Chapter 17 Summary
As Harry and Hermione leave the graveyard, Hermione realizes that they are being watched by someone. They speed up their departure and wander through the village of Godric’s Hollow wondering how they are going to find the ethereal Bathilda Bagshot.
In their wanderings, the two come upon Harry’s old house or, more precisely, its ruins. The entire visage remains as a memorial to the Potter family and what took place here. Harry and Hermione are moved at the encouraging messages left there by many wizarding folk.
Even though Harry and Hermione are hidden under the Invisibility Cloak, Bathilda Bagshot appears and beckons both Harry and Hermione to follow her. Old, haggard, and decrepit, Bathilda leads them to her abode, which is thick with filth and stinks horribly of rotting flesh. When Harry sees a photo of the mysterious blond wizard who stole what Voldemort most desperately wants, Harry asks Bathilda who it is, but Bathilda doesn’t answer.
Bathilda Bagshot keeps beckoning Harry upstairs and Harry, wanting the sword of Godric Gryffindor, keeps following her. Harry feels the Horcrux around his neck acting strangely, but he mistakenly interprets the feeling as fear that it is going to be destroyed.
When Harry is finally alone with Bathilda upstairs, he suddenly feels a strange upsurge of joy while his scar prickles. In panic and horror, Harry sees “the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where [Bathilda’s] neck had been.” The snake strikes Harry on the forearm and then knocks Harry down.
The Horcrux goes crazy, almost leaping off of Harry’s chest, as Harry hears the snake’s instructions to “hold him.” The snake is Voldemort’s own servant, Nagini. As Voldemort himself approaches quickly so that he can claim his victim, Harry has a very detailed vision of his parents’ deaths. Harry and Hermione get away just in time, but Harry is in a strange semi-conscious state and struck with fits of moaning.
Hermione keeps busy in helping Harry while he is so ill. She cleans the snake bite and cures it as best as she is able to with her Essence of Dittany. She is unable to remove the Horcrux locket from around Harry’s neck manually, so she magically forces it off; this leaves an eerie indentation near Harry’s own heart. Unfortunately, Hermione reveals that it was her own magic that most likely destroyed Harry’s wand in their attempts at escape.