Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Chapters 29 and 30
Ginny grabs Harry’s hand and gently tugs him back. Harry asks her who else is dead, and Ginny says that Bill was badly hurt by Fenir Greyback, but no one is dead. They reach the hospital wing. Neville is asleep, and Ron, Hermione, Luna, Tonks, and Lupin are gathered around another bed, where Bill Weasley is lying, his face unrecognizable. Madam Pomfrey tells Harry that no charms will cure his disfigurement. Ron asks if Bill is a werewolf now, and Lupin tells him that because Greyback was not transformed when he attacked, Bill will probably not be a true werewolf. Still, Lupin does caution that there could be some contamination. Ginny tells the group that Dumbledore is dead. Lupin collapses, and Tonks asks how it happened. Harry tells them about Snape. Outside, Dumbledore’s Phoenix is singing.
The group stands in silence. Professor McGonagall walks in and tells everyone that the Weasleys are on their way. Harry repeats the news. McGonagall is shocked, and Lupin and Tonks both speculate on what it was about Snape that made Dumbledore trust him so deeply. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Fleur rush in. When Mrs. Weasley sees Bill’s face, she screams and starts to cry. Mrs. Weasley assumes that Fleur will no longer wish to marry Bill, but Fleur is offended and tells her that she still intends to marry him. Tonks glares at Lupin and tells him that just because someone is a werewolf doesn’t mean they cannot be loved. Harry realizes that Tonks has been in love with Lupin, not Sirius. Hagrid enters and tells Professor McGonagall that he has moved the body and alerted the Ministry. McGonagall asks Hagrid to tell the Heads of House to meet her in her office.
Professor McGonagall asks Harry what he and Dumbledore had been doing that evening, but Harry tells her he cannot betray Dumbledore’s confidence. Professor Slughorn, Sprout, and Flitwick enter the office with Hagrid. Moments later, one of Dumbledore’s portraits tells Professor McGonagall that Scrimgeour has left the Ministry and will be at Hogwarts shortly. McGonagall tells the group that she is not certain Hogwarts should reopen next year. Harry asks about Dumbledore’s funeral, and the faculty agrees that he should be buried on the grounds and that students should be allowed to attend. Harry walks through the common room without saying a word to anyone. Ron asks Harry if he and Dumbledore succeeded in getting a Horcrux, and Harry tells him no. Classes and examinations are suspended. Hermione tells Harry that Eileen Prince was Snape’s mother, which is why Snape called himself the Half-Blood Prince.
The day of Dumbledore’s funeral, Hagrid carries Dumbledore’s body, wrapped in purple cloth, down the aisle. Harry cannot hold back his tears any longer. Harry thinks of how many people have tried to protect him and died while doing it: his father, his mother, his godfather, and Dumbledore. After the funeral, Harry tells Ginny that they cannot be together because Voldemort will eventually use her to get to him. Ginny is upset but understands. Harry walks back to the castle. Ron and Hermione catch up, and they speculate on whether the school will close. Harry tells them that he’s not coming back. Harry will spend the summer with the Dursleys per Dumbledore’s wishes and return to Godric’s Hollow, where his Wizarding life started. Harry also wishes to visit the graves of his parents. After that, Harry will begin his search for the remaining Horcruxes. Ron and Hermione tell Harry that they will accompany him to the Dursleys and will stay by his side from there on. Ron reminds them that they need to return to the Burrow for Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Knowing that the future holds a long and difficult journey, Harry enjoys one last moment of peace with his two best friends.
Rowling closes the book by emphasizing the importance of unconditional love. No matter what happens, or what unfortunate circumstances may exist, love can overcome nearly any perceived difficulties. Fleur, shocking Hermione, Ginny, and Mrs. Weasley, announces that she still loves and intends to marry Bill despite his disfigurement and the possibility that he may be a werewolf. Tonks admits her love for Lupin, who had previously refused her because he felt a werewolf was unfit to be loved. The group begins to realize that the only thing Dumbledore would have wanted would be for more love to exist in the world. Nevertheless, Harry is finally coming to terms with the viciousness of Voldemort’s mission and realizes that anything or anyone is he is close to will eventually be used against him. For these reasons, Harry is forced to end his budding relationship with Ginny Weasley, which is devastating for both of them. Harry cannot act as an average wizard and is forced to make sacrifices that most seventeen-year-olds can barely conceive of.
Meanwhile, the future of Hogwarts remains uncertain. For many, Harry included, Hogwarts has been the only steady and consistent part of their lives. Likewise, many wizards find it incredibly difficult to imagine Hogwarts continuing on without Dumbledore in charge. The scope of Dumbledore’s funeral reminds everyone of just how far reaching and indiscriminate his influence was. Dumbledore made an effort to befriend and cooperate with creatures of all kinds, and they all wish to pay their proper respects. Even though the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are terribly sad, the novel still manages to end on an upbeat note, with Harry savoring the companionship of his very best friends. Harry does not insist that his friends accompany him on his quest, but he also does not protest when they calmly inform him that they plan to follow him as he collects and destroys the remaining Horcruxes. Certainly, Ron and Hermione must feel some reservations about leaving Hogwarts before graduation, about giving up their schooling to accompany Harry on his predestined adventure, but they do not appear to think twice about their decision to stand by their best friend. Although Harry, Ron, and Hermione still mourn the loss of Dumbledore, they are able to help each other through the difficulty of his death and embark on this new adventure hand in hand.
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