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.
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.
The arrival of the Order of the Phoenix in Chapter Three sets aside for the moment Harry’s internal conflicts and doubts and sets up a fast-paced action sequence: the flight from the Dursleys’ house. This sequence establishes that the danger from Voldemort is very real. Voldemort has become powerful and unafraid to attack Harry openly and in force, and he and his followers will continue pursuing Harry, keeping him on the run for the rest of the novel.
Moody’s comments about the Ministry recall the Death Eaters’ meeting that we witnessed in the first chapter, demonstrating that the Order is well aware of the betrayals of Pius Thicknesse and the corruption of the Ministry that Yaxley had reported to Voldemort. More troubling is the fact that we can now see how good Snape’s intelligence was—Snape knew the true date of Harry’s departure and saw through the false trails the Order had laid. In other words, Snape’s (and thus Voldemort’s) intelligence is better than the Order’s. And indeed, from the moment they leave, it’s clear that the Death Eaters have the advantage, and things do not go according to plan.
As the extent of the deaths and injuries sustained in the chase are revealed in Chapter Six, a conflict simmers between Harry and the other members of the Order over their right to risk dying for him, and his right to fight the battle on his own terms—without killing people like Stan Shunpike. Nominally, Harry (and Ron and Hermione) are now supposed to be joining forces with the Order of the Phoenix and fighting Voldemort as adults, without being protected and shepherded like students or children. However, even though nobody in the Order openly calls him a child, the transition is not a smooth one. Harry is younger, weaker, and less experienced than characters like Lupin, and yet Harry is at the center, in a sense is even the leader, of the struggle now. Lupin, a powerful adult, visibly chafes at what he perceives to be Harry’s timidity. The dynamic here is not unlike that in Tolkien’s The Lord of Rings, in which the relatively weak and inexperienced hobbits shoulder the destiny of completing the quest and banishing the Dark Lord, while more typically heroic and formidable characters like Aragorn are forced to restrain themselves and get out of the hobbits’ way.