Chapter 3 : Into the Tunnels
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Draco Malfoy strode into Hogwarts castle with a purpose in his step. He had to find Ginny and he had to find her immediately. The ceremony had gone off without a hitch at home, but he had news to share that would blow her mind. Upon entering the castle, he noticed a few younger students from Ravenclaw house speed walking to the grand staircase. Moments later, a couple of professors raced up to the second floor. Confused, and half wondering who was petrified this time, Draco ascended the stair case.
He came upon a large gathering of students all pushing and trying to see what was going on in front of them. Luckily for Draco, he was a very tall boy and all of the older students had yet to return to the castle from Hogsmead Station. He looked over the heads of some first and second years to see Professor Sprout scuttle past the group and to the wall where the message about the Chamber of Secrets was written. She turned around, hands in the air, and urged the students to go back to their dormitories so the teachers could handle the situation. Draco just stood where he was, as did a couple of older students, of which were Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. The rest of the crowd dispersed as they were told.
Just as Draco was about to turn and leave, Pansy pranced toward him. She obviously had a good holiday. “Hey Draco, what’s going on up here?” she asked, and then added quickly, “Wow! This is a popular hallway, huh?”
“Apparently the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Probably some joke being played,” he said. Draco turned back to the wall to get another look. “Where’s Ginny?”
“I thought she would have been with you,” Pansy replied, looking confused. “I’ve been back for a while- we flooed in from our ski lodge. I haven’t seen her since I got back about an hour ago. I figured she would have been at the station waiting for you and Bl-”
“-I don’t care about your wall, Mr. Filch. This was not a joke! This is much more serious than vandalism!” Professor McGonagall cut Pansy off, entering from the hall with the groundskeeper, Filch. She rounded the corner and stopped dead seeing the wall and Pomona Sprout’s face. “Oh my! This is far worse than we feared.”
Sprout’s look of concern quickly turned to one of confusion. McGonagall had known what the message had said when she was sent to see it for herself. “The Chamber is open, Minerva. What do you mean worse?”
The students left in the corridor all turned as McGonagall pointed below the message already written on the wall. Below it, unbeknownst to those standing in the hall, had appeared a second message, this one written in blood: Her skeleton will lie in the chamber forever*.
Pansy smacked Draco’s arm, still staring at the message that had appeared in front of them just seconds before. “Draco. You don’t think?” she asked.
“No. There’s no way. It’s got to be some kind of joke. I’m sure she’s just out somewhere on the grounds,” Draco responded robotically.
“What do you mean, Mr. Malfoy?” McGonagall asked, hurrying to the two Slytherins staring blankly at a wall.
“Yeah! What are you going on about Malfoy?” Ron interjected.
Draco sputtered out a few words that no one could discern, so Pansy spoke for him. “Well, we can’t find Ginny and she was supposed to meet Draco and Blaise at the train station.”
“Wait! Are you saying my sister might be the one taken into the chamber?” Ron was fuming. “That’s not funny, Malfoy! I don’t care how much you hate me, that’s just a Git thing to do.”
Draco shook his head, brow furrowed. He wished he was kidding. “I... I don’t know for sure,” he said softly. Turning briskly, Draco ran down the stairs toward the dungeons with Pansy on his heels and leaving the two Gryffindors aghast in their wake.
The wall to the Slytherin common room peeled away to the two entering students. Blaise was just bringing his trunk into the boy’s dormitory when he heard them enter. “Hey, I thought we were meeting at the train station? You left me standing out there in the cold like a total ponce.”
“Ginny’s missing,” Draco said quickly before tearing through the dorms for a clue as to where she could be. He wished there was a letter or a note saying that she’d gone shopping and was sorry she didn’t meet them, but there was no such parchment. Pansy went into the girl’s dormitory and found it empty, save for a few first years unpacking their trunks after the holiday. They hadn’t seen the red-haired girl either. She was no where to be found.
Pansy returned to see Draco exit the common room and Blaise still standing where they had found him moments before. “There was something written on the wall on the second floor. Someone has seriously managed opened the Chamber of Secrets,” she filled in. “But Blaise, that’s not all... While we were standing there, another message showed up. It said that a girl was taken into the Chamber.”
“And Draco thinks its Ginny,” he said with no question in his voice. “Well we better help look for her. She might just be on the grounds somewhere. You know how terrible that ginger is with time management.” Blaise nudged Pansy then put his hand out for her to take. They left the common room, moods a little lighter than before.
Draco, however, was a wreck. He was convinced that if he didn’t find Ginny within the next hour or so, that she was the one taken into the chamber. His heart leapt in his chest, a feeling he wasn’t quite used to. A small part of him refused to admit that she was the one taken but the rest of him was screaming at him to find a way to get to her. The only problem was that no one knew where the entrance to the chamber was.
He needed to find her. Had the Dark Lord’s plan already been played out? he wondered. He had to find out. But the only person smart enough to figure out where the chamber was located had been petrified. Draco’s heart sank. Rushing though the castle, he had checked every nook and cranny that could house the small red-headed girl. Nothing. The only option he had left was to assume that the girl was in the chamber and that meant that he was going to do anything he could to find her, starting with research.
Draco headed straight for the Library. He had to start somewhere and the only place he could think of was Hogwarts: A History. He sped through the shelves only to find out that the copy was checked out. Just my luck. Turning back to the door, he slowed at the reference desk. “Madame Pince?”
“Yes dear?” the witch replied, looking up from her paper work. “What can I help you with?”
“I was wondering if there were any copies of Hogwarts: A History here in the library. I really need it and I seemed to have misplaced mine,” Draco explained.
She thought for a moment. “Hmm. No, I’m sorry. The last copy was just checked out not twenty minutes ago by Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. Maybe they can lend it to you.”
Damnit. Draco winced. “Well, thank you, Madame Pince,” he said before exiting the library. He now had a new mission: Get that book from Potter and Weasley. It wasn’t going to be easy considering their history. But they had a common goal. Draco was sure beyond all doubt that they checked out that book trying to find the location of the Chamber of Secrets. And if he wanted to find Ginny, he was also sure that he was going to have to make an alliance with the Gryffindors, no matter how much he hated admitting he needed help. A thousand embarrassments were worth getting her back safely.
Finding the two boys wasn’t a hard task, knowing that when Weasley was upset he always found his way to food. Actually, it was when he was upset, happy, elated, sad, frightened, or even tired. Draco found them sitting in the Great Hall pouring over the history book and munching. He strode over and sat opposite them at the table.
“What do you want, Malfoy?” Ron asked with an edge sharper than a knife.
Draco brushed off the sarcasm and got right to it. “I want what you want and I propose we work together,” and after a beat he added, “temporarily.”
Ron scoffed. “Not bloody likely. Why on earth would we let you help us find my sister? I don’t like you being in her life at all. You’ve warped her, Malfoy!” He looked back down at the book, flipping angrily through the pages.
This made Draco angry, but he chose to take the high road. Being a git wasn’t going to get their cooperation any faster. “Look, I want to find Ginny just as much as you do. Are you really going to sit there and not accept help just because you don’t like me?”
Harry began to speak, but Ron cut him off. “You’re a git, Malfoy. You destroyed her mind. Ginny was normal until you came into her life! You’re a typical Slytherin. Take what you can then spit it out all twisted and wrong; and that’s what you’ve done to my sister. She’s broken because of you!”
“Hey!” Draco yelled. The few students in the Great Hall turned to look. He couldn’t contain his anger any longer. “I haven’t done anything to Ginny. If you recall, she stopped talking to you lot of her own free will long before we became friends. She came to me!” Draco was seething now. “Maybe if you paid enough attention, you would have noticed that Ginny had changed long before we were as close as we are now. I’m not going anywhere and if I have to turn this castle upside down to find her, I will, or die trying.”
Ron, about to speak, was stopped by Harry, who leaned into him, “Ron. Think about it. We don’t know where she is, and we’re going to need all the help we can get to find her. You don’t have to like him; you just have to accept his help. Do it for Ginny so we can get her back safely.”
Ron just nodded and went back to staring at the history book, ignoring the blonde boy in front of him.
“Alright, Malfoy, what have you got? If we want to find her, we’re going to have to put every piece of information we have together,” Harry asked.
Draco tapped the book between them. “What do we know about the Chamber of Secrets that isn’t in this book? Or what has legend told us, anyway?”
“Nothing really,” Harry began, “except that a girl was said to have died the last time it was opened. But that was over fifty years ago.”
“Exactly. Who was around back then?”
Harry thought. He couldn’t think of any teacher that would have been employed at Hogwarts for fifty years. “Well, the ghosts-”
“-Dumbledore,” Ron interjected quietly. “He’s pretty old. Like a hundred or something. About fifty years a go, Dumbledore was just a professor. He may know something.”
Harry and Draco both looked at Ron for a moment before practically jumping out of their seats and racing for the Headmaster’s office with Ron in tow. They reached the concealed staircase and stopped realizing that no one knew the present password.
“Damn!” Draco shouted slightly. “Do you have any idea what the password is?”
“It’s usually some type of sweet. The last time I was here, it was ‘liquorice wands’ but it could be anything now,” Harry explained.
“Lemon Drops,” Ron said. The statue remained.
“Acid Pops,” Draco called out. The statue hiding the stairs began to twist toward the ceiling, revealing the staircase to the three boys. Draco stepped up, as did Harry and Ron, escalating to the top with the stairs.
Dumbledore’s office door was open and he was sitting at his desk. Fawkes, the phoenix, looked over the headmaster’s shoulder from his perch as if interested in the paperwork he was leaning over. Dumbledore looked over his half-moon glasses at the three students entering. “Good afternoon, and to what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked, half wondering what they could have done to get them sent to his office, as these particular three students would not usually be travelling in the same circle.
“Professor Dumbledore, we were wondering if you could answer a question about something that happened here before you were headmaster.” Harry began.
Dumbledore thought for a minute. Of course he knew what they were alluding to. “Well fifty years is a long time, but I can try. What is it you wish to ask me?”
Draco spoke up. “The Chamber of Secrets. The last time it was opened a girl died right?” Dumbledore nodded. “Well, do you think you could tell us who it was?”
“I thought I might get questions. Well,” Dumbledore began, “When the school was built, there were four founders of Hogwarts, as you no doubt know. Salazar Slytherin was said to have built a chamber containing some type of creature. It was never found prior to the attacks.”
“So then what happened the last time it was opened? Was the entrance ever found, then?” Harry asked.
“No. But you were correct when you suspected that a girl was killed,” Dumbledore continued, nodding at Draco, “In the late hours of the day, a young Ravenclaw was found in a lavatory by the Head Boy. He had heard a scream as he happened by.”
Draco took mental note. “Professor, who was the girl?”
“Oh, well I believe you students know her as Moaning Myrtle. Though, I find it a bit of a harsh name considering her past,” Dumbledore admitted.
“With all do respect professor,” Harry began, “Why hasn’t the school been closed now that you know the Chamber has been opened? Clearly it’s dangerous, otherwise Professor McGonagall wouldn’t have been so alarmed. Shouldn’t the students go home?”
Dumbledore walked behind his desk, picking up a piece of parchment and bringing it eye level to the boys. “Sometimes, Harry, I fear you may be quicker witted than even the Headmaster. This, my boy, is the notice that has just been sent out not moments before you entered this very office. Yes, the school will be closing. You students will be sent home starting tomorrow and the staff, along with the Ministry of Magic, will conduct the search for young Ms Weasley and the one behind the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. I suggest that you all find your way to your respective houses and begin packing.”
Draco strode forward toward the Headmaster’s desk. “We can’t leave, Professor. Not without Ginny.”
Ron finally spoke, “My sister was taken into the chamber. We’re going to find her.”
The second floor corridor was empty, aside from the puddles that seemed to take residence there as of late. Splashing through what remained of said puddles, the boys raced to the girls’ lavatory. It wasn’t difficult for them to figure out that all these happenings on the second floor had to be connected to the chamber after Dumbledore mentioned the girl being found in a bathroom.
The door creaked and groaned loudly upon their entrance. “What do you want?” a stern whisper greeted them.
“Myrtle?” Harry asked, “Is that you?”
Draco scoffed. “Of course it’s her, Potter. How many ghosts do you think haunt an abandoned toilet?”
Myrtle zoomed through the air, transparent and quick. “Just one!” she screamed into Draco’s face then proceeded to float up to the large, stained glass windows, looking out over the castle grounds. “What,” she reiterated, “do you want? Are you here to make fun of me?”
“Of course not,” Ron spoke up, “My sister was taken into the Chamber of Secrets. We were wondering if you know where it is seeing as-” he gulped, “well, you know.”
Harry stepped forward, “Myrtle, if you know where it is, could you please tell us?”
“Why would I know where some chamber is? I haven’t seen anything besides this bathroom in over 50 YEARS!” Myrtle whined and dove into a waterless sink.
“Myr-” Draco began, as he followed her to the sink. “Myrtle,” he called into the drain, “It’s important. I, I mean we, need to find the chamber. Ginny’s life depends on it.”
“I don’t remember any chamber,” Myrtle said quietly behind Draco who was still staring into the drain. He jumped at her voice but she just continued. “I hid out in this bathroom after being teased by Olive Hornby and stayed in that stall over there.” She floated over and the boys followed, silently.
“What happened next?” Harry asked, timidly.
“I heard a noise!” she shouted. “I thought Olive had found me but when I came out... nothing.”
“Nothing?” Ron asked, impatient.
Myrtle made her way to the round sinks. “I died,” she said quietly. “All I remember is big yellow eyes coming from right here.” She looked down at the sinks in indication.
Harry came up under where Myrtle floated and examined the sink. On the faucet was the emblem of a snake. “Its here,” he said confidently, “this has to be the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.”
Both Ron and Draco raced over. Ron began twisting knobs and touching anything he could get his fingers on hoping it would trigger a secret passage of some kind, but nothing happened.
Draco looked up to ask Myrtle if she knew how it would open, but she was gone, escaping to the u-bend. “Anyone know how to open it? Because until we figure that out, knowing where the bloody way in is won’t do us much good at all.”
Harry thought for a moment. “This is Slytherin’s chamber right?”
“Right?” Ron nodded, not following.
“Well he was a parselmouth. Maybe we need to speak parseltongue to get this thing to open.” Harry explained. He looked down at the faucet and started speaking to it.
Draco wrinkled his brow in confusion. All he heard was a bunch of hissing. “What are you going on about, Potter? Parseltongue? Like you could-” he stopped. The sink began to shift and contort. After a few moments of clinking and clanking, the transformed sink opened to reveal a dark hole.
“Well then,” Draco finished. “I stand corrected.”
Ron and Harry looked over the edge. They couldn’t see a thing. “Who goes first?” Ron asked?
“I do,” Draco announced as he flung himself into the tunnel and down into the unyielding darkness. He slid down the chute. It was winding, like a slide. Draco hit the bottom with a thump. Surprisingly, he could see rather well, but lit his wand to have a look around. “Lumos,” he said, examining the space around him.
“Hey, Malfoy!” Ron yelled from above, “You better not have broken anything down there, because we’re not here to save your sodding arse and we’ll leave you there!”
“Can it Weasel! Its fine, get down here or I’m going on without you!” Draco shouted to them. “Honestly, I don’t know how you and Ginny were bred of the same loins,” he added.
A few seconds and two thuds later, the two Gryffindors joined Draco in the base tunnel. “Alright- Lumos- Let’s go,” Harry said before walking on with Draco, Ron right behind them.
The tunnels were old. So old, in fact, that there was moss and slime growing up the walls. There was also a musty smell of one hundred years of water lingering in the air. On a number of occasions, they had to turn around at a dead end to choose a different tunnel as Salazar Slytherin made sure that no stragglers found his Chamber by chance. It was after a few hours that they finally made there way to a door. This door had a number of snakes on it and was adorned with no handles.
“Either of you know how to transfigure a crow bar?” Draco asked.
“Maybe it needs parseltongue to open. It’s not like anyone would be able to get very far down here if they didn’t speak it anyway, right?” Ron added. “Try that.”
Harry nodded, facing the heavy door. He hissed a few words and the snakes began to recede, allowing passage through the dark corridor that would eventually lead to the Chamber of Secrets itself. As soon as there was enough room, Draco pushed past Harry, through the door, and down the last tunnel with the Gryffindors on his heels.
“Ginny,” Draco whispered, seeing her at the end of the room, lying unconscious. He stopped dead in his tracks when a large snake-like creature slithered into view, circling around the red-headed girl.
Harry and Ron, catching up, also came to a screeching halt. Their jaws hit the floor at the size of the snake. “What the bloody hell is that?!” Ron gasped.
“I-uh-I don’t know. But it seems to be protecting Ginny,” Harry said.
Draco whipped out his wand. “Reducto!” he shouted. The spell hit the scales of the snake, but bounced out in another direction causing only minimal damage. “INCENDIO!” he called out again, but only the tail was singed on the snake creature. It hissed and lashed at them, but stood its ground, protecting and blocking the red-haired girl within its coil.
“It’s no use.” A voice said from the darkness. “She’ll be mine within minutes and you can’t do anything about it.” A young boy with dark hair walked out from the shadows donning a wicked smile and Slytherin robes from another era. He was slightly transparent. “And don’t think you can kill my basilisk with your pitiful spells. It’s going to take much more than that.”
“Who are you? What do you want with my sister?” Ron called to the figment.
“Your sister is she?” He responded, walking over to Ginny. She lay unmoving under his passing hand which glided slowly over her face, down her arm, and just past her breast. “She has a much different heart beating within her, albeit slowly beating.”
“Don’t touch her!” Draco yelled out. “Don’t you dare touch her.” He pointed his wand, ready to duel. The boy just laughed.
He held up his hand to Draco. “There is no spell that would even hit me. But,” he continued, walking to the basilisk, “as Ginny grows weaker, I get stronger. Soon she won’t be around anymore. Maybe then we can duel the way proper wizards do.”
“Who are you!?” Ron demanded again.
“My name is Tom Riddle,” the boy began. Draco’s eyebrows rose quickly. He lowered his wand but he stayed quiet, lest he should alert Harry and Ron of his new knowledge. “I am a memory, kept alive in the bound pages this girl clings to at this very moment.” Riddle motioned to the diary lying on Ginny’s chest, under her arm.
Ron and Harry looked at each other. “The diary,” Harry reiterated. “ACCIO DIARY.” Nothing happened.
Riddle laughed even harder. “Nice attempt. You’re going to have to try harder than that. You’ll never get to her in time, not with my basilisk in the way.” He spoke to the basilisk in parseltongue. Its head snapped toward the boys and hissed, jetting its giant head forward, teeth snapping and hissing.
Harry and Ron pointed their wands at the basilisk. Draco had other plans and those plans included leaving the Gryffindors to fight the big snake while he rescued Ginny. Unfortunately, the basilisk stayed where it was but was long enough to attack from where it sat; curled around the girl they were trying to save.
“Malfoy, we could really use some help with this thing!” Harry yelled as he and Ron casted spell after curse at the basilisk. It bound back a few times, but seemed as though it only reacted as a human would to static shock.
Just then, a screeching bellowed out in the large cavern. Fawkes swooped in and around the boys, dropping a sword at their feet. Harry immediately picked it up with his free hand.
Riddle seethed, recognizing the Sword of Gryffindor immediately. The sword he tried so hard to possess during his days in Hogwarts. “Kill!” he yelled out in parseltongue to the basilisk who then uncoiled himself and lunged at the boys, jaws snapping tightly. Its tail swung around as it dove for Ron, swiping Draco out of the way.
Ron cast a shield between himself and the basilisk, saving himself from being eaten whole. He and Harry battled the snake, sending every curse they could muster at the creature.
Draco, out of the snake’s attention, took this opportunity to sneak around and get to Ginny. At her side he removed the diary from her grasp, tossing it aside and shaking her in every attempt to wake her from her state. “Ginny,” he whispered, “Ginny please wake up.” When she didn’t stir, Draco pulled out his wand. “Enervate.”
Ginny began to slowly wake from her sleep. Behind her, the translucent Tom Riddle looked irritated. “I know who you are,” Draco told him, “Who you will become. We’re on your side.” He raised his left sleeve slightly, revealing the dark mark. Riddle’s scowl turned into a smirk.
“Maybe she’s not as expendable as I’d originally thought,” he replied quietly.
Across the room, Harry and Ron battled the giant snake. With a few well placed spells and some more help from Fawkes, blinding the creature, Harry jabbed the sword through the basilisk’s head, killing it instantly. They half ran over to where Draco was now cradling the groggy Ginny in his arms.
“Looks like you’ve lost, Riddle,” Ron said through syncopated breaths, “Now go back where you came from.”
Harry kicked the now soaking wet diary toward Ron who stabbed it right through the middle of the cover with the sword.
Tom riddle screamed in what seemed like pain. Bright lights emitted from him in all directions. Draco, slightly carrying Ginny, backed out of the way from what he assumed was going to be something huge.
Riddle gasped as he spoke. “You think I’ve lost? You don’t know anything!” The jets of light got brighter and brighter until Tom Riddle finally burst, causing Ron and Harry to turn away from the bright glare of his demise. As the light faded, the shadow where the figment of Tom Riddle stood swayed for a moment.
“Is he-” Ginny began. The shadow sped toward her and into her core, knocking her back into Draco’s arms. She closed her eyes, adjusting to the feelings that were now welling up inside her. Anger. Hate. Rage. Lust. Determination. She knew he was there inside her, guiding her, and it felt good.
“Ginny?” Ron said, now standing beside her. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
She snapped her head in his direction. “Fine. Better than fine, actually,” Ginny said, “I just want to go to bed. Come on, Draco.”
“Shouldn’t you go see Madame Pomfrey? Or even Dumbledore?” Harry interjected.
Ginny took Draco’s hand and walked down the tunnel without a word.
“Ginny!” Ron called after her, a bit angry.
She stopped abruptly, turning slowly back to her brother and Harry. Her eyes penetrated theirs, and then suddenly they flew back a few feet. Turning back around, she took Draco’s hand once more, slightly collapsing into his comforting arm as they left the Gryffindors behind.
*From the American Edition of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets page 293