Harry feels like the only thing that will relieve the guilt he feels about Moody's death is setting out immediately to find and destroy the Horcruxes. One morning, Ron points out that Harry is stuck until he turns seventeen and the Ministry no longer has a Trace on him, and they have to stay an extra day for the wedding. Ron warns Harry that, while Mr. Weasley and Lupin both understand that the trio are dropping out of school, Mrs. Weasley is determined to stop them. Sure enough, Mrs. Weasley corners Harry a few hours later and tries to guilt him into staying. When Harry refuses, Mrs. Weasley abruptly asks him to help with wedding preparations.
While Mrs. Weasley is misguided in her attempts to keep Ron, Harry, and Hermione from setting out on their own, it's important to keep in mind that she's doing this to try to keep them safe. She still believes that Hogwarts is the safest place for them, which the reader knows is a questionable belief given that Voldemort recently murdered Charity Burbage and that Snape is presumably still at the school.
Mrs. Weasley begins assigning Harry, Ron, and Hermione tasks that they can't do together and that keep them too busy to chat. A few days later, Ginny confirms that Mrs. Weasley is trying to keep the trio from leaving. Harry asks if she expects someone else to kill Voldemort while they all make party favors and insists it was a joke when Ginny's face goes pale. They stop talking when Mr. Weasley, Kingsley, and Bill arrive for dinner. The Burrow is now the headquarters for the Order, as number twelve, Grimmauld Place is no longer safe. Over supper, they discuss that they haven't found Moody's body and that the Prophet hasn't reported Harry's use of underage magic, likely in an attempt to try to keep it quiet that Voldemort attacked Harry.
Keeping the trio apart allows Mrs. Weasley to control the exchange of information, something that, to her credit, does keep them from engaging in meaningful planning sessions. However, this also means that the trio instead plans individually—especially Hermione—something that, in the long run, means that the first few days of being on the run are difficult, as Harry and Ron have no idea what Hermione has been up to. This shows how love that takes the form of control, while benevolent, can also be misguided and ultimately dangerous.
Ron angrily asks if anyone at the Ministry is prepared to stand up to Voldemort, but Mr. Weasley insists that everyone is terrified that their children will be targeted. He says he doesn't believe that Charity Burbage resigned and hopes that Scrimgeour is planning something useful. Mrs. Weasley sends Ron to clean his room, Hermione to change the sheets for Monsieur Delacour and Madame Delacour, and Harry to help Mr. Weasley with the chicken coop. There's nothing to do with the coop—Mr. Weasley is hiding the remains of Sirius's motorcycle in it—so Harry sneaks up to Ron's bedroom.
Mr. Weasley hits on a really important point here: while Voldemort gives no brain space to caring about other people's children, he knows that other people—and specifically, other people he'd like to subjugate—spend a lot of time thinking about their children's safety. By preying on this and using it to his advantage, Voldemort can then bring these people under his control without having to do anything but threaten them.
Harry finds Ron on the bed and Hermione sorting books into two huge piles. They discuss whether or not Moody is actually dead, and Harry suggests that the Death Eaters transfigured his body and hid it. At this, Hermione bursts into tears. Ron leaps off the bed to comfort Hermione and reminds her of Moody's catchphrase, "constant vigilance." With a small laugh, Hermione reaches for another book and explains that she's choosing which books to take with them.
The question of whether or not people are actually dead isn't a silly one, given that the trio lives in a magical world where all manner of things are possible. However, their desire to reconnect with those who are indeed dead suggests that they're putting more energy into this than they should be, energy that they could be using to put Moody's advice about vigilance into practice.
Harry sits up straight and calls Hermione and Ron to attention. They roll their eyes and tell Harry to not even bother trying to convince them to not come. Hermione says she's been packing for days, has stolen Moody's stock of Polyjuice Potion, and has modified her parents' memories and sent them to Australia to protect them. She tells Ron to show Harry what he's done, and Ron leads Harry to the attic. There, Harry sees the Weasleys' ghoul with red hair, pustules, and pajamas—once Ron leaves, the ghoul will move into Ron's room to pose as Ron with spattergroit. Both of these measures will explain Ron and Hermione's absences from Hogwarts. Harry realizes that his friends are going to come with him, even though they understand the danger.
While Harry's desire to protect his friends is certainly noble, he still doesn't fully understand that, in order to be a good friend to them, he needs to respect their choices and their help. Understanding that they've done everything they can to protect the people they love in preparation for coming with Harry helps Harry to feel validated and as though he can fully trust Hermione and Ron to be there for him, especially since Harry sees himself as a liability and a danger to people close to him.
They hear Mrs. Weasley yelling from downstairs and Ron laments that the Delacours are coming so early. Hermione suggests that the trio should figure out where they're going first and says she thinks that going to Godric's Hollow isn't the best plan. She suggests that Voldemort might have spies there. Ron suggests that R.A.B. might have already destroyed the real Horcrux, but Hermione points out they need to track it down anyway. Ron asks how a person destroys a Horcrux, and Hermione turns pink and says she's been researching. She explains that the books on Horcruxes were taken out of the library, but she was able to Summon them out of Dumbledore's office after he died. She pulls the book out.
That acquiring these banned books was so easy for Hermione begins to establish evidence that Dumbledore was setting the trio up to continue his work and have the information they need, even if acquiring it becomes more difficult as they go on. This also continues to reinforce the importance of research and acquiring information, which will be necessary if the trio intends to truly find and do away with the Horcruxes.
Hermione tells Ron that a person can put their soul back together if they feel remorse, which Voldemort will never do. She reads that basilisk fangs are one of the only surefire ways of destroying a Horcrux, as they have to destroy Horcruxes "beyond magical repair." Ron asks if the soul can then go live in something else, but Hermione explains that Horcruxes are the opposite of people: stabbing Ron wouldn't harm his soul, while Horcruxes depend on their containers to survive. Ron asks how Tom Riddle's diary was able to possess Ginny, and Hermione explains that it can happen when a person gets emotionally close to a Horcrux. Harry wonders how Dumbledore destroyed the ring as Mrs. Weasley bursts in and demands help with wedding gifts.
Hermione's recitation of what makes a Horcrux a Horcrux and what a person must do to make them suggests that Horcruxes may be able to make a person relatively immortal, but they also make a person less than human—especially since the series as a whole has suggested time and again that what makes people human is the ability to love, grieve, and feel remorse. This begins to show Harry that immortality isn't something he or anyone else should strive for in the first place if they care about actually being truly human.
Madame Delacour and Monsieur Delacour arrive in the morning and turn out to be happy and helpful houseguests. With the house so full, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have no time alone to make plans. Mrs. Weasley interrupts them at the chicken coop one evening and asks Harry what he wants to do for his birthday. Harry insists that a normal dinner will be fine. Mrs. Weasley assures Harry it's no trouble and gives him a sad smile. Harry feels horrible; he knows he's inconveniencing and hurting her.
Given what Harry recently learned about Horcruxes, the fact that he feels awful for inconveniencing Mrs. Weasley should be a reminder that he is indeed human—and that her pain, whatever she's feeling, is also what makes her human and what fuels her desire to protect Harry and make him feel loved by celebrating his birthday.