Testing the Prince's spells

Harry tests a spell he reads in the Half-Blood Prince's book, while Ron suffers the consequences

Extract from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling

Harry had already attempted a few of the Prince’s self-invented spells. There had been a hex that caused toenails to grow alarmingly fast (he had tried this on Crabbe in the corridor, with very entertaining results); a jinx that glued the tongue to the roof of the mouth (which he had twice used, to general applause, on an unsuspecting Argus Filch); and, perhaps most useful of all, Muffliato, a spell that filled the ears of anyone nearby with an unidentifiable buzzing, so that lengthy conversations could be held in class without being overheard. The only person who did not find these charms amusing was Hermione, who maintained a rigidly disapproving expression throughout and refused to talk at all if Harry had used the Muffliato spell on anyone in the vicinity.

Sitting up in bed, Harry turned the book sideways so as to examine more closely the scribbled instructions for a spell that seemed to have caused the Prince some trouble. There were many crossings-out and alterations, but finally, crammed into a corner of the page, the scribble:

Levicorpus (n-vbl)

While the wind and sleet pounded relentlessly on the windows and Neville snored loudly, Harry stared at the letters in brackets. N-vbl ... that had to mean non-verbal. Harry rather doubted he would be able to bring off this particular spell; he was still having difficulty with non-verbal spells, something Snape had been quick to comment on in every DADA class. On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far.

Pointing his wand at nothing in particular, he gave it an upward flick and said Levicorpus! inside his head.

‘Aaaaaaaargh!’

There was a flash of light and the room was full of voices: everyone had woken up as Ron had let out a yell. Harry sent Advanced Potion-Making flying in panic; Ron was dangling upside-down in midair as though an invisible hook had hoisted him up by the ankle.

‘Sorry!’ yelled Harry, as Dean and Seamus roared with laughter and Neville picked himself up from the floor, having fallen out of bed. ‘Hang on – I’ll let you down –’

He groped for the potion book and riffled through it in a panic, trying to find the right page; at last he located it and deciphered one cramped word underneath the spell: praying that this was the counter-jinx, Harry thought Liberacorpus! with all his might.

There was another flash of light and Ron fell in a heap on to his mattress.

‘Sorry,’ repeated Harry weakly, while Dean and Seamus continued to roar with laughter.

‘Tomorrow,’ said Ron in a muffled voice, ‘I’d rather you set the alarm clock.’


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling