(Oh my god, Harry Potter content!)
Somehow I had got it in my head that Half-Blood Prince was coming out in June, so I've been past ready to read it for some time now. The thing I'm most looking forward to is seeing what happens for both Ron and Draco.
I've talked about this before, I'm sure, but I always look at Ron and Draco as the Destined Rivals whose Destined Rivalry was fucked up when Harry Potter showed up and got between them.
The Destined Rivalry is the rivalry of school stories. They are both from old wizarding families, families that seem strongly associated with the rival houses of Slytherin and Gryffindor. Draco likes to annoy, Ron likes to get annoyed. Ron seems to respond to Draco's taunts much more strongly than Harry does, even in the beginning. And then their fathers have that fist-fight in the bookstore.
But Harry came along and skewed the balance. I don't think it matters which House he was sorted into -- if it had been Slytherin, then it probably would have been Harry and Draco against Ron, instead of Harry and Ron against Draco. I don't think Harry would have been nasty, but rivalry isn't so much about hatred as it is about competition.
In Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Hermione have transcended the school story and are operating as much as possible in the fantasy story and the Fight Against Evil. They still have to deal with school, but their focus is on Voldemort, not Quidditch.
Not so for Ron and Draco. Look how OotP starts out, with both of them becoming prefects. Ron has a classic school story plot: boy practices in secret, boy makes it on the Quidditch team, boy does miserably, boy is taunted by his rival, boy wins the Big Game. (Which Harry and Hermione aren't even there for, that's how far from the school story they are now.)
Draco concentrates on getting in with the power in the school, the nasty headmistress. And he focuses on that level, on Quidditch, on "Weasley is our King".
Then comes the Department of Mysteries. Ron is attacked by Flying Brains. (And, oh my god, I'm so worried about what that will do to him.) Draco's father is defeated by Harry and a bunch of kids and shipped off to Azkaban. They both finally wake up to the fantasy story.
Draco's real moment in OotP is when he swears to kill Harry. Harry brushes him off and later humiliates him, but I hope hope hope beyond all things that Draco has got serious over the summer and really makes the attempt. I honestly think he's going to have to go there before he can find his way back out again.
Of course, as Draco and Ron enter the fantasy story, that makes them much more vulnerable, in a plot sense, to being killed or destroyed. *sigh* But it's a step they both have to take, a step "into a larger world".
I still like the school story, though. Guess it's time to re-read Mike and Psmith.