Chapter 25 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Shell Cottage
Harry spends as much time as possible alone on the cliff tops. This is the first time an opportunity has arisen where, rather than deciding to act, he instead chooses to do nothing. Even to himself, his reasoning for not racing to Hogwarts to retrieve the Elder Wand before Voldemort grows weaker every time he considers it. Ron's doubting is hardly helpful, and even Hermione's support is confusing. Convinced now that the Elder Wand does exist, she believes the way it was retrieved, and the wand itself, are evil. Ron questions if Dumbledore is truly dead – there is the silver doe and the eye in the mirror. If it is not Dumbledore's eye, then who sent Dobby?
Later, Griphook agrees to help Harry, even though it is betraying Gringotts, but he wants payment: the Sword of Gryffindor. The Sword, Griphook says, was Goblin-made, therefore, it still belongs to Goblins. Griphook is affronted when Ron mentions there are other valuables in the vault he might want: he is not a thief. Griphook claims that Gryffindor stole the Sword from Ragnuk the First. Harry, Ron, and Hermione want time to consider Griphook's request.
Harry wonders if the Sword was stolen from the Goblins. Hermione says that wizard-written history books often gloss over what was inflicted on nonhuman races. Ron's suggestion that they swap the real Sword for the fake one is dismissed, as Griphook would immediately detect the replica. Offering an equal value item is proposed, but they have nothing to trade. Harry finally decides to offer the Sword to Griphook, but only after all the Horcruxes have been destroyed. Hermione dislikes this idea, it could take years. Harry agrees, but he does not have another plan.
Griphook agrees to Harry's carefully worded agreement. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Griphook spend the next several weeks planning the Gringotts' assault, during which Harry realizes he dislikes the Goblin, who seems uncaring and cheerful that other wizards might be injured. He also seems to enjoy making things difficult for Fleur. She is gladdened that Ollivander will shortly move to Aunt Muriel's, and she can then juggle bedrooms. Harry tells her that he, Ron, and Dean are fine sleeping in the living room. Keeping Griphook happy is essential to the Trio's plans. He also informs Fleur that he, Ron, and Hermione will be leaving soon.
As Ollivander and Bill are about to depart for Aunt Muriel's, Fleur asks Ollivander to deliver Muriel's borrowed tiara. Griphook, eying the tiara almost eagerly, mentions that it was made by Goblins; Bill responds it was paid for by wizards.
Bill returns shortly after, reporting that everything is fine at Muriel's, though the Twins are running an owl order business from the back bedroom. As dinner ends, there is a loud bang at the door. Lupin identifies himself and announces that he and Tonks are parents to a baby boy, named Ted after Tonks' father. He asks Harry to be godfather, and Harry, stunned, accepts. The celebration goes through several bottles before Lupin departs.
Bill privately asks Harry if he has a deal with Griphook, warning him that Goblins have foreign ideas regarding ownership. They believe wizards are untrustworthy in matters regarding treasure, and that property stays with the maker, considering Goblin-made wares to be leased rather than purchased. Griphook evidently feels that Auntie Muriel's tiara should have been returned to the Goblins when the original owner died. Though Harry never admits he and Griphook have an agreement, he promises Bill to be careful, then returns to the celebration, which continues even after Lupin leaves.
Rowling has pointed out separately, in an interview, that Harry deciding for the first time not to act upon something is an important part of his maturation. He sees an avenue he can pursue that will thwart one aspect of Voldemort's scheme, but he instead chooses to simply watch and make other plans that will lead to a resolution he has been striving for since the story began. Always before, Harry had seen a clear, straight path – going through the trap door, entering the Chamber, freeing Sirius, dueling Voldemort, flying to the Ministry, recovering a Horcrux – and has followed it. These rather linear actions created a familiar pattern, making Harry predictable to his enemies. Now there is a defined action that Harry can take, traveling to Hogwarts to prevent Voldemort from claiming the Elder Wand, but after careful consideration, he opts to ignore it.
Harry's agreement with Griphook is risky, and it is unclear if the Goblin can be trusted, though Griphook likely feels the same about Harry. It is obvious that the Goblin's only intent is to obtain Gryffindor's Sword, which he firmly believes belongs to Goblins, rather than helping to rid Voldemort from the wizarding world. As Hermione pointed out, the centuries of ill-treatment that Goblins and other non-human magical folks have endured under wizards has been glossed over in history books written by biased historians. Voldemort, meanwhile, has been actively recruiting non-human denizens, and Griphook and many other magical creatures may believe they could fare better, or at least no worse, under Voldemort's domination than they have had serving wizards, possibly resulting in them either supporting Voldemort or even adopting a neutral stance in order to conduct business as usual once the war has ended. This could be cause enough for Griphook to betray the Trio once the Horcrux is retrieved from the Lestrange vault. Harry likely suspects that Griphook may double-cross him, but he has little choice but to place his faith in him for now and follow through with their plan.
It should be noted that Griphook has personally been ill-treated by Voldemort's Snatchers and lieutenants, and is affronted by the Dark Lord's agents interfering in Gringotts' operations. One wonders why he resists Harry's efforts to fight Voldemort, demanding payment for what should result in more freedom if Harry succeeds. While this is left unanswered, Griphook seems fully in character. His mercenary nature would likely result in his exacting payment for any action he takes; that he is Harry's only hope to successfully enter Gringotts allows him to demand a higher price, which he does. He may also be anticipating that returning the Sword to Goblinkind will restore his prestige, possibly earning him a promotion within Gringotts or lead to other Goblin endeavors. And quite likely Griphook believes that Harry's effort is doomed to fail, and that even with Griphook's help, Voldemort will remain in power.
The rift between Harry and Lupin has finally been healed, and, partially due to Harry, Lupin realizes that not only is he a suitable husband and father, but a worthy human being and valuable Order of the Phoenix member, despite being a Werewolf. His being a Werewolf has actually been a tremendous asset to the Order, allowing him to infiltrate, at great personal risk, Fenrir Greyback's lycanthropic realm to gather valuable information. Lupin asking Harry to be godfather to his newborn son not only shows how deeply he cares for and respects Harry, but also that he and Tonks believe that Harry, being an orphan, is the most qualified person to guide and mentor baby Teddy should anything happen to them, though there is no certainty that any will survive.
Although it is never explained, it seems odd that Fleur would ask Mr. Ollivander, rather than Bill, to return Aunt Muriel's tiara. The author may be directing the reader's attention to this type of object for a specific reason.
- Why does Harry no longer want to pursue the Deathly Hallows, even though Dumbledore obviously pointed him in that direction?
- Why does Lupin ask Harry to be godfather to his newborn son? Why does Harry accept?
- Does Harry intend to honor his agreement with Griphook? Will Griphook honor it? Explain.
- If the Deathly Hallows are not directly related to Harry's mission, why would Dumbledore bring them to Harry's attention?
- Why would Fleur request that Ollivander, rather than Bill, return Aunt Muriel's tiara?
- Does the Sword of Gryffindor actually belong to the Goblins as Griphook claims?
- Why do Goblins consider Wizards untrustworthy? Is this distrust warranted?
- Are Goblins trustworthy? Explain.
- Hermione states that history books written by wizards can be inaccurate. Is this a valid statement? Explain. Does that apply to general history books?
Like the cup of tea that Dudley left outside Harry's bedroom door in Chapter 2, Rowling has guided the reader's attention to another seemingly insignificant object, a tiara, also known as a diadem. This would be the second tiara that has been pointed out to us, the other being the one on Rowena Ravenclaw's statue at the Lovegoods'. As we now believe, one Horcrux is Hufflepuff's Cup. That would seem to indicate that Ravenclaw's Diadem is a likely candidate to be another Horcrux, though its whereabouts are still unknown.
As mentioned, Harry's discussions with Ollivander were designed to determine who currently has the Elder Wand's allegiance. Despite Ollivanders' explanation, Harry still doubts that Voldemort's control over the Elder Wand is incomplete, and he will continue to doubt this until he directly confronts the Dark Lord. Harry fears he has given Voldemort an unbeatable weapon, and interestingly, this worry's description completely overshadows, for most readers, determining its ownership. The ongoing debates with Griphook are important here, as they serve to distract Harry, and us, from considering the Elder Wand's true ownership, something that becomes critically important shortly. Harry's mind might be eased, somewhat, if he considers that while the Elder Wand is truly the most powerful wand, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald, who then commanded the Elder Wand. Obviously, while that wand may make its owner more powerful, it does not make him invincible.
This chapter's action mainly focuses on limning Griphook's character, setting the scene for his quick departure in Gringotts' subterranean caverns, bearing the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry comes to dislike Griphook, a feeling we readers are apt to echo by this chapter's end, and that Griphook likely feels about Harry. Because of this preliminary description, Griphook's sudden exit, while dismaying, is certainly true to his character.