Draco’s Detour

chapter six of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry and the Weasleys go to Diagon Alley where, accompanied by Hagrid, they have a run-in with Draco and Narcissa Malfoy in Madam Malkin’s, visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and then follow Draco to Borgin and Burke’s – where the trio overhears him threatening Mr. Borgin, but can’t figure out why.

Corn Flakes, by prettyannamoon

” ‘E is always so thoughtful,” purred Fleur adoringly, stroking Bill’s nose. Ginny mimed vomiting into her cereal behind Fleur. Harry choked over his cornflakes, and Ron thumped him on the back.


Hagrid, by White Elzora

“I know, jus’ like old times, innit? See, the Ministry wanted ter send a bunch o’ Aurors, but Dumbledore said I’d do,” said Hagrid proudly.


Malfoy at 16, by Tealin Raintree

A teenage boy with a pale, pointed face and white-blond hair appeared from behind the rack…. it was a few moments before he noticed Harry, Ron, and Hermione reflected over his shoulder. His light gray eyes narrowed.
“If you’re wondering what the smell is, Mother, a Mudblood just walked in.”


Narcissa, by LMRourke

Narcissa Malfoy strolled out from behind the clothes rack. “Put [your wands] away,” she said coldly to Harry and Ron. “If you attack my son again, I shall ensure that it is the last thing you ever do.”


Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, by mneomosyne

Set against the dull… shop fronts around them, Fred and George’s windows hit the eye like a firework display.


Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, by Sanna Lorenzen

The shop… was packed with customers; Harry could not get near the shelves.


Two is Better than One, by Julie Graham

“”Harry, you help yourself to anything you want, all right? No charge.”


Brotherly Advice, by lberghol

Fred [asked], “But you’re moving through boyfriends a bit fast, aren’t you?”
Ginny turned to look at him, her hands on her hips. There was such a Mrs. Weasley-ish glare on her face that Harry was surprised Fred didn’t recoil. “It’s none of your business.”


The Prince's Godson, by Helene Sirois

“Tell anyone,” said Malfoy, “and there will be retribution. You know Fenrir Greyback? He’s a family friend. He’ll be dropping in from time to time to make sure you’re giving the problem your full attention.”


about the chapter


The title of this chapter is probably one of the most scrutinized chapter titles in the history of literature. In this case, it’s because when Half-Blood Prince was being printed, Rowling gave her fans a treat by posting the titles of three of the book’s chapters on her website. This was the first one, and then we also got chapter fourteen, ‘Felix Felicis’ (lots of conversations about who Felix might be… I think I decided he was the new Minister of Magic), and chapter two, ‘Spinner’s End.’ Many a fun conversation passed as we all tried to figure out the meaning of the titles, but while fans probably got closest on this one, it doesn’t mean we really got close (or remotely close) on any of them. Still, it was a nice treat from Rowling, and one I’ll always remember fondly when reading ‘Draco’s Detour’ to my kids. :)

Something You May Not Have Noticed

When Harry made his first trip to Borgin and Burkes at age twelve, he seemed to think of it as merely a Dark shop – and, according to the black-and-white worldview he had at the time, since it was the type of place Lucius Malfoy would deal in, it was probably a shop whose owners were sympathetic towards Voldemort. But this time around, he gets a slightly different picture. Because if Mr. Borgin were truly sympathetic towards Voldemort, why would Draco feel the need to threaten him? Sure, it could just be Draco abusing whatever power he has. But his conversation with Mr. Borgin just doesn’t sound like one between two people that are both on Voldemort’s side. Harry is learning again, just as he did with Umbridge and Fudge a year ago, that “the world isn’t divided into good people and Death Eaters,” – and it seems Mr. Borgin, like most of the Ministry (or, for that matter, Sirius’s family), probably falls somewhere in between the two extremes.

The Wizarding World

Wizards place so much more trust in each other than Muggles do, it’s fairly astonishing. For instance, I find it fascinating that Bill is able to take gold out of Harry’s vault to give to him. I realize he works at the bank, but consider that Bill isn’t Harry’s relative; Harry has no idea how much gold is in his vault, thanks to his just receiving an inheritance from Sirius (which everyone would know about); Harry has top-secret security clearance from the Ministry of Magic; and far from giving his permission, Harry doesn’t even know that Bill is accessing his vault for him. Now Harry trusts Bill, of course, so it doesn’t bother him that Bill went into his vault; to the contrary, he’s grateful. But at the same time, can you imagine a Muggle bank being set up so the bankers are able to access the private vaults of people they have no connection with, at any time, just on the trust of a promise that they’ll give the contents to the appropriate person? They’d have scandals within an hour.

The Boy Who Lived

Harry spends his days at the Burrow playing Quidditch with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. Quite apart from the fact that her friends got Hermione on a broom, which I imagine was a feat in itself, it’s also interesting that Harry notes that he played “he and Hermione against Ron and Ginny; Hermione was dreadful and Ginny good, so they were reasonably well matched.” From what we heard in Order of the Phoenix, Ginny is quite a good Quidditch player. And while Ron may have his struggles, he’s certainly going to be far, far better than Hermione. So it really says something about Harry’s skill that this is a fairly even matchup, especially when you consider that he’s probably playing Chaser here, rather than his normal position of Seeker. I know he’s always wanted to be an Auror, but maybe now that he hasn’t got the Potions grade he needs he should consider playing Quidditch for the English national team instead….

The Final Word

“From the joke shop, well, my favourite has to be the day dream charm, you know where you sort of plug yourself into this day dream and you escape from your school lesson which I could do without a magical product quite easily and I am sure many of you could, it appeared to be that they boxed a fantasy and you could do it to a boring class. I liked that one the best.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2005

37 Responses to “Draco’s Detour”

  1. Fantastic, thank you Josie! I appreciate your thoughts on Borgin. I just reread that book and never paused at the mention of Draco threatening Borgin. It went so well with Draco’s personality that I never considered WHY he felt the need to threaten, or that Borgin might balk for any other reason than he might get caught by the Ministry. Excellent! And I also pondered those Burrow Quidditch matches-Harry has to be far better than I even imagined to be able to take on Ron and Ginny, both great players (I think GInny more so than Ron, sorry Ron!) with Herminone as his handicap. I imagine Hermione floating around, shouting at Harry to do this or that but mostly concentrating on staying put on her broom as the three of them swooped around her. Love that image!

  2. I love that quote from Rowling given that her books have given all of us a similar escape.

  3. “Could you see what he was pointing at…?”

    “No, he was behind that cabinet.”

    Like all good mystery writers, Jo Rowling has a genius for hiding things in plain sight, but this bit of legerdemain might be her most outrageous. I kick myself when I reread this chapter!

  4. Hooray! You’re back! :-) Perfect timing to post this chapter since it was Fred and George’s birthday yesterday.

    By the way, I thought the third chapter released before Half-Blood Prince was chapter two, “Spinner’s End”.

  5. Yes, brilliant.

  6. Roonil Wazlib, right you are. I wonder why I was thinking ‘Birthday Surprises?’ I’ll fix it now.

  7. Good to see you back :-)
    This chapter is, for some reason, one of the hardest for me to read in this book. I love the parts with the Weasleys but feel very uncomfortable when he starts following Draco around. This feeling intensify in later chapters, and some parts I just skip now when I reread. I can’t explain why though…

  8. Never really thought about the danger in Bill accessing Harry’s vault like that, since I also trust him but, as always, you bring up a good point. But then again, Crookshanks was able to access Sirius’ vault back in PoA and the goblins didn’t bat an eye at that, either.

  9. I do like this book, probably because it has so much weight with the rest of the series, but I was very annoyed with Harry when I first read this. I remember siding with Ron and Hermione- that he was being overly obsessive about what Malfoy was doing. But after I read the ending I wanted to kick myself. :D Thanks for updating!

  10. Never thought about Borgin nor about Bill taking money from Harry’s vault before.
    Great update~^^

  11. Natalia, the fact that Sirius was able to retrieve money from his vault while on the run was remarkable, but saying that was Crookshanks… is a bit fetched up. Sure he tried to catch Scabbers and managed to steal the password list from Neville, but how the hell did he go from Hogwarts to Diagon Alley and entered a Gringotts vault?
    Lets face it: if a cat can do it without being detected I will take my galleons from Gringotts ;)

  12. I thought that Crookshanks took the order to the post office and in the letter was instructions to take the money out of Sirius’ vault … but then surely that vault was being monitored for activity?

  13. Gringotts is controlled by goblins, who do not acknowledge wizard authority. The Ministry of Magic probably asked Gringotts to monitor Sirius’s account, and the goblins probably told the Ministry to keep its nose out of the goblins’ domain.

  14. I think Fred and George telling Harry not to pay for anything is thier way of paying back the start-up loan that was Harry’s Triwizard winnings. Did JKR say why Harry did not choose to play Quidditch professonally? I would have liked Harry to play for the Chuddley Cannons before joining the England Nataional Team.

  15. I never reckoned with Harry becoming an Auror; I figured he’d either be a professional Quidditch player or Hogwarts DADA Professor.

  16. Y’know, I never thought about Bill accessing Harry’s vault in that light, but it’s a very god point! I guess the Gringotts goblins don’t really care what wizards do with their gold as long as they get paid. As for Crookshanks, I was also under the impression that he just took the order t the postal service, and the order acted like a debit card where they just withdrew the gold.

  17. Billie, you are so right about the cleverness of the cabinet reference. Another of Rowling’s best “plants” also concerns the cabinets: in book two, Peeves drops the Hogwarts one on top of Filch’s office, thus explaining how it is broken in this book. J.K.R. certainly is brilliant!

  18. About goblins not caring what people do with the gold: surely if they were that bad, no-one would want to leave their money in Gringotts?

  19. We’d probably be able to answer that question if we’d paid more attention in History of Magic. :-)

  20. Ben: Thanks for pointing that out! I love connections like that. :D

  21. I used to always think that when Harry was done defeating Voldemort he should play Quidditch, but I think that Jo wanted Harry to do something useful, and Jo was also getting quite sick of Quidditch.

    Though I would love it if Harry became a hot dog vendor. Yep, I listen to MuggleCast :)


  22. Did anyone else notice the similarity of the Madam Malkin’s scenes in this book and the first one? Hagrid is standing outside, Harry encounters Draco inside. There’s no deeper meaning to it, just something I noticed.

    Hm, Fred and George are breeding new magical creatures (Pygmy Puffs). Are they allowed that? In “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” it says: “The 1965 Ban on Experimental Breeding has made the creation of new species illegal.” Unless the twins weren’t the first ones to breed them?

    Billie, you’re totally right about the cabinet. And there are other things as well that JKR introduces us to in this chapter, which will become important in the future.

  23. Every time I read this chapter I have to wonder…what would Voldemort think of of the U-No-Poo sign?
    Would he see it as a mockery not to be tolerated and murder the twins “in their beds,” as Mrs. Weasley fears?
    Or would he consider their punishment “unnecessary, quite unnecessary” and leave them alone?
    I am sure, however, that he would not find it amusing; when has Voldemort ever laughed at anything besides death and killing?
    Anyway, I have a hard time picturing his reaction…

  24. Rogmar, can you imagine being the Death Eater that told Voldemort about the U-No-Poo sign? I supposed the twins were *relatively* safe as no Death Eater would dare even tell Voldemort about that sign, and Voldemort himself was still not going public, so he probably was not wandering around Diagon Alley to notice the sign himself. I love how the twins do exactly what Harry wants them to do, give humor to a world that desperately needs it.

  25. I must say, I was disappointed not to see any artwork of WWW U-No-Poo poster…I was looking forward to it!

  26. Kim, I always saw Pygmy Puffs as a new breed of Puffskeins, rather than a new species. Sort of like how a miniature poodle and a Great Dane are the same species.

    To all those wondering about Crookshanks accessing Sirius’s vault – this is a valid question, too. But I think those who pointed out that the goblins shirk wizarding authority when it comes to things like monitoring vaults are probably right – it’s sort of like a Swiss bank account, right? They want your money, so they don’t tell if you’re a convicted felon who’s accessing your account while you’re supposed to be in jail. At least until book seven when they’re forcibly taken over. But I think for Bill and Crookshanks both (or for that matter, when Hagrid picks up the Philosopher’s Stone), there must be some kind of goblin magic that reads people’s intentions… perhaps this is what the goblin is referring to when he says the note from Dumbledore seems to be “in order.” It’s easy to forge a note, but somehow, they know that it hasn’t been forged. Does that make sense?

    And claire… your wish is my command. I read your post today and coincidentally had a drawing of U-No-Poo queued up and waiting to be added to this page. :)

  27. I absolutely love the picture by mneomosyne. The kid must have a headless hat on! Priceless!

    As I recall, Hagrid gave the goblins the key to Harry’s vault, so maybe DD keeps it and passed it to Bill to get Harry’s money? Just a thought.

    I also love the cabinet connection, especially as it is the same one Harry hid in after getting lost in CoS.

  28. Truly love LMRourke’s drawings! I think they so adequately capture that emotion that even people like Narcissa Malfoy have learned to suppress and hide because its proper. And of course love your comments, Josie! Such an interesting spin on thinks and really points out tidbits that subconciously I’d noticed but had just brushed aside.

  29. I agree with Pam. When Harry goes to Gringotts in book 1 they don’t ask for any ID or anything, he has the key so they let him in the vault. Bill had the key so he got into the vault. Maybe there’s an anti-theft charm or secrecy sensor on the key or something to prevent it being used by someone who shouldn’t have it.

    I really wish someone would draw a picture of Voldie finding out about the U-No-Poo product. Lol!

  30. re:the wizarding world
    what about a charm placed on the bag of money or on bill?

  31. i bet harry did play quidditch before he became an auror, as ludo bgaman said, you can’t take in bludgers for ever

  32. To Clare: Why a hot dog vendor? (I’m afraid I don’t listen to MuggleCast.)

    It probably helped that Pygmy Puffs are cute and harmless – far more so than Blast-Ended Skrewts.

  33. “When Harry goes to Gringotts in book 1 they don’t ask for any ID or anything, he has the key so they let him in the vault. Bill had the key so he got into the vault. Maybe there’s an anti-theft charm or secrecy sensor on the key or something to prevent it being used by someone who shouldn’t have it.”

    What about when Mrs Weasley accessed Harry’s vault (in GoF, I think), without him knowing? Did she get the key from Bill? If so, that would seem to be very inappropriate and unprofessional on Bill’s part… Actually, the whole idea of accessing someone else’s vault without their knowledge, no matter how good the withdrawer’s intention is, seems inappropriate to me. Even if the bank allows it, I think it would be good manners to inform/ask permission to the owner of the vault first.

  34. I would have to say that Harry needs a “guardian” in the wizarding world, and that role has been taken up by the Weasleys via Dumbledore.

    Someone who knows the wizarding world has to help take care of Harry until he is of age. Molly sends Harry presents his first Christmas at Hogwarts and makes sure he is welcome at their house, (that is just the beginning of course). I see Dumbledore’s hand in all of this. Who knows, maybe the Weasley’s are one of the families who wanted to take Harry in when his parents were killed?

  35. @Debora: I’d have to agree with Pam; Harry is underage, so someone (most likely Dumbledore) has taken care of things with Gringotts. Can you imagine how that conversation might have gone?

  36. I wonder if when a banker, like bill, takes an item from someone else’s vault they’re forced to extract the gold in a “mokeskin” pouch, similar to the present Hagrid gives Harry for his seventeenth, therefore “no one but the owner can get it out”.

  37. For some reason I thought Love Potions were mentioned as being illegal in a previous book, but I guess not if the twins are selling them. It certainly seems like they should be at the very least heavily licensed and controlled by the authorities. They are just a couple of steps removed from an imperius curse afterall, and we later see in this book chilling consequences resulting from magically induced false love, with Tom Riddle’s parents.

    Hermione’s hapless attempt at ‘undercover’ work in Borgin and Burkes demonstrate why it is as well that she doesn’t share Harry and Ron’s ambition to work as an Auror. At least she didn’t turn herself into a cat on this occasion…

    Finally, I imagine the You Know Who / U No Poo poster must have been a bit of a challenge for the book translations.

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