The book begins with two wizards entering an impressive property with high walls and white peacocks walking through its gardens. One of the wizards remarks that the house suits its owner, who eventually is revealed to be Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort has turned the Malfoy home into his headquarters, and the Malfoy family are prisoners and servants of the collected Death Eaters. Bellatrix Lestrange is the only member of the family who displays the same fervor and devotion towards He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named that the entire family originally displayed, although Lucius swears he still desires for Voldemort to succeed. A witch is held above the dining table where the Death Eaters are meeting, and one of the two wizards first seen entering the manor is revealed to be Severus Snape. Snape announces that the Order of the Phoenix will be moving Harry from his safe house (the Dursleys' home), and the witch pleads with Snape to help her. Voldemort demands that Lucius yield his wand to the Dark Lord, but gives nothing in its place, taunts the Malfoys that Tonks has married Remus Lupin, and finally kills the witch who had been teaching Muggle studies at Hogwarts (the witch who had pleaded with Snape).
Back at Privet Drive, Harry is emptying his old school trunk, and after stabbing his finger on a shard of glass from the mirror Sirius had given him two years earlier, reads a eulogy about Dumbledore in The Daily Prophet. This causes him to realize that he never asked Dumbledore about his own past; during their times together, they always talked about Harry's life and what Harry had to do to deal with Voldemort. Harry then goes downstairs to confront the Dursleys. He has to bully his relatives into leaving their home for their own protection. Uncle Vernon announces that this is a plan of Harry's in order to get Number Four Privet Drive, but Harry reminds his uncle that he already has a house, and anyway, why would he want the Dursley home (for the "happy memories"?). Dudley decides that he's going into hiding, at which point Harry is sure things are going to be as okay as they can for the Dursleys. What's more, Dudley tries to thank Harry for Harry's rescue from the Dementor two summers ago, Uncle Vernon almost shakes Harry's hand, and Aunt Petunia hesitates as if she might say something before leaving Harry forever.
Harry gathers the objects he has chosen from his belongings, leaving most of his Hogwarts stuff in his old room at Number Four, and shows Hedwig some of the house for one last time ("This is where Dudley puked on the floor after I saved him" etc). A crowd of magical folk arrive soon after, and explain that the Ministry has enforced several new rules which restricted how they could remove Harry safely, so they will have to leave by broomstick, Thestral, or Sirius Black's old enchanted motorcycle. Six of the group will use Polyjuice Potion so they can masquerade as Harry: Ron, travelling with Tonks, Hermione, travelling with Kingsley Shacklebolt, George, travelling with Lupin, Fred, travelling with Arthur Weasley, Fleur Delacour, travelling with her fiance Bill Weasley, and Mundungus Fletcher, travelling with Mad-Eye Moody. But almost as soon as they leave the house, Death Eaters appear on all sides. They first go towards Mad-Eye, possibly thinking that Harry will be with the strongest Auror, but Harry is actually in the side-car of Sirius's old motorbike. But soon everybody is being attacked. Hedwig is killed while in her cage, and Harry's Firebolt broomstick falls to earth below him. Harry uses many stunning spells to try and escape with Hagrid, but when he sees Stan Shunpike, he uses Expelliarmus. All the Death Eaters converge on the real Harry then, and Voldemort almost catches him up when Harry and Hagrid crash through to their safe house, the home of Tonks' parents. A protection charm manages to keep all the Death Eaters out, and after seeing to Harry and Hagrid's wounds, the Tonks parents give them the Portkey that takes Harry and Hagrid to the Burrows, the Weasley home.
Molly and Ginny Weasley welcome Harry and Hagrid, although they are scared stiff about everyone else. Remus and George arrive next, but George has lost an ear due to a curse. (Seems the ear can't be replaced because it was Cursed off). Lupin challenges Harry to recall something personal, and explains that he had to be sure Harry wasn't an impostor, since someone revealed their plans. Hermione arrives with Kingsley, who verifies that Lupin is genuine, and then Arthur Weasley arrives with Fred. George tries to joke about losing an ear, and Fred complains that with all the ear-related humor available, George could only say he was holey. Tonks arrives next with Ron, and Bill and Fleur arrive last, and astonish all there with the news that Mundungus apparated himself to safety, and Mad-Eye was killed.
Harry goes into the garden to think, and is shocked when he has a vision of Voldemort confronting an imprisioned Ollivander, the wandmaker. The Dark Lord is demanding explanations, as Lucius's wand was destroyed when he tried to kill Harry with it (Harry struck back with his own wand). Voldemort tortures the old wizard, who plainly has no idea why this happened, and then Harry loses the vision. He tells Ron and Hermione, and the latter is really scared that Harry's scar is acting this way again, as she remembers Dumbledore's instructions on Occulmency.
Much of the next four days is spent preparing the Weasley home for Bill and Fleur's wedding, although Molly frequently tries to stop Harry, Ron, and Hermione from meeting together. Most of the other adults seem to accept their statements that Dumbledore gave them a job which they can't discuss with anyone else, but not Mrs Weasley, who figures they're all children still. Harry tries to discourage Ron and Hermione from joining him on his Horcrux quest, at which point Hermione reveals that she has bewitched her parents to move to Australia and forget they have a daughter, and Ron has Transfigured the family ghoul into looking like a diseased version of himself. Understanding that his friends do know how dangerous the quest will be, Harry gives up the argument.
Fleur's family arrive two days before the wedding, and the day before the wedding is Harry's seventeenth birthday. Ron gives Harry a book on "12 Fail-Safe Way to Charm Witches", Mrs Weasley gives him a watch that had belonged to one of her brothers (who had been killed by Voldemort about seventeen years ago or so), Fred and George give Harry an enormous box of the latest things from their joke shop, and so on. But as Mrs Weasley brings out a big cake made to look like a Snitch, a warning arrives from Mr Weasley that the Minister for Magic is coming with him. Lupin and Tonks, who had come for the celebrations, leave immediately, and when Scringemour arrives, he states that he needs to speak to Ron, Hermione and Harry.
The three teenagers are stunned to learn that they have been named for bequests from Dumbledore's will, as it has been a month since Dumbledore died. Ron is given a Deluminator, which Dumbledore designed himself. Hermione is given a book of wizard fairy tales. Harry is given the Snitch that he caught in his first Quidditch match, and Scringemour suspects that something may have been hidden in it that would be revealed when Harry holds it. However, the Snitch doesn't change, and Scringemour then reveals that Dumbledore also bequeathed the sword of Godric Gryffindor to Harry, but they feel Harry can't have that, as the sword wasn't Dumbledore's to give. Scringemour tries to get Harry to admit what he did with Dumbledore and what his current plans are, but Harry holds up his hand where Umbridge made him carve into his skin "I must not tell lies" and says he can't trust the Ministy's methods. After Scringemour leaves, Harry reminds his friends that the first Snitch he caught he nearly swallowed, and when he touches it to his mouth, the Snitch reveals engraving: "I open at the close".
The wedding comes on the next day. Harry has taken Polyjuice Potion so he can look like a Weasley, and many guests arrive from early afternoon on. Viktor Krum arrives, having been invited by Fleur's family, although he is disgruntled to learn that Ron and Hermione now seem to be together and that Ginny may also be involved with someone. "Vot is the point of being an international Quidditch player if all the good-looking girls are taken?" But he does share some information with Harry about the emblem that Luna's father is wearing when he arrives at the wedding, and also about someone that has appeared in Voldemort-centered dreams, a wandmaker called Gregorovitch.
Harry introduces himself to Elphias Doge, who had written the obituary about Dumbledore in The Daily Prophet, and Ron's Aunt Muriel flops down near them with many malicious comments about Dumbledore's murky past. Rita Skeeter has written a book, "The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore", in which she has implied that Dumbledore practiced Dark Arts himself as a young man, been friendly with the Dark Wizard Grindelwald, and even imprisoned his young sister because she was a Squib. Doge declares these must all be lies, but Harry is unsure. He is also stunned to learn that Dumbledore's family lived in Godric's Hollow, and that the author of "Hogwarts: A History of Magic" also lives there and was considered to be a childhood friend of Dumbledore. Harry realizes how little he actually knows about Dumbledore, and then a message arrives from Shacklebolt that the Ministry has been overthrown and Scringemour killed.
Hermione had been preparing to leave quickly for days already, so she rushes into the house and scoops up their things before hustling the boys into a Muggle cafe. Unfortunately, Death Eaters follow them and attack, and the trio are forced to flee to Sirius's old house. They discuss what to do next, and learn that Sirius's younger brother Regulus was the R.A.B. who had left a note in the fake Horcrux locket that Harry has. They also remember finding a locket that none of them could open when Mrs Weasley had them cleaning the house two years before, and hope that Kreacher might have rescued it from the trash. Harry calls Kreacher, and they learn how Regulus first created the trap to keep the original Horcrux safe, then repented of his deed and retrieved the original, replacing it with the one Harry now has. Kreacher endured a great deal of pain and agony to accomplish both feats, but apparently thought little of that because of his loyalty towards Regulus. Harry finds he can now feel sorry for everything that happened to Kreacher, and asks the house-elf to find Mundungus Fletcher for them. Kreacher feels he failed Regulus, as his former master asked him to destroy the Horcrux, and the house-elf couldn't do it. Mundungus took the locket with several other Black family treasures, and so after asking Kreacher's help, Harry gives Kreacher the fake Horcrux as a reward. Kreacher becomes immediately more respectful towards both Harry and Ron, and even a little towards Hermione, before leaving on his task.
During their time hiding at Grimmauld Place, Lupin arrives and tells the kids that Harry is now being implicated in the death of Dumbledore. The Daily Prophet, like the Ministry of Magic, is now firmly in Voldemort's camp. The Prophet also has taken to a smear campaign against Muggleborn wizards, suggesting they steal their magic from Purebloods. Ron points out that if stealing magic were possible, Squibs like Mr Filch and Arabella Figg wouldn't exist, but Lupin reminds him that all Voldemort and his side want are suspicion and hatred, dissension among anybody who might otherwise resist him. Lupin offers himself as bodyguard and companion to the three heroes, and admits that Tonks is pregnant. His self-bitterness about his condition and fears for both Tonks and his unborn child are plain, and Harry ends up shouting some painful things in order to force Lupin to leave Grimmauld Place. Hermione is shocked that Harry could be so horrible to their friend, but Harry states that no parent should leave their kid until they have to.
Kreacher finally arrives with Mundungus, and apologizes for the delay. Mundungus first thinks the teens are angry because he left Mad-Eye to die, then realizes they want to know about the things he stole from the house. He eventually admits that Dolores Umbridge confiscated the Horcrus locket from him, and the kids begin regularly staking out the Ministry of Magic to try to find a way to break in. Finally, using Polyjuice Potion and a lot of pluck, they disguise themselves and enter, although they are separated soon after they gain entry. Harry ends up in Umbridge's office, and gets the Horcrux and also Mad-Eye's magical eye that she had as a trophy. While trying to get out, Harry and Hermione also try to help a group of Muggleborns who have been imprisoned in the Ministry get out, although Ron has trouble helping because one woman in the group thinks his Polyjuiced self is her husband.
Hermione has been trying to find out how to destroy Horcruxes, and has learned that the object is to do irreparable damage to the object itself (as when Harry stabbed the Riddle Diary with a basilisk fang). But just as the heroes have regained the Horcruxed locket, some of the Dark Lord's supporters find Grimmauld Place, so the kids are on the run. They first head to the campground where the Quidditch World Cup had been held, and find that now that they have the Horcrux, it seems to be exerting a poisonous influence over them. Harry starts to feel that Ron and Hermione are plotting behind his back, and Ron feels that Harry isn't concerned about Ron's family, as is playing the hero with no regard for others. Hermione insists that if they have to wear it for safety, they should take turns. They then decide to start moving themselves from place to place, both while they make plans but also to keep as much ahead of pursuers as they possibly can.
They manage to overhear Ted Tonks talking with a pair of goblins and Dean Thomas about how the sword of Gryffindor that had been at Hogwarts has been substituted with a fake. Hermione, who had put the portrait of Phineas Black in her bag while they were at Sirius's old house, queries the portrait about whether a substitution was made. Black tells her the last time he saw the sword removed from its case was when Dumbledore used it to break a ring. The kids decide that Dumbledore must have switched the real sword with a fake before his death, intending for Harry to use it to destroy Horcruxes. However, they still don't know where the genuine blade might be.
A big fight breaks out between Harry and Ron, with Hermione trying to mediate. Ron accuses Harry of not sharing his plans, then of being reckless. Harry bitterly says Ron knows what he knows, and shouldn't have expected to be home in time for Christmas with Mummy. Hermione realizes that Ron is wearing the Horcrux, and wants him to take it off, but the argument rushes along until finally Ron announces that he's going home. Ron asks Hermione if she's staying with Harry, and when she says they both promised, Ron feels she is choosing Harry over him. He rushes off in a huff, Hermione is heart-broken, and Harry feels almost worse than before.
Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric's Hollow, and once there, realize it's Christmas Eve. They make their way to the church, passing a war memorial that briefly turns into a statue of James and Lily Potter with their baby son, and while carols and lights emerge from the church, the teenagers make their way through the graveyard. Harry is stunned to find the graves of Dumbledore's mother and sister, again reminding him of all he doesn't understand about the deceased headmaster, and Hermione finds a grave bearing the mark that Viktor saw on the chest of Luna's dad at the wedding. Viktor had said it was a Dark Mark, the sign of Grindelwald, who murdered Viktor's grandfather, but Hermione isn't sure. Finally, she finds the graves of Harry's parents, and Harry grieves for a brief time.
After leaving the graveyard, Harry finds the site where his parents died. It is bewitched so that only magical people can read the memorial left there about the Potters, and as Harry is admiring it, the kids both catch a glimpse of Bathilda Bagshot, author of "Hogwarts: A History of Magic". They follow her to her house, although she doesn't speak to them, and when she gestures that she wants to be alone with Harry, he follows, hoping she may have the sword they need. Unfortunately, Nagini has been hiding in Mrs Bagshot's corpse, and once alone with Harry, she tries to strike.
At this point, Harry finds himself seeing the events which led to his parents' deaths from the viewpoint of Lord Voldemort, even to how neither of his parents had a wand at the moment of their deaths. Hermione rescues Harry as the visions overwhelm him, and tends his wounds through his dream state. She also tells him, as gently as she can, that Harry's wand was broken right through during the snake attack as she tried to release him and help.
Later, Hermione admits finding and taking a copy of Rita Skeeter's book from Bathilda's house when they went there. Harry reads Rita's version of events surrounding the young sister and how Dumbledore tried to distance himself from his family while at Hogwarts. After Dumbledore returned to his family home to care for his sister and brother, Bathilda Bagshot had a young visitor--Gellert Grindelwald, who became a Dark Wizard and Muggle hater. The book tells of the friendship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, which broke when Ariana died, and also about the fight between Albus and Aberforth at the funeral, when Aberforth blamed Albus for Ariana's death. The book points out that Dumbledore delayed facing Grindelwald for nearly five years while the Dark Wizard mounted his bid for power, and implies that Dumbledore may have been morally or even physically responsible for Ariana's death.
Hermione tries to make Harry feel better by indicating that Dumbledore must've changed any anti-Muggle sentiments he once had. Harry retorts that Dumbledore would've been close to their ages when he felt that way, so it's hardly comforting. Harry feels, more than ever, that Dumbledore didn't truly care about Harry as a person, only about Harry's ability to bring down Voldemort. The pair fear that someone is following them again, and move to another site to camp. When there, Harry takes first watch, and sees a Doe Patronus. He feels nothing to indicate Dark Magic, and so follows the Patronus to a frozen pool in the forest. Using Hermione's wand, Harry breaks into the ice, and swims down to retrieve the Gryffindor sword.
Harry very nearly fails to emerge from the icy water, but is rescued at last by...Ron. Harry and Ron both understand that the sword can destroy a Horcrux, but Ron is surprised when Harry explains that Ron has got to destroy the Locket Horcrux. When he starts to attempt it, a ghostly image of Tom Riddle emerges, tormenting Ron with the idea that everybody important in Ron's life actually prefers Harry. Riddle says that Ron's mother and Hermione both prefer Harry, over the lesser and insignificant Ron, and ghostly images of Harry and Hermione also reveal themselves, cruelly saying they're better off without him. The real Harry pleads with Ron to smash the locket, and is frozen with fear when Ron's eyes seem to go red like Voldemort's eyes. But suddenly, Ron uses the sword to break the Locket, and all the ghosts vanish. Harry thanks Ron for succeeding, and Ron dismisses it. Harry then replies that now Ron should understand how he's felt when he's managed to pull off some of his heroics, and the pair make their way to the tent.
Hermione, instead of pleased to see Ron, seems angry, and that anger continues for some time. The renewed trio decide to find Luna Lovegood's father and ask him about the emblem he wore to Bill and Fleur's wedding. Once there, Lovegood does his best to stall the kids, drawing out his story and offering to feed them. They eventually realize that Luna is being held prisoner, and Lovegood is hoping to give Harry and his friends in exchange for Luna. While understanding his dilemma, the teens can't cooperate, and try to escape, while at the same time Hermione makes sure that the Death Eaters who arrive see that Harry was there, hoping that Lovegood won't be punished then for "telling lies". However, before they leave, Lovegood does tell them a story about three brothers who made a bargain with Death, and were given three magical devices by Death in honor of their victory. Both Ron and Hermione dismiss the story as a fairy tale about perseverance and making good choices in life, but Harry suspects there may be more to it than just morality.
Harry realizes that his Invisibility Cloak is actually quite different from anything else in the world, as it has been passed from generation to generation without losing its ability or wearing thin, and the youngest brother had such a cloak. The second brother wanted a stone which would bring back the dead, and Harry reasons that this must have been the large stone set in Marvolo Gaunt's ring, which Dumbledore lost his hand to when he destroyed the Horcrux attached to it. Ron and Hermione admit that there are stories of wands that are either "invincible" or have peculiarly strong power, and Harry guesses these stories might all come from the same wand, but using different names to refer to it. According to the fairy story, and Mr Lovegood, if one person could possess all three objects, that person could overcome Death. Harry also thinks that somehow Voldemort doesn't know that these Deathly Hallows exist, or he would've used them as well as Horcruxes in his bid for domination.
Ron tells his friends about something that Bill and his brothers had started: a rogue radio program they named "Potterwatch". It's highly difficult to get, as listeners have not only to scan the airwaves but also enter a password to be able to hear it, but one night in March, Ron succeeds in tuning in. The program heartens the heroes a lot, although they also learn that Tonks' father and a man who had been escaping Muggleborn restrictions have both been murdered. Mr Lovegood has been put in jail, but Hagrid escaped when officials tried to arrest him after he held a Support Harry tea party in his hut.
At this point, though, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are captured by a group when Harry says "Voldemort",and they are taken to Malfoy Manor. Harry in particular had been hit with several disfiguring jinxes, so his scar and thin face are somewhat disguised by the time he is dragged into the house. Lucius Malfoy obviously sees their capture as a means of regaining favor with the Dark Lord, but everybody is trying to take credit for whatever part they can claim. However, Draco seems unwilling to identify Harry when those gathered ask. After being pressured, he does say that the girl resembles the Mudblood, and the boy is like Ron, but it's obvious that everybody at the Manor is afraid to call for Voldemort just in case this isn't really Harry. But as everyone seems sure that the girl is Hermione, Bellatrix decides to torture her, especially in light of their apparently having Godric Gryffindor's sword.
Harry, meanwhile, has been having another Voldemort vision. He sees Voldemort facing down an old man in a prison, and demanding some object that the old man claims never to have had. Harry and Ron are thrown into the basement, while Bellatrix takes Hermione for torture, and the boys can hear snatches of her threats and Hermione's screams. In the basement, the boys also see Luna, Dean, Mr Ollivander, and the goblin who was pleased that a fake sword had replaced the original sword of Gryffindor. Luna frees Ron and Harry from the ropes binding their hands, but they are still trapped. Hermione screams that the sword that was with her was the fake sword, and Bellatrix decides to have the goblin in the cellar identify it. (The sword had originally been made by goblins, so any goblin could tell the real sword from a copy made by human wizards). Harry pleads with Griphook, the goblin, to say the sword with Hermione is a fake, while Ron is desperate because of Hermione. Harry also sees a bright blue eye gazing out of the shard from the magic mirror (he's seen this a few times by now), and he begs for the person to send help to Malfoy Manor. Griphook is taken upstairs, and does claim that the sword with Hermione is a fake, and suddenly Dobby apparates inside the basement. Harry asks for Dobby to take everyone but himself and Ron to Bill and Fleur's cottage, then come back. Lucius, upstairs, hears the crack of Dobby apparating, and sends Wormtail down to investigate. The boys try to overpower the man, and Wormtail almost tries to choke Harry with the silver hand given by Voldemort. Harry remonstrates Pettigrew, because he, Harry, once saved Pettigrew from Lupin and Sirius, and the man pauses for a moment. However, the hand then changes course and moves to strangle Wormtail. Neither Ron nor Harry can stop it, and after Pettigrew dies, the boys go upstairs with Dobby to get Hermione.
Bellatrix is ready to give Hermione to Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf who originally cursed Lupin, but Ron, using Wormtail's wand, tries to save her. Bellatrix holds a knife to Hermione's throat, forcing the teen boys to drop wands. Harry is aware that Voldemort is coming back; they've got to get out. Dobby uses his magic to bring down the chandelier, and the teenagers grab what wands they can. Dobby then disapparates the group, but is knifed by Bellatrix before they are gone. When they arrive at Bill and Fleur's, Dobby opens his eyes and says, "Harry Potter," then dies. Harry decides to dig a grave for Dobby without magic, on his own, and thinks about Dobby and the others who have been killed or tortured or imprisoned by Voldemort and his group. He makes a small headstone, and then returns to question Griphook and Ollivander. He overheard Bellatrix, incredibly afraid that Hermione and her friends had retrieved the sword from Gringotts, the wizard bank. Harry reasons that she has something in a vault that might have been entrusted to her by the Dark Lord, as the Tom Riddle diary had once been entrusted to Lucius Malfoy. As Griphook once worked in the bank, Harry wants his help for a break-in. Griphook replies that no one can break into Gringotts, but is slightly moved because he saw Harry make Dobby's grave. Ordinary wizards don't do that for house-elves. He doesn't agree or disagree to help at that point.
Harry then goes to Mr Ollivander, who is very unnerved by how much Harry seems to know of what Voldemort asked him and forced him to reveal. Ollivander also identifies the wands that Harry brings down, and explains that when a wizard disarms another, the wand can transfer its loyalty to the new wizard. He has no idea why Voldemort couldn't use another wand to defeat him, and also explains what he knows about the Elder Wand, which is the other object in the fairy story. Harry understands that Grindelwald did have the Elder Wand, which must have gone to Dumbledore once Dumbledore defeated his former friend.
Harry also realizes, through a vision, that Voldemort has broken Dumbledore's tomb and taken the Elder Wand from the body. Hermione tries to comfort Harry, saying he couldn't have broken into the tomb and stolen a wand from their beloved headmaster's corpse, but Harry knows that things are building to a head.
Griphook offers, finally, to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione break into Gringotts, but only if Harry will give him the sword of Gryffindor. Seems goblins believe that when a human pay for an object to be made by goblins, the goblins believe it is for a kind of life-long rental, and thus should revert to goblin possession once the original owner dies. They don't understand the human notion that once a thing is paid for, it belongs in that family and can be passed down, generation to generation. Although Harry hopes that he can get around this by promising to return the sword, but without being specific about when he will give it, he might fill the letter of an agreement. Bill tries to explain the difficulty of goblin made items to Harry, but Harry remains unsure of how else to proceed, as he needs the sword of Gryffindor in order to destroy any of the remaining Horcruxes.
Lupin arrives at the cottage to announce that Tonks has given birth to a boy, whom they are naming after her father, and asks Harry to be godfather to his son. Harry takes a moment to think that he is worryingly going to be a godfather like Sirius, rather than what Lupin might have wanted, then returns to his plans to break into the bank.
Hermione uses the last of their Polyjuice Potion to disguise herself as Bellatrix, and the boys put on disguises by adjusting their noses and such with magic, before they head off with Griphook. Hermione finds it difficult to play Bellatrix, but manages to enter the bank safely. Unfortunately, the goblin detection devices work far too well, and the trio must rely on the Invisibility Cloak and derring-do to reach the Lestrange vault. Once there, though, not only do they have no real idea what they're looking to find, but the moment they touch any of the treasure, it begins to expand, like a souffle in a hot oven. They manage to grab the cup which is the Horcrux just in time, and escape the bank by riding on a dragon they free from inside the vault. Harry uses the sword to catch the cup, so he has already broken its Horcrux ability. At this point, Griphook grabs the sword the moment they are out of the bank, and runs away, leaving Harry and his friends clinging to the dragon for miles.
After landing in open countryside and leaving the dragon to fend for itself, Harry has another vision where Voldemort learns that the cup had been stolen. He suddenly begins to understand that Horcruxes have been the object of Harry's quest all along, although he still believes he has been clever enough to hide these objects in ways and use things no one will connect with him. The kids decide that, given Voldemort's fondness for items that relate to the founders of Hogwarts, the next object they look for could be something that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw, although they have no idea what to look for. They head to Hogsmeade, and are very nearly caught by a group, before the Doe patronus leads them inside the Hog's Head bar for safety.
In the pub, they find Aberforth Dumbledore, who tells them his version of Ariana's death. Aberforth had sent Dobby to them before, and it was Aberforth, looking into the other mirror, whose eye Harry has sometimes seen looking out of the magic shard he carries about. Aberforth believes that Albus was responsible for Ariana's death, but explains how she had been tortured into insanity by a group of Muggles. Their father went to Azkaban for trying to retaliate against the Muggles, although Percival Dumbledore never admitted what happened to Ariana. From that point on, although Ariana tried to never use her magic, it would sometimes explode out of her, making her a danger to everyone. She had to be more or less imprisoned her whole life, and one of her explosions killed their mother. After Kendra Dumbledore died, Albus had to return to Godric's Hollow to restrain Ariana, and that was when Grindelwald befriended him. Aberforth believes Albus was sanctimonious and maybe a hypocrite, and also says the way against Voldemort is already lost. Harry replies that he made his choice while digging Dobby's grave, and he fully intends to try and finish the job his headmaster gave him, even if he should die and not succeed. He believes it's better to try and fail to bring down a dictator than to let it happen. While Aberforth doesn't entirely agree with Harry, he does change his tune a little about Voldemort having already won, etc.
Harry explains that he needs to get into Hogwarts, and Aberforth shows him a way that leads him straight to Neville Longbottom. While Neville is looking considerably more slashed and bedraggled than ever, it seems he has taken Harry's mantle at Hogwarts, and become a rallying point for Dumbledore's Army. Snape is now headmaster, and a brother and sister known by their surname Carrow have used a combination of bullying and torture to force the students to tow the line. Nonetheless, Neville has succeeded in sowing dissension, although he feels his pure-blood status won't keep the Carrows from deciding soon that he's better off dead. Neville thinks Harry, Ron, and Hermione have come back to lead a rebellion against Snape and the Carrows, and is frustrated when Harry says no, but won't explain why he is there. A great many students show up in the Room of Requirement, where Neville has hidden them all, including some former students like Cho Chang. Even Percy Weasley shows up, and manages to have a reconciliation with his family.
Harry and his group have recalled when Mr Lovegood spoke of the diadem of Ravenclaw, and believe it might be the missing Horcrux at Hogwarts. Cho offers to take Harry into the Ravenclaw tower, but Ginny Weasley (also there) decides it would be better if Harry went with Luna. Although they don't find the diadem, Harry reasons that the Grey Lady may know something about it (after a short talk with Nearly Headless Nick). Turns out the Grey Lady does know, as she is the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, and stole the diadem for herself before hiding it in a tree in the wilds of Albania. Then, some years ago, a charming young Slytherin spoke to her about it, and she told him where to look. Harry, following Riddle's reasoning (only he was clever enough to find the Room of Requirement, and so on), locates the diadem.
However, while following this trail, the revolution inside Hogwarts has begun. Snape jumps out of a window to escape the wrath of McGonagall and Flitwick, and the professors decide to evacuate the school in order to save the children who don't want to fight. Order of the Phoenix members, like Kingsley, Lupin, and Tonks, have also arrived to help. But Voldemort is here too, and announces to the school that they have until midnight to turn over Harry in order to save their lives, or failing that, be killed.
Ron and Hermione rush down to the Chamber of Secrets, knowing that the basilisk body will still be there, and they can use the fangs to destroy the Diadem Horcrux. Ron opens the Chamber using a strangled form of Parseltongue, and then as he and Hermione are grabbing basilisk fangs with Harry, he declares that they should send word to the house-elves so they can escape. Hermione drops the fangs she had collected and plants a huge kiss on Ron, but Harry has to remind them both that this really isn't the time.
Draco Malfoy, backed by Crabbe and Goyle, arrive to try and capture the three heroes, but in the fight that ensues, Crabbe casts a spell that seems to create an unstoppable fire. Harry and his friends find and swing up onto some broomsticks, but the villains seem lost in the blaze. However, Harry then hears a wail and locates Draco and Goyle. With his friends' help, Harry and the other teens make their way out of the inferno, and the diadem suddenly cracks and "dies" on Harry's arm. Hermione thinks the spell Crabbe cast was Fiendfyre, which is why it destroyed the Horcrux.
They emerge into another fight, where Percy is shouting at the newest Minister for Magic that he's resigned. Fred glories in the fact that Percy is actually making jokes, but a sudden explosion rocks the castle. When the dust clears, Fred is laying dead in Percy's arms with Ron looking on. While Ron is screaming that he needs to kill Death Eaters, Hermione begs for Harry to look into Voldemort's mind.
Harry first sees Lucius Malfoy, pleading with the Dark Lord about Draco, and Voldemort demands that Lucius bring Snape to him. Harry can see that Voldemort is in the Shrieking Shack. He is sure Voldemort expects Harry to come and face him, since the Dark Lord knows now that Harry is destroying Horcruxes. Draco appears in the midst of the latest fighting, and Harry has to stun a Death Eater who nearly kills Draco before he starts hurrying out of the castle.
Harry reaches the Shack and sees Voldemort talking with Snape, who asks repeatedly to be allowed to join the fight and bring Potter back. But Voldemort reveals that he wanted Snape with him because he believes he now knows why the Elder Wand has failed to kill Harry thus far. He thinks that the Elder Wand will only accept a new master when the new master has first defeated its old master. Since Snape killed Dumbledore, that would make Snape its master. Therefore, using Nagini as a projectile, the Dark Lord attacks Snape. He leaves with Nagini while Snape lies dying on the floor.
Harry hurries in, but can't save Snape, whose last act is to release a memory in a silvery gush of fluid gas. Hermione conjures a flask to catch the memory that is seeping out of the former potions master, as quickly as his life, and Snape's last words to Harry are, "Look at me." Harry hurries as fast as he can to the headmaster's office, and uses the Pensieve there to view the memories Snape gave.
What he sees is an abbreviated history of Snape's life. He sees Snape watching a young Lily Evans, who is performing magic for a slightly envious Petunia. Snape explains to Lily (and Petunia) what her magical talent really is, and later, tells her about Hogwarts. However, he has to be careful, because Lily has a true loyalty and love for Petunia. The memories also show Lily trying to comfort Petunia when she has received her letter about being accepted at Hogwarts. Snape had also found a letter from Dumbledore to Petunia, trying to let her down gently because she couldn't attend Hogwarts as well. Petunia is horrified that Lily read a private letter, and calls her younger sister a freak.
Before boarding the train for Hogwarts, Lily tries again to comfort Petunia, and is somewhat confused that Severus isn't kinder towards "Tuney". Once on the train, though, Severus tells Lily that she had better get into Slytherin. James Potter and Sirius Black, sitting nearby, overhear, and while James immediately declares his loyalty to Gryffindor, Sirius explains that all of his family have been in Slytherin. The view changes to Lily being taken into Gryffindor, and snubbing Sirius. James, Remus, and Pettigrew also join the Gryffindors, and Snape finally makes his way to the Slytherins, where a smiling Lucius Malfoy, wearing a Prefect's Badge, welcomes him.
The next memory shows a terrified Snape meeting with Dumbledore, and revealing that while he shared the prophecy he overheard concerning a boy who might have power the Dark Lord knew not, he never realized it could refer to Lily in any way. He wants Dumbledore to protect Lily. Albus reminds him that she would want her husband and son protected, and Snape cries that he'll do anything if Dumbledore will protect all of them. Sadly, though, the Potters have been betrayed by Pettigrew, and only Harry is still alive. But Harry has his mother's eyes, and every time Snape looks at the boy, he is reminded of the woman he loved.
As Harry enters school, Snape finds him to be more like James than Lily, and dismisses Dumbledore's protests that Harry is a likeable, modest, and reasonably talented young wizard. But Snape still keeps his promise to look after and protect Lily's son, keeping an eye on Quirrel, telling Dumbledore when the Dark Mark starts to darken, re-entering the Dark Lord's service in appearance, and so on. But like Harry, Snape feels that Dumbledore isn't telling him everything, isn't trusting him entirely. He feels this even more strongly when he is told that Harry is the last Horcrux, and that for Voldemort to ever truly die, Harry must also die. Snape is repulsed that he has protected Harry all these years only to have the boy sent to be slaughtered. He also shows his Patronus to Dumbledore--the same Patronus he has had all his life, a silver Doe, the image of Lily Evans's Patronus.
Harry decides he will do what Dumbledore wanted: he'll go be killed in the hope that it will help everybody in the end. On his way, he meets Neville again, and he explains that Nagini needs to be killed if he gets the chance. He also learns that Lupin and Tonks are now dead, too. He uses his Invisibility Cloak to leave the grounds, and the Snitch he got courtesy of Dumbledore's will finally opens to reveal the Resurrection Stone. When he holds the Stone, images of his parents, Lupin, and Sirius appear to walk with him as he goes to face Voldemort. Harry reaches the clearing where Voldemort is now waiting, removes his Cloak, and waits, not drawing the wand he has or making any moves. Voldemort strikes...
Harry finds himself in a brightly lit place which, eventually, looks to him like the train station at King's Cross. There's no-one else there at first, but then Dumbledore appears, congratulating Harry for all his bravery and cleverness. A small, wailing creature is also on the edge of the scene, and although Harry feels pity for it, Dumbledore explains that neither he nor Harry can do anything to help the creature. He then starts to explain some of what he believes happened.
When Voldemort took Harry's blood, believing that in gaining the protection Lily Potter died to give her son he was also weakening Harry, he created a second tie between them. The first tie had been when he unintentionally made Harry his last Horcrux; taking Harry's blood repeated that tie. "Neither can die while the other lives", sort of thing. As for the wand, when Harry and Voldemort first duelled with wands that had feathers from the same phoenix, Harry's wand also imbibed some of the qualities that Voldemort had put into his own wand. Thus, when Harry's wand went up against Lucius Malfoy's, Harry's wand had the qualities of two powerful wizards, and was thus a great deal stronger than Malfoy's wand. However, these strengths were only directed against Voldemort--against another wizard, Harry's wand would only rely on its own natural ability.
Dumbledore then tells about his youth. He had been an ambitious young man, and going to Hogwarts had been a way for him to distance himself from his family. When Kendra had died, Albus had felt trapped into returning to Godric's Hollow. Then Grindelwald arrived, spouting how wizards were superior to others. Dumbledore envisaged a world where his sister wouldn't have to be held captive, where Muggles wouldn't harm people like Ariana, and where he would have fame and glory. More, he had learned about the Deathly Hallows, and hoped to resurrect his parents, thus freeing himself from the obligations of a sister and brother to care for.
But Aberforth returned and screeched a few home truths to Albus. Neither Albus nor Aberforth knew which curse ended up killing Ariana, although Dumbledore always feared that he had literally killed his sister. From that point on, he resisted all offers of political office, and took a teaching post in order to humble himself. He delayed facing Grindelwald for five years mainly because he was afraid he might be told that he had actually killed his sister. He only went to face Grindelwald in the end because so many people were dying, he felt he could no longer refuse.
Dumbledore then found himself facing all of the Deathly Hallows. He had won the Elder Wand from Grindelwald: Harry's Invisibility Cloak had also arrived via James: and when he found Marvolo Gaunt's ring, he recognized the Resurrection Stone. He no longer hoped to become great, glorious, or famous, but he hoped to see his dead family so he could apologize to them. But the Ring was still a Horcrux when Dumbledore slid it on, and it cursed him terribly. He knew, thanks to Snape, that he had perhaps a year to live after he had rashly put it on.
Harry then learns that he can choose to remain here, to "board a train" and go on. But he also knows that he can return to life, and fight Voldemort. He chooses the latter, although when he does return, he realizes that both he and Voldemort have been "dead" ever since Voldemort attacked. The Dark Lord commands someone to look at Harry's body and make sure whether Harry is dead or alive. Narcissa Malfoy comes over, and under her breath asks about Draco. Harry whispers that Draco was alive in the castle the last time he was there, so Narcissa screams that Harry is dead. Hagrid had been caught by the Death Eaters, so Voldemort forces the half-giant to carry the body up to the castle so the supporters can see that the Boy Who Lived is dead.
McGonagall, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all scream horribly when they see Hagrid carrying a seeming dead Harry, and Neville runs forward to try to attack. Voldemort offers to let Neville become a Death Eater, and is turned down, so he magically binds Neville and forces a flaming Sorting Had down over the young man. But the binding loosens, and Neville suddenly pulls the sword of Godric Gryffindor out of the Hat before leading the troops. Neville slashes through Nagini with the sword, destroying the last Horcrux, and Harry reveals himself, ready to fight the final round.
Harry asks Riddle--Riddle, now, not Voldemort--if he will try to feel some remorse for everything he's done. Bellatrix has died fighting against Molly Weasley, so all his best lieutenants are dead now. Voldemort insists that he's the strongest wizard there, and that Harry won't win. The Dark Lord jeers, "You must believe that you have magic that I do not, or else a weapon more powerful than mine?" Harry replies that both are true. Voldemort sneers that he has performed magic that someone like Dumbledore never dreamed of doing. Harry explains that Dumbledore did dream of it, but resisted the urging. Voldemort crows that he brought about the death of Dumbledore, and Harry proves him wrong, showing how Dumbledore's death came about through a plan between Snape and the headmaster. Thus, Snape never bested Dumbledore, and was never master of the Elder Wand. In fact, it was Draco who disarmed Dumbledore, so for a time, Draco was master of the Elder Wand.
But even while Voldemort starts to plot how he could yet become master of the Elder Wand, Harry reveals that a few weeks previously, HE disarmed Draco. Therefore, the Elder Wand should consider Harry to be its true master. So, while Harry uses Draco's wand to cast an Expelliarmus charm, Voldemort uses the Elder Wand to throw an Avada Kedavra. But the Elder Wand flies out of his hand, and Harry catches it, and then the killing curse bounces straight back to Voldemort, who falls to the ground dead.
And while some of the children like Colin Creevy are also now lying dead in the Great Hall, a giant celebration breaks out among the students. Neville is surrounded by admirers, gazing longingly at the sword of Gryffindor. Everyone wants to thank Harry or talk to Harry, but all he wants is to tell Ron and Hermione about what he saw in Snape's memory, how the end came about, and then have a sandwich before falling into bed.
The last few pages come after a page that reads, "Nineteen years later." The Hogwarts Express is getting ready to depart with those year's students. James Potter, 13, is teasing his brother Albus, 11, that Albus might end up in Slytherin, an idea that horrifies the young boy. Lily, age 9, is complaining bitterly that she wants to go to Hogwarts now, and Harry reassures her that it won't be long. The Potters meet the Weasleys, after avoiding Percy (who is waxing lyric about broomstick regulations), who are putting their eldest on the train. Rose is beaming in her Hogwarts robes, while her brother Hugo is arguing with her about which house she'll enter. Ron proudly admits passing his driving test (but admits to Harry under his breath that he had to Confound the examiner to do so), and teases Rose that if she isn't taken into Gryffindor, she'll be disinherited. They look to one side, and see Draco Malfoy with his wife, sending their son off for his first year at Hogwarts as well (little Scorpius Malfoy). James, who has been running up and down the train corridors, rushes up to his family with the news that Teddy Lupin, Harry's godson, is kissing Bill and Fleur's daughter, Victoire, rather enthusiastically in the corridor. Lily thinks this is romantic, as it would make Teddy a real relative. Harry jokes that Teddy already comes round for dinner four nights a week when he isn't at Hogwarts, and ought to come live with them. Ginny tells James to send their love to Neville, but James is shocked at the idea of sending "love" to the Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts. Albus is still worried about the possibility that he could end up in Slytherin, so Harry stoops down to talk to him softly. He reminds Albus that he is called Albus Severus, both of whom where noble men and great headmasters of Hogwarts, and that Severus was a Slytherin. Therefore, it's perfectly possible to be a Slytherin and be a good person. But if Albus really doesn't want to be in Slytherin, that's okay, because the Sorting Hat will listen to the person wearing it, and Harry admits that such a thing happened to him. As the train pulls away with the children, Ginny notices that Harry is still waving, and assures him they'll be alright. Harry rubs his scar, and thinks gladly that it hasn't troubled him for 19 years now.
Cut To The Chase
Mad-Eye Moody dies
George Weasley loses an ear
Fred Weasley dies
Ted Tonks, father of Nymphadora (aka Tonks) dies
Remus Lupin dies
Tonks dies, having given birth to a boy a few months earlier (she married Lupin)
Colin Creevey dies
Bellatrix Lestrange dies
Crabbe (one of Draco’s sidekicks) dies
Harry briefly dies
Ron and Hermione marry and have two kids.
Harry and Ginny marry and have three kids.
Draco Malfoy marries and has a son.
Bill and Fleur have a daughter.
Remus and Tonks’ son has grown up and loves Fleur’s daughter.
Happy ever after.