Chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Malfoy Manor
With Snatchers surrounding the camp, Hermione quickly jinxes Harry's face to hide his identity. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced out of the tent and bound with Dean Thomas and Griphook, who have also been captured. Assuming that the Trio are students on the run, the Snatchers check a wanted list. Hermione claims she is Penelope Clearwater, a half-blood. Ron identifies himself as Stan Shunpike, but the Snatchers know this is untrue, and Ron then claims he is a Weasley relative. Harry identifies himself as Vernon Dudley, a Slytherin student, and accurately describes the Slytherin Common room: he and Ron (using Polyjuice Potion to impersonate Crabbe and Goyle) were there during their second year at Hogwarts. However, the Snatchers recognize Hermione's photo in the Daily Prophet and find Harry's glasses. The scar beneath his puffy, jinxed forehead is barely discernible, leaving them unsure. They also find Gryffindor's Sword.
Harry, meanwhile, has slipped back into Voldemort's mind and sees a black fortress with a tall tower within; an ancient man says he was expecting Voldemort, but tells him that he never had it.
Believing he has captured "Undesirable Number One", the Snatchers' leader, Fenrir Greyback, takes the captives to the Dark Lord's headquarters, Malfoy Manor. Lucius Malfoy believes Voldemort will forgive him when he turns over Harry Potter, but he first orders Draco to verify Harry's identity. Draco, fearful and hesitant, claims to be unsure. Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy, notices that Harry's wand does not match Ollivander's description, and wants to be positive it is him before summoning Voldemort. Narcissa recognizes Hermione from Madam Malkin's robe shop and also her picture in the Daily Prophet. Lucius prods Draco to identify Ron and Hermione, and he reluctantly admits it could be them.
Bellatrix enters and is also uncertain if it's Harry, but wants to inform Voldemort immediately, though Lucius claims it is his right to do so. Greyback interjects, saying he captured Potter and demands the reward; he also wants Hermione as a prize. As Lucius is about to touch his Dark Mark to Summon Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix shrieks: a Snatcher has Gryffindor's Sword. When he is reluctant to hand it over, Bellatrix Stuns all the Snatchers except Greyback, who is now on his knees. Bellatrix screams that they are all in peril if her Gringotts vault has been breached.
Harry, Ron, Dean and Griphook are taken to the cellar, where Luna and Ollivander are also imprisoned, while Hermione is left upstairs to be interrogated. Bellatrix tortures her to learn if the Sword was stolen from the Lestrange's vault; Ron, hearing Hermione's screams of pain, becomes distraught. With Luna's help and light from the Deluminator, Harry, Ron, Dean, and Griphook are unbound, though Griphook is badly injured.
Searching his pouch, Harry sees a blue flash in the mirror shard, and frantically begs for help. Upstairs, Hermione, despite being tortured, tells Bellatrix the Sword is a fake. Lucius Malfoy sends Draco to fetch Griphook so he can verify this, and Harry quickly tells Griphook to claim the Sword is fake. After Draco collects Griphook, Dobby Apparates into the cellar and confirms he can Disapparate with humans.
Again, Harry peers through Voldemort's eyes, seeing the old man telling Voldemort that killing him will bring him no nearer to what he seeks.
Dobby Apparates Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander to Shell Cottage, Bill and Fleur's home. When the loud cracking Disapparition noise brings Wormtail to the cellar to investigate, Harry and Ron attack him. Wormtail grabs Harry, choking him with his silver hand. Harry reminds Wormtail that he is owed a life debt. Hesitating, Wormtail momentarily relaxes his grip, and the silver hand turns on him, fatally strangling its owner.
Ron and Harry rush upstairs, armed only with Wormtail's wand. Griphook has declared the Gryffindor Sword is a fake. Bellatrix, satisfied her vault is safe, summons Voldemort, then offers Hermione to Greyback as a reward. Harry's scar explodes with pain as he sees Voldemort, angry at being summoned, killing the old man. Ron bursts into the room and disarms Bellatrix with Wormtail's wand while Harry, who runs in after him, catches it and Stuns Lucius Malfoy. Bellatrix, pressing a silver knife to Hermione's neck, orders them to drop the wands; Draco collects them. Dobby suddenly reappears, dropping the crystal chandelier on Bellatrix, Hermione, and Griphook, and disarming Narcissa. As Ron pulls Hermione out from under the chandelier, Harry grabs all three wands from Draco and Stuns Greyback. When Bellatrix addresses Dobby as an enslaved House-elf, Dobby declares he is free and has come to save Harry Potter and his friends. Harry tosses a wand to Ron, and tells him to go. Harry, Griphook and Dobby also Disapparate to safety, but Bellatrix's silver knife has seriously wounded Dobby. Cradled in Harry's arms, Dobby whispers, "Harry . . . Potter . . ," and dies.
Several characters show personality traits that have only been glimpsed previously. Ron's feelings for Hermione are further developed as he listens to Bellatrix torturing her, and when he fiercely tries to prevent her falling prey to Fenrir Greyback's perverted desires. This marks yet another turning point in Ron's maturity as he faces the possibility of losing someone he cares deeply about, and must act to save her, regardless of his own safety. Harry also shows faith in the unknown again by trusting that the blue eye in the mirror is someone who has been watching over him and will send help. Harry's trust has been somewhat affected by the eye resembling Dumbledore, though Harry still doubts his late mentor's motives. Harry's faith is rewarded, however, when Dobby appears, though it is still unknown who sent him or why.
The character dynamics are a little different at Malfoy Manor, and readers have seen how Voldemort demands absolute fidelity and obedience from his servants. Here it appears that most support him only out of fear or for personal gain, though there is certainly no guarantee that loyalty will be rewarded or lives spared. This has created conflict among his followers that is starting to undermine Voldemort's rule. Bellatrix and Lucius here vie with one another for power and favor, leaving Narcissa Malfoy the unenviable task of choosing between supporting her sister or her husband. Though unseen here, we have earlier evidence that Narcissa's devotion is only to her husband and son. Fenrir Greyback, meanwhile, desires material compensation (which includes Hermione), while the cowardly Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) sought out the Dark Lord only for protection against the Order of the Phoenix, who would likely execute him for betraying the Potters and Sirius Black. Wormtail was also burdened by his life debt to Harry, an obligation he had no choice but to fulfill, and which Voldemort fatally punished him for when he did. Voldemort may have been unaware that Wormtail owed this life debt when he crafted the silver hand; it is almost certain that Wormtail would never willingly have divulged this information to Voldemort, though Pettigrew's weak mind would be far too easy for the Dark Lord to penetrate and read his thoughts; however, knowing how meek and untrustworthy Wormtail was, it is likely that Voldemort created the silver appendage as a convenient mechanism to retaliate against any disloyalty or disobedience, however slight, and, finally, to eliminate a relatively useless minion when he was no longer needed.
Draco Malfoy, meanwhile, clearly shows that he is not his father's son; when Draco is again forced into a difficult situation, he is torn between intrinsic compassion, family loyalty, and fearing Voldemort. Although he obviously recognizes Harry and the others imprisoned at Malfoy Manor, as with Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and the Death Eater that Voldemort forced him to torture, he resists taking any action that will endanger another. Only under his family's pressure and knowing he will be unable to lie convincingly does he admit that Harry's two companions could be Ron and Hermione. It seems unlikely that Draco has any fonder feelings for Harry and the others than he ever did and is still an obnoxious bully, but he is neither vicious nor a killer. Like Harry's cousin, Dudley, there is an invisible line his innate humanity prevents him from ever crossing. Despite being raised with "pure-blood" rhetoric and elitist conditioning, Draco is mostly a half-hearted Voldemort follower, foolishly trailing along out of family duty, for adventure, and the prestige he believes it bestows. Like Regulus Black, he soon finds himself in over his head, lacking the inherent evil nature to be a true Death Eater. His refusal to harm Harry and Dumbledore goes against everything he has been taught. By now, Draco probably realizes that Voldemort is only using him to punish his family and will likely kill him and his parents once they are no longer useful. Ultimately, Draco shows strength and morality by protecting the Trio, even though betraying them could help win back Voldemort's favor for his family. Consequently, Draco fails to realize that his compassion makes him a far better person than his flawed, reprehensible father; instead, he believes himself a cowardly failure. A very different Draco might have been seen here, however, had he succumbed to fatally cursing Dumbledore that fateful night on the Astronomy Tower, his soul indelibly stained by murder.
Dobby's role is also examined here. In his last act, Dobby dies a martyr and a true hero. He defies the humans who had enslaved him and breaks the promise he made to Harry during his second year never to try and save his life again. Breaking this promise comes exactly when Harry is in mortal peril and when only an Elf's unique magical abilities can save him. Dobby's life has revolved around the hope that Harry would improve other House-elves' situations by defeating Voldemort, and his admiration is clearly reflected by his dying words. Far from the fearful, cowering slave Harry first met in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, his noble, grand courage is climaxed by his daring rescue, but perhaps most importantly, he dies a free elf, which Harry will note on his tombstone.
Although the unfortunate experience at Malfoy Manor has resulted in Dobby's tragic death, Dean, Griphook, Luna, and Ollivander are rescued from an uncertain, but likely deadly, fate. Also, Bellatrix Lestrange's frantic behavior about her vault may signal something that the Trio will need to know.
One point perhaps worth mentioning is that once again the difference between House-elf Apparition and human Apparition is seen. In the first chapter, Death Eaters Apparate just outside Malfoy Manor's gates and then proceed on foot; similarly, the Snatchers Apparate to just outside the same gates and proceed on foot once admitted. This is a clear indication that Apparition has been barred inside the Manor grounds. Yet Dobby Apparates in and out. It is curious, perhaps, that Harry and Ron, once they have defeated Bellatrix, are able to Apparate out of the manor; though the spells around the Burrow apparently prevented Apparition in either direction, perhaps Voldemort or Lucius worked a more advanced version of that spell, so it is only Apparition into the manor which is prohibited. Or perhaps it is a matter of timing: Voldemort is unlikely to want to Apparate to a location outside the protection of Malfoy Manor, so he might have arranged the spell preventing Apparition so that he could disable it, allowing himself to Apparate when he chose. As he has just Disapparated to return to Malfoy Manor, it is possible that he temporarily disabled the anti-Apparition spells to allow himself entry, and that provided a loophole which Harry and Ron were able to utilize.
- How could Dobby Apparate into the supposedly impenetrable cellar? What other impenetrable area has been seen where an elf Apparated into?
- Why does Draco claim not to recognize any Trio member? Why does he finally admit that it could be Ron and Hermione?
- How does Hermione being tortured affect Ron?
- Why does Wormtail's silver hand strangle him now?
- How did Dobby know where to find Harry and the others?
- Why do Lucius and Bellatrix argue over who will summon Voldemort, now that Harry has been captured?
- How does Draco's character compare to his family's, particularly his father, Lucius Malfoy? What accounts for this?
- What might be the after-effects of Hermione's torture?
- Whose blue eye might Harry be glimpsing in the mirror fragment? If it is not Dumbledore, why would Harry trust that this person will help?
In discussing Draco Malfoy's humanity, it should be noted that Dumbledore had also recognized this trait in him. As we will find out shortly, by the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore knew that Voldemort had tasked Draco with murdering him. This was why Dumbledore extracted Snape's promise, that, if necessary, Snape would kill Dumbledore: primarily to save Draco's soul from that first, destructive act that would cost him that humanity and irretrievably push him to the Dark side. Dumbledore was also aware that Draco would likely fail in his mission, likely resulting in his execution, and suspected that another Death Eater would complete the job. Snape would allow Dumbledore to die with dignity and by his own design, whereas other Death Eaters would not.
Draco is not entirely redeemed, however, and in a later chapter, he will attempt to capture Harry for Voldemort, though he may be motivated by trying to reprieve his family from the Dark Lord's wrath. In this light, it is important to compare Draco's behaviour here, and later in the story, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are searching for something in the Room of Requirement, and Draco, with his sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle, tries to intervene and capture Harry for the Dark Lord. We will see that back at Hogwarts, away from his family's influence and with his minions in tow, Draco once more reverts to his previous, bullying self. This will be short-lived, as Draco once again falls apart when he is separated from his followers. This is typical bully behaviour, particularly one like Draco who has learned his techniques from one of his parents. Without his "gang's" support, Draco is cowardly. Even with his cronies, whenever things deviate from his internal script, he has little recourse except to run away — note his reaction when Hermione slapped him in an earlier year.
Harry, witnessing Bellatrix's near-panic when the Sword of Gryffindor is discovered, and remembering Griphook's earlier words that the replica Sword of Gryffindor was moved from the Headmaster's office to a Gringotts vault, will correctly guess that it is the Lestrange vault where the fake Sword is secured, and that there is another object stored there that Voldemort highly values. Harry will correctly surmise that this is another Horcrux, and that it is Hufflepuff's Cup, that being the only Founders' artifact that was mentioned or seen in Hokey's memory, but not examined.
The reader likely recognizes the high tower that Voldemort is inspecting as Nurmengard, and may have guessed that the old man who Voldemort is interrogating is Gellert Grindelwald. This constitutes, in Voldemort's mind, the penultimate link in the chain that he is following towards the Elder Wand. He will learn that Grindelwald had lost the wand to Dumbledore, and will guess that Dumbledore had the wand interred with him. Very shortly, Harry, who will have reached the same conclusion, will have to decide whether he will race Voldemort to Hogwarts for that wand, or whether he will continue to chase Horcruxes. It will be mentioned later that event timing in this chapter is somewhat critical; Harry must be distracted enough that he withdraws from Voldemort's mind just as Voldemort is examining Grindelwald's memories. If Harry perceives the battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, tinged as it is bound to be by the memories of their friendship (and possibly more than friendship), the turmoil in Harry's mind could only be increased, causing him to be less likely to make the necessary decisions to close this book satisfactorily. To this end, Hermione's torture and Harry's fight with Pettigrew are necessary to this final book's plot.
In light of what happens in future chapters, we should note the various wands that are changing hands in this chapter. Harry's own damaged wand remains, of course, hidden and useless in his Moke-skin bag. The short blackthorn wand Harry was using, Ron's wand, and Hermione's wand are all captured by the Snatchers, and while we see the blackthorn wand again, its role in the upcoming battle is insignificant. Ron captures Pettigrew's wand and uses it to disarm Bellatrix; Harry uses Bellatrix' wand to Stun Lucius Malfoy, who still lacks a wand, having surrendered his to Voldemort. Bellatrix forces Harry and Ron to drop their wands, and Draco collects them. After the chandelier falls, Harry recovers Bellatrix' and Pettigrew's wands from Draco, as well as claiming Draco's, Stuns Fenrir and tosses one wand to Ron. Narcissa attempts to jinx Harry but is disarmed by Dobby. The other Snatchers are excluded from the matter, as Bellatrix had previously Stunned everyone when her demand for the Sword of Gryffindor was resisted. So as they leave Malfoy Manor, they take Pettigrew's, Draco's, and Bellatrix' captured wands, leaving Hermione's, Ron's, and the blackthorn one Harry had been so annoyed by. Harry will guess, without much support, that the Death Eaters will interrogate Hermione's wand and determine that it had broken Harry's wand, the one that Voldemort so feared. We will see no evidence, however, that this has actually occurred, or that a wand can be interrogated with such high precision after so lengthy a time and many intervening spells.