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.

Analysis: Chapters Eighteen–Nineteen

Chapter Eighteen presents Harry with his chance to finally see the dirt on Dumbledore. The excerpt from the book contains the worst Rita Skeeter has dug up on Dumbledore, seeming to prove that Dumbledore wanted to dominate Muggles and aided and encouraged the notorious and murderous Dark wizard, Grindelwald. The only possibilities seem to be that Skeeter is lying or distorting the truth, or that she is telling the truth about Dumbledore and Dumbledore changed his mind later in life. It is, however, difficult to deny that Dumbledore once had these views because of the letter reproduced in Dumbledore’s own handwriting.

Hermione does not have nearly as much of a problem accepting that Dumbledore changed his mind as Harry does. As Hermione intuits, Harry is most bothered by the fact that Dumbledore never told him enough, seeing this as proof that Dumbledore did not love him. This is the low point in the plot concerning the conflict between Harry and Dumbledore—a plot that has nothing to do with Voldemort. Harry began doubting Dumbledore’s love in Chapter Two, and now he feels certain it did not exist.

Chapter Nineteen presents a turning point, not in regard to Dumbledore specifically, but in regard to Harry’s ability to trust. The recovery of the sword does not come about because of any problem-solving by Harry or Hermione, but as an act of grace. The appearance of the mysterious silver doe shows that someone is helping Harry, though we won’t know who for a long time. Harry’s choice to follow the doe represents an act of faith and trust, something that had become increasingly difficult for him as he struggled with his mistrust of Dumbledore. Harry may not be ready to accept that the dead love him, but he is at least ready to put his faith in the unknown.

Ron’s reappearance also comes as an act of grace—an unexpected act of heroism and help at a time when Harry needs help most. In this chapter, too, the conflict that drives the story is not really between Harry and Voldemort but instead the internal conflict between Ron and his own fears. Ron’s final willingness to confront his fears of always being second fiddle to Harry, and of Hermione and even Ron’s mother loving Harry more than Ron, represent a significant step toward maturity. Ron’s problem has in the end turned out to be not very different from Harry’s: Ron has had difficulty accepting that he is already loved.