"You can keep the things of bronze and stone and give me one man to remember me just once a year."
When Dobby first came to Malfoy Manor as part of Narcissa Black's dowry, he had been heartbroken to see that the Malfoys, unlike the Blacks, did not honor the house elves who had died in their service by mounting their heads on the walls. In time, he was to learn that the other Noble Houses thought the Blacks more than a little morbid for the bizarre practice.
The Blacks treated their servants like scum, but they tolerated their desire to be remembered, at least amongst themselves.
The Malfoy's elves, however, passed their days in dank obscurity and died without a trace. Sometimes Dobby would wonder if his cruel masters would even notice he had at long last dropped dead at their feet or how long he would lay on the floor of a seldom used room until the next house elf arrived to dispose of his body.
Perhaps it was the mounted heads to which he had aspired in his young life that made him want to do something worthwhile before he disappeared as if he had never been. Perhaps it was a simple rebellion against those who would use him and not even forget him – you cannot forget what you have never acknowledged. Perhaps that was what made him seek out Harry Potter. He had only thought to warn him. He had not meant to find something better.
Every time Harry Potter remembered his name – even when he remembered it as the crazy elf who kept nearly getting him killed – Dobby felt his heart swell and his courage mount.
When Harry Potter called him his friend, when he wore the socks Dobby had knitted for him, when he called on Dobby in his times of distress…Dobby could only think with scorn of those mounted heads with names written in a vain delusion that the elves were not just as forgotten as if, like the Malfoys, the Blacks forbid the elves from memorializing their own.
He would not have cared about a headstone, even one proudly proclaiming him free. Harry Potter, he knew, would remember his name when he had gone. What was a mounted head on a wall compared to that?