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Half-Blood Prince, Full-Blooded Synopsis: Your Cheat Sheet To Harry's Last Stand

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2007-07-27-HPtotheHBP.jpgSo by now you may have seen the movie version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and you are probably dying to read the exciting conclusion... but you may also realize you've forgotten what happens in between. I for one had only the devastating memory of [BOOK SIX SPOILER ALERT! BE WARNED, MUGGLE!] Dumbledore's death on my mind, and neglected to retain any of the other information that would be pertinent to the seventh book. I also remembered Half-Blood Prince being one of my least favorite books in the series, but since I re-read it anyway, now you don't have to — and soon you'll be up on all the plot points and inside jokes and ready for the big finale. Though these chapter summaries may be longer than some of the painfully dense plot summaries found elsewhere on the internet, if you are looking for a recap that gets all the details with an eye for maintaining the emotional punch of the book, you've come to the right place (but if you're in a hurry, I suggest you skip straight to parts five and six. Which means missing some key Ron and Hermione drama, but here's a tip: Yes, they're into each other). Either way, you will be well prepared for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after reading this. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 - The Other Minister
The Muggle prime minister is stressed out because lots of random terrible things have been happening inexplicably. Fudge (ex-prime minister of the Ministry of Magic) pays him a visit and explains that all these occurrences are actually magic-related (because Voldemort and Co. are back), and that he has been kicked out as Minister and replaced by Scrimgeour, who comes by as well to introduce himself. The Muggle prime minister finds out his dutiful assistant Kingsley is actually a wizard who will keep him up to date on pertinent information.

Chapter 2 - Spinner's End
Narcissa (wife of Lucius Malfoy, who is now imprisoned by the ministry) and her sister Bellatrix Lestrange pay a visit to Snape in an obscure British town. Belletrix is wary and does not trust Snape, but Narcissa insists they go because she feels that they need him. They go and see him and Snape reveals that he is still loyal to the Dark Lord. Bellatrix does not believe Snape's oath of allegiance and interrogates him, but Snape's answers prove convincing. (Meanwhile, Wormtail serves as Snape's assistant on orders from Voldemort, so he is also lurking about.)

Narcissa is extremely upset: Voldemort has set an impossible task before her precious Draco (exactly what we don't know, but she believes this is retaliation for Lucius screwing things up at the Ministry). She knows that Draco can't perform this task and begs Snape to say something to the Dark Lord. Snape says he can't do anything; Narcissa asks Snape to protect Draco as best he can. Snape ends up making several Unbreakable Vows (as Bellatrix officiates) to Narcissa swearing to look over Draco; if it seems that Draco cannot complete Voldemort's task, Snape will complete the task himself.

Chapter 3 - Will and Won't
Harry is back at the Dursley's for the summer, reading dispatches from the Daily Prophet ("Harry's the Chosen One", "Scrimgeour Takes Over," "The Ministry of Magic: Protecting Your Home and Family Against Dark Forces" pamphlet). Dumbledore sends a message suggesting he head to the Burrow with the Weasley's instead, but Harry thinks the offer is too good to be true until Dumbledore actually shows up at the Dursley's to pick him up. The Dursley's are unhappy about this visit; Dumbledore is friendly and makes best of the situation. Harry notices that Dumbledore's right arm is black and shriveled. While at the Dursley's, Dumbledore brings up some business with Harry. Sirius had left everything to Harry in his will including 12 Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore is not sure if Harry really gets the house as it has some special charms placed on it that only allow the property to pass down through the Black family lineage (if not Harry, then Bellatrix would inherit it). In order to figure out whether the house now belongs to Harry, they summon Kreacher, the house-elf, to the Dursley's and see if he obeys Harry; if he does, the house is his, if not then it belongs to Bellatrix. Kreacher does obey Harry so the Order of the Phoenix can move back in and use the residence as their headquarters. Meanwhile, Harry sends Kreacher to live at Hogwarts with the other house-elves (one can only hope that he will learn better social skills and make new friends). Harry and Dumbledore leave Privet Drive but not before Dumbledore makes the Dursley's promise to let Harry come back one more time before he comes of age at 16 (there are some special protection spells on the Dursley home that protect Harry until he reaches adulthood).

Chapter 4 - Horace Slughorn
Harry accompanies Dumbledore on a trip to see his friend Horace Slughorn before they head off to the Burrow. They apparate to the town where Slughorn is staying. On the walk to Slughorn's house Harry asks Dumbledore what had happened to his hand, but Dumbledore says it's not the time to explain. Slughorn is a retired Hogwarts professor who doesn't stay in one place for more than a week since the times are uncertain and danger is imminent. Dumbledore wants to know if he will come back and brings Harry along because he knew that would tempt Slughorn to return. Slughorn initially refuses, but as he begins to talk to the famous Harry Potter and reminisce about the good old days when he taught gifted, successful students (including Harry's mum, Lily), he decides to come back to Hogwarts. Harry and Dumbledore go to the Burrow but before they leave Dumbledore drags Harry into a broom closet for a little heart-to-heart. He praises Harry for his ability to deal with the death of Sirius. Potter swears to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters and he is praised again. Dumbledore says Harry should probably share his knowledge of the prophecy with Hermione and Ron because it's hard to keep such a burden bottled up and they are good friends to have around. He also mentions that he wants to give Harry some private lessons, a big change from the year before, where Dumbledore largely ignored Harry for the boy's own protection.

Chapter 5 - An Excess of Phlegm
Dumbledore and Harry Potter enter the Burrow at a late hour and of course it's the lovely idyll where everyone wishes they lived. Tonks is there and she seems depressed, but she soon leaves. Dumbledore departs too, leaving Harry, Mrs. Weasley, and a bowl of onion soup. Hermione is there too but asleep. Arthur has been promoted to head of the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects (quite exciting). Then Fleur Delacour (Frenchie from Book IV) bursts in - turns out she is marrying Bill. (None of the girls can stand her and Ginny nicknames her Phlegm.) We get updates on the Weasley family: Percy is still not talking to his parents, the twins opened a shop in Diagon Alley and are doing well, etc. They get their O.W.L. results back and everyone has done well (especially Hermione of course). Harry is disappointed because he got an E (a wizard grade equivalent to a B) in potions which isn't good enough for him to progress to N.E.W.T level in that subject, which means he can't be an Auror (a profession he's been contemplating, not that he needs to worry because he's got a huge gold trust fund at Gringotts with his parents' and Sirius' money). The chapter ends with Harry thinking about his prophecy.

Here ends the first installment of our six-part summary. See the rest here!