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At Malfoy Manor, Snape
tells Voldemort the date that Harry’s friends are planning to move
him from the house on Privet Drive to a new safe location, so that Voldemort
can capture Harry en route.
As Harry packs to leave Privet Drive, he reads two obituaries
for Dumbledore, both of which make him think that he didn’t know
Dumbledore as well as he should have. Downstairs, he bids good-bye
to the Dursleys for the final time, as the threat of Voldemort forces
them to go into hiding themselves.
The Order of the Phoenix, led by Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, arrives
to take Harry to his new home at the Weasleys’ house, the Burrow.
Six of Harry’s friends take Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves
as Harry and act as decoys, and they all fly off in different directions.
The Death Eaters, alerted to their departure by Snape, attack Harry
and his friends. Voldemort chases Harry down, but Harry’s wand fends
Voldemort off, seemingly without Harry’s help.
Harry arrives at the Burrow, and when his friends get
there, he learns that Moody has been killed and George Weasley maimed
in the chase. Harry begins to have visions in which he sees what
Voldemort is doing through Voldemort’s eyes, and witnesses Voldemort interrogating
a wand maker, trying to find out how to defeat Harry.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione assemble the books and tools
necessary to embark on the quest that Dumbledore left them: to find
and destroy the Horcruxes into which Voldemort placed fragments
of his soul, making himself immortal as long as the objects survive. Rufus
Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, delivers to them the items Dumbledore
left them in his will. Harry is left the Snitch he caught in his
first Quidditch match, as well as the Sword of Gryffindor, which Scrimgeour
does not give him, claiming it did not belong to Dumbledore. Ron
is left a device called a Deluminator that turns lights off, and
Hermione is left a book of wizard fairy tales. None of them have any
idea what the items mean.
The Weasleys host the wedding of their son Bill to Fleur
Delacour. At the reception, Harry hears Ron’s Aunt Muriel telling
terrible rumors about Dumbledore: that his sister was a Squib (a
non-magical person born to wizard parents) kept prisoner by her
family, and that Dumbledore had dabbled in the Dark Arts as a young
man. The wedding is interrupted by Death Eaters, as Voldemort has
taken over the Ministry of Magic and is now in charge of the wizarding world.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione Disapparate (i.e., teleport)
to a busy street in London, where they are soon attacked by Death
Eaters. They find safe haven in the enchanted house left to Harry
by Sirius Black, Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. There, they discover
the significance of the letters R.A.B. In the previous book, Harry
Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore
had undergone trials to find a locket that Voldemort had made into
a Horcrux, but at the end they found that the locket had been stolen,
with a fake locket and note left behind, signed R.A.B. Now, they
see that the initials belong to Sirius’s dead younger brother, Regulus
Arcturus Black, who had been one of Voldemort’s followers. They
remember that they have seen a locket in the house that is now gone.
Harry and his friends summon Kreacher, the house-elf who
came with the house. Kreacher explains that Voldemort had used him
to test the magical defenses guarding the locket, having borrowed
him from Regulus. Afterward, Regulus had a change of heart about
serving Voldemort, and Kreacher had helped him to steal the locket
and leave the fake one in its place. The real locket had been in
Kreacher’s possession for many years, but was recently stolen by
Mundungus Fletcher. Harry orders Kreacher to find Mundungus and
bring him back.
Kreacher returns later with Mundungus, who reveals that
the locket was confiscated from him by Dolores Umbridge, a senior
official at the Ministry of Magic. Ron, Harry, and Hermione disguise themselves
as Ministry employees and sneak into the Ministry, stealing the
locket from Umbridge, while witnessing the Ministry’s efforts to
persecute wizards who don’t come from pureblood wizard families.
As they Disapparate back to the house on Grimmauld Place, Hermione
accidentally leads one of the Death Eaters inside the protective
enchantments, so they are forced to abandon the house and go on
the run, moving from place to place and camping in the woods. They
don’t know where to look for the next Horcrux, and they don’t know
how to destroy the locket, which is protected by powerful magic.
Harry has a vision of Voldemort tracking down another famous wand
maker and looking for a young man who stole a wand.
One night, in the forest, Harry and friends overhear a
goblin saying that the Sword of Gryffindor that had been in the
headmaster’s office at Hogwarts is a fake. Harry realizes that the
real Sword of Gryffindor has the power to destroy Horcruxes, and
that they need to find it. Ron, frustrated at their lack of progress,
gets fed up and abandons Harry and Hermione.
Harry and Hermione go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit
the graves of Harry’s parents and see the house where he lived before Voldemort
killed them. An old woman named Bathilda Bagshot leads them into
her house, and they follow, hoping that she knew Dumbledore and
can give them the sword, but she turns out to be dead, her body
inhabited by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini. They barely escape, and
Harry’s wand is destroyed in the fight.
Harry reads the new (and malicious) biography of Dumbledore, which
claims that Dumbledore helped the Dark wizard Grindelwald as a young
man and may have been responsible for his own sister’s death. Harry
recognizes in a photograph in the book the young man whom Voldemort
is seeking, and it is Grindelwald.
One night, while Harry is keeping watch, a silver doe
Patronus appears and leads him to the Sword of Gryffindor, buried
beneath the ice in a pond. Harry dives in, and the locket Horcrux
around his neck tries to strangle him. Ron, who has returned, saves
Harry, recovers the sword, and destroys the locket.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to visit Xenophilius Lovegood, because
Hermione has discovered a strange symbol in the book Dumbledore
left her, and they had seen Xenophilius wearing it. Xenophilius
explains that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows, three objects—the
Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and Invisibility Cloak—that were
made by Death and that give the owner of the three objects mastery
Xenophilius betrays them to the Death Eaters, hoping to
free his daughter Luna, whom the Ministry has imprisoned, and they
narrowly escape from his house. Harry is tempted to pursue the Hallows
and abandon his quest for the Horcruxes. Harry accidentally says
Voldemort’s name, which triggers a tracking spell, and they are caught
by Voldemort’s followers and taken to Malfoy Manor.
At Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione
for information about where they got the sword they are carrying,
since she thought it was in her vault at Gringotts bank. She is
very concerned about anything else they might have taken. Dobby,
the Malfoys’ former house-elf, helps Harry and his friends to escape,
along with Ollivander the wand maker, Luna Lovegood, and Griphook the
goblin. Harry takes them all to Ron’s brother Bill’s cottage.
Harry guesses that Voldemort has a Horcrux stored in Bellatrix’s vault,
since she seemed so worried about it, and he persuades Griphook
the goblin to help him break into the vault. With Griphook’s help,
Harry, Ron, and Hermione break in and steal the Hufflepuff Cup from
the vault, then escape on the back of a dragon.
Harry learns from a vision of Voldemort’s that the final
Horcrux is at Hogwarts, so they travel to the nearby village of
Hogsmeade. There they meet Aberforth, Dumbledore’s brother, who
helps them get into Hogwarts through a painting by summoning Neville
Longbottom, who has been organizing meetings of Dumbledore’s Army in
the hidden Room of Requirement. Harry asks the members of the D.A.,
who are all his supporters, if they can think of an important item
associated with the school, hoping such an item might be the final
Horcrux. The Ravenclaw students tell him about the lost diadem of
While Harry looks for the diadem, the professors and students
of Hogwarts rally to his defense, having been warned that Voldemort is
on his way. Voldemort and his followers attack the school in a great
battle, and Harry finds and destroys the diadem Horcrux.
Harry witnesses Voldemort murdering Snape in order to
take possession of Dumbledore’s powerful wand (since Snape killed Dumbledore,
Snape is presumably the wand’s true master until someone kills him).
Before he dies, Snape gives Harry his memories, extracted for viewing
in the Pensieve.
Harry goes to the Pensieve in the headmaster’s office
and views the most important moments of Snape’s life. He learns
that he has been completely mistaken about Snape, who loved Harry’s
mother, Lily Potter, his whole life. Snape had spent his entire
adult life spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore and working to protect
From one of Snape’s conversations with Dumbledore, Harry learns
that there’s a piece of Voldemort’s soul inside him (Harry is in fact
the final Horcrux), and that he will have to let Voldemort kill him
before Voldemort can die. He goes into the forest and lets Voldemort
kill him, then wakes up in a dreamlike version of King’s Cross train
station, where Dumbledore meets him and tells him that he hasn’t
died, and that the protective charm Lily Potter placed on Harry
is kept alive inside of Voldemort, because Voldemort used Harry’s
blood to reconstitute himself. Thus, Voldemort could not kill Harry,
and Harry can now go back and finish him off.
Voldemort takes Harry, whom he believes to be dead, back
to Hogwarts to demand its surrender. The students and teachers defy Voldemort,
and Neville uses the Sword of Gryffindor to kill the giant snake,
Nagini, which was the last Horcrux keeping Voldemort invulnerable.
A final battle erupts, and Harry reveals that he’s still alive,
going on to kill Voldemort in a duel.
In an Epilogue set nineteen years later, Harry is married
to Ginny and is sending their children to Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione
are married, and their families are both thriving.