Hex on, hex off!
Originally posted September 12, 2004:
The longer I stay in the fandom the harder it gets for me, personally, to write H/D because I keep feeling like I have to constantly be better or improve or go different places or whatever, and it's really nice to be reminded that although my ability to write the pairing may waver, my love for it hasn't. It's been so interesting reading everyone's thoughts on that thread. Dorrie was commenting somewhere that Draco in canon is an untested child, that he's never known real darkness, so how can we say he is dark? And, for some reason, this made me think of The Karate Kid.
I'm dedicating this post to Reena, by the way, because it seems like the kind of post she would make. And I thought it would be like 3 times shorter than it is, but since this is me, of course it isn't.
See, I saw the Karate Kid the other day (I was watching network television, please don't tell), right. And it's the first time I've seen this movie since like 1989, I shit you not. I had been wanting to see it for ages because, you know, it's the Karate Kid and I had forgotten why all the famous jokes from it were funny. So I'm watching it the other day and somehow when Dorrie said that about Draco it made me think of that other kid, the blond bully from the Karate Kid, haha. And then I thought, dude! Harry is totally Ralph Macchio!
Well, he is. Come on. He moves to a different school, goes where he's constantly bullied and picked on by the Mean Kids or the Evil Potions Teacher or the DADA Prof Who Wants To Kill Him--and the thing we love about Ralph Macchio in this movie is totally that he just keeps getting right back up again. That's totally Harry. Lock him in a closet, knock him off his broom, portkey him away to a cemetery and (oh, and by the way, I've always wanted to mention this. When they're in that cemetery and Cedric's ghost is like, "Psst, Harry, make sure you bring my body back to my folks," does anybody else besides me think this is just a little bit SELFISH a demand to make on somebody who has enough to worry about with being faced with 20-to-1 odds and not knowing whether he's going to make it out of there alive or not? I'd be like "Shut the hell up, ghost, I'm Prioring here!" but no, Harry's like, "OKAY!" *BEATS VOLDIE* *GRABS CORPSE*. Damn, even the dead make demands on the kid.) and he just keeps on persisting. This kid can't get knocked down for standing up. You just have to love him.
And then there's the Mean Blonde Dude. He already has all the advantages, he already has the advanced karate knowledge, he already has the fame and the street cred and all he needs at school. So, one may ask, why does he go out of his way to pick on Ralph Macchio? Well, obviously, because
he and Ralph Macchio are meant to fall into sweet, sweet love forever omg one! he's a bully, and bullies can only keep their bully status by exerting power over other human beings. Ralph Macchio is the totally perfect candidate, or at least seems to be on the outside. Plus, every time he gets back up, Mean Blonde Dude has the ability to just knock him back down again. Heh. And that's fun and stuff. Except that he never stays down. he's like a jack in the box. And you can tell that the longer this pattern continues, the more Mean Blonde Dude is totally baffled and gradually grudgingly admiring. At the end, in the final scene when Dude's all bug-eyed that Our Hero is still competing on an injured leg, and his teacher is all, "go for the injury!" you can see that there's a limit to his concepts of brutality. It's in the way his eyes widen for a second when he realises how ruthless his teacher is asking him to be.
And that moment to me is Draco. It's not so much that this exists on a parallel of Draco fighting dirty. Sure, as far as we can tell, he never fights with his hands--he probably would see that as a Muggle defense and therefore beneath him--but we know that he's not afraid to cheat or go for the low blow. He's capable of being ruthless. What we're not sure of is whether he's capable of being really harmful to another human being, or of doing that harm with his own hands. This is a parallel of Draco's moral limits being tested. They've never been tested before. Picture Lucius handing Draco a wand, pointing him at a wounded muggle, and saying, 'kill,' and Draco's eyes widening in just that way. Granted, this is also because I'm getting a devilish and possibly dirty kick out of the idea of Draco calling Lucius 'Sensai'--but you can see it, can't you?
Mean Blonde Kid decides to go on and try to take out Ralph Macchio's leg, right, but it doesn't work, because Macchio is the Hero and the Hero always wins--and NotQuiteAsMean Blonde Kid obviously hates himself for it and is all, I love you--I mean, is all *grovel* *simper* *second place* after Ralph Macchio has beaten him. Dude has just kicked this kid's ass, humiliated him in front of his Sensai, whom you just know is going to berate him all the way home with "Couldn't even beat an injured fighter, you whimp!" not to mention gotten the girl, and Blonde Kid is still all, *♥*
Blonde kid is still a bully. He still sucks because he made that choice to go ahead and do the wrong thing in a moment of pressure. But you can't quite hate him, because he's obviously gained new respect for Our Hero, and because Ralph Macchio is Heroic, he forgives him on the spot because he is a gracious winner. This is obviously not quite like Draco cheating at Quidditch and the stakes involving who catching the Snitch. It's interesting, I think, that you can draw the parallels of fighting in a game out to a certain extent, and still not get to the crucial issue here, because in the Karate Kid, it is still a game, and the question of whether or not to deliberately injure someone in a competition isn't the same as whether to point your wand at them and say 'Avada Kedavra.'
It makes me wonder what sorts of moral limits there are in the wizarding world. Beyond the Unforgivables. Would Draco use Crucio on someone? We've seen that Harry would. Would Draco force someone to take Veritaserum and then blackmail them based on the information they revealed? Would Harry? Would they ever have to make the choice of whether or not to obey someone who wanted them to go beyond their personal morality?
And, if that happened, would it be okay? Could we forgive them? Could they forgive each other? That was a pretty shitty thing Blonde Kid did--the equivalent of kicking a competitor already down with jelly-legs. But we've forgiven him by the end because, hey, the Karate Kid did, and we're all feeling gracious, and besides, can't you tell he's sorry for what he did? (Ah, the 80's, a time of clearer moral values and keener moral judgments. Snerk.) Not only that, but far more importantly--he's just a kid.
It makes me reflect that Draco isn't yet off the playing field mentally. He's still, just a kid. The thing between him and Harry has always still been about Quidditch to him, at least until his father is taken. Harry hasn't been a kid in so many ways for years, and Quidditch is the only competition of his life that is just a game. Draco should get to play the "he's just a kid" card, at least once--but will he, in a world where his main rival has been forced so far ahead of him for years, in a world where he's really not ready for the stakes and the seriousness of the competition ahead of him?
Selfishly, protectively, I don't want to see Draco go the way of the bully in the Karate Kid. I want him to understand for himself where his moral limits are, learn them before they are tested, and be able to hold fast to them. If, however, it takes being faced with a real choice in order to know where his morality lies, in order for him to establish his own moral code, then I'd be all for it.
Except that one wrong choice in this world, in this war, might be the only wrong choice he ever gets to make. And all his feeling sorry for it after the fact might be too late.