A Party and a Promise–Christmas With the Slug Club


Dec 20, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

Books, Events, Fandom, Fans, Films, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling, Movies, News

On this evening during Harry’s sixth year, the selected few made their way toward Professor Horace Slughorn’s office for his highly-anticipated and exclusive Christmas party.

Emerald green, crimson, and gold drapes hung from the ceiling like an extravagant, festive tent, setting off the centerpiece of the room, a fixture lit by fairies. The air was suffused with smoke, song, and boisterous conversation. And into this mix walked the Chosen One himself, Harry Potter, with an unassuming Luna Lovegood at his side.


Met immediately by Slughorn, Harry was quickly introduced to a few of the professor’s important friends, including a vampire named Sanguini. Slughorn would have undoubtedly expected Harry, his prized pupil, to make the rounds had they not escaped for a brief tête-a-tête with Hermione. Harry hilariously noted Hermione’s disheveled appearance, looking “as though she had just fought her way out of a thicket of Devil’s Snare”–the unfortunate consequence of claiming Cormac McLaggen as a date!


The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince left out an awkward exchange with Professor Trewlaney and substituted a bit of slapstick humor, with McLaggen becoming ill at Snape’s feet just after his unfortunately-timed entrance. The book introduced Snape into the equation more subtly, but not with less humor:

“To Harry’s horror, Slughorn threw out an arm and seemed to scoop Snape out of thin air toward them. ‘Stop skulking and come and join us, Severus!’ hiccupped Slughorn happily.”

Slughorn’s high spirits were undeterred when Filch burst into the party dragging a reluctant Draco Malfoy behind him. Angry, unhappy, anxious–it was the first time Harry noticed that Draco had changed significantly, though he didn’t know why. “He now saw that Malfoy had dark shadows under his eyes and a distinctly grayish tinge to his skin.” And for the first time ever, Malfoy did not lavish on Snape his customary compliments. Rather, Draco was openly resentful.


Harry was already suspicious, but now, even more so.

Surreptitiously donning his Invisibility Cloak in the hall, Harry slunk quietly along the corridor, listening, hoping to happen upon the rest of the tense conversation between the teacher and his former pet. And he did. While it generally never pays to eavesdrop, for once, Harry overheard some astonishing news.

Draco Malfoy had learned Occlumency. This meant he had something hide!

Draco was avoiding Snape. This meant his allegiance had shifted. There was someone else to impress–or fear?

Severus Snape had made an Unbreakable Vow. He had promised his protection. This meant there was something Draco needed protection from and that Snape was bound to help in spite of Draco’s protests.

Draco had been given a job. By him. And they were both afraid. This meant it was dangerous and the stakes were high.

Snape admitted to acting in his role as a Hogwarts teacher. For years. This meant that as far as Harry knew, Dumbledore was wrong about Snape renouncing his Death Eater past.


The night began with a party and ended with a promise of dark things to come. It would be hundreds of pages before the truth of these events came into clarity, but Christmas with the Slug Club was a pivotal moment in Harry’s story. At the very least, it confirmed for Harry that he had every reason to be keep on eye on Draco Malfoy–whatever anyone else said–and revisiting it reminds us of how incredible J.K. Rowling’s writing is, especially where Severus Snape is concerned. Reread the chapter for yourself; it will set your “mind racing,” just like Harry’s.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.