Turn to Page 394: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Edition
Class is in session again, so pull out your copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and flip to page 394. If this is your first time joining us, welcome.
We’ve been following Professor Snape’s instructions from Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban when he told the then third years to “turn to page 394,” which is where we began our lessons with “Turn to Page 394: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Edition.” After that, we dove into Years 4 and 5 with “Turn to Page 394: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Edition” and “Turn to Page 394: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Edition.” If you have a different edition of the Harry Potter series, we’d love to hear what is on page 394 in your books.
Imagine your copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a Portkey. Hold on tight as we teleport into the boys’ dormitory in Gryffindor Tower.
It’s Ron’s birthday, and Harry just cast the incantation Levicorpus on him, so he’s dangling in the air… upside down. He’s irate and lovesick all at once, and Harry holds back “a strong desire to laugh” at his suspended friend. When Ron woke up that morning, there were gifts at the foot of his bed that he tore into immediately. He accidentally grabbed a box of Chocolate Cauldrons off the ground that Romilda Vane had gifted Harry for Christmas, thinking they were for him. We know Ron and his love for sweets, so he wasted no time before eating half the box. Harry had to cast the incantation because Ron was suddenly and aggressively in love with Romilda, whom he’s never met.
Harry internally debates letting Ron “run amok until the effects of the potion wore off” but ultimately decides against it. He doesn’t want to get punched again, plus Ron’s his best friend, and it’s his birthday! Harry thinks quickly on his feet, as he typically does, and agrees to introduce Ron to Romilda. He convinces Ron that she’s in Professor Slughorn’s office taking extra Potions lessons. Harry lets Ron down, and they head out of the dormitory, passing Lavender Brown, who is all excited to celebrate her Won-Won’s birthday. Unfortunately, Ron tells her to leave him alone and that Harry is introducing him to Romilda as they exit the common room through the portrait hole.
This scene offers both the characters and the readers a brief intermission in the fight against Voldemort, stalking Draco, and figuring out what Horcruxes are. It allows us to laugh and see a different side to being a magical teenager. A love potion from a girl who wants “the Chosen One” to like her accidentally finds its way to his best friend. Aside from getting hit, Harry finds the situation amusing and drops all his efforts to fight the Dark Magic consuming the world to help his friend get an antidote. He tells some white lies to get his love-drunk friend to go along with his plan. Ron can’t see anything clearly, so Harry has to choose what is ultimately best for his friend without agreeance from the present-love-obsessed Ron. All he wants is to meet and profess his love for Romilda, and he won’t let anything or anyone get in his way.
We see this often both throughout the Harry Potter series and in other stories. Harry, and characters like him, get caught up in what they’re doing and their missions become somewhat all-consuming. However, they are always there for their friends, always willing to drop it all or put a pause on the vendetta in order to encourage, solve their problems, or listen and give advice. As we’ve seen with Harry, sometimes it takes a little anger or frustration from the other character to awaken that nurturing friend that lives inside of him… but nonetheless, he always comes through on a personal level for Ron, Hermione, Neville, and countless others.
At this point in the book, Harry is deep into investigating Draco. Even as Ron is opening Harry’s gift to him, Harry’s eyes are glued to the Marauder’s Map looking for Draco’s footprints. His thoughts have been so focused on figuring out what he is up to and what a Horcrux is that it’s been affecting his attention in class and Apparition lessons, as well as how much he notices the animosity between Hermione and Ron.
Even with all of these ongoing important missions, Harry is reminded that he is a teenager and that he is a friend. He’s pulled out of his hero bubble and puts on his friend hat to take care of Ron. We’ve seen it before in the series. During the Triwizard Tournament, Harry is battling dragons and deciphering a screeching egg when all of a sudden, he needs to learn a dance and find a date to the Yule Ball. In Harry’s third year, despite being wrapped up in his fear of Sirius Black and Dementors, he still breaks McGonagall’s rules and goes to Hogsmeade to be with his friends. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry and Hermione are on the run attempting to find Horcruxes, Harry pauses everything to comfort her over Ron leaving them in the woods.
How often are we so wrapped up in our lives, our own missions, and our own hero’s journeys, that we miss our friends and family’s need for our help? Perhaps we don’t miss it, but it takes us a while to catch on to their signs and need for our comfort. We often hear Harry’s internal dialogue acknowledging a friend’s upset or distance, but he decides to handle it later. Other times (like page 394 in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) it takes Ron punching Harry for him to get the hint that Ron needs his help.
The root of it all is looking out for those in your life and being willing to drop your own agendas for the sake of someone else’s.
Catch the final installment of this series, “Turn to Page 394: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Edition,” next month.