Chapter 24 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Wandmaker
Harry realizes they have successfully Apparated to Bill and Fleur Weasley’s seaside cottage, despite his uncertainty at takeoff. Bill reports that Hermione is inside and is alright. Pulling the knife from Dobby's lifeless body, Harry then covers him with his jacket. As Dean carries the injured Griphook into the cottage, Harry's scar prickles as he watches Voldemort punishing those at Malfoy Manor.
Harry wants to bury Dobby himself, without magic, and uses only a spade to dig a grave in the garden. His scar burning, he subdues the pain and blocks out Voldemort’s thoughts with his grief . . . though, of course, Dumbledore would have called it "love". His own thoughts turn to Wormtail and the brief merciful act that cost him his life. Dumbledore foresaw that, but what else had he known? Harry resolves to only hunt Horcruxes as Dumbledore wanted, rather than also searching for the Deathly Hallows.
Ron and Dean return, carrying spades to help Harry dig. After clothing Dobby's body with shoes, socks, and a hat, they gently place him into the grave and bury him. Luna suggests saying a few words, and each in turn gives thanks to the tiny Elf who saved their lives. Harry places a large rock on the grave as a headstone and uses a wand to inscribe: HERE LIES DOBBY, A FREE ELF
Harry is greatly relieved to hear that Ginny is no longer at Hogwarts and that she and the other Weasleys are safely hidden at Auntie Muriel's house. Shell Cottage is likewise protected by charms. Bill says Ollivander and Griphook can be moved to Muriel’s in about an hour, but Harry strongly objects. He must talk with them first.
Harry wonders how Dobby knew to rescue them. The blue eye in the mirror shard brings Dumbledore’s words back to him: Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. Although Harry feels closer to understanding what Dumbledore intended for him to do, he still wonders. Dumbledore had given Ron the Deluminator, knowing he would need a way back should he leave the mission. And he understood that there was regret within Wormtail. But what did Dumbledore know about him? Had he deliberately made everything so difficult to give Harry time to work everything out?
Harry insists on speaking to Griphook and Ollivander, overruling Fleur’s and Bill's objections that they are too weak; Harry reminds Bill that he is an Order of the Phoenix member and knows that Harry is on a mission for Dumbledore.
The Trio first meets with Griphook, who is clutching Gryffindor’s Sword. Griphook thinks Harry is an odd wizard for burying an Elf and rescuing a Goblin, though Harry is unsure if that is meant as praise or insult. Harry asks for Griphook's help to break into a Gringotts vault, stunning Ron and Hermione. Griphook claims it is impossible, but Ron contradicts him, citing the break-in seven years ago; Griphook retorts that the vault was empty then. Harry assures Griphook he is not seeking personal gain. Slowly, Griphook agrees to consider it. The respect and protection Harry has shown Goblins and Elves has convinced him that Harry is probably the only wizard who would break into Gringotts for something other than its treasures. When Harry insists the issue is not Goblins versus wizards, Griphook points out that all magical creatures are suppressed under wizard rule and Elves are being slaughtered. Who amongst the wizards protests? Hermione says they do, and, as a Mudblood, she holds no higher position than the Goblins and Elves under Voldemort's new order. Griphook asks what Harry seeks in the Lestrange’s vault, being as he has the genuine Gryffindor’s Sword; Harry responds only that the vault contains other objects. Griphook agrees to consider Harry's offer, but now wants to sleep.
Later, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that Bellatrix's terrified reaction when she believed they were inside her vault has convinced him that a Horcrux is hidden there. Unlike Voldemort's other hiding places that were personally meaningful to him, Harry thinks he would envy anyone with a Gringotts vault, something only the oldest Wizarding families could have. Harry suspects Bellatrix and her husband are unaware they are storing Voldemort's Horcrux, just as he never revealed the truth about Tom Riddle's Diary to Lucius Malfoy. The safest place to hide anything, says Harry, is in Gringotts.
Ollivander declares that Harry's damaged wand is irreparable. He also identifies the two wands taken from Malfoy Manor. The first is Bellatrix’s walnut and Dragon heartstring wand. Draco’s is a hawthorn and Unicorn hair wand, though it may no longer actually belong to Draco because Harry captured it. Ollivander explains how wands can transfer their allegiance—the wand chooses the wizard. While a wizard can use almost any wand, it is less effective than his own. A conquered wand usually bends to its new master’s will, and this allegiance can be won without killing an opponent. Ollivander identifies the chestnut and Dragon heartstring wand as the one he was forced to make for Peter Pettigrew. It will serve Ron reasonably well if he captured it. Ollivander also explains about legendary wands passing ownership through murder; he believes there is really only one, and acknowledges that Voldemort is curious about it. Ollivander admits he was tortured into confessing that Voldemort's and Harry’s wands share twin cores. He advised Voldemort to use another wand against Harry, but Harry says his wand destroyed the other wand, surprising Ollivander; Harry’s wand did something unique. Voldemort will now seek a wand more powerful than Harry's. Harry believes that if the Prior Incantato spell is used on Hermione's confiscated wand, then Voldemort will know that her spell broke Harry's wand and she was unable to repair it.
Ollivander confirms that Voldemort wants the Elder Wand, believing it can defeat Harry and make him invincible. However, the Elder Wand's master is always vulnerable to attack, and Ollivander believes the Elder Wand can pass ownership without murder; its bloody history grew because many fought and died to possess such a desirable object. Ollivander admits telling Voldemort that Gregorovitch once had the Elder Wand, though Gregorovitch may have started that as a rumor to boost his business. Ollivander knows nothing about the Deathly Hallows or the Elder Wand's connection to them.
Later, in the clifftop garden, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that Gregorovitch once possessed the Elder Wand, though it was stolen long ago by Grindelwald. Harry suddenly "sees" Voldemort approaching Hogwarts’ gate but continues talking. With the Elder Wand, Grindelwald became the most powerful Dark wizard of that time. Only Dumbledore could defeat him, and he captured the Elder Wand that is entombed with him at Hogwarts. Ron wants to go there, but Harry says they must only hunt Horcruxes, not Deathly Hallows.
Everything suddenly grows dark and cool, then Harry sees a white marble tomb loom into view. Voldemort splits it open with his wand. Within lies Dumbledore’s shrouded body, the Elder Wand tucked under his folded arms. Voldemort wonders how Dumbledore could have believed the tomb would protect it. As he grasps the wand, sparks flare from its tip. It is ready to serve its new master.
Ollivander's comment that the Elder Wand's master must always fear attack is revealing, meaning that despite whoever wields the wand with its superior power, the wand alone does not make that wizard invincible, leaving him vulnerable enough to be conquered. We saw the same warning in the Tale of the Three Brothers, where the brother with the Elder Wand was murdered in his sleep the very night after he first used the wand in a duel. Harry realizes that If Grindelwald was the blond thief who stole the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch, and Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald, that, even without killing him, the wand's allegiance must have shifted to Dumbledore. Considering Grindelwald's and the wand's combined power, it is a testament to Dumbledore's considerable magical abilities that he was victorious. It is also a testament to Dumbledore's humanity that he spared Grindelwald, allowing him to be permanently incarcerated for his heinous crimes, though Dumbledore's prior relationship with Grindelwald may have tempered his actions. However, that decision had a price: leaving Grindelwald alive left a trail leading directly to the Elder Wand. Harry correctly surmises that Voldemort now knows the Elder Wand exists, and he is likely seeking it; Harry later watches Voldemort at Hogwarts as he is about to retrieve it from Dumbledore's tomb. Seeing how easily Voldemort can retrieve the wand and knowing its power, we should perhaps wonder why Dumbledore never made other arrangements for its disposal following his death. Harry, meanwhile, now realizes that his obsession with the Deathly Hallows had endangered the mission. He abandons pursuing them to instead only focus on finding and destroying the Horcruxes, a decision he makes despite lingering doubts about Dumbledore.
Harry deeply mourns Dobby's death, and his choosing to dig the grave manually is, for him, a gesture showing respect, gratitude, and love. The House-elf was not only his protector, but also a valued friend who forfeited his life to save Harry and the others. Using magic to quickly and easily excavate a dirt hole would only have lessened Dobby's bravery and heroism in Harry's mind, and he feels a need to exert himself physically to affirm Dobby's sacrifice before laying his fallen friend to rest. Also, for Harry, who is overcome with emotion, the physical exertion helps alleviate his anguish and anxiety and affords him time to reflect calmly and rationally on recent events. Dobby's death, rather than inciting Harry's rage and vengeance, instead focuses him solely on defeating Voldemort. This tragedy and its aftermath have not only helped Harry gain much needed perspective regarding his mission, but it enables him to retake command. Harry, Ron and Dean also clothe Dobby's body, an act that honors him as a free elf, clothing symbolizing a House-elf's sovereignty. Harry further acknowledges Dobby's independence on his tombstone for all to see. Ron and Dean helping to dig the grave not only shows respect for and gratitude to Dobby, but also their solidarity with Harry. Luna leading the others in saying a few final words is probably a rare instance where wizards have ever paid tribute to a House-elf.
Harry choosing to dig Dobby's grave by hand seems to echo Hagrid's digging a grave for Aragog in an earlier book. It is certainly true that for Harry and Hagrid digging their respective friends' graves by hand is more respectful and emotionally healing than using magic. Quite possibly, Harry and Hagrid are not alone among wizards in feeling that using magic, with its effortless appearance, to bury someone is somehow less meaningful. Readers may have been taken aback by the unceremonious way Professor Slughorn magically filled in Aragog's grave after the earlier incident, but we see here that Dobby's grave is similarly filled magically. From this, we conclude that Slughorn's action was standard practice, rather than possibly unseemly haste to get to the mead he had brought for the wake.
Griphook's tight hold on the Sword of Gryffindor should also be noted by us. Harry is asking Griphook to assist him in a supposedly impossible enterprise, and Griphook is reluctant. We might wonder if Griphook's price for that assistance could be the Sword, of which he seems very possessive.
Also, Griphook's argument that Gringotts Bank is impenetrable, despite the earlier break-in in the Philosopher's Stone, certainly seems weak. He may be attempting to dissuade Harry from pursuing his risky plan, or is downplaying the previous lapse in security. If the Trio succeeds, however, Gringotts will likely have to restructure their security systems to pacify nervous clients who are likely hiding many secrets within their vaults.
- Does Griphook really believe that it is impossible to break into Gringotts? How might it be done?
- What does Griphook mean when he calls Harry an "odd" wizard? Why is Harry unsure if he is being praised or insulted?
- Hermione claims that Muggle-borns have as little status as non-human magical folk under Voldemort's rule. Is this accurate or not? Explain why.
- If the Elder Wand is the world's most powerful wand, why is its master always vulnerable to defeat? How might Dumbledore have won its allegiance from Grindelwald without killing him?
- Is Gringott's really the safest place to hide something as Harry claims? Explain.
- Why does Harry dig Dobby's grave without using any magic? Why do Ron and Dean likewise help?
- Why do Harry, Ron and Dean clothe Dobby's body before burying him?
- Is Harry correct that Dumbledore meant for it to take time for Harry time to figure out how to complete the mission? If so, why?
- Why did Voldemort never reveal to Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy that the objects he entrusted them with were his Horcruxes? What might they have done if they had known?
- We know Voldemort had not kept his plans for immortality secret from his followers. Bellatrix Lestrange is clearly an extremely skillful, knowledgeable and ruthless Dark Witch, how did she not recognize the Horcrux for what it was? Or did she?
- Why would Voldemort torture Ollivander for information rather than using a memory charm or a truth potion? Which method is more reliable?
- Why didn't Dumbledore kill Grindelwald in their duel? While letting him live may have been a humane decision, was it a wise choice? Explain.
- Why would Dumbledore wish to be entombed with the Elder Wand, knowing Voldemort could easily retrieve it?
By carefully examining Harry's questions to Mr. Ollivander, we can see that Harry is attempting to determine who is the Elder Wand's current master. Harry knows that Draco Malfoy forcibly removed the wand from Dumbledore's hand, and that it was unused before being placed inside the tomb with Dumbledore's corpse. Harry has already discovered that a wand that is borrowed or simply given to someone, as Ron did with the blackthorn wand he captured from a Snatcher and gave to Harry, usually works much less efficiently than the user's own wand. In fact, Ron, who captured it, was probably the blackthorn wand's actual master. Harry's questions seem intended to confirm that this theory about the Elder Wand is true. If it is, Voldemort will likely discover that the Elder Wand performs far less effectively than he anticipated. The opposing theory, that the Elder Wand only changes allegiance when its master is murdered, seems supported by its bloody history; however, Harry realizes that Dumbledore fully commanded the wand despite Grindelwald's remaining alive, and Grindelwald, in turn, did not have to kill Gregorovitch to gain the wand's full power. Although Ollivander does confirm this theory, Harry remains unsure, and over the next weeks while they are planning the assault on Gringotts and recovering from their injuries, Harry repeatedly wonders if he did the right thing, allowing Voldemort to claim the Elder Wand.
As a side note, one might wonder how Ron was able to use the wand that Harry had simply given him in Malfoy Manor. By sheer luck, that wand was Pettigrew's, which Ron had wrested away from him in the cellar. Though it had since been confiscated by Draco, it was surrendered by Ron rather than forcefully taken from him, and so Ron probably remained its new master. Harry pulling the wand away from Draco would have been less relevant to it, as Draco was never its master.
Hermione complains later that Bellatrix Lestrange's wand performs poorly for her; this is because, being nearly unconscious from pain, she took no part in the multiple disarmament jinxes or possession struggles. Thus, that wand is now loyal to the last person who captured it, most likely Ron, who jinxed it from Bellatrix' hand. Knowing what he does now, Harry might be able to rectify that problem by having Hermione forcibly remove the wand from Ron's hand, though he does not. Possibly, his decision, conscious or otherwise, to withhold this solution may be partial retaliation for Hermione's comments regarding how Harry should be able to use the blackthorn wand; however, it is equally likely that it simply does not occur to him. Also, even if Harry did have Hermione forcibly take the wand from Ron, the wand might sense that such a deliberately orchestrated act was a bogus "capture", and it would therefore remain under either Ron's, or possibly even Bellatrix', control.
This side excursion into wand lore becomes important in the final chapters. Dumbledore felt it was safe to be entombed with the Elder Wand because he had arranged that Snape would kill him at an opportune time. As Dumbledore would have never been defeated, dying by his own design, the Elder Wand's power would have died with Dumbledore. This could also partly be the reason why Dumbledore insisted on Snape killing him rather than someone else. However, the plan was foiled as the Elder Wand's allegiance was transferred to Draco Malfoy, who disarmed Dumbledore just prior to Snape killing him. The new owner has since been disarmed by another person, Harry, who, unknowingly, now commands the Elder Wand because he controls Draco's wand, the specific tool with which Draco disarmed Dumbledore. As Ollivander points out, it is forcibly capturing the wand, rather than murder, that alters its ownership. Although Voldemort physically possesses the Elder Wand, it is partly because he never won its allegiance that he is defeated by Harry in the final battle. Voldemort, who does not know that Dumbledore's death by Snape's hand was prearranged, and unaware of Draco's disarming of Dumbledore, believes that Snape is the master of the Elder Wand and will eventually kill Snape in his futile attempt to win the wand's allegiance.
On a separate topic, we will shortly see that Griphook agrees to help Harry break into Gringotts, but his price is the Sword of Gryffindor. Over the next few chapters, we learn that Goblin ideas about property are far different than wizards; Goblins believe an object's maker retains ownership, and what wizards consider a sale is, to Goblins, merely a long-term lease. As such, Auntie Muriel's Goblin-made tiara and the Sword of Gryffindor should, as far as the Goblins are concerned, have been returned to Goblins, possibly when the original owners died. As soon as Griphook states his price, we see that there will be difficulties. Harry will want to keep the one artifact he knows can destroy Horcruxes. Though Harry and Ron resolve to keep the Sword until the final Horcrux is destroyed, then turn it over to Griphook, this plan will be rendered moot when Griphook, Sword in hand, abandons the Trio in the Gringotts deep vaults. The Sword, assisted by the Sorting Hat, will have its own ideas regarding where it belongs, however.
Additionally, this chapter provides a subtle clue revealing how Snape is able to fool Voldemort, "possibly the greatest Legilimens the world has ever known". As of now, Snape's true allegiance is still unknown to the first time reader, and Rowling hides a tiny but significant clue to alert us to Snape's loyalties and methods. As Harry buries Dobby, overcome with grief and gratitude for Dobby's sacrifice, he suddenly realizes that he can shut out Voldemort's thoughts at will, and deny the prickling of his scar. His feelings of grief are simply too overpowering, and the intrusion of Voldemort's thoughts feel insignificant in comparison. Finally, he has learned what he was unable to successfully achieve in his occlumency lessons – how to close his mind to intrusion. Harry realizes, almost as an aside, that grief has enabled him to block Voldemort. This is similar to how his pain at the loss of Sirius forced out Voldemort at the end of book 5, though there, we're led to believe, part of what drove Voldemort away was Harry's love of Sirius and longing to join him, even if only in death. An astute reader might pick up that the author has just told us how Snape has been able to successfully deceive Voldemort. Intense grief, which stems from feelings of love and compassion, can provide the mind with the power to block intrusion by Voldemort. Just as Dumbledore has instructed Harry, love is the one great power of which Voldemort knows nothing, and which therefore enables his defeat time and time again. Snape's great feelings of grief, remorse, and compassion for Lily Evans allows him the power to block Voldemort's attempts to see into his mind, just as Harry realizes in his own grief that he can now willingly control his connection into Voldemort's mind.
This clue is not insignificant for Harry's journey either, as the pain in his scar and his inability to control what appears in his own head has been a major plot point in the series prior to this moment. Harry's realization that his grief for Dobby enables him to shut out Voldemort is a pivotal moment in his conflict against Voldemort; it ultimately sets Harry on the trajectory that allows him to finally defeat Voldemort chapters later. From this point forward, Harry begins to consider the power that love has had all along, and its usefulness against Voldemort. This ultimately leads to his pivotal decision to willingly sacrifice his own life to protect others and enable the defeat of Voldemort in Chapter 34. Dumbledore, it seems, was right all along.