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In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince during the potions class Slughorn claimed that the prize of Felix Felicis was won only once before by a student.

I should point out, however, only once did a student manage to brew a potion of sufficient quality to claim this prize. Nevertheless, good luck to you all.

Who could that student be? What could they have done with the potion?

  • 6
    Probably Lily or Snape, but not necessarily, could be Riddle as well – Simpleton Jan 8 at 13:42
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    I removed the image because it is of poor quality and I'm not really sure what its relevance is. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 8 at 13:49
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    Added the movie tag as this quote doesn't appear in the books. – The Dark Lord Jan 8 at 14:34
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    Snape without any doubt because Harry used his instructions to brew the potion correctly.. – S S Jan 8 at 21:49
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Almost certainly Snape

The Harry Potter wikia has an article for the student aptly named Unidentified Potions student. In it, it identifies Tom Riddle, Snape and Lilly as possible candidates.

  • This student may have been a member of the Slug Club, as Professor Slughorn accepts talented students.

  • It is possible that this student may have been Tom Riddle, but is more likely it may have been Severus Snape or Lily Evans who were both known to have had an aptitude for Potions.

However, we know that Harry was using the recipes from a book that Snape had written in notes and helpful hints and his own recipes in so it would seem most likely Snape was the prior student. This seems all the more true when we look into how good Snape was at potions.

  • 14
    @NeoDarwin I don't know. A user on reddit theorises the following: "I always assumed he took it the night he went to Dumbledore to beg for Lily's life. He was expecting Dumbledore to kill him at sight so he would have tried everything to make sure the message got across." – TheLethalCarrot Jan 8 at 14:25
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    @TheDarkLord Jealous because he didn't choose you in this list? Anyway, I always assumed it was Snape. I don't have any proof (and there doesn't seem to be any), but IIRC Slughorn says that minutes before Harry uses Snape instructions in the textbook to win the prize. For me, the movie imply that the only student who ever won the prize is the HBP, I may be wrong though. – F.Carette Jan 8 at 15:12
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    I think it's unlikely it was Tom Riddle, as Slughorn was clearly guilty about his past association, so it seems to me odd that he'd refer to Tom Riddle casually, even if not by name. I personally would think he'd just not mention anything having to do with Tom Riddle at all if he could help it. – Kai Jan 8 at 15:28
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    Look at what we know: 1. The students were all using the same textbook. 2. Slughorn's class has been using this same textbook for long enough that Snape used it in his time as a student; presumably longer. 3. The textbook's instructions are sufficiently flawed that when following them to the letter, not even Hermione can get the potion right. 4. Snape's amendments to the instructions allow Harry, who only got mediocre Potions marks beforehand, to brew the potion perfectly. Thus, it was almost certainly Snape. Everyone else would have used the textbook's method, which doesn't work. – anaximander Jan 8 at 15:59
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    To pile onto other trains of thought: one student has successfully brewed the potion in Slughorn's class before. One book has the proper instructions for brewing the potion. We know Snape wrote those instructions. So, while it's certainly possible any student at all could have used that book (because, lets be honest, if Harry could follow those instructions most students probably could), it's the most likely Snape is our mystery student. – Lord Farquaad Jan 8 at 16:48
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Apparently the movie and book represent alternate realities, because this never happened in the book. However, if it would have happened in the book, we can venture a guess that Snape would have been the previous student.

Later in the book (Chapter Fifteen), Slughorn discusses Harry's Potions ability with other teachers, and he mentions the amazing Draught of Living Death that Harry concocted (my emphasis):

"But I don't think I've ever known such a natural at Potions!" said Slughorn, regarding Harry with a fond, if bloodshot, eye. "Instinctive, you know — like his mother! I've only ever taught a few with this kind of ability, I can tell you that, Sybill — why even Severus —" And 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!" hiccuped Slughorn happily. "I was just talking about Harry's exceptional potion-making! Some credit must go to you, of course, you taught him for five years!"

Trapped, with Slughorn's arm around his shoulders, Snape looked down his hooked nose at Harry, his black eyes narrowed. "Funny, I never had the impression that I managed to teach Potter anything at all."

"Well, then, it's natural ability!" shouted Slughorn. "You should have seen what he gave me, first lesson, Draught of Living Death — never had a student produce finer on a first attempt, I don't think even you, Severus —"

In the first paragraph he implies that Snape was the best at Potions prior to Harry. In the last paragraph he implies that Snape's attempt at the Draught of Living Death was the next best after Harry's.

If there had truly only been one previous student to brew one sufficiently worthy of the prize it would then stand to reason that this student was Snape.

Of course, this is not ironclad evidence as it is possible that Slughorn used Snape as the example because Snape was there, even if there may have been one or two students that were better than him.

  • Your answer brings up interesting points. The book implies that more than one have won the thing before Harry and Snape (perhaps). – Neo Darwin Jan 8 at 18:39
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    @NeoDarwin Note that in the book it’s just discussing the previous amazing submissions; it never says that there was ever a contest prior to Harry’s year. – Alex Jan 8 at 20:43

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