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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

J. K. Rowling

Chapters 20 and 21

Summary Chapters 20 and 21

Harry learns that Voldemort has killed again, this time for gain and not simply for revenge, and has framed another innocent bystander for the crime. This time, Voldemort wanted to acquire Hepzibah Smith’s locket and cup—although the locket was, on some level, rightfully his, Voldemort’s burning desire to own Hufflepuff’s cup is less clear to Harry. Obviously, the cup is a symbol of Hogwarts, which means a great deal to Voldemort. The cup is also reminiscent of the objects he pilfered from his peers at the orphanage, which he kept as proud souvenirs of his devious activities, giving them back only after Dumbledore ordered him to. Slowly, Dumbledore’s insistence that Harry pay attention to repetitions in Voldemort’s past is starting to make sense. Patterns are emerging, as specific behaviors are repeated again and again.

Even though Dumbledore specifically asked Harry to concentrate on retrieving an unmodified memory from Slughorn, Harry let his responsibilities slip, choosing instead to spend his time chasing Draco Malfoy around. Harry’s growing obsession with Draco’s whereabouts is beginning to bother his friends and distract him from his priorities. Even though Hermione reminds Harry that there is no way he will be able to gain access to the Room of Requirement without first knowing what Draco is using the room for, Harry spends an entire day trying his best to get inside and completely ignoring Dumbledore’s request about Slughorn. After many failures, Harry even goes so far as to throw himself up against the wall, in a gesture of frustration more than anything else. Harry’s behavior with regard to Draco is becoming increasingly bizarre and, at times, detrimental to his larger mission.

Yet again, Tonks appears to check up on Harry when his Invisibility Cloak slips off and he rams himself into the wall, trying desperately to force his way into the Room of Requirement. By now, we can be fairly certain that Tonks is not consistently rescuing Harry by coincidence, but because she has been assigned to watch over him by Dumbledore. When Harry tells Tonks that no one from the Order writes to him anymore, Tonks gets teary eyed, and Harry assumes it is because he has reminded her of Sirius’s death. Lupin no longer writes to Harry because he is underground, living among the werewolves, and without Lupin and Sirius to send him letters, Harry is essentially cut off from the Order. Harry is suspicious of Tonks’s tears, and begins to wonder if her intense mourning of Sirius is not indicative of a greater emotional response. Harry knows that Tonks and Sirius were never particularly close when Sirius was alive, and the only conclusion he can draw is that Tonks was always secretly in love with Sirius. Harry cannot think of another reason why the thought of Harry receiving no letters from Sirius or Lupin would make her cry.