Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 36
In the thirty-sixth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the battle of the century begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 36: THE FLAW IN THE PLAN
Harry Potter is not dead.
- He was flying facedown on the ground again. The smell of the forest filled his nostrils. He could feel the cold hard ground beneath his cheek, and the hinge of his glasses which have been knocked sideways by the fall cutting into his temple. Every inch of him ached, and the place where Killing Curse had hit him felt like the bruise of an iron-clad punch. He did not stir, but he remained exactly where he had fallen, with his left arm bent out at an awkward angle and his mouth gaping.
So the new conundrum: How on earth does Harry kill Nagini AND Voldemort? I’m actually impressed that after all this, after all the answers I’ve been given, I still can’t quite figure out how this is all going to end. I think we’re all aware that Rowling has flaws as a writer, but I can’t fault the stories she tells. And now that I’m nearly to the end of the very last one, I’m still impressed by how intricate and unexpected she keeps it.
- More footsteps. Several people were backing away from the same spot. Desperate to see what was happening and why, Harry opened his eyes by a millimeter.
Voldemort seemed to be getting to his feet. Various Death Eaters were hurrying away from him, returning to the crowd lining the clearing. Bellatrix alone remained behind, kneeling beside Voldemort.
Harry closed his eyes again and considered what he had seen. The Death Eaters have been huddled around Voldemort, who seem to have fallen to the ground. Something had happened when he had hit Harry with the Killing Curse. Had Voldemort too collapsed? It seemed like it. And both of them had briefly fallen unconscious and both of them had now returned. . .
So, with Nagini still alive, I’m unsure why Dumbledore suggested it was possible that Voldemort might have already been destroyed if Harry came back. What did Voldemort see when he cast the Killing Curse on Harry though? I imagine that won’t be answered, but I’m just thinking aloud.
- “I do not require assitance,” said Voldemort coldly, and though he could not see it, Harry pictured Bellatrix withdrawing a helpful hand.
“The boy . . . Is he dead?”
There was a complete silence in the clearing. Nobody approached Harry, but he felt their concentrated gaze; it seemed to press him harder into the ground, and he was terrified a finger or an eyelid might twitch.
“You,” said Voldemort, and there was a bang and a small shriek of pain. “Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead.”
OH. FUCK. Well, so much for Harry’s plan to pretend to be dead.
- Hands, softer than he had been expecting, touched Harry’s face, and felt his heart. He could hear the woman’s fast breathing, her pounding of life against his ribs.
“Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?”
The whisper was barely audible, her lips were an inch from his car, her head bent so low that her long hair shielded his face from the onlookers.
“Yes,” he breathed back.
He felt the hand on his chest contract: her nails pierced him. Then it was withdrawn. She had sat up.
“He is dead!” Narcissa Malfoy called to the watchers.
HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. She just…I mean…what the…
OH MY GOD. Narcissa just betrayed the Dark Lord and chose to help Harry Potter instead. UNBELIEVABLE. Oh my god, I am still being surprised in the last fucking chapter.
- And now they shouted, now they yelled in triumph and stamped their feet, and through his eyelids, Harry saw bursts of red and silver light shoot into the air in celebration.
Still feigning death on the ground, he understood. Narcissa knew that the only way she would be permitted to enter Hogwarts, and find her son, was as part of the conquering army. She no longer cared whether Voldemort won.
It’s important to admit that Narcissa is acting selfishly in her own way. Her son is more important than anything right now. But I’d be a fool not to admit that Voldemort’s actions have turned Narcissa away from him. She is discovering that the love for her son is more powerful (and more worthy) than anything Voldemort has to offer.
- “You see?” screeched Voldemort over the tumult. “Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!”
Harry had been expecting it, knew his body would not be allowed to remain unsullied upon the forest floor; it must be subjected to humiliation to prove Voldemort’s victory. He was lifted into the air, and it took all his determination to remain limp, yet the pain he expected did not come. He was thrown once, twice, three times into the air. His glasses flew off and he felt his wand slide a little beneath his robes, but he kept himself floppy and lifeless, and when he fell no ground for the last time, the clearing echoed with jeers and shrieks of laughter.
So Voldemort’s wand cannot actually hurt Harry at all. He can’t even feel the Cruciatus Curse. Wow.
- “Now,” said Voldemort, “we go to the castle, and show them what has become of their hero. Who shall drag the body? No – Wait – ”
There was a fresh outbreak of laughter, and after a few moments Harry felt the ground trembling beneath him.
“You carry him,” Voldemort said. “He will be nice and visible in your arms, will he not? Pick up your little friend, Hagrid. And the glasses – put on the glasses – he must be recognizable – “
Someone slammed Harry’s glasses back onto his face with deliberate force, but the enormous hands that lifted him into the air were exceedingly gentle. Harry could feel Hagrid’s arms trembling with the force of his heaving sobs; great tears splashed down upon him as Hagrid cradled Harry in his arms, and Harry did not dare, by movement or word, to intimate to Hagrid that all was not, yet, lost.
Oh, this is just unbearable. How hard it must be for Harry to simply avoid telling Hagrid that he is ok! Well, at least for the time being, I can be glad that Hagrid isn’t dead.
- “Move,” said Voldemort, and Hagrid stumbled forward, forcing his way through the close-growing trees, back through the forest. Branches caught at Harry’s hair and robes, but he lay quiescent, his mouth lolling open, his eyes shut, and in the darkness, while the Death Eaters cried all around them, and while Hagrid sobbed blindly, nobody looked to see whether a pulse beat in the exposed neck of Harry Potter. . . .
Is this actually going to work??? THE SUSPENSE IS TOO MUCH.
Hagrid’s unexpected bellow nearly forced Harry’s eyes open. “Happy now, are yeh, that yeh didn’t fight, yeh cowardly bunch o’ nags? Are yeh happy Harry Potter’s – d-dead . . . ?”
Hagrid could not continue, but broke down in fresh tears. Harry wondered how many centaurs were watching their procession pass; he dared not open his eyes to look. Some of the Death Eaters called insults at the centaurs as they left them behind. A little later, Harry sensed, by a freshening of the air, that they had reached the edge of the forest.
Oh my god. Ugh, Hagrid, you are seriously not allowed to cry. Ever. I don’t know why it affects me so much. About those centaurs, though. Isn’t it in their nature not to intervene? I remember that from wayyyyyyyyyyyyy back in Sorcerer’s Stone and of their shunning of Firenze during Order of the Phoenix. Are they still going to maintain neutrality throughout all of this?
- Someone passed close by Harry, and he knew that it was Voldemort himself because he spoke a moment later, his voice magically magnified so that it swelled through the ground, crashing upon Harry’s eardrums.
“Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone.
“The battle is won. You have lost half of your fighters. My Death Eaters outnumber you, and the Boy Who Lived is finished. There must be no more war. Anyone who continues to resist, man, woman or child, will be slaughtered, as will every member of their family. Come out of the castle now, kneel before me, and you shall be spared. Your parents and children, your brothers and sisters will live and be forgiven, and you will join me in the new world we shall build together.”
Oh, you dirty liar. Voldemort manipulates the facts of war not only in his attempt to sully what actually happened, but to convince those fighting against him that all hope is lost. But it makes me wonder…what “new world” would Voldemort build? Would it be a more terrifying and bleak version of what we’ve seen throughout Deathly Hallows?
Ok, I can’t imagine such a world right now. It’s too depressing and there’s way too much shit going on anyway.
- The Death Eaters camte to a halt; Harry heard them spreading out in a line facing the opne front doors of the school. He could see, even though his closed lids, the teddish glow that meant light streamed upon him from the entrance hall. He waited. Any moment, the people for whom he had tried to die would see him, lying apparently dead, in Hagrid’s arms.
The scream was the more terrible because he had never expected or dreamed that Professor McGonagall could make such a sound. He heard another women laughing nearby, and knew that Bellatrix gloried in McGonagall’s despair. He squinted again for a single second and saw the open doorway filling with people, as the survivors of the battle came out onto the front steps to face their vanquishers and see the truth of Harry’s death for themselves. He saw Voldemort standing a little in front of him, stroking Nagini’s head with a single white finger. He closed his eyes again.
I know Harry isn’t dead, but fucking hell, this is so brutal. Oh man, I never even really thought about what Harry meant to Minerva McGonagall, so this is EXTRA HEARTBREAKING.
Ron’s, Hermione’s, and Ginny’s voices were worse than McGonagall’s; Harry wanted nothing more than to call back, yet he made himself lie silent, and their cries acted like a trigger; the crowd of survivors took up the cause, screaming and yelling abuse at the Death Eathers, until –
“SILENCE!” cried Voldemort, and there was a bang and a flash of bright light, and silence was forced upon them all. “It is over! Set him down, Hagrid, at my feet, where he belongs!”
Harry felt himself lowered onto the grass.
“You see? said Voldemort, and Harry felt him striding backward and forward right beside the place where he lay. “Harry Potter is dead! Do you understand now, deluded ones? He was nothing, ever, but a boy who relied on others to sacrifice themselves for him!”
Now I simply HATE you, Voldemort. You are an awful…thing. (I almost said human being, but I guess he isn’t one? Whatever.) You lie and you desecrate and manipulate and ruin everything you come into contact with.
You know, I don’t know why I haven’t expressed anything like this towards Voldemort up until this point. Perhaps it’s because his exposure in the books has been pretty limited this whole time. We haven’t had a whole lot of time with him in person, but the events of this book are all the signs of his work. Shit, we’ve lost so many people since the first book, and an unbelievable amount here in the final one. And they’re all because of this one dude.
Fuck you, Voldemort.
- But Voldemort broke off: Harry heard a scuffle and a shout, then another bang, a flash of light, and grunt of pain; he opened his eyes an infinitesimal amount. Someone had broken free of the crowd and charged at Voldemort: Harry saw the figure hit the ground. Disarmed, Voldemort throwing the challenger’s wand aside and laughing.
“And who is this?” he said in his soft snake’s hiss. “Who has volunteered to demonstrate what happens to those who continue to fight when the battle is lost?”
Bellatrix gave a delighted laugh.
“It is Neville Longbottom, my Lord! The boy who has been giving the Carrows so much trouble! The son of the Aurors, remember?”
Oh shit, Neville, you are the most courageous of all. I love you forever but PLEASE DO NOT DIE. (I also want to say it’s pretty neat that the boy who COULD have satisfied Trelawney’s prophecy is now challenging Voldemort.)
- “You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.”
“I’ll join you when hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.
“Very well,” said Voldemort, and Harry heard more danger in the silkiness of his voice than in the most powerful curse. “If that is your choice, Longbottom, we revert to the original plan. On your head,” he said quietly, “be it.”
What?? What does that mean? Oh my god, Neville!!! ROWLING, YOU HAD BETTER NOT KILL HIM OR WE ARE THROUGH.
- Still watching through his lashes, Harry saw Voldemort wave his wand. Seconds later, out of one of the castle’s shattered windows, something that looked like a misshapen bird flew through the half light and landed in Voldemort’s hand. He shook the mildewed object by its pointed end and it dangled, emtpy and ragged: the Sorting Hat.
“There will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts School,” said Voldemort. “There will be no more Houses. The emblem, sheild and colors of my noble ancestor, Salazar Slythering, will suffice everyone. Won’t they, Neville Longbottom?”
WHAT!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING
- He pointed his wand at Neville, who grew rigid and still, then forced the hat onto Neville’s head, so that it slipped down below his eyes. There were movements from the watching crowd in front of the castle, and as one, the Death Eaters raised their wands, holding the fighters of Hogwarts at bay.
“Neville here is now going to demonstrate what happens to anyone foolish enough to continue to oppose me,” said Voldemort, and with a flick of his wand, he caused the Sorting Hat to burst into flames.
YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME! OH MY GOD, NEVILLE, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
- They heard uproar from the distant boundary of the school as what sounded like hundreds of people came swarming over the out-of-sight walls and pelted toward the castle, uttering lowd war cries. At the same time, Grawp came lumbering around the side of the castle and yelled, “HAGGER!” His cry was answered by roars from Voldemort’s giants: They ran at Grawp like bull elephants making the earth quake. Then came hooves and the twangs of bows, and arrows were suddenly falling amongst the Death Eaters, who broke ranks, shouting their surprise. Harry pulled the Invisibility Cloak from inside his robes, swung it over himself, and sprang to his feet, as Neville moved too.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. A surprise attack? An unplanned reaction of rage? What is this???
- In one swift, fluid motion, Neville broke free of the Body-Bind Curse upon him; the flaming hat fell off him and he drew from its depths something silver, with a glittering, rubied handle –
The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd or the sounds of the clashing giants or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet, it seemed to draw every eye. With a single stroke Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the entrance hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet-
Hidden beneath the Invisibility Cloak, Harry cast a Shield Charm between Neville and Voldemort before the latter could raise his stamps of the battling giants, Hagrid’s yell came loudest of all.
“HARRY!” Hagrid shouted. “HARRY – WHERE’S HARRY?”
The amount of sheer badassery that just happened is beautiful. Neville did it. He destroyed the final Horcrux, just as Harry asked him to. My heart is swelling with pride.
- Chaos reigned. The charging centaurs were scattering the Death Eaters, everyone was feeling the giants’ stamping feet, and nearer and nearer thundered the reinforcements that had come from who knew where; Harry saw great winged creatures soaring the heads of Voldemort’s giants, thestrals and Buckbeak the hippogriff scratching at their eyes while Grawp punched and pummeled them and now the wizards, defenders of Hogwarts and Death Eaters alike were being forced back into the castle. Harry was shooting jinxes and curses at any Death Eater he could see, and they crumpled, not knowing what or who had hit them, and their bodies were trampled by the retreating crowd. Still hidden beneath the Invisibility Cloak, Harry was buffered into the entrance hall: He was searching for Voldemort and saw him across the room, firing spells from his wand as he backed into the Great Hall, still screaming instructions to his followers as he sent curses flying left and right; Harry cast more Shield Charms, and Voldemort’s would-be victims. Seamus Finnigan and Hannah Abbott, darted past him into the Great Hall, where they joined the fight already flourishing inside it.
It seems that every creature in the Forbidden Forest, who was left to live as they wanted by Dumbledore (many times in defiance of the Ministry), has now shown up to defend the castle and its inhabitants. I don’t think any of the humans at Hogwarts expected this; I think that, upon the news that Harry Potter had died, the creatures that Harry treated with respect returned the favor to him.
THIS IS SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL. Voldemort better not ruin this.
- And now there were more, even more people storming up the front steps, and Harry saw Charlie Weasly overtaking Horace Slughorn, who was still wearing his emerald pyjamas. They seemed to have returned at the head of what looked like the families and friends of every Hogwarts student who had remained to fight along with the shopkeeps and homeowners of Hogsmeade. The centaurs Bane, Ronan and Magorian burst into the hall with a great clatter of hooves, as behind Harry the door that led to the kitchens was blasted off its hinges.
The house-elves of Hogwarts swarmed into he entrance hall, screaming and waving carving knives and cleaver, and at their head, the locker of Regulus Black bouncing on his chest, was Kreacher, his bullfrog’s voice audible even above this din: “Fight! Fight! Fight for my Master, defender of house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!”
They were hacking and stabbing at the ankles and shins of Death Eaters, their tiny faces alive with malice, and everywhere Harry looked Death Eaters were folding under sheer weight of numbers, overcome by spells, dragging arrows from wounds, stabbed in the leg by elves, or else simply attempting to escape, but swallowed by the oncoming horde.
The families of Harry’s friends, the centaurs, and the house-elves: all living beings that Harry showed nothing but respect and even love for: they’ve all returned to avenge Harry’s death. (Let this also be my official statement that Harry does deserve credit for this, not Hermione.)
whyyyy does this make me want to cry more than anything else in this chapter? i am a shell of human at this point.
- But it was not over yet: Harry sped between duelers, past struggling prisoners, and into the Great Hall.
Voldemort was in the center of the battle, and he was striking and smiting all within reach. Harry could not get a clear shot, but fought his way nearer, still invisible, and the Great Hall became more and more crowded as everyone who could walk forced their way inside.
Harry saw Yaxley slammed to the floor by George and Lee Jordan, saw Dolohov fall with a scream at Flitwick’s hands, saw Walden Macnair thrown across the room by Hagrid, hit the stone wall opposite, and slide unconscious to the ground. He saw Ron and Neville bringing down Fenrir Greyback. Aberforth Stunning Rookwood, Arthur and Percy flooting Thicknesse, and Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy running through the crowd, not even attempting to fight, screaming for their son.
The tide is finally turning. The death of Harry Potter did not result in the Wizarding world bowing in submission to Voldemort; instead, it inspired a frenzy, a battle that is overwhelming because these people have something to fight for: love.
- Bellatrix was still fighting too, fifty yards away from Voldemort, and like her master she dueled three at once: Hermione, Ginny and Luna, all battling their hardest, but Bellatrix was equal to them, and Harry’s attention was diverted as a Killing Curse shot so close to Ginny that she missed death by an inch –
He changed course, running at Bellatrix rather than Voldemort, but before he had gone a few steps he was knocked sideways.
“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”
Mrs. Weasley threw off her cloak as she ran, freeing her arms, Bellatrix spun on the spot, roaring with laughter at the sight of the new challenger.
FUCK YES. FUCK YES. I don’t care how ridiculous and cheesy this line is. It is so goddamn perfect for Mrs. Weasley. YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE BADASS, MOLLY.
- “OUT OF MY WAY!” shouted Mrs. Weasley to the three girls, and with a simple swipe of her wand she began to duel. Harry watched with terror and elation as Molly Weasley’s wand slashed and twisted, and Bellatrix Lestrange’s smile faltered and became a snarl. Jets of light flew from both wands, the floor around the witches’ feet became hot and cracked; both woman were fighting to kill.
“No!” Mrs. Weasley cried as a few students ran forward, trying to come to her aid. “Get back! Get back! She is mine!”
Hundreds of people now lined the walls, watching the two fights, Voldemort and his three opponents, Bellatrix and Molly, and Harry stood, invisible, torn between both, wanting to attack and yet to protect, unable to be sure that he would not hit the innocent.
SENSORY OVERLOAD. Have we seen wizards fighting multiple people at the same time? I didn’t know that could happen. That’s a side thought, though, because the battle happening right now has taken center stage. JESUS THIS IS WILD. Also, another thought I won’t put in a separate paragraph because FUCK THE HATERS. Now I have a better idea how they’re going to make the second Deathly Hallows movie so long. Eighty-five million things are all happening at the same time.
- Bellatrix laughed the same exhilarated laugh her cousin Sirius had given as he toppled backward through the veil, and suddenly Harry knew what was going to happen before it did.
Molly’s curse soared beneath Bellatrix’s outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart.
Bellatrix’s gloating smile froze, her eyes seemed to bulge: For the tiniest space of time she knew what had happened, and then she toppled, and the watching crowd roared, and Voldemort screamed.
Harry felt as though he turned into slow motion: he saw McGonagall, Kingsley and Slughorn blasted backward, flailing and writhing through the air, as Voldemort’s fury at the fall of his last, best lieutenant exploded with the force of a bomb, Voldemort raised his wand and directed it at Molly Weasley.
“Protego!” roared Harry, and the Shield Charm expanded in the middle of the Hall, and Voldemort stared around for the source as Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak at last.
Bellatrix is dead HOLY SHIT. Molly Weasley just killed Bellatrix. Oh my god I can’t believe any of this. AND HARRY JUST REVEALED HIMSELF AHHHHHHHHH MY BRAIN IS TURNING TO MUSH AGAIN.
It’s going to happen. It IS happening. The final battle between Harry and Voldemort. Jesus, I HAVE COME SO FAR.
- The yell of shock, the cheers, the screams on every side of :”Harry!” “HE’S ALIVE!” were stifled at once. The crowd was afraid, and silence fell abruptly and completely as Voldemort and Harry looked at each other, and began, at the same moment, to circle each other.
“I don’t want anyone else to help,” Harry said loudly, and in the total silence his voice carried like a trumpet call. “It’s got to be like this. It’s got to be me.”
“Potter doesn’t mean that,” he said, his red eyes wide. “This isn’t how he works, is it? Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?”
“Nobody,” said Harry simply. “There are no more Horcruxes. It’s just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good. . . .”
FUCK. YES. OH MY GOD THE BADASSERY IS TOO MUCH.
- “Accident, was it, when my mother died to save me?” asked Harry. They were still moving sideways, both of them, in that perfect circle, maintaining the same distance from each other, and for Harry no face existed but Voldemort’s. “Accident, when I decided to fight in that graveyard? Accident, that I didn’t defend myself tonight, and still survived, and returned to fight again?”
“Accidents!” screamed Voldemort, but still he did not strike, and the watching crowd was frozen as if Petrified, and of the hundreds in the Hall, nobody seemed to breathe but they two. “Accident and chance and the fact that you crouched and sniveled behind the skirts of greater men and women, and permitted me to kill them for you!”
“You won’t be killing anyone else tonight,” said Harry as they circled, and stared into each other’s eyes, green into red. “You won’t be able to kill any of them ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people – “
“But you did not!”
” – I meant to, and that’s what did it. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?”
Look, I’m not a fan of villains fighting in fiction and narrating their actions or intentions. I think it’s a wildly unrealistic trope that shows up way too often, but I will say that I appreciate that Harry is doing it to goad Voldemort into fighting, to publicly shame him. He’s standing up to him in a way no one has stood up to him before.
Voldemort’s image and how he’s perceived are almost more important than anything else. It explains why he lied about Harry’s manner of death: it doesn’t give Voldemort an appearance of superiority if it looks as if Harry just waltzed into the Forbidden Forest and surrendered his life.
- “Yes, I dare,” said Harry. “I know things you don’t know, Tom Riddle. I know lots of important things that you don’t. Want to hear some, before you make another big mistake?”
I love that Harry is now calling him by his birth name, but I straight up laughed out loud at the “Want to hear some” line. Really, Rowling? Just have him say it. He doesn’t need to set it up for you.
- “Is it love again?” said Voldemort, his snake’s face jeering. “Dumbledore favorite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the tower and breaking like and old waxwork? Love, which did not prevent me stamping out your Mudblood mother like a cockroach, Potter – and nobody seems to love you enough to run forward this time and take my curse. So what will stop you dying now when I strike?”
Oh, Voldy. You have no clue, do you?
- “If it is not love that will save you this time,” said Voldemort, “you must believe that you have magic that i do not, or else a weapon more powerful than mine?”
“I believe both,” said Harry, and he saw shock flit across the snakelike face, though it was instantly dispelled; Voldemort began to laugh, and the sound was more frightening than his screams; humorless and insane, it echoed around the silent Hall.
“You think you know more magic than I do?” he said. “Than I, than Lord Voldemort, who has performed magic that Dumbledore himself never dreamed of?”
“Oh he dreamed of it,” said Harry, “but he knew more than you, knew enough not to do what you’ve done.”
“You mean he was weak!” screamed Voldemort. “Too weak to dare, too weak to take what might have been his, what will be mine!”
Oh, this is gonna be GOOD. Voldemort is about to be served with a healthy portion of IN YOUR FACE. (NOTE: I love that Harry outright admits that Dumbledore at least theoretically dabbled with Dark Magic, or magic that would have resulted in some pretty terrible shit.)
- “I brought about the death of Albus Dumbledore!”
“You thought you did,” said Harry, “but you were wrong.”
For the first time, the watching crowd stirred as the hundreds of people around the walls drew breath as one.
“Dumbledore is dead!”
Voldemort hurled the words at Harry as in the marble tomb in the grounds of this castle, “I have seen it, Potter, and he will not return!”
“Yes, Dumbledore is dead,” said Harry calmly, “but you didn’t have him killed. He chose his own manner of dying, chose it months before he died, arranged the whole thing with the man you thought was your servant.”
“What chldish dream is this?” said Voldemort, but still he did not strike, and his red eyes did not waver from Harry’s.
As much I don’t like this trope, I’m beginning to understand why this is sort of necessary to the story. It’s a mental battle happening now, pronounced out loud, and it’s Harry’s way of shaming Voldemort into making a mistake. And Voldemort is going to make a mistake because he’s already screwed things up for himself as it is.
There’s a power in having Harry speak the truth out loud, to Voldemort’s face, with hundreds of witnesses. (Can I also say that I love that this fight is not happening in private? It adds a lot more weight to the entire thing.)
- “Severus Snape wasn’t yours,” said Harry. “Snape was Dumbledore’s. Dumbledore’s from the moment you starting hunting down my mother. And you never realized it, because of the thing you can’t understand. You never saw Snape cast a Patronus, did you, Riddle?”
Voldemort did not answer. They continued to circle each other like wolves about to tear each other apart.
“Snape’s Patronus was a doe,” said Harry, “the same as my mother’s, because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from the time when they were children. You should have realized,” he said as he saw Voldemort’s nostrils flare, “he asked you to spare her life, didn’t he?”
“He desired her, that was all,” sneered Voldemort, “but when she had gone, he agreed that there were other women, and of purer blood, worthier of him – “
“Of course he told you that,” said Harry, “but he was Dumbledore’s spy from the moment you threatened her, and he’s been working against you ever since! Dumbledore was already dying when Snape finished him!”
BOOYAH. IN YOUR FACE, VOLDEMORT. Your fatal flaw was in believing that other people in the world could live without love. GUESS WHAT. YOU ARE WRONG.
why did i just type the word booyah
- “Dumbledore was trying to keep the Elder Wand from me! He intended that Snape should be the true master of the wand! But I got there ahead of you, little boy – I reached the wand before you could get your hands on it, I understood the truth before you caught up. I killed Severus Snape three hours ago, and the Elder Wand, the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny is truly mine! Dumbledore’s last plan went wrong, Harry Potter!”
“Yeah, it did.” said Harry. “You’re right. But before you try to kill me, I’d advise you think what you’ve done . . . . Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle. . . .”
WHOA. WAIT. WAIT A SECOND. Is Harry going to try to convince Voldemort to feel remorse for his actions? Didn’t Dumbledore say that the act was so painful to someone who tore apart their soul that it could literally kill him? IS THIS HOW HARRY WILL KILL VOLDEMORT?
- Of all the things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had socked Voldemort like this. Harry saw is pupils contract to thin slits, saw the skin around his eyes whiten.
“It’s your one last chance,” said Harry, “it’s all you’ve got left. . . . I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise. . . . Be a man. . . try. . . Try for some remorse. . . .”
“You dare — ?” said Voldemort again.
“Yes, I dare,” said Harry, “because Dumbledore’s last plan hasn’t backfired on me at all. It’s backfired on you, Riddle.”
Voldemort’s hand was trembling on the Elder Wand, and Harry gripped Draco’s very tightly. The moment, he knew, was seconds away.
DRACO’S???? what the holy fuck is happening. what. what. what. what. what.
- “That wand still isn’t working properly for you because you murdered the wrong person. Severus Snape was never the true master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore.”
“He killed — ”
“Aren’t you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore’s death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die, undefeated, the wand’s last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand’s power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!”
ROWLING SERIOUSLY SAVED A MIND EXPLOSION FOR THE VERY END. HOLY SHIT. OH MY GOD I have goosebumps reading this. WHAT THE FUCK.
- “You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn’t enough! Holding it, using it, doesn’t make it really yours. Didn’t you listen to Ollivander? The wand chooses the wizard . . . The Elder Wand recognized a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will, never realizing exactly what he had done, or that the world’s most dangerous wand had given him its allegiance . . .”
Voldemort’s chest rose and fell rapidly, and Harry could feel the curse coming, feel it building inside the wand pointed at his face.
Actually, Harry, I don’t get it. At all. How could the wand choose a new master on it’s own? What? I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS.
- “The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.”
WHAT THE HOLY FUCK SHIT IN SPACE WHAT THE FUCK How???? How is that possible???
- “But you’re too late,” said Harry. “You’ve missed your chance. I got there first. I overpowered Draco weeks ago. I took his wand from him.”
Harry twitched the hawthorn wand, and he felt the eyes of everyone in the Hall upon it.
“So it all comes down to this, doesn’t it?” whispered Harry. “Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does . . . I am the true master of the Elder Wand.”
WHAT THE HOLY SHIT. Oh my god, Draco disarmed Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower, making the Elder Wand his. So Voldemort stole the wand FROM THE WRONG PERSON. ohhhhhhmmmyyyyygoooodddd. Draco had no idea he was the Master! I AM IN SHOCK.
- A red-glow burst suddenly across the enchanted sky above them as an edge of dazzling sun appeared over the sill of the nearest window. The light hit both of their faces at the same time, so that Voldemort’s was suddenly a flaming blur. Harry heard the high voice shriek as he too yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco’s wand:
The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden flames that erupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward. Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing. Voldemort was dead, killed by his own rebounding curse, and Harry stood with two wands in his hand, staring down at his enemy’s shell.
HE FUCKING DID IT!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD VOLDEMORT IS DEAD JKLASDKL;ASDKL;HDFASJL; AS;LKFDFKSJASDFKL ADFSFDSA;LKFSAD FADS;LKFADS KAFSD;JAF;LJKFASDJKL;
- One shivering second of silence, the shock of the moment suspended: and then the tumult broke around Harry as the screams and the cheers and the roars of the watchers rent the air. The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him, and the first to reach him were Ron and Hermione, and it was their arms that were wrapped around him, their incomprehensible shouts that deafened him. The Ginny, Neville, and Luna were there, and then all the Weasleys and Hagrid, and Kingsley and McGonagall and Flitwick and Sprout, and Harry could not hear a word that anyone was shouting, not tell whose hands were seizing him, pulling him, trying to hug some part of him, hundreds of them pressing in, all of them determined to touch the Boy Who Lived, the reason it was over at last —
THE TEARS OF JOY ARE FLOWING STEADILY, MY FRIENDS. Oh my god, THAT WAS SO FUCKING SATISFYING TO READ. Oh my god, HE KILLED VOLDEMORT.
- The sun rose steadily over Hogwarts, and the Great Hall blazed with life and light. Harry was an indispensible part of the mingled outpourings of jubilation and mourning, of grief and celebration. They wanted him there with them, their leader and symbol, their savior and their guide, and that he had not slept, that he craved the company of only a few of them, seemed to occur to no one. He must speak to the bereaved, clasp their hands, witness their tears, receive their thanks, hear the news now creeping in from every quarter as the morning drew on; that the Imperiused up and down the country had come back to themselves, that Death Eaters were fleeing or else being captured, that the innocent of Azkaban were being released at that very moment, and that Kingsley Shacklebolt had been named temporary Minister of Magic.
OH MY GOD THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Kingsley is Minister!!!! Oh shit, this is so great.
But jesus, please let Harry take a nap or something. It’s just now dawning on me how exhausting this whole thing has been. The last year alone has been a nightmare.
- They moved Voldemort’s body and laid it in a chamber off the Hall, away form the bodies of Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Colin Creevey, and fifty others who had died fighting him. McGonagall had replaced the House tables, not nobody was sitting according to House anymore: All were jumbled together, teachers and pupils, ghosts and parents, centaurs and house-elves, and Firenze lay recovering in the corner, and Grawp peered in through a smashed window, and people were throwing food into his laughing mouth.
FIFTY OTHERS??? Jesus, who else died??? Did Rowling ever say who it was? God, my prediction was WOEFULLY WRONG.
- After a while, exhausted and drained, Harry found himself sitting on a bench beside Luna.
“I’d want some peace and quiet, if it were me,” she said.
“I’d love some,” he replied.
“I’ll distract them all,” she said. “Use your cloak.”
And before he could say a word, she had cried, “Oooh, look, a Blibbering Humdinger!” and pointed out the window. Everyone who heard looked around, and Harry slid the Cloak up over himself, and got to his feet.
Oh god, I will always love Luna forever and ever. It’s just hitting me…is this the last scene with Luna in it? There aren’t many pages left. Fuck, now I’m getting sad again. :/
- Now he could move through the Hall without interference. He spotted Ginny two tables away; she was sitting with her head on her mother’s shoulder: There would be time to talk later, hours and days and maybe years in which to talk. He saw Neville, the sword of Gryffindor lying beside his plate as he ate, surrounded by a knot of fervent admirers. Along the aisle between the tables he walked, and he spotted the three Malfoys, huddled together as though unsure whether or not they were supposed to be there, but nobody was paying them any attention. Everywhere he looked, he saw families reunited, and finally, he saw the two whose company he craved most.
Harry’s finally going to have time to spend with Ginny; Neville proved himself to be the most necessary hero in the end; the Malfoys reunited after Narcissa betrayed the Dark Lord. But, just like Harry, I am more interested in what happens next.
- “It’s me,” he muttered, crouching down between them. “Will you come with me?”
They stood up at once, and together he, Ron and Hermione left the Great Hall. Great chunks were missing from the marble staircase, part of the balustrade gone, and rubble and bloodstains occurred ever few steps as their climbed.
The signs of the Battle of Howards still remain. There’s not much time left in this book, but I wonder what will happen to Hogwarts, how it will be repaired, and what will change in the future. But I suppose it’s time to enjoy what’s happening now.
- Happiness would come, Harry though, but at the moment it was muffled by exhaustion, and the pain of losing Fred and Lupin and Tonks pierced him like a physical wound every few steps. Most of all he felt the most stupendous relief, and a longing to sleep. But first he owed an explanation to Ron and Hermione, who had stuck with him for so long, and who deserved the truth. Painstakingly he recounted what he had seem in the Pensieve and what had happened in the forest, and they had not even begun to express all their shock and amazement, when at last they arrived at the place to which they had been walking, though none of them had mentioned their destination.
I love that Harry recognizes how much Ron and Hermione have been a part of this, and how much they deserve to know what happened. Jesus, they’ve come so far over the last seven years.
GET YR KLEENEX READY
- Since he had last seen it, the gargoyle guarding the entrance to the headmaster’s study had been knocked aside; it stood lopsided, looking a little punch-drunk, and Harry wondered whether it would be able to distinguish passwords anymore.
“Can we go up?” he asked the gargoyle.
“Feel free,” groaned the statue.
They clambered over him and onto the spiral stone staircase that moved slowly upward like an escalator. Harry pushed open the door at the top. He had one, brief glimpse of the stone Pensieve on the desk where he had left it, and then an earsplitting noise made him cry out, thinking of curses and returning Death Eaters and the rebirth of Voldemort —
But it was applause. All around the walls, the headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts were giving him a standing ovation; they waved their hats and in some cases their wigs, they reached through their frames to grip each other’s hands; they danced up and down on their chairs in which they have been painted: Dilys Derwent sobbed unashamedly; Dexter Fortescue was waving his ear-trumpet; and Phineas Niggelus called,in his high, reedy voice, “And let it be noted that Slytherin House played its part! Let our contribution not be forgotten!”
Ugh, this is all going to be over soon, isn’t it? The headmasters and headmistresses are congratulating Harry and soon it’ll be their last scene as well.
- But Harry had eyes only for the man who stood in the largest portrait directly behind the headmaster’s chair. Tears were sliding down from behind the half-moon spectacles into the long silver beard, and the pride and the gratitude emanating from him filled Harry with the same balm as phoenix song.
At last, Harry held up his hands, and the portraits fell respectfully silent, beaming and mopping their eyes and waiting eagerly for him to speak. He directed his words at Dumbledore, however, and chose them with enormous care. Exhausted and bleary-eyed though he was, he must make one last effort, seeking one last piece of advice.
“The thing that was hidden in the Snitch,” he began, “I dropped it in the forest. I don’t exactly here, but I’m not going to go looking for it again. Do you agree?”
“My dear boy, I do,” said Dumbledore, while his fellow pictures looked confused and curious. “A wise and courageous decision, but no less than I would have expected of you. Does anyone know else know where it fell?”
“No one,” said Harry, and Dumbledore nodded his satisfaction.
Oh god, Dumbledore has a portrait in his office. I thought no one would ever be able to talk to him again! Maybe this isn’t such a good thing, because it’s just making me sad again. Dumbledore’s gone, and soon this series and this experience will be gone as well.
- “And then there’s this.” Harry held up the Elder Wand, and Ron and Hermione looked at it with a reverence that, even in his befuddled and sleep-deprived state, Harry did not like to see. “I don’t want it.” said Harry.
“What?” said Ron loudly. “Are you mental?”
“I know it’s powerful,” said Harry wearily. “But I was happier with mine. So . . .”
He rummaged in the pouch hung around his neck, and pulled out the two halves of holly still just connected by the finest threat of phoenix feather. Hermione had said that they could not be repaired, that the damage was too severe. All he knew was that if this did not work, nothing would.
He laid the broken wand upon the headmaster’s desk, touched it with the very tip of the Elder Wand, and said, “Reparo.”
As his wand resealed, red sparks flew out of its end. Harry knew that he had succeeded. He picked up the holly and phoenix wand and felt a sudden warmth in his fingers, as though wand and hand were rejoicing at their reunion.
I think there’s a beautiful message in Harry using the Elder Wand not for his continued benefit, but to simply repair what was most familiar for him. I think Harry saw what happened to Dumbledore, a man he thought was as brave and smart as they come, and feared what it might do to him if he held on to it. Plus…Harry was best with his own wand anyway.
Even further, it completes the parallel of the Three Brothers to real life. Harry shed his cloak and faced death, thereby conquering it.
- *“I’m putting the Elder Wand,” he told Dumbledore, who was watching him with enormous affection and admiration, “back where it came from. It can stay there. If I die a natural death like Ignotus, its power will be broken, won’t it? The previous master will never have been defeated. That’ll be the end of it.”
Dumbledore nodded. They smiled at each other.
“Are you sure?” said Ron. There was the faintest trace of longing in his voice as he looked at the Elder Wand.
“I think Harry’s right,” said Hermione quietly.
I think he’s right too, Hermione. It’s practical at this point; look what Grindelwald and Voldemort did with it. Why keep that possibility alive?
- “That wand’s more trouble than it’s worth.” said Harry. “And quite honestly,” he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, “I’ve had enough trouble for a lifetime.”
You have, Harry Potter. And I think it’s time for you, your friends, and your family, to attempt to have a normal life.
Only one left of these left, guys. Holy shit. 🙁