Chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Goblin's Revenge
Before Ron and Hermione awaken, Harry buries Moody's magical eye under a tree. They then shift camp to a small town, but Harry is unable to enter because Dementors are present. Ron is amazed; normally, Harry produces an excellent Patronus, but he now seems incapable. Hermione suspects the Horcrux may be affecting him. Harry immediately feels better when she takes it from him, but, remembering everything he did while wearing it, believes he was not possessed. He overrules Hermione's suggestion that they only carry the Locket, fearing it could be lost. Hermione suggests taking turns wearing it.
The Trio wanders the countryside, camping in a new location each night. Harry, Ron, and Hermione endlessly debate where the other Horcruxes could be. Harry is adamant that one is at Hogwarts, that being the only place Tom Riddle ever considered home. Ron thinks Dumbledore would have found it by now, but Harry reminds him that Dumbledore never claimed to know every Hogwarts secret. They find Tom Riddle's orphanage in London, but it has been demolished and replaced by offices. Hermione's suggestion to search the foundation is vetoed.
As they travel throughout the country, Ron, used to three hot meals a day, becomes increasingly annoyed with Hermione's cooking attempts. One night, Harry hears someone. Hermione silently deals out Extendable Ears. Ted Tonks, the Goblin, Griphook, and his compatriot, Gornuk can be heard talking nearby. Also nearby is Dean Thomas and someone named Dirk, who was being transported to Azkaban but escaped. According to Dirk, Griphook told him that several Hogwarts students, including Ginny, sneaked into Snape's office and broke into the case containing the Sword of Gryffindor. They were caught and given detention. About a week later, Snape transferred the Sword to the Lestranges' Gringotts vault. But Griphook immediately recognized the sword was a Wizard-made fake. Dirk also mentions that the students had been "cruelly punished." The group now believes that Harry Potter was telling the truth about Snape killing Dumbledore, and anyone wanting to know what is really happening should read The Quibbler. Lately, Xeno Lovegood has been publishing truthful stories, without mentioning Crumple-Horned Snorkacks.
Shortly after, the party moves off. Hermione pulls out Phineas Nigellus' portrait. She blindfolds him so he is unable to report their location. Phineas updates them about Ginny, Neville, and Luna, whose punishment was working in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. When asked about the Sword, Phineas explains that Goblin armor rejects ordinary dirt, accepting only that which makes it stronger. Harry wants Dumbledore brought from his office portrait, but the former Headmasters can only travel to their own portraits outside Hogwarts and to other portraits within the castle, nowhere else. Phineas, however, says that Dumbledore used the Sword to break open a ring.
Harry and Hermione realize that the Sword absorbed Basilisk venom when Harry killed the Basilisk with it. Now it can destroy Horcruxes, but they have no idea where the Sword is located. When Harry asks Ron for his opinion, he appears unenthusiastic and agitated, and accuses Harry of not knowing what he is doing. A heated argument erupts, and Ron nearly attacks Harry. Hermione casts a shield charm to block him. Ron removes the Locket and threatens to leave; when Hermione refuses to go with him, Ron storms off into the night, Disapparating.
This chapter is critical in that it reveals not only that Dumbledore destroyed the Ring Horcrux, but also that there is an additional way to use Basilisk venom to eliminate Horcruxes. Until this point, the only known venom source is the Basilisk fangs in the Chamber of Secrets underneath Hogwarts. Harry, apparently, is reluctant to return to Hogwarts, possibly fearing Snape. Now, we discover that the Sword of Gryffindor, which absorbed venom from the Basilisk that Harry killed, can be used to destroy Horcruxes. While a Basilisk fang or Gryffindor's Sword is needed to dispatch Horcruxes, the sword that was in Snape's office and is now secured in a vault at Gringotts Bank is only a replica and will not do the job. The problem now is, where is the real Sword of Gryffindor hidden and who might be hiding it?
Meanwhile, the mission suffers a severe blow with Ron's abrupt departure, which was motivated by several factors. Ron is affected more by the Horcrux Locket than the other two, so that his angers and fears are exacerbated to a greater extent whenever he wears the Locket. This often leaves him in a downbeat and negative mood. Additionally, compared to Harry who always suffered miserably at the Dursleys, Ron enjoyed everyday creature comforts, regular meals at home and Hogwarts, and being coddled by his overly-protective mother; his family situation thus left him more dependent than Harry and less self-sufficient than Hermione. Moreover, Ron as the youngest son had always been content to tag along after his older brothers, and is now doing the same with Harry and Hermione. Likely this is in part because he thought Harry knew more about what he was doing, and that Dumbledore had told Harry what to do. Even though Harry had strongly discouraged him from joining his mission, Ron had insisted on going, mostly out of loyalty and friendship. But injury, harsh living conditions, frustration with Harry's seeming indecisiveness, knowing his sister suffered punishment at Hogwarts, and constant worry about his family, coupled with the Locket's Darkness so strongly exerted upon him, have left Ron unable to control his anger and impatience. Eavesdropping on the other party, and hearing them preparing salmon when the best Hermione could manage was a bony pike, seems to have pushed him past his limit, resulting in Ron's lashing out at Harry. Harry, equally frustrated by what little and confusing information Dumbledore left him, and by his long-running uncertainty about what he could do once he found a Horcrux, is unable to contain his own temper and flares back at Ron, resulting in the latter's departure.
Although his full name is not mentioned here, the Dirk who is traveling with Ted Tonks may be Dirk Cresswell, one-time head of the Goblin Liaison Office in the Ministry of Magic. This would explain why he was traveling with Griphook, as well as suggest why he had to leave the Ministry—in an earlier chapter, we saw that Dirk had been investigated and "found" to have Muggle ancestry.
- Why did Hermione want to search the building foundation where Voldemort's orphanage used to be? What might she have expected to find? Why are Harry and Ron against this?
- Why does Ron abruptly leave the Trio? What might be affecting his decision?
- Why does Hermione distrust Phineas Nigellus enough that she blindfolds him whenever she summons him to his portrait? Why didn't she worry about this while at Grimmauld Place?
- Could Phineas have revealed their presence to anyone while they were there, and who might that be?
- Why does Hermione take on the cooking task? Is the author assigning her a traditional female role for a reason?
- Why does Harry bury Moody's magical eye, rather than keep it? Could it have been used to aid their mission? If so, how?
- Why doesn't the Trio make contact with the other parties they hear in the woods, especially knowing that friends like Dean Thomas and Ted Tonks are among them?
- Why would the Quibbler, a paper known for its outlandish stories, now publish the "truth" about Harry Potter? How can it be trusted to be the truth?
- The Trio overhear that Ginny, Neville, and Luna were "severely" punished for attempting to steal Gryffindor's sword, yet Phineas Nigellus' portrait tells them that Snape only assigned the students detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. Why would Snape give them such a light punishment for such a serious offense?
- Knowing that Basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes, why doesn't the Trio sneak into Hogwarts to collect its fangs from the Chamber of Secrets to use as weapons?
- Each Trio member was affected emotionally and physically by wearing the Locket Horcrux. Did Dolores Umbridge suffer any ill-effects while she wore it? Why, or why not?
We recall that Harry had destroyed Riddle's Diary with a Basilisk fang, and that Hermione had mentioned Basilisk venom as being among the rare items able to destroy a Horcrux. The reader may wonder why the Trio has not gone to Hogwarts to gather the dead monster's fangs that are still lying in the Chamber of Secrets and use them to destroy the Horcruxes, rather than beginning what now seems to be a nearly impossible quest for the Sword which could be anywhere. While that may seem logical, this apparently never occurred to them while planning the mission. If it had, and it was earlier on, they should have been able to safely return to Hogwarts while it was still under McGonagall's command and before Snape's return. However, it is probably a safe assumption that if the Trio realizes this now, Harry would probably only be able to enter Hogwarts once; he is unable to easily flit in, nab a fang, and nip back out again. Even with his Invisibility Cloak, Harry knows that Snape might detect his presence using Legilimancy, thus forcing Harry to stand and fight. Nor can an ally there retrieve and smuggle a fang to him because the Chamber of Secrets can only be opened by someone speaking Parseltongue, though Ron later overcomes this particular obstacle. With Snape now Headmaster and the Carrows teaching Muggle Studies and Dark Arts, there is now a permanent Death Eater presence at the school that, at least from the Trio's perspective, would make such an intrusion seem nearly impossible. Unknown to the Trio just yet, Snape would likely have avoided interfering.
When the Trio must return to Hogwarts later in the book, it is Ron who realizes that the fangs can destroy Horcruxes, and he devises a way to enter the Chamber. Until then, Hogwarts is effectively inaccessible to the Trio, and, after hearing that the Sword is no longer at Hogwarts, Harry believes he no longer needs to go there to destroy the Locket Horcrux. Later, he learns that another soul shard is hidden at the school, forcing his return. For now, it is a great relief to him, and us, to know how Horcruxes can be destroyed without recourse to the Basilisk fangs in the Chamber, even if the Trio must still locate Gryffindor's real Sword with its Basilisk-venom infusion. It becomes clearer why Dumbledore attempted to bequeath the Sword to Harry. It is also logical to assume that it was Dumbledore who switched the real Sword for the fake one, with the intention that Harry would then find the genuine blade to destroy the Horcruxes. It will be revealed that Dumbledore knew he only had a short time left to live, which is probably when he included Gryffindor's Sword in his will as a clue that Harry would need it. Dumbledore apparently also arranged for an, as yet, unknown ally to dispatch the real Sword to Harry in an upcoming chapter.
To Ron's credit, he does attempt to rejoin the group immediately after his angry departure, but he runs into some unexpected trouble. Also, Dumbledore had anticipated that Ron, being the most immature and least prepared, might fail the mission at some point. Dumbledore's bequest to Ron, (the Deluminator), is actually a means for him to find his way back, should he ever become separated from the Trio, as Ron unexpectedly discovers later.