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The next morning, Harry, alone, buries Mad-Eye's eye while Ron and Hermione keep sleeping. Then the three of them pack up and move on to another town, in an attempt to keep it on the downlow.
Harry goes out to try and find food in the neighboring village, but when he gets there, he feels the familiar menacing chill of dementors. He runs back to tell Hermione and Ron – for some reason, he couldn't use his Patronus to ward off the evil creatures.
Ron is in a right proper tizzy; he's uncharacteristically irritable this morning. Like the rest of them, he's starving.
Hermione realizes why Harry couldn't use the Expecto Patronum spell – he's still wearing the Horcrux, and it's oppressing him somehow.
They agree to take turns wearing the locket, to keep any one person from being overburdened by its psychic effects.
That night, they scavenge some bread and eggs from a nearby farm and rest easily, now that they're finally fed and are happier. Ron is a little happier, but still being difficult.
They talk through the plan over and over again, trying to figure out where to go to start their search for the other Horcruxes, since Dumbledore told them he thought Voldemort had hidden them in places that were significant to him. The three of them get in a fight – Ron is being less helpful than ever.
The three of them start in London, hoping to find something in the old orphanage where Voldemort grew up, but no luck – it's been demolished. He probably wasn't happy there, anyway.
Harry keeps having little glimpses of Voldemort vision, in which he only sees the face of the merry, mysterious thief from Gregorovitch's memory.
Harry's suspicious that Ron and Hermione are discontented with his leadership. Autumn arrives, and as the weeks wear on, their company gets more and more tense.
One night, camping in Wales and quibbling over the unappetizing dinner and Harry and Hermione have prepared (food is still a tough issue), Harry hushes the arguing Ron and Hermione. He's heard something outside…
Whoever's making sounds outside is clearly of wizarding origin. They summon some salmon from the river, and the delectable scent of baking fish drifts into the tent.
It turns out that their unsuspecting neighbors are familiar – it's Tonks's father, Ted, along with Dean Thomas, their friend and fellow Gryffindor. They're also with Dirk Cresswell, the former Ministry employee who was betrayed by Runcorn, plus a couple of goblins – they're all non-pureblood fugitives on the run from the Ministry and Dolores Umbridge's Muggle-Born Registry.
The unseen eavesdroppers overhear Griphook, one of the goblins, mention Gryffindor's sword and Severus Snape, and their ears perk up even more.
Apparently, some students at Hogwarts tried to steal Gryffindor's sword from the Headmaster's office, including Ginny. That's our girl!
Snape, alarmed, put the sword in a vault at the impenetrable Gringotts Bank, but while he was putting it away, Griphook realized that it's not actually the real sword – it's an immaculate copy. Seems like the real sword of Gryffindor is still out there… somewhere. The joke is on Snape, though, because Griphook didn't bother to tell the Ministry about the forgery.
Dean asks what happened to the kids who tried to steal the sword; they were punished, but are OK.
The talk turns to debate about Harry. The group is split on whether or not he's actually the "Chosen One" – Dean, his old friend, stands up for him, as does Ted Tonks.
Apparently the Daily Prophet has been spreading all kinds of lies about Harry, but Luna Lovegood's father's paper, TheQuibbler, has finally stopped printing ridiculous nonsense, and is now printing matter-of-fact articles about all the things the Prophet is busy covering up.
The group finishes their dinner and goes out of earshot. Meanwhile, Hermione pulls out the portrait of Phineas Nigellus, and awakens the bad-tempered former headmaster. They question Phineas about what's been going on in Snape's office (the location of his other portrait – like the other Hogwarts portraits, he can move between his two frames).
Before he storms off in a huff, Phineas tells them that the last time the sword was removed from its case was when Dumbledore used it to break open a ring – Harry and Hermione know this must be Marvolo Gaunt's ring, Voldemort's first Horcrux (see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).
Hermione discovers in one of her books that goblin-made swords, like Gryffindor's, absorb things that make them stronger – this one is full of basilisk venom (see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), one of the only things that can destroy a Horcrux.
This means that in order to destroy the Horcruxes they find, they need that sword – but where did Dumbledore hide it?
Ron, however, isn't impressed by this new information. He goes off on a rant about how Harry doesn't know anything about what he's doing, and the two of them get into a screaming match. It ends in Ron's abrupt departure – he leaves the Horcrux with them and Disapparates into the rainy night. Hermione and Harry are left alone.