Malfoy's master plan

Malfoy explains to Dumbledore about the passage between the two Vanishing Cabinets

Extract from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by J.K. Rowling

‘I’m not afraid!’ snarled Malfoy, though he still made no move to hurt Dumbledore. ‘It’s you who should be scared!’

‘But why? I don’t think you will kill me, Draco. Killing is not nearly as easy as the innocent believe ... so tell me, while we wait for your friends ... how did you smuggle them in here? It seems to have taken you a long time to work out how to do it.’

Malfoy looked as though he was fighting down the urge to shout, or to vomit. He gulped and took several deep breaths, glaring at Dumbledore, his wand pointing directly at the latter’s heart. Then, as though he could not help himself, he said, ‘I had to mend that broken Vanishing Cabinet that no one’s used for years. The one Montague got lost in last year.’

‘Aaaah.’

Dumbledore’s sigh was half a groan. He closed his eyes for a moment.

‘That was clever ... there is a pair, I take it?’

‘The other’s in Borgin and Burkes,’ said Malfoy, ‘and they make a kind of passage between them. Montague told me that when he was stuck in the Hogwarts one, he was trapped in limbo but sometimes he could hear what was going on at school, and sometimes what was going on in the shop, as if the Cabinet was travelling between them, but he couldn’t make anyone hear him ... in the end he managed to Apparate out, even though he’d never passed his test. He nearly died doing it. Everyone thought it was a really good story, but I was the only one who realised what it meant – even Borgin didn’t know – I was the one who realised there could be a way into Hogwarts through the Cabinets if I fixed the broken one.’

‘Very good,’ murmured Dumbledore. ‘So the Death Eaters were able to pass from Borgin and Burkes into the school to help you ... a clever plan, a very clever plan ... and, as you say, right under my nose ...’

‘Yeah,’ said Malfoy who, bizarrely, seemed to draw courage and comfort from Dumbledore’s praise. ‘Yeah, it was!’

‘But there were times,’ Dumbledore went on, ‘weren’t there, when you were not sure you would succeed in mending the Cabinet? And you resorted to crude and badly judged meas- ures such as sending me a cursed necklace that was bound to reach the wrong hands ... poisoning mead there was only the slightest chance I might drink ...’

‘Yeah, well, you still didn’t realise who was behind that stuff, did you?’ sneered Malfoy, as Dumbledore slid a little down the ramparts, the strength in his legs apparently fading, and Harry struggled fruitlessly, mutely, against the enchantment binding him.

‘As a matter of fact, I did,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I was sure it was you.’

‘Why didn’t you stop me, then?’ Malfoy demanded.

‘I tried, Draco. Professor Snape has been keeping watch over you on my orders –’

‘He hasn’t been doing your orders, he promised my mother –’

‘Of course that is what he would tell you, Draco, but –’

‘He’s a double-agent, you stupid old man, he isn’t working for you, you just think he is!’

‘We must agree to differ on that, Draco. It so happens that I trust Professor Snape –’

‘Well, you’re losing your grip, then!’ sneered Malfoy. ‘He’s been offering me plenty of help – wanting all the glory for himself – wanting a bit of the action – “What are you doing? Did you do the necklace, that was stupid, it could have blown everything –” But I haven’t told him what I’ve been doing in the Room of Requirement, he’s going to wake up tomorrow and it’ll all be over and he won’t be the Dark Lord’s favourite any more, he’ll be nothing compared to me, nothing!’


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling