December 25, 2009 – The Series’ Most Shocking Moment, The Story of Harry’s Past, and What Was I Dead Wrong About?

On December 25, 2009 – when I had been blogging here for nearly 10 days – I wrote my first posts on the Chamber of Secrets forum… and quickly got sucked in.

Here are the three content posts that I wrote on my first full day on the CoS forum:

Most Shocking Moment in the Whole Series?

Most shocking moment(s) for me:

Finding out that Harry had to let Voldemort kill him in order to destroy the part of Voldemort’s soul that was in him. This was probably the single most shocking moment for me…. as I think it was for Snape.
(Or, I should say, it was the most shocking moment for Snape in the Harry plot. Lily’s death was the most shocking moment for Snape in the Snape plot).

Finding out that Snape was the Death Eater responsible for delivering part of the prophesy to Voldemort. That stunned me.

Snape’s death and exsanguination at the fangs of Nagini. If there’s any single scene that shows just the complete self-absorption, coldness and depravity of Voldemort, this is it. He didn’t kill Snape because he found out he was a spy. He killed Snape thinking him a trusted servant who (he believed) just happened to have something that he wanted – the allegiance of the Elder Wand. Does Voldemort have any soul left?

Fred Weasley’s death. I don’t know why, but I never suspected Rowling would lay the hand of death on one of the Weasley twins.

Harry naming his younger son Albus Severus. I thought it was perfect, and it brought tears to my eyes, but I had to read it a couple of times to believe it was real.

I was not, alas, shocked at the death of Albus Dumbledore. I thought Dumbledore had to die in order for the hero to complete his Quest. And I was not especially shocked that Snape killed him… mainly because I knew before I read the books that Snape had done something in the course of the story that led to a huge debate over whether he was good or evil. When I did finally read the books, I personally believed that Snape was Dumbledore’s man and that the killing was most likely planned… but I had no idea as to the details of the plan.

Was the Story of Harry’s Past Told to the Children?

We don’t actually know if the children know the story of Harry’s role during the Second Wizarding War. What the epilogue indicates is that they apparently don’t know their father is so famous.

I like to think that Harry told them the story, but that he told them that battling people trying to murder you is not all that glorious when it’s actually happening – which is the same message he gave the members of Dumbledore’s Army.

I’m betting that regardless of what he said or didn’t say, he shielded his children significantly from his fame. I think that’s indicated by Albus Severus’ reaction to the other kids gawking from the train. The Potter kids are going to learn soon enough how famous their father is once they get to Hogwarts. To me, that seems an appropriate time to let them know – at age 11, the same age Harry was when he found out that he was “The Boy Who Lived.”

What Were You Dead Wrong About?

I thought Lucius Malfoy would die a horrible, horrible death.

I thought the Deathly Hallows would be a place.

I believed the mission was to protect Harry, when it was really to get him to sacrifice himself (or rather, the part of Voldemort’s soul in him).

I was right about Snape and Dumbledore working together to ensure Dumbledore’s death, but I was wrong about the immediate cause of that collaboration.

I suspected that Severus loved Lily, but I never imagined that he knew her before Hogwarts, or that he was the first magic person she ever knew, or that Petunia knew him and remembered him talking about dementors.

I was wrong that no Weasley twin could die.

I assumed Dumbledore was just a kindly, benign, immensely powerful elderly wizard, when he was in fact a master strategist and military genius, willing to ask his men to make extraordinary sacrifices in order to win the war.

Pottermore, CoS Chapter 18 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 18: DOBBY’S REWARD

Scene 1 (“Dumbledore Returns”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1:
    • COLLECT Ginger Newt
  • Zoom 2:
    • UNLOCK “Sword of Gryffindor” (JKR-Exclusive Content)
  • Zoom 3:
    • COLLECT bottle of Nettle Wine
    • COLLECT 5 Galleons
    • COLLECT Mirabella Plunkett Chocolate Frog Card
    • COLLECT Transfiguration Today (Thanks, Rubix Cube!)

Scene 2 (“A Free Elf”)

Nice animation… but anybody find anything? I am assuming that they will perhaps add an audio excerpt later at some point to this scene and to other scenes in which there is no interaction, collecting, or discovering.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

Pottermore, CoS Chapter 14 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 14: CORNELIUS FUDGE

Scene 1 (“Another Attack”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1: I’m not seeing anything to collect or discover at this zoom.
  • Zoom 2:
    • UNLOCK “Ghosts” (JKR-exclusive content. Click on the partition, separating Nearly Headless Nick from the petrified students)
    • COLLECT 5 Galleons from the drawer in the table next to Nearly Headless Nick. (Thanks, Let’s call me Lily!)
  • Zoom 3:
    • COLLECT a bottle of SKELE-GRO
    • COLLECT Bezoar (there’s often one of these hanging around in the Hospital Wing. ;) )
    • COLLECT Salamander’s Blood (Thanks, Zara!)

Scene 2 (“Dumbledore is Suspended”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1: See the pumpkin patch outside Hagrid’s cottage. I’m not finding anything to collect or discover here.
  • Zoom OUT 2:
    • COLLECT Dried Billywig Stings (lots of these around Hagrid’s, aren’t there?)
    • COLLECT Flesh-Eating Slug Repellant
  • Zoom OUT 3:
    • COLLECT Infusion of Wormwood
    • COLLECT Dried Nettles (another standard collectable if you hang out at Hagrid’s)
    • COLLECT Key from the floor inside Hagrid’s hut (but you have to be quick before the door shuts!) (Thanks, FeatherElm!)

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

A Finder’s Guide to Chapters 1-4 in Pottermore’s Chamber of Secrets (spoilers!)

Thanks to Slytherin’s victory in the House Cup, I had the opportunity yesterday to explore the first four chapters of Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore. Today, everybody else has the same opportunity.

I compiled the list below based on my own exploration. If there’s anything that you find that is not on this list, or if there is anything else noteworthy that I have failed to mention, please let me know in the Comments below so that I can make the list complete. Thank you!

I will use the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

WARNING: THIS IS A HIGHLY SPOILERIFIC POST! DO NOT READ BETWEEN THE SPOILER GIFs IF YOU INTEND TO EXPLORE THE NEW CHAPTERS WITHOUT ASSISTANCE!

Chapter 1, Scene 1 (“The Magic Word”)

  • Collect flower heads from the flower bed next to the door (Zoom 1). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Get through the door at Number 4 Privet Drive by just zooming in one level to Zoom 2. The cupboard under the stairs will be locked until you find all the items in Chapter 4, Scene 4. But do return. There will be some items to collect from the cupboard later on.
  • Collect Jar of Honey from the kitchen counter (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect Cornelius Agrippa Chocolate Frog Card from the shelf in the cupboard under the stairs (Zoom 2 – AFTER you have found the hair pin in Chapter 4, Scene 4. The hair pin unlocks the door, but it will already be open when you come back here after finding the hair pin).
  • Collect Bertie Bott’s Sprout-flavoured Bean from the shelf in the cupboard under the stairs (Zoom 2 – AFTER you have found the hair pin in Chapter 4, Scene 4).
  • When you click on the forward arrow to get to the next scene, the house zooms back out to the Dursleys’ front doorstep. It’s a very nice effect.

Chapter 1, Scene 2 (“Two Enormous Green Eyes”)

  • There’s really not much happening at Zoom 1. You can listen to the bird and neighborhood noises and watch Harry sit on the bench. But not a lot more.
  • You can open the door to the shed at Zoom 2. You can get the lawnmower to start, the bicycle bell to sound… and you can even collect a pair of pruning sheers. These will go into your trunk, but I’m not really sure why you’ll want them when you go to Hogwarts. Perhaps they will be useful for Sprout’s Herbology class?
  • Collect Dried nettles from the wheelbarrow (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect Rose thorns on the left side of the flower bed (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.

Notice that at the end of Chapter 1, we have already found 4 ingredients that can be used in Potions. I’m already wondering what new Potions we’ll learn in CoS and where we might be able to use these ingredients!

Chapter 2, Scene 1 (“Dobby the House-Elf”)

  • There doesn’t seem to be much in this scene. However, you can find the Newt Scamander Chocolate Frog Card on Harry’s bed (Zoom 2).
  • You can also wiggle Dobby’s ear (Zoom 2) – which will probably get the kids to giggle.
  • I do not believe there is a Zoom 3 level in this scene.

Chapter 2, Scene 2 (“Aunt Petunia’s Pudding”)

  • It’s a Mini-Game! You have to keep the pudding afloat for 14 seconds by clicking it continuously. The first time you succeed, you will be awarded a Bertie Bott’s Sugared Violet-Flavoured Bean and 1 House point. (Of course, you also get 1 House point for all items you collect).
  • You might not want to look much while you’re clicking the pudding, but you CAN see Dobby on top of the kitchen cabinet to the right, getting ready to make that pudding go SPLAT! Kids will probably enjoy this game… and get an extra treat from seeing Dobby.

Chapter 3, Scene 1 (“Harry’s Escape”)

  • Now it gets fun! You can unlock new JKR content on the Wizarding World’s relationship to Technology by clicking anywhere in the vicinity of Harry or the Flying Ford Anglia. This is a must-read!
  • But the fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll find quickly that you cannot zoom IN. But you can zoom OUT! This is the first time Pottermore has used a zoom OUT feature. And in this scene, there’s a lot that you can find when you zoom out.
  • Collect the Bertie Bott Chocolate Frog Card on the floor by the overturned chair/light (Zoom OUT 2).
  • Collect 4 separate Bertie Bott’s Beans (all on Zoom OUT 2): one is to the left of where the Chocolate Frog Card is found, one is on the bed, one is on the bookshelf above the bed, and one is to the left of Harry’s left foot on the chest. (A special thanks to Kristen in the Comments for pointing out the bean by Harry’s foot.)
  • See Uncle Vernon and make him RAWR at Zoom OUT 3!!!

Chapter 3, Scene 2 (“The Weasleys'”)

  • Again, there’s not really a lot to see in this scene. However, take a look at the Anglia’s license plate. Yes. They really DID! ;)
  • You also get a good view of the Burrow at Zoom 3… and you can collect some Horklump juice from the Burrow’s Garden (Zoom 3). That will prove handy for Potions!

Chapter 3, Scene 3 (“De-gnoming the Garden”)

  • We’ve all read about how to de-gnome a garden. Well, Pottermore has turned it in to another Mini-Game! In this game, you have to toss 4 gnomes out of the garden in the time allotted. It’s a bit tricky because if you don’t let go of your gnome at the right moment, it can smack the hedge, land in the water, or hit a wall! You get a bonus if you send the gnome beyond the tree trunk. I’ve gotten past the tree trunk a few times. My best throw is 12-point-something. My best number of gnomes thrown is 7. :)
  • The first time you have successfully tossed 4 gnomes out of the Garden, you will be rewarded by receiving a copy of Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests and 1 House point. After the first time, you are just playing for the fun of it.

Chapter 4, Scene 1 (“Letters from School”)

  • And yet another Mini-Game! In this one, you need to click on the envelopes in the correct order so that you will move the coffee cup far enough to reveal your school shopping list (which sits underneath the cup). Pottermore gives hints on the correct order for the envelopes, but I just drew a map and experimented. Your reward for successfully completing this game is that you will find your shopping list… and get a new deposit of Galleons in your Gringotts account!
  • In this scene, you can also read a letter from Hermione. It’s on the table to the left of the coffee cup, near the bacon.

Chapter 4, Scene 2 (“Floo Powder”)

  • There’s only Zoom 1 in this scene, but there’s plenty of stuff to find.
  • The Floo Powder is in the pot at the left side of the mantelpiece. Drag some Floo Powder into the fireplace! You collect the Floo powder for your trunk (pretty useful for sneaking in to the Floo network at Hogwarts, I think), but even better, you have a gorgeous green light filling the room. It’s really neat to collect items by the green light… and there are plenty of items to collect in this scene!
  • Collect a Scullery Key and Fire Tongs for your trunk.
  • Collect several books from the mantelpiece: Enchantment in Baking, One Minute Feasts – It’s Magic, and Charm Your Cheese.
  • Collect the Chocolate Frog Card for Ignatia Wildsmith (inventor of Floo Powder) by looking in the clothes hamper.
  • I wish that we would go through the fireplace to get to Borgin and Burkes just like Harry does, but we don’t. We just click the forward arrow key. :(
  • UNLOCK “Floo Powder” (JKR-Exclusive content) (“It’s two Sickles a scoop, people”)

Chapter 4, Scene 3 (“Borgin and Burkes”)

  • Well, here’s a spooky store! What about those torture devices hanging from the ceiling? {{{shudder}}}
  • At least we can “borrow” 5 Galleons from the cash drawer under bell on the B&B counter (Zoom 1).
  • Collect a mask from the wall of masks (Zoom 2). This goes into your trunk and will presumably be useful if you need to mask yourself for a “darker” sort of adventure.
  • Collect some Dragon Liver above the hand in the display (Zoom 3). This will go into your Potions ingredients.
  • Read the new JKR content about Draco Malfoy! This content was not available last night when I wrote this post, but it’s available now. Just look for the feather next to the content. I don’t think you actually have to do anything special in order to unlock it. (A special thanks to Ani in the comments for letting me know about the new Draco content!)

Chapter 4, Scene 4 (“Lucius Malfoy”)

  • There’s some awesome stuff in this scene! First, you probably want to unlock the new JKR content on the Malfoy family! Just click on Lucius (Zoom 2). I’ll talk more about this information in a later post, but there’s some astonishing historical information about the Malfoys here.
  • Collect Peppermint from the shopper’s shopping basket (Zoom 1). This will go into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect a Hair pin from the braid of the woman next to the woman with the shopping basket (I believe this is also at Zoom 1). This Hair pin unlocks the cupboard under the stairs in Chapter 1, Scene 1. When you finish this scene, you can go back there and collect the items that were previously locked up.
  • Collect Encyclopedia of Toadstools, which is next to Lucius (Zoom 2).
  • Collect Magical Me from the display window (Zoom 2).
  • Collect the Miranda Goshawk Chocolate Frog Card from the bookshelf in back of what looks like Arthur Weasley (Zoom 2).

So… what have we learned from all this exploration?

Well, aside from getting some first-hand experience in how to de-gnome a garden, the main thing we’ve learned is that Harry’s possessions are as untidy as his black messy hair! He leaves Chocolate Frog Cards, Bertie Bott’s Beans, and just about anything else lying around! It’s enough to drive Aunt Petunia crazy! But I’m no neat freak, so it hardly bothers me. :)

We also get a lot of new Potions ingredients – including everyday items like Peppermint, Honey, Rose Thorns, and Flower Heads. I can hardly wait to see how they’re used and which Potions will use them!

A First Look at Pottermore’s Chamber of Secrets (spoilers!)

Okay, so I’ve gone through the first four chapters of CoS on Pottermore and found everything that I could find. So far, there are no new potions or spells (though that could change as soon as we are able to purchase our new books). But there are plenty of opportunities to get some easy points.

Here are a few of my observations:

1. There are more opportunities to play interactive mini-games – and these are games that the children should enjoy.

In Chapter 2, Scene 2 (“Aunt Petunia’s Pudding”), you’ll get to float Aunt Petunia’s pudding for 14 seconds by clicking it continuously. You will even be able to see Dobby on top of the kitchen cabinet getting ready to splat the pudding on the floor! The first time you successfully float the pudding, you will be rewarded with a Bertie Bott’s bean – and 1 House point.

In Chapter 3, Scene 3 (“De-Gnoming the Garden”), you’ll get to toss gnomes beyond the garden wall. The first time you successfully de-gnome the garden within the specified amount of time, you will be rewarded with a book by Gilderoy Lockhart (Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests) – and 1 House point.

In Chapter 4, Scene 1 (“Letters from School”), you’ll have to arrange envelopes on the kitchen table in the right order so that you can find your school shopping list.

In Chapter 4, Scene 2 (“Floo Powder”), you’ll drag Floo Powder into the Fireplace… and see the whole room turn an awesome Slytherin green! ;)

The Pudding and the De-Gnoming should be especially suited to kids, but they are also pretty entertaining for adults.

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2. Pottermore is making more sophisticated use of the interface.

Chapter 1, Scene 1 (“The Magic Word”) – You have to zoom in to get past the door to Privet Drive. You also have to collect an item from Chapter 4, Scene 4 (“Lucius Malfoy”) in order to pick the lock to the cupboard under the stairs (found in this scene). So you have to go to the last of scene before coming back to this first scene in order to collect the items found in the cupboard. This forward-backward movement is something that I don’t recall Pottermore doing in PS/SS.

Chapter 3, Scene 1 (“Harry’s escape”) – After unlocking the new JKR content on Technology, you have to zoom OUT in order to find items to collect. We’ve never had to zoom OUT before, but you can probably expect that there will be several scenes in CoS that will use this technique. In this scene, by the way, there are two zoom OUT levels, and the second one is very amusing. :)

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3. There is some outstanding new JKR content.

Do you want more details about the often strained relationship between Wizards and Muggle technology? Have you always wanted to know more about Malfoy Family history? Well, here’s your chance.

JKR has written two new pieces of exclusive content that give us some rather extensive – and often surprising – information. What we learn about the Malfoy family is particularly delicious… and more than a bit shocking!

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4. There are plenty of new items to collect (or otherwise acquire).

Here are some of them (and if I’ve missed any, please let me know!):

POTIONS INGREDIENTS
Flower heads
Jar of Honey
Dried nettles
Rose thorns
Horklump juice
Dragon Liver
Peppermint

CHOCOLATE FROG CARDS
Cornelius Agrippa
Newt Scamander
Bertie Bott
Ignatia Wildsmith
Miranda Goshawk

BOOKS
Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests
Enchantment in Baking
One-Minute Feasts – It’s Magic
Charm Your Cheese
Encyclopedia of Toadstools
Magical Me

OBJECTS
Pruning shears
Scullery Key
Floo Powder
Fire Tongs
Mask
Hairpin

BERTIE BOTTS BEANS
Sprout-flavored bean
Sugared-violet bean
Chocolate-flavored bean
Toast-flavored bean
Pepper-flavored bean
Baked Bean-flavored bean

MONEY
5 Galleons lying around (in addition to new Galleons deposited in Gringott’s account)

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When everybody else has access tomorrow, I will offer more details on where to find things and at what zoom level.

If anyone has questions, I will be happy to answer them in the comments section below. :)

Guest Post: Draco dormiens nunquam titillandusa

by AnnieLogic

Guest blogger AnnieLogic provides a nice counterbalance to my much less favorable review of Draco’s first encounter with Harry Potter…

Draco holds a distinction: he is the first notable character to attempt to befriend Harry, while being unaware of the celebrity beside him. In fact, Draco tries to make small talk with Harry, while the latter is wearing scruffy hand-me-down Muggle clothes and a very obvious patch-up job on his broken glasses. Draco does not appear to snub Harry from the initial outset for the sake of appearances.

Yet Draco’s conduct and manner of address – notably in regards to his parents and how he intends to get his own way – remind Harry strongly of his cousin. These memories of Dudley, complete with a conglomerate of negative feelings associated with them, mean that Harry may be projecting onto an unfamiliar person. It provides wriggle room for a misunderstanding early on.

Due to feeling increasingly stupid about his lack of knowledge concerning the Wizarding World, Harry becomes uncomfortable at Draco’s enthusiastic talk of Quidditch and Hogwarts’ Houses. Even Hagrid (who, unlike Draco, knew how much in the dark the Dursley’s had condemned Harry to be) exclaimed later:

“Blimey, Harry, I keep forgettin’ how little yeh know — not knowin’ about Quidditch!”

Later the reader sees further that students place Hogwarts Houses – as well as the much-loved Wizarding sport, Quidditch – at the forefront of their minds, so Draco’s choice of a conversational subject was seemingly friendly and no different than that of other future students, or indeed adults.

The downward spiral continues as Draco talks disdainfully of Hagrid. Understandably, and compassionately, Harry is defensive of his first wizarding friend – who showed him kindness, generosity and acceptance. This trait of Draco’s – to belittle and taunt those he believes to be his inferiors – is exhibited in various topics throughout the first year: topics concerning family, social status, intellect and skill, wealth and provisions:

“I do feel so sorry,” said Draco Malfoy, one Potions class, “for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they’re not wanted at home.”


“Would you mind moving out of the way?” came Malfoy’s cold drawl from behind them. “Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley? Hoping to be gamekeeper yourself when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose — that hut of Hagrid’s must seem like a palace compared to what your family’s used to.”


“See, there’s Potter, who’s got no parents, then there’s the Weasleys, who’ve got no money — you should be on the team, Longbottom, you’ve got no brains.”


“Longbottom, if brains were gold you’d be poorer than Weasley, and that’s saying something.”

When Harry replies shortly to Draco’s enquiry about his parents, and Draco responds “Oh sorry” (a fairly standard, civil way to reply to a complete stranger), Harry seems to take unnecessary offence, thinking Draco doesn’t sound sorry at all. However, the notion is swiftly dispelled when Draco adds, “But they were our kind, weren’t they?” as if to imply non-magical folk are of scant enough worth to mourn their loss.

Perhaps Draco could have enquired as to what happened, or where and with whom does Harry now live. However, in some circles this would probably be considered extremely intrusive questions to ask a stranger – particularly if the stranger turned abrupt, which would be a warning sign not to delve further into private matters. Re-enforcing this, the reader later observes Molly on the platform scolding the insensitivity of her children – first Ginny, for wanting go look at Harry as if he were a specimen in a zoo; secondly, Fred and George for proposing to ask Harry questions about the fateful circumstances under which he lost his parents.

Draco goes on to express an intolerant view of Muggleborns. Introduced here is another of Draco’s traits: being a constant mouthpiece for his parent’s views, particularly parroting and using the name of his father, Lucius Malfoy, and its weighty lineage.

In Tales of Beedle the Bard, the notes reveal Lucius Malfoy strove to get that very book, which contains Muggle-friendly teachings, banned from the Hogwarts curriculum. This fact allows the reader an insight into how tight a rein Lucius exerted on what Draco was exposed to in his first eleven years. It doesn’t justify or excuse the character, it does however give an idea of how Draco’s personality and morals were strictly influenced and moulded – showing why he chooses to ally and associate with those of desirable profile (in his opinion), who are subservient to his wishes, or who possess suitable beliefs.

The set up for Draco alienating and developing a rivalry with Harry, is repeated when Draco insults and tries to trump Ron, and a newly developed bond, despite it being a retaliation to a veiled snigger at his name.

Throughout the story, in a developing pattern of animosity, Draco slowly descends from snotty spoiled child further into the bully and antagonist role.

AnnieLogic authors the LiveJournal custos noctis.

Snakes on a Train

Rather than deal with Draco Malfoy in short spurts, I’ve carved out a little bit of space where we can talk a bit more expansively about our snaky Slytherin’s pre-Hogwarts encounters with Harry Potter.

I mentioned in Beyond the Leaky Cauldron that Draco is “a bit of a blood-prejudiced prat (and more than a little like Dudley Dursley)” – to which arithmancer replied:

I had some sympathy for Draco from the start. To me it seemed clear his approach to Harry in the robe shop was friendly. Since he did not know Harry’s mother was Muggleborn, or Hagrid was his first wizard friend, the things he said were, while revealing of the prejudices he had obviously already acquired, not intended to put off Harry in any way. He was just trying to start up a conversation with another boy who would be going to Hogwarts.

Okay. She’s got a point. The conversation in Madam Malkin’s opens with the pale, pointy-faced boy’s “Hello. Hogwarts too?” and continues with the boy rattling on about racing brooms, Quidditch, school Houses, Hagrid, and Wizarding blood. Draco (the boy) is not, at any point, intending to put Harry off. He’s just carrying on what he considers to be light conversation. The problem lies in what Draco considers to be light conversation.

As arithmancer mentions, Draco’s conversation shows the “prejudices he had obviously already acquired.” We don’t know it yet, but the parents Draco mentions (the father who is buying his books and the mother who is looking at wands) both come from wealthy pureblood families – the Malfoys and the Blacks.

Though not all purebloods engage in blood prejudice (witness the Weasleys!), both the Malfoy and Black families boast long lines of blood supremacy ideologues with long histories of despising Muggles and Muggle-borns. In fact, in Dumbledore’s notes to Beedle the Bard we find that Brutus Malfoy, one of Lucius’ ancestors, edited an anti-Muggle periodical dating back at least to 1675, when Brutus wrote:

This we may state with certainty: Any wizard who shows fondness for the society of Muggles is of low intelligence, with magic so feeble and pitiful that he can only feel himself superior if surrounded by Muggle pig-men.

Nothing is a surer sign of weak magic than a weakness for non-magical company.

In addition to inheriting a most virulent strain of blood prejudice from his ancestors, Draco’s father is an impenitent Death Eater who continues to practice Dark Magic in secret. Draco, in other words, starts from a deficit of character and empathy – despite his family wealth.

Inside Madam Malkin’s

In his first discussion with Harry Potter, here are some of the ways Draco manages not to win friends and influence people:

On the question of racing brooms:
“I don’t see why first years can’t have their own. I think I’ll bully father into getting me one and I’ll smuggle it in somehow.”

On the question of playing Quidditch:
“I [play] – Father says it’s a crime if I’m not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree.”

On the question of school Houses:
“Imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”

On the question of Hagrid:
“Oh… I’ve heard of him. He’s sort of a servant, isn’t he?…. I heard he’s sort of savage – lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed.”

On the question of Harry’s parents being dead:
“Oh, sorry,” said [Draco], not sounding sorry at all. “But they were our kind, weren’t they?”

On the question of Muggle-borns:
“I really don’t think they should let the other sort in, do you? They’re just not the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What’s your surname, anyway?”

Does Draco have any clue at all on how to make friends with strangers?

As arithmancer pointed out, none of this is intended to be rude. But much of it is rude. And what’s not rude is often disturbing.

From the moment Draco brags about bullying his father and smuggling in a broom, Harry is reminded of Dudley, and that is emphatically not a good thing. Draco is full of himself, bragging about his Quidditch-playing ability, emphasizing his social superiority over those he deems servants, expressly showing a lack of empathy over the fact the boy he’s speaking with is orphaned, and (of course) demonstrating the blood prejudice that he has absorbed from his parents – all without bothering once to find out the actual views of the boy he’s talking with, or anything else about the boy. Had he bothered, he might have had a better idea about how to proceed, but Draco just starts talking. Only when he realizes that he needs to find out whether or not this boy is from one of the old Wizarding families does he bother to ask Harry for any relevant information about himself.

Now, it’s not really possible to determine whether his narcissistic behavior is an innate character flaw or a sort of self-absorption that he has had ingrained in him as a result of his upbringing. But regardless, Harry is hardly impressed.

On the Hogwarts Express

Things get worse, though, on the Hogwarts Express – so bad, in fact, that by the time Harry puts the Sorting Hat on his head, he is begging to be put into any House besides Draco’s.

It all starts when Draco comes into the famous Harry Potter’s compartment and (in excellent Slughorn style!) starts trying to “collect” him, perhaps even bask a little in Harry’s reflected glory. But in a remark aimed precisely at Ron Weasley, Draco makes his fatal mistake… if he wishes to create a positive impression on the famous boy:

“You’ll soon find some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

Oh, the arrogance! The unutterable arrogance! Harry has spent the last several hours forming a bond with Ron Weasly. What could possess young Malfoy to think that Harry would favor Draco over this new friend?

Perhaps we could say, charitably, that Draco is still something of an extension of his parents. He is only 11. He has not really reached an age where kids start to separate their own beliefs from their parents’ beliefs. But when Harry rebuffs the offer, this young extension of parental prejudice gives a positively chilling reply:

“I’d be careful if I were you, Potter,” he said slowly. “Unless you’re a bit politer, you’ll go the same way as your parents. They didn’t know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it’ll rub off on you.”

You have just been introduced to a Death Eater perspective of James’ and Lily’s deaths. Significantly, Draco is accompanied by foils Crabbe and Goyle (both sons of Death Eaters), who will go with him into Slytherin – the House that has had a blood prejudice bent since Salazar Slytherin left a Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, the House that has become Death Eater Central since Voldemort began to raise an army.

By filling their son with such venom, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy have inflicted  damage on this “unfortunate boy” as appalling as any of the damage Dumbledore later sees in Dudley.

Yet just as there is hope for Dudley, there is hope for Draco. The wand that chose “the poor Malfoy boy” has a unicorn hair core. Somewhere deep down, there is still a core of innocence and purity in Draco, despite external appearances. We shall see if he fulfills that promise.