The Underground Lake #34: Cryptic Characters, Part 2: The Fate of the Ferret
Hey folks, back for part two. I hope the last part didn’t disappoint. I should think most would be happy, as that was the shortest editorial I have ever written (some feel I can be a bit verbose, but that is neither here nor there). That said, let us dive in, shall we?
We have known Draco Malfoy since very early in Book One. In fact, we meet Draco before we meet Ron, which is very interesting to think about. Imagine for a moment what would have happened if Harry and Draco had become friends that fateful day in Madame Malkin’s. Think how much different life would be if Harry had found something remotely appealing about Draco. Who knows what would be different or who would still be alive…? Therefore, I submit for your entertainment and consideration: THE FATE OF THE FERRET!
Before I begin, let me add a disclaimer: I make no secret that Draco is one of my least favorite characters, and I realize that there are some folks who absolutely LOVE Draco (why? I have NO idea). However you may feel about Mr. Malfoy, I think I pose some interesting questions and thoughts about Draco. Having said that, I ask that you keep in mind my bias as the feelings of one guy and, should you choose to continue reading, remember that this is not an attack on Draco, but rather what I think is going to happen to him in Book Seven.
Draco Malfoy. Ruthless. Power hungry. Clever. Psychologically, let’s examine the man… boy… young man… jerk… pipsqueak… dude. He’s a guy who has consistently gotten everything he wants. His parents obviously love him and would do anything for him (and have). It was interesting to look at the recently posted Black Family Tree (who else flipped out over this?) and note that Lucius was sort of on the fringes of the tree (could he not be a pure blood?). They’re not pulling the Gone With the Wind and marrying their cousins like I had always assumed. I think Lucius puts on airs, but really, I think he married into the Black family to give himself an air of legitimacy. I think he had money, but like I learned in the one class of Sociology in which I paid attention, “old money” has no respect for “new money” until “new money” either proves their worth or marries up. Lucius married up and wants to keep his spot.
Growing up in the Malfoy House, Draco was taught to schmooze to “equals”, sneer at “inferiors,” and completely disregard “lesser beings.” I would wager there are grown men who wouldn’t mess with Draco because Draco possesses a force of will that makes him ideally suited to lead. That’s obviously how he, in ONE year, became the unofficial leader of Slytherin. True, we see very little of the other grades, but essentially since year two, Draco has been the Alpha Dog of the Slytherin clan. He has his lackeys, Crabbe and Goyle, who flank him at all times (and it was a bit sad at the end of Six to see them all alone… like the Beatles without Lennon, or No Doubt without Gwen Stefani, the castaways without Jack and Locke). The boy has proven that he is dang clever, as well as a mover and a shaker.
The Combination Trap
Our HP/UGL vocabulary is increasing. Ages ago, I instituted the term “Kidnap Trap” in reference to Voldemort’s cleverly conceived, year-long plot to kidnap Harry, use him as the means of his own resurrection, and subsequently kill him. We now add a new term: “THE COMBINATION TRAP.” The combination trap, of course, refers to the plot by Draco in Book Six to sneak Death Eaters into the school, thus facilitating his murder of Albus Dumbledore. It is a “combination” trap because it requires a combination of nerve, extreme coincidence, and planning to achieve.
Now, let’s talk about clever. Let’s talk about single-handedly orchestrating a combination trap that led to the murder of Albus Dumbledore. I’ve have wanted to discuss this for a while because, honestly, I didn’t buy it. I will say it was cleverly conceived in that Dumbledore was completely prepared for an external attack on Hogwarts and did not think about the attack coming from the inside. That was clever in that it was so stupid. Recall in the fourth movie this wonderful line from the Weasley twins: “that’s why it’s going to work, because it’s so pathetically dimwitted.” However, I like to give Dumbledore a little more credit than that (interesting side note: at some point, we all, myself included, are going to have to start using first names because there is no longer going to be just one Dumbledore to keep track of). By his own admission, Dumbledore knew for quite some time that Malfoy was the villain behind these disastrous plots. But as Dumbledore says, looking at them, they are absolutely pathetic. The poison necklace? Ha. I reiterate. Ha! Here’s a necklace that if you touch it, you have a weird freak out, and it can potentially kill you. The necklace, even if it had made it to the castle, would have had to go through Filch (because you know he would have opened it) – so that one never stood a chance. As for the poisoned liquor… we all know how big of a boozehound Slughorn is. So though it got past Filch, it wasn’t getting past Slughorn. And assuming Slughorn would have been altruistic enough to actually give the gift to Dumbledore, we all know Dumbledore is a brandy man. Not to mention, it wouldn’t do well to see the headmaster knocking a few back like a college student. His terror alert is on high. Also, Moody is one of his best friends. What was the old lesson about never taking a drink when you don’t know where it came from? (Or worse, you do.)
Moving on to the cabinet. It was Malfoy’s plan from the beginning to use the cabinet to sneak in Death Eaters. But recall: that was not his mission. His mission, having chosen to accept it, was to kill Dumbledore. Nowhere in there were Death Eaters mentioned. If he wanted to be evil, he could have just whipped out the Avada Kedavra at the opening feast and been done with it. Granted, his exodus might have been a little rushed, but that saves us SOOOO much time. The events happening the way they went down also prove that TFPWWNBN is on the side of good because recall that TFPWWNBN has been giving Dumbledore a potion for his hand. Malfoy, if TFPWWNBN was truly working for him, could have slipped something in that potion and been done with it. What it all boils down to is what we already knew: Draco had no real desire to kill Dumbledore. Voldemort threatened him and his parents, and he did what he had to do to save his family. Like any bully, Draco is a coward. In Draco’s case, however, his cowardice has an unforeseen altruistic value to it. He was being his usual self, only more so, but he was doing it because if he didn’t, he’d lose everything he actually cared about. Intriguing how in Books One through Five, Draco and TFPWWNBN always play an antagonistic role to Harry but are never the out-and-out villains because behind their veneer of evil lurks tragedy and understanding. Draco is a bastard because he constantly has to live up to daddy’s expectations. TFPWWNBN acts the way he does because of the horrible life he has been subjected to. But in this scenario, Dumbledore’s words ring true: it is our choices that define us. TFPWWNBN was picked on and treated like a stepchild, but we discover that he also personally alienated himself from others and put on airs of superiority. If I had gone to school with him, I’d have picked on him too… and I’m a nerd. As for Draco, it isn’t the classic “Daddy didn’t love me” scenario; Daddy did love him, and daddy gave him everything. Daddy could be a little hard on him, but Daddy tried his best. And when Daddy is put in danger, Draco must do everything in his power to save him.
Fate of the Ferret and Family
What is to become of Draco? I have been dwelling on this for quite some time. There are several avenues to be taken. In avenue one, Voldemort is stunned to discover that Draco succeeded in his plan to kill Dumbledore, in which case I envision a Kill Bill Volume 2-esque scenario where Voldemort tells Draco that the “biggest ‘R’ he feels is regret… that maybe the greatest warrior he ever met, met his end at the hands” of some snot-nosed, blonde-haired, super-superiority complex having, suffering from Harry Potter-envy, little prat. At which point Nagini will eat Draco. As awesome as that might sound, I’ll tell you I don’t see it happening.
Avenue Q… excuse me… avenue two has TFPWWNBN put Narcissa and Draco in hiding until they can come up with a plan. JKR has set up an absolutely fantastic scenario between Draco and TFPWWNBN in the form of the genius Unbreakable Vow. Now, the fate of the ferret is intrinsically linked with the plight of the Prince. But my question is this: is the Unbreakable Vow over?
The following were the terms of the Vow:
- Watch over Draco as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord’s wishes
- To the best of TFPWWNBN’s ability, protect Draco from harm
- And should it prove necessary, if it seems Draco will fail, TFPWWNBN must carry out the deed that Draco was ordered to perform
Having taken another look at the terms of the Vow, a binding magical contract, it seems that terms one and three were very Book Six-specific. The “Dark Lord’s wishes” and the “deed that Draco was ordered to perform” refer of course to the combination trap and subsequent murder of Albus Dumbledore. Had Narcissa left it there, I believe the terms of the Vow would have been fulfilled in the Lightning-Struck Tower, and TFPWWNBN would be absolved of his responsibility to Draco. However, it is the vague generality of condition two that haunts the entire story, and will play crucially into Book Seven. “Protect Draco from harm.” This one condition puts Draco into the final confrontation. The Unbreakable Vow now links TFPWWNBN and Draco so that should Draco die, TFPWWNBN follows him into the veil, so to speak. It is for this reason that I think the two will be glued at the hip, as it were.
First, TFPWWNBN must go to Voldemort and explain what happened regarding Dumbledore’s death. Recall that I said that Voldemort set Draco an impossible task. He never actually expected Draco to succeed. The whole point was to punish Lucius. The Dark Lord forgives, but he never forgets. He never forgets how he entrusted Lucius with a frickin’ Horcrux and Lucius gave it away in order to discredit Arthur Weasley. He entrusted him with the task of retrieving the Prophecy, and Lucius screwed that one up too. More importantly, he expected that, of all his followers, that Lucius would be the one to be constantly on the search for him. That obviously didn’t happen. Now is the time for revenge. The cunning warrior attacks neither body nor mind… he attacks the heart.
But for better or worse, Draco accomplished his mission. He may not have pulled the trigger, but it was his plan and he carried it through to its conclusion. Now, Voldemort’s greatest enemy is out of the picture and he can focus on his new plan (we’ll discuss that one much later). He can choose to embrace Draco for his ingenuity, or be ticked that Draco succeeded where he, himself, failed so many times… and just kill him.
The “kill Draco” route is actually pragmatic for Voldemort. Voldemort’s overconfidence and vanity are his biggest weaknesses. This became clear to me when I was watching the GoF DVD (LOVE IT!). Voldemort says, “I’m going to destroy you, Harry… no one will ever doubt my power again.” In my mind, when I think of Vold War I, I think of many, many confrontations between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Recall the rapid pace of the battle at the ministry. These two guys have this battle down to a science. They anticipate each other’s moves in a way that can’t involve Occlumency and Legilimency. They fight as age-old cosmic enemies, eternally locked in a struggle for control of the world. For me, I got the sense that, back in the day, those two used to showdown frequently. And yet, in the final analysis, the great Albus Dumbledore was not defeated by the greatest, most powerful wizard in history, but by the machinations of a sixth year student. Talk about poking holes in a legend. Now of course, since Voldemort set the task, he can take credit for it; but honestly, Harry should take heed in the final confrontation. He wants his revenge against TFPWWNBN; he should tease Voldemort throughout their fight at how Draco was responsible for killing the greatest wizard ever (being Dumbledore) and not him. In a rage, Voldemort kills Draco and subsequently, inadvertently kills TFPWWNBN. It’s poetic. It’s genius. It’s… not gonna happen.
The truth is, it is too early to tell what will happen to Draco. Personally, I feel that either A) Snape will put him and Narcissa in hiding to keep them out of Voldemort’s wrath, or B) Voldemort will (superficially) laud Draco for his plan and make Draco the right-hand man and use him in some capacity in achieving his grand scheme. You see, in Book Seven, the plan has to be more auspicious. It’s now about more than just killing Harry. It’s true that Harry is now all that stands in Voldemort’s way… but if Voldemort can’t handle a soon-to-be 17-year-old wizard, he needs to just give up now. I think Voldemort is cooking something up. Something REALLY big, and I think Draco will – for the moment – be at Voldemort’s side (at least until Voldemort finds an excuse to get rid of him). An interesting thought stuck me, and this is what I will leave you with – Voldemort decides to take Draco under his wing. After proving his mettle against Dumbledore, Draco is given one last initiation rite of passage: following in the grand steps of the Dark Lord, Draco must kill his own father. I’ll let you chew on that one.
The Wheels Are In Motion!