At Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding reception, Kingsley Shacklebolt's Patronus arrives, announcing that Scrimgeour is dead and the Ministry of Magic has fallen under Voldemort's control. This terrifies the guests and starts a panic. As Death Eaters approach, Harry, Ron and Hermione Disapparate to Tottenham Court Road, where they hide in an empty cafe to plan their next move. However, the Death Eaters find them there and a confrontation ensues. Narrowly escaping, they eventually find and take refuge in 12 Grimmauld Place.
While at Grimmauld Place, Remus Lupin arrives with a proposition to join them in their quest, when he announces that he has left Nymphadora, his wife, because he had found out she was pregnant, and he feared the child would carry his lycanthropy. Harry mocks his old Professor into a rage that sends him flying across the room, but his efforts had the desired effect: Harry would later learn that Remus returned to his family shortly after the argument. Harry deduces from a sign on a bedroom door that Sirius Black's brother Regulus was the "R.A.B" who removed the Locket Horcrux from the sea cave.[HP6] Hermione recalls seeing a locket whilst cleaning the house during the events of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They discover that the house-elf Kreacher had stolen the locket from the items to be thrown out. Kreacher admits that he had placed the Locket Horcrux in the cave as ordered by Voldemort, and Regulus later died after retrieving it and deceiving Voldemort (though Voldemort didn't know what Regulus had done). With the help of Kreacher and an unwilling Mundungus Fletcher they learn that the locket is now in Dolores Umbridge's possession (Mundungus having stolen the locket and given it to Umbridge as a bribe). The trio successfully infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, with the aid of Polyjuice potion and recover the locket, while saving suspected Muggle-Borns from the Ministry. Grimmauld Place is compromised when they attempt to escape, forcing them to flee to the countryside.
The trio begin to travel the country, looking for Horcruxes and means to destroy them. Overhearing a discussion between Griphook the Goblin and several others, including Muggle-Born Dean Thomas and Nymphadora's father, Ted Tonks, the trio learn that the Sword of Gryffindor, now at Hogwarts and in the office of Severus Snape, the new Headmaster, is a fake. Ginny and her friends were thwarted in their attempted theft of it. Griphook says to Dean that they were punished severely by Snape. Harry decides to find the real one that can destroy the Horcruxes; some time after this Ron and Harry argue over his lack of a plan for finding and destroying the Horcruxes. Ron leaves and Hermione is seen crying several times after this. Harry and Hermione search for the sword in Godric's Hollow, where Harry finds his parents' gravesites, as well as their house, which has fallen into disarray. While looking at the house, Harry and Hermione are beckoned by Bathilda Bagshot into her home. Knowing something isn't right in her dusty house, Harry follows her upstairs, where she transforms into Voldemort's snake, Nagini. Voldemort himself appears almost immediately after. Hermione casts a Blasting Curse which ricochets around the room, facilitating their escape, but also irreparably damaging Harry's wand, leaving a thin strand of phoenix feather connecting the two halves together.
Hermione apparates Harry to the Forest of Dean, a place Hermione visited as a child. A silver doe-shaped Patronus leads Harry to an icy pond containing the real Sword of Gryffindor. As Harry dives into the freezing water to retrieve it, the locket Horcrux tightens around his neck, strangling him. He is saved by Ron, who was guided back to the pair by the deluminator Dumbledore gave him. Ron recovers the sword and destroys the locket with it, after the locket conjured up phantom images of Harry and Hermione that tell him that they were happy without Ron, and Fake-Hermione says that she would never love Ron. Ron is devastated, but Harry convinces him that what it said wasn't true. Ron warns that Voldemort's name is now Tabooed; speaking it reveals the speaker's location to Voldemort and the Death Eaters.



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