following Blaise, by glockgal

An idea had just occurred to him, a reckless but potentially wonderful idea…. In a minute’s time, Zabini was going to reenter the Slytherin sixth-year compartment and Malfoy would be sitting there, thinking himself unheard by anybody except fellow Slytherins…. If Harry could only enter, unseen, behind him, what might he not see or hear?


Seat of Honor, by Mudblood428

Harry… watched Pansy stroke the sleek blond hair off Malfoy’s forehead, smirking as she did so, as though anyone would have loved to have been in her place.


That's From My Father, by reallycorking

[Malfoy] stamped, hard, on Harry’s face. Harry felt his nose break; blood spurted everywhere. “That’s from my father.”


by Heather Campbell

Malfoy dragged the cloak out from under Harry’s immobilized body and threw it over him. “I don’t reckon they’ll find you till the train’s back in London,” he said quietly. “See you around, Potter… or not.”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

Though I still wouldn’t exactly call him mature, there’s one thing about Draco Malfoy that has changed – this is the first time that Harry’s ever ridden the Hogwarts Express and Malfoy hasn’t come by with Crabbe and Goyle to bully him. For that matter, he’s not using his Prefect title to bully anybody else, either. In some ways, actually, Malfoy seems to have aged more than Harry has – he now sits, thinking of more important things, while Harry does something outrageously stupid for the chance to spy on him, like a little kid (I mean, didn’t we get over that in second year?). If Malfoy really is a Death Eater now, Harry’s incredibly lucky he didn’t escape with something far, far worse than a broken nose.

Life at Hogwarts

It’s funny that every year on the Hogwarts Express, Ron and Hermione as prefects “have to go to the prefects’ carriage first and then patrol the corridors for a bit.” So the prefects all patrol the corridors for a bit… and then what? Mayhem? The idea fits the plot well, but doesn’t make a ton of sense. Maybe the prefects simply take patrolling in shifts after their initial meeting, and Ron and Hermione simply already know that the first shift is Gryffindors. After all, the previous year, they didn’t know whether they’d be able to join Harry at all (though they eventually did).

The Final Word

“One of the ways in which I tried to show that Harry has done a lot of growing up — in Phoenix, remember when Cho comes into the compartment, and he thinks, ‘I wish I could have been discovered sitting with better people,’ basically?”

Harry slumped back in his seat and groaned. He would have liked Cho to discover him sitting with a group of very cool people laughing their heads off at a joke he had just told; he would not have chosen to be sitting with Neville and Loony Lovegood, clutching a toad and dripping in Stinksap. (OP10)

“He’s with Luna and Neville. So literally the identical thing happens in Prince, and he’s with Luna and Neville again.”

“They’re friends of mine,” said Harry coldly.
“Oh,” said [Romilda], looking very surprised. “Oh. Okay.”
And she withdrew, sliding the door closed behind her.
“People expect you to have cooler friends than us,” said Luna, once again displaying her knack for embarrassing honesty.
“You are cool,” said Harry shortly. “None of them was at the Ministry. They didn’t fight with me.” (HBP7)

“But this time, he has grown up, and as far as he’s concerned he is with two of the coolest people on the train. They may not look that cool. Harry has really grown.” –J.K. Rowling, July 2005

42 Responses to “The Slug Club”

  1. yeahhh first comment! brillant jkr quote at the end it seems harry has figured out who his real friends are even though he’s stuck with ron and hermione for the last five years he’s never had to make any new ones
    does this mean malfoy has found out about harry’s invisibility cloak?

  2. I do love that we see the kids growing up a little in each book. It takes enormous love and some self-confidence to change (in only a year!) from being embarrassed about two people to stoutly affirming that yes, they are your friends and yes, you’d rather be with them.

    And, although I don’t like Draco’s actions, I do love that we see him grow up, finally. I remember friends making comments about the fact that he’d gone from the “Diet Coke of Evil” to actually taking action and doing something other than whining or waving his bloodline around for all to see. It’s interesting to see him change in this book . . .

  3. Yes, very surprising in this chapter that Draco actually takes action against Harry. Draco’s spent all his time in the previous books threatening people with his father, now that’s gone, but this scene made me believe that Harry was right that Draco was a Death Eater. Clearly Draco can’t use his father as his threat anymore, but he knows he’s got some serious power behind him in Voldy. I do believe that Draco would never kill, I don’t think he has the guts to do it, but he sure likes to threaten people. Such a classic bully-love it!

  4. “I’m Romilda, Romilda Vane.”

    Jo Rowling creates great names, and she seems to have a special flair for 3-or-4-syllable first names, followed by a one-syllable surname that falls on the ear with a thud, a crash, or a slice: Cornelius Fudge. Severus Snape. Nymphadora Tonks. Sirius Black. Amelia Bones. Bartemeus Crouch. Pomona Sprout. Emmeline Vance. Oliver Wood. Zacharias Smith. Hestia Jones. Arabella Figg. Gregory Goyle. Broderick Bode. Theodore Nott. Augustus Pye. Miriam Strout.

    And now, Romilda Vane.

    (And still to come in this book: Marvolo Gaunt, Merope Gaunt, Caractacus Burke, and Hepzibah Smith.)

  5. Good point, Billie. I always wonder why Jo picks the names she does. Perhaps just so that we can rememeber them easier. Or maybe simply for her own entertainment. My favourite name of the lot is still undoubtedly Hermione Granger. (Though I had little notion to how it was pronounced until I watched the movie…)

  6. That is a good question, seekerbillpotter. I wonder how Malfoy knew about the Cloak? As far as I can remember, the only time he came in contact with it was when Harry threw mud and sludge at him, Crabbe, and Goyle in the third year. He saw Harry’s head, but that’s it. Maybe Snape told him?

    Great artwork by Heather Campbell, by the way!

  7. Yes, I love how JK Rowling doesn’t pick common names like Ben, Michael, Ashley, Sarah etc… Well those are common names in Australia.
    These are so much more interesting anyway.
    Also, did Malfoy know about Harry’s invisibility cloak before this? I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to steal it or something.

  8. Oh, and brilliant art as always.

  9. Heh. On the one hand, he’s matured, and on the other hand he’s still an idiot kid. Which is it? :p

  10. Ha, Jennifer, I didn’t notice the apparent contradiction until you pointed it out. But I don’t think it makes either observation wrong; he’s matured in some ways and not in others. I think that’s pretty typical of the process of growing up. For that matter, so is acting mature in one moment an immature in another. :)

  11. Yeah, Draco’s definitely growing up, but I just couldn’t believe he didn’t steal the cloak instead of covering Harry with it. I know it would have messed with the plot, but it seemed out of character. And Billie, I love your list of the names and the pattern.

  12. My favorite part of this chapter is the Slug Club luncheon, when Slughorn tries to get Harry to tell what happened at the ministry. Neville and Ginny chime in that they were there too, and they didn’t hear any prophecy, and they steadily refuse to be drawn any further. I’m not sure why I like this so much – I guess I like the solidarity that has grown among the six students who went to the ministry that night. It was a horrific joint experience, and it has bound them together and made them feel a bit separated from the other students.

    Anyone notice how protective Ginny has always been toward Harry? The first time Harry hears Ginny speak in his presence is in Diagon Alley in book 2, when she tells off Draco for teasing Harry. She intervenes in this way over and over in the books.

  13. I love the artwork in this chapter. :D
    Draco may have been tempted to just steal the cloak, but how could he pass up such a perfect opportunity to put Harry in such a dilemma? If not for Tonks’ arrival, Harry would have been immobile and invisible for hours before someone finally found him. I think it was too perfect to ruin by taking the cloak.
    It’s really interesting to see how quickly kids can change once a parent or older sibling is out of the picture. Draco’s attempt to meet the challenges shoved at him is impressive.

  14. Is it “mature” to plot murder? Draco’s morals haven’t matured at all! But he has started planning his career, taking a longer-term view of his actions and considering his (albeit very warped) civic duty.

    Billie, just about every character in HP has a symbolic name, but I hadn’t noticed the euphony until you pointed it out.

    “Romilda” means “famous battle” because the character is aggressive. It also reminds us of “Rome,” hence “Romeo”. “Vane” means she’s as unreliable as a weather-vane, and it’s also a pun on “vain”.

    But don’t get me started on etymology. Every single name on your list has a similar connotation designed to describe the character. As soon as Fenrir Greyback was introduced, my eight-year-old asked, “Who’s that?” and my thirteen-year-old responded, “New character – must be a werewolf!”

  15. Interesting stuff, Grace has Victory! I love your take on Romilda Vane as a name. Famous battle indeed! (Thinking of the lead-up to Slughorn’s Christmas party.)

    If I’d been paying attention to the etymology of the names when I read book 3, I would have had a good deal of the plot figured out before the end. The names Remus and Lupin both refer in some way to wolves, and Sirius is the “Dog Star.”

    Most of the names of Rowling’s huge cast of characters don’t follow the 3-or-4 syllables followed by 1-syllable pattern. I’m just intrigued by how many names do follow that pattern and how memorable they are.

  16. Since the discussion has died, shall we indulge?

    Cornelius Fudge. The Roman general, literally suggesting a “horn” of plenty. But he “fudges” things (messes them up); he’s soft, gooey, untrustworthy…

    Severus Snape. “Severe”, though the “verus” element also suggests that this character hold the key to the “truth”. Snape is a castle in Yorkshire, although probably chosen here for the onomatopoeia – snake, snap, snipe…

    Nymphadora Tonks. “The gift of the nymphs”, though chosen for the pretentious sound. “Tonks” sounds humorous, especially by contrast. Tonka is a brand of children’s toy cars.

    Sirius Black. Sirius is the dog-star. “Black” suggests the family’s link with Dark magic; it also refers to the alchemy imagery, where the colours black, red, white recur. Note, however, that in the Chessboard of Doom in PS, it is the white pieces who represent evil. Sirius is symbolically represented by the “other black knight,” the first to be taken by the white pieces. Incidentally, “Phineas” and “Nigellus” are also names that mean “black”.

    Amelia Bones. “Amelia” means “labour” or industry. Wizards like their traditional old Germanic names almsot as much as their Latin. “Bones” refers to a skeleton, a hint that this character will die.

    Bartemeus Crouch. I cannot give you the literal definition of “Bartemeus” on a polite site; most English Bibles avoid this issue too. “Crouch” means both “cross” (he’s a man who met a crossroads) and a “crouchback” (something twisted): he’s on the right side, but he’s a thoroughly immoral person.

    Pomona Sprout. Pomona, related to the word for “apple”, is the Roman goddess of the fruit harvest. A sprout is a green shoot.

    Emmeline Vance. “Emmeline” is something “whole” or complete (she has a great deal of dignity). Vance is an Irish surname, meaning a “reed”; the character turned out to be vulnerable and easily snapped.

    Oliver Wood. Both names suggest trees (“olive” and “forest”) but the exact connotation escapes me. A Latin first name with a very common English surname possibly indicates an ordinary half-blood wizard.

    Zacharias Smith. The Biblical Zacharias was struck dumb when he disbelieved an angel, and this Zacharias was silenced by Ron when he disbelieved Harry. Smith is the most common of all British surnames, a jarirng contrast to the pretentious first name.

    Hestia Jones. Hestia was the Roman goddess of the hearth and home, so it would be interesting to know about this character’s private life (she is very interested in the Dursleys’ toaster). Jones is the second most common British surname and is particularly associated with Wales.

    Arabella Figg. Another example of a serious, classical first name paired with a humorous surname. A “figgis” is a decent, trustworthy person. (I couldn’t make anything else of “Arabella”, which means “persuadable”.)

    Gregory Goyle. “Gregory” means “watchman” – in this case, more like watch-dog. “Goyle” is short for “gargoyle”, which is a stone drinking fountain carved in the shape of an ugly face. “Crabbe and Goyle” is a spoonerism for “grab and coil” – the movement of a snake

    Broderick Bode. Nothing specific on “Broderick” other than being Germanic and somewhat ridiculous; it literally means “fame + rule”. To “bode” means to be an omen for something, more often than not something bad.

    Theodore Nott. “Theodre” is literally “the gift of the gods”. It has never been common in Britain so it sounds pretentious. “Nott” derives from “night” because his father is a Dark wizard; but it also suggests contradiction. JKR has hinted that Theodore will do his own thinking and not necessarily agree with his father.

    Augustus Pye. “Augustus” is “majestic” – again, uncommon and somewhat pretentious in English. “Pye” is humorous because it sounds like “pie” and its literal meaning is connected with a “magpie”; but it also suggests pi (the number), because this is a learned person.

    Miriam Strout. “Miriam” is from “myrrh”, a resin with healing properties; the word “myrrh” in its turn literally means “bitter”. “Strout” sounds ironically like “stout” (strong, reliable) and also like “stroud” (overgrown marshland). This decent person was tricked or mistaken, with bitter consequences.

  17. Regarding Harry’s supposedly “changed” view on Luna and Neville: Remember one year previously he would rather have sat with Cho who was the cool, popular older girl he really fancied? Whereas this year he would rather sit with Luna and Neville than a plain, obnoxious younger girl? It isn’t really an indication that he has grown up if you just look at the text as it is, without JKR’s explanation.

  18. Jonathan, I disagree. When you read the passages, Harry doesn’t merely mention his preferences for who he wants to sit with – it’s his attitude toward Luna and Neville specifically (who are the same people in both instances) that changes dramatically. The first time, he wishes he could have been discovered with a group of “very cool” people rather than Neville and “Loony.” One year later, he confidently states that they are his friends, and then proceeds to tell Neville and Luna that they “are cool.” There’s a direct contrast between the two that has nothing at all to do with Cho or Romilda.

  19. Reading this chapter, I discovered that Harry will do anything to prove that he’s right,eg:spying on Malfoy,and that he can be very nosy and meddlesome, an aspect of Harry that comes up throughout the book

  20. One thing I don’t understand is why nobody believes Harry about Malfoy. Doesn’t Harry (in a lot of ways) know Voldermort better than anyone else? He has shared a mind with him. I would think they would be more trusting of his judgement.

  21. I would be interested to see a list of all the past Slug Club memebers. It would by intresting to read

  22. If Draco had taken the invisibility cloak (and I believe his character would have) The story line would have changed dramatically even though I would’ve liked to have seen his true colors. Imagine what rotton things he would have done with it

  23. I think the reason Harry wasn’t believed is because of how horribly wrong he’d been at the end of OotP. In my first read of HBP, I remember thinking that Harry was just overreacting again as he threw out his crazy theories about Draco being a Death Eater and plotting something sinister. I was a bit shocked to discover that he was actually right about pretty much everything.

  24. I was actually annoyed at the first time reading HBP when no one believed Harry, but when I went by and read the series back-to-back, I kinda did see everyone’s POV of disbelieving Harry (even with all the evidence).
    Regarding the first picture: I keep forgetting that Neville is a rather heavy boy in the books, so it’s always a shock to see pictures or descriptions in fanfiction depicting him as such.

  25. I’m surprised that some people here thought Harry was wrong about Malfoy, given that we the readers already know from chapter two that Voldemort has given Malfoy a task to do, one that is very dangerous, but that if he succeeds will bring him major honour in DE circles. Would Voldemort give such a task to someone who is not a DE?

    I wonder if Harry would have become quite as obssessed with finding out what Malfoy was doing if people, especially Ron and Hermione, had just believed him. He spent the whole of the previous year not being believed about important things, he’s undoubtedly sick of it.

    Malfoy probably didn’t take the cloak because there’s no way he could have gotten away with it. Once Harry was discovered (which would have been quicker without the cloak) Harry would simply go to McGonagall or Dumbledore and tell them, and Malfoy would be made to give it back.

  26. A name I forgot in my list of three-syllable first names, one-syllable last names: Lavender Brown. Grace Has Victory, if you revisit this page, I’d love to read your take on Lavender’s name. I wasn’t able to work out any way her name reflects her character.

  27. Brown is the third most common British surname and probably points to this character’s ordinariness (unless she has brown hair – but I still think she’s a blonde). She’s just an everyday girl, unlike Hermione, who is extraordinary.

    I think the character is named after a flower to emphasise her femininity. Lavender oil has healing properties, suggesting that this is a “good” character. In the language of flowers, lavender stands for negation: “I like you but I do not love you,” perhaps foreshadowing her abortive romance with Ron. The word lavender literally means “washing”, the flower lavender having been named because people used to put it in their laundry. Lavender is particular about personal hygiene: when she enters the RoR at the end of Book 7, she is the character who wants to wash.

    Flower names are another recurring feature of JKR’s writing. Here are a few more.
    Petunia symbolises jealousy
    Lily symbolises purity and death
    Narcissa (from “narcissus”) symbolises egocentricity and vanity.
    Poppy is the source of opium, the world’s only real anaesthetic before 1840.
    Susan = lily (a statement about the whole Bones family)
    Daphne = laurel, the symbol of victory (don’t know if we can read too much into that one).
    Pansy symbolises thoughts, but in everyday speech has connotations of shallowness and vanity (“pansy” used to be a perjorative term for a male homosexual).
    Padma = lotus, a symbol of wisdom; the Hindu goddess Padma is the patroness of wisdom (this character is in Ravenclaw).
    Fleur simply means “flower”! Delacour meams “of the court”, so Fleur Delacour is the centre of attention; the whole court clusters around her.
    Myrtle is related to the willow tree, so a “moaning myrtle” is a “weeping willow”.
    For what it’s worth, a lupin is also a flower; it symbolises dejection or voracity.
    Rose symbolises love (Rose Weasley is a “heart” character like the parent who has the same initial letter; while Hugo (= “mind”) is a “head” character like the parent who shares his initial letter).

  28. P.S. Sorry for the double post, Billie, but Josie Kearns has confirmed that she will soon be posting here a brand new edition of my classlist essay. I did all the classmates’ names to death in that, flowery or not.

    Better still – my Canadian penfriend has found some fabulous classlist artwork, which I hope we can negotiate to use on the HPC.

  29. @grace has victory, just a correction- There is no hindu goddess called Padma. Padma means lotus, and it is the symbol of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, and harvest. The goddess of wisdom is Saraswati whose symbol is a swan, (like cho chang’s patronus. cho was a ravenclaw too).

  30. Interesting… Some sources cite Padma as an actual personification of Lakshmi, not just as the symolic flower. When Vishnu was incarnated as Vamana, Padma appeared from a lotus to be his consort on earth.

    However, it seems that several traditions have been conflated here. Padma is also an alternative name for Ganga, the personification of the River Ganges. The River Padma is also considered to belong to Lakshmi. These “river” stories don’t seem to be related to the Vamana legend.

    Popular understanding is probably different from the formal theology, and that’s before you even begin to allow that foreigners might have misunderstood or confused the legends in the retelling. After a quick Google, I find that your assertion that Padma is Lakshmi’s flower is the most common version.

  31. P.S. I think Padma as an alternative name for Ganga was probably what JKR had in mind, as Ganga is a twin sister of Parvati.

  32. The thing that always irked me about this book is that no one takes Harry’s concerns seriously. I mean, he’s proven himself pretty well so far, and he does have a reasonable stash of facts to back up his assertions. Why does everyone seem to think he’s a little crazy? Ron and Hermione are almost EMBARRASSED by Harry’s idea that Malfoy is a Death Eater… And Lupin and Mr. Weasley kinda think he’s a little coocoo too… Uhm, hello. Harry isn’t an idiot. And, he’s right, as we find out far too late.

  33. Christa, to be fair, Harry’s also been wrong an awful lot. Look at how many times he’s accused Snape of various treacheries….

  34. Harry has been recently wrong (about Sirius being tortured in the MoM). Harry also suspected Draco in CoS and was wrong. So I can understand why Ron and Hermione are now in caution mode. While Harry has sufficient evidence that Draco might be a Death Eater, he doesn’t really have proof that he is.

    It’s frustrating that Ron and Hermione won’t recognise the difference between a mistake over being lied to in legilimancy and a mistake over objective facts. Surely they can see that Draco must be up to something. Even if they have no way of knowing what, they really ought to be investigating their “reasonable suspicion”. But no – they are in full caution mode.

  35. Grace has Victory, thank you for your thoughts on Lavender and the other flower names. I love that Petunia symbolizes jealousy!

  36. I think Draco did know about the cloak, didn’t he say in one of the earlier books words to the effect of “it must be potter under his invisibility cloak. I’ve heard he has one” (of coarse I might be confusing the books with the movies, it wouldn’t be the first time) I also would have thought Draco would have taken the cloak for himself.

  37. Paul, I don’t recall Draco saying anything like that, but I do remember Snape saying it in GoF (when discussing with fake-Moody).

    Doesn’t mean that Draco didn’t also know, of course; only that I don’t remember it.

  38. I know it’s been a while but just wanted to let both Billie and Grace has Victory know that I enjoyed reading everything about the names in HP!

  39. Thanks, spunky! There might be more about that quite soon!

  40. I also wondered why Draco didn’t steal the cloak – and I think I decided that he was so ‘in the moment’ and intent on getting revenge on Harry that he wasn’t thinking big picture. He just wanted to do as much damage to Harry as possible there and then. I bet he kicked himself afterwards though! I like the suggestion from elizabethauthor that he simply wouldn’t have got away with it either.

  41. Even if what Harry does here is stupid, stupid, stupid, I can’t belive Malfoy is actually putting his foot down as hard as he can IN HIS FACE. Ouch! I would never be able to do that, even if the person in question has landed my father in prison. The fingers I get (well, at least a bit), but the FACE? Ugh.

  42. At this point in the book we don’t what Draco’s mission is, so it is interesting that having Harry at his mercy he does no more than assault him, and also what he says regarding Dumbledore not not necessarily being around in the future

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: