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.