There’s a new story bit about Draco Malfoy on Pottermore, and a rumination from J.K. Rowling on the character. I had to change my Pottermore password three times before I could actually access it, which I am convinced is part of the goal – to make it difficult for you, to make it worth it when you finally unlock the story you’re looking for and give you a sense of achievement.

I’m going to spoil it here, so go read it if you want the authentic experience.

The story deals with Draco after Deathly Hallows. Rowling warns us not to think Draco is all that fixed just because he had a couple of moments of softer behavior under severe duress during the war with Voldemort. Like, wouldn’t anyone if they thought they were going to die in a fire? It’s easy to find God then – it’s a lot harder to be a good person when your ass is not being fetched from certain death.  

The story goes on to explain how Draco didn’t make a miraculous turnaround but remained a disappointment to Lucius forever. There are even nods to awkward family holidays with his wife, if you need to over-identify with someone this season.

And most deliciously, Rowling would like you to quit with the romantic notions of a bad guy turning good. I actually love this, because the storyteller in her is at war with the parent and reasonable adult – you can see it. On the one hand, she wants to keep the story door open. Maybe he could be a better person, or have the bad parts of him at war with the good parts. For that matter, maybe anyone could. Maybe Harry could. Here’s what she says about it:  

“There is, after all – and at the risk of rekindling unhealthy fantasies – some unextinguished good at the heart of Draco Malfoy.”

Yeah, see? Useful for story. You got goosebumps. 

But on the other hand, the clear message here is that assholes don’t change. For the purposes of story, sure, maybe. But in real life? Stop having crushes on dirtballs who treat people poorly, because they don’t change and you won’t make them better by loving the jerkiness of them. They’re not just misunderstood. They are exactly that horrible. Most people aren’t sophisticated enough to hide their hearts of gold under layers of resentment and coldness. They are who they show you they are. 

Merry Christmas.