The Dynamic of Draco in HBP
First off, I couldn’t be more impressed with J.K. Rowling. From the first time I picked up PS/SS, I knew that Draco was going to play a vital role in the series, and I knew that there was far more to him than the 2D bully we saw. I admit, that as the series progressed, it was so hard to keep the faith when so many other people were shouting that his purpose was to be a little snot. However, my faith was solidified when J.K. told us we shouldn’t like him. And now I have finally been proven correct. We weren’t supposed to like him because he was supposed to be a big surprise. And he was. He was, because I was so scared that she wouldn’t give us this. I was so scared he would remain either 2D, or she would just go the other way and redeem him in one swoop. But she handled him so delicately, and with such mastery, that I can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed that all of the potential seen in Draco has finally been given page time.
I’ll start with the second chapter, where we see Narcissa (oh I am so smug she used the name Cissy: So, so smug) pleading with Snape to agree to protect him. I am so happy for Draco that he has a mother like this. She is brilliant. She was emotive and protective and so distraught. I was scared for Draco at this point, particularly with the Unbreakable Vow. But it was obvious that he was going to be such a huge part in this book.
In the scene on the train where he stomped on Harry’s face, I cringed, but I cheered. This, for me, was karma. All of those times Harry had attacked Draco, and finally he got his revenge. I am so glad J.K. gave us this. More than that, it showed that Lucius’s incarceration affected Draco so much. And it showed that Draco had grown up. He didn’t reveal Harry was there as soon as he noticed. He didn’t let his heart rule his head. He waited until his friends had gone (and wasn’t it such a lovely scene, with the Slytherins chilling out, and Pansy grooming him like the lower member of the group she is? How very animal-order) and then made sure Harry knew why he was hurting him. But it was very controlled, and I admire Draco immensely for that. He didn’t gloat. He was upfront. And begrudgingly, Harry knew that he would do the same thing.
Another thing to note, as we watch Draco sneaking around the castle, is not only is he very inventive (Polyjuicing Crabbe and Goyle into schoolgirls, anyone?), but he spent the entire year working his butt off in an effort to protect himself and his family. This was serious. No quidditch for Draco. No taunts and bullying. No making the trio’s life miserable. He was consumed with a fierce determination to do what he could to protect his family, while at the same time he was completely full with guilt over having to do it in the first place. It was a hopeless situation, and he knew it, but he still tried. It proved his intelligence (managing to get the Death Eaters into the castle despite the security) as well as his strength of character (how many people would have just given up and curled up into a ball at the prospect of a task that huge?).
The scene with Moaning Myrtle broke my heart. Here we have a Draco who is so desperate, and so guilt-ridden, that he turns to the ghost of a muggle-born for his emotional release. This was the moment we had been waiting for in terms of how Harry saw Draco. He was rooted to the spot in shock (or similar) because he had seen, for the very first time, that Draco was human, he was scared, and he was hurting. He was being told, around that time by Dumbledore, how important love and compassion is, and then he sees it in action. Draco reacted as I expected him to react – with a little embarrassment, which he turned on Harry in the form of their little duel. Harry reacted in the only way he knew how (he was in shock). Harry’s reaction to Draco’s gashes was even more important: He didn’t run; He didn’t stand there. He fell to his knees in all that blood and water and despaired because he hadn’t meant to hurt Draco. His reaction to his punishment wasn’t even one of grave displeasure. He knew he had messed up. This scene, in terms of Harry and Draco, is huge.
Draco’s scene with Dumbledore: Wow. What an incredible character revelation. Dumbledore had faith in Draco and knew that he couldn’t kill him. But he wanted Draco to have the control and make his own choices. He was careful to make sure Harry couldn’t interfere, either physically or verbally, and was forced to watch Draco come to his own conclusions. Dumbledore knew how desperate Draco was, and how much he had wanted to protect his family. Draco was his beautiful snarky self, even as he battled with his emotions. And as he rightly pointed out, he had the strength to do everything to get to that point, to put his plan into action. He was cunning, clever, and determined. And very brave. Anyone who says he was a coward for not going through with killing Dumbledore is just plain wrong. This was the real Draco – acting the only way he knew how. And I will repeat it again – there is no proof Draco is a Death Eater!
It was so important for Harry to see this. He didn’t just listen to the words Draco used. He saw what he was doing. He saw how pale he was. He noticed his hand shaking. And most importantly, he lowered his wand. Draco’s choice was not to kill Dumbledore. Despite knowing it was the only chance he really had to save himself and his family. And not just when he was alone, but when the Death Eaters were there too. He still couldn’t do it. That means everything. And Harry knew that. He knew that because he wasn’t angry with Draco. He was worried for him. He felt bad for him. And he recognised his own struggles in him.
So where does this leave us? Will Draco be redeemed? In my eyes he hasnt done anything he needs to be redeemed from. I think he will continue to grow and to develop. He will recognise the sacrifices Snape has made for him. And he is, completely and utterly, Harry’s equal. Not only did he establish that on the train, when he got his revenge, but it was shown through the reversal of situations. Harry has to kill Voldemort, and Draco was asked to kill Dumbledore. Two opposites. And on Harry’s part at least, he can really empathise.
I also very much enjoyed Harry’s obsession with Draco throughout the book. Everything was flipped on its head. Usually Draco is the boy obsessed. I also don’t think for one moment that this obsession was just due to Harry’s suspicions about Draco. Fangirl shipper aside for one moment, I think that part of this was that Harry missed Draco’s presence. He noted, many times over, that things were not the same. Draco wasn’t there causing hassle, and it felt wrong. It felt really wrong. Canon has finally proven to us that Harry needs Draco to continue the status quo. When that wasn’t there, Harry became obsessed with finding out why not. It was as much a need to balance his own personal uneasiness as it was to discover what Draco was up to. And more importantly, even though Harry wasn’t admitting to himself consciously, Draco was far more important than anything else going on in his life. It was proven again and again through his reluctance to go to quidditch, to think about anything else. Merlin, it was more important than the task Dumbledore set for him. Draco and Harry were set up as two sides of the same coin from Book One, and it has finally come to pass that this was the case.
Finally, they both needed this. Draco needed to discover he had choices. And Harry needed to realise that Draco wasn’t just the person he had always seen. He needed to discover his humanity. It had to happen, otherwise he would never in a million years, begin to be able to fight Voldemort. This book was so about Harry and Draco. And Draco was perfect. She made him human without taking away his prejudices (smells of mudblood ), his snarl, his spirit. And I am so overwhelmed that my faith in J.K. has paid off. I will be celebrating this for years.
Another thing worth mentioning – Madam Malkin’s. This was beautiful. It showed Narcissa and Draco working together and acting as a family in a fine, typical Malfoy performance. And it was like coming full circle, back to the start.
*beams and starts reading HBP again*