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One of the big reveals in Half-Blood Prince is that

Rosmerta has been under the Imperious Curse for most of the book.

What, if anything, hinted towards this before its reveal in chapter 27?

  • 1
    to my mind, there is nothing in the text that indicates that she was under any enchantment at all until Dumbledore / Malfoy reveal it, other than Hermione mentioning that she didn't laugh at one of Ron's jokes :D – NKCampbell Nov 20 '20 at 19:42
3
+50

Rosmerta had the means to orchestrate both assassination attempts. And with the revelation of Katie being subjected to an Imperius, had both the chance of being Imperiused herself and having a potential motive.

Necklace:

№1 (ch. 12, the trio inside Three Broom­sticks)

[Hermione:] 'Ron, what are you staring at?'
'Nothing,' said Ron, hastily looking away from the bar, but Harry knew he was trying to catch the eye of the curvy and attractive bar­maid, Madam Rosmerta, for whom he had long nursed a soft spot.
'I expect 'nothing's' in the back getting more firewhisky,' said Hermione waspishly.
[…] Hermione drummed her fingers on the table, her eyes flickering between Ron and the bar. The moment Harry drained the last drops in his bot­tle she said, 'Shall we call it a day and go back to school, then?'
The other two nodded; it had not been a fun trip and the weather was getting worse the longer they stayed. Once again they drew their cloaks tightly around them, rearranged their scarves, pulled on their gloves, then followed Katie Bell and a friend out of the pub and back up the High Street.

№2 (ch. 12, cont.)

'It was when that package tore,' sobbed Leanne, pointing at the now sodden brown-paper package on the ground, which had split open to reveal a greenish glitter. […] An ornate opal necklace was visible, poking out of the paper.
'I've seen that before,' said Harry, staring at the thing. 'It was on display in Borgin and Burkes ages ago. The label said it was cursed.
[Leanne: ….] She came back from the bathroom in the Three Broomsticks holding it, said it was a surprise for somebody at Hogwarts and she had to deliver it. She looked all funny when she said it.... Oh no, oh no, I bet she'd been Imperiused and I didn't realize!'
...
[Harry:] 'Malfoy knows about this necklace. It was in a case at Borgin and Burkes four years ago, I saw him having a good look at it while I was hiding from him and his dad. This is what he was buying that day when we followed him! He remembered it and he went back for it!'

Poisoned mead: at least three fragments of text point towards Rosmerta as a possible vector of the attack:

№1 (ch. 3)

[Dumbledore] drew his wand [...] A third twitch of the wand, and a dusty bottle and five glasses appeared in midair. The bottle tipped and poured a generous measure of honey-colored liquid into each of the glasses, which then floated to each person in the room.
'Madam Rosmerta's finest oak-matured mead,' said Dumbledore, raising his glass to Harry, who caught hold of his own and sipped. He had never tasted anything like it before, but enjoyed it immensely.

№2 (ch. 15)

'I thought Filch had banned anything bought at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes?'
'And when has anyone ever paid attention to what Filch has banned?' asked Hermione, still concentrating on her essay.
'But I thought all the owls were being searched. So how come these girls are able to bring love potions into the school?'
'Fred and George send them disguised as perfumes and cough potions,' said Hermione. […]
[…] Filch is being fooled isn't he? These girls are getting stuff into the school disguised as something else! So why couldn't Malfoy have brought the necklace into the school –?'
[…] 'Secrecy Sensors detect jinxes, curses, and concealment charms, don't they? They're used to find dark magic and dark objects. They'd have picked up a powerful curse, like the one in the necklace, within seconds. But something that's just been put in the wrong bottle wouldn't register – anyway Love potions aren't dark or dangerous […] so it would be down to Filch to realise it wasn't a cough potion, and he's not a very good wizard, I doubt he can tell one potion from –'

№3 (ch. 18)

'Pick-me-up, that's what he needs,' Slughorn continued, now-bustling over to a table loaded with drinks. 'I've got […] one last bottle of this oak-matured mead... hmm... meant to give that to Dumbledore for Christmas... ah well...' he shrugged '... he can't miss what he's never had!

Lookout for Malfoy / Death Eaters before / during the attack on Hogwarts: Rosmerta is the last person to see Harry and Dumbledore leave the castle moments before they apparate away; she's also the first person they encounter after their return, actively running towards and engaging them.

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