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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 16 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 16, so many things are happening! Let’s go!

Things are really starting to come to a head in this chapter, and I love it!

First off, how much would it suck if you had all this stuff going on at school and THEN were told you had to take your exams. I get that they wanted to keep things running smoothly, but still. Give the kids a break. They do get some good news though. The Mandrakes are ready to go, so all the petrified people will be cured. That’s something anyway.

More misdirection ahead! Ginny comes up to the boys during breakfast and seems to want to tell them something, but is nervous about it. She runs off when Percy shows up. Now it’s Percy acting weird when Ron says that Ginny was trying to tell them something.

“Well, er, if you must know, Ginny, er, walked in on me the other day when I was – well, never mind – the point is, she spotted me doing something and I, um, I asked her not to mention it to anybody. I must say, I did think she’d keep her word. It’s nothing, really, I’d just rather -“

Jeez, Percy. What the heck were you doing? I don’t think I ever thought that Percy was involved with the Chamber, although I never suspected Ginny was either. It’s just a weird scene.

The next scene shows Lockhart saying that he definitely believes Hagrid is guilty and I just want to stab him. Jerk.

Harry and Ron want to go check out Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, but are waylaid by McGonagall. They lie and say that they were headed to the hospital wing to visit Hermione, which hits McGonagall right in the feels.

“Of course,” she said, and Harry, amazed, saw a tear glistening in her beady eye. “Of course, I realize this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been . . . I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger. I will inform Professor Binns where you’ve gone. Tell Madam Pomfrey I have given my permission.”

I would have felt really guilty lying to McGonagall, but if Harry and Ron do, they get over it quickly. Boys. *sigh*

Going to the hospital wing turns out to provide a boon as they find a piece of paper clenched in Hermione’s fist that basically solves the whole book, because of course it does. It’s Hermione. The paper is from an old book describing a basilisk, or a giant serpent that can turn people to stone with its stare. No one has been turned to stone because no one has seen it directly: Colin saw it through his camera, Justin saw it through Nearly-Headless Nick, Mrs. Norris saw the reflection in the water, and Hermione saw the reflection through the little mirror she had been carrying. It’s rather brilliant, really.

Oh, and basilisks, hate the crowing of roosters (which is why Hagrid’s roosters were killed) and spiders are terrified of it, (which is why they were leaving the castle in droves).

Hermione also wrote the word “pipes” on the paper, leading Harry to believe that the basilisk was getting through the castle using the plumbing, which explains why he heard the voice in the walls. He heard it as a voice because he’s a Parselmouth, but here is something that I don’t understand. If the basilisk was speaking loud enough for Harry to hear it, why didn’t anyone else hear the hissing? When Harry spoke Parselmouth during the Dueling Club, they heard him making the weird hissing sounds – it still makes noise even if you can’t understand it, just like hearing anyone around you speak a foreign language. Take when Harry first hears the voice during his detention with Lockhart, or when he hears it again in the hallway with Ron and Hermione. Someone else should have heard hissing at least, or some sort of sound, if Harry could hear words. But they don’t.

Just a pet peeve. Someone else should have heard this thing, even if they didn’t know what they were hearing.

An announcement is made that all students are to return to their dorms, which of course Harry and Ron don’t do. They hide in the teacher’s staffroom and overhear that not only has the monster struck again, it has taken a student down into the Chamber with it, leaving the horrifying message: “Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.”

The student? Ginny Weasley.

Of course, Lockhart has to come in and act like an ass, but the other professors are having none of it. They call upon all the wonderous claims Lockhart has made (including knowing where the entrance to the Chamber is) and task him with rescuing Ginny from the monster’s clutches. After all, he did so many great deeds in all his books, did he not? (spoiler: he did not.)

Harry and Ron decide to at least go tell Lockhart what they know so he will be prepared, but turns out, Lockhart is preparing to run. Yup, he’s a complete fraud who can’t do any of the magic he says he can (as if that wasn’t obvious from the beginning). The only thing he is good at is memory charms, which is how he kept it all a secret.

Harry disarms Lockhart (thanks Dueling Club!) and the three of them head for Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. They ask her how she died, which Myrtle is delighted to tell them.

“Ooooh, it was dreadful,” she said with relish. “It happened right in here. I died in this very stall. I remember it so well. I’d hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. The door was locked, and I was crying, but then I heard somebody come in. They said something funny. A different language, I think it must have been. Anyway, what really got me was that it was a boy speaking. So I unlocked the door, to tell him to go and use his own toilet, and then -” Myrtle swelled importantly, her face shining. “I died.”

First of all, how awful to die in a public bathroom. Secondly, how awful to now HAUNT that bathroom for the rest of your days. Thirdly, this proves my point again. Myrtle heard the Parseltongue being spoken! Why didn’t anyone else???

She says all she saw before she died were a pair of big, yellow eyes coming from the direction of one of the sinks. Harry finds a small snake etched into the faucet and uses Parseltongue to open the passage. They send Lockhart down, and then jump down themselves. The passage slides down far below the castle into a tunnel filled with animal bones and a very, very large green snake skin. Lockhart pretends to faint, but uses the distraction to steal Ron’s wand. He attempts to cast a memory charm, but this is Ron’s wand after all, and it’s still broken. The results: Lockhart blasts away part of the tunnel, causing it to cave in. Harry is the only one able to continue forward to find Ginny.

Would you be able to continue down that passage? I don’t think I would!

See you next time for Chapter 17!

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