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“Why shouldn’t I?” said Hermione. “Mudblood, and proud of it! I’ve got no higher position under this new order than you have, Griphook! It was me they chose to torture, back at the Malfoys’!”

As she spoke, she pulled aside the neck of the dressing gown to reveal the thin cut Bellatrix had made, scarlet against her throat.

“Did you know that it was Harry who set Dobby free?” she asked. “Did you know that we’ve wanted elves to be freed for years?” (Ron fidgeted uncomfortably on the arm of Hermione’s chair.) “You can’t want You-Know-Who defeated more than we do, Griphook!”

The goblin gazed at Hermione with the same curiosity he had shown Harry.





“What do you seek within the Lestranges’ vault?” he asked abruptly. “The sword that lies inside it is a fake. This is the real one.” He looked from one to the other of them. “I think that you already know this. You asked me to lie for you back there.”

“But the fake sword isn’t the only thing in that vault, is it?” asked Harry. “Perhaps you’ve seen the other things in there?”

His heart was pounding harder than ever. He redoubled his efforts to ignore the pulsing of his scar.

The goblin twisted his beard around his finger again.





“It is against our code to speak of the secrets of Gringotts. We are the guardians of fabulous treasures. We have a duty to the objects placed in our care, which were, so often, wrought by our fingers.”

The goblin stroked the sword, and his black eyes roved from Harry to Hermione to Ron and then back again.

“So young,” he said finally, “to be fighting so many.”

“Will you help us?” said Harry. “We haven’t got a hope of breaking in without a goblin’s help. You’re our one chance.”





“I shall . . . think about it,” said Griphook maddeningly.

“But —” Ron started angrily; Hermione nudged him in the ribs.

“Thank you,” said Harry.

The goblin bowed his great domed head in acknowledgement, then flexed his short legs.

“I think,” he said, settling himself ostentatiously upon Bill and Fleur’s bed, “that the Skele-Gro has finished its work. I may be able to sleep at last. Forgive me. . . .”






“Yeah, of course,” said Harry, but before leaving the room he leaned forward and took the sword of Gryffindor from beside the goblin. Griphook did not protest, but Harry thought he saw resentment in the goblin’s eyes as he closed the door upon him.

“Little git,” whispered Ron. “He’s enjoying keeping us hanging.”

“Harry,” whispered Hermione, pulling them both away from the door, into the middle of the still-dark landing, “are you saying what I think you’re saying? Are you saying there’s a Horcrux in the Lestranges’ vault?”




“Yes,” said Harry. “Bellatrix was terrified when she thought we’d been in there, she was beside herself. Why? What did she think we’d seen, what else did she think we might have taken? Something she was petrified You-Know-Who would find out about.”

“But I thought we were looking for places You-Know-Who’s been, places he’s done something important?” said Ron, looking baffled. “Was he ever inside the Lestranges’ vault?”

“I don’t know whether he was ever inside Gringotts,” said Harry. “He never had gold there when he was younger, because nobody left him anything. He would have seen the bank from the outside, though, the first time he ever went to Diagon Alley.”




Harry’s scar throbbed, but he ignored it; he wanted Ron and Hermione to understand about Gringotts before they spoke to Ollivander.

“I think he would have envied anyone who had a key to a Gringotts vault. I think he’d have seen it as a real symbol of belonging to the Wizarding world. And don’t forget, he trusted Bellatrix and her husband. They were his most devoted servants before he fell, and they went looking for him after he vanished. He said it the night he came back, I heard him.”

Harry rubbed his scar.

“I don’t think he’d have told Bellatrix it was a Horcrux, though. He never told Lucius Malfoy the truth about the diary. He probably told her it was a treasured possession and asked her to place it in her vault. The safest place in the world for anything you want to hide, Hagrid told me . . . except for Hogwarts.”





When Harry had finished speaking, Ron shook his head.

“You really understand him.”

“Bits of him,” said Harry. “Bits . . . I just wish I’d understood Dumbledore as much. But we’ll see. Come on — Ollivander now.”

Ron and Hermione looked bewildered but impressed as they followed him across the little landing and knocked upon the door opposite Bill and Fleur’s. A weak “Come in!” answered them.





The wandmaker was lying on the twin bed farthest from the window. He had been held in the cellar for more than a year, and tortured, Harry knew, on at least one occasion. He was emaciated, the bones of his face sticking out sharply against the yellowish skin. His great silver eyes seemed vast in their sunken sockets. The hands that lay upon the blanket could have belonged to a skeleton. Harry sat down on the empty bed, beside Ron and Hermione. The rising sun was not visible here. The room faced the cliff-top garden and the freshly dug grave.

“Mr. Ollivander, I’m sorry to disturb you,” Harry said.

“My dear boy.” Ollivander’s voice was feeble. “You rescued us. I thought we would die in that place. I can never thank you . . . never thank you . . . enough.”




“We were glad to do it.”

Harry’s scar throbbed. He knew, he was certain, that there was hardly any time left in which to beat Voldemort to his goal, or else to attempt to thwart him. He felt a flutter of panic . . . yet he had made his decision when he chose to speak to Griphook first. Feigning a calm he did not feel, he groped in the pouch around his neck and took out the two halves of his broken wand.

“Mr. Ollivander, I need some help.”

“Anything. Anything,” said the wandmaker weakly.

“Can you mend this? Is it possible?”






Ollivander held out a trembling hand, and Harry placed the two barely connected halves into his palm.

“Holly and phoenix feather,” said Ollivander in a tremulous voice. “Eleven inches. Nice and supple.”

“Yes,” said Harry. “Can you — ?”

“No,” whispered Ollivander. “I am sorry, very sorry, but a wand that has suffered this degree of damage cannot be repaired by any means that I know of.”

Harry had been braced to hear it, but it was a blow nevertheless. He took the wand halves back and replaced them in the pouch around his neck. Ollivander stared at the place where the shattered wand had vanished, and did not look away until Harry had taken from his pocket the two wands he had brought from the Malfoys’.






“Can you identify these?” Harry asked.

The wandmaker took the first of the wands and held it close to his faded eyes, rolling it between his knobble-knuckled fingers, flexing it slightly.

“Walnut and dragon heartstring,” he said. “Twelve-and-three-quarter inches. Unyielding. This wand belonged to Bellatrix Lestrange.”

“And this one?”





Ollivander performed the same examination.

“Hawthorn and unicorn hair. Ten inches precisely. Reasonably springy. This was the wand of Draco Malfoy.”

“Was?” repeated Harry. “Isn’t it still his?”

“Perhaps not. If you took it —”

“— I did —”

“— then it may be yours. Of course, the manner of taking matters. Much also depends upon the wand itself. In general, however, where a wand has been won, its allegiance will change.”

There was silence in the room, except for the distant rushing of the sea.








“You talk about wands like they’ve got feelings,” said Harry, “like they can think for themselves.”

“The wand chooses the wizard,” said Ollivander. “That much has always been clear to those of us who have studied wandlore.”

“A person can still use a wand that hasn’t chosen them, though?” asked Harry.

“Oh yes, if you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument. The best results, however, must always come where there is the strongest affinity between wizard and wand. These connections are complex. An initial attraction, and then a mutual quest for experience, the wand learning from the wizard, the wizard from the wand.”

The sea gushed forward and backward; it was a mournful sound.






“I took this wand from Draco Malfoy by force,” said Harry. “Can I use it safely?”

“I think so. Subtle laws govern wand ownership, but the conquered wand will usually bend its will to its new master.”

“So I should use this one?” said Ron, pulling Wormtail’s wand out of his pocket and handing it to Ollivander.

“Chestnut and dragon heartstring. Nine-and-a-quarter inches. Brittle. I was forced to make this shortly after my kidnapping, for Peter Pettigrew. Yes, if you won it, it is more likely to do your bidding, and do it well, than another wand.”

“And this holds true for all wands, does it?” asked Harry.






“I think so,” replied Ollivander, his protuberant eyes upon Harry’s face. “You ask deep questions, Mr. Potter. Wandlore is a complex and mysterious branch of magic.”

“So, it isn’t necessary to kill the previous owner to take true possession of a wand?” asked Harry.

Ollivander swallowed.

“Necessary? No, I should not say that it is necessary to kill.”

“There are legends, though,” said Harry, and as his heart rate quickened, the pain in his scar became more intense; he was sure that Voldemort had decided to put his idea into action. “Legends about a wand — or wands — that have passed from hand to hand by murder.”

Ollivander turned pale. Against the snowy pillow he was light gray, and his eyes were enormous, bloodshot, and bulging with what looked like fear.







“Only one wand, I think,” he whispered.

“And You-Know-Who is interested in it, isn’t he?” asked Harry.

“I — how?” croaked Ollivander, and he looked appealingly at Ron and Hermione for help. “How do you know this?”

“He wanted you to tell him how to overcome the connection between our wands,” said Harry.

Ollivander looked terrified.






“He tortured me, you must understand that! The Cruciatus Curse, I — I had no choice but to tell him what I knew, what I guessed!”

“I understand,” said Harry. “You told him about the twin cores? You said he just had to borrow another wizard’s wand?”

Ollivander looked horrified, transfixed, by the amount that Harry knew. He nodded slowly.

“But it didn’t work,” Harry went on. “Mine still beat the borrowed wand. Do you know why that is?”

Ollivander shook his head as slowly as he had just nodded.






“I had . . . never heard of such a thing. Your wand performed something unique that night. The connection of the twin cores is incredibly rare, yet why your wand should have snapped the borrowed wand, I do not know. . . .”

“We were talking about the other wand, the wand that changes hands by murder. When You-Know-Who realized my wand had done something strange, he came back and asked about that other wand, didn’t he?”

“How do you know this?”

Harry did not answer.





“Yes, he asked,” whispered Ollivander. “He wanted to know everything I could tell him about the wand variously known as the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny, or the Elder Wand.”

Harry glanced sideways at Hermione. She looked flabbergasted.

“The Dark Lord,” said Ollivander in hushed and frightened tones, “had always been happy with the wand I made him — yew and phoenix feather, thirteen-and-a-half inches — until he discovered the connection of the twin cores. Now he seeks another, more powerful wand, as the only way to conquer yours.”




“But he’ll know soon, if he doesn’t already, that mine’s broken beyond repair,” said Harry quietly.

“No!” said Hermione, sounding frightened. “He can’t know that, Harry, how could he — ?”

“Priori Incantatem,” said Harry. “We left your wand and the blackthorn wand at the Malfoys’, Hermione. If they examine them properly, make them re-create the spells they’ve cast lately, they’ll see that yours broke mine, they’ll see that you tried and failed to mend it, and they’ll realize that I’ve been using the blackthorn one ever since.”

The little color she had regained since their arrival had drained from her face. Ron gave Harry a reproachful look, and said, “Let’s not worry about that now —”

But Mr. Ollivander intervened.






“The Dark Lord no longer seeks the Elder Wand only for your destruction, Mr. Potter. He is determined to possess it because he believes it will make him truly invulnerable.”

“And will it?”

“The owner of the Elder Wand must always fear attack,” said Ollivander, “but the idea of the Dark Lord in possession of the Deathstick is, I must admit . . . formidable.”

Harry was suddenly reminded of how he had been unsure, when they first met, of how much he liked Ollivander. Even now, having been tortured and imprisoned by Voldemort, the idea of the Dark wizard in possession of this wand seemed to enthrall him as much as it repulsed him.

“You — you really think this wand exists, then, Mr. Ollivander?” asked Hermione.






“Oh yes,” said Ollivander. “Yes, it is perfectly possible to trace the wand’s course through history. There are gaps, of course, and long ones, where it vanishes from view, temporarily lost or hidden; but always it resurfaces. It has certain identifying characteristics that those who are learned in wandlore recognize. There are written accounts, some of them obscure, that I and other wandmakers have made it our business to study. They have the ring of authenticity.”

“So you — you don’t think it can be a fairy tale or a myth?” Hermione asked hopefully.



“No,” said Ollivander. “Whether it needs to pass by murder, I do not know. Its history is bloody, but that may be simply due to the fact that it is such a desirable object, and arouses such passions in wizards. Immensely powerful, dangerous in the wrong hands, and an object of incredible fascination to all of us who study the power of wands.”

“Mr. Ollivander,” said Harry, “you told You-Know-Who that Gregorovitch had the Elder Wand, didn’t you?”

Ollivander turned, if possible, even paler. He looked ghostly as he gulped.

“But how — how do you — ?”

“Never mind how I know it,” said Harry, closing his eyes momentarily as his scar burned and he saw, for mere seconds, a vision of the main street in Hogsmeade, still dark, because it was so much farther north. “You told You-Know-Who that Gregorovitch had the wand?”





“It was a rumor,” whispered Ollivander. “A rumor, years and years ago, long before you were born! I believe Gregorovitch himself started it. You can see how good it would be for business: that he was studying and duplicating the qualities of the Elder Wand!”

“Yes, I can see that,” said Harry. He stood up. “Mr. Ollivander, one last thing, and then we’ll let you get some rest. What do you know about the Deathly Hallows?”

“The — the what?” asked the wandmaker, looking utterly bewildered.

“The Deathly Hallows.”





“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about. Is this still something to do with wands?”

Harry looked into the sunken face and believed that Ollivander was not acting. He did not know about the Hallows.

“Thank you,” said Harry. “Thank you very much. We’ll leave you to get some rest now.”

Ollivander looked stricken.

“He was torturing me!” he gasped. “The Cruciatus Curse . . . you have no idea. . . .”

“I do,” said Harry. “I really do. Please get some rest. Thank you for telling me all of this.”







He led Ron and Hermione down the staircase. Harry caught a glimpse of Bill, Fleur, Luna, and Dean sitting at the table in the kitchen, cups of tea in front of them. They all looked up at Harry as he appeared in the doorway, but he merely nodded to them and continued into the garden, Ron and Hermione behind him. The reddish mound of earth that covered Dobby lay ahead, and Harry walked back to it, as the pain in his head built more and more powerfully. It was a huge effort now to close down the visions that were forcing themselves upon him, but he knew that he would have to resist only a little longer. He would yield very soon, because he needed to know that his theory was right. He must make only one more short effort, so that he could explain to Ron and Hermione.


“Gregorovitch had the Elder Wand a long time ago,” he said. “I saw You-Know-Who trying to find him. When he tracked him down, he found that Gregorovitch didn’t have it anymore: It was stolen from him by Grindelwald. How Grindelwald found out that Gregorovitch had it, I don’t know — but if Gregorovitch was stupid enough to spread the rumor, it can’t have been that difficult.”

Voldemort was at the gates of Hogwarts; Harry could see him standing there, and see too the lamp bobbing in the pre-dawn, coming closer and closer.



“And Grindelwald used the Elder Wand to become powerful. And at the height of his power, when Dumbledore knew he was the only one who could stop him, he dueled Grindelwald and beat him, and he took the Elder Wand.”

“Dumbledore had the Elder Wand?” said Ron. “But then — where is it now?”

“At Hogwarts,” said Harry, fighting to remain with them in the cliff-top garden.

“But then, let’s go!” said Ron urgently. “Harry, let’s go and get it before he does!”





“It’s too late for that,” said Harry. He could not help himself, but clutched his head, trying to help it resist. “He knows where it is. He’s there now.”

“Harry!” Ron said furiously. “How long have you known this — why have we been wasting time? Why did you talk to Griphook first? We could have gone — we could still go —”

“No,” said Harry, and he sank to his knees in the grass. “Hermione’s right. Dumbledore didn’t want me to have it. He didn’t want me to take it. He wanted me to get the Horcruxes.”




“The unbeatable wand, Harry!” moaned Ron.

“I’m not supposed to . . . I’m supposed to get the Horcruxes. . . .”

And now everything was cool and dark: The sun was barely visible over the horizon as he glided alongside Snape, up through the grounds toward the lake.




“I shall join you in the castle shortly,” he said in his high, cold voice. “Leave me now.”

Snape bowed and set off back up the path, his black cloak billowing behind him. Harry walked slowly, waiting for Snape’s figure to disappear. It would not do for Snape, or indeed anyone else, to see where he was going. But there were no lights in the castle windows, and he could conceal himself . . . and in a second he had cast upon himself a Disillusionment Charm that hid him even from his own eyes.



And he walked on, around the edge of the lake, taking in the outlines of the beloved castle, his first kingdom, his birthright. . . .

And here it was, beside the lake, reflected in the dark waters. The white marble tomb, an unnecessary blot on the familiar landscape. He felt again that rush of controlled euphoria, that heady sense of purpose in destruction. He raised the old yew wand: How fitting that this would be its last great act.

The tomb split open from head to foot. The shrouded figure was as long and thin as it had been in life. He raised the wand again.



The wrappings fell open. The face was translucent, pale, sunken, yet almost perfectly preserved. They had left his spectacles on the crooked nose: He felt amused derision. Dumbledore’s hands were folded upon his chest, and there it lay, clutched beneath them, buried with him.

Had the old fool imagined that marble or death would protect the wand? Had he thought that the Dark Lord would be scared to violate his tomb? The spiderlike hand swooped and pulled the wand from Dumbledore’s grasp, and as he took it, a shower of sparks flew from its tip, sparkling over the corpse of its last owner, ready to serve a new master at last.





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