The Half-Blood Prince

chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

On Harry’s first day of N.E.W.T. classes, McGonagall approves the sixth-years’ schedules, and Harry heads off to class. First up is Defense Against the Dark Arts, where Snape tries to jinx Harry and gives him a detention for retaliating. But then comes Potions, where Harry receives a textbook with instructions written in – and follows them, winning a bottle of Felix Felicis for having the best potion. The textbook, of course, belonged to the Half-Blood Prince.

by pojypojy

“The Dark Arts,” said Snape, “are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal…. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”


Practicing Nonverbals, Part I, by reallycorking

[Snape] swept between them as they practiced, … lingering to watch Harry and Ron struggling with the task….
“Pathetic, Weasley,” said Snape, after a while. “Here – let me show you -“


Practicing Nonverbals, by reallycorking

He turned his wand on Harry so fast that Harry reacted instinctively; all thought of nonverbal spells forgotten, he yelled, “Protego!”


Practicing Nonverbals, Part IV, by reallycorking

“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying. Several people gasped, including Hermione. Behind Snape, however, Ron, Dean, and Seamus grinned appreciatively.
“Detention, Saturday night, my office,” said Snape. “I do not take cheek from anyone, Potter … not even
‘the Chosen One.’”


Love Potion, by Marta T

“Amortentia doesn’t really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. It is probably the most dangerous and powerful potion in this room….”

(by Marta T)


Sluggy and Felix, by anguinea

“The clear winner!” he cried to the dungeon. “Excellent, excellent, Harry! Good lord, it’s clear you’ve inherited your mother’s talent. She was a dab hand at Potions, Lily was! Here you are, then, here you are – one bottle of Felix Felicis, as promised, and use it well!”


Property of the Half-Blood Prince, by Gnatkip

Harry bent low to retrieve the book, and as he did so, he saw something scribbled along the bottom of the back cover in the same small, cramped handwriting as the instructions that had won him his bottle of Felix Felicis, now safely hidden inside a pair of socks in his trunk upstairs.

This Book is the Property of the Half-Blood Prince.

(by Gnatkip)


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

Snape may have the gift of keeping a class silent with little effort, but to me he does not seem to be a particularly good teacher. Quite apart from his attitude (which, in stressing his students out, certainly harms them more than it helps them), he never seems to explain anything, but simply expects students to be able to do it. This works okay in Potions, where the instructions are in a book. But in Defense Against the Dark Arts – or Occlumency, for that matter – students really need a little more guidance. Contrast his style with Lupin, for example, who gives a detailed explanation before the boggart lesson; or for that matter, with Harry, circling the room, teaching the DA the best methods of spell-casting and giving them individual pointers. Of course, it isn’t as if Harry needed another reason to hate Snape’s class….

Life at Hogwarts

I’ve often wondered what it is about Potions that makes the subject so difficult. Harry will have gone through five and a half years’ worth of lessons, for example, before we see or hear any indication that anything is required of a Potions-brewer beyond following directions printed on a page. And in this chapter, another hint that it really may not be so hard – Slughorn mentions that the students should be able to brew Polyjuice Potion by the time they’re finished with their Potions education, yet Hermione accomplished it with little trouble when she’d only been taking the class for a year and a half. Of course, most likely it’s like cooking – multiple people can follow an identical recipe and still garner dramatically different results, and so both practice and the accumulation of knowledge are required before one can improve. But still, I don’t know… maybe something about the magic gene also just makes wizards really, really bad at following directions?

Something to Remember

So Hermione and Harry each notice three distinct smells emanating from Amortentia (the Love Potion). In Hermione’s case, it’s “freshly mown grass and new parchment and – ” presumably something she’s too embarrassed to admit to in front of her classmates. So what are Harry’s smells? “Treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle, and something flowery he thought he might have smelled at the Burrow.” Hmm….

57 Responses to “The Half-Blood Prince”

  1. gnatkip artwork of the half-blood prince’s book really is beautiful.

    i think the one’s ingenuity plays a big part in excelling in potions. hermione brewed a perfectly good polyjuice potion because she follows instructions to the letter. but the prince adds his own instinctive ideas to the mix as well.

    reading back now, i’m surprised slughorn didn’t mention snape was one of the smartest of his year in potions, along with lily. after all, look what happens when harry follows the prince’s additional instructions…

    hmm. i wonder what ron smells like :D

    btw, i’ve been following this site since POA, and this is my first time commenting. love this site :)

  2. I still get shivers down my spine every time that I read the last line of this chapter. In fact that happens to me a lot during this book!

    I wonder if there might be more to potions than just mixing ingredients and following directions in a book. Maybe the amount of magical ability that the brewer has affects the outcome of their potion? Maybe there is whole mental element to potions and we don’t really “see” when we read the books? This would seem to make sense, or else even a muggle could brew a potion if they managed to find instructions on how to do so.

  3. Awesome new chapter!!! I was looking forward to when it was going to come out! The something to remember section at the end made me curious as well to what Hermione’s third smell was… Also I love the picture by Gnatkip.

  4. Great chapter Josie! Thank you,

    I think your magical abilities play heavily in potions-a powerful wizard/witch can brew potions more easily than a weaker one. I agree too with wizardinventor on the mental element-Harry is a powerful wizard yet has trouble in potions, mostly because of how much he and Snape hate each other and also I think because Snape assumes Harry is an awful potioner. Snape would know that Lily was great at potions, and I think his bitterness comes into play here. Perhaps James wasn’t the best in potions, so Snape would like to think Harry is more like his father than his mother sheerly out of that bitterness.

    If you think of cooking, like Josie pointed out, you can follow a chef’s recipe exactly and it would most likely be different from the chef’s sample! I know I need to follow a recipe exactly and I still get off track or skip a skip, or even forget if I added something so I add it again. But my mom can wing it in her tiny little kitchen and produce wonderfully creative meals. Lots of variations in wizards!

  5. A couple of quotes to answer questions:

    First, Jericho, welcome! :-D There is one moment when Slughorn *almost* mentions Snape. It’s at Slughorn’s Christmas party, coming up in a few chapters:

    “But I don’t think I’ve ever known such a natural at Potions!” said Slughorn, regarding Harry with a fond, if bloodshot, eye. “Instinctive, you know – like his mother! I’ve only ever taught a few with this kind of ability, I can tell you that, Sybill – why even Severus -” (HBP15)

    At which point he gets interrupted. Ah well.

    wizardinventor, Rowling did touch on the magical ability needed to brew potions at one point:

    (Question: “Can muggles brew potions if they follow the exact instructions and they have all of the ingredients?”)
    J.K. Rowling: “Well, I’d have to say no, because there is always [a] magical component in the potion, not just the ingredients. So, at some point they will have to use a wand. I’ve been asked what would happen if a Muggle picked up a magic wand in my world, and the answer would probably be something accidental… possibly quite violent. Because a wand, in my world, is merely a vehicle, a vessel for what lies inside the person…. For a muggle you need the ability, in other words, to make these things work properly but you’re right and I think that’s an interesting point. Potions seems, on the face of it, to be the most Muggle-friendly subject. But there does come a point in which you need do more than stir. Thank you, good question. (Interview August 2006)

  6. In the movie Ron’s smell was peppermint-it might be on the Lexicon site as well?

  7. Ha, one more quote, too. Jennifer C., peppermint isn’t in the book, so if it’s on the Lexicon it’s taken from the movie. But Bella + James P., Rowling has answered your question, too:

    (Question: “What was the third smell that Hermione smelt in the amortentia potion in hbp (ie the particular essence of Ron)?”
    J.K. Rowling: I think it was his hair. Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don’t you find?” (Interview July 2007)

  8. Wow, I love the new banner. :)

    (particularly spoiler-y post)
    Once all was revealed, I wondered if Lily had had a shoulder up on her potions skills –at least at first– by reaping the benefits of Snape’s ingenuity. It’s entirely possibly she was simply better at the subject than Snape, but there’s also the possibility that he was more experimental and consequently had a few more ‘failed’ potions, yet shared his successful innovations with her. So Slughorn (who seems overall more impressed with results than processes) may have seen a good, creative Potions student in Snape, but a fantastic creative student in Lily.

  9. First of all, fantastic site, I’ve been following it for a while now, thank you for all the effort!
    I don’t know why but I’ve always wondered how would Neville do in the Potions with a teacher who’s not Snape. Hmm…
    I don’t have my copy of the book with me now, but isn’t it kind of revealed in this chapter, who „smells flowery“? I remember, when I first read the book, I didn’t get it at all.. Seemed obvious the second time.
    Also, I didn’t have any idea, until the end of the book, who the Half-blood Prince actually is. I don’t know if it’s just me or..

  10. i always wondered, WAS Lily good at potions? i mean, if she was best friends with Snape, and assuming Gryffindor and Slytherin always have potions together, then maybe snape just helped her out a lot, and she just got the credit? like how Hermione always helps out harry and ron. i don’t know, somiething to think about.

  11. I like that theory. Lily can’t have been THAT much better than Snape at Potions for Slughorn to talk only about her in that matter. I can imagine that in his efforts to get Lily to like him Snape would have helped her with her potions work.

  12. *Love* the new banner!

    And I never thought about Snape and Lily working on Potions together. Now that it’s been mentioned, it sounds like a great reason for her to have been good–I mean, if your friends have an interest in something, you generally learn a lot about it yourself (and she was a hard-working student, so she’d’ve wanted to figure stuff out, just like Snape).

  13. In addition to the potion-brewing thoughts, remember that Neville makes a perfect Shrinking Potion in PoA while Hermione directs him. She doesn’t do it for him; Neville just follows her directions…

  14. There is actually a 7 page discussion on Leaky about what Ron smells like.
    I always suspected that Snape helped Lily in Potions a bit. I like Inky Squirrel’s theory.

  15. Wow, so many ideas swirling around in my head!
    I never really thought what Ron would smell like, but I wouldn’t have immediately said peppermint. He seems more of a… boyish comfortable smell.
    I also wonder what Ron smelt in the potion. Anything of Hermione? Or maybe some other girl we’ll see very soon?
    I’d completely forgotten about what Harry could smell, that flowery smell… well spotted!

    I love the idea of Snape always helping Lily out with her Potions. I’d say she WAS good at it, but he just nudged her along a bit to make her the best.
    Also Slughorn says “I’ve never known such a natural at Potions […] why even Severus-” – wasn’t as good, is how I expected him to finish. It makes me think that Snape WASN’T the best and that Slughorn thought even Harry was better than him. Am I completely wrong here?

    I also imagine the outcome of the potion not just being how well you read instructions – otherwise it would’ve been easy to do well in, wouldn’t it? Perhaps a lot to do with the magical ability and confidence in the witch or wizard in that particular subject.
    And Hermione has a lot of that, doesn’t she?

    Also, why can’t all teachers understand how to teach WELL? I mean, you’ve got some excellent ones who explain, let you all discuss the topic, and always get notes in to study later. Then you’ve got the annoying ones who ramble on about some pointless football subject and try ot compare it to Maths… what is WITH that? It’s like Lupin and Snape, one knows how to teach and the other doesn’t… not really.

  16. Whoops! Rambled on a bit there.

  17. Was Lily good at potions because Snape was? Was Snape good at potions because Lily was? If Sev. Snape wanted to impress Lily, wouldn’t he work harder at potions (assuming she had more talent)? Or was it the case that up to their OWL exam, they studied together and competed (in the best sense of the term), each egging the other on to do better. Slughorn most certainly would have encouraged that.

    I suspect that Sev Snape was good at potions because Lily was better. Slughorn knew that, since we see no mention of Sev Snape in Slughorn’s collection of luminaries.

    Potions is not Sev. Snape’s best subject — he always wanted his favorite: DADA. No doubt he is an excellent potions master, but he feels his better talent is DADA.

  18. I quite liked that Lily was good at potions because until then, the most successful potion students we’ve seen have been Slytherins. The potions master has been the head of Slytherin house both times, and Draco doesn’t have the same troubles in potions that Harry and Ron do. Of course, blatant favoritism there on the professor’s part, but still.

    By making Lily good at potions, I think, JKR is showing that Potions ISN’T a nasty dark subject. Snape made it that way, but you can have a very powerful, very nice wizard (or witch) like Lily Evans-Potter top of the class. And it also helps paint Slughorn more as a not-evil Slytherin. That’s always been my biggest irk with these books, is how uniformly nasty Slytherins are, with only about three exceptions–Slughorn is equally supportive of his good students regardless of their house or background. He uses them for his own benefit, yes, but he judges people by their skills and what they have to offer as opposed to who their parents are or where they were Sorted. Andromeda Black-Tonks was presumably a Slytherin, and she ran off with a muggle and became a ‘good’ witch. And then there is RAB, who made the ultimate sacrifice to help others (or so he thought).

    But yes, up until this point, we’ve been consistently shown that potions and nasty wizards go hand in hand. Even look at the Weasleys–Percy, the most grouchy Weasley child, spends much of book 4 focusing on cauldrons. Cauldrons are used for potions. Yet more potions are unpleasant propaganda.

  19. I was thinking about that quote from JKR about muggles unable to brew potions as well.
    Glad you brought that up^^
    I guess whether consciously or unconsciously something of the witch’s/wizard’s magic comes to process and transforms the individual jumble of ingredients to intended potion.(“by an almost alchemical process” I recall)

    As for Lily being better at potions than Severus, it’s a nice idea to think that she was actually better.
    I think I can empathize with the situation better for Sev wanting to catch up with his love of interest, rather than he giving the hints making Lily best in potions.
    Anyways I think the latter doesn’t go well with Lily’s character either. She wouldn’t have used Sev’s tips just so she could exceed best in a subject. I’m sure it was just her perseverance, effort and natural skill that actually helped her accomplish it.

  20. It’s sad to think what Snape could have become if he hadn’t had that childhood. He was brilliant at potions, and good enough at DADA also to be the Hogwarts professor of it. He was an accomplished occlumens and legilimens. He did have great loyalty (to Lily & Dumbledore) and bravery. If things had gone a little differently for him at certain points in his life, he could have turned out to be another Dumbledore, perhaps.

  21. This chapter does not so much open the Snape can-of-worms as spew the worms all over the Potions laboratory.

    Anna, I think that’s the entire tragedy of Snape’s life. He was brilliant, but he CHOSE to be spiteful. His bad childhood can’t be blamed for everything: Harry also had a bad childhood. Snape had Lily’s friendship and redemptive love from Dumbledore, but he remained, according to JKR, a “deeply horrible person.”

    Snape was obsessed with Lily, but she could not inspire him to behave decently to Petunia, Remus or Mary MacDonald. Even after he committed himself to saving Harry Potter’s life, but he could not love Harry for Lily’s sake. He tormented Neville and Hermione – presumably because they rreminded him of the painful parts of himself – but basically because he COULD.

    While it is understandable that Snape should have resented his romantic rival, a truly great man would have overcome that resentment and not blamed Harry for James. But Snape never made it to moral greatness.

    Perhaps a less flawed Snape would also have been a less interesting character.

  22. “I’ve never known such a natural at Potions […] why even Severus-”
    Seeing as Harry used Snape’s notes to brew all his sixth year potions, I don’t think that Slughorn is saying Harry’s potions are better than Snape’s, but the fact that Harry got it on the first try (whereas Snape, presumably, having experimented, did not) is remarkable.

  23. On another note, if Snape had been a good professor, he would have shown his students what to change in the previous years’s textbooks and why these new directions would work.

  24. Wow, great discussion about Snape and Lily. This was an interesting read.

    I was wondering why Snape didn’t stay in his old classroom. Didn’t we once discuss if teachers lived in a room off their classroom? So I thought they would stay in their classroom even if they tought another subject. I guess it might have something to do with a potions classroom being difficult to move.

    Slughorn really prepared hard for his firs lesson. We don’t know about Amortentia or Felix Felicis, but the other two potions take like a month to brew, right?

    A good way to mention the dangerousness of love potions this early in the book! We will later see how true that is.

  25. I had wondered too about the time Slughorn’s preparations must have taken. Since he accepted the teaching post only a couple of weeks into the summer break, he easily had time to prepare a potion that needs to brew for a month. But we learn later that Felix Felicis takes months to prepare (six months, I think?). He must have been brewing it during the year that he was on the run from the Death Eaters, moving from muggle house to muggle house. What was he planning to do with it?

    And more importantly, what happened to the rest of the cauldron of Felix that he showed the students during their first class? There are certainly points in this book and the next when it would have been great to give a dose to everyone. What would have happened if all the foes of Voldemort had taken Felix Felicis at the same time?

    Now that I think about it, it seems that Felix Felicis creates as many problems for plot possibilities as it solves, just like time turners. Maybe we need to assume that Slughorn spilled the whole cauldronful as he was tidying up at the end of the first day of classes – and that he was never able to get all the ingredients to make it again!

  26. Harry has seen Snape’s handwriting on the blackboard for five years, yet he doesn’t connect it with the hand of the HBP. I suppose Snape’s handwriting might have changed… But would it have become THAT unrecognisable unless he had changed it deliberately? What reason might he have had for changing it deliberately?

  27. I agree that the loss of the remainder of the Felix Felicis is an interesting problem. I remember that when Harry went to get his stuff for his first year, the instructions indicated a specific size of cauldron for purchase. That means that there are several sizes of cauldons. Quite likely the one used to make the Felix Felicis is very small. Hence the likely size of the problem is very small — both the amount of Felix to be disposed and plot issues.
    Interesting idea that Felix may have helped Dumbledore’s army or it may have helped the Dark Lord. (And help explain why LV/Death Eaters were after Slughorn.) I agree that it creates plot problems, hence dropped.

  28. I’d always assumed that Slughorn kept a small, steady supply of Felix Felicis handy to help him over the tricky bits of his life on the run. I could imagine a houseful of Muggles, back from holiday unexpectedly early, having to cope with an unwanted guest … and if that guest can have his (clearly very good) wizarding skills and reflexes augmented with a stiff tot of Felix, wouldn’t it be useful?

    And for the rest of the books, Slughorn knows – whether or not he admits it – that Harry used his Felix to manipulate Slughorn himself. In the circumstances, he might well think twice about brewing up another batch: who knows what else lurks in his mind?

    As for the sizes of cauldrons: here in South Africa one of our cooking traditions is to use a black, three-legged pot over an open fire. It’s called a potjie (pronounced POY key) and basically you pack your stew ingredients into it in layers and put on a heavy cover. Come back in a few hours, and tuck in! These potjies come in many sizes: some restaurants serve a single portion of main course in one, as a gimmick, and the huge ones can feed a really big party. There are competitions for potjie chefs, and the size to be used is always stated, and different for various categories. So it never seemed strange to me that cauldrons are the same! (By the way, our biggest mountain range is the Drakensberg, which means the Dragon Mountains. Clearly there’s a lot going on here behind the scenes!)

  29. Grace has Victory-I have wondered the same thing! Wouldn’t it at least look a bit familiar? I even think Snape’s cramped handwriting is mentioned a few times before book 6, too? Harry finds Dumbledore’s handwriting familiar in book 5-and how many times had he seen it? Good point, Grace!

  30. Gary, I like your theory about Lily & Snape in potions.

    And Grace, yes, that’s the tragic character of Snape — he chose to remain stuck.

    On the other hand, in Snape’s defense, Harry did have the whole first year of his life bathed in unconditional love by two parents (plus their friends). Snape did not have any point in his early childhood that we know of where adults actually took care of him unselfishly. He may have been too scarred by the time he met Lily to recover without a caring adult taking a particular interest in him at Hogwarts (one of the things that marks “resilient” children — even if it’s only one teacher).

    Not to say people can’t choose to change, but without something to build on, it’s extremely hard to do. And in Slytherin, surrounded by future Death Eaters, I’m sure he was being pulled deeper into his problems instead of out.

    Anyway, he’s a plot device, not a person, so if he had changed we wouldn’t have the story we do, so it’s all academic. :)

  31. Oh, and I forgot to say, I wondered about Harry not recognizing Snape’s handwriting too. On the other hand, handwriting does change as personality changes, so perhaps he had been a double agent so long his handwriting started to hide his identity too…?

  32. If you look at OP12 you’ll find this: “The ingredients and method -‘ Snape flicked his wand’ – are on the blackboard -‘ (they appeared there)”.
    It appears that Harry is used to see a kind of Snape’s writing made by magic means, maybe that writing is somehow different from his hand writing?

  33. I’m in the middle of moving to another apartment and while packing my boxes I have just recently come across my old school books. My handwriting has changed a lot since then! Even between two grades it changed as I was experiencing with certain letters. Now that I’m an adult (and incidentally a teacher) you cannot tell it was me who wrote into those school books.

  34. Oh, sorry to bother you about this again, Josie, but the link to the next chapter is not activated yet.

  35. Thanks, Kim! My apologies, I just forgot. It’s fixed now.

  36. this chapter was always interesting to me for the the things they learned.

    but there was something that always left me curious because it seemed so ambiguous: the Amortentia potion.

    on one side Slughorn says “The potion smells differently to different people according to what attracts them”.
    which then it is implied that whoever the person smells in Amortentia is the person they love. (clear solid example: Hermione smells something that reminds her solidly of Ron).

    but then Slughorn Also has this to say about the Amortentia potion:
    “Amortentia doesn’t really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession.”

    so it’s Not really a potion about “Real Love” but “infatuation or obsession” yet we are told that whoever the smell of Amortentia reminds the person is the person they love.

    so the inconsistency always confused and intrigued me.

    anyone has any thoughts?

  37. Now I will never be able to listen to this chapter without wondering how Slughorn was able to have those potions ready. He clearly states he has only taken Felix two times in his life (and gives his age at each time, something like 25 and 43). So unless he is lying, he wasn’t using it to escape from Death Eaters. I do like the fact that he has prepared such an interesting class. I’m just stuck on how he got it all brewed in time. :)

    And Jose and Kim, interesting ideas on the handwriting change.

  38. i always liked this chapter for all the interesting things they learned.

    although there always this particular, left ambiguous thing that i been curious about: The amortentia potion.

    first, on one hand, according to Hermione says Amortentia ” The potion smells differently to different people according to what attracts them” harry smells Ginny Weasley.

    so it was implied by Rowling that whoever the person the smell reminded them off/ smelled like it smelled like the person they loved.

    But then Slughron says “Amortentia doesn’t really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession.”

    so the amortentia potion is not a potion that deals with “True, Real love” but with “Infatuation or obsession”

    so any thoughts as to why the contradictory information, what exactly does it actually mean you supposedly smell the person you love in a potion that deal with infatuation and obsession?

    any thoughts?

  39. Maybe, when someone drinks Amortentia, the person who gave it to them begins to radiate those smells or ideals, so that the Amortentia-ee is extremely attracted to the person (but it isn’t true love, of course).
    I don’t think it’s a reflection of Harry’s feelings for Ginny or Hermione’s for Ron.

  40. Perhaps the Felix Felicis in the Cauldron was not yet done brewing. whereas the bottle he gives Harry could have been from a previous batch.

  41. I don’t think Slughorn made the Felix Felicis – Snape did. Think about it – Slughorn has been on the run for several months, but Snape just stays in the castle whenever he is not doing super secret spy stuff.

    In addition . . .
    When Dumbledore returns to Hogwarts after retrieving the ring (summer before the 6th book, but we don’t see this until the 7th), Snape “tip[s] a goblet full of thick golden potion down Dumbledore’s throat”.

    Felix Felicis is describes as having the color of “molten gold”. Dumbledore would need all the luck he could get, since the curse is of “extraordinary power”.

    Also Slughorn’s says that “if brewed correctly, as this has been, you will find that all our endeavors tend to succeed . . .” If Felix Felicis was really as difficult to make and Slughorn had succeeded in making it, wouldn’t he have mentioned that he himself had brewed it? We’ve seen him brag about how he as advanced the careers of so many talented witches and wizards, so it would make sense for him to brag about his own skills in potions.

  42. @Snape’s teaching: Snape is a terrible teacher. Lol. He doesn’t do anything to help his students. He is abusive and shows extreme favoritism.

    @Harry’s smell: I wonder what the Ginny smell is. I wonder if it is a perfume or something of the sort. I also wonder if the potion can make you realize who you love. B/C Harry isn’t aware that he loves Ginny yet but his body obviously is.

    Snape helping Lily vice versa@ What if Lily was the good one at potions? Snape loves the Dark Arts. I more see that Lily was good at potions and he became good at it because of her. Also, he has a flair for experimenting. He is making potions closer to the Dark Arts.

  43. It’s pretty clear from this chapter how bad the potions textbooks are. I wonder why Snape didnt at least update the book from the version he used a a student?

  44. Perhaps Dumbledore told Slughorn to destroy the Felix Felicis he didn’t use to demonstrate in his first lesson so as to prevent it falling into the wrong hands?

  45. Jlam – I really like your idea that Snape made the potions. Since Snape had been teaching potions for years, it makes sense that he would already have been brewing this to introduce it to his first year NEWT students.

    As for Amortentia, it cause attraction and obsession so it makes sense that smelling it shows what appeals most to each based on what attracts us in an emotional, almost primal way. True love is much more complicated and goes far beyond attraction to include the intellect and will (determination), as well as affection and attraction. So it can’t create love because love it too complicated, it can create attraction/obsession because that is a more primal, basic instict.

  46. Regarding the contradiction with the Amortentia Potion of love/infatuation, I thought the potion just copied the feelings you had for someone/something you loved, and projected them onto whoever gave the potion. So while Harry is attracted to Ginny (even if he doesn’t know it), if another girl slipped him some potion, then he would have the same feelings for that girl that he has for Ginny. Since it would just be a copy of his feelings, it might feel like real love but is really only an infatuation.

    Hopefully I’m making sense? Basically since you can’t make someone love you, infatuation and reminding them of the things they do love is the best you can do.

  47. I like that idea, Samantha.

  48. Dumbledore mentioned at the beginning that Slughorn pick students sometimes for their talent or just their charm. It’s clear from what Slughorn say about Lily in the beginning that she was very charming and that was part of the reason for Slughorn’s favouritism.

    I read a fanfic about Slughorn’s treatment of Lily and Snape – they were both equally good at Potions, but Slughorn clearly favours Lily (for whatever reason) and everything she does is praised whereas if Snape does the same thing, he doesn’t react nearly as enthusiastically. So it may just be that Snape and Lily were both good at Potions, but can you imagine a charming Snape? He might be too broody for Slughorn’s taste. After all, he caved to Tom Riddle’s charisma, didn’t he?

  49. I associate Potions with chemistry laboratory: the instructions are all in the lab manual, but somehow, many people manage to mess them up and receive inaccurate data: misuse of equipment, spills, mis-measurement of chemicals. Success in practical and experimental chemistry is largely due to attention to detail and carefulness. That’s why lots of people hate chemistry: you have to be intuitive and follow directions precisely!

    Young wizards (just like young muggle students) are often sloppy and not careful (with the exception of Hermione), and I imagine Potions requires a lot more precision than Chemistry does, so frequently, after all that effort (lots of double potions classes), due to a minor mistake the potioneer-in-training is possibly not even aware of, the result is far from what it was supposed to be.

  50. I distinctly remember Jo mentioning that Potions was based on her somewhat terrible experiences in Chemistry class, but I can’t remember where I read it =)

    I can’t help wonder why Snape would leave his old textbook in the cupboard of the Potions classroom. I wonder if he wrote his nickname in all of his other textbooks as well.

    And what are the chances of Harry ending up with the Prince’s old textbook? There was a 50% chance it could have ended up with Ron, and the only reason he had to borrow the book in the first place was because he didn’t think he would be taking Potions! I always felt it was a well-strung chain of coincidences :D

  51. This is easily my favorite book – and from the number of comments, I’m guessing it’s a lot of people’s favorite book. But you know what? One of my favorite little “Something You Might Not Have Noticed” bits was this chapter and later when Ginny walks by smelling like something flowery. I was so excited for Harry/Ginny when this book came out that I noticed this immediately. I think every time I read anything about felix or *assumed* amortenia, I squirm with joy.

  52. I’ve come to believe that Snape became good at potions because of Lily, but not through her help.

    This would have been the book Snape had in his sixth year, which means that the previous year ended with him losing Lily forever. Lily would have been great in potions, and by trying to make himself a master in potions, he could either a) be trying to show Lily that he cares about something she cares about (or cares about more than the Dark Arts) or b) since he couldn’t be close to Lily, he could be close to her favourite subject (twisted, yes, but we already know he’s stalker-ish and obsessive (watching Lily and Petunia from the bushes at the park)).

    “…why even Severus – ” -didn’t show this sort of knack for potions until part way through his sixth year.

  53. Th third thing genuine smelt is Ron, I think Jk said!

  54. I have always imagined that Slughorn would have never wasted a cauldron of Felix Felicis. Future behavior in the book (with Aragog) leads me to believe that he would bottle and sell the rest (on the side, naturally) or give it as a gift to people of influence.

    I’m sure Slughorn praised Lily as one of his best students because was probably a lot like Hermione, who has also gained Slughorn’s interest. Someone who has a bright future ahead. Snape, on the other hand, was an unpleasant student. Although talented in potions, his sombre demeanor and interest in Dark Arts would not impress Slughorn.

  55. I always figured that Potions had a lot to do with focus and intention, as a lot of other magic does, perhaps the fact that Hermione was so set on saving muggle borns/finding the heir meant that her focus/intent as well as her precision and accuracy led her to create the polyjuice potion successfully. I think of it like no-verbal spells, you really have to want it to work and part of potions class is learning that focus. I suppose it’s all just conjecture though.

  56. Just a quick note, in reference to when you mentioned that Snape doesn’t seem to be a very good teacher. One has to keep in mind that he didn’t WANT to be a teacher – Dumbledore made him become a teacher when he became a spy. He never trained to be any sort of teacher; he was pushed straight into the job whie grieving for Lily.

  57. “You don’t have to call me sir,professor” Best line in this chapter, I laughed so much when I read it first! I love how Harry isn’t afraid of Snape like so many other students, especially when Snape goes out of his way to pick on Harry. So quotes like this one really make me laugh- Harry is great!

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