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.
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).