Let's start with Lupin. He shows up at Grimmauld Place and has a story for the trio — a tale of horrible decisions and poor choices, in which he was persuaded into marrying and impregnating a young, attractive witch who has now trapped him in a fiery, domestic hell. As a complete victim of circumstance, it's understandable that he needs a break.. (Perhaps an extended camping trip with teenagers!)
Oh, but wait! Even if he feels that her life would be better off with him gone, it might be a good idea to ask for her opinion on the matter. After all, she is an adult and might — I'm just guessing here — like to be involved in the decision of whether her husband goes gallivanting off into the wild moors of Britain and leaves her to deal with morning sickness and the tiny problem of the Ministry hunting down her family.
Luckily, Harry calls Lupin out on his asshattery, but the truth is too much for poor Remus's ego and he slams Harry in to the wall and flees. That's not quite the best way to prove you're in the right, dude.
Next up, Harry, Hermione, and Ron travel to the Ministry, where their brilliant plan turns out to be not-so-brilliant, but they do manage to get the horcrux and free some muggle-borns in the process. Good job, guys.
Rowling does a great job in this chapter of showing the oppression and fear in the wizarding world: people are terrified of confiding in anyone or stepping out of line in case their families are threatened, the Ministry is producing propaganda against muggle-borns, and Dolores Umbridge is just tickled pink with the power and cruelty she is allowed to wield.
Just checking, but is Umbridge a Death Eater? I didn't think so, but I never thought too much about how Moody's eye ended up in her door before this reread. If the Order couldn't find Moody's body after the battle, it seems likely that it was taken by the same Death Eaters they fought that night. And why would the Death Eaters give Umbridge Moody's eye? Could she have been in the battle and taken it on her own? Or did she perhaps buy it somehow, like she did the locket? I can't imagine a street vendor peddling dead people's eyes, but I've been wrong before.
Regardless, Umbridge is a monster and I'm glad Harry stunned her for lying about being a descendent of Slytherin.
This post is already getting long, so I'm going to head to the bullet points:
- Harry says they can't summon Kreacher in case he brings a Death Eater, but that seems like a pretty lame excuse. If they were actually worried about Kreacher being tortured for information, I think they'd risk it. I just feel really bad for Kreacher.
- Ron's big departure. I usually don't miss an opportunity to criticize Ron, BUT I think in this instance it's a great character development moment, and it really shows the differences between the three of them. Though if Ron didn't come back just a few days later and save Harry's life, I'd be less generous.
- If Harry and Hermione went through so much trouble to disguise themselves before venturing off to Godric's Hollow, don't you think they would also adopt fake names for the outing? In the graveyard, they call out to each other using their first names pretty much every other sentence. Come on, now.