Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 26
In the twenty-sixth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Griphook make their attempt to break into the Lestrange vault in Gringotts. And, like 90% of all the things that happen in this book, it is entirely ruined by endless complications. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 26: GRINGOTTS
- Hermione looked frightened that the wand might sting or bit her as she picked it up.
“I hate that thing,” she said in a low voice. “I really hate it. It feels all wrong, it doesn’t work properly for me . . . It’s like a bit of her.”
Harry could not help but remember how Hermione has dismissed his loathing of the blackthorn wand, insisting that he was imagining things when it did not work as well as his own, telling him to simply practice. He chose not to repeat her own advice back to her; however, the eve of their attempted assault on Gringotts felt like the wrong moment to antagonize her.
Honestly, I’m glad we’re at a part of the story where these characters realize that their endless bickering is unnecessary and counterproductive. Seriously, thank you.
- “It’ll probably help you get in character, though,” said Ron. “think what that wand’s done!”
“But that’s my point!” said Hermione. “This is the wand that tortured Neville’s mum and dad, and who knows how many other people? This is the wand that killed Sirius!”
Harry had not thought of that: He looked down at the wand and was visited by a brutal urge to snap it, to slice it in half with Gryffindor’s sword, which was propped against the wall beside him.
I’m a fan of when a series is able to draw our attention to moments in the past and parallel them to what is happening in the present. It seems, though, that Rowling is a fan of doing this to remind us all how epically tragic these characters are. Thanks for the reminder that Sirius is dead and that Neville’s life is 100% tragedy.
- Though he would miss Bill, Fleur, Luna, and Dean, not to mention the home comforts they had enjoyed over the last few weeks, Harry was looking forward to escaping the confinement of Shell Cottage. He was tired of trying to make sure that they were not overheard, tired of being shut in the tiny, dark bedroom. Most of all, he longed to be rid of Griphook. However, precisely how and when they were to part from the goblin without handing over Gryffindor’s sword remained a question to which Harry had no answer. It had been impossible to decide how they were going to do it, because the goblin rarely left Harry, Ron, and Hermione alone together for more than five minutes at a time: “He could give my mother lessons,” growled Ron, as the goblin’s long fingers kept appearing around the edges of doors. With Bill’s warning in mind, Harry could not help suspecting that Griphook was on the watch for possible skullduggery. Hermione disapproved so heartily of the planned double-cross that Harry had given up attempting to pick her brains on how best to do it: Ron, on the rare occasions that they had been able to snatch a few Griphook-free moments, had come up with nothing better than “We’ll just have to wing it, mate.”
You know what? I have to say it. This plan to ditch Griphook is really stupid. It has absolutely nothing to do with what Bill advised Harry and has everything to do with poor planning. I mean…does he seriously expect this to work?
- Harry slept badly that night. Lying away in the early hours, he thought back to the way he had felt the night before they had infiltrated the Ministry of Magic and remembered a determination, almost an excitement. Now he was experiencing jolts of anxiety nagging doubts: He could not shake off the fear that it was all going to go wrong. He kept telling himself that their plan was good, that Griphook knew what they were facing, that they were well-prepared for all the difficulties they were likely to encounter, yet still he felt uneasy. Once or twice he heard Ron stir and was sure that he too was awake, but they were sharing the sitting room with Dean, so Harry did not speak.
Do you remember my reviews during Order of the Phoenix? And how often I spoke about an unending sense of dread? That dread has come back. I don’t like this at all. I had already lost any sense of comfort early in the book, but with the death of FUCKING DOBBY, I’m so worried this is only going to get worse.
- Small green shoots were forcing their way up through the red earth of Dobby’s grave now, in a year’s time the mound would be covered in flowers. The white stone that bore the elf’s name had already acquired a weathered look. He realized now that they could hardly have laid Dobby to rest in a more beautiful place, but Harry ached withsadness to think of leaving him behind. Looking down on the grave, he wondered yet again how the elf had known where to come to rescue them. His fingers moved absentmindedly to the little pouch still strung around his neck, thorough which he could feel the jagged mirror fragment in which he had been sure he had seen Dumbledore’s eye.
I can’t stop missing Dobby. I hated him so much when he was first introduced and I grew to love his dedication and loyalty. And it makes me sad to think this is the last moment we’ll spend with him for the rest of the book. Also….HOW DID HE KNOW TO SHOW UP.
- Harry turned on the spot, with Griphook on his shoulders, concentrating with all his might on the Leaky Cauldron, the inn that was the entrance to Diagon Alley. The goblin clung even tighter as they moved into the compressing darkness, and seconds later Harry’s feet found pavement and he opened his eyes on Charing Cross Road. Muggles bustled past wearing the hangdog expressions of early morning, quite unconscious of the little inn’s existence.
There’s an interesting parallel I noticed here to Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley was full of wonder and hope. Here, it’s the polar opposite: his innocence lost, the return to Diagon Alley is wrecked with dread, fear, and terror.
- It was quiet, barely time for the shops to open, and there were hardly and shoppers abroad. The crooked, cobbled street was much altered now from the bustling place Harry had visited before his first team at Hogwarts so many years before. More shops than ever were boarded up, though several new establishments dedicated to the Dark Arts had been created since his last visit. Harry’s own face glared down at him from posters plastered over many windows, always captioned with the words UNDESIRABLE NUMBER ONE.
A number of ragged people sat huddled in doorways. He heard them moaning to the few passersby, pleading for gold, insisting that they were really wizards. One man had a bloody bandage over his eye.
As they set off along the street, the beggars glimpsed Hermione. They seemed to melt away before her, drawing hoods over their faces and fleeing as fast as they could. Hermione looked after them curiously, until the man with the bloodied bandage came staggering right across her path.
“My children,” he bellowed, pointing at her. His voice was cracked, high-pitched, he sounded distraught. “Where are my children? What has he done with them? You know, you know!”
“I–I really–” stammered Hermione.
The man lunged at her, reaching for her throat. Then, with a bang and a burst of red light he was thrown backward onto the ground, unconscious. Ron stood there, his wand still outstretched and a look of shock visible behind his beard. Faces appeared at the windows on either side of the street, while a little knot of prosperous-looking passerby gathered their robes about them and broke into gentle trots, keen to vacate the scene.
I think it’s important to note that Voldemort’s reign of evil extends beyond the murders he commits and the torture his followers act out. In a world without love, ruled by a man whose singular vision controls everything, even the smaller details are absolutely ruined. On the same thought of the parallel to Sorcerer’s Stone, Diagon Alley has been reduced to a mere shell of itself. In a war like this, Voldemort wants to reduce the human/wizard spirit, to take away joy and excitement about life, to make people so despise this all so that they’re more susceptible to give up.
- “Why, Madam Lestrange!” Harry whirled around and Griphook tightened his hold around Harry’s neck: A tall, thick wizard with a crown of bushy gray hair and a long, sharp nose was striding toward them.
“It’s Travers,” hissed the goblin into Harry’s ear, but at that moment Harry could not think who Travers was. Hermione had drawn herself up to full height and said with as much contempt as she could muster:
“And what do you want?” Travers stopped in his tracks, clearly affronted.
“He’s another Death Eater!” breathed Griphook, and Harry sidled sideways to repeat the information into Hermione’s ear.
Yep. Everything is miserable and awful ALREADY. This is not going to go well at all if this is happening just a few minutes into their journey.
Fucking hell, guys.
- A watchful Death Eater was the very last thing they needed, and the worst of it was, with Travers matching at what he believed to be Bellatrix’s side, there was no means for Harry to communicate with Hermione or Ron. All too soon they arrived at the foot of the marble steps leading up to the great bronze doors. As Griphook had already warned them, the liveried goblins who usually flanked the entrance had been replaced by two wizards, both of whom were clutching long thin golden rods.
WHAT THE FUCK. Stop it. STOP GETTING HARDER.
- The old goblin seemed to recoil a little. Harry glanced around. Not only was Travers hanging back, watching, but several other goblins had looked up from their work to stare at Hermione.
“You have . . . identification?” asked the goblin.
“Identification? I–I have never been asked for identification before!” said Hermione.
“They know!” whispered Griphook in Harry’s ear, “They must have been warned there might be an imposter!”
“Your wand will do, madam,” said the goblin. He held out a slightly trembling hand, and in a dreadful blast of realization Harry knew that the goblins of Gringotts were aware that Bellatrix’s wand had been stolen.
NOPE. THIS IS ALL TERRIBLE OH GOD.
- “Act now, act now,” whispered Griphook in Harry’s ear, “the Imperious Curse!”
Harry raised the hawthorn wand beneath the cloak, pointed it at the old goblin, and whispered, for the first time in his life, “Imperio!”
A curious sensation shot down Harry’s arm, a feeling of tingling, warmth that seemed to flow from his mind, down the sinews and veins connecting him to the wand and the curse it had just cast. The goblin took Bellatrix’s wand, examined it closely, and then said, “Ah, you have had a new wand made, Madam Lestrange!”
“What?” said Hermione, “No, no, that’s mine–“
“A new wand?” said Travers, approaching the counter again; still the goblins all around were watching. “But how could you have done, which wandmaker did you use?”
Harry acted without thinking. Pointing his wand at Travers, he muttered, “Imperio!” once more.
OH MY GOD IMPERIUS CURSE. Oh my god this is horrible what the fuck is happening guys.
OH MY GOD. TWO UNFORGIVABLE CURSES oh my god HARRY WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
Do you realize how much worse this is getting? I know I wanted to see Harry deal with having to cast spells that were previously off limits, but LIKE THIS? Oh god oh god DILEMMA and STRESS and WHAT THE FUCK.
- “We’re in trouble; they suspect,” said Harry as the door slammed behind them and he pulled off the Invisibility Cloak. Griphook jumped down from his shoulders: neither Travers nor Bogrod showed the slightest surprise at the sudden appearance of Harry Potter in their midst. “They’re Imperiused,” he added, in response to Hermione and Ron’s confused queries about Travers and Bogrod, who were both now standing there looking blank. “I don’t think I did it strongly enough, I don’t know …”
And another memory darted through his mind, of the real Bellatrix Lestrange shrieking at him when he had first tried to use an Unforgivable Curse: “You need to mean them, Potter!”
My god, Rowling is taking moments from the past to ruin everything now. OH MY GOD. Harry is experimenting with Unforgivable Curses and EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE.
- There were a deeper than Harry had ever penetrated within Gringotts; they took a hairpin bend at speed and saw ahead of them, with seconds to spare, a waterfall pounding over the track. Harry heard Griphook shout, “No!” but there was no braking. Theyzoomed through it. Water filled Harry’s eyes and mouth: He could not see or breathe: Then, with an awful lurch, the cart flipped over and they were all thrown out of it. Harry heard the cart smash into pieces against the passage wall, heard Hermione shriek something, and felt himself glide back toward the ground as though weightless, landing painlessly on the rocky passage floor.
JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK.
- “The Thief’s Downfall!” said Griphook, clambering to his feet and looking back the deluge onto the tracks, which, Harry knew now, had been more than water. “It washes away all enchantment, all magical concealment! They know there are imposers in Gringotts, they have set off defenses against us!”
GREAT. Just fucking great. This literally could not get any worse.
- And they turned a corner and saw the thing for which Harry had been prepared, but which still brought all of them to a halt.
A gigantic dragon was tethered to the ground in front of them, barring access to four or five of the deepest vaults in the place. The beast’s scales had turned pale and flaky during its long incarceration under the ground, its eyes were milkily pink; both rear legs bore heavy cuffs from which chains led to enormous pegs driven deep into the rocky floor. Its great spiked wings, folded close to its body, would have filled the chamber if it spread them, and when it turned its ugly head toward them, it roared with a noise that made the rock tremble, opened its mouth, and spat a jet of fire that sent them running back up the passageway.
SERIOUSLY???? WHAT THE FUCK. I suppose, though, that all this makes sense. In a Wizarding bank, you would need to go above and beyond to protect the most important vaults. STILL, THOUGH.
- The old goblin obeyed, pressing his palm to the wood, and the door of the vault melted away to reveal a cavelike opening crammed from floor to ceiling with golden coins and goblets, silver armor, the skins of strange creatures – some with long spines, other with drooping wings – potions in jeweled flasks, and a skull still wearing a crown. “Search, fast!” said Harry as they all hurried inside the vault. He had described Hufflepuff’s cap to Ron and Hermione, but if it was the other, unknown Horcrux that resided in this vault, he did not know what it looked like. He barely had time to glance around, however, before there was a muffled clunk from behind them: The door had reappeared, sealing them inside the vault, and they were plunged into total darkness.
OH SHIT THEY MADE IT. HURRY UP. FIND THE HORCRUXES. I’ve resorted to not even making substantial commentary at this point so I can YELL AT A BOOK THAT WILL NOT REACT TO ME.
- Hermione screamed in pain, and Harry turned his wand on her in time to see a jeweled goblet tumbling from her grip. But as it fell, it split, became a shower of goblets, so that a second later, with a great clatter, the floor was covered in identical cups rolling in every direction, the original impossible to discern amongst them.
“It burned me!” moaned Hermione, sucking her blistered fingers.
WHAT. WHY IS IT BURNING HER WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, MY GOD, THIS IS FUCKING HORRIBLE.
- “They have added Germino and Flagrante Curses!” said Griphook. “Everything you touch will burn and multiply, but the copies are worthless – and if you continue to handle the treasure, you will eventually be crushed to death by the weight of expanding gold!”
“Okay, don’t touch anything!” said Harry desperately, but even as he said it, Ron accidentally nudged one of the fallen goblets with his foot, and twenty more exploded into being while Ron hopped on the spot, part of his shoe burned away by contact with the hot metal.
WHY IS ALL OF THIS
- They directed their wands into every nook and crevice, turning cautiously on the spot. It was impossible not to brush up against anything; Harry sent a great cascade of fake Galleons onto the ground where they joined the goblets, and now there was scarcely room to place their feet, and the glowing gold blazed with heat, so that the vault felt like a furnace. Harry’s wandlight passed over shields and goblin-made helmets set on shelves rising to the ceiling; higher and higher he raised the beam, until suddenly it found an object that made his heart skip and his hand tremble.
“It’s there, it’s up there!”
Ron and Hermione pointed there wands at it too, so that the little golden cup sparkled in a three-way spotlight: the cup that had belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, which had passed into the possession of Hepzibah Smith, from whom it had been stolen by Tom Riddle.
THIS IS AN ULTIMATE DISASTER. But at least they found the Hufflepuff cup? OH GOD. This is like that scene at the end of Order of the Phoenix. Even if they get out, they’ve already been hurt and they will suffer loss. NO. THANK. YOU.
- The shelf on which the cup reposed was out of reach for any of them, even Ron, who was tallest. The heat from the enchanted treasure rose in waves, and sweat ran down Harry’s face and back as he struggled to think of a way up to the cup; and then he heard the dragon roar on the other side of the vault door, and the sound of clanking growing louder and louder.
They were truly trapped now: There was no way out except through the door, and a horde of goblins seemed to be approaching on the other side. Harry looked at Ron and Hermione and saw terror in their faces.
I can’t handle this. This physically hurts to read.
- She raised her wand, pointed it at Harry, and whispered, “Levicorpus.”
Hoisted into the air by his ankle, Harry hit a suit of armor and replicas burst out of it like white-hot bodies, filling the cramped space. With screams of pain, Ron, Hermione, and the two goblins were knocked aside into other objects, which also began to replicate. Half buried in a rising tide of red-hot treasure, they struggled and yelled has Harry thrust the sword through the handle of Hufflepuff’s cup, hooking it onto the blade.
A great idea ruined by ABSOLUTE FUCKING TRAGEDY. Even if they get out of this, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO HEAL BURNS oh god. WHAT THE FUCK IS ALL THIS
- Then the worst scream yet made Harry look down: Ron and Hermione were waist deep in treasure, struggling to keep Bogrod from slipping beneath the rising tide, but Griphook had sunk out of sight; and nothing but the tips of a few long fingers were left in view.
This is the worst thing of all time forever and ever. Maybe. MAKE IT STOP.
- It was Griphook who had seen it and Griphook who lunged, and in that instant Harry knew that the goblin had never expected them to keep their word. One hand holding tightly to a fistful of Harry’s hair, to make sure he did not fall into the heaving sea of burning gold, Griphook seized the hilt of the sword and swung it high out of Harry’s reach. The tiny golden cup, skewered by the handle on the sword’s blade was flung into the air. The goblin astride him, Harry dived and caught it, and although he could feel it scalding his flesh he did not relinquish it, even while countless Hufflepuff cups burst from his fist, raining down upon him as the entrance of the vault opened up again and he found himself sliding uncontrollably on an expanding avalanche of fiery gold and silver that bore him, Ron, Hermione into the outer chamber.
OH MY GOD.
- Hardly aware of the pain from the burns covering his body, and still borne along the swell of replicating treasure, Harry shoved the cup into his pocket and reached up to retrieve the sword, but Griphook was gone. Sliding from Harry’s shoulders the moment he could, he had sprinted for cover amongst the surrounding goblins, brandishing the sword and crying, “Thieves! Thieves! Help! Thieves!” He vanished into the midst of the advancing crowd, all of whom were holding daggers and who accepted him without question.
GREAT. Griphook is gone (I don’t blame him at this point, but I’d be silly not to admit how shitty this is.) BUT OH MY GOD 100% MISERABLE.
- The tethered dragon let out a roar, and a gush of flame flew over the goblins; The wizards fled, doubled-up, back the way they had come, and inspiration, or madness, came to Harry. Pointing his wand at the thick cuffs chaining the beast to the floor, he yelled, “Relashio!”
The cuffs broken open with loud bangs.
“This way!” Harry yelled, and still shooting Stunning Spells at the advancing goblins, he sprinted toward the blind dragon.
“Harry – Harry – what are you doing?” cried Hermione.
“Get up, climb up, come on –”
HARRY WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- The dragon had not realized that it was free: Harry’s foot found the crook of its hind leg and he pulled himself up onto its back. The scales were hard as steel; it did not even seem to feel him. He stretched out an arm; Hermione hoisted herself up; Ron climbed on behind them, and a second later the dragon became aware that it was untethered.
THEY ARE GOING TO ESCAPE ON A DRAGON this is the most badass of all badass things to ever be badass.
- She was helping the dragon enlarge the passageway, carving out the ceiling as it struggled upward toward the fresher air, away from the shrieking and clanking goblins: Harry and Ron copied her, blasting the ceiling apart with more gouging spells. They passed the underground lake, and the great crawling, snarling beast seemed to sense freedom and space ahead of it, and behind them the passage was full of the dragon’s thrashing, spiked tail, of great lumps of rock, gigantic fractured stalactites, and the clanking of the goblins seemed to be growing more muffled, while ahead, the dragon’s fire kept their progress clear –
OH MY GOD, ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE IT????
- And then at last, by the combined force of their spells and the dragon’s brute strength, they had blasted their way out of the passage into the marble hallway. Goblins and wizards shrieked and ran for cover, and finally the dragon had room to stretch its wings: Turning its horned head toward the cool outside air it could smell beyond the entrance, it took off, and with Harry, Ron, and Hermione still clinging to its back, it forced its way through the metal doors, leaving them buckled and hanging from their hinges, as it staggered into Diagon Alley and launched itself into the sky.
Oh my god FINALLY also WORST END OF THE CHAPTER EVER THOUGH because I have committed to one of these per day and I am deeply regretting everything ever.