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Voldemort hugs Draco in Deathly Hallows, Part II

Why does he do this?

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2 Answers 2

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Voldemort wants to end the fighting with as little further bloodshed and many people accepting his rule as possible. In his mind, the fight was entirely about Harry, and now (he thinks) he has killed Harry, he has won the war and now needs to get the rest of the population to submit to his rule, much like how a conqueror might have to deal with rebellions.

He came to the castle with Harry's body to show that they have lost, and his plan was to have the people in Hogwarts surrender, and for that he needs to display some sort of clemency. He also displays a grave misunderstanding of why the people in Hogwarts are fighting, believing it to be purely about Harry when it is actually a rejection of Voldemort's rule. In the book this comes out as bargaining for Harry and inviting people to join the Death Eaters, and in the movie it also comes out as a hug. While unscripted, it shows the complete lack of understanding that Voldemort displays in the books in a much more visual way.

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    I think this is the correct answer. This is Voldemort engaging in a deception. In his mind, he is showing everyone that if they surrender he will forgive them. It's much like how he claims earlier that he has respect for Hogwarts, that he only wants them to surrender Harry, etc.
    – tbrookside
    Jun 12, 2020 at 14:53
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    I would slightly elaborate on this answer that Voldemort is a smart and experienced leader. He knows that not everyone is strongly ideologically opposed to him but still have concerns that hold them back from joining him, and primarily - fear. Fear that they might be prosecuted by him for opposing him prior to joining. Fear that after they betray their current “team” they also won’t fit in in V’s “team” and become a total outcast. This hug is to show that those who join him will have a warm welcome and thus alleviate their fears.
    – bazzilic
    Jun 12, 2020 at 15:52
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    @bazzilic so why does he ridicule Neville when he steps forward then, before its obvious that Neville isnt actually crossing over?
    – Moo
    Jun 12, 2020 at 21:53
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    Neville shakes this reputation by Order Of The Phoenix and is somewhat of a force to be reckoned with by the end of that book, as well as the student rebellion leader in the last book. The mockery he is given is more likely to be related to his injuries and his parents (who Bellatrix tortured to insanity)
    – 520
    Jun 13, 2020 at 22:35
  • @Moo we probably can try and explain it with a) he is a little high from what he feels is a final victory; or b) he is trying to ease the tension and clunkily plays up to his opposition. But to me, him ridiculing Neville was out of character and inappropriate and was intended by screenwriters to remind the viewer that Voldy is an evil bully as well as to better contrast Neville's speech that comes right after that.
    – bazzilic
    Jun 14, 2020 at 6:13
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In-universe - there is no clear reason.

From an in-universe perspective, Voldemort hugging Draco simply makes no sense. Voldemort is known to hate anything tying him to others in any way.

“Firstly, I hope you noticed Riddle’s reaction when I mentioned that another shared his first name, “Tom”?’

Harry nodded.

‘There he showed his contempt for anything that tied him to other people, anything that made him ordinary. Even then, he wished to be different, separate, notorious.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)

He has no attachment to any of his followers, and is quite happy to remain without any connections.

“I trust that you also noticed that Tom Riddle was already highly self-sufficient, secretive and, apparently, friendless? He did not want help or companionship on his trip to Diagon Alley. He preferred to operate alone. The adult Voldemort is the same. You will hear many of his Death Eaters claiming that they are in his confidence, that they alone are close to him, even understand him. They are deluded. Lord Voldemort has never had a friend, nor do I believe that he has ever wanted one.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)

This does not in any way seem like someone who would be willing to hug, and furthermore, hugging Draco did not benefit him in any way sufficient to make him overlook this. It would not be a useful display to those fighting him at Hogwarts of his willingness to forgive, because Draco, whatever mistakes he may have made, was still a Death Eater. His announcements that he was willing to show mercy and offering Neville a chance to join the Death Eaters served this purpose far better, and both were shown in the movies as well. First, the announcements that he was willing to show mercy to those who stopped fighting him.

As in the Enchanted Ceiling before, a face appears in the dark clouds above. And then VOLDEMORT’S VOICE ECHOES:

VOLDEMORT (V.O.)
You have fought valiantly... but in vain. I do not wish this. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a terrible waste.

VOLDEMORT (V.O.) (CONT'D)
I therefore command my forces to retreat. In their absence, dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured.
(a beat)
Harry Potter, I speak now directly to you. On this night you have allowed your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. There is no greater dishonor.
Join me in the Forbidden Forest and confront your fate. Should you do so I give my word that no other life will be lost on this night. You have one hour. If, at the end of that time, you have not given yourself up, then I shall punish every last man, woman and child who tries to conceal you from me.

The joist trembles one last time, then the ambient sounds of the night return. The clouds separate, become just clouds.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (script)

Then, his show of mercy to Neville is far more demonstrative of his willingness to forgive those who fought against him, since Neville had actively opposed him. Indeed, it is specifically mentioned that he searched the crowd for a reaction to what he implied.

VOLDEMORT
Well, welcome, Neville. I’m sure we can find a place for you in our ranks.

BELLATRIX
Someone has to do the washing.

The Death Eaters ROAR.

VOLDEMORT
Now, now, Bellatrix. Let’s not underestimate our young friend. By stepping forward, he lives to see another day...

Voldemort’s eyes shift, regard those standing before him. The implication of his statement is not lost on them.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (script)

At the point in the movie where Voldemort hugs Draco, Draco’s failings as a Death Eater were not widely known, and he had never opposed him. Voldemort showing mercy to Draco would have no significance to the onlookers at Hogwarts.

Out-of-universe, Ralph Fiennes improvised it.

Out-of-universe, it was something that Ralph Fiennes, the actor who played Voldemort, had improvised and was left in the movie.

SnitchSeeker: There’s this one unintentionally funny scene in Deathly Hallows...
Yates: Oh, go for it.

SnitchSeeker: The hug between Voldemort and Draco?
Yates: Oh yeah, no you’re right. We were really shocked. In fact, we saw that in the test screening. We were sat there and, yeah, some people found it … it depends which country you’re in. So it’s culturally specific. Americans found it amusing, though, which kind of freaked us out ‘cause it was like, “Whoa!” It’s that slightly awkward way that Ralph [Fiennes] holds him.

SnitchSeeker: How did that come about?
Yates: That’s Ralph. I went through this notion that Voldemort doesn’t do touchy-feely. He can’t because he’s a prince of all evil (laughs). So that’s his attempt to be touchy-feely. We left it in actually, and we knew that some Americans found it amusing but we were comfortable because that’s where it played. So that’s cool.

SnitchSeeker: Did you laugh?
Yates: No, I didn’t. I just found it intriguing. So we cope with that. It’s fine.
- EXCLUSIVE: David Yates talks Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Voldemort & Draco hug, Neville, epilogue (SnitchSeeker)

Ralph Fiennes decided to make his character hug Draco, and the decision was made to leave the footage in the movie.

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    For me, the amusing part is Draco's confusion. Voldemort's awkwardness may contribute, but Draco's confusion was similar to my own as the viewer, so that was the strongest point. It became even more amusing when I found out it was improv. Jun 12, 2020 at 13:58
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    The first part of the answer isn't really on point in my eyes. It's clear Voldermort isn't hugging Draco for himself, he's trying to look nice and compassionate. As we can infer from the second quote, Voldermort sometimes makes people think he his their friends (when he's not trying to kill them because he stubbed his toe). Making people think he cares about them is one of the way he uses them.
    – Jemox
    Jun 12, 2020 at 15:42
  • @Echox While it is true that feigning compassion is something Voldemort would do, feigning it towards Draco would not benefit him at all. Without knowledge of Draco’s failures as a Death Eater or his personal misgivings, the onlookers at Hogwarts would only see Draco as a Death Eater. At best, it would show that he was willing to forgive his followers’ transgressions.
    – Obsidia
    Jun 12, 2020 at 15:54

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