Bargaining with Griphook

Harry speaks with Griphook at Shell Cottage, after narrowly escaping Malfoy Manor

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling

'Right,’ said Harry. ‘Well, I need some help, Griphook, and you can give it to me.’

The goblin made no sign of encouragement, but continued to frown at Harry as though he had never seen anything like him. ‘I need to break into a Gringotts vault.’

Harry had not meant to say it so baldly, the words were forced from him as pain shot through his lightning scar and he saw, again, the outline of Hogwarts. He closed his mind firmly. He needed to deal with Griphook first. Ron and Hermione were staring at Harry as though he had gone mad.

‘Harry’ said Hermione, but she was cut off by Griphook.

‘Break into a Gringotts vault?’ repeated the goblin, wincing a little as he shifted his position upon the bed. ‘It is impossible.’

‘No, it isn’t,’ Ron contradicted him. ‘It’s been done.’

‘Yeah,’ said Harry. ‘The same day I first met you, Griphook. My birthday, seven years ago.’

‘The vault in question was empty at the time,’ snapped the goblin, and Harry understood that even though Griphook had left Gringotts, he was offended at the idea of its defences being breached. ‘Its protection was minimal.’

‘Well, the vault we need to get into isn’t empty, and I’m guessing its protection will be pretty powerful,’ said Harry. ‘It belongs to the Lestranges.’

He saw Hermione and Ron look at each other, astonished, but there would be time enough to explain after Griphook had given his answer.

‘You have no chance,’ said Griphook flatly. ‘No chance at all. “ If you seek beneath our floors, a treasure that was never yours

Thief, you have been warned, beware ” yeah, I know, I remember,’ said Harry. ‘But I’m not trying to get myself any treasure, I’m not trying to take anything for personal gain. Can you believe that?’

The goblin looked slantwise at Harry, and the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead prickled, but he ignored it, refusing to acknowledge its pain or its invitation.

‘If there was a wizard of whom I would believe that they did not seek personal gain,’ said Griphook finally, ‘it would be you, Harry Potter. Goblins and elves are not used to the protection, or the respect, that you have shown this night. Not from wand-carriers.’

‘Wand-carriers,’ repeated Harry: the phrase fell oddly upon his ears as his scar prickled, as Voldemort turned his thoughts northwards, and as Harry burned to question Ollivander, next door.

‘The right to carry a wand,’ said the goblin quietly, ‘has long been contested between wizards and goblins.’

‘Well, goblins can do magic without wands,’ said Ron.

‘That is immaterial! Wizards refuse to share the secrets of wandlore with other magical beings, they deny us the possibility of extending our powers!’

‘Well, goblins won’t share any of their magic, either,’ said Ron. ‘You won’t tell us how to make swords and armour the way you do. Goblins know how to work metal in a way wizards have never’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ said Harry, noting Griphook’s rising colour. ‘This isn’t about wizards versus goblins or any other sort of magical creature’

Griphook gave a nasty laugh.

‘But it is, it is about precisely that! As the Dark Lord becomes ever more powerful, your race is set still more firmly above mine! Gringotts falls under wizarding rule, house-elves are slaughtered, and who amongst the wand-carriers protests?’

‘We do!’ said Hermione. She had sat up straight, her eyes bright. ‘We protest! And I’m hunted quite as much as any goblin or elf, Griphook! I’m a Mudblood!’

‘Don’t call yourself’ Ron muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goblin twisted his beard around his finger again.

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

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

‘So young,’ he said finally, ‘to be fighting so many.’

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

‘I shall ... think about it,’ said Griphook maddeningly.

‘But’ Ron started angrily, Hermione nudged him in the ribs. ‘Thank you,’ said Harry.

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

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


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling