As you can see, this is Part 3, and it deals only with the issues of love potions, H/G, Draco, Snape, and Voldy's evil plots. Sigh. I've knocked myself out trying to remove every vestige of shippy shippiness from this, and I've suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune over it anyway. If y'all think I'm nuts after you've read this, just tell me. I can take it! Anyway, this is only a small part of all my thoughts about both Draco and D/G in HBP (and in fact I've removed a lot of D/G arguments that could easily be made here. Not that that kept anyone from telling me that I needed a nice long rest in St. Mungo's, and-- well, anyway.) Parts 4 and 5 will deal with how well the predictions in Parts 1 and 2 panned out, as well as analyzing Draco's role in HBP and making predictions for Book 7 (and yes, that's when I'll let all the D/G speculation run wild!) In the meantime...


Come one, come all, for we have some tales to spin. Insane theories!
Stunning predictions! Shocking evidence! Yep, it's all here, and
more, in the short version of the upcoming Chapter 3 to my Draco/HBP
Essay of Doom A Go-Go. Welcome!

This won’t contain a number of theories that will make it into the longer versions, most notably all the theories about Draco’s role and Snape’s role in HBP. It’s for the purpose of discussing the Harry/Ginny relationship in HBP. However, this isn’t going to be done for the usual reasons of sheer shippiness. We’re going to avoid “I love Harry and Ginny together, and they got together in HBP, ha ha ha, and it doesn’t matter that they broke up, because they’ll get back together, and the strength of their twu wuv will defeat Voldemort.” And we’re also going to avoid “I hate Harry and Ginny together, and they broke up in HBP, ha ha ha, so it doesn’t matter that they dated in the first place, because now the ship is sunk.” Both of these approaches detract from the unraveling of the central mystery of HBP’s Harrry/Ginny- why it happened in the way that it did, why it ended in the way that it did, and what it meant to the plot. I believe that this thesis also predicts the plot of Book 7, but we probably won’t get to this intriguing subject until the full essay comes out.

In brief, the central thesis of this essay is that Harry initiated his relationship with Ginny for two reasons. To begin with, he was physically attracted to her by his sixth year. HBP canon makes it clear that she’s a very pretty girl by then, and he’s a sixteen-year-old boy. However, there is another reason, and it’s much more important than the first. Without it, the relationship would not have happened. Quite simply, Harry was dosed with a love potion. However, it was very unlikely to have been given to him by either Ginny or Hermione. In fact, we’ll likely never know which person or persons literally gave Harry the potion in most instances, and it isn’t important (we’ll examine the two big exceptions to that rule, too.) Because once all of the evidence is added up, we clearly see that the hand behind it belonged to…

(dramatic pause)

Draco Malfoy.

And there is also considerable evidence to suggest that at a later date, Draco’s job was taken over by Severus Snape here as well.

This is a theory that at first may sound extreme, and as such, it requires a lot of proof. This essay provides that proof. We’ll be taken step by step through all the evidence that supports my argument, and the amount of canon evidence from all six books is startling. We’ll examine the nature of the Harry/Ginny relationship itself—how it began, how it progressed, and how it ended. Second, we’ll look at the surrounding evidence, the context of the rest of the book that supports the central thesis. Third, we’ll look at the considerable foreshadowing in previous books, although this is almost entirely introduced in the context of the other points. Fourth, we’ll examine the specific evidence that links both Draco and Snape to the thesis. And lastly, we’ll see how all of this adds up to plotline predictions for Book 7.

Now, only one of these pieces of evidence would probably not be very convincing by itself. And maybe neither would two, or three, or four, or even five. But as we’ll see, there are many more than that. And, in fact, what’s far more important is that these pieces fit together and work together like a rope, not like a chain which falls apart if only one link is broken. Each piece of evidence in this case, like the strands of a woven rope, will bind the argument together even further—until it irrevocably binds Draco and Snape, and only Draco and Snape, to the love potion used to dose Harry Potter.(1)

(1) And a tip o’ the nib to true-crime author and former Santa Monica DA Vincent Bugliosi, for the rope analogy.


To begin with, we have to talk about the nature of the H/G relationship itself, and here we’re especially going to discuss how it began. Of course, we have a problem right from the get-go. I think I already know what you’re thinking right now, because it’s the same kind of thing I thought. Your preconceptions about H/G are taking center stage in your head—that’s exactly what they did for me!

And yet the paradox of talking effectively about H/G in HBP is that it has to mean putting one’s own Harry and Ginny shipping preferences on hold, whatever they may be. A pre-established love or hatred for this ship is only going to get in the way. So I’m going to ask you, the reader, to do what I did. However you felt about Harry and Ginny getting together before you read HBP, please try to forget it. It’s hard—believe me, I know! But we have to do it. I’m going to keep my personal feelings out of it, and all I ask is that you try to do the same, because they’re just going to get in the way. In terms of the central love potion thesis, ship preferences just aren’t important. What is important is the evidence, and there’s plenty of it to show that in HBP’s H/G, a great deal of extremely suspicious things are going on. JKR portrayed the H/G relationship in exactly the way she had planned for some very specific reasons. We’re going to spend a lot of time on this, because it’s important.

First of all, what kind of foreshadowing do we have for H/G within the book itself? The one incident that’s sure to spring to everyone’s mind is when Harry smells Amortensia in Professor Slugworth’s class. Now first of all, let’s remember the thesis of this essay: Harry had two reasons to date Ginny. He was attracted to her before I’ve theorized that he got a love potion. He smells, well, things that attract him: treacle tart, a broomstick handle, and something flowery that he associates clearly with Ginny a little later. Physical attraction is foreshadowed; no doubt about it. However, we will return to the interesting subject of Amortensia a little later, when we can put it in its proper context—because there’s a great deal more to be said about it.

Let’s fast-forward to the first time when Harry feels his overwhelming interest in Ginny, several months later. The best thing to do here is to simply go inside Harry’s head and look at his thoughts as they were literally laid out on the page. His very first impression is that he’s been inwardly invaded by a monster, something “large and scaly.” The very first words that spring to his mind are “sudden madness.” And he is feeling entirely physical sensations. Harry doesn’t imagine talking to Ginny or relating to her in any other way, but about getting her alone in a corridor. And in his private thoughts, I think it’s pretty clearly indicated that he goes considerably beyond anything that can get into PG-rated canon.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, Harry knows just how sudden these sensations really are; he has a long interior monologue on just that subject later that night. He thinks about how he’s spent time around Ginny like “brother and sister,” and only brother and sister, for years. Harry himself is taken considerably aback by these feelings. It’s as if he is the one recapping all the anti-H/G arguments in his head. We don’t even need to think of them, because he does it for us. And it’s precisely because he knows that these feelings aren’t coming from his past dealings with Ginny. In fact, the phrase he uses for them, and the phrase that leaps to mind right away, is a very revealing one: “newborn monster.” Harry knows very well that these sensations came out of nowhere, and he personifies them as a monster, which is maybe the most interesting point of all. Having a monster crouching in your chest is pretty much generally seen as a negative thing, and I have to say that I think deep down Harry is probably reminded of the feelings he had when he was first hit with the Imperius curse in GoF. (This is a very important point, btw, and we’ll return to it later.)

And it’s only after most of these thoughts have already occurred to him that he then turns to the idea that Ron won’t like it, and that it might create a huge problem in their friendship. This is really worth remembering, because everything else we’ve talked about, and that goes through Harry’s head, is present before the Ron angle ever even occurs to him—the idea that’s he’s been invaded by a monster, that the monster is brand new, and that he knows just how little foundation these feelings actually have. In terms of page space, the Ron-related reasons take up very little of it, compared to the rest. This is going to become important a bit later. Because when we try to figure out just why Harry didn’t act on his attraction to Ginny for a long time, the idea that Ron was the main reason just doesn’t hold water, no matter what Harry tells himself. Not only did Harry see in the train scene at the end of OOtP that Ron was, if anything, pushing him towards Ginny, but Ron’s feelings were very far indeed from being the first things which occurred to him when he thought about reasons to not date Ginny. And as for worrying about Dean’s feelings, we see for ourselves that the subject of Dean literally doesn’t ever occur to Harry until late spring.

Now let’s look briefly at the nature of their relationship. We’ll go into more detail on many points later. But it’s important to say something here. When it comes to Ginny, all that Harry ever thinks about (and it’s especially marked after he’s attracted to her but before he dates her) are physical sensations and physical attraction. And that’s it. I think we all know what he was thinking WITH when it came to Ginny, and it wasn't his brain. The relationship itself never seems to involve these two actually talking or relating to each other. Like Ron and Lavender’s fling, it seems to consist almost entirely of snogging. And we do have a clue that JKR means for us to think that meaningful conversation is important, because at Slugworth’s Christmas party, Hermione so pointedly says (about McClaggan) “Cormac hasn’t asked me one single question about myself.” She told us in the Mugglenet interview that she understood perfectly just how shallow Ron and Lavender’s completely physical relationship was. Also Ron and Hermione are attracted to each other all year. But JKR doesn’t permit these two to begin dating until they have moved beyond the stage of unacknowledged attraction and constant fighting. Pure attraction, on its own, is just not enough, and this is a point that is driven home even more by the Bill/Fleur relationship. Fleur only becomes acceptable to Mrs. Weasley once she proves that there’s more than just physical attraction between her and Bill.

But Harry does not become interested in Ginny for her personality, her conversation (we almost never see them actually talking to each other once they begin dating,) or her dreams and aspirations. In late spring, some very brief and cursory references to this entire sphere of a relationship are rushed through, but they could hardly feel more tacked on than they do—and there is the inescapable fact that none of this ever occurs to him before. (And when he thinks about her returning his interest, he only thinks about her admitting that she’s “deeply attracted” to him.) We never hear about her classes, or her studying, or her ideas, or her thoughts. Harry is only interested in the fact that she’s taking her O.W.L.’s because this cuts into her time with him. It’s not that we would expect 800 pages of his interest in her beyond the physical, but we don’t even get a sentence until the very brief mentions near the end of the year.

These mentions are the closest thing that we have to a genuine Harry/Ginny connection in the book, as brief and rushed as they are. But I think that they’re much better fuel for the argument that Harry and Ginny will develop something a lot more genuine in Book 7, if that’s an argument we decide we want to make. The other issues in HBP still remain too massively unresolved.

Interestingly, in the long scene in Dumbledore’s office a few weeks before Harry and Ginny finally do begin to date, Dumbledore talks a lot about the “power of love” that Harry has, and that will help him defeat him Voldemort. And he says nothing about love between two people on a personal level. In what is perhaps a foreshadowing of the end of the H/G relationship, Harry forgets all about Ginny when he has the chance to question Katie about the necklace incident shortly after this. And I don’t think it’s the least bit accidental that we’re reminded of what happened to Katie here; this will be explored in more detail when we talk about Snape’s role.

So let’s posit a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that ALL WE HAD was the information directly related to H/G. We didn’t have the vast amount of supporting evidence within canon itself for the thesis; none of this was in HBP. If that was the case, THEN we’d still have enormous problems with buying the H/G relationship as what it might seem to be on the surface, and the reasons above (as well as the additional analysis of the relationship, which we’ll see a bit later) would be why. In fact, if all we did was to add the new information from JKR’s most recent interview with the two fans, which is up on Mugglenet, what she said on the subject of H/G was fascinating. Let’s have a look:

ES: We thought it was clearer than ever that Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione — although we think you made it painfully obvious in the first five books —
JKR: [points to herself and whispers] So do I!
Then she talks a bit more about R/Hr and H/Hr, and then she says:

JKR: I will say, that yes, I personally feel - well it's going to be clear once people have read book six. I mean, that’s it. It’s done, isn’t it? We know. Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy –

Then the conversation turns completely to final confirmation of R/Hr (and a lot of rather uncharitable and unattractive bashing of H/Hr shippers on the part of the two fans, frankly.) (The full text of the interview is at: But did you notice what really happened here?

JKR confirmed that Ron and Hermione were an item, and although it’s difficult to really tell what she meant from the way the interviewer phrased the question, she probably did mean to say that Harry and Ginny were an item in HBP, as well. But this point isn’t in doubt. Harry and Ginny certainly did date for a period of time in HBP, and there’s no way to deny that. No, the fascinating thing here is the JKR then had the opportunity to talk about H/G in the same way that she was talking about R/Hr, and she didn’t take it. She said that R/Hr was “done” and that we “do now know”; she did not say that about H/G. In fact, JKR never said that H/G was coming back, or that it was dead. Nor did she say that what Harry and Ginny shared was genuine love, or that it wasn’t. Nor did she analyze H/G, or talk about how it was foreshadowed (as she did do with R/Hr,) or talk about why she put it in the books. In fact, she very carefully said nothing more at all about the entire subject of H/G. Instead, she very deftly turned the conversation away to R/Hr.

This reminded me a lot of the famous comment she made in the long-ago interview when she sank D/Hr. The question had started out being about Draco, but after making one brief comment about him, she turned it to sinking D/Hr, which of course is what got everyone’s attention. I theorized months ago (and it’s in Part 2 of the essay, which was posted last month) that JKR did this in order to get everyone’s attention off Draco and wondering where he was going to end up, and I think we can all see pretty clearly that I was right. (It’s important to savor these moments when you’re right! You never know when they’re coming again! ;) When it came to Draco, JKR wanted to keep her surprises, and IMHO the same is true of the truth about H/G. If she was going to confirm its ongoing presence or absence in Book 7 once and for all, this would have been the place to do it. Because this is exactly what she DOES do with R/Hr and H/Hr. But she chooses not to. She chooses to keep it a mystery, which in the past has always meant that an important plot point is involved.

Anyway, though, we DO have this avalanche of other information in HBP. Because of that, the H/G information has to be seen through a different lens—and this is on top of the problems presented in the information itself. There’s just too much of this information and its message is too relentlessly consistent.

So although we’re going to see much more about the specifics of the H/G relationship when we evaluate how Draco and Snape might have been involved, let’s move on to the second point for now.

In JKR’s universe, important plot points don’t come out the blue. They’re foreshadowed, which was clearer in HBP than it’s ever been before. And if you see this over and over and over again in canon, it’s important. So what do we see again and again and again?

First of all, JKR makes a point of showing us that Hermione and Ginny know about love potions in the scene in the twins’ shop in Diagon Alley. We’re shown a constant theme of people being dosed with potions, not only love potions (although we certainly do see that) but also potions like Felix Felicas. Remember the Amortensia scene? Well, this is where we come back to it.

There’s an enormous clue here that I think most people are missing. We are specifically told that the potion makes each person smell what he or she is most ATTRACTED to. So Harry smells NOT what he likes, not what he loves, not what he respects, not what he admires, not what he thinks about… but what pulls at him at a purely sensual level. As if this weren’t enough, we then have Professor Slugworth’s explanation that this potion doesn’t produce genuine love, and the curious statement he makes about the power of “obsessive love.”

We’re very pointedly shown the scene where we see exactly why and how one person might dose another (when Harry pretends to give Ron the Felix Felicas.) THEN we see an extremely long scene where Harry and Hermione discuss love potions in the library, and Hermione actually, specifically warns Harry that he needs to watch out for being dosed with one. We’re shown how scared Harry is that he’s going to be dosed with a love potion. THEN we’re shown how Tom Riddle’s mother used a love spell on the Muggle Tom. THEN we’re shown how Ron actually behaves when he takes a potion that was meant for Harry. A lot of space is devoted to the subject of love potions. But most intriguingly of all is the fact that we see a relentless theme of other types of spells and hexes being used on people without their knowledge or consent. We’re shown how Ron is poisoned in Professor Slugworth’s office. Harry uses a variety of these kinds of spells from the Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book throughout all of HBP: Levicorpus, Muffliato, Sectumsempra, and even the toenail curse he contemplates using on Peeves. Harry even uses a potion against Professor Slugworth when he finally gets the true memory, in a way—because he deliberately gets him drunk enough to spill the truth. Draco uses Imperius on Katie and Madam Rosmierta, and tries to use Cruciatus against Harry in the bathroom scene. It can be dangerous to make too much of symbolism in JKR's work, but recurring themes are quite another story. And this theme literally couldn't have been driven home more strongly than it was.

But if so, who did it? Four basic possibilities: no-one, Ginny, Hermione… and most intriguingly of all, a duo: Draco and Snape.

First, of course, there’s the distinct possibility that nobody dosed Harry at all, and that the relentlessly constant themes of love potions and spells being used on other people without their knowledge were meant only as a metaphor for different relationships, most importantly, H/G. This possibility can’t be dismissed. After all, Harry did feel some kind of physical attraction to Ginny, whatever level it was on, before I believe he was being given the love potion. It could be pointed to further by the fact that Harry never actually gave Felix Felicas to Ron. The belief that he did was enough to improve Ron’s performance, enough to give him the “lucky day” he needed. When Ron and Lavender had their brief fling, there’s no reason to think that Ron had been given a love potion. Harry’s feelings for Ginny during the relationship were based entirely on physical passion, and I believe we’re clearly shown that Harry himself knows this and allows himself to be carried along for a while. But Harry is a sixteen-year-old boy, and we’re pretty clearly told that by HBP, Ginny is a very pretty girl. Purely hormone-based interest flares up very quickly, and seemingly out of nowhere. Was a love potion even necessary?

And yet…

The most intriguing clue, in a way, is the way that Harry himself thinks about this sudden attraction to Ginny. He’s not just surprised. He’s shocked. He’s unsettled. He thinks about reasons not to start dating her in terms of how Ron would feel, yes, but we already know that that was far from the first thought which occurred to him. In fact, the way that Harry reacts to this sudden, unexpected attraction towards Ginny is, once again, eerily reminiscent of his feelings when he was first put under the Imperius curse in GoF. I think that the love potion theory is the only truly logical explanation for Harry’s feelings on this matter— and also for the fact that he decides to, and is able to, resist acting on his attraction towards Ginny for several months. The most damning piece of foreshadowing against the idea that no love potion was involved has got to be the long scene between Harry and Hermione regarding the entire topic of love potions, when Hermione actually warns Harry that he might be dosed.

Later on, in fact, we find out that Romilda Vane did try to dose him, and that love potion went astray, and affected Ron. In that scene, the way that Ron (temporarily) feels about Romilda is worth looking at carefully, because it’s really a parody of the way that Harry feels about Ginny. Ron thinks only of Romilda’s physical appearance, her glossy black hair and big dark eyes, and is only interested in being physically near her. He doesn’t spare a thought for who she is as a person. In fact, we could say the same thing about his relationship with Lavender. She isn’t Ginny, and he isn’t Harry, but nonetheless Ron’s feelings were entirely based on physical attraction that turned out to be pretty short-lived.

Some people have felt that the most likely culprit is Ginny. No doubt about it, she’s been associated with love potions more than once in the HP series. You could even say that this plotline was set up back at the beginning of GoF when Hermione and Ginny were getting giggly with Mrs. Weasley over the subject of love potions. But ultimately it’s an idea that doesn’t ring true, and the idea that Hermione was responsible doesn’t hold up very well either. It’s true that she proved in HBP to be not above using hexes on other people, but ultimately Hermione is too likely to follow rules. It’s just too difficult to imagine her giving a love potion to Harry for any length of time, especially knowing how much he loathed the idea.

So now we come to the most intriguing possibility, and the person with the most to gain: Draco Malfoy. We’re going to trace out how and why he could and would have dosed Harry very carefully.

To begin with, I think what we need to do more than anything else in HBP when it comes to H/G is to take Harry at his word. When he breaks off the relationship with Ginny, his fears for her safety because she’s his girlfriend are absolutely valid. Nothing could make more sense than to strike at him through her, since Voldemort already knows plenty about his “saving people thing.” He knows that Harry already took great risks to save Ginny in CoS. How better to hold power over him than to make sure that he is enthralled with Ginny by means of a love potion? There are other possibilities for who gave Draco the order to dose Harry, and we’ll get to those in the later section about theories for Book 7, but for the purposes of this argument, they’re not important. What is important is that aside from following orders, Draco certainly had the motive to do this as well.

Draco swore revenge on Harry at the end of OotP, which in the reality of the Potterverse happened only a couple of months before. In fact, he swore precise, detailed, vicious revenge. There’s something a bit strange about believing that leaving Harry with a broken nose is really going to be the end of Draco’s revenge, especially since he couldn’t have done this on the train unless he’d happened to find Harry in his compartment, as by chance he did. Making Harry vulnerable in this way would, of course, be perfect revenge. And then we have to deal with the fact that he did NOT even try an obvious, above-board way of getting back at Ginny for the incredibly humiliating Bat-Bogey hex. Whether we choose to get shippy D/G content out of this is, of course, up to us, but I believe that the love potion plot the thing to concentrate on here.

Let’s look in detail at the scene that shows us Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle on the train. Blaise’s purpose in this scene is very interesting. I believe that Blaise clearly serves as a surrogate; both Draco and Pansy talk “through” him. He was in Slughorn’s compartment; they were not, so they use him to find out about what went on there. Draco tries to use him to find out about Ginny, and I think he might have asked quite a bit more if Pansy hadn’t been in the train compartment. Pansy wants to find out what Draco really thinks about Ginny, but we can see that she doesn’t quite dare to come out and ask him. Instead, she says that a lot of boys like her, and watches Draco very carefully for his reaction. But Draco, with at least equal care, doesn’t react. Pressing onwards, Pansy tries to get Blaise’s reaction as a gauge, and Blaise is the one who says he wouldn’t touch a filthy little blood traitor like her no matter what she looked like. Draco still doesn’t say anything. However, Pansy seems satisfied—for the moment. That’s when we finally are told that Draco “sank back down to Pansy’s lap.” This is such an odd choice of words, and it always felt sort of incomplete to me. Why would someone “sink” back down, and what do we usually think of that word implying? The answer is that we sink back with relief. Why would Draco be relieved? Because he’s gotten through the ordeal of Pansy’s questions about Ginny. But why would it be an ordeal?
It’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that if Draco really couldn’t have cared less about Ginny, he would have answered Pansy’s questions carelessly, which is what Blaise did. The extreme care that Draco took points, in itself, so something more going on. We aren’t ever told in HBP exactly what this is, of course, but the most important thing about this scene is that Draco seems to be hiding a great deal when it comes to what he thinks about Ginny. We don’t know exactly how intelligent Pansy is, but we do know later on that she made it to Draco’s DADA N.E.W.T. class. Certainly, she seems to have a certain shrewdness. I think that the subject of Ginny has come up before between them, or otherwise, her reaction makes no sense. She wants to know exactly what’s going on, and although Draco likes to show off for her, he’s not about to tell her.

We know now that he’s capable of keeping this kind of secret. One of the biggest treats of HBP was FINALLY having smart!Draco theories confirmed. I’ve always believed that Draco was very intelligent and capable of being very subtle, and now we know. He reached NEWT prep class level in Potions and DADA at the very least (and maybe some other classes that Harry didn’t get into!) He carried through an extremely complex plan all year, keeping the entire thing to himself. So we know that if he’s thinking something about Ginny and doesn’t want the other Slytherins to know it, he’s more than clever enough to keep that secret. At this time, I believe that all he knows is that part of what he’ll have to do during this year is to dose Harry with a love potion that will bind him and Ginny Weasley. I don’t believe he knows everything yet, because he’s trying to find out why Ginny in particular is so important. This will be very important when we examine plotlines for Book 7.

So in the beginning—although probably not in the end, and we’ll examine the evidence for that point once we get to Snape- Draco was the one who got the potion to Harry. First, let’s look at the tremendous amount of foreshadowing for this.

Draco is the very first person in the school who we know figured out that Ginny was obsessed with Harry, and it happened at the very beginning of his second year. The very first scene where he and Ginny ever meet in front of Borgin and Burkes, when Ginny defends Harry, shows that Draco figures out what is going on immediately. In the infamous Valentine scene in CoS, we see that he is the only one who catches on to what Ginny is doing. These scenes are just inexplicable otherwise; why in the world would it be hammered home so much that Draco Malfoy, of all people, knows that Ginny is interested in Harry? Why did he see what nobody else saw? Why did he know before anyone else, even Hermione? The answer is that the events of both HBP and Book 7 were foreshadowed.

How did Draco get the potion, especially if he wasn’t willing to tell Snape what he was doing at the time when he was giving it to Harry? We certainly know that there was no major problem with getting love potions through Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes; we’re flatly informed of that point through Hermione when she warns Harry about love potions. If Draco got it that way, he most likely got it through someone else, since I think he would have thought it too risky to get under his own name. But there’s an even more likely idea. Draco is at pre-N.E.W.T. level in potions, and it’s always been his best subject. Harry figures out that he stole Polyjuice potion from the classroom, so I think he also stole ingredients for a love potion he could mix himself. I think Draco also would have wanted to do this in order to get better results (or, at least, in his mind, better than anything he’d get from the Weasleys.) Don’t forget that when Professor Slughorn went to so much trouble to explain the Amortensia potion to the class, Draco was there too.

As to precisely how the potion got to Harry, we know from the rest of the evidence in the book that Draco had no need to do it personally (although as we will see, he may have done so at least once.) We already know that HBP’s Draco has been putting people under the Imperius curse all year in order to get them to do things, so it would be no problem for him at all. We ‘re given an additional clue during the scene at Slughorn’s party, when Harry sees Draco dragged in by the ear by Filch. Harry pays a great deal of attention to the exact details of Draco’s appearance at this moment, and there’s a very curious thing going on here. When Draco first comes into the room, he’s described as looking angry. A minute later, though—after Draco has had time to look around the room, and to see who’s there—he’s described as having exactly the same expression as Filch, and Filch, in Harry’s words, looks “disappointed.” Why the change from anger to disappointment? I think we need to examine the distinct possibility that Draco told the simple truth when he said he was trying to get into Slughorn’s party. But he didn’t say why, of course, and the reason was that he wanted to see if Ginny Weasley was there with Harry, and if the love potion was working. It’s interesting, too, that Harry drinks from a goblet in this scene, and that it’s after Draco arrives. Harry doesn’t seem terribly affected by it if he does drink it in this case- but remember, again, how amazingly accomplished he is at throwing off the effects of the Imperius curse. However, Draco might very well have had problems with getting the potion to Harry regularly, and we’ll see why this is important once we examine Snape’s role.

But there does come a time when he’s more strongly affected. It’s before he finally succumbs to Ginny’s charms, which makes it easy to miss. And in a way, it’s the most suggestive incident in the entire book as relates to H/G.

Over Christmas, Fred jokes that Lavender must have gotten into an accident and had brain damage to be so interested in Ron. Ron, of course, doesn’t appreciate this idea very much. Readers are generally going to pass this off as a joke, but we have a very curious thing happen to Harry a few months later. He’s the one who gets a concussion during the disastrous Quidditch match with Hufflepuff. Prior to this, he hasn’t thought of Ginny in quite a while. But directly afterwards, he begins to be obsessed with thoughts about Ginny again, complete with descriptions of the “monster” and the “creature” lurking in his chest whenever he thinks about her.

The scene with Ron and Hermione in the corridor when they’re let out of the hospital is very interesting in this regard. Harry questions Hermione in an attempt to find out if Ginny and Dean have really broken up. Now, if all that Harry really cared about was Ron’s reaction, then why does he persistently keep questioning Hermione in front of Ron, past the point where Harry knows very well he’s lost all subtlety about the subject? Why not wait, and ask her later? After all, HBP’s Harry is sharper and more perceptive in every other area than he’s ever been before the books. But here, the “creature” and “monster” is driving him onward, even as something in him still holds him back from showing his attraction to Ginny herself.

In the Muggle world, a concussion that results in unconsciousness always leaves the victim a lot more sensitive to the effects of most drugs. Dosages almost always have to be adjusted downwards, because it just takes less to affect the patient in the same way. In other words, the person is more vulnerable, and their defenses are down. And I believe that’s what we’re seeing here with Harry and the love potion.

But it takes quite a long time for the potion to actually, fully work, and I think that something major changes to cause this to happen. Snape, not Draco, begins making the potion and dosing Harry with it. What about Snape, though? Why drag him into the love potion project?

The first thing I think we have to deal with is the fascinating—and unresolved-- issue of Occlumency, which formed such a large part of OotP, and is referred to in both HBP and JKR’s Mugglenet interview. We know that Snape was reporting back to Lucius Malfoy during OotP’s Occlumency lessons. He found out Harry’s weaknesses; we’re even specifically told that Harry remembers Snape seeing his memory with Cho under the mistletoe. Under this theory, Snape realized that for whatever reason, Draco wasn’t succeeding at dosing Harry. Clearly, Harry and Ginny weren’t together. Snape decides that he has to take over. If Voldemort is behind the plot, Draco’s failure at this would be very bad—not quite as bad as his ultimate failure to kill Dumbledore, of course, but still pretty bad. When Snape promised Narcissa to help Draco, to look out for him, and to fulfill his task if necessary, I don’t believe that he was only talking about killing Dumbledore. He was also talking about everything Voldemort wanted done that would support this task. If Voldemort wanted to see Harry made vulnerable, and given a weakness that could be used against him later, what better way to do this than to see to it that Harry got dosed with love potion for Ginny Weasley? Voldemort heard the Prophecy, and knows that Harry is supposed to have “a power that the Dark Lord knows not.” Voldemort may not understand love on any personal level, but he certainly can understand that love can be a weakness, and to think of making Harry vulnerable through his attachment to one other person he’s already rescued before.

So let’s look at what happens right before the scene on page 533 where Harry finally kisses Ginny after the Quidditch match: Harry serves detention with Snape in the dungeons. But this fact is only the beginning of the fascinating puzzle of this seemingly insignificant scene. When this detention was set up (pg. 528) we see clear intimations that Snape was using Occlumency against Harry. “The cold, black eyes were boring once more into Harry’s; he tried not to look into them. Close your mind… close your mind… But he had never learned to do it properly.” The misdirection in this scene is that we think Snape is reading Harry’s mind about his lie that the Potions book is a new one. But there’s no reason why this should be the only thing Snape is picking up. If Snape was reading Harry’s mind in order to also get at his feelings about Ginny, he now knows for sure that Harry has been able to resist Draco’s attempts at giving him a love potion. And this has to be done in order to make Harry vulnerable.

So how might Harry have actually gotten the love potion this time? We are given some very interesting clues in this direction. It happens after Snape burst in upon Harry just after he had hit Draco with Sectumsempra. What literally happens in this scene is that Snape saves Draco’s life. So when we add on the fact that Draco himself has already begun to change by this time, it becomes quite believable that he would finally let down his guard enough to confess to Snape what he is doing, and ask for help. And since Snape is a Potions Master and the one who, of course, actually is the Half-Blood Prince, he is the best person to help with anything involving a potion.

Snape already has Harry’s detention prepared when Harry gets there—a chair and table cleared, and boxes with records in them already set out. This is interesting, because it means that Snape doesn’t have to touch anything that Harry is going to touch. We already know (from the fact that Ron was dosed with love potion put into candy earlier) that there might be different delivery systems for love potion, or different methods of causing someone to be affected by it. We also know that Snape is certainly smart enough to concoct a love potion whose effects are subtle enough to avoid arousing anyone’s suspicions. I believe that the love potion in this case wasn’t a potion at all, but was applied to the records and was transmitted to Harry through his skin when he touched them. And these are old records, referring to things and people from the Marauder’s generation, so nobody else is at all likely to have any reason to touch them again. Above all, we need to remember the foreshadowing of the Katie Bell incident. We were very carefully told that Katie was affected by touching the necklace with her hands. Even better, we know that Harry will have detention with Snape every Saturday for the whole foreseeable future, and we also know the curious detail that Snape will want Harry to do the same thing for the entire time—sorting out these records.

Also, we’ve already seen a lot of foreshadowing in other books for the idea of Snape dosing Harry. In GoF, we see Snape threaten Harry with Veritaserum dosing, and Harry wonders if he should “take a leaf from Moody’s book” and start drinking only from a flask of his own. In OotP, in the scene in Umbridge’s office, Snape says something very interesting: “If I want nonsense shouted at me, Potter, I shall give you a Babbling Beverage.” And Snape’s forte is, of course, potions. He’s the one who brews Veritaserum for Dolores Umbridge in OotP, which she did indeed use to dose Harry. If Harry hadn’t avoided drinking it, he certainly would have been affected by it. Umbridge also demanded that Snape make more Veritaserum in the final office scene in OotP, which would then be used to does Harry. Harry’s been afraid of being dosed with a potion by Snape well before HBP, and that is when it finally happens.

Then let’s look at what we are told about the nature of the H/G content at the end of Chapter 24, one day after this scene with Snape and, most importantly, the very first time that Harry sees Ginny after it. Ginny has a “hard, blazing look on her face” as she throws her arms around him. But we know by the end of the book that she’s still obsessed with Harry then. We also know that Hermione has almost certainly told her about Harry’s interest. So the important thing is how Harry behaves. We are told that “without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching [including Ron!], Harry kissed her.” Two paragraphs later, we’re told that the “creature in his chest [is] roaring in triumph.” Then, we’re told that “if they have time,” they’ll discuss the match, so I think we can guess what they’re going to be doing on their walk. But looked at objectively, very little of this is a remotely cute or fluffy description of Harry finally giving in to his feelings for Ginny. He defined his feelings for her as a “monster clawing in his chest” when he first had them, and he defines them in the same way and using the same image when they overwhelm him at last. It’s as if some part of him knows that something is not right here, and that his feelings are not normal—but at this point, he can no longer bring himself to care.

If this solution was the correct one, it would explain why the effect wears off at the precise time that it does. Harry breaks up with Ginny only after both Draco and Snape are gone from Hogwarts, and when Snape is no longer giving him detention every week, and he isn’t touching the records anymore. It’s one of the very few times he’s with her and feels attraction for her in HBP without thinking of “monsters” or “creatures” either clawing at his chest, roaring to get out, or temporarily being silenced because he has physical contact with her. And when he does this, he knows that he can’t continue to put her at risk. So he ends his relationship with Ginny. Now, we can love H/G, and say that now they’re in a perfect position to get back together later, since they’ve already had a relationship that had physical attraction, at least, however it may have been begun. Or we can dislike H/G, and say that since their relationship was never really based on anything but physical attraction, it’s sunk for good by now. But what I believe we can’t do is to dismiss the possibilities I’ve laid out in this essay.

Circumstantial evidence is all we have here; only eyewitness accounts are considered direct evidence, and we don’t get those in HBP when it comes to love potion possiblities. But wizards have a pretty unfair advantage in a court of law. They can use Pensieves; we have to rely on eyewitness accounts and faulty human memories. And we know from seeing Slughorn’s modified memory just how unreliable they can be. So let’s go back to Vincent Bugliosi’s analogy that he used in so many crime courtrooms—namely, that circumstantial evidence is a rope built of many strands that bind a perpetrator to justice. We’ve seen that rope woven here, and I believe it’s a strong one—strong enough to hold for another two years, until we all find out the truth about Book 7. There are a lot of predictions that follow from the conclusions here, and they’ll be explored in the expansion of this essay.
To Be Continued.
Anise is the author of 56 other stories.
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