Severus Snape arrives at Malfoy Manor to inform Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters of Harry's impending departure from No. 4 Privet Drive. Voldemort commandeers Lucius Malfoy's wand, as Voldemort's own wand cannot be used to kill Harry, because the wands are "twins".
Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix gather at Privet Drive and escort Harry to safety, using Polyjuice Potion to create six decoy Harrys. During their flight to the Weasley family home at the Burrow, all are ambushed by Death Eaters, who kill Mad-Eye Moody and Harry's owl, Hedwig, injures George Weasley, and knocks out Hagrid which forces Harry to take over and drive his flying motorcycle while fighting Voldemort. At the Burrow, Harry has a vision of the wand-maker Ollivander being tormented by Voldemort, who claims that Ollivander had lied to him by claiming that the only way Voldemort could kill Harry was by using another person's wand.
Scrimgeour arrives at the Burrow with Albus Dumbledore's Will and distributes three items to Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron receives Dumbledore's Deluminator, Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry the first Golden Snitch that he ever caught in a Quidditch match. Scrimgeour reveals that Harry was also bequeathed the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, but the Minister states that the sword was not Dumbledore's to pass on and, in any case, is missing.
Next, the Death Eaters take control of the Ministry and assassinate Scrimgeour to begin persecuting Muggle-born witches and wizards. They disrupt the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. Harry, Hermione, and Ron disapparate to London and find sanctuary at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. There they discover that the "R.A.B." from the false Horcrux locket is Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. From Kreacher, the Blacks' house-elf, they learn that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real locket. Kreacher and Dobby apprehend Fletcher, who reveals that the locket is in the possession of Dolores Umbridge. Under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry and successfully retrieve the locket. The trio escape into the wilderness after accidentally revealing the location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Yaxley, a Death Eater.
Unable to destroy the Horcrux, they take turns wearing it in order to dilute its malignant power. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort interrogating Gregorovitch, a renowned wand-maker, who claims that a teenage boy had once stolen the legendary Elder Wand from his shop. While Ron wears the locket, he is overcome by his negative feelings and abandons the two in the wilderness. Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric's Hollow, where they visit Harry's parents' graves and the house where they were killed. They also visit the home of Bathilda Bagshot, who may have the Sword of Gryffindor, which they believe can destroy Horcruxes. However, they are instead cornered by Voldemort's snake, Nagini, who had been possessing her corpse. Hermione accidentally breaks Harry's wand as they escape into the Forest of Dean, where Hermione identifies the mysterious thief seen in Harry's vision as Gellert Grindelwald.
When evening falls, Harry sees a Patronus in the form of a doe which leads him to a frozen pond. Gryffindor's sword lies beneath the pond's ice. Harry breaks the ice and jumps in to reach the sword. The locket around his neck attempts to strangle him, but Ron arrives to rescue Harry. Ron destroys the locket with the Sword of Gryffindor.
The trio then visit Xenophilius Lovegood to learn about a symbol seen several times on their journey. He tells them that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Lovegood betrays them to the Death Eaters in an effort to have his kidnapped daughter returned. Harry has a vision of Voldemort learning from Grindelwald that the Elder Wand lies with Dumbledore in his grave.
The trio escape into the wilderness once more, but Snatchers appear and chase them. They are captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange imprisons Harry and Ron in a cellar in which they discover Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook the goblin. Bellatrix tortures Hermione for information on how they got the sword of Gryffindor. After Dobby apparates to save them, a short battle ensues, and Harry duels and disarms Draco. Dobby is killed by Bellatrix as he helps Harry and the other captives escape. Meanwhile, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore's tomb and takes the Elder Wand.