“Oh, yeah... whoever it was expelled,” said Malfoy. “They're probably still in
“Azkaban?” said Harry, puzzled.
“Azkaban—the wizard prison, Goyle,” said Malfoy, looking at him in disbelief
“Honestly, if you were any slower, you'd be going backward.”
He shifted restlessly in his chair and said, “Father says to keep my head down
and let the Heir of Slytherin get on with it. He says the school needs ridding of
all the Mudblood filth, but not to get mixed up in it. Of course, he's got a lot
on his plate at the moment. You know the Ministry of Magic raided our manor last
Harry tried to force Goyle's dull face into a look of concern.
“Yeah...” said Malfoy. “Luckily, they didn't find much. Father's got some very
valuable Dark Arts stuff. But luckily, we've got our own secret chamber under the
“Ho!” said Ron.
Malfoy looked at him. So did Harry. Ron blushed. Even his hair was turning red.
His nose was also slowly lengthening—their hour was up, Ron was turning back into
himself, and from the look of horror he was suddenly giving Harry, he must be, too.
They both jumped to their feet.
“Medicine for my stomach,” Ron grunted, and without further ado they sprinted
the length of the Slytherin common room, hurled themselves at the stone wall, and
dashed up the passage, hoping against hope that Malfoy hadn't noticed anything.
Harry could feel his feet slipping around in Goyle's huge shoes and had to hoist
up his robes as he shrank; they crashed up the steps into the dark entrance hall,
which was full of a muffled pounding coming from the closet where they'd locked
Crabbe and Goyle. Leaving their shoes outside the closet door, they sprinted in
their socks up the marble staircase toward Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
“Well, it wasn't a complete waste of time,” Ron panted, closing the bathroom
door behind them. “I know we still haven't found out who's doing the attacks, but
I'm going to write to Dad tomorrow and tell him to check under the Malfoys' drawing
Harry checked his face in the cracked mirror. He was back to normal. He put his
glasses on as Ron hammered on the door of Hermione's stall.
“Hermione, come out, we've got loads to tell you—”
“Go away!” Hermione squeaked.
Harry and Ron looked at each other.
“What's the matter?” said Ron. “You must be back to normal by now, we are—”
But Moaning Myrtle glided suddenly through the stall door. Harry had never seen
her looking so happy.
“Ooooooh, wait till you see,” she said. “It's awful-”
They heard the lock slide back and Hermione emerged, sobbing, her robes pulled
up over her head.
“What's up?” said Ron uncertainly. “Have you still got Millicent's nose or something?”
Hermione let her robes fall and Ron backed into the sink.
Her face was covered in black fur. Her eyes had turned yellow and there were
long, pointed ears poking through her hair.
“It was a c-cat hair!” she howled. “M-Millicent Bulstrode m-must have a cat!
And the p-potion isn't supposed to be used for animal transformations!”
“Uh-oh,” said Ron.
“You'll be teased something dreadful,” said Myrtle happily.
“It's okay, Hermione,” said Harry quickly. “We'll take you up to the hospital
wing. Madam Pomfrey never asks too many questions...”
It took a long time to persuade Hermione to leave the bathroom. Moaning Myrtle
sped them on their way with a hearty guffaw. “Wait till everyone finds out you've
got a tail!”
THE VERY SECRET DIARY
Hermione remained in the hospital wing for several weeks. There was a flurry
of rumor about her disappearance when the rest of the school arrived back from their
Christmas holidays, because of course everyone thought that she had been attacked.
So many students filed past the hospital wing trying to catch a glimpse of her that
Madam Pomfrey took out her curtains again and placed them around Hermione's bed,
to spare her the shame of being seen with a furry face.
Harry and Ron went to visit her every evening. When the new term started, they
brought her each day's homework.
“If Id sprouted whiskers, Id take a break from work,” said Ron, tipping a stack
of books onto Hermione's bedside table one evening.
“Don't be silly, Ron, I've got to keep up,” said Hermione briskly. Her spirits
were greatly improved by the fact that all the hair had gone from her face and her
eyes were turning slowly back to brown. “I don't suppose you've got any new leads?”
she added in a whisper, so that Madam Pomfrey couldn't hear her.
“Nothing,” said Harry gloomily.
“I was so sure it was Malfoy,” said Ron, for about the hundredth time.
“What's that?” asked Harry, pointing to something gold sticking out from under
“Just a get well card,” said Hermione hastily, trying to poke it out of sight,
but Ron was too quick for her. He pulled it out, flicked it open, and read aloud:
“To Miss Granger, wishing you a speedy recovery, from your concerned teacher,
Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the
Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's MostCharming-Smile
Ron looked up at Hermione, disgusted.
“You sleep with this under your pillow?”
But Hermione was spared answering by Madam Pomfrey sweeping over with her evening
dose of medicine.
“Is Lockhart the smarmiest bloke you've ever met, or what?” Ron said to Harry
as they left the infirmary and started up the stairs toward Gryffindor Tower. Snape
had given them so much homework, Harry thought he was likely to be in the sixth
year before he finished it. Ron was just saying he wished he had asked Hermione
how many rat tails you were supposed to add to a Hair-Raising Potion when an angry
outburst from the floor above reached their ears.
“That's Filch,” Harry muttered as they hurried up the stairs and paused, out
of sight, listening hard.
“You don't think someone else's been attacked?” said Ron tensely.
They stood still, their heads inclined toward Flich's voice, which sounded quite
`... even more work for me! Mopping all night, like I haven't got enough to do!
No, this is the final straw, I'm going to Dumbledore...”
His footsteps receded along the out-of-sight corridor and they heard a distant
They poked their heads around the corner. Filch had clearly been manning his
usual lookout post: They were once again on the spot where Mrs. Norris had been
attacked. They saw at a glance what Filch had been shouting about. A great flood
of water stretched over half the corridor, and it looked as though it was still
seeping from under the door of Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Now that Filch had stopped
shouting, they could hear Myrtle's wails echoing off the bathroom walls.
“Now what's up with her?” said Ron.
“Let's go and see,” said Harry, and holding their robes over their ankles they
stepped through the great wash of water to the door bearing its OUT OF ORDER sign,
ignored it as always, and entered.
Moaning Myrtle was crying, if possible, louder and harder than ever before. She
seemed to be hiding down her usual toilet. It was dark in the bathroom because the
candles had been extinguished in the great rush of water that had left both walls
and floor soaking wet.
“What's up, Myrtle?” said Harry.
“Who's that?” glugged Myrtle miserably. “Come to throw something else at me?”
Harry waded across to her stall and said, “Why would I throw something at you?”
“Don't ask me,” Myrtle shouted, emerging with a wave of yet more water, which
splashed onto the already sopping floor. “Here I am, minding my own business, and
someone thinks it's funny to throw a book at me...”
“But it can't hurt you if someone throws something at you,” said Harry, reasonably.
“I mean, it'd just go right through you, wouldn't it?”
He had said the wrong thing. Myrtle puffed herself up and shrieked, “Let's all
throw books at Myrtle, because she can't feel it! Ten points if you can get it through
her stomach! Fifty points if it goes through her head! Well, ha, ha, ha! What a
lovely game, I don't think!”
“Who threw it at you, anyway?” asked Harry.
“I don't know... I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death, and
it fell right through the top of my head,” said Myrtle, glaring at them. “It's over
there, it got washed out...”
Harry and Ron looked under the sink where Myrtle was pointing. A small, thin
book lay there. It had a shabby black cover and was as wet as everything else in
the bathroom. Harry stepped forward to pick it up, but Ron suddenly flung out an
arm to hold him back.
“What?” said Harry.
“Are you crazy?” said Ron. “It could be dangerous.”
“Dangerous?” said Harry, laughing. “Come off it, how could it be dangerous?”
“You'd be surprised,” said Ron, who was looking apprehensively at the book. “Some
of the books the Ministry's confiscated Dad's told me—there was one that burned
your eyes out. And everyone who read Sonnets of a Sorcerer spoke in limericks for
the rest of their lives. And some old witch in Bath had a book that you could never
stop reading! You just had to wander around with your nose in it, trying to do everything
“All right, I've got the point,” said Harry.
The little book lay on the floor, nondescript and soggy.
“Well, we won't find out unless we look at it,” he said, and he ducked around
Ron and picked it up off the floor.
Harry saw at once that it was a diary, and the faded year on the cover told him
it was fifty years old. He opened it eagerly. On the first page he could just make
out the name “T M. Riddle” in smudged ink.
“Hang on,” said Ron, who had approached cautiously and was looking over Harry's
shoulder. “I know that name... T. M. Riddle got an award for special services to
the school fifty years ago.”
“How on earth d'you know that?” said Harry in amazement.
“Because Filch made me polish his shield about fifty times in detention,” said
Ron resentfully. “That was the one I burped slugs all over. If you'd wiped slime
off a name for an hour, you'd remember it, too.”
Harry peeled the wet pages apart. They were completely blank. There wasn't the
faintest trace of writing on any of them, not even Auntie Mabel's birthday, or dentist,
“He never wrote in it,” said Harry, disappointed.
“I wonder why someone wanted to flush it away?” said Ron curiously.
Harry turned to the back cover of the book and saw the printed name of a variety
store on Vauxhall Road, London.
“He must've been Muggle-born,” said Harry thoughtfully. “To have bought a diary
from Vauxhall Road...”
“Well, it's not much use to you,” said Ron. He dropped his voice. “Fifty points
if you can get it through Myrtle's nose.”
Harry, however, pocketed it.
Hermione left the hospital wing, de-whiskered, tail-less, and fur-free, at the
beginning of February. On her first evening back in Gryffindor Tower, Harry showed
her T. M. Riddle's diary and told her the story of how they had found it.
“Oooh, it might have hidden powers,” said Hermione enthusiastically, taking the
diary and looking at it closely.
“If it has, it's hiding them very well,” said Ron. “Maybe it's shy. I don't know
why you don't chuck it, Harry.”
“I wish I knew why someone did try to chuck it,” said Harry. “I wouldn't mind
knowing how Riddle got an award for special services to Hogwarts either.”
“Could've been anything,” said Ron. “Maybe he got thirty O. W. Ls or saved a
teacher from the giant squid. Maybe he murdered Myrtle; that would've done everyone
But Harry could tell from the arrested look on Hermione's face that she was thinking
what he was thinking.
“What?” said Ron, looking from one to the other.
“Well, the Chamber of Secrets was opened fifty years ago, wasn't it?” he said.
“That's what Malfoy said.”
“Yeah...” said Ron slowly.
“And this diary is fifty years old,” said Hermione, tapping it excitedly.
“Oh, Ron, wake up,” snapped Hermione. “We know the person who opened the Chamber
last time was expelled fifty years ago. We know T. M. Riddle got an award for special
services to the school fifty years ago. Well, what if Riddle got his special award
for catching the Heir of Slytherin? His diary would probably tell us everything—where
the Chamber is, and how to open it, and what sort of creature lives in it—the person
who's behind the attacks this time wouldn't want that lying around, would they?”
“That's a brilliant theory, Hermione,” said Ron, “with just one tiny little flaw.
There's nothing written in his diary.”
But Hermione was pulling her wand out of her bag.
“It might be invisible ink!” she whispered.
She tapped the diary three times and said, “Aparecium!”
Nothing happened. Undaunted, Hermione shoved her hand back into her bag and pulled
out what appeared to be a bright red eraser.
“It's a Revealer, I got it in Diagon Alley,” she said.
She rubbed hard on January first. Nothing happened.
“I'm telling you, there's nothing to find in there,” said Ron. “Riddle just got
a diary for Christmas and couldn't be bothered filling it in.”
Harry couldn't explain, even to himself, why he didn't just throw Riddle's diary
away. The fact was that even though he knew the diary was blank, he kept absentmindedly
picking it up and turning the pages, as though it were a story he wanted to finish.
And while Harry was sure he had never heard the name T. M. Riddle before, it still
seemed to mean something to him, almost as though Riddle was a friend he'd had when
he was very small, and had half-forgotten. But this was absurd. He'd never had friends
before Hogwarts, Dudley had made sure of that.
Nevertheless, Harry was determined to find out more about Riddle, so next day
at break, he headed for the trophy room to examine Riddle's special award, accompanied
by an interested Hermione and a thoroughly unconvinced Ron, who told them he'd seen
enough of the trophy room to last him a lifetime.