The novel is preceded by two epigraphs. The first, a passage from Aeschylus’s play The Libation Bearers
, laments the violent death and torment that humans are subject to, but holds out the hope that the children of those who suffer may live to triumph.
The second epigraph comes from William Penn’s More Fruits of Solitude
and states that friendship is immortal, able to survive the death of one of the friends.
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Chapter One - The Dark Lord Ascending
Snape and the Death Eater Yaxley meet outside of Lucius Malfoy’s house and proceed inside, taking seats at a table where Voldemort and his followers are already assembled. A bound figure dangles upside down above the center of the table, hanging by a rope.
Snape tells Voldemort that Harry Potter is to be moved from his place of safety on the next Saturday at nightfall. Yaxley claims that he has heard contradictory intelligence, and that Harry is to be moved later, on the thirtieth of the month. Voldemort indicates that he knows the source of Snape’s intelligence, and he makes it plain that he believes Snape rather than Yaxley.
Yaxley, still seeking Voldemort’s approval, reveals that he has corrupted a member of the Ministry of Magic, a wizard named Pius Thicknesse. Yaxley reports that several Death Eaters are also positioned within the department of Magical Transport, making them better able to track Harry if he tries to travel by magical means. Voldemort announces that he plans to capture Harry while he is being transported.
A loud wailing, seemingly arising from below the floor, interrupts the gathering. Voldemort sends Wormtail out of the room to quiet "the prisoner" (presumably not the one above the table, since the sound comes from below and Wormtail has to leave the room to quiet the prisoner in question).
Voldemort makes Lucius Malfoy lend him his wand. Voldemort taunts Lucius and the rest of the Malfoy family, accusing them of being uncomfortable with his presence. Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy’s sister, declares that his presence is the greatest possible pleasure, but Voldemort taunts all of them about the fact that Narcissa and Bellatrix’s niece (Nymphadora Tonks) has just married Remus Lupin, the werewolf.
Finally, Voldemort turns the room’s attention to the bound prisoner above the table, revealing it to be Charity Burbage, a Hogwarts professor who taught Muggle Studies and promoted the view that Muggles are not so different from Wizards, and that the increasing prevalence of Mudbloods is a good thing. Charity Burbage appeals to Snape, who does nothing to help her, and Voldemort kills her with the Killing Curse.
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Chapter Two - In Memoriam
Harry stumbles out of his room at the Dursleys’ house, clutching his bleeding hand. On his way to the bathroom he steps on a cup of tea inexplicably left outside of his bedroom door. After treating his finger and cleaning up the broken tea cup, he returns to his room, where he has spent the morning sorting the belongings in his school trunk into things he’ll no longer need, and a smaller pile of things he will keep with him now that he’s left Hogwarts and is about to leave the Dursleys’. He has just cut his finger on a shard of the mirror that Sirius gave him in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
, of which all that now remains is the single shard.
Harry reads two newspaper articles commemorating Albus Dumbledore. "Albus Dumbledore Remembered," by Dumbledore’s schoolmate and longtime friend, Elphias Doge, describes Dumbledore’s brilliant career at school, despite his having a father imprisoned at Azkaban for attacking Muggles; his relationship with his less intellectual younger brother, Aberforth; his struggles following the deaths of his mother and sister; his triumph over the Dark wizard Grindelwald in a famous duel in 1945; and his brilliant career as headmaster. Harry feels regret that he knew so little of what there was to know about Dumbledore’s life and wishes he’d asked Dumbledore about himself.
The second article is an interview with the journalist Rita Skeeter, who has just written a biography of Dumbledore called The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
. In the interview, Skeeter indicates that her book debunks the supposed accomplishments that Dumbledore is famous for, reveals dark secrets about his family, and depicts Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry Potter in a sinister and unhealthy light. Disgusted by Skeeter’s lies, Harry puts down the paper.
Harry picks up the broken mirror shard, turning it in his hands as he thinks bitterly about Rita Skeeter’s lies. He catches a flash of bright blue in the shard, which reminds him of Dumbledore’s blue eyes. He decides he must have imagined it, because there’s nothing blue in the room that it could have been reflecting.
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Chapter Three - The Dursleys Departing
Harry’s uncle Vernon summons Harry from his room. Harry goes downstairs to find all three Dursleys—Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley—sitting in the living room dressed for traveling. Uncle Vernon announces that he’s changed his mind: He doesn’t believe Harry that Uncle Vernon and the Dursleys are in danger, and he’s not going into hiding with the help of the Order of the Phoenix. Repeating a discussion they’ve had many times already, Harry explains that once he turns seventeen, the protection charm that keeps them all safe will break, and Voldemort and the Death Eaters will torture and kill the Dursleys. The Ministry of Magic cannot protect them because the Death Eaters have already infiltrated it.
Dudley breaks in and announces that he’s going to go with the representatives of the Order, so Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia have no choice but to acquiesce as well. Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle, members of the Order of the Phoenix, arrive to take the Dursleys into hiding. Dudley surprises his own family and Harry by inquiring where Harry is going to go. He surprises them even further by declaring that, in contrast to what Harry believes the Dursleys think of him, he does not consider Harry to be "a waste of space," and declares that Harry saved his life. Harry realizes that Dudley actually is grateful for Harry’s saving him from the dementor that had attacked him the summer before, and that the tea cup outside his bedroom must have been put there by Dudley in a clumsy attempt at solicitude. Harry shakes hands with Dudley, and the Dursleys depart.
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Chapter Four - The Seven Potters
Harry looks around at the house, remembering sadly his younger self and the life he led in that place. Suddenly, an unexpectedly large contingent of wizards arrives in the backyard to escort Harry to his new place of safety. Hagrid is there, as well as Ron, Hermione, Fleur Delacour, Mad-Eye Moody, Fred and George Weasley, Bill Weasley, Arthur Weasley, Remus Lupin, Tonks, Kingsley, and Mundungus Fletcher. Moody announces that they’ve had to change plans because Pius Thicknesse has gone over to Voldemort and all Ministry-regulated means of transportation are dangerous to them.
Moody’s new plan is to send Harry to Tonks’s parents’ house while six decoys go to other houses. Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Fleur, and Mundungus will take Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as Harry, and each of them will fly with one escort. Harry protests at putting his friends in danger by using them as decoys, but since everyone accepts the risk, he reluctantly agrees. Harry provides hairs for the potion, which the six designated decoys take, changing them into copies of Harry. Harry gets into the sidecar of a flying motorbike driven by Hagrid, and the entire party rises into the air.
Almost immediately, Harry and Hagrid find themselves surrounded by at least thirty hooded Death Eaters. They flee, with the Death Eaters in hot pursuit, shooting Killing Curses at them, one of which kills Harry’s owl, Hedwig. Harry tries to fend their pursuers off with spells, but when Hagrid shoots dragon fire out of the back of the motorbike, the sidecar splits off. Harry recognizes Stan Shunpike as one of the pursuers, and a Death Eater whom he does not recognize somehow identifies Harry as the real Harry Potter. The Death Eaters immediately depart, but quickly return with Voldemort himself, who is intent on killing Harry personally. Hagrid leaps onto a Death Eater’s broom and crashes to the ground. Threatened by Voldemort at close range, Harry feels his wand hand come up involuntarily and deliver a warding spell he doesn’t even recognize or know how to cast, shattering Voldemort’s wand, then Harry crashes the bike into a pond.
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Chapter Five - Fallen Warrior
Harry wakes up, the injuries he sustained in the chase healed. He finds that he’s at Tonks’s parents’ house, and that Ted Tonks has healed both him and Hagrid. The protective charm on the house kept Voldemort and the Death Eaters from following them inside its boundaries. Harry promises to send Mr. Tonks word when he finds out what happened to Tonks (the daughter), and they use a Portkey to travel to the Burrow, the Weasley family home.
Hagrid and Harry find an anxious Mrs. Weasley awaiting them at the Burrow. None of the others who helped transport Harry has arrived yet. Lupin arrives with George Weasley, who has had his ear cut off by a curse from Snape, who was among the attackers. Realizing that they must have been betrayed, Lupin tests whether Harry is who he appears to be by asking what animal was in the room when Harry first met him in his office. Harry answers correctly that it was a grindylow. Lupin and Harry discuss how Harry must have revealed to the Death Eaters that he was the real Harry when he cast a Disarming spell on Stan Shunpike, not wanting to do mortal harm to a pursuer who may be under mind control. Lupin urges Harry to stop pulling punches, particularly when Disarming seems to have become Harry’s predictable signature spell. Kingsley and Hermione arrive safely, then Mr. Weasley and Fred, then Ron and Tonks, then Bill and Fleur. Bill and Fleur describe how they saw Mundungus Fletcher panic and Disapparate, leaving Mad-Eye to die by Voldemort’s curse, right at the beginning of the chase.
The entire party discusses how their plans might have been betrayed to Voldemort, noting that Voldemort apparently did not know of the plan to use the six Harry decoys. Harry wants to leave the Burrow, frustrated that his presence puts his allies in danger, but his friends won’t hear of it.
His scar throbbing, Harry goes outside to get some air, and as the pain in his scar reaches its peak, he can hear Voldemort berating and torturing his prisoner, the famous wand maker Ollivander, who had told Voldemort that the connection between Harry’s wand and Voldemort’s could be circumvented by Voldemort’s attacking Harry with a borrowed wand. Ollivander’s proposed scheme did not work, and the wand Voldemort borrowed from Lucius Malfoy is now shattered and useless. Harry tells Ron and Hermione about his vision, and Hermione angrily urges him to keep the dangerous mental connection between himself and Voldemort closed.
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Chapter Six - The Ghoul in Pajamas
Harry wishes he could put Mad-Eye Moody’s death behind him by embarking on his quest to destroy the Horcruxes—the objects into which Voldemort has placed fragments of his soul, making him immortal as long as those objects survive. Harry wants to discuss the quest with Ron and Hermione, who agreed to accompany him in the previous book, but Mrs. Weasley interferes, first by approaching each of them in turn and trying to dissuade them from leaving Hogwarts, then by keeping them busy and apart from each other by having them help her prepare the house for the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur. Finally the three friends steal a moment to meet in Ron’s room, and Ron and Hermione reveal the lengths they’ve gone to in preparing for the quest.
Hermione has enchanted her Muggle (non-wizard) parents into changing their names, forgetting that they have a daughter, and moving to Australia so that Voldemort will not be able to find them. Ron has given the household ghoul a pair of his own pajamas and enchanted the ghoul with red hair and pustules, so that when Ron fails to return to Hogwarts, his parents can give out the information that he’s ill with an infectious disease called spattergroit, which would cause him to look somewhat like the enchanted ghoul does. Anyone who checks in on Ron will see the ghoul in his bed, assume that Ron’s really
sick, and flee before becoming infected.
Most important, Hermione reveals that she used a spell to steal the books on Horcruxes, which Dumbledore had removed from the library for safekeeping, out of Dumbledore’s office after he died. She explains that Voldemort is unlikely to try to reassemble his own soul by destroying the Horcruxes himself, because doing so requires that the person who made the Horcruxes suffer the pain of remorse for their actions, which seems contrary to Voldemort’s nature. But for Harry and his friends to destroy them will be very difficult, because only very destructive and dangerous items, such as the basilisk’s fang that Harry used to destroy Tom Riddle’s diary (the first of the Horcruxes) in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
, can be sure to do the job.
Mr. and Mrs. Delacour, Fleur’s parents, arrive, and Harry feels guilty about the strain that his presence, and the added security, is putting on Mrs. Weasley.
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Chapter Seven - The Will of Albus Dumbledore
Harry dreams that he’s walking in the mountains looking for a man who holds the answer to a problem that’s bothering him. Ron wakes Harry and tells him that Harry was muttering the name Gregorovitch in his sleep. Harry realizes that he was seeing through Voldemort’s eyes in his dream, as he has done before, and he thinks he recognizes the name Gregorovitch, though he can’t place where he might have heard it.
Harry perks up when he remembers that it’s his seventeenth birthday, and the Trace (a spell with which the Ministry of Magic can track any spell cast by an underage—meaning under seventeen—wizard) is broken, allowing him to practice magic freely. Harry’s friends and Ron’s family give Harry presents. Ginny draws Harry into her room and gives him a passionate kiss, but Ron breaks in angrily and interrupts them, afterward scolding Harry for toying with his sister. Harry promises not to kiss her again.
Harry’s birthday dinner is interrupted by the arrival of Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, who insists on speaking to Harry, Ron, and Hermione in private. Scrimgeour has brought each of them a bequest from Dumbledore’s will. Dumbledore has left Ron a device called a Deluminator, a device that can suck all the light out of a room or turn the light on again. He left Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard
, a collection of fairy tales familiar to virtually everyone raised by wizards. To Harry, Dumbledore bequeathed the first Snitch he ever caught, saved from his first Quidditch match. Dumbledore’s will also bequeathed to Harry the sword of Godric Gryffindor, but Scrimgeour maintains that the sword was not Dumbledore’s to give. (Presumably he’s about to say it belongs at Hogwarts in the headmaster’s study, where in fact it is; they interrupt Scrimgeour before he can finish.)
As Hermione forces Scrimgeour to admit, he has kept these items for the full thirty-one days allowed by law for the Ministry to study and test willed items for Dark magic or curses. Having failed to find out anything about the items, he questions the three friends closely about why Dumbledore might have left these seemingly frivolous, even inappropriate, bequests. Harry, Ron, and Hermione put Scrimgeour off with flippant and unhelpful responses, but in truth they are as mystified about the bequests as Scrimgeour. Scrimgeour guesses that there is something inside the Snitch, and that it will open only at Harry’s touch, and he watches closely as Harry takes it in his hand. The Snitch does not open, and Scrimgeour departs, frustrated.
After Scrimgeour has gone, Harry reminds his friends that he caught his first Snitch in his mouth, though he avoided mentioning this fact in front of Scrimgeour. Now he places the Snitch in his mouth again, and though it does not open, words appear on it: "I open at the close."
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Chapter Eight - The Wedding
On the afternoon following Harry’s birthday, the Weasleys host the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. To keep secret the fact that he’s hiding at the Weasleys’, Harry takes Polyjuice Potion to disguise himself as a red-headed boy from the village, passing himself off as the Weasleys’ "Cousin Barny."
Among the guests who attend are Luna Lovegood and her father, Xenophilius Lovegood. Both are dressed in vibrant yellow robes, and Xenophilius wears a chain with a pendant shaped like a triangular eye. Luna sees through Harry’s disguise effortlessly, though Xenophilius is not as discerning as his daughter.
Viktor Krum, the professional Quidditch player with whom Hermione was briefly infatuated in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
, arrives as Fleur’s guest, much to Ron’s consternation. After the wedding ceremony, Krum takes a seat next to Harry and asks him about Xenophilius Lovegood. Krum is infuriated by the symbol Xenophilius wears, recognizing it as a symbol associated with the Dark wizard Grindelwald, who had terrorized the Continental European magical community before he was finally defeated in a duel by Dumbledore. Krum’s grandfather had been among those murdered by Grindelwald, and Krum had seen the triangular eye symbol at his school, Durmstrang, where Grindelwald had carved it into the wall. In his agitation, Krum takes out his wand and taps it menacingly against his own leg, prompting Harry to remember where he had heard the name "Gregorovitch": the name belongs to the famous wand maker who made Krum’s wand, as Harry had learned in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
After the wedding ceremony, Harry recognizes Elphias Doge, the author of the sympathetic obituary to Dumbledore that he read in Chapter Two. Harry sits next to Doge and strikes up a conversation, hoping to discover whether there is any basis to Rita Skeeter’s accusation that Dumbledore was involved in the Dark Arts as a young man. Doge vehemently denies this, but Harry feels as though Doge is not giving him the whole story. Before he can pursue the subject, they are interrupted by Ron’s obnoxious Aunt Muriel, who sits between them, proclaiming what a fan she is of Rita Skeeter and taunting Doge for skating over the sticky patches in Dumbledore’s life story.
Aunt Muriel seems to know all of the nastiest rumors about Dumbledore’s personal history, and over Doge’s increasingly indignant denials, she drags them all out in front of Harry. According to the rumors, Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, was a Squib—a child born to wizard parents who lacks any magical abilities. Supposedly, Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra, a terrifying woman, kept Ariana locked in the basement out of shame for her abnormality, and Dumbledore did nothing to stop it. Ariana may or may not have killed her mother in desperation, but Albus most likely murdered Ariana after Kendra’s death. Albus’s brother, Aberforth, subsequently broke Dumbledore’s nose at Ariana’s funeral.
Aunt Muriel’s source for all of these rumors is a woman named Bathilda Bagshot, who lived in Godric’s Hollow (the town where Harry was born and where his parents were murdered) at the same time that Dumbledore’s family lived there, the time immediately following the imprisonment of Dumbledore’s father and extending through the deaths of his mother and sister. Aunt Muriel heard all of these rumors from Bathilda at roughly the time the events themselves took place. Though Bathilda Bagshot is now quite senile, Aunt Muriel reports that Bathilda is Rita Skeeter’s main source.
Harry is shocked at these reports about his dead friend, not least that Dumbledore lived in Godric’s Hollow like Harry, and that they both have relatives buried there, yet Dumbledore never saw fit to mention these things to Harry.
The wedding celebration is cut short by the appearance of Kingsley Shacklebolt’s Patronus, a silver lynx. (A Patronus, as we learn in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
, is a charm that witches and wizards use to send out an animal-shaped manifestation of themselves. It can be used to send messages, and is also one of the only things that can ward off a dementor.) The lynx tells the guests that Scrimgeour is dead, the Ministry has fallen, and the Death Eaters are coming.
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Chapter Nine - A Place to Hide
The crowd panics and flees. Masked and cloaked figures appear—the Death Eaters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione join hands and Disapparate (teleport) under Hermione’s direction. They arrive in Tottenham Court Road, a busy street in London, in the Muggle rather than the wizarding world.
Though they have been forced to flee the Weasley household with no notice, Hermione reveals that they are better prepared than Ron and Harry think, because Hermione has packed clothes, Harry’s Invisibility Cloak, all the books they might need, a magic tent, their supply of Polyjuice Potion, and many other things, all in a tiny beaded handbag that takes up little space and weighs nothing.
The three friends go to a cafe to plan their next move, debating where they might go now that Voldemort has taken over the Ministry. Two burly workmen suddenly pull out wands and attack them, revealing themselves to be Death Eaters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione fight these attackers off with difficulty, having no idea how the Death Eaters could have found them so quickly, or how to evade them better in future.
Harry and his friends decide to go to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, the house that Sirius Black left to Harry in his will. They can only hope that the jinxes and charms on the house will be enough to hide them from Snape and the other Death Eaters. Inside the house, small signs, such as a knocked-over umbrella stand, give Harry and the others the impression that someone has been in the house, but it appears to be empty now. Suddenly they feel their tongues raveling and then unraveling, the effect of a Tongue-Tying charm Mad-Eye Moody put upon the house to prevent them from revealing its secrets. (Snape, as a trusted friend of Dumbledore’s, has entered the house before and so may be able to do so again, but Mad-Eye’s spell should prevent Snape from telling anyone else about it.)
Harry feels a burning pain in his scar and vicariously experiences Voldemort’s rage—the connection between their minds is apparently opening up again. Ron badgers Harry about what Voldemort is doing, fearful that Voldemort has attacked Ron’s family, while Hermione scolds Harry for exposing himself to a dangerous connection that he had previously worked so hard to close using the technique of Occlumency.
Ron’s father’s Patronus arrives to say that the family is safe but being watched. Sick with the painful sensation in his scar, Harry excuses himself and goes to the bathroom so he can have his vision in peace. Harry sees through Voldemort’s eyes as Voldemort tortures one of the Death Eaters who attacked them in the cafe, punishing him for summoning Voldemort but then letting Harry escape.
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Chapter Ten - Kreacher’s Tale
Harry wakes up early and explores the house. He goes into Sirius’s room, with its Gryffindor banners and photographs of Muggle women in bikinis, demonstrating his rebelliousness toward his own family. In the room, Harry finds the first page of a letter to Sirius from Harry’s mother, Lily Potter. The letter reveals that Sirius had given Harry his first broomstick, for his first birthday; that Harry’s parents had known Bathilda Bagshot; and that Dumbledore had, for some unmentioned reason, borrowed James Potter’s Invisibility Cloak around the time the letter was written (soon after Harry had turned one and thus very near the time of James and Lily Potter’s murder).
Harry searches further and finds a torn piece of a photograph referred to in the letter, showing himself at one year old, riding a broomstick near his father’s legs. The other parts of the letter, and of the photograph, are missing.
Harry makes up his mind that he wants to go to Godric’s Hollow to meet Bathilda Bagshot and visit his parents’ graves, hoping to find information about his own parents and about Dumbledore’s past. When he tells this to Hermione, however, she tells him it’s a waste of valuable time, and that he knew Dumbledore better than Aunt Muriel or Rita Skeeter, and thus shouldn’t be bothered by the rumors. Hermione reminds him that their urgent task is to find the Horcruxes, the destruction of which will enable them to defeat Voldemort.
Harry and Hermione notice the room belonging to Sirius’s deceased younger brother, Regulus Arcturus Black, who had been a Death Eater. Seeing his name on the door, they realize he may be the R.A.B. who signed his name to the false locket that Harry and Dumbledore recovered from the cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
— the R.A.B. who must have stolen the real locket Horcrux, which they need to find.
Hermione remembers with a shock that there had been a locket in the cabinet in the drawing room of the house the last time she’d been there—a locket that everyone had passed around and no one could open. Unfortunately, the locket is no longer there.
The only hope Harry and his friends have is that Kreacher, the bilious house-elf he inherited with the house, may have stolen the locket, as he used to steal back trinkets associated with the house whenever Sirius would try to throw them out, out of a sense of loyalty to his former masters and a desire to preserve the house as it was. Accordingly, they summon Kreacher.
Kreacher admits that he did steal the locket after it was thrown out two years ago, but he says that it’s now gone—stolen by Mundungus Fletcher. Kreacher refers to the locket as "Master Regulus’s," and Harry demands to know why, ordering Kreacher to tell them everything he knows about the locket.
Kreacher explains that after Sirius ran away from home and deserted his parents, Sirius’s younger brother Regulus (who had always been fond of Kreacher) became more and more involved in the Dark Arts. At the age of sixteen, Regulus joined Lord Voldemort. A year later, Regulus informed Kreacher that Lord Voldemort needed the services of a house-elf, and that Regulus had volunteered Kreacher, who then went to Voldemort to do his bidding.
What Voldemort needed Kreacher for was to test the defenses that he had set up to guard the locket Horcrux in the underground cavern—the defenses Harry and Dumbledore had encountered at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
. Voldemort made Kreacher drink the potion in the basin until it was all drunk, then he put the locket Horcrux in it and refilled it. Then Voldemort left Kreacher to die as the potion overpowered Kreacher with thirst, Kreacher went to drink from the lake, and the dead hands of the Inferi dragged him under the water.
But Voldemort seriously miscalculated by not taking into consideration the nature and ways of house elves. Kreacher had been ordered by his master Regulus to come back after helping Voldemort, so he was bound to return. More important, though no witch or wizard could Disapparate into or out of the cavern, house-elf magic works differently than wizard’s magic, so Kreacher was able to simply Disapparate from under the water, going back to his master Regulus.
Apparently, Regulus soon after had a change of heart about serving Voldemort, and he made Kreacher take him back to the underground cavern and show him the basin with the locket. Regulus drank the potion himself, stole the locket, and replaced it with the false one signed “R.A.B.” that Harry found. He ordered Kreacher to return home, never to reveal to Regulus’s family what had happened to him, and to destroy the locket, after which Kreacher saw Regulus dragged beneath the lake and killed. Kreacher returned to Grimmauld Place, unable ever to tell Mistress Black what had happened to her son, and unable to destroy the locket as ordered because of the powerful enchantments protecting it.
Though Harry nurses a grudge against Kreacher for betraying Sirius previously, Hermione forces Harry to see that Kreacher’s behavior has been both consistent and loyal, because Regulus never explicitly explained to Kreacher that he had changed his loyalties, and Sirius seemed to have betrayed his own family and household in leaving.
Harry orders Kreacher to find Mundungus Fletcher and bring him back to Grimmauld Place, but before Kreacher leaves, Harry presents him with Regulus’s false locket as a token for Kreacher to remember his former master by. Overcome with gratitude, Kreacher leaves to carry out Harry’s orders.
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Chapter Eleven - The Bribe
Kreacher does not return as fast as Harry hopes he will. He does not return that afternoon, or the next day, or the day after. Through the windows, Harry can see that Death Eaters are posted outside of the house, presumably watching for anyone entering or exiting.
The Death Eaters know the house is there, and that Harry owns it, because the Ministry of Magic has copies of every wizard’s will, but they can’t see it or enter it because of the enchantments on it.
Lupin arrives with news of the outside world. Harry is wanted for questioning by the Ministry. Wizards are being ordered to submit to interviews to prove they have wizarding parents. Anyone practicing magic who does not have wizarding parents (i.e., so-called "Mudbloods" like Hermione) will be presumed to have stolen magical secrets and will be liable for prosecution.
Lupin offers to accompany the three friends on their quest and provide protection, even if they are unable to tell him exactly what they are up to. He reveals that his wife Tonks is pregnant and staying at her parents’ house for safety, and admits that he regrets marrying her and bringing a half-werewolf child into the house, as the child will likely be an outcast.
Harry rejects Lupin’s offer angrily, calling Lupin a coward for seeking to abandon his own child. Lupin departs.
Still shaking with anger, Harry reads a newspaper Lupin left behind that contains an extract from Rita Skeeter’s biography of Dumbledore. Bathilda Bagshot is quoted, describing how Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra, shunned contact with other wizards when she relocated to Godric’s Hollow, and kept Ariana, Dumbledore’s sister, well out of sight. According to Bathilda, no one ever saw Ariana manifest any magical ability, so presumably she must have been a Squib.
Kreacher arrives with Mundungus Fletcher. Under forceful questioning, Mundungus admits that he stole the locket and was trying to sell it in Diagon Alley, when it was confiscated by a toadlike woman from the Ministry of Magic wearing a bow on her head—clearly Dolores Umbridge.
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Chapter Twelve - Magic is Might
As August wears on, the house itself remains unseen, but watchers in cloaks continue to loiter outside number twelve Grimmauld Place. During this time, Kreacher transforms himself into an extremely productive and helpful house-elf, cleaning, cooking, and keeping himself washed.
From the newspapers, Harry and his friends learn that Snape has been confirmed as headmaster of Hogwarts, and that two new professors have joined the staff. These siblings, the Amycus and Alecto Carrow, are both Death Eaters.
Hermione remembers that the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black that hangs in the house allows the Phineas within the painting to move between the painting in number twelve Grimmauld Place and the painting of him that hangs in the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts (Phineas is a former headmaster). Hermione takes the picture down and puts it in her bag so that it won’t be able to spy on them and report their secrets to Snape.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione begin stalking Ministry of Magic employees, using the Invisibility Cloak to study the patterns of movement in and out of the Ministry so they can try to infiltrate it and look for the locket in Umbridge’s office. Earlier than the others expect, Harry announces that they are as ready as they’re going to be, and they should try to break in the next day.
At dinner that night, Harry’s scar burns, and he has to excuse himself to go have a vision of Voldemort in the privacy of the bathroom. Through Voldemort’s eyes, he sees Voldemort knock on a door—somewhere in Europe where the houses have decorated gables—and ask for Gregorovitch. On being told by the woman who answers that she doesn’t know where Gregorovitch is, Voldemort kills the woman in front of her young children—and perhaps kills the children as well; the vision is unclear.
Hermione yells at Harry for allowing Voldemort to get into his head again. Harry tells his friends that Voldemort must be looking for Gregorovitch for answers about how Harry’s wand defeated Voldemort, because Harry knows it was no ability of his own that let him fight Voldemort off during the chase.
The next day, the three friends break into the Ministry of Magic by bringing Polyjuice Potion with them, waylaying employees before they enter the building, incapacitating them, taking hair samples, then using the potion mixed with the hair samples to impersonate the employees. Hermione assumes the identity of Mafalda Hopkirk, an assistant, whom they stun. Ron steals the identity of a man named Cattermole, a lowly support services employee who for some reason wants very much to go to work that day, even after Hermione makes him vomit uncontrollably by giving him an enchanted pastille to eat. Harry becomes a wizard named Runcorn, a senior member of the Ministry whom the Death Eaters at the Ministry respect and most normal people seem to fear.
Following the procedures they’ve learned in the days before, they use magic portals in public restrooms to teleport into the Ministry. Almost as soon as they arrive and get into the elevator, the Death Eater Yaxley sends Ron (disguised as Cattermole) on a maintenance job, telling him to make the enchanted rain in Yaxley’s office stop. Yaxley threatens Ron/Cattermole, alluding to the fact that Cattermole’s wife has been accused of being a Mudblood and has her hearing that very day.
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Chapter Thirteen - The Muggle-Born Registration Commission
Harry and Hermione continue on in the elevator to Level One, where they see Dolores Umbridge. Umbridge commandeers Hermione (disguised as Mafalda) to take notes at Umbridge’s Muggle-Born Registration Commission.
The new Minister of Magic, Pius Thicknesse, greets Harry (disguised as Runcorn). Harry says that he’s looking for Arthur Weasley, then, when he’s alone, he puts on the Invisibility Cloak and heads toward Umbridge’s office.
Outside Umbridge’s office is a room where employees are producing pamphlets warning of the dangers to wizarding society posed by Mudbloods. On the door to Umbridge’s office, Mad-Eye Moody’s magic eye looks out at the employees, watching them. Harry distracts these people with a Decoy Detonator and enters the office.
Once inside, Harry removes Moody’s eye and puts it in his pocket. As he searches the office, he comes upon Arthur Weasley’s file and notes that Weasley is being watched. He sees his own photograph on a poster above the words "Undesirable Number One," on which Umbridge has written "to punish." He sees a copy of the new Rita Skeeter book about Dumbledore. The locket is nowhere to be found.
Pius Thicknesse enters the office, and Harry, having failed to find what he’s searching for, sneaks past him out the door and goes back to the elevator. He encounters Ron, who is still working on Yaxley’s rain problem. He also encounters Arthur Weasley and tells him that he’s being watched, which makes Weasley think Runcorn is threatening him.
Harry proceeds to the room where Umbridge is conducting her hearings of suspected Mudbloods. Dementors guard the suspects. Hermione is there taking notes, as well as Yaxley, and Umbridge is just beginning to interview Mary Cattermole, whom she accuses of having obtained her wand by theft. Mary Cattermole tries to flatter Umbridge by complimenting a locket that Umbridge is wearing, which Harry recognizes as the Horcrux. Umbridge makes up a lie about the letters on the locket standing for members of her pureblood ancestry. Harry, enraged, casts spells to Stun Umbridge and Yaxley, then Hermione takes the locket, replaces it magically with a decoy, and the two lead Mary Cattermole and the other prisoners toward safety. They meet up with Ron and, urging the prisoners to escape and go into hiding, they join hands and Disapparate together.
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Chapter Fourteen - The Thief
Harry opens his eyes and finds himself in a forest. Hermione and Ron are there, but Ron is bleeding profusely, a huge chunk of his side missing. Hermione explains that he has been Splinched, meaning he left a part of himself behind while Disapparating. They treat his wound with a potion from Hermione’s bag, and Hermione tells Harry how she had taken them to Grimmauld Place, but Yaxley had grabbed hold of her so that she inadvertently took Yaxley with them, within the perimeter of the house’s protective enchantments. She was then able to slip out of Yaxley’s grip and bring them to these woods—the site of the Quidditch World Cup the year before—but now that Yaxley has gained entry to the house, they can no longer go back there.
Harry and Hermione set up the tent and cast protective charms on it, then they consider their situation. They do have the Horcrux, as Hermione had succeeded in taking the locket from Umbridge. As they are unable to open it and have no idea how to destroy it, all Harry can think to do for the moment is to wear it on a chain around his neck for safekeeping. Moreover, they have no idea where to start looking for any of the other Horcruxes, and they have little or nothing to eat while they try to figure it out.
Harry’s scar prickles and he sees through Voldemort’s eyes as Voldemort interrogates the wand maker Gregorovitch. Gregorovitch insists that he does not have what Voldemort wants, as it was stolen from him long ago. Voldemort, thinking he’s lying, reads his mind and sees a memory of a young, handsome blond man stealing the wand, stunning Gregorovitch with a spell, and escaping through a window. Voldemort draws back out of Gregorovitch’s mind, Gregorovitch screams, and there is a flash of green light as Voldemort kills Gregorovitch.
Hermione does not want to hear about Harry’s vision, being angry at his letting it occur. Harry describes it to Ron, saying that the vision makes no sense. Why would Voldemort kill Gregorovitch, when surely Voldemort must have visited him because he wanted Gregorovitch to make a new, more powerful wand that could defeat Harry? Yet Voldemort made no mention of such a desire.
Harry reflects that the mischievous-looking blond youth must be Voldemort’s next target. Harry thinks he’s seen this man before, but can’t think where.
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Chapter Fifteen - Goblin’s Revenge
Harry buries Moody’s eye in the forest. The trio move their camp near to a market town, and Harry goes to steal food, but he sees dementors and is unable to summon his Patronus to protect himself, so he has to leave. Back at the tent, Hermione realizes that Harry’s problem is that he’s wearing the Horcrux. The Horcrux exerts a negative magical influence, blocking the positive emotion needed to summon a Patronus. They agree to take turns wearing it, but it makes whoever wears it irritable and argumentative.
The three friends embark on a difficult phase of their quest, moving from place to place, procuring food irregularly and with difficulty, unable to agree on what to try next, and with tensions growing between them.
One night, as Ron and Hermione are bickering, they hear voices nearby and discover that Tonks’s father, a young wizard named Dean, and two goblins are traveling near them, all on the run from Voldemort and the Ministry. One of the goblins, who worked at Gringotts bank, tells his companions a remarkable story about his revenge against the wizards of the Ministry.
According to the goblin, three students at Hogwarts—Ginny, Neville, and Luna—broke into Snape’s office and stole the sword of Gryffindor, but were caught and punished. Snape had the sword sent to Gringotts, but the goblin says that the Gringotts goblins all recognized the sword as a fake—though they said nothing of this to Snape.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione take out the portrait of Phineas Black, force Phineas to wear a blindfold, and question him about whether he’d seen the sword removed or replaced from the headmaster’s office. The last time Phineas saw the sword, Dumbledore was using it to break a ring. Harry and his friends realize that Phineas is describing Dumbledore destroying a Horcrux—the ring of Marvolo Gaunt—and that the Sword of Gryffindor must be able to destroy such objects because it has been impregnated with basilisk venom. One of the sword’s properties is that it absorbs anything that makes it stronger, and Harry had used it to kill a basilisk. They deduce that Dumbledore left the sword to Harry in his will (knowing that it would not actually be delivered to Harry) to signal its importance, then made a fake sword to leave in the office. The only question remaining is where Dumbledore hid the real sword.
Despite this breakthrough, Ron is unimpressed by their progress. Frustrated and disappointed that Harry doesn’t have a better plan, and especially irritable because he’s wearing the Horcrux, he and Harry have a fight. Ron takes the Horcrux off, then asks Hermione if she’s staying with Harry or going with him. She says she’s staying, and Ron Disapparates.
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Chapter Sixteen - Godric’s Hollow
Hermione and Harry avoid talking about Ron. They wait for Ron to come back, knowing he’ll have no way of ever finding them again once they Disapparate from their current location. But Ron does not appear, and they move on to a new site. With Ron gone, and little idea what to do next, Harry and Hermione make a habit of bringing Phineas Nigellus’s portrait out of the bag and talking to Phineas, from whom they learn that at Hogwarts, Ginny, Neville, and Luna seem to be trying to continue Dumbledore’s Army, carrying out acts of low-grade mutiny against Snape.
Hermione, who has carefully studied The Tales of Beedle the Bard
, shows Harry an unexplained symbol that someone drew onto a page of the book after it was printed—a symbol that looks like a triangular eye, with a vertical line for a pupil. Harry recognizes it as the symbol Luna’s father was wearing at the wedding, and he tells Hermione how Krum had said it was Grindelwald’s mark.
Harry tells Hermione that he wants to go to Godric’s Hollow, and to his surprise—since she had previously said it was a waste of time—she agrees, having made up her mind that Godric’s Hollow is the most likely location of Gryffindor’s sword, since it was Godric Gryffindor’s birthplace. Harry reminds her that according to Aunt Muriel, Bathilda Bagshot still lives in Godric’s Hollow, and Hermione imagines that Dumbledore might have entrusted the sword to her.
Harry and Hermione plan their trip carefully, using some of their store of Polyjuice Potion, and go to Godric’s Hollow well disguised as middle-aged Muggles—wearing the Invisibility Cloak to boot. They realize when they get to the town that it is Christmas Eve. They go to the graveyard and see Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore’s graves. Hermione finds a grave that has the triangular symbol on it, beneath the name Ignotus Peverell, but Harry presses on, more interested in finding his parents’ grave.
Finally, they find it—the grave of Lily and James Potter, bearing the inscription "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Just as Harry realizes that he has brought nothing to leave at his parents’ grave, Hermione conjures a wreath for him to lay. Then they head out of the graveyard and back toward the town.
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Chapter Seventeen - Bathilda’s Secret
Thinking that they hear someone coming, Harry and Hermione leave the graveyard and put the Invisibility Cloak back on. As they walk along the street, they suddenly come upon what can only be the house of James and Lily Potter. The hedge and garden are overgrown, untended for sixteen years. The house itself is a ruin, with its top floor partially blown apart—evidence of Voldemort’s backfired curse.
As soon as they touch the gate, a commemorative wooden sign rises up, with golden letters explaining that the house, which is invisible to Muggles, has been kept in its destroyed state "as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family."
An old woman, heavily muffled and stooping, walks up the street and approaches them, beckoning them to follow, despite the fact that they are under the Invisibility Cloak and presumably unrecognizable in their disguises. Harry asks the woman if she’s Bathilda. The woman nods silently and beckons again, turning to lead them into another house.
Inside, Bathilda’s house is extremely dirty and full of unpleasant odors. Harry notes that a number of picture frames are missing their photographs. He sees a photograph of the young man who stole the wand from Gregorovitch, and realizes that he saw that young man in a picture in Rita Skeeter’s book, in which he was arm in arm with a teenage Dumbledore. He guesses that Rita Skeeter must have taken the missing pictures to reproduce in her book.
Harry asks Bathilda who the young man in the picture is, but she does not respond, instead beckoning Harry to accompany her upstairs while Hermione remains below. In the foul-smelling room upstairs, Harry asks Bathilda if she has something for him, hoping she will give him the sword of Gryffindor, but instead he experiences yet another vision through Voldemort’s mind, with Voldemort telling someone to “hold him there” and then flying through the night sky. Back in the room, Harry is horrified to see Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, emerge from within Bathilda’s dead body to attack him. Apparently Bathilda had been dead long before, and the snake was somehow animating her body. Hermione rushes into the room, and Harry and Hermione struggle against the snake both physically and with magic. Hermione manages to fend it off with a violent blasting curse, then Disapparates with Harry in tow.
At the moment they disappear, Harry sees through Voldemort’s eyes as Voldemort arrives on the scene and sees Harry and Hermione (in their disguised form) disappearing and escaping. Harry can feel Voldemort’s rage and frustration, and then he has a flashback, still from Voldemort’s perspective, of the night Voldemort killed Harry’s parents and tried to murder Harry. In the flashback, Voldemort stalks through Godric’s Hollow on Halloween night, frightening a child. He approaches the Potters’ house and sees the Potters through the window. Neither James nor Lily Potter is holding a wand, and the defenseless James goes down quickly before Voldemort’s Killing Curse. Voldemort expects Lily to stand aside while he kills Harry, but she does not, trying to shield Harry with her body and begging to be killed in his place. Voldemort kills her, then aims his wand carefully at Harry’s face. When he delivers the curse, instead of killing Harry, he feels himself ripped from his body, his own self now consisting of nothing but pain and terror.
After the flashback into Voldemort’s memory is over, Harry sees through Voldemort’s eyes as Voldemort picks up off the floor of Bathilda’s house the photograph of the thief who stole from Gregorovitch—the thief that Voldemort has been looking for all along. Harry curses himself for dropping the photograph, then realizes he is back in his own body again, no longer in Voldemort’s mind. Hermione tells him that he has been unconscious for hours, and that the Horcrux had been stuck to his flesh, necessitating her use of a severing charm to remove it.
Harry offers to stand guard while Hermione rests, but Hermione reveals that Harry’s wand was broken by her ricocheting curse. They attempt to repair it, but the damage is too great. In despair, and furious with Hermione for destroying his wand, Harry stoically borrows Hermione’s wand and goes to stand watch.
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Chapter Eighteen - The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
Harry is desolate at the loss of his wand, and frightened. Harry’s and Voldemort’s wands both had cores made from the same source—tail feathers from Albus Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, Fawkes. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
, Harry had been saved by the fact that his wand shared a core with Voldemort’s, because Voldemort’s curse did not work properly with Harry’s wand defending against it. Harry is sure that his wand, not his own magic, had somehow been responsible for his successfully evading Voldemort in the flight from the Dursleys’ house to the Tonkses’. Now that his wand is ruined, Harry feels unprotected.
Harry is filled with anger toward Dumbledore, who failed to tell him what he needed to know to complete his quest, and who left him no clue how to find the sword. By simply trying to figure out the meaning of Dumbledore’s bequest, Harry has now lost his wand and given Voldemort an important clue to whatever it is Voldemort’s looking for.
Hermione brings Harry Rita Skeeter’s book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
, having seen it in Bathilda’s house and picked it up. In his anger at Dumbledore, Harry looks forward with relish to the prospect of reading about his dead friend’s dirty secrets—without even having to ask Dumbledore’s permission.
Harry flips through the book, looking at the pictures, and discovers that the young man who stole the wand from Gregorovitch—the man Voldemort is now searching for—is Gellert Grindelwald. This fact is astounding to Harry and Hermione, because Grindelwald is the Dark wizard whom Dumbledore defeated in a duel decades earlier, yet in the photographs in the book, the teenage Grindelwald and Dumbledore seem to be the best of friends.
Harry and Hermione look for an explanation in the text of the book, and we see the excerpt they read. In it, Rita Skeeter claims that after his graduation from Hogwarts, Dumbledore was called home by news of his mother’s death, and that he went home to ensure his sister’s continued imprisonment. Bathilda Bagshot was at the time the only resident of Godric’s Hollow on speaking terms with Dumbledore’s mother, and that same summer that Dumbledore returned home, Bathilda was visited by her great-nephew, Gellert Grindelwald, a brilliant student of the Dark Arts at the Durmstrang Institute, who had recently been expelled for his illicit experiments. At Godric’s Hollow, Grindelwald and Dumbledore quickly struck up a close friendship.
Skeeter’s book reproduces a letter from Dumbledore to Grindelwald from this period, in which Dumbledore expresses the view that wizards should dominate and control Muggles for the Muggles’ own good—views that would have been anathema to the older Dumbledore, contradicting everything that he stood for. The book goes on to note that Dumbledore and Grindelwald parted ways two months later, not because Dumbledore had a change of heart, but because of Ariana’s sudden death. According to Bathilda, Dumbledore and his brother Aberforth got into a fistfight over her coffin, with Aberforth breaking Dumbledore’s nose and blaming him for Ariana’s death. Grindelwald quickly departed Godric’s Hollow to begin his terrifying career on the Continent, and Dumbledore did not intervene to stop him for a full five years. Rita Skeeter speculates about the role that either man might have played in killing Ariana, and at the meaning of the hitherto unknown bond between the two wizards.
Hermione reminds Harry that this book is by Rita Skeeter, a writer whom Harry knows from personal experience to be a malicious liar and fabricator, but Harry’s faith in Dumbledore is badly shaken. Hermione argues that Dumbledore was young at the time he wrote the letter, and that his whole life contradicts the sentiments expressed in it, but Harry is unconsoled, realizing that he is now as old as Dumbledore was then, and is already risking his life trying to defeat Dark wizards. Finally, Hermione tries to reassure Harry that Dumbledore loved him, but while Harry wishes he could believe her, he doesn’t.
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Chapter Nineteen - The Silver Doe
One cold night, when Harry and Hermione are camped in a snow-covered forest with Harry keeping watch, a silver doe, glimmering like moonlight, appears noiselessly before Harry and walks slowly away. Harry follows it, overcome by an instinct that tells him this is not Dark magic or a trap. After leading him into the forest, the doe disappears, and Harry finds that he’s now standing near a frozen pool. On shining a light from his wand at the pool, he sees that the Sword of Gryffindor lies at the bottom, under the ice.
Harry recalls that only true Gryffindors can retrieve the sword, and that Gryffindors are defined by daring, nerve, and chivalry. Accordingly, he strips off his clothes, breaks the ice, and plunges into the cold water. As soon as he is underwater, the Horcrux around his neck begins to choke him, and he blacks out. He wakes up beside the pool, having been pulled out by Ron Weasley, who has retrieved the sword from the pool and cut the Horcrux off of Harry’s neck. Ron tells Harry that he wants to return to the quest—if Harry will have him.
Harry tells Ron that as the retriever of the sword, Ron must be the one to use it to destroy the locket Horcrux. Harry has a sudden flash of insight that the way to open the locket must be to tell it to open in Parseltongue, the language of snakes, which Harry knows how to speak. Harry warns Ron to stab the locket quickly, before it can try to kill him, then he opens the locket.
The locket speaks to Ron, playing on his deepest fears, telling him that he’s the least loved of his mother’s children, that he will always be overshadowed by Harry, and that Hermione prefers Harry over him. Two bubbles rise up from the locket, looking like the heads of Harry and Hermione, and they taunt Ron, telling him how they laughed at his stupidity, cowardice, and most of all his presumption in thinking he could attract Hermione while Harry was in the picture. The two heads meet and kiss each other.
Ron brings the sword down and destroys the locket. Harry, having seen Ron’s fears manifested plainly, assures Ron that there’s nothing between Harry and Hermione. Ron apologizes for leaving, and they embrace.
Ron and Harry return to the tent, where Hermione flies into a rage and attacks Ron. When Ron finally gets an opportunity to speak, he tells how he had wanted to come back as soon as he Disapparated, but he was seized by a gang of Snatchers, thugs who kidnap Muggle-borns and blood traitors to claim a reward from the Ministry. Ron only barely managed to escape, and by the time he did, Harry and Hermione had moved to a new hiding place.
Hermione demands to know how Ron found them, and Ron explains that a few days before, he suddenly heard Hermione’s voice coming out of the Deluminator, saying Ron’s name and something about a wand. Harry remembers—this was the first time they had spoken Ron’s name since he had left, and Hermione had been recalling how Ron’s wand never worked again after it had been smashed in the flying car years before. A ball of light had come out of the Deluminator, and Ron had followed it, and then the ball of light went inside Ron, and Ron knew where to Disapparate to in order to find them. The silver doe appeared to him, just as it did to Harry, leading him to the pool in time to save Harry.
Hermione finally accepts Ron’s story and his reappearance in their group. Ron gives Harry a spare wand that he stole from the Snatchers during their escape, and they go to bed.
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.: Continue To Part Two
- Disclaimer -
Thank you to SparkNotes for this information.