As Voldemort and his Death Eaters openly wreak havoc throughout Britain, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge has been forced to resign following public outcry over his mishandling the situation. Before he leaves office, he pays a visit to the Muggle Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to warn him that events occurring in the magical world are now having an effect on the Muggle world and that things are going pretty badly for the Ministry of Magic at present. The Prime Minister is then introduced to Fudge's successor, Rufus Scrimgeour. At his home in Spinner's End, Severus Snape is sworn to an Unbreakable Vow by Draco Malfoy's mother Narcissa. Although her sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, distrusts Snape, he agrees to protect Draco during his task assigned by the Dark Lord, and complete the mission should he fail.
During the summer, Albus Dumbledore enlists Harry Potter's unwitting help to persuade retired professor Horace Slughorn to return to his old Hogwarts post. When Albus Dumbledore comes to collect Harry, an unsuspecting Harry is told that he has inherited ALL of Sirius Black's (his deceased godfather) possessions, including the house, Buckbeak, and his mumbling, loyal - to his beloved wailing mistress - house-elf, Kreacher. Harry then spends the remaining holiday at the Burrow with the Weasleys and Hermione. To his family's dismay (especially Mrs. Weasley and Ginny), Bill Weasley has become engaged to Fleur Delacour, the Beauxbatons champion in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry, Ron, and Hermione receive their O.W.L. results. To become Aurors, Harry and Ron must take N.E.W.T.-level Potions as a prerequisite, but their grades in the subject are too low for Snape's advanced class, thus ending their career ambitions. However, Harry is very pleased (and secretly smug) to discover that he was the only one out of the three of them to get an 'Outstanding' in Defence Against the Dark Arts. While in Diagon Alley, Harry, Ron and Hermione spot Draco Malfoy and follow him. At Borgin & Burkes, a dark magic shop in Knockturn Alley, Malfoy threatens Mr. Borgin about repairing one item and keeping another safe. Hermione goes in after to try and find out what he was reserving. Suspecting Draco may be a Death Eater, Harry resolves to keep a close watch on him.



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