The Runespoor and the Half Blood Prince
An original editorial by Sam Avila
Snakes have, and always will be, flourishing in mythological lore as the villainous
beast. They are a symbol of treachery and deception in many religious, as well
as imaginative, text.*1 In Harry Potter, the sign of the snake is similarly
associated with the emblem of the Slytherin House, the design upon the Dark
Mark, Lord Voldemort, who is a Parselmouth, one who can converse with snakes,
as well as a Basilisk. . .but there is now new evidence brought to light that
the serpent is now a clue in discovering information about Harry’s past,
present, and future.
First of all, we must look at Lord Voldemort and his connection with snakes.
The Basilisk was controlled by Tom Riddle but many have pointed out that Harry
did not have the ability to obtain this feat. The reason is either that he simply
didn’t have the bond with snakes that he did in OOTP, or rather that the
snake was not his “familiar”. In magical terms in context with our
society today, a “familiar” is that animal upon which a Druid, Witch,
Wizard, Priestess, etc. has correlated.*2 Voldemort states that it is a simple
task to obtain the bodies of snakes, and he even has his own “familiar”
with him, “Nagini.” I understand that Rowling has expressed her
views on religion in this matter, so the inclusion of Pagan religion in this
denotation is not important.2 What is important is the reference of a “Magi”
or “Magician” with his familiar. Folklore indicated that the familiar
of this Magi begins to acquire the physical and mental ability of the animal.
Although nearly impossible in our world, lore states that those with serpent
familiars acquire slit eyes, lose their hair, and have an increasingly developed
sense of smell (i.e. when Lord Voldemort ‘sniffed out’ his own Death
Eaters in GoF). All of these apply to Lord Voldemort, obviously, but the other
interesting fact is the statement about shedding its skin, that the body of
the serpent is stronger with its new, tough skin. Did not Lord Voldemort loose
his body a number of times, but seemed to regain his strength which would now
be considered “greater and more terrible than he ever was” (PoA,
Now, this idea is easily applied to one who reads the descriptions straight
from the book and knows a little bit about reptilian behavior, but the very
subtle relevance that many have overlooked is the position of the “Runespoor”.
For those who have not read Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, should
go pick up a copy and begin to read between the lines. For now the description
of a Runespoor is that it has three heads: the left is known as the ‘planner’,
the middle is known as the ‘dreamer’, and the right is the ‘critic’,
which chides the other two heads. The fangs of the right head are “extremely
venemous,” but it is “common to see a Runespoor with the right head
missing, the other two heads having banded together to bite it off.” I
have read numerous discussions that fans have had indulging in the theory that
the snake which attacked Mr. Weasley was a Runespoor, but that is impossible
because the creature would have 1. Spent too much time deciding what to do and
2. Had three heads, which the snake in the Ministry did not (conceivably).
So what might the Runespoor have to do with Harry Potter? Everything. The Fantastic
Beasts book is more than a reference, but it is up to the neck with clues. This
book came out before book five, but if you look over FB again, you will see
creatures such as the Thestrals, Bowtruckles, and Puffskeins, only formally
introduced in OOTP, which means the Runespoor might make a crucial appearance
in the next two books. Secondly, JKR has put a lot of thought into the Runespoor,
and most of these creatures which she has done such with (such as the Unicorn
and Dragon) have played significant roles in the plot. And now onto the relevance
of this whole theory. . . The Runespoor has been in existence for hundreds of
years, and the only way Wizards know about this is from Parselmouths, so it
may be possible that Salazar Slytherin had one as a pet, since FB states it
“was once a favorite pet of Dark wizards.”
Here’s where the glue begins to stick: when Harry reaches the entrance
to the Chamber of Secrets “he saw a solid wall ahead on which two entwined
serpents were carved, their eyes set with great, glinting emeralds,” (CoS,
pg 304) and then in Dumbledore’s office when the Headmaster consulted
that odd silver instrument, “A serpent’s head grew out of the end
of it, opening it’s mouth wide. . . .[then] split itself instantly into
two snakes, both coiling and undulating in the dark air,” (OOTP, pg. 470).
As I read this for the second time, I realized the connection immediately, but
it made no sense at the time. Ever since I had wondered whether this Runespoor
was the link between the three heads of 1. Dumbledore 2. Harry and 3. Voldemort.
Then, as I picked up rumors JKR said about there being a correlation between
CoS and OOTP, I felt this had to be the key. And then, as if a lightbulb went
on, JKR released the title of the next book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood
Two definite clues for the sixth book so far: The HBP is not Harry and it is
not Voldemort. This leaves an obvious blank that I replaced while re-reading
OOTP: Mark Evans, the 10 year old boy Dudley was beating up the night the Dementors
came to Little Whinging. There are a number of reasons why Mark would be this
1. In the SS, there was a small reference to Sirius Black, which turned out
to be big later on. In OOTP, there is a small reference to Mark Evans, whom
might possibly be the half-blood prince.
2. It can't be Neville, he's pureblood. Probably won't be something as drastic
as James or Lily either -- remember, JKR likes to pick the obvious from the
3. Mark Evans is "supposedly" ten years old in OOTP, when in HBP
he would be 11, which means he would be attending Hogwarts next year, right?
JKR said there would be no introduction of new characters after the six book,
so it would make sense that Mark’s introduction be in HBP.
4. The Evans’ Grandparents had Lily and Petunia for sure, but what about
more siblings? There's no evidence leading to a brother, but IF there was an
Evans brother to Lily, that man would have to marry a witch, and viola, you
have a half-blooded Mark Evans. Would the Dursley's have even mentioned this
to Harry? Of course not, they wanted to sever ties with the Wizarding world
as much as possible.
5. There is a predicted "Godmother", which might be Lily's sister-in-law.
6. If Mark attends Hogwarts next year, it would be the main attention of Harry,
and might be a filler in the emotional turmoil after losing Sirius.
7. Harry was extremely rich from the money that was leant to him. Yeah, it
could’ve been from James, but if the Evans family were in some sort of
Royalty power, that means Mark would be the Half Blood PRINCE and because, Harry
is older, that would make Harry the reigning royal figure.
8. Voldemort would rather go after Harry than Neville, but why? It might make
more sense that THAT is the reason Voldemort wanted more information, because
he had some, but not all of the information on a royal family or throne that
could bring him even more power.
9. I’ve read numerous accounts on the hypothesis that Colin Creevey is
the Prince. In accordance with the facts on Mugglenet, if Half-Blood Prince
was originally in for Chamber of Secrets, the connections between CoS and OOTP
would be on the Chamber door with those two snakes, (or we can say something
as much as the sorting hat having precedence over choice, not fate), not Colin
and Harry. But Colin and Mark are very much alike – both first years,
small, going into a world very alien to them. . .JKR probably decided to switch
these characters because it would give more clues to the conclusion reached
about the Basilisk in CoS, and leave this great emotional plot open for book
six after Sirius’ death.
In light of all this information, now the Runespoor becomes a relevant model
for the relationship between Mark, Harry, and Lord Voldemort. The last description
of the Runespoor is significant, as it does not live long without it’s
right head that has dangerous fangs (Voldemort), because the Left and Right
(Harry and Mark) have bitten it (or defeated it). I personally suppose Harry
is the left head because he has proven himself and we know him better whereas
Mark might be more of a dreamer.*3 This theory supports both the idea that Harry
will not “survive” as a living being, and the clues, throughout
the series. Dumbledore, while seeing the smoke-snake in his office says, “Naturally.
. .But in essence divided?,” (OOTP, pg. 470), which might refer to Voldemort
and Harry, but wouldn’t it make more sense that Harry and Mark are from
the same family, but “in essence” different people?
To be honest, there is a good chance I may be completely wrong, and the other
form of this Prince would be Severus Snape, since his blood relation is unknown.
This may be the reason his father, Mr. Snape, was angry at his mother, Mrs.
Snape, because one was, as Petunia said, “a freak.” Snape seems
to hate those who are not full-blooded Wizard, which is why many say he does
not have any Muggle parentage, but didn’t Lord Voldemort have a Muggle
father as well? It is possible that is why Dumbledore stepped in to speak for
Severus, because he knows all to well what Severus is, and that he joined the
Death Eaters because he felt in the same position as Tom Riddle did, but this
is a theory I can back nothing on except for spotting the blank on Snape’s
background. There is more evidence that the up-and-coming Prince is Mark Evans.
If this is true, it adds a seemingly warming depth to the emotional development
of Harry as a responsible family figure, not only for Mark, but himself, after
book five’s exposure of Harry’s rage and turmoil. As Dumbledore
said, Harry would now have to choose between what is easy and what is right.
The Runespoor might be used only as a symbol, but it’s relevance to the
story so far is undeniable, as the lifespan of this particular serpent cannot
live without one of it’s heads, just as the prophecy states one cannot
live without the other. The one and only piece of the puzzle that doesn’t
fit is that since the chamber was built by Salazar Slytherin a thousand years
ago; he must have known something about the relationship between those two snakes.
What did they mean to him? The only answer I can come up with is that Salazar
Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor were related, which is why they argued the most,
but this would only support the Snape-Prince theory, but that is only a speculation.
I feel the relationships uncovered here are hard facts to plausible theories
that have been bounced back and forth continually since the release of OOTP,
and now all we can do is let time bring about some answers. . .
*1. This is a shame, and I’m not condoning the hatred of these animals.
Think of the Boa in SS that Harry set free or the snake that backed off in CoS.
Snakes are not all that bad. . .
*2. I had actually read a reference between a symbolic white stag that was
changed to a serpent because of its influence, but I did not find that to be
an integral clue to the series, rather a coincidence.
*3. For a while I believed Luna to be the middle head because of her dreamy
demeanor, but as soon as I heard “Prince” in the next book title,
I knew it couldn’t be her.