Chapter 14 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Thief
Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves lying on the ground in a forest. At first, Harry thinks it is the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts, but quickly realizes the trees are too young and it would be too dangerous for them to be near the castle anyway. Ron's shoulder has been severely Splinched while Disapparating, so Hermione treats his injury with Essence of Dittany, though he remains faint from shock and blood loss. Hermione says she Disapparated them from Grimmauld Place because Yaxley grabbed her when Harry Apparated the Trio there. Hermione jinxed him, then Apparated them to the forest where the Quidditch World Cup was held. It is unlikely they can return to Grimmauld Place. As Hermione has been a Secret Keeper since Dumbledore's death and led Yaxley to Grimmauld Place, it is probably now known to him. Harry blames himself for losing their hiding place, wasting time to retrieve Moody's magical eye.
Remembering how quickly Death Eaters found them at the Tottenham Court Road, Harry and Ron debate whether they should stay or move on, but Ron is too weak to travel. As Hermione casts the protective spells, Harry summons the tent from her bag. Ron stops Hermione from speaking Voldemort's name, saying it "feels" jinxed and requests that Harry and Hermione refrain from using it.
Hermione retrieves the egg-sized Locket, which bears the initial "S" inset in small green stones on its cover. Harry determines it must be opened before it can be destroyed, but it is tightly shut. Ron detects a small heartbeat within, but Harry and Hermione are uncertain if they hear or feel anything. To keep it safe until it can be destroyed, Harry places it around his neck. He and Hermione then prepare to stand guard using Harry's Sneakoscope.
Standing watch, Harry starts having awful thoughts. Rather than feeling elated over finding the Locket Horcrux, Harry feels lost, unsure how to proceed, and clueless as to how to destroy the Horcrux. Though worried about Kreacher's safety, Hermione and Harry had decided against summoning him, fearing a Death Eater may come by side-along apparition. And his scar is hurting again.
Harry slips inside Voldemort's mind again and sees an old man suspended upside down. Voldemort, addressing the man as Gregorovitch, demands something that Gregorovitch claims was stolen from him long ago. Voldemort enters Gregorovitch's memories and sees a tall, blond man who Stuns Gregorovitch before exiting through a window. When Voldemort kills Gregorovitch, Harry returns to himself. Hermione dismisses the notion that he was reading Voldemort's mind, then takes over the watch. Inside the tent, Harry tells Ron about Gregorovitch's memory, and thinks he has seen the blond thief before. Ron wonders why Voldemort would kill Gregorovitch if he wanted him to make a new wand or if Voldemort was trying to create another Horcrux. Harry thinks Voldemort's soul may be too shredded to allow for another Horcrux. Harry falls asleep wondering about the blond thief. With Gregorovitch gone, the man's life is in danger now.
Until now, Dumbledore's quest has mainly tested the Trio's intellectual and magical prowess rather than their physical abilities. Now, forced to leave their cozy hiding place, they must endure the harsh environment while on the run, coping with the oncoming cold winter weather, limited food supplies, and being cut off from their allies, who at least knew their location, and could communicate if needed. Losing their headquarters is a huge blow to the mission, but fortunately, Hermione was well prepared for this eventuality and had packed everything they need inside her bag. However, despite Hermione providing them with a snug tent containing a kitchen, bunks, and other necessities, it hardly compares to Grimmauld Place's amenities and Kreacher's attentive care. The hardship could cause the Trio's morale to plunge to an all-time low. But they may have needed just such an incentive to force them into leaving Grimmauld Place and searching more aggressively for the other Horcruxes, rather than sequestering themselves in an endless attempt to hypothesize what and where they might be.
This unexpected shift in the mission's direction also focuses attention on each Trio member's character. For the recuperating Ron, used to three hot meals a day and comfortable living conditions, the quest's increasing hardships may prove especially difficult. Ron has always seemed less suited for the mission than Harry and Hermione, but his having been raised in the Wizarding world does allow him to contribute in ways they are unable. His ability to detect a "heartbeat" within the Locket while the others cannot and "feeling" that Voldemort's name could be jinxed, may indicate that he has far more magical ability than he ever realized. These emerging traits could be a major turning point in Ron's maturation and magical development. However, his severe injury and being emotionally burdened by knowing that his family is in grave danger if it is ever discovered that he is helping Harry, could prove to be a set-back.
Hermione reacting incorrectly under stress is seen again here. While it is almost certainly true that Yaxley is now privy to Number 12, Grimmauld Place's location, this does not automatically make him a Secret Keeper as Hermione mistakenly believes. She may be over-generalizing from her own experience. It is true that having been privy to the secret, Hermione has become a Secret-Keeper herself, but that happened only because Dumbledore, the original Secret-Keeper, had died. For Yaxley to become a Secret-Keeper for the house's location at Grimmauld Place, it would be necessary for the person who revealed that secret to him, in this case Harry, who was the prime mover in the Apparition, to die. So long as Harry remains alive, Yaxley can enter the house, but he is unable to reveal where it is to any other person. Snape remains far more threatening, as he is a Secret Keeper and so can freely divulge Grimmauld Place's location. The one factor that increases the risk is that Yaxley now knows that three Order members were still resident at Grimmauld Place, which might inspire Snape to reveal that secret, or cause Voldemort to force Snape to reveal it, if he has discovered that Snape is a Secret Keeper. Just why Snape never entered the house while the Trio was there, or shared this information with other Death Eaters so they could enter, is puzzling.
Harry's using magic to Summon the Dittany from Hermione's bag is partly a demonstration. When the Trio fled the wedding to Tottenham Court Road, the two Death Eaters found them immediately, though Harry did not cast any magic before the Death Eaters arrived. Since then, all the magic that Harry had performed was while he was at Grimmauld Place or within the Ministry of Magic, two locations where it would be undetectable. This was the first time that he performed magic in the open. If Harry still carried the Trace that detects underage magic, as he suspected he was, this first unprotected use of magic would have brought Death Eaters, but it did not. Therefore, there must have been some other mechanism that allowed the Death Eaters to find him; Ron may have some idea regarding what that is.
Once again, despite nearly being killed or captured, the Trio was reluctant to inflict harm on an enemy, even under combat conditions. Other Order of the Phoenix members probably would have executed or incarcerated Yaxley, whom Hermione believes has now become a Secret Keeper and can expose Grimmauld Place's location to Voldemort. Hermione instead opted to Disapparate the Trio to the countryside, sacrificing their hiding place rather than take a life. Apart from killing Yaxley or Stunning and turning him over to the Order of the Phoenix to deal with, Hermione presumably also had the option of incapacitating him and then working a Memory Charm on him, though Hermione may be aware that Memory Charms can be ineffective when Voldemort counters them. Apparently, however, the chaotic and dangerous situation is perhaps preventing her from thinking or acting rationally, and likely caused her to panic.
Knowing that Voldemort is searching for Gregorovitch, a wandmaker, it initially seems apparent that Voldemort wants a new wand or is looking for an explanation as to why Harry's wand always defeats his own. No matter what wand Voldemort wields, Harry's wand seems impervious. If Voldemort only wanted a new wand, presumably he would have Gregorovitch make him one, with the expectation that a wand made by a different artisan would be protected from the same fate as the other wands he used on Harry. As was seen with Mr. Ollivander, Voldemort's persuasion techniques tend to leave an artisan in a rather unsuitable state to perform fine craftsmanship. However, having found Gregorovitch, Voldemort asks him about something he is thought to have once owned. Although Gregorovitch claims he never possessed it, Voldemort sees in his memory that someone stole it from him; it is unknown what that object was or who the thief might be. As Voldemort then murders Gregorovitch, it seems our assumption about Voldemort wanting to have a new wand made is incorrect. What, then, is Voldemort seeking?
- Why did Hermione choose this location to Apparate to?
- Why is Hermione angry at Harry for watching Voldemort's thoughts?
- What does Harry see in Voldemort's vision?
- Why would Voldemort seek out and then kill Gregorovitch?
- What does Ron mean when he says that Voldemort's name feels like a jinx? Why makes him think this?
- Why do the Harry and Hermione respect Ron's request not to Speak Voldemort's name?
- Why is Ron able to detect a "heartbeat" within the Locket, while the other two cannot?
- Why does Harry have awful thoughts while he is taking the watch? What might those thoughts be?
- Who might the blond thief be?
- Considering the mental connection that exists between Harry and Voldemort, why does Hermione dismiss the notion that Harry is reading Voldemort's mind?
- How might losing their comfortable hiding place actually help the Trio's mission?
Ron becomes more adversely affected by close physical contact with the Locket Horcrux than the other two, somewhat akin to Harry initially being more sensitive to Dementors than others. The Locket does also seem to have an immediate effect on Harry when he first wears it, but, unlike Ron, who increasingly grows agitated and hostile, Harry experiences despair. He realizes in the next chapter that the Locket is engendering this emotion only after Hermione relieves him of it, causing him to immediately feel better.
Ron's instinct that Voldemort's name feels "jinxed" will prove to be more than mere superstition on his part. Voldemort's name has been tabooed; anyone speaking it immediately alerts Death Eaters and Snatchers, Voldemort's bounty hunters, to their location. Voldemort knows that unlike most other Wizards, Order of the Phoenix members in general, and Harry in particular, do not fear speaking his name, thus making it easy to locate them. This is yet another example of Harry's predictable behavior often being used against him, just as when he revealed his presence by executing what has become his signature spell, during the attack while leaving the Dursley house.
Although Harry's presence apparently remained undetected when he uttered Voldemort's name inside Grimmauld Place, speaking it may have broken some protective charms on the building. We do not know why it did not seem to; possibly it was the age of the protective spells, or that the protective spells were cast by a Dark wizard that prevented it from breaking. Additionally, Grimmauld Place being unplottable may make it impossible to determine exactly where Harry is. Ultimately, though, it is possible that the only reason Grimmauld Place remained impervious to Death Eaters may have been that it was still protected by the Fidelius charm. The appearance of a Death Eater in front of the house shortly after that point may be a coincidence, but the timing is very suspicious. It is possible that the magically-enforced taboo caused Harry to experience another painful session inside Voldemort's mind immediately after he spoke his name. Ron's twitchiness about Voldemort's name has resulted in it being largely unspoken to date, and that continues through this chapter and several more.
The object Voldemort seeks is the Elder Wand, one of the three titular Deathly Hallows. Voldemort, raised in a Muggle orphanage, has never heard of the Deathly Hallows; he knew nothing about the Resurrection Stone when he made Gaunt's ring into a Horcrux, and he has never searched for Death's Invisibility Cloak. The Elder Wand, however, has its own history apart from the Hallows, and that attracted Voldemort's attention. It is certain that Dumbledore knew what powers the wand he wielded contained, and also that Harry, if he learned they existed, might try to find all three Hallows. While Dumbledore realized that Harry needed to learn about the Hallows, because Voldemort was searching for the Elder Wand, Dumbledore believed that the Horcruxes were the greater danger, and so acted to delay Harry learning about the Hallows and their properties.
Also, though Harry's wand has grown more powerful and it has easily defeated any wand that Voldemort has wielded thus far, Harry will soon learn that his own wand is not indestructible.
It will be revealed later that the young blond thief is the evil Wizard Grindelwald, who Dumbledore defeated in a duel, thus capturing the Elder Wand.