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Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling (ne Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16.1 km) northeast of Bristol. Her sister Dianne (Di) was born at their home on 28 June 1967 when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded almost 200 years ago by famed abolitionistWilliam Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her elderly headmaster at St. Michael's, Alfred Dunn, was claimed as the inspiration for the Harry Potter character Albus Dumbledore.
As a child, Rowling enjoyed writing fantasy stories, which she often read to her sister. "I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it," she recalls, "Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee."
At the age of nine, Rowling moved to the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind", gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.
She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College. Rowling has said of her adolescence, "Hermione is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books. "Ron Weasley isn't a living portrait of Sean, but he really is very Sean-ish." Of her musical tastes of the time, she said "My favourite group in the world is The Smiths. And when I was going through a punky phase, it was The Clash." Rowling read for a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she says was a "bit of a shock" as she "was expecting to be amongst lots of similar people' thinking radical thoughts." Once she made friends with "some like-minded people" she says she began to enjoy herself. With a year of study in Paris, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry "came fully formed" into her mind. "I really don't know where the idea came from", she told the Boston Globe, "It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head." When she had reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately.
However, in December of that year, Rowling's mother died, after her ten-year battle with multiple sclerosis. Rowling commented, "I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter." Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.
Rowling then moved to Porto, Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. While there, on 16 October 1992, she married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their one child, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes (named after Jessica Mitford), was born on 27 July 1993 in Portugal. They separated in November 1993. In December 1994, Rowling and her daughter moved to be near her sister in Edinburgh, Scotland. During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. It was the feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of Dementors, soulless creatures featured in Harry Potter.
After Jessica's birth, Rowling left her teaching job, choosing instead to survive on welfare while working on her first novel. She wrote in many cafs, especially Nicolson's Caf, whenever she could get Jessica to fall asleep. In a 2001 BBC interview, Rowling denied the rumour that she wrote in local cafs to escape from her unheated flat, remarking, "I am not stupid enough to rent an unheated flat in Edinburgh in midwinter. It had heating." Instead, as she stated on the American TV program A&E Biography, one of the reasons she wrote in cafs was because taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to make her fall asleep.
In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evans, a reader who had been asked to review the book's first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her quest for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later she was finally given the green light (and a 1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small British publishing house in London, England. The decision to publish Rowling's book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father and immediately demanded the next. Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children's books. Soon after, in 1997, Rowling received an 8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her to continue writing. The following spring, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for $105,000. Rowling has said she "nearly died" when she heard the news.
In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher's Stone with an initial print-run of 1000 copies, five hundred of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between 16,000 and 25,000. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestl Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children's Book of the Year, and later, the Children's Book Award. Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July, 1998. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher's Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time.
In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf.
The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the US on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries. Some 372,775 copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year. In the US, the book sold three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all literary sales records. Rowling admitted that she had had a moment of crisis while writing the novel; "Halfway through writing Four, I realised there was a serious fault with the plot ... I've had some of my blackest moments with this book ... One chapter I rewrote 13 times, though no-one who has read it can spot which one or know the pain it caused me." Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.
A wait of three years occurred between the release of Goblet of Fire and the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This gap led to press speculation that Rowling had developed writer's block, speculations she fervently denied. Rowling later admitted that writing the book was a chore. "I think Phoenix could have been shorter", she told Lev Grossman, "I knew that, and I ran out of time and energy toward the end."
The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release. While writing, she told a fan online, "Book six has been planned for years, but before I started writing seriously I spend two months re-visiting the plan and making absolutely sure I knew what I was doing." She noted on her website that the opening chapter of book six, which features a conversation between the Minister of Magic and the British Prime Minister, had been intended as the first chapter first for Philosopher's Stone, then Chamber of Secrets then Prisoner of Azkaban. In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.
The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book was revealed 21 December 2006 to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In February 2007 it was reported that Rowling wrote on a bust in her hotel room at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh that she had finished the seventh book in that room on 11 January 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 (0:00 BST) and broke its predecessor's record as the fastest-selling book of all time. It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States. She has said that the last chapter of the book was written "in something like 1990", as part of her earliest work on the entire series. During a year period when Rowling was completing the last book, she allowed herself to be filmed for a documentary which aired in Britain on ITV on 30 December 2007. It was entitled J K Rowling... A Year In The Life and showed her returning to her old Edinburgh tenement flat where she lived, and completed the first Harry Potter book. Re-visiting the flat for the first time reduced her to tears, saying it was "really where I turned my life around completely."
Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated 7 billion ($15 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages.
The Harry Potter books have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television, although the series' overall impact on children's reading habits has been questioned.
1997 Nestl Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award) (9-11 years category) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Carnegie Medal (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Children's Book Award Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Nestl Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award) (9-11 years category) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1998 Primo Centro per la Letteratura Infantile (Italy) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Sheffield Children's Book Award Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1998 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1998 Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year Award Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1999 British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1999 Children's Book Award Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1999 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1999 Nestl Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award) (9-11 years category) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
1999 Prix Sorciere (France) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1999 Scottish Arts Council Children's Book of the Year Award Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1999 Sheffield Children's Book of the Year Award (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1999 Whitbread Children's Book Award Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2000 Carnegie Medal (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2000 Children's Book Award (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2000 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2000 Sheffield Children's Book of the Year Award (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2001 Children's Book Award (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2003 British Book Awards Book of the Year (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2003 WH Smith People's Choice Award Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2006 British Book Awards Book of the Year Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
2006 Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children's Books (best book for readers aged 8-12 years) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
2008 Booksellers Association Independent Booksellers' Book Prize (shortlist) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
2008 British Book Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
2008 Edinburgh Award
2008 South Bank Show Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award
The narrative skips the next ten years, resuming shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday. The Dursleys have kept the truth about Harry's parents from him, but it is revealed in the form of Rubeus Hagrid, who tells Harry that he is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts for the autumn term. Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King's Cross Station. On the train, Harry sits with and quickly befriends Ron Weasley; the two are also briefly visited by Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger. Later on in the journey, Draco Malfoy comes into Harry and Ron's compartment with his friends Crabbe and Goyle and introduces himself. After Ron laughs at Draco's name, Draco offers to help Harry distinguish the wrong sort of wizards, but Harry declines.
Upon arrival, the Sorting Hat places Harry, Hermione, Neville and Ron into Gryffindor House, one of the school's four houses, while Draco and his cronies are placed in Slytherin House. After a broom-mounted game to save Neville's Remembrall, Harry joins Gryffindor'sQuidditch team as their youngest Seeker in over a century.
Shortly after school begins, Harry and his friends discover that someone had broken into a previously emptied vault at the wizarding bank, Gringotts. The mystery deepens when they discover a monstrous three-headed dog, Fluffy, who guards a trapdoor in the forbidden third floor passageway. On Halloween, a troll enters the castle and traps Hermione in one of the girls' lavatories. Harry and Ron rescue her, but are caught by Professor McGonagall. Hermione defends the boys and takes the blame, which results in the three becoming close friends.
Harry's broom becomes jinxed during his first Quidditch match, nearly resulting in Harry falling from a great height. Hermione believes that Professor Snape has cursed the broom and distracts him by setting his robes on fire, allowing Harry to catch the Snitch and win the game for Gryffindor.
At Christmas, Harry receives his father's Invisibility Cloak from an unknown source. Later, he discovers the Mirror of Erised, a strange mirror that shows Harry surrounded by his parents and the extended family he never knew. Later, Harry learns that Nicolas Flamel is the maker of Philosopher's Stone, a stone that gives the owner eternal life.
Harry sees Professor Snape interrogating Professor Quirrell about getting past Fluffy, seemingly confirming the suspicion that Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore Lord Voldemort to power. The trio discover that Hagrid is hiding a dragon egg, which hatches; since dragon breeding is illegal, they convince Hagrid to send the dragon to live with others of its kind. Harry and Hermione are caught returning to their dormitories after sending Norbert off and are forced to serve detention with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest. In the forest, Harry sees a hooded figure drink the blood of an injured unicorn. Firenze, a centaur, tells Harry that the hooded figure is in fact Voldemort.
Hagrid accidentally tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione how to get past Fluffy; and they rush to tell the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, what they know, only to find that he has been called away from the school. Convinced that Dumbledore's summons was a red herring to take him away while the Philosopher's Stone is stolen, the trio set out to reach the Stone first. They navigate a series of complex magical challenges set up by the school's faculty, and at the end of these challenges, Harry enters the inner chamber alone, only to find that it is the timid Professor Quirrell, not Snape, who is after the Stone. The final challenge protecting the Stone is the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell forces Harry to look into the mirror to discover where the Stone is hidden; and Harry successfully resists, and the Stone drops into his own pocket. Lord Voldemort now reveals himself: he has possessed Quirrell and appears as a ghastly face on the back of Quirrell's head. Quirrell tries to attack Harry, but merely touching Harry proves to be agony for him. Voldemort flees and Quirrell dies as Dumbledore arrives back in time to save Harry.
As Harry recovers, Dumbledore confirms that Lily had died while trying to protect Harry as an infant. Her pure, loving sacrifice provides her son with an ancient magical protection against Voldemort's lethal spells. Dumbledore also explains that the Philosopher's Stone has been destroyed to prevent Voldemort from ever using it. He then tells Harry that only those who wanted to find the Stone, but not use it, would be able to retrieve it from the mirror, which is why Harry was able to acquire it. When Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort attempted to kill him when he was an infant, Dumbledore promises to tell Harry when he is older.
At the end-of-year feast, where Harry is welcomed as a hero. Dumbledore gives a few "last-minute additions", granting enough points to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville for Gryffindor to win the House Cup, ending Slytherin's six-year reign as house champions.
Ron and his twin brothers Fred and George rescue Harry and take him to their home in their flying car, a Ford Anglia. Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, is just starting at Hogwarts and is overwhelmed when she meets Harry. After a pleasant month living at the Burrow, Harry and five of the Weasley children head to Platform 9 to take the Hogwarts Express back to school. To their shock, Harry and Ron are unable to enter the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 (it is later revealed that Dobby sealed it shut to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts). In desperation, they steal the flying car and fly to Hogwarts. They crash into the Whomping Willow, which immediately attacks, damaging the car and snapping Ron's wand in half. The wrecked car then disappears into the Forbidden Forest. Luckily, the two escape expulsion from school.
Events at school take a turn for the worse when the legendary Chamber of Secrets is opened and a monster begins to stalk the castle, petrifying anyone who meets its gaze. According to legend, the Chamber was built by one of the Hogwarts founders, Salazar Slytherin, and can be opened only by his heir, in order to purge Hogwarts of 'all those who were unworthy to study magic' or 'Muggle-borns'. Meanwhile, Harry is hearing something lurking in the walls of Hogwarts, whispering its wanting to kill, but no one else hears what he does. Many suspect Harry to be the heir of Slytherin because, while trying to save another student during a duel against Draco Malfoy, he inadvertently speaks Parseltongue, the ability to talk to snakes and a talent that characteristically belongs to Slytherins. Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect Draco, Harry's rival, is actually the culprit, but after creating a poly-juice potion and sneaking into the Slytherin common room to impersonate Malfoy's cronies, Crabbe and Goyle, their suspision proves to be wrong. Harry finds a diary that belonged to Tom Marvolo Riddle, which writes back to him on it's own and shows him that Hagrid is to blame. As the school year progresses with more attacks, the Ministry arrests Hagrid, thinking he is responsible for the attacks, and suspends Dumbledore for not taking appropriate measures in stabilizing the school's safety. Harry and Ron decide to take control of the situation, their motivation is to bring justice and solve the crime. That motivation is intensified by the attack on Hermione, who -by the paper still clutched in her hand when she was found- shows that the monster of Slytherin is a balilisk, and anyone who sees it's eyes will die. The only reason nobody had died previously is that they had not looked straght at the basilik, but only at its reflection in a puddle or mirror.
Ginny is taken directly into the Chamber, and Hogwarts is in imminent danger of closing. Proffesor Lockhart has said previosly that he could take on Slytherin's monster single handedly, and the rest of the staff tell him he now has his chance. Harry and Ron then go to tell him all that they know, but find that thier defense against the dark arts teacher was a fraud. Harry and Ron take him with them and discover the entrance to the Chamber and venture forward. Harry alone goes into the actual Chamber and meets Tom Marvolo Riddle, who has been manipulating Ginny into ordering the attacks and opening the Chamber with the enchanted diary that Harry had found, and was manipulated by. Subsequently Riddle reveals himself to be Lord Voldemort; he opened the Chamber fifty years ago and framed Hagrid for the crimes. Harry puts up a fight against the monster, which is a basilisk, with the help of Dumbledore's pet phoenix Fawkes and the sword of Godric Gryffindor, another of Hogwarts' founders. After some struggle, Harry kills the basilisk with the sword, but gets wounded with one of it's fangs. Basilik venom being deadly poisonous, he is only just saved by phoenix tears from Fawkes. He then destroys the diary with the fang, thus destroying Riddle's soul fragment and reviving Ginny. The group returns to the school triumphantly.
Dumbledore is reinstated and Hagrid is released. Dumbledore informs Harry of his ability to speak Parseltongue; the night Lily and James Potter were killed, Voldemort inadvertantly transfered some of his powers to Harry's infant body. Furthermore, the headmaster reveals that having that ability has no bearing on his worthiness of being of the House of Gryffindor, rather it is the choices that define one's character and only one worthy of that house could have summoned Gryffindor's sword in that time of need. Afterward, Lucius Malfoy, Draco's malicious father, shows up, followed by none other than Dobby, who is the Malfoys' house elf. Harry realizes Lucius is responsible for the attacks; before the school term began, Lucius slipped the diary, containing Voldemort's soul fragment, into Ginny's cauldron, with the hope that he could discredit Dumbledore and turn Hogwarts into a Dark Arts establishment. When he fails, Lucius leaves in a rage, but not before Harry cunningly frees Dobby by slipping his sock into the diary wich, being given to Lucius, is then tossed to Dobby. With being presented a peice of clothing, Dobby is free of the Malfoys. At the conclusion, all of the basilisk's victims revive and Gryffindor wins the House Cup.
J.K. Rowling's third book opens with Harry Potter enduring another summer at the Dursleys', which is broken only by a visit from Vernon's sister, Marge. When Marge viciously insults Harry's family, he loses his temper and inadvertently inflates her causing her to float away. Furious and distressed, Harry decides to run away. While resting, the Knight Bus appears and takes him to the Leaky Cauldron. Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge is waiting for Harry at the door of the Leaky Cauldron, to his surprise, and he proclaims Harry to be in no trouble at all. While staying at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry overhears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arguing over whether he should or should not be warned about Sirius Black, an escapee from Azkaban, the wizarding prison, because they believe that Black is hunting Harry, intending to kill him.
There are a few changes at Hogwarts as Harry begins his third year. Hermione is taking a double course load, including some that are taught simultaneously. Two new teachers join the staff: Professor Remus Lupin for Defence Against the Dark Arts and, to Harry, Ron and Hermione's delight, Rubeus Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures.
Black is still at large, and so Dementors patrol the school. Dementors drain happiness from anyone nearby, and Harry is particularly affected as the dementors are drawn to him. Professor Lupin informs him that, as Harry has endured some particularly horrible things, his memories make him more vulnerable to the dementors' presence. Harry perceives this as a weakness, but Lupin assures him it is not, and teaches him the Patronus charm to repel the Dementors should they attack him again.
Tension grows between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley because Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, continually torments Ron's rat, Scabbers. When Ron discovers Scabbers is missing, he blames Crookshanks. The Weasley twins give Harry their Marauder's Map, a magical document that shows every person's location within Hogwarts as well as secret passageways in and out of the castle. As Harry has no willing guardians to sign his permission slip to visit the village of Hogsmeade, Harry uses one of these passageways to sneak into the village. While there, he overhears a private conversation that Black was his parents' best friend and is his godfather and legal guardian. Harry also hears that Black supposedly divulged the Potters' secret whereabouts to Lord Voldemort and murdered their friend Peter Pettigrew, as well as twelve Muggle bystanders.
After Harry completes his Divination Exam, Professor Trelawney enters a trance and makes a prediction that the Dark Lord's servant will return to him that night. Harry is puzzled, but goes to bed. A while later, the trio learn that Buckbeak, Hagrid's beloved hippogriff, will be executed for attacking student Draco Malfoy. When they visit Hagrid to console him, Scabbers appears, bites Ron, and Ron chases him to the Whomping Willow. A large dog then attacks Ron and drags him and Scabbers into a hole at the tree's base. Harry and Hermione follow, finding a tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack.
As the group heads back to the castle, Sirius Black asks Harry to come to live with him, as he is Harry's guardian, permitting Harry to escape his uncle's home forever. However, the full moon rises, causing Lupin to turn into a werewolf. During the ensuing commotion, Pettigrew escapes. Black turns into his dog form to protect the others from Lupin in his werewolf form. Lupin flees, leaving Black badly injured. As Dementors move in to attack Black, Harry sees a mysterious figure in the distance cast a powerful stag-shaped Patronus, scattering the vicious creatures. Harry becomes convinced it is his father, or at least his father's spirit, who produced the Patronus. He then passes out along with Black. They are the found by Snape, and Black is taken to the castle where the Dementors intend to perform the Dementor's Kiss on him, thus sucking out his soul.
While Harry recovers in the infirmary, Hermione reveals to Harry that she was entrusted with a time-travelling device called a Time-Turner, which is how she was able to attend simultaneous classes. Prompted by Dumbledore, she and Harry travel three hours into the past, watching themselves go through the night's previous events. They set Buckbeak free and return to the Whomping Willow. As the Dementors are about to attack the "other" Harry and Black, Harry realizes that the mysterious figure he saw earlier was actually himself. Armed with the new memory of his talk with Black, he casts the powerful Patronus that repels the Dementors. Harry and Hermione free Black, who escapes on Buckbeak as the two return to Dumbledore and resume their normal timeline.
Remus Lupin resigns as an angry Severus Snape, who has a childhood grudge against the Marauders, tells the whole of Slytherin House that Lupin is a werewolf. After Harry says good-bye to Lupin, Dumbledore tells Harry that Pettigrew is now in his debt, a fact for which he may one day be grateful.
Fifty years ago, the Riddles were murdered at their mansion. The cantankerous caretaker, Frank Bryce, was accused of the crime, though he was innocent and was cleared. At the present time, Bryce, living alone in a cottage near the now-abandoned mansion, sees a light flicker on in the manor. Investigating, he overhears a sinister conversation between a deformed Voldemort and his lowly servant, Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew. Bryce is caught eavesdropping and is killed by Voldemort.
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and the Weasley family spend most of the summer together, even watching the Quidditch World Cup. While they are at the Cup, however, a band of Death Eaters, Voldemort's servants, storm the grounds, causing mayhem, and the dark mark is shot to the sky. Ministry officials rush to the scene; the Head of the International Magical Cooperation office, Barty Crouch, fires his house elf Winky, believing she shot the dark mark into the sky. Harry and his friends return home worried about the presence of the Death Eaters.
Back at Hogwarts, the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore announces during the Welcoming Feast that the school will host the Triwizard Tournament, a centuries-old inter-school competition that was discontinued because it became too dangerous, but has been recently revived. One student, who must be seventeen or older, from each of three magical schools will be chosen, by the Goblet of Fire, to compete. Meanwhile, Hermione, concerned about what she sees as the plight of elves, begins S.P.E.W. (the Society For the Protection of Elfish Welfare), but few people are interested in what she has to say.
The new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, a former Auror and Dumbledore's friend. His tenacity in avoiding dark magic at all costs, even resorting to violence to fight back, has him teaching the Three Unforgivable Curses in class, a lesson which is illegal. The curses are the Imperius curse, which forces the victim to do the caster's bidding; the Cruciatus curse, a spell that tortures its victim; and Killing curse called Avada Kedavra. Harry learns he is the only known person to have survived the Killing Curse, cast against him by Voldemort when Harry was a baby.
The other two magical institutions, Beauxbatons Academy, from France, and Durmstrang Institute, from Bulgaria, arrive at Hogwarts two months into the school term. For one whole day, eligible students submit their names into the Goblet of Fire, and the next night, the champions are chosen by the goblet: Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum of Durmstrang, and Cedric Diggory of Hogwarts. Mysteriously, a fourth champion is chosen: Harry, who never submitted his name, and is underage and ought to have been magically blocked from doing so anyway. Ron is instantly infuriated, thinking Harry submitted himself, and refuses to speak to him. Only Hermione and a few others believe Harry's word.
Harry is guided through the tournament by Professor Moody. In the first task, the champions each are required to retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. The egg contains a clue for the second task. After Harry completes the task with help from Hagrid, Moody, and his Firebolt broomstick, Ron reconciles with him.
As part of the Triwizard Tournament's tradition, over the Christmas holidays, the students of Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons remain at school to attend the Yule Ball. Harry wants to invite Cho Chang, but when he learns she is attending with Cedric Diggory, he agrees to take Parvati Patil, while her twin sister, Padma, goes with Ron. Hermione attends with Viktor Krum and looks unexpectedly pretty doing so, which makes Ron doubly jealous.
The second tournament task requires retrieving something important taken from each champion hidden in the Black Lake. The problem is that they must stay underwater for an hour. Ten minutes before the task, Harry is woken up and given gillyweed by Dobby so he can breathe underwater. The gillyweed is successful and Harry finds the four "important objects" of the tournament contestants: Ron, Hermione, Cho, and Fleur's little sister, Gabrielle. Harry stays on the spot to ensure that everyone is rescued, but Fleur never comes. He is forced to rescue Gabrielle along with Ron, which causes him to technically lose the challenge, but he gains points for 'moral fibre.'
As the remainder of the school year passes, Harry regularly contacts Sirius Black, his godfather, who is on the run for a crime he was wrongfully imprisoned for. One night, Harry and Krum are startled when a disheveled Mr. Crouch emerges from the forest, mumbling nonsense and demanding to see Dumbledore. Harry runs for help, but when he returns with Dumbledore, they find Krum unconscious and Crouch missing.
Harry has a dream about Voldemort during Divination and goes straight to Dumbledore. While waiting in Dumbledore's office for the headmaster's return, Harry discovers a Pensieve, a method of storing memories one does not wish to be continually remembering, and enters it. It contains one of Dumbledore's own memories of a trial in which Barty Crouch, Jr, a Death Eater, was sentenced to Azkaban by his own father for torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom (Neville's parents) into insanity.
The third and final tournament task involves navigating a large maze located on the Quidditch Pitch which is filled with magical obstacles. Harry and Cedric successfully navigate the maze, helping each other on the way. They reach the Triwizard cup and agree to take hold of it simultaneously, making both of them the winners. The Cup turns out to be a portkey that transports them to an old graveyard in Little Hangleton. Peter Pettigrew awaits them, carrying a deformed Lord Voldemort, who orders Pettigrew to "kill the spare" (Cedric). Pettigrew kills Diggory with the Avada Kedavra curse (Killing Curse), and gags Harry and ties him to the Riddle tombstone. He then uses a bone from Voldemort's father's grave, some of Harry's blood, and his own cut-off hand in a magical ritual that restores Lord Voldemort to his former powers and a new body.
Voldemort summons his Death Eaters by touching Pettigrew's Dark Mark, and reveals that his servant at Hogwarts ensured that Harry would participate in the tournament, win it, and thus be brought to the graveyard. After giving Pettigrew a new hand made of silver, Voldemort attacks Harry with the Cruciatus Curse. Harry then tries to disarm Voldemort with the Expelliarmus spell, at exactly the same time as Voldemort uses the Avada Kedavra. The two curses meet in the air and interlock, causing an effect called Priori Incantatem (because both their wands are made of phoenix feather from the same phoenix) to take place. This bond between the wands causes the spirits of Voldemort's most recent murdered victims, including Cedric Diggory, Bertha Jorkins, James and Lily Potter, and even the Muggle Frank Bryce, to spill out from his wand. The spirit victims provide protection to Harry, allowing him to escape with Diggory's body and leaving Voldemort behind in a rage.
Harry, carrying Cedric's body, returns to the school grounds through the portkey. Through the chaos that ensues, Moody rushes Harry to his office. He reveals that he has been helping Harry throughout the tournament so that Harry would reach the portkey, thereby going to the graveyard so Voldemort could be restored. Moody then attempts to kill Harry himself, but Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall barge in. Dumbledore had realised that something was wrong when he saw Moody take Harry away from the maze so quickly, and followed them. Dumbledore feeds Moody three drops of Veritaserum, a truth potion, and they discover that "Moody" is actually Barty Crouch, Jr. He was smuggled out of Azkaban by his father and used a Polyjuice Potion to impersonate the real Alastor Moody, who is trapped in a magical trunk. Crouch, Jr. entered Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire and ensured that Harry completed each difficult task by supplying help one way or another. Crouch also murdered his own father, transfigured his body into a bone, and buried it. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, arrives at Hogwarts accompanied by a Dementor. When the Dementor enters the room where Crouch, Jr. stands, it swoops down and gives him the fatal "Dementor's Kiss", sucking out his soul. Fudge refuses to believe Dumbledore's and Harry's word that Voldemort is back, and the only witness who could have verified their stories now now lies soulless on the floor.
Harry is taken to Dumbledore's office where he reunites with Sirius and he relives his story of his night. He is taken to the hospital wing and is crowned Triwizard Champion and awarded with 1,000 galleons. That night, Dumbledore recalls "the old crowd"; since Fudge and the Ministry denies the resurrection of Voldemort, wizards who believe Harry's story will have to defend themselves. Days later, Dumbledore then makes an announcement at the gloomy Leaving Feast, telling everybody about Voldemort and saying that to deny the true way Cedric died would be 'an insult to his memory.' While leaving the Hogwart's Express on King's Cross Station, Harry gives his winnings to Fred and George to start a joke shop and Harry sets off for another summer at the Dursleys'.
Several weeks into the summer, Harry Potter has heard nothing from his friends or acquaintances from the wizard world. Finding himself walking down a street with his cousin Dudley, the two of them are attacked by a pair of Dementors. Harry drives them off with a Patronus Charm, and is surprised to learn that the Dursleys' elderly neighbour Arabella Figg, is a Squib and has been keeping an eye on him on Albus Dumbledore's orders. On returning home, he immediately receives a notice of expulsion from Hogwarts for using magic outside school, and that his wand is to be snapped, though these decisions are reversed, set to be decided at a disciplinary hearing. One night, an advance guard from the Order of the Phoenix arrives at the house and escorts Harry to their secret headquarters at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place in London, where Harry joins the Weasley family, Hermione Granger, and Harry's godfather Sirius Black.
They tell Harry that Voldemort is building an army and is attempting to retrieve a weapon, but is still moving in secret. In this, he is actually aided by the Ministry, since Minister Cornelius Fudge is conducting an extensive smear campaign against Harry, Dumbledore, and anyone else who says Voldemort is back. Knowing that Voldemort's return would mean mass panic and then open war, Fudge prefers to believe that Dumbledore is lying and attempting to supplant him as Minister.
A few days later, Arthur Weasley escorts Harry to his expulsion hearing, which Fudge has done everything in his power to slant against him. But testimony from Dumbledore and Mrs Figg confirms the presence of the Dementors, and Harry is found to have acted in self-defence.
Along the way to Hogwarts, on the Hogwarts express, Harry meets a girl named Luna Lovegood, a girl who has a reputation for believing far-fetched stories. Her huge imagination is the reason that she is commonly disliked and rejected. At the welcome feast, the trio are surprised that their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts is Dolores Umbridge, a hostile Ministry official who attempted to get Harry arrested at his hearing. Hermione guesses, correctly, that her appointment is a sign that the Ministry is interfering at Hogwarts. As a teacher, Umbridge forces the students to study magical theory out of textbooks, rather than practical defence methods (according to Sirius, Fudge is so paranoid that he now believes Dumbledore is recruiting students into a private army). A short time later, she is appointed as High Inquisitor, with the power to evaluate and dismiss other teachers, and impose strict rules and regulations on students.
Underneath her cloying faade, Umbridge imposes sadistic punishments on naughty students, her favourite being to make them write lines with blood quills (which cut the words into the skin when used, and uses the writer's own blood as ink). She focuses particularly on Harry, as part of Fudge's campaign to silence his "lies" about Voldemort's return. Her punishments also include banning Harry from the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
She is also intensely bigoted, harbouring deep loathing for "half-breeds", such as centaurs, werewolves, and Rubeus Hagrid (a half-giant). In short order, she dismisses Sybill Trelawney, the Divination teacher, as incompetent, and places Hagrid on probation. Although Dumbledore is unable to prevent Trelawney's dismissal, he invokes his authority to allow her to remain in the castle and appoints a new Divination teacher '- the centaur, Firenze.
Hagrid was absent for half the year, he reveals to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because of a diplomatic mission to the giants on Dumbledore's orders, to try to dissuade them from joining Voldemort. His mission was a failure, but he also reveals, somewhat shamefacedly, that he secretly brought one of the giants back - his half-brother Grawp, whom he has been keeping tied up in the Forbidden Forest and trying to "civilize."
Because Umbridge's lessons are useless both for passing their O.W.L.s and for preparing for the very real threat of Voldemort, Hermione decides that the students need to learn the subject themselves. Harry is surprised when she proposes him as a teacher, but she reminds him that his adventures of the last four years at Hogwarts have actually made him an authority on the subject. Several other students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff likewise sign up to the clandestine group, named "Dumbledore's Army" (by Ginny) in mockery of Fudge's paranoia.
Under Harry's tutoring, the group learns defensive magic. At the last meeting before Christmas, Cho Chang stays after, and Harry, hoping to receive a Merry Christmas, gets an even bigger surprise -- a kiss. When they return to Hogwarts after Christmas break, Harry asks her to go with him to Hogsmeade on Valentine's Day. However, while they are there, Harry mistakenly makes Cho think he likes Hermione. Cho breaks up with him.
To combat the Ministry's smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore, Hermione blackmails yellow journalist Rita Skeeter into writing an interview with Harry about his witnessing Voldemort's return. Ravenclaw student Luna Lovegood's father publishes the story in his magazine, The Quibbler. Furious, Umbridge bans the Quibbler from the school, but the story spreads rapidly, garnering support for Harry. Harry and Cho get back together.
Midway through the year, the school is alarmed to hear news of a mass prison break from Azkaban Prison, when ten of Voldemort's most powerful Death Eaters escape. Many wizards are not satisfied with the Ministry's official explanation, and begin to come around to Dumbledore and Harry's claims, while the D.A. members are inspired to work even harder.
Eventually Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad, comprising mostly Slytherin students, uncover the D.A. meetings, helped by a member of the D.A. named Marietta, who told Umbridge about the meetings (the charm Hermione created on the list of D.A. members to punish any who tell Umbridge on them was to create large pimples on the person's face spelling "SNEAK" all over). To protect Harry and other students from reprisals, Dumbledore claims that he organized the group to counter Voldemort. Confronted by Fudge, Percy Weasley, Umbridge and Aurors (John Dawlish and Kingsley Shacklebolt), Dumbledore easily overpowers them and is whisked away by his phoenix, Fawkes. Cho, who is Marietta's friend, gets mad at Harry for accusing Marietta and breaks up with him again.
Umbridge becomes Headmistress and enacts even stricter rules and fires Hagrid. The disenchanted Weasley twins revolt, unleashing relentless magical chaos throughout the school, while the staff purposely do nothing to help Umbridge regain control. The twins are caught, but summoning their confiscated brooms, they fly away, leaving Hogwarts to open their own joke shop.
Throughout the year, Harry has disturbing dreams/visions about running down a hallway and attempting to open a door in the Ministry's Department of Mysteries. Shortly before Christmas, he dreams he is a snake attacking Ron's father. Mr Weasley is indeed found injured at the Ministry, suffering from severe venomous snakebites, causing Harry to fear that Voldemort is possessing him. In response, Dumbledore has Severus Snape teach Harry Occlumency to block his mind from intrusion, but after Harry accidentally sees some of Snape's childhood memories of being bullied by Harry's father, James, in the pensive Snape ends their lessons prematurely. Harry is shocked to see his father James Potter bullying Snape and acting as arrogantly as Snape always said that he did. He also notices (but is not surprised) that Snape refers to his mother as a mudblood, despite the fact that she defended him.
In the middle of his last O.W.L. exam, Harry has a vision of Sirius being tortured at the Department of Mysteries, although Hermione suspects it may be a trap. Harry, with help from various members of Dumbledore's Army, attempts to contact Sirius at Grimmauld Place via the Floo Network in Umbridge's office fireplace, but he is caught. Believing that he is attempting to contact the fugitive Dumbledore, Umbridge interrogates Harry, who swears he does not know where he is. Umbridge summons Snape to bring truth serum, but Snape says he has run out. Before Snape leaves her office, Harry desperately tells about his vision of Sirius in code ("They've got Padfoot in the place that it's hidden").
Reaching the end of her patience, Umbridge announces that she plans to use the illegal torture curse on Harry. She is sure that no one will find out or even care, and reveals that it was she and not Voldemort who sent the dementors to attack him, in an attempt to frame and silence him. As she raises her wand to administer the curse, Hermione pretends to crack and confesses that Dumbledore has hidden a powerful weapon in the Forbidden Forest. She leads Harry and Umbridge into the forest where they encounter the centaurs. Umbridge foolishly insults them and an angry centaur carries her off screaming into the woods. However, the centaurs are just as hostile toward Harry and Hermione, but they are saved when Grawp crashes onto the scene and they escape amid the chaos. Running back to the castle, they encounter Ron, and D.A. members Ginny, Neville and Luna, who insist on accompanying them. The students fly to London on the school's Thestrals.
Reaching the room in his dreams, The Hall of Prophecy, Harry sees that Sirius is not there, but notices a glass ball containing some kind of record, that has been labelled with his name. As soon as he takes it down from the shelf, a squad of Death Eaters surrounds them, including many of the recent escapees, led by Lucius Malfoy. Malfoy reveals that Voldemort planted a false vision to lure Harry to the Ministry, as he is the only one (besides Voldemort himself) who can remove the prophecy from its shelf. The prophecy is "the weapon" Voldemort has been after the entire year.
Harry and his friends heroically defend themselves, putting up a far tougher fight than the dark wizards expected, but are outmatched. As they are nearly defeated, members of the Order arrive, including Sirius. During the ensuing battle, the glass sphere that Voldemort was seeking is accidentally dropped and shatters, and the record is lost. However, just as Dumbledore arrives in person to help, Sirius is blasted with a spell by his Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, and falls backwards through a mysterious veiled archway. Lupin restrains Harry from going after him; Sirius is dead.
The Death Eaters are captured except for Bellatrix, whom Harry pursues into the Ministry's atrium. Bellatrix is far more powerful, but is taken aback with horror when Harry taunts her that the prophecy has been destroyed, and their mission has failed. In a rage, Voldemort appears in person and attacks Harry, but is confronted by Dumbledore. The two duel furiously, but each is unable to finish the other. In an attempt to break the stalemate, Voldemort possesses Harry and tortures him, hoping that Dumbledore will kill Harry to destroy Voldemort. However, in the midst of his torture, Harry re-visits his grief for Sirius, and Voldemort is unexpectedly repelled by the emotion. Fudge and the Aurors arrive in time to see the Dark Lord before he Disapparates, taking Bellatrix with him. Fudge finally admits that Voldemort has returned. Rita Skeeter's story is reprinted in the Daily Prophet, exonerating Harry and Dumbledore.
Speaking alone to Harry in his office, Dumbledore reveals that he has kept many things hidden from Harry over the past five years (for instance, why he placed the baby Harry with the Dursleys) and insists that Harry return to their home every summer, knowing what abusive guardians they are. The reason is, Dumbledore knew Voldemort would return one day, and that Harry would need the most powerful protection possible until he came of age. When his mother died to protect him, this created a powerful protective charm: as long as Harry stays at the house of his mother's blood-relative long enough to call it home, it shields him in a way even Voldemort cannot overcome.
The reason Dumbledore says he has kept this and other secrets hidden for so long is because he has been reluctant to burden Harry with the most terrible secret: the contents of the prophecy. The prophecy was originally made to him by Sybill Trelawney, while he was interviewing her for her teaching position, and unexpected by either of them:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ...
One of Voldemort's followers overheard the first half of the prophecy, and reported it to him. Although there were actually two newborn boys whose parents fit the description in the prophecy (the other being Neville Longbottom), Dumbledore believes that Voldemort chose to attack Harry because he was a half-blood like himself, while Neville is a pureblood. In doing so, Voldemort inadvertently "marked him as his equal." According to the prophecy, either Harry or Voldemort must destroy the other one day.
Finally, Dumbledore confesses that he did not make Harry a prefect, despite his many worthy achievements, simply because Dumbledore did not want to burden him with more responsibilities. Dumbledore reveals that he cares very much about Harry, even to an unwise degree '- Voldemort has always believed love to be a weakness that can be exploited, hence his use of Sirius to lure Harry to the Ministry.
Dumbledore is reinstated at Hogwarts, and immediately rescinds all of Umbridge's decrees. Umbridge herself is rescued from the forest by Dumbledore, and appears to still be in shock. Professor Trelawney is also reinstated, though Firenze stays on as well, since he has been expelled from the centaur herd.
Shortly before school ends, Harry seeks out Nearly Headless Nick. He asks if Sirius can come back as a ghost, but Sir Nick says, it is only those fearing death that remain as earthbound spirits; "he will have...gone on."
Still grieving, Harry finds Luna hanging notes in the hall asking for the return of her missing possessions, since students have been taking and hiding them as a practical joke. He remembers that Luna, like him, can see Thestrals, which are invisible except to people who have witnessed death. He asks, and she replies that she saw her mother die, the result of an experimental spell gone wrong. However, Luna appears serene, and says she knows she will see her mother again; she and others who have died are just behind the veiled arch. Harry feels comforted knowing that he may see Sirius again and heads off to finish packing. His last attempt to bring Sirius back was his visiting of the two way mesaging mirrior that he had given him. The mirror had been broken, and wouldn't have been able to see Sirius anyway.
At King's Cross station, several Order members are there to greet Harry and the Dursleys. Alastor Moody warns Uncle Vernon that if Harry is maltreated, they will intervene. Harry leaves to head back to 4 Privet Drive with the Dursleys, stopping once to look back towards his two best friends, Ron and Hermione.
In the first chapter, Professor Snape, appearing to have rejoined the Death eaters and Lord Voldemort, is visited by Narcissa Malfoy and Belatrix Lestrange. They tell Snape that Draco Malfoy has had orders from Lord Voldemort, and Narcissa is clearly terrified that the orders will spell her son's doom. She asks Snape make an unbreakable vow with her to protect her son and do the job for him, should Draco fail to do it.
Meanwhile, as Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters create crises in both the magical and Muggle worlds, Minister for MagicCornelius Fudge is replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour. Harry Potter accompanies Albus Dumbledore on a trip to persuade retired professor Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts. Harry notices that one of Dumbledore's hands looks withered and dead, and he is wearing a ring with a distinctively-marked stone on it. Harry spends the remaining holiday at The Burrow with the Weasleys and Hermione, where they receive their O.W.L. results. To become Aurors, Harry and Ron must take N.E.W.T. Level Potions, but their O.W.L.s in the subject are too low to enroll in Snape's class.
At Hogwarts, Snape is unexpectedly announced as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, with Slughorn becoming the Potions teacher. Harry and Ron's O.W.L.s are good enough to enroll in Slughorn's class, which has lower standards, but neither had purchased the textbook, so Slughorn lends them old Potions textbooks. Harry's book has notes and corrections scribbled all over the pages. Harry discovers that these corrections yield better results than the textbook's instructions and that the book is inscribed as having previously belonged to the "Half-Blood Prince". As the year continues, Ron dates Lavender Brown but then returns to Hermione. Harry realizes that he has feelings (that are conflicting with his friendship with Ron) for Ginny, who has stopped pursuing him and is dating Dean Thomas.
During the school year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore privately tutors Harry, using his Pensieve to show Harry collected memories about Voldemort's past. Dumbledore asks Harry to retrieve a key memory from Slughorn that Slughorn has resisted providing, regarding Slughorn's conversation with a sixth-year Tom Riddle. After disappointing Dumbledore once by not getting the memory from Slughorn, Harry uses Felix Felicius potion (which bestows a day of luck on its drinker) that he had been rewarded with for his newfound "skill" (derived almost entirely from written hints from the Half-Blood Prince) in potion making, to gain the memory. The series of memories reveals that to attain immortality, Voldemort splintered his soul (through committing murders) into six fragments attached to objects called Horcruxes, while leaving a seventh piece in his body. As long as any of the Horcruxes exist, Voldemort cannot be killed. Two Horcruxes have been destroyed: Tom Riddle's diary by Harry[HP2] and Marvolo Gaunt's ring by Dumbledore (the ring Harry noticed on his hand earlier in the book). The memories indicate that three other Horcruxes are a locket formerly owned by Salazar Slytherin, a cup formerly owned by Helga Hufflepuff, and the snake Nagini, but the last of the six Horcruxes remains unidentified. Dumbledore speculates that it may be a possession of Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, as Tom Riddle would have wanted a possession of each of the founders of Hogwarts, his first and only real home.
After seeing Harry cast an unusual curse, "Sectumsempra" (which slashes its victim repeatedly all over his/her body) against Draco Malfoy, Snape attempts to repossess Harry's Potions book, but Harry gives him Ron's copy instead and hides his copy in the Room of Requirement, noting several other items hidden there over the years. He then distinguishes the cabinet that the book is in with an old bust wearing a wig and a strange looking tiara. Harry gets detention from Snape and misses the Quidditch finals, but Gryffindor wins the Cup with Ron and Ginny starring in the match. During the victory celebration, Harry spontaneously kisses Ginny and they begin dating, with Ron's reluctant approval.
Dumbledore locates another Horcrux and asks Harry to accompany him to destroy it. They apparate to a secret cave to retrieve Slytherin's locket. Harry and Dumbledore find the cave, present a blood offering to a secret door, and go in a boat across an Inferi infested lake. In order to acquire the locket, Dumbledore has to drink a mysterious liquid. Apparently gravely injured by the drinking, he deliriously pleads to die. Harry retrieves the Horcux and guides Dumbledore to safety in Hogsmeade, but as they arrive in the town, they see the Dark Mark hovering over the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts and make haste to return to the school. Dumbledore and an invisibility-cloaked Harry are confronted atop the tower by Draco Malfoy, and before Harry can reveal himself, Dumbledore paralyses him with a silent spell. Malfoy disarms the wounded Dumbledore and admits that he was behind a series of school attacks and has been ordered to kill Dumbledore by Voldemort. Dumbledore offers Draco the chance to change sides. Draco cannot make the decision to strike the headmaster down, and Snape, who has made his way to the tower, arrives and casts "Avada Kedavra", killing Dumbledore. Harry, enraged and freed of the paralysis spell once Dumbledore is dead, pursues Snape, who reveals that he is the "Half-Blood Prince" (as his mother was a member of the Prince wizarding family and his father a muggle) and duels Harry until he gets outside Hogwarts and disapparates. Harry recovers the locket from Dumbledore's body, only to discover it is a fake left by someone with the initials R. A. B., who had apparently stolen the real Horcrux and left a note about his opposition to Voldemort. The school year ends abruptly with Dumbledore's funeral. He is buried, along with his wand, at Hogwarts, next to the lake. Hogwarts's fate is uncertain, but Harry decides to quit school to search for the remaining Horcruxes, and Ron and Hermione vow to accompany him.
The Order of the Phoenix attempts to bring Harry Potter to The Burrow just prior to his seventeenth birthday but are ambushed by Death Eaters. Harry's wand, seemingly of its own accord, countercurses Voldemort and Harry escapes. Minister of MagicRufus Scrimgeour gives Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger bequests from Albus Dumbledore's will: the Deluminator for Ron, a first edition of a children's book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, for Hermione, and a Snitch, bearing the mysterious phrase "I open at the close", for Harry. The Ministry refuses to give Harry Godric Gryffindor's Sword, which Dumbledore also left to him.
At Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding reception, a Patronus arrives, announcing that Scrimgeour is dead, that the Ministry of Magic has fallen under Voldemort's control, and that Death Eaters are on their way to the reception. Harry, Ron, and Hermione take refuge in 12 Grimmauld Place, which Sirius Black had left to Harry. Harry realizes that Sirius's brother Regulus was the "R.A.B" who took the LocketHorcrux.[HP6] Hermione recalls seeing such a locket in the house.[HP5] The house-elfKreacher had kept the locket, but Mundungus Fletcher had stolen it from Kreacher and given it to Dolores Umbridge. Using Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry of Magic and steal the locket, but they are forced to flee to the countryside with no means to destroy it. Harry and Hermione deduce that Griffindor's sword can destroy Horcruxes, which is why Dumbledore attempted to leave it to Harry, and learn that the one kept by the Ministry is a fake. Ron, however, abandons the mission and goes home.
Harry and Hermione look for the sword in Godric's Hollow, Harry's birthplace as well as Gryffindor and Dumbledore's hometown. While there, they find a grave for Ignotus Peverell with a mysterious symbol on it. They are then ambushed by Nagini and Voldemort but escape due to Hermione's quick Blasting Curse, which also damages Harry's wand and knocks him unconscious. When he awakens, he and Hermione are in a forest. At night, Harry follows a silver doe-shaped Patronus to a pond containing the real Sword of Gryffindor. As Harry tries to retrieve it, the Locket Horcrux (which he is wearing) strangles him. Just then, Ron returns (using a secret power of the Deluminator) and rescues him and the sword. Harry directs Ron to destroy the Horcrux with it, and he does. Ron informs him that Voldemort's name is now Tabooed: speaking it summons the Death Eaters. Harry, Ron and Hermione visit Xenophilius Lovegood, whom they had seen wearing the mysterious symbol, to learn its meaning. Lovegood explains that it represents the three legendary Deathly Hallows -- the Elder Wand (the most powerful wand in the world), the Resurrection Stone (which can bring back the dead), and the Invisibility Cloak (a true invisibility cloak that never wears out) -- discussed in a story in The Tales of Beedle the Bard that uses the symbol. According to the story, three brothers took these as "gifts" from Death. Lovegood tells them that "believers" in the Hallows think that the three brothers were the three Peverell brothers. Harry realizes that Luna is absent, and Lovegood admits that Death Eaters abducted his daughter and are coming for Harry and his friends now. They barely escape.
Despite Ron and Hermione's skepticism, Harry believes that Dumbledore's gifts indicate that the Deathly Hallows are real and that Dumbledore had all three. They include Harry's Invisibility Cloak and the ring Dumbledore was wearing (the Resurrection Stone),[HP6] which is probably inside the Snitch. He concludes Voldemort is pursuing the Elder Wand, which was buried with Dumbledore at Hogwarts. Harry then accidentally speaks Voldemort's name, and the trio are captured and taken to the cellar of Malfoy Manor, with Harry disguised. Finding Gryffindor's Sword, Bellatrix Lestrange fears the trio has broken into her Gringotts vault and indicates that something else of Voldemort's is there. She tortures Hermione for information. Harry calls for help using a two-way mirror piece, in which he sees an eye. Dobby then apparates into the cellar and rescues the other prisoners, which include Luna, the goblin Griphook and wand-maker Ollivander. Lucius Malfoy sends Wormtail to the cellar to check on the noise. Harry reminds Wormtail of his life debt.[HP3] Wormtail hesitates and is then fatally strangled by his own silver hand.[HP4] Harry and Ron rescue Hermione; Ron disarms Bellatrix and Harry disarms Draco Malfoy. Dobby reappears and disapparates with them, but he is struck by Bellatrix's knife during the escape and dies.
Harry now has to decide whether to chase Horcruxes (and battle Voldemort) or Hallows (and battle Death). He chooses Horcruxes and discusses breaking into Gringotts with Griphook. Ollivander confirms that the Elder Wand exists and that a wand will transfer its allegiance if its owner is defeated or disarmed. Aided by Griphook, Harry, Ron and Hermione penetrate Gringotts and retrieve Hufflepuff'sCup from the Lestrange vault, although they lose Gryffindor's sword to Griphook in the process and are thus unable to destroy the Horcrux. Voldemort takes the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb. Through his mental connection to Harry, he inadvertently reveals that a Horcrux is hidden at Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione head to Hogsmeade to find a way in. The bartender at the Hog's Head Inn turns out to be Aberforth Dumbledore. He tells Harry the story of his family, including his brother and Gellert Grindelwald's role in his sister Ariana's accidental death. Harry realizes that Albus Dumbledore had been begging to die in his sister's place during his delirium while attempting to retrieve the Locket Horcrux.[HP6] Aberforth smuggles the trio into Hogwarts with the help of Neville Longbottom, who has assumed the leadership of Dumbledore's Army at Hogwarts, and other members of the Order and Dumbledore's Army begin showing up. Luna suggests that the fifth Horcrux could be Ravenclaw's lost diadem. Hermione destroys the Cup Horcrux with basilisk venom. Harry recalls seeing the diadem in the Room of Requirement when he hid his Potions book the previous year.[HP6] Harry, Ron and Hermione enter, but Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle ambush them there. Crabbe mishandles the powerful Fiendfyre spell, killing himself and destroying the Diadem Horcrux. Harry saves Draco's life in their escape.
The Battle of Hogwarts commences between the Order of the Phoenix and most of the Hogwarts faculty and student body on one side and the Death Eaters, the Ministry of Magic, the Slytherins and the giants on the other. Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and Tonks are among the dead. Harry follows Voldemort to the Shrieking Shack, where Voldemort deliberately kills Snape to become the Elder Wand's master. Harry captures the dying Snape's last memories and takes them to Dumbledore's Pensieve. He learns that Snape had loved Harry's mother Lily since they were children, and the silver doe was Snape's Patronus as a result. Snape had turned double agent for Dumbledore to save Lily's life and had remained loyal even after her death. When he acquired the Resurrection Stone, Dumbledore was cursed by the Ring Horcrux, causing his dead hand, but Snape had saved his life by containing the curse.[HP6] Dumbledore then ordered Snape to kill him if needed, to spare Draco. Snape's last memory is Dumbledore's conclusion that Harry himself is a Horcrux, which had created the connection between Harry and Voldemort. Harry must die to finally kill Voldemort.
Harry asks Neville Longbottom to kill Nagini if he gets the chance and then heads for Voldemort's camp in the Forbidden Forest. On the way, Harry realizes the meaning of the clue on the Snitch, says, "I am about to die", and retrieves the Resurrection Stone, which he uses to summon the spirits of his parents, Sirius, and Lupin to accompany him. Voldemort casts the "Avada Kedavra" curse at Harry, and Harry dies (along with his Horcrux). He awakens in an ethereal place that looks like King's Cross station, unsure whether he is alive or dead. Dumbledore appears and congratulates Harry on choosing to destroy Horcruxes instead of chasing the Hallows, as Dumbledore had done in his quest to revive Ariana. He explains that, just as Voldemort cannot die while his soul fragments remain alive, Voldemort cannot kill Harry because he used Harry's blood in his resurrection.[HP4]
Harry revives but feigns death. Voldemort orders Narcissa Malfoy to check Harry. She realises that Harry is alive, asks him very quietly about Draco, then tells Voldemort that Harry is dead. Harry's still body is carried to Hogwarts by the weeping Hagrid as Voldemort's trophy. When Neville defies the Death Eaters, the Sorting Hat appears. Neville draws Gryffindor's Sword out of it and decapitates Nagini, destroying the final Horcrux. Harry quickly hides under his Invisibility Cloak as reinforcements arrive for his side in the form of the centaurs and the house-elves, led by Kreacher.
Voldemort uses the Elder Wand to blast multiple opponents off their feet. Harry then takes off the Invisibility Cloak and confronts Voldemort, informing him that Draco (not Snape) had became the Elder Wand's master by disarming Dumbledore.[HP6] This allegiance was transferred to Harry when he won Draco's wand, and so Harry (not Voldemort) is the wand's true master. As in their first duel,[HP4] Harry then casts Expelliarmus, while Voldemort casts Avada Kedavra. The Elder Wand's allegiance prevents it from harming Harry, and the Killing Curse rebounds off Harry's disarming spell, killing Voldemort. Harry decides that the Elder Wand will be returned to Dumbledore's tomb, that the Resurrection Stone will be left in the Forbidden Forest, and that the Invisibility Cloak will continue to be a family heirloom, as Harry is the last descendant of Ignotus Peverell. Before returning the Elder Wand, Harry uses its power to repair his own wand.
Nineteen years later, Harry and Ginny Weasley are married and have three children; Ron and Hermione are married and have two children; Draco Malfoy is married with one child. The families meet to send their children on the Hogwarts Express for the school year. The book ends with these final words: "The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well."
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