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Draco's Detour

- Chapter 6

"Who blackened your eye, Granger? I want to send them flowers."
-- Draco Malfoy

HBP6: Draco’s Detour

We learn of several disappearances including Florean Fortescue and Mr. Ollivander. Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys go shopping at Diagon Alley, escorted by Hagrid.  There they discover a much-changed atmosphere and an empty Leaky Cauldron. They have a run-in with Draco and Narcissa Malfoy in Madam Malkin’s and then tour Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak out to follow Draco into Borgin and Burkes, where they overhear a mysterious conversation between him and Mr. Borgin.

Calendar and Dates

This chapter zips through much of July, then spends a bit of time on Harry's birthday, 31 July. Booklists arrive on 1 August, the next day, and "a few days" later, which we know to be a Saturday, they all go to Diagon Alley. There is a relatively small inconsistency here: according to the calendar the rest of the year is based on, 1 August should be a Thursday, which doesn't really allow for 'a few days' to pass prior to Saturday (which would be 3 August). But it's certainly not a big enough discrepency to merit changing the whole calendar around.

Interesting facts and notes

Harry remained within the confines of the Burrow's garden over the next few weeks.

This gives us a very rough idea of how much time passes between Harry's arrival at the Burrow and his trip to Diagon Alley: more than one week, less than one month.

He spent most of his days playing two-a-side Quidditch in the Weasleys' orchard (he and Hermione against Ron and Ginny; Hermione was dreadful and Ginny good, so they were reasonably well matched)

So Hermione can fly a broomstick well enough to at least try to play pickup Quidditch games, but she's not very good. It's interesting that Harry teamed with a bad Quidditch player is reasonably well matched playing against Ginny teamed with Ron, given that Ron's actually a decent player.

well, frankly, I'm surprised he stayed alive for even a year after deserting the Death Eaters; Sirius' brother, Regulus, only managed a few days as far as I can remember

Interesting. We will learn a lot more about the fate of Regulus Black in the last book.

He used to give me free ice creams.

This was during the summer before Harry's third year, while he was staying at the Leaky Cauldron.

The day after this rather gloomy birthday tea, their letters and booklists arrived from Hogwarts.

That is, on the first of August.

Harry's included a surprise: He had been made Quidditch Captain.

So whoever selects the Quidditch Captain - Professor McGonagall as Head of House seems likely, since there has been no mention of the team voting on the matter - has not chosen the most senior player on the team as was done the previous year.

You can use our bathroom now and everything!

This explains why Harry and Ron are using the same bathroom later on. This might also explain how James, who was never a Prefect, was chosen to be Head Boy. As Quidditch Captain, he held the same status as the Prefects.

We'll go on Saturday

So the trip to Diagon Alley takes place on a Saturday in early August.

the nearest apothecary

The phrasing implies that there is more than one apothecary on Diagon Alley.

We'll do better at Twilfitt and Tatting's.

Nice name for a clothing store, although it's not clear if it's on Diagon Alley (probable) or Knockturn Alley (possible). On Pottermore, Twilfitt and Tatting's is included in their depiction of Diagon Alley.

we can pop in at the Apothecary

This phrasing (in contrast to the earlier line) suggest that only one Apothecary has a shop on Diagon Alley.


Here's a joke that will have difficulty surviving translation.

The whole business of the Ministry of Magic posters reminds me (MLW) of the posters that were commonplace in the U.K. and the U.S. during World War II.

trick wands

The trick wands are apparently triggered when someone attempts to use them. The cheap variety transforms into some other item when waved (such as a rubber chicken or a pair of underwear), while the most expensive variety attempts beat the user around the head and neck. This implies that the transformation spell is easier to build into the trick wand than the attack spell.

A beaming Fred stood before them, wearing a set of magenta robes that clashed magnificently with his flaming hair.

As we see later when we encounter one of the twins' employees, these are the staff robes for the shop. Possibly we have a clue here as to why Molly has a mental block about Ron not liking maroon, if the twins like magenta well enough to pick it as the colour of their staff uniforms.

thick yellow paste

It's not clear whether the bruise-removing paste is a WWW product or just something the Weasley twins managed to locate elsewhere.

"Right you are, Verity, I'm coming"

"Verity" means "truth", but it's also a (rather uncommon) girl's name in the English-speaking Muggle world (along the lines of other "virtue" names such as Charity or Mercy). It's interesting that what with her colouring and the staff robes, Verity's description is reminiscent of Rita Skeeter.

range of love potions

Fred's description of the effectiveness the effectiveness of the love potions is geared to explain how they'll work when consumed by a boy and geared toward a girl. The weight of the boy is a factor on how long it will take a dose to run through his system, while the attractiveness of the girl is a factor because it determines how much work the potion has to do in the first place.

Pygmy Puff

A miniature puffskein that looks like a round ball of fluff. A Pygmy Puff may be either pink or purple in colour.

Turning left?

So from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes heading down Diagon Alley, the entrance to Knockturn Alley is on the left.

large black cabinet

The large black cabinet at Borgin and Burkes in which Harry hid from Lucius and Draco Malfoy the summer before his second year is presumably the Vanishing Cabinet that figures later in the story.

Is this necklace for sale?

This is, as Harry indicates later (HBP12) the cursed opal necklace we last saw four years ago; at 1500 Galleons, no wonder it hasn't sold.

Cursed opal necklace.

Memorable lines


"And our Decoy Detonators are just walking off the shelves, look," said Fred, pointing at a number of weird-looking black horn-type objects that were indeed attempting to scurry out of sight.

"Whatever you've heard from Ron is a big fat lie."

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

HBP 6 — Draco's Detour
Abbreviation HBP6: Draco's Detour
Canonicity Primary Canon


There is a stark contrast between the Diagon Alley in the first books compared to the way we see it in this chapter. Diagon Alley was Harry's first real look at the wizarding world. When Harry entered the alley for the first time, it seems like his wildest dreams had come to life. He saw the cauldrons, broomsticks and magic wands: everything that is associated with witches and wizards was all there for him to buy. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry gets to live at the Leaky Cauldron for two week and there he experiences his first taste of freedom outside of Hogwarts. He is able to go shopping and do his homework whenever he wishes. He also can eat whenever and whatever he likes. To me, Diagon Alley had always seemed to be a safe place. Despite the threat of Sirius Black, the Minister still felt it was safe for Harry to stay there alone. So when I read Half-Blood Prince for the first time, I was shocked that Ollivander and Florean Fortescue were so easily taken. Then Ms. Rowling describes how the window displays have gone, and wanted posters and ministry pamphlets are pasted all over. We see that the Leaky Cauldron is deserted and several shops are boarded up. It gives a clear indication to readers that this year will be much darker than the last few. We get our first real look at how the wizarding world could be if Voldemort's power continues to grow. - C.M.

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