Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling
House: Slytherin, 6th Year, Prefect
Affiliation: Death Eater
Draco becomes a very interesting little dude in Book 6. Yes, he's mean as ever, and (surprise) he's also working for Voldemort now, but he doesn't have such a fun time being Voldemort's minion. Things don't go as planned. His inability to kill Dumbledore proves that there might, just might, be a glimmer of hope that Draco has some goodness inside.
First things first, Draco changes physically. When Harry sees him at Madam Malkin's at the beginning of the school year, he is described in the following way: "A teenage boy with a pale, pointed face and white-blond hair appeared from behind the rack, wearing a handsome set of dark green robes that glittered with pins around the hem and the edges of the sleeves" (6.55).
But then, at Slughorn's holiday party months later, Harry sees him up close for the first time: "he now saw that Malfoy had dark shadows under his eyes and a distinctly grayish tinge to his skin" (15.170). Whatever Malfoy is working on, it is certainly stressing him out.
The next thing we want to look at is Malfoy's relationship to Snape. Snape, as you know, has made an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco Malfoy at all costs. What happens if you break an Unbreakable Vow? Let's just say it's not pretty. The problem is, it takes two to tango, and Draco doesn't want Snape's help.
This just in, overheard at Slughorn's holiday party, xoxo Gossip Girl: "I'm not trying to conceal anything from him, I just don't want you butting in!" (15.182). Malfoy, who always respected Snape in the past, doesn't appreciate his professor's interference. He doesn't want or like Snape's help. He doesn't confide in Snape at all, he doesn't tell him about his "plan" – whatever that may be. He doesn't seek advice or wisdom in the way Harry might seek advice or wisdom from Dumbledore. He's afraid Snape will steal his "glory" (15.201). There's not much trust going on between these two. And something tells us, even though they make Voldemort happy by killing Dumbledore, trouble lies ahead for them.
Hope for Draco?
Draco's inability to kill Dumbledore shows us just how much this quest has cost him. He has had to follow the Dark Lord's orders so that he might protect his family from further harm. We learn from Moaning Myrtle that Draco has been visiting the bathroom quite a lot in search of comfort and a place to cry in peace. Draco realizes that he's in over his head, and he does not seem to possess the coldness and unfeeling nature that Tom Riddle possessed when he was Draco's age. We detect real fear in Draco throughout Book 6 – he is terrified of failing at his task, and then once he finds himself on the brink of successfully completing this task by killing Dumbledore, his emotions overwhelm him. Though at first he brags about being one of Voldemort's henchmen, over the course of Book 6 he comes to realize that it's no fun being a Death Eater. In fact, it's downright dangerous and terrifying.
We're left with questions, questions, and more questions by the end of Book 6. Namely, what is going on in that creepy, white-haired head of Malfoy's? What does he want? Glory? Is there any hope for him? Is he going to turn around and become a decent guy? We can't help but think of him as a little boy playing at being evil. But you might disagree with us, and Book 7 might too.