Draco Malfoy – Hogwarts' resident bully and a ‘foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach’ (according to Hermione Granger). But could things have been different if he had been sorted into Gryffindor? Today we consider what if…

There are a lot of unflattering things that can be said about Draco Malfoy – and most of them are well-deserved. He is snobbish, cruel, highly prejudiced with an inflated ego to boot. Still, how much of that is due to his upbringing and the influences of those around him? Would Draco Malfoy have been a different person if he had been sorted into Gryffindor? Would he have rejected his family’s pure-blood mania? Would he have been assigned the mission to kill Dumbledore? And would he have succeeded? Or – would he have shunned Voldemort? Most importantly, what would Crabbe and Goyle have done without him? While this is all speculation, we can’t help but consider just how different things could have been if Draco Malfoy had never been a Slytherin.

Would he have become friends with Harry, Ron and Hermione?

It is safe to say that Harry’s first impression of Draco Malfoy in Madam Malkin’s was not a positive one. Malfoy managed to (quite impressively) come across as rude, obnoxious and arrogant within the space of a few minutes. At that moment Malfoy was in his element. He was preparing for school where he thought he would be the star; confident he was going to be in Slytherin and secure in his family’s wealth and status. If something were to shake his confidence – like being sorted into Gryffindor, or anything other than Slytherin – would those walls have come down?

We don’t doubt that Malfoy would really struggle with being sorted into a house he didn’t want – or indeed, a house his family may not approve of as much. That insecurity might even seem like vulnerability and lead to our trio feeling sorry for him. We can imagine Malfoy exploiting that. He would be shrewd enough to know that he would need to make allies quickly and being friends with the famous Harry Potter would give him some social capital.

Yet, we think that it would have been very difficult for Draco to become friends with them. Draco’s prejudices run deep, having been consistently drilled into him by his family and he would want nothing to do with Muggle-born students – including Hermione. However, such abhorrent views are not as tolerated in Gryffindor, so Draco would probably have had to keep quiet. Sadly, during the times of the books, pure-blood values seemed to still be an important trait for some members of Slytherin house – even their common room password was once ‘pure blood’.

Instead, we can imagine that Draco would try to manipulate Harry and Ron and turn them against Hermione while keeping his true feelings a secret. If he had been successful (and we think that is a very big if), it would have been a much shorter series. Surely Harry and Ron would not have made it past the Philosopher’s Stone without Hermione, and Voldemort would have claimed victory?

Would he have rejected his family’s beliefs?

Being a Gryffindor in a family full of Slytherins wouldn’t be easy and Malfoy would have been conflicted. At home, his head would have been filled with anti-Muggle sentiments, fed to him by his parents. In the Gryffindor common room, those same ideas would be considered repulsive by many. Without the safety net of being in Slytherin, it’s likely Malfoy would not have been quite so open or antagonistic about his views (without Crabbe and Goyle vehemently nodding alongside him). Though just because he would be quieter about them, it wouldn’t mean he didn’t believe in them.

Malfoy’s personality relies a great deal on his status and he doesn’t handle embarrassment or being alone well. However, he is quite calculating, and he could probably mask his true views at school to retain his allies. Even if his perspective had softened a little bit surrounded by the likes of Harry and Ron, he still wouldn’t risk his cushy homelife. It takes a strong person to stand up to their family and despite all his bluster, it’s likely Malfoy would have been too insecure to do so.

That is not say that it is impossible for someone in his situation to push back – Sirius Black is one example that springs to mind. He sacrificed his home and his relationship with his family because he knew deep down what was right. Malfoy just doesn’t seem to be built from the same stuff. His desire for self-preservation is strong - and wouldn’t he struggle without his opulent lifestyle? Why would he risk alienating his family when he wouldn’t get anything from it? Where Sirius was driven to do the right thing, Malfoy prefers to do the easy thing. Remaining on good terms with his family and their views is more beneficial to his lifestyle than sacrificing it all for popularity at school.

Would he have tried to kill Dumbledore?

This is an interesting one. If Draco had been a Gryffindor, he still would have had parents strongly affiliated with Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange as an aunt. Malfoy Manor would’ve still been a good base for Voldemort. Dumbledore would remain a major threat and Malfoy would have been in a good position to get close to him at school. We think it is safe to assume that he would have been assigned the task of murdering his headmaster.

Nevertheless, one major difference would be his relationship with Professor Snape. As head of Slytherin, Snape and Malfoy would probably not have been close (even though Snape was Voldemort’s supposed contact at Hogwarts). However, Dumbledore’s plan would have been able to go ahead and Snape would still be a good candidate to be involved in an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco. Snape would probably have to look out for Malfoy from a distance and observe rather than get involved. It would look very suspicious to have the Head of Slytherin (who notoriously dislikes other students outside his house) colluding with a Gryffindor and Malfoy might be reluctant to trust him. Without an established relationship with Snape, Malfoy would have nobody to turn to and would have had to bear the weight of the task alone.

Yet, it’s possible that night at the top of the Astronomy Tower would have happened in the same way. Malfoy’s father was the one who told him about Borgin and Burke’s, so Draco would have known about the Vanishing Cabinets and would be able to let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Dumbledore would want to protect Draco’s soul and Snape would still have been the one to ultimately end Dumbledore’s life. Therefore, even if Draco had been a Gryffindor, we are confident that he would have still tried (and failed) to kill him.

The only thing to ponder is this – Harry was suspicious of Draco’s behaviour in Half-Blood Prince already. If they’d been in the same house, and even been friends, would Harry have been able to watch Draco more closely?

Draco being sorted

Would he still have been a bully?

If anyone were to describe a bully, we can imagine they would describe Draco Malfoy. He spent so much time and energy trying to make others miserable and seemed to relish the power that came with it. While he might not be quite as openly nasty to those around him if he was in Gryffindor – its wouldn’t be for noble reasons. His deep insecurity coupled with his desire to keep useful people on side would mean his bullying would have to take a different form.

Rather than being overtly awful, it’s likely he would try to subtly manipulate those who were more impressionable instead. We can imagine that there would be a few Gryffindors who would fall for that – Seamus Finnegan is one person who comes to mind. When Seamus's mum didn't believe that Voldemort was back, she instilled that view on an impressionable Seamus who then, for a time, shunned Harry. We can see Malfoy slowly poisoning Gryffindors like Seamus and convincing them to ostracise those he believes are beneath him.

We can also still see Malfoy trying to recruit underlings to do his bidding. As a Slytherin, he had Crabbe and Goyle and as a Gryffindor we can see him trying to recruit someone like Neville. Not only is Neville a pure-blood, but he is also someone who Malfoy would think he could easily control. Now, we know that Neville is a lot braver than he appears, so we think Malfoy would have trouble getting him to do his bidding – but we can imagine Draco targeting him. While Malfoy may not have been a bully in such an obvious way as a Gryffindor, he would make manipulative comments, only associate with the 'right' people and try to influence and corrupt characters he believed to be weak.

Would he still have supported Voldemort?

With a family so connected to Lord Voldemort and his followers, surely Draco would’ve still been inclined to support him too. Even if Draco was in Gryffindor, Voldemort supporters can turn up anywhere. Always remember that Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor who betrayed his friends for the sake of Voldemort – and he seemingly had less reason to than Draco.

It is true that Malfoy does come from a long line of pure-bloods and known Death Eaters who value blood status above all else. However, it’s possible that Draco would’ve been drawn to Voldemort anyway. Draco is driven by self-interest and truly believes himself to be superior to others – so is likely to have found Voldemort’s spiel intoxicating. If Voldemort were victorious, he would be at the top of the wizarding food chain and wouldn’t have to share space with anyone who repulsed him. He also wouldn’t have to hide his true views from his fellow Gryffindors or downplay just how involved his family was with the Dark Lord.

However, it’s also worth noting that, in his older years, Draco’s personality did mellow out – which seemed to be down to the influences of his wife, Astoria. Astoria, who also came from a pure-blood family, did not support anti-Muggle sentiments, and the couple chose not to imprint such ideas on to their son, Scorpius.

But this was all after Voldemort’s death – so would better influences during Voldemort’s rise to power have been enough to convince Draco to turn over a new leaf? Or had his family simply caused too much damage too early? Perhaps Voldemort’s death was the only way to truly help change Malfoy’s mind about things...

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What would have happened to Crabbe and Goyle without him?

We can’t forget what impact Malfoy being sorted into Gryffindor would have had on his trusty minions Crabbe and Goyle. Without Malfoy as their leader, they would’ve only had each other. Or maybe they would they be the henchmen of a different character?

It’s likely that their time at school would have been less eventful if they hadn’t blindly followed Malfoy and gone along with all his poor decisions. While they come from families that support Voldemort, their involvement in things would likely have been less significant. Would Crabbe still be alive if his story hadn’t been so tightly bound to Malfoy’s? Would the events of the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement have even happened at all without Malfoy there? While Crabbe and Goyle may have been rudderless without their leader, maybe they wouldn’t have gone down such a dark path – although with their parents being Death Eaters, that’s probably wishful thinking.

What do you think would’ve happened to Draco Malfoy, had the events of his life turned out differently?

Explore more “what if” scenarios with us, such as...

What would have happened if Dumbledore had told Harry he was the Chosen One earlier?

Or what would have happened if Neville had been the Chosen One instead?