Harry slid down the wall. He gripped the fang that was spreading poison through
his body and wrenched it out of his arm. But he knew it was too late. White-hot
pain was spreading slowly and steadily from the wound. Even as he dropped the fang
and watched his own blood soaking his robes, his vision went foggy. The Chamber
was dissolving in a whirl of dull color.
A patch of scarlet swam past, and Harry heard a soft clatter of claws beside
“Fawkes,” said Harry thickly. “You were fantastic, Fawkes...” He felt the bird
lay its beautiful head on the spot where the serpent's fang had pierced him.
He could hear echoing footsteps and then a dark shadow moved in front of him.
“You're dead, Harry Potter,” said Riddle's voice above him. “Dead. Even Dumbledore's
bird knows it. Do you see what he's doing, Potter? He's crying.”
Harry blinked. Fawkes's head slid in and out of focus. Thick, pearly tears were
trickling down the glossy feathers.
“I'm going to sit here and watch you die, Harry Potter. Take your time. I'm in
Harry felt drowsy. Everything around him seemed to be spinning.
“So ends the famous Harry Potter,” said Riddle's distant voice. “Alone in the
Chamber of Secrets, forsaken by his friends, defeated at last by the Dark Lord he
so unwisely challenged. You'll be back with your dear Mudblood mother soon, Harry...
She bought you twelve years of borrowed time... but Lord Voldemort got you in the
end, as you knew he must...”
If this is dying, thought Harry, it's not so bad. Even the pain was leaving him...
But was this dying? Instead of going black, the Chamber seemed to be coming back
into focus. Harry gave his head a little shake and there was Fawkes, still resting
his head on Harry's arm. A pearly patch of tears was shining all around the wound—except
that there was no wound.
“Get away, bird,” said Riddle's voice suddenly. “Get away from him—I said, get
Harry raised his head. Riddle was pointing Harry's wand at Fawkes; there was
a bang like a gun, and Fawkes took flight again in a whirl of gold and scarlet.
“Phoenix tears...” said Riddle quietly, staring at Harry's arm. “Of course...
healing powers... I forgot...”
He looked into Harry's face. “But it makes no difference. In fact, I prefer it
this way. Just you and me, Harry Potter... you and me...”
He raised the wand.
Then, in a rush of wings, Fawkes had soared back overhead and something fell
into Harry's lap—the diary.
For a split second, both Harry and Riddle, wand still raised, stared at it. Then,
without thinking, without considering, as though he had meant to do it all along,
Harry seized the basilisk fang on the floor next to him and plunged it straight
into the heart of the book.
There was a long, dreadful, piercing scream. Ink spurted out of the diary in
torrents, streaming over Harry's hands, flooding the floor. Riddle was writhing
and twisting, screaming and flailing and then...
He had gone. Harry's wand fell to the floor with a clatter and there was silence.
Silence except for the steady drip drip of ink still oozing from the diary. The
basilisk venom had burned a sizzling hole right through it.
Shaking all over, Harry pulled himself up. His head was spinning as though he'd
just traveled miles by Floo powder. Slowly, he gathered together his wand and the
Sorting Hat, and, with a huge tug, retrieved the glittering sword from the roof
of the basilisk's mouth.
Then came a faint moan from the end of the Chamber. Ginny was stirring. As Harry
hurried toward her, she sat up. Her bemused eyes traveled from the huge form of
the dead basilisk, over Harry, in his blood-soaked robes, then to the diary in his
hand. She drew a great, shuddering gasp and tears began to pour down her face.
“Harry—oh, Harry—I tried to tell you at b-breakfast, but I c-couldn't say it
in front of Percy—it was me, Harry—but I—I s-swear I d-didn't mean to—R-Riddle made
me, he t-took me over—and—how did you kill that—that thing? W-where's Riddle? The
last thing I rremember is him coming out of the diary—”
“ It's all right,” said Harry, holding up the diary, and showing Ginny the fang
hole, “Riddle's finished. Look! Him and the basilisk. C'mon, Ginny, let's get out
“I'm going to be expelled!” Ginny wept as Harry helped her awkwardly to her feet.
“I've looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since B-Bill came and n-now I'll
have to leave and—w-what'll Mum and Dad say?”
Fawkes was waiting for them, hovering in the Chamber entrance. Harry urged Ginny
forward; they stepped over the motionless coils of the dead basilisk, through the
echoing gloom, and back into the tunnel. Harry heard the stone doors close behind
them with a soft hiss.
After a few minutes' progress up the dark tunnel, a distant sound of slowly shifting
rock reached Harry's ears.
“Ron!” Harry yelled, speeding up. “Ginny's okay! I've got her!”
He heard Ron give a strangled cheer, and they turned the next bend to see his
eager face staring through the sizable gap he had managed to make in the rock fall.
“Ginny!” Ron thrust an arm through the gap in the rock to pull her through first.
“You're alive! I don't believe it! What happened?” How—what—where did that bird
Fawkes had swooped through the gap after Ginny.
“He's Dumbledore's,” said Harry, squeezing through himself
“How come you've got a sword?” said Ron, gaping at the glittering weapon in Harry's
“I'll explain when we get out of here,” said Harry with a sideways glance at
Ginny, who was crying harder than ever.
“Later,” Harry said shortly. He didn't think it was a good idea to tell Ron yet
who'd been opening the Chamber, not in front of Ginny, anyway. “Where's Lockhart?”
“Back there,” said Ron, still looking puzzled but jerking his head up the tunnel
toward the pipe. “He's in a bad way. Come and see.”
Led by Fawkes, whose wide scarlet wings emitted a soft golden glow in the darkness,
they walked all the way back to the mouth of the pipe. Gilderoy Lockhart was sitting
there, humming placidly to himself.
“His memory's gone,” said Ron. “The Memory Charm backfired. Hit him instead of
us. Hasn't got a clue who he is, or where he is, or who we are. I told him to come
and wait here. He's a danger to himself”
Lockhart peered good-naturedly up at them all.
“Hello,” he said. “Odd sort of place, this, isn't it? Do you live here?”
“No,” said Ron, raising his eyebrows at Harry.
Harry bent down and looked up the long, dark pipe.
“Have you thought how we're going to get back up this?” he said to Ron.
Ron shook his head, but Fawkes the phoenix had swooped past Harry and was now
fluttering in front of him, his beady eyes bright in the dark. He was waving his
long golden tail feathers. Harry looked uncertainly at him.
“He looks like he wants you to grab hold ..” said Ron, looking perplexed. “But
you're much too heavy for a bird to pull up there—”
“Fawkes,” said Harry, “isn't an ordinary bird.” He turned quickly to the others.
“We've got to hold on to each other. Ginny, grab Ron's hand. Professor Lockhart—”
“He means you,” said Ron sharply to Lockhart.
“You hold Ginny's other hand—”
Harry tucked the sword and the Sorting Hat into his belt, Ron took hold of the
back of Harry's robes, and Harry reached out and took hold of Fawkes's strangely
hot tail feathers.
An extraordinary lightness seemed to spread through his whole body and the next
second, in a rush of wings, they were flying upward through the pipe. Harry could
hear Lockhart dangling below him, saying, “Amazing! Amazing! This is just like magic!”
The chill air was whipping through Harry's hair, and before he'd stopped enjoying
the ride, it was over—all four of them were hitting the wet floor of Moaning Myrtle's
bathroom, and as Lockhart straightened his hat, the sink that hid the pipe was sliding
back into place.
Myrtle goggled at them.
“You're alive,” she said blankly to Harry.
“There's no need to sound so disappointed,” he said grimly, wiping flecks of
blood and slime off his glasses.
“Oh, well... Id just been thinking... if you had died, you'd have been welcome
to share my toilet,” said Myrtle, blushing silver.
“Urgh!” said Ron as they left the bathroom for the dark, deserted corridor outside.
“Harry! I think Myrtle's grown fond of you! You've got competition, Ginny!”
But tears were still flooding silently down Ginny's face.
“Where now?” said Ron, with an anxious look at Ginny. Harry pointed.
Fawkes was leading the way, glowing gold along the corridor. They strode after
him, and moments later, found themselves outside Professor McGonagall's office.
Harry knocked and pushed the door open.
For a moment there was silence as Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Lockhart stood in the
doorway, covered in muck and slime and (in Harry's case) blood. Then there was a
It was Mrs. Weasley, who had been sitting crying in front of the fire. She leapt
to her feet, closely followed by Mr. Weasley, and both of them flung themselves
on their daughter.
Harry, however, was looking past them. Professor Dumbledore was standing by the
mantelpiece, beaming, next to Professor McGonagall, who was taking great, steadying
gasps, clutching her chest. Fawkes went whooshing past Harry's ear and settled on
Dumbledore's shoulder, just as Harry found himself and Ron being swept into Mrs.
Weasleys tight embrace.
“You saved her! You saved her! How did you do it?”
“I think we'd all like to know that,” said Professor McGonagall weakly.
Mrs. Weasley let go of Harry, who hesitated for a moment, then walked over to
the desk and laid upon it the Sorting Hat, the ruby-encrusted sword, and what remained
of Riddle's diary.
Then he started telling them everything. For nearly a quarter of an hour he spoke
into the rapt silence: He told them about hearing the disembodied voice, how Hermione
had finally realized that he was hearing a basilisk in the pipes; how he and Ron
had followed the spiders into the forest, that Aragog had told them where the last
victim of the basilisk had died; how he had guessed that Moaning Myrtle had been
the victim, and that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets might be in her bathroom...
“Very well,” Professor McGonagall prompted him as he paused, “so you found out
where the entrance was—breaking a hundred school rules into pieces along the way,
I might add—but how on earth did you all get out of there alive, Potter?”
So Harry, his voice now growing hoarse from all this talking, told them about
Fawkes's timely arrival and about the Sorting Hat giving him the sword. But then
he faltered. He had so far avoided mentioning Riddle's diary—or Ginny. She was standing
with her head against Mrs. Weasley's shoulder, and tears were still coursing silently
down her cheeks. What if they expelled her? Harry thought in panic. Riddle's diary
didn't work anymore... How could they prove it had been he who'd made her do it
Instinctively, Harry looked at Dumbledore, who smiled faintly, the firelight
glancing off his half-moon spectacles.
“\What interests me most,” said Dumbledore gently, “is how Lord Voldemort managed
to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently in hiding in the forests
Relief—warm, sweeping, glorious relief—swept over Harry. “W-what's that?” said
Mr. Weasley in a stunned voice. “You-Know-Who? En-enchant Ginny? But Ginny's not...
Ginny hasn't been... has she?”
“It was this diary,” said Harry quickly, picking it up and showing it to Dumbledore.
“Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen...”
Dumbledore took the diary from Harry and peered keenly down his long, crooked
nose at its burnt and soggy pages.
“Brilliant,” he said softly. “Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student
Hogwarts has ever seen.” He turned around to the Weasleys, who were looking utterly
“Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught
him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school...
traveled far and wide... sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very
worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when
he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognizable. Hardly anyone connected
Lord Voldemort with the clever, handsome boy who was once Head Boy here.”
“But, Ginny,” said Mrs. Weasley. “What's our Ginny got to do with—with—him?”
“His d-diary!” Ginny sobbed. “I've b-been writing in it, and he's been w-writing
back all year—”
“Ginny!” said Mr. Weasley, flabbergasted. “Haven't I taught you anything. What
have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't
see where it keeps its brain? Why didn't you show the diary to me, or your mother?
A suspicious object like that, it was clearly full of Dark Magic!”
“I d-didn't know,” sobbed Ginny. “I found it inside one of the books Mum got
me. I th-thought someone had just left it in there and forgotten about it—”
“Miss Weasley should go up to the hospital wing right away,” Dumbledore interrupted
in a firm voice. “This has been a terrible ordeal for her. There will be no punishment.
Older and wiser wizards than she have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort.” He strode
over to the door and opened it. “Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot
chocolate. I always find that cheers me up,” he added, twinkling kindly down at
her. “You will find that Madam Pomfrey is still awake. She's just giving out Mandrake
juice—I daresay the basilisk's victims will be waking up any moment.”
“So Hermione's okay!” said Ron brightly.
“There has been no lasting harm done, Ginny,” said Dumbledore.
Mrs. Weasley led Ginny out, and Mr. Weasley followed, still looking deeply shaken.