We begin the novel at Malfoy Manor with Severus Snape and Yaxley, an apparently villainous colleague of his. They're late for a meeting with Lord Voldemort and his faithful Death Eaters – a creepy scene, complete with an unconscious torture victim. What a way to begin.
Acting on Snape's information, the group of evildoers discusses plans to attack the Order of the Phoenix as they attempt to move Harry Potter from one protected place to another. Snape insists that his information is correct, despite argument from others.
The Death Eaters are also engaged in an attempt to take over the Ministry of Magic through use of the Imperius Curse. They hope to succeed by the time the Order moves Harry.
And, to top it all off, Lord Voldemort plans to kill Harry himself – to make sure nobody else screws it up. He admits that he's been careless in the past, but he now knows that he's the only one who can do the job.
The meeting is interrupted by the prisoner, who wakes and moans, then is silenced by the cringing Wormtail.
Voldemort also informs his followers that he'll need to borrow a wand to kill Harry – he takes Lucius Malfoy's, and makes it clear that the Malfoy family has fallen from grace. The Malfoys – Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco – don't seem very happy at all about their houseguests.
However, Bellatrix Lestrange (Draco's aunt) informs her beloved master that they're all pleased that he's there.
Voldemort coldly makes fun of the Malfoys by telling them about a wedding that has just taken place – of Tonks (their niece) to Remus Lupin. The other Death Eaters think this is super hilarious news.
Voldemort quiets the rowdy Death Eaters, reminding them that everyone has bad blood in their families, and that it's their job to cleanse the magic world. Speaking of which, he introduces everyone to their prisoner – it's Charity Burbage, the former teacher of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Charity Burbage, conscious again, begs Snape (her former colleague) for mercy – Voldemort snaps back, saying that people of her mind hope to pollute the purity of wizarding blood by mingling with Muggles and other creatures, like werewolves (another jab at the Malfoys, on account of Lupin).
The chapter ends chillingly as Voldemort murders Burbage with the killing curse – Avada Kedavra.