Draco and Some Naughty Little Plans
On Episode 265 of Alohomora!, there was a fascinating comment around the 52:40 mark – while discussing Draco grabbing the Diarycrux from Harry’s bag in Chapter 13 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – that made me perk up my ears: “Malfoy is actually messing up the plan a little bit by touching all this stuff. He’s getting in the midst of his father’s naughty little plan.”
Is this true? It is a delightful thought and would fit in with Draco unintentionally messing things up for the master plotters all the time, and since I’ve been working on a lot of stuff about Draco, I decided to dive further into this comment.
This is all not quite as straightforward as it looks, because there are four plans at work in Chamber of Secrets: Both Lucius and Tom Riddle have an original plan at work, and both revised their plans during Chamber of Secrets.
Lucius’s original plan was to plant the diary on Harry – the ultimate poke in the eye for Dumbledore. This has come to be widely accepted as true in the fandom, so I shan’t reinvent the wheel in this editorial. If, however, you’re yet to be convinced, I direct you to two of my favorite essayists and their takes on it: Steve Connolly and Josie Kearns.
Lucius’s revised plan – the one he actually implemented when he was incensed by Arthur Weasley at Flourish and Blotts – was to plant the diary on Ginny Weasley. This way, Ginny would still open the Chamber and get rid of Mudbloods, Dumbledore would still be removed as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and it would still be a poke in the eye for Arthur Weasley.
But the diary is not an inanimate weapon to be wielded for whatever purpose Lucius Malfoy desires: It is a sentient artifact containing a large chunk of Voldemort’s soul. And Tom Riddle has plans of his own.
Riddle’s original plan was “to lead another in my footsteps and finish Salazar Slytherin’s noble work” (CoS 312). The diary was meant to function exactly as it did in Chamber of Secrets: It was to allow Riddle to either show another student how to unleash the Basilisk or to possess a student and then unleash the Basilisk.
However, then “Ginny told me all about you, Harry. Your whole fascinating history,” and Tom Riddle revised his plan (CoS 311): “Killing Mudbloods doesn’t matter to me anymore[.] For many months now, my new target has been – you” (CoS 312).
The irony here is incredible. Lucius’s and Riddle’s plans crisscrossed. When Lucius revised his plan to revolve around Ginny, that gave Riddle the impetus to revise his plan to revolve around Harry, who was the focal point of Lucius’s original plan. As usual, a tip of the hat to Jo for this one.
I pause to wonder whether Harry would have been susceptible to Tom Riddle’s charms the way Ginny was. Given his eagerness to figure out the diary, and his sudden trust and kinship with Tom Riddle (both possibly born of the connection between Diarycrux and Scarcrux), we should not write off the possibility right away. We see in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that Harry is perfectly willing to trust a “friend” writing in one of his books.
But Harry has a few things going for him that Ginny didn’t. First, Harry has the support system of Ron and Hermione, so he would not need to pour out all his feelings to the diary. Second, Dumbledore doubtless kept a much closer eye on Harry than on Ginny and may have gotten suspicious. Third, Harry shows a natural resistance to the Imperius Curse, so he would probably be much harder to possess than Ginny was.
But Lucius and Tom Riddle, at various times, both seemed to think that Harry would be taken in by the diary.
So where does Draco come into this? When he shows everyone (including a horrified Ginny) that Harry has the diary, he ensures that Ginny gets it back from Harry in a fit of panic.
In fact, this scene (CoS 238–239) and the ruckus at Flourish and Blotts (CoS 62–63) mirror each other almost perfectly. A Malfoy takes a book from Ginny/Harry and uses it as a prop to mock Arthur/Harry. Arthur/Harry snaps and the conflict goes from verbal to physical/magical. Incensed, the Malfoy makes a cutting remark to Ginny (“eyes glittering with malice,” “yelled spitefully”) in order to wound his aggressor: “Here, girl – take your book – it’s the best your father can give you -”; “I don’t think Potter liked your valentine much!”
So Draco actually rescued Lucius’s hastily revised plan to pin it all on Ginny. A public faceoff with his rival ended up with the diary in Ginny’s hands instead of Harry’s – the exact same thing that happened to Lucius!
But Draco inadvertently ruined Riddle’s plan. Riddle was ecstatic to have the diary in Harry’s hands… and less than pleased with the result of Draco’s meddling: “Imagine how angry I was when the next time my diary was opened, it was Ginny who was writing to me, not you. She saw you with the diary, you see, and panicked” (CoS 312–313). Of course, Riddle makes the most of it and eventually succeeds in getting some face time with Harry. But this is the first time that Draco tussling with Harry utterly ruins Voldemort’s plans. There will be a second time… with much more far-reaching consequences.