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The Two-Way Mirror #15: Lucius Malfoy’s Invisible Hand

By Daniela

As if I had by a happy accident uttered the right words while holding an apparently blank piece of parchment, I suddenly found myself in the possession of something like the Marauder’s Map, looking at a Barty Crouch unexplainably moving around Snape’s office. I remembered simultaneously certain scattered events, facts, and news items in the Harry Potter world, and I began to see Lucius Malfoy’s furtive little steps pacing around left and right in the most unlikely places.

What is Lucius Malfoy doing here? I asked myself. But of course, who else, Lucius Malfoy! And I started seeing him everywhere.

So I have gotten a bit curious about this wannabe powerful mover of pieces behind the scenes. I haven’t afforded him much attention thus far, thinking his childish show of muscle nothing major to reckon with. However, the sudden materialization of his steps all over this map unexpectedly fallen into my hands has made me wonder what the agenda of this guy is and if there’s anything deeper about him to consider.

We all know about the invisible hand that placed a certain diary in Ginny’s cauldron in CoS. The mover of the events of that book was not Voldemort, but Malfoy. Although I wonder, how did Malfoy know how the diary would work? Did he write in the diary and get any instructions from Tom Riddle? Had he been previously instructed by Voldemort? In the same book, Malfoy managed to send Hagrid temporarily to Azkaban (he was at Fudge’s heels when they came to take him), and get Dumbledore temporarily sacked by threatening and bribing anyone who had a say in the matter. But how many more times has that furtive hand moved pieces behind the curtain?

An obvious and immediate return of the busy hand made itself felt in PoA, from which Voldemort was entirely absent, and in which the gripping tale of the threatened Hippogriff structured the majority of the events of the book. What was there in it for Malfoy that he went at it so relentlessly against Buckbeak? The destabilization of Dumbledore sounds right. And the hunt for Sirius – who directed it? Who marshaled the troops of Dementors over to Hogwarts (i.e. who convinced Fudge that they were necessary), who whispered in their ear that it’s okay to go by the hundreds on the school grounds when Harry is playing Quidditch, who instructed them to perform the kiss on a particular student by the name of Harry Potter by the lake?

But let’s move on to GoF, and I see Malfoy’s hand moving very skillfully and swiftly again, advancing his favorite dangerous piece upon a square of the chessboard where it should not have been allowed. This dark hooded piece ate Dumbledore’s fair-haired essential witness piece. Remember everyone’s shock and outrage at Fudge’s imbecilic move to bring a Dementor into the Hogwarts castle when he went to interview the captured Barty Crouch Jr.? It was a brilliant move clearly directed by an outside influence. That way the truth was kept from coming out for another year. I doubt that Fudge was that afraid for his own skin without a little help from his friend Lucius, who acted promptly upon leaving the graveyard scene by rejoining his friend Fudge for a bit of guidance and moral support when the crazed news of a Death Eater at Hogwarts and Voldemort’s return hit him. I wonder, who instructed the Dementor to immediately perform the kiss?

To address the question of another wandering pair of Dementors in OotP winding up in a place where they should not be, it may have been Umbridge all by herself who set them on Harry Potter, as she proudly takes credit for the action. We know she is a nasty piece of work in her own right, who doesn’t need any help playing the evil part. But speaking of her being a nasty piece of work, you should hear Lupin talk about her: it appears that “two years ago” exactly, she drafted some anti-werewolf regulation that made it virtually impossible for Lupin to get a job. But what was happening two years ago?

We were in PoA, with Malfoy laboring unrelentingly against Buckbeak for the ‘safety of Hogwarts children,’ and with Snape letting it slip accidentally-on-purpose to his Slytherin students that Lupin was a werewolf. The time coincidence looks in fact like a cause-and-effect situation. Umbridge’s “regulation” has everything to do with Lupin, and perhaps Malfoy’s shouting about student safety motivated her even more. Malfoy loves to have a hand in the creation of regulations that are unfriendly to Muggles and half-breeds and the like. Malfoy’s slipping of the diary into Ginny’s cauldron was, in fact, deemed a ploy to discredit Mr. Weasley’s attempts at creating Muggle protecting regulations. Mr. Weasley would look less genuine if his daughter was shown killing mud-bloods. So there is a bit of a cooperating overlap in Umbridge’s and Lucius’s love of nasty regulations.

Distant and invisible though it may be, Lucius’s hand may have had something to do even with those two Dementors who went after Harry in Little Whinging. Who really has power over the Dementors? Whom do the Dementors really take their orders from? Ron and Harry had noticed that when the ten Death Eaters had broken out of Azkaban, there were no Dementors around looking for them, as there had been when Sirius had escaped. Who convinced Fudge not to make a big deal about it? Perhaps Lucius was very aware of Umbridge’s idea and perhaps the Dementors obtained his final approval…

In fact, so many of Umbridge’s and the Ministry’s actions make more sense when tied back to Lucius. The swiftness of the response to Harry’s being attacked by the Dementors, involving the decision to send a wand-breaking patrol immediately to Harry’s house, was an entirely unlawful procedure as Dumbledore reminded them, and of crucial interest only to Voldemort, who realized the power of that wand in the graveyard. It may have been of interest also to Lucius, if he wanted to limit Harry’s power and possible future in the Auror field. What about completely sabotaging the DADA class at Hogwarts? Who whispered in Fudge’s ear that Dumbledore was really after his Ministry seat and was building an army? Who wants to keep new Aurors from being made by keeping students from passing their DADA OWLS? In fact, will we ever learn the mystery behind the jinxed DADA job?

Desraelda, a poster in the discussion thread of the editorial Umbridge: The Monster, the Strategist, has expressed a suspicion about Lucius’s role in a possible kidnapping attempt on Trelawney on the day that she was sacked: “I agree that Trelawney was about to be kidnapped from Hogwarts on LV’s orders, but I don’t think Umbridge knew that. LV to Malfoy … ‘I need that Trelawney woman, she’s the one who made the prophecy.’ Malfoy to Fudge … ‘Minister, according to my son, Professor Trelawney is a horrible teacher and is filling the students’ heads with nonsense. Getting rid of her in a very public way will further destabilize Dumbledore at Hogwarts.’ And so, Umbridge receives her orders from Fudge, not knowing it’s an LV set-up.”

Even the sacking of teachers that Umbridge is intent on accomplishing seems directed by Lucius. In the same discussion thread, posters brought up the fact that Hagrid and Trelawney are very close or important to Dumbledore and only Voldemort – more than anyone else – wants to get his hands on them. Lucius helps out by lending his ever-present voice to the ‘Daily Prophet’ and guiding Umbridge’s sacking tastes in the right direction. Draco can’t stop shooting his mouth off about his father’s and the ministry’s determination to cut down on substandard teaching at Hogwarts. In fact, first we hear of Lucius’s desire to sack teachers when Draco brags about it on the second day of school, and much later Umbridge turns Inquisitor and goes on her inspecting rounds and sacking rampages.

The time frame in which information is released to us by the author seems at times to point towards links between seemingly unrelated events. It is thus on the same day, the first Saturday of the term, narrated in very few pages, that we learn both from the ‘Daily Prophet’ that Sirius has been seen in London (by whom other than Lucius on the train platform), and from Filch that someone is out to get their hands on Harry’s mail, incidentally the mail being a letter sent to Sirius. If it was Umbridge who wanted to see Harry’s letter, who behind the scene planted the idea in her head? Who would like to get into the Order’s Headquarters? To whom does Kreacher run? Narcissa… the Malfoys! Who instructed Kreacher how to fool Harry? Who thus had a strong hand in Sirius’s death? Who was the chief of the DoM operation?

I am sure there are other such examples of events, news items, and seemingly personal decisions on the part of diverse characters that can be traced back to Lucius. So what is Lucius’s agenda? Somehow, I don’t think it is to support Voldemort. Voldemort tells him in the graveyard that he heard about his little escapade at the Quidditch Tournament (remember the floating Muggles) but wouldn’t his efforts have been better spent searching for him, Voldemort? Lucius wants power more than he wants to obey a master. While other Death Eaters grovel before their Lord in the graveyard, Lucius the ‘slippery friend’ practically drawls a few phlegmatic excuses and then barely whispers trying to look superior nevertheless ‘thank you, master, you are merciful, master.’ I don’t think he likes pronouncing the word ‘master’ very much.

In fact, this is where I wonder if there is a certain added depth possible with the presence of Lucius in the books. Lucius provides a point of comparison for Snape. The two seem perfect counterparts of each other. In fact, it is clear that they are or were once and now are only keeping the appearances of being very close friends; I would say best friends, in the manner of James and Sirius. Lucius speaks most highly of Snape at the Ministry, and Snape has chosen Draco Malfoy as his favorite student. How is this possible for two individuals serving in opposing camps? How much is Lucius like Snape? These two seem so perfectly matched, despite their apparently ‘superficial’ differences. Lucius is in Voldemort’s camp, and Snape is in Dumbledore’s. But could we say for both that although they serve different masters, they worship the same “God” – which is “Power”?

Do Lucius and Snape agree in their attitudes towards Voldemort? Perhaps they initially went to his camp because they saw in him as a route to power. They were not truly blinded by his cult like some of the lesser or crazier Death Eaters; they were perhaps only biding their time to vanquish even Lord Voldemort himself one day. Maybe they had a tacit agreement to collaborate in that feat. But maybe it is not in Slytherin nature to “share” power, so maybe the prospect of sharing the reign after getting rid of Voldemort wasn’t feasible. Someone had to quit the field and switch camps. Why did Snape leave Voldemort? Why didn’t Lucius resent Snape’s defection? Is it because deep down they understand each other? Each is looking out for himself. They may be betting on different horses, but they respect each other’s ultimate goal to achieve personal power. At the same time, they may also be keeping an eye on each other, as possible ultimate rivals, and their show of friendship may be calculating diplomacy.

What I look forward to in HBP is some background information on the friendship of Lucius and Snape. I would like to find out to what extent they are and were like each other, and in what measure they are and were different. Basically, it all comes down to: is Snape better than Lucius? We’d all like to know.