I refuse to accept that all house elves are treated as badly as they are depicted in the book series; not because slavery and racism aren’t alive and well, but because they are sentient, sensitive, intelligent creatures that are likely tasked with helping in raising wizard children.
No one with a house elf is going to hire a babysitter, and it’s even likely that some households have strictly nanny-tasked house elves.
Infant Draco’s eyes darting between various objects above his crib, and Dobby who has arrived with a fresh warm bottle as he makes small clucking noises, “sssh young master, Dobby has brought his milk. That’s a sweet baby, drink up.”
2 year old Draco’s father being angry at him for drawing on the walls, Dobby hearing Lucius’s angry yelling and apparating immediately, snapping his fingers and poofing the scribbles gone. He takes young Draco to his nursery, and papers the wall from a grown wizard’s waist down for Draco to doodle to his heart’s contentment.
5 year old Draco coloring a large Slytherin-themed banner, showing his parents and hoping they’ll hang it up to match the house drapings only to have his father’s face curl into a sneer and throw it away. Draco wanders down to the kitchen to soothe his wounded soul with sweets, and sees the banner hung up over the pantry, with Dobby holding a plate of cauldron cakes and sparkling pumpkin juice.
7 year old Draco falling into a pond looking for tadpoles on the grounds of Malfoy Manor, realizing he can’t swim and screaming for the only person he could count on being there for him at any moment; Dobby appears, calms him down and then they look for tadpoles together.
9 year old Draco’s father having a stern discussion over dinner about the purity of blood, the establishment of classes, and the importance of the elite wizarding kind to act dignified.
This is where Draco begins to employ a bullying strategy, driving Dobby away as a source of emotional support. Simultaneously feeling guilty, hurt, sad and confused he begins seeing more of Crabb and Goyle and turns to his father’s methods of superior behavior to gain “friends”.
But not every wizard child has to go through what Draco did. In more than just a few Hogwarts graduation speeches students have thanked their family’s house elves “-for without my dearest caretaker, Wanda, I never would have been able to study over the summer holidays for our N.E.W.T’s” or “I’d’ve never managed it without you, Tolki, thanks for always being there with snacks.”
If you’re not convinced, or have a streak of old blood purity and class bigotry you can’t shake, remember people naturally feel love for things such as pugs, mimbulus mimbletonae, toads, Crookshanks, tarantulas… now imagine any of those things can appear out of thin air, and genuinely be concerned for your happiness and wellbeing because they love you.