By Lorie Damerell
Blonde, Slytherin and often sneering at those around them, the Malfoy family are some of the richest wizards in Britain1 and they hold association with the Dark Lord. At the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, one was incarcerated; one a fugitive and the other’s whereabouts were unknown. The family name is probably beyond reparation and they are clearly known as Death Eaters or, in the case of Narcissa, sympathetic to the Dark Lord. What will their futures be? Of course, predicting what J.K. Rowling will write is never an easy job – more often than not it is downright impossible because she has that remarkable talent of surprising us all quite spectacularly. To guess whether or not Lucius will die is like guessing what Harry will have for breakfast on the second Tuesday of December. We can make educated guesses, most certainly, but guesses they are. Lucius and Narcissa are, after all, relatively minor characters and that makes predicting their futures a lot harder than for Draco who appears far more frequently as one of Harry’s enemies. Readers have many questions, and by looking at some of these it will be possible to hazard educated guesses regarding the roles of the Malfoys during the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and may enable us to make some sort of conclusion as to the fate of the family, not just as individuals, but as a whole.
Until the last installment of the Harry Potter series, Narcissa Malfoy had barely been seen at all. Enough was known about her to assert that she spoiled her child and held sway over her husband but it was easy to assume that she was just another pureblood elitist who turned her nose up at everything. Similarly, until this point it was hard to imagine such a proud woman seeking the help of others. Love of her family supersedes pride when she exclaims, “There is nothing I wouldn’t do any more!” 2 On her knees and crying before someone that her sister deemed quite unworthy, she besought that he would help her son in any way that he possibly could. Will she ask aid of others in the future, and from whom? The one she trusted most is now in the same position as Draco, so it is quite unlikely that Narcissa will ask Snape for help again unless he goes to her. Who else has she to ask? Her associates are all, most certainly, Death Eaters or strong supporters of that cause, and to give counsel to the mother of a failure would be dangerous. Therefore there is only one person to whom Narcissa might go if she wanted help. With fifteen years of imprisonment and sixteen years of child-raising between them, Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange, both nee Black, still contrive to bicker as they undoubtedly did as young girls in the second chapter of Half-Blood Prince. But there is a definite bond, for no other reason would make Bellatrix insist that her sister not go to Snape.Additionally,Bellatrix is the only family Narcissa has left—just as Sirius did not acknowledge Bellatrix as a cousin, Narcissa would not recognize her sister Andromeda because she is a “blood-traitor.” Will Narcissa run around Britain in a desperate frenzy to hunt down her erratic, Death Eater sister to ask for her help to get her husband out of prison or to look after her son?
The question determining this is whether or not she will get the opportunity to do this. Presently she is under threat of being captured from three sides. The Ministry of Magic will have no issue with taking Mrs. Malfoy when they cannot get their hands on her son for his misdemeanors. Related to two criminals, the ministry could easily imprison her to suggest to the public that they were doing something, much as they did with Stan Shunpike when Arthur Weasley says that “the top levels want to look as though they’re making some progress, and ‘three arrests’ sounds better than ‘three mistaken arrests and releases.’“3 So too has the Dark Lord laid his threats against her. Whether his words were there solely to act as an incentive to Draco, or whether he really meant to kill Lucius and Narcissa, is not exactly clear. But if he does get frustrated with matters she would make a good target. There is a third party that would probably want to have a good control over Narcissa’s future, and yet they won’t be putting her in danger. Dumbledore offered at the end of Half-Blood Prince to look after Draco’s parents. Narcissa is at a great risk, and even if Dumbledore is not alive to guide the Order, they should surely realize this. If Snape does hand Draco to the Order, mother and son will most likely be kept together in their care.
Thus, it is probable that Narcissa will live. There is only one way in which she would get herself killed, and that is if the Dark Lord and company get to her first because, unlike her son and husband, she is very unlikely to appear in a final battle and so she would not be at such a risk there. She is most probably safe from him not because of the Ministry of Magic or Order of the Phoenix (who have different agenda), but because of her sister. Bellatrix might well sacrifice anyone and everyone to save her own hide, but that doesn’t mean that if it is within her power, that she would not try and save her sister through whatever underhand devices are at her disposal. Bellatrix is still trusted by the Dark Lord more than many Death Eaters, even if she isn’t as much as before and not as much as she would like.4
Lucius Malfoy, despite being mentioned by his son in every book, only appears in three of them and in the most recent book, Half-Blood Prince, he is deliberately kept out of matters by a convenient literary device: jail. So far he has had little stage-time, and it is very unlikely that there will be an upshot in the frequency of his appearances at this stage of the series. Should Lucius be freed from Azkaban, it is far more likely that the readers, like Harry, find out through the Order, The Daily Prophet, or some other news source rather than actually witnessing the event first-hand in one of those rare chapters in which Rowling does not direct events through Harry’s perspective, and it is just as unlikely that Harry will be visiting Azkaban in order to see it occur. But the first question has yet to be answered: will Lucius get out of Azkaban, legitimately or otherwise, before the end of the book?
There is no reason why the current wizarding government, passionately opposed to the regime of the Dark Lord, would release Lucius Malfoy. He is a criminal several times over and a great risk to society. There are two means of escape: on his own, which is probably impossible without a wand against the guards; and, of course, through his master the Dark Lord. It is in his power to rescue and free those Death Eaters confined. What reason is there for him to do this? The Death Eaters in prison are not inept: they are the ones chosen specifically for the task of retrieving the Prophecy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because they are obviously efficient Death Eaters. Unlike those seen at the end of Half-Blood Prince, who are rather brutish and moronic, Lucius is among those more loyal and skillful wizards. And yet their absence has in no way hindered the Dark Lord’s campaign. Faced with having to fight publicly after being discovered (through design or accident) in the concluding chapters of Order of the Phoenix, that he had regained control and did so on own his terms quite well: there has been a nice list of murders, plenty of destruction to Muggle bridges and possibly even a few kidnappings. Oh, and ultimately the demise of the only one he ever feared. Really the Dark Lord sees nothing of major concern to contend with: there is no super-benevolent, multi-talented figure to conduct forces efficiently against him, he has the aid of giants and dementors and he is completely ignorant that a young man in glasses is going to run around and try and destroy bits of his soul. He does not particularly need any extra aid from his own men, including Lucius, because he believes he is close to victory. Perhaps, as matters are going quite well for him, he might exact the thirteen years’ service he demanded of Lucius in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the form of thirteen years imprisonment.