Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 18 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 18, Dumbledore returns, we find out about that wonderful sword, and we see who Dobby was working for all along. Let’s go!

As always, definite spoilers abound for later books in the series.

Especially in this particular chapter.

I have to admit, it’s hard to not get a bit emotional with the Weasley parents reuniting with Ginny. They thought she was dead. Their youngest and only daughter. I love the Weasley family so much. They really are just the best. Harry finally gets to tell his story (after being hugged by Mrs. Weasley) and . . . it’s a doozy. And he’s broken about a hundred school rules, according to McGonagall, which may or may not be an exaggeration.

But we have to worry about Ginny here. It’s clear now that she was involved, but without the diary, how do we prove her innocence? Fortunately for everyone, Dumbledore knows that it was actually Voldemort, working through Ginny, that did all these things.

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.”

I can’t remember from later books, but I think this was the first time Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort had made horcruxes. Him referring to Riddle as “brilliant” here takes on a double meaning: not only grudging admiration for a student turned bad, but the knowledge of how Voldemort survived the rebounding of the killing curse all those years ago. It also makes you wonder just how much good Riddle could have done with such a brilliant mind if he had stayed on the good side.

As a side note here, I don’t talk about it much, but I do occasionally enjoy reading Harry Potter fanfiction. My favorite character is Hermione, of course, and I always enjoy the stories that have her creeping closer and closer to that line between good and evil. I think when someone is as smart as she is (like Riddle was), that line can get blurred. It’s an interesting character study. The books talk about the similarities between Harry and Riddle, but I think Riddle and Hermione share quite a few as well. And EvilHermione is just plain fun. Let’s be honest – the boys would have been royally screwed if she wasn’t helping them all those years.

Ahem, back to the story.

Ginny is taken to the hospital wing, after being assured that there will be no punishment. I was glad of that. Sure, she was foolish in pouring herself into that diary, but surely she has suffered enough. Also not getting punished: Harry and Ron, since despite breaking all those rules, they also happen to have saved the day. But wait, we are forgetting something, aren’t we?

“Why so modest, Gilderoy?”

Yeah. Lockhart isn’t doing so well. He still doesn’t remember anything about anything and is taken to the hospital wing by Ron (and will eventually be committed to the wizarding hospital). This leaves Harry alone with Dumbledore, which is good, because there are a few things that need to be cleared up. Why did it seem like Harry was Slytherin’s heir? There was a ton of evidence: the Sorting Hat wanting him in Slytherin, the Parseltongue. Then we get this:

“You can speak Parseltongue, Harry,” said Dumbledore calmly, “because Lord Voldemort – who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytherin – can speak Parseltongue. Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure . . .”

Whoa. Way to drop something heavy on the kid, Dumbledore! I remember the debates after book 6, going into book 7 about whether or not Harry was a horcrux, but this pretty much lays it out right here. I don’t know how Harry didn’t suspect it sooner when he went horcrux hunting with Dumbledore in book 6, when Dumbledore basically tells him that right here.

But back to this book. Harry laments that he should have been put in Slytherin, but Dumbledore points out that there’s a very good reason why he didn’t: Harry asked to be put in Gryffindor. And if Harry has any doubts, that magic sword that appeared is an artifact of Godric Gryffindor himself.

“Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry,” said Dumbledore simply.

Well, there you go!

One last loose end to tie up. Dobby. Who arrives with his master, none other than . . . Lucius Malfoy. Turns out Malfoy had bullied the other school governors into suspending Dumbledore in the first place. Who here is surprised? Nope, me neither. We also find out that it was Mr. Malfoy who slipped Riddle’s diary to Ginny at Diagon Alley that day. As Malfoy leaves in a huff, Harry decides to do something for Dobby. He manages to trick Malfoy into throwing an old sock to Dobby, which frees him from his enslavement. Yeah, and once house elves are free, they happen to be pretty powerful, as Dobby is able to easily fend off a vengeful Malfoy from attacking Harry right there.

The rest of the book wraps up quite nicely. The petrified students are cured, including Hermione. Exams are cancelled. Mr. Malfoy is sacked as a school governor. Ginny recovers from her ordeal. And we find out that Percy has a girl friend, the Ravenclaw girl that had been attacked the same time Hermione was. Everyone gets on the Hogwarts Express and heads home.

And that’s the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Hope everyone had a good time reading along with me. These chapter reviews are a bit more difficult, but I am really enjoying doing them. I will start reading Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow – I need to figure out how strict a schedule I will need to keep for that one, since these books will start getting longer and longer. Eventually, one chapter a day won’t cut it if I want to finish each book in a month!

See you next time for Prisoner of Azkaban!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 17 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 17, we finally see inside the Chamber of Secrets! Let’s go!

Oh, this place is so deliciously creepy! I love it! What makes it even better is the impending doom that lingers over every little bit of this setting. We know there is a monster, but we don’t see it! So good. Also, snakes everywhere. An odd decorating choice, but with a name like Slytherin, I guess it was meant to be.

Columns with serpents, a towering statue of Salazar himself, and at the base of the statue – Ginny. Who looks dead. Ugh, I was really scared for Ginny (and the rest of the Weasleys) when I read this the first time, but thankfully, Ginny is not dead yet. However, she won’t wake up. She’s also not alone.

A tall, black-haired boy was leaning against the nearest pillar, watching. He was strangely blurred around the edges, as though Harry were looking at him through a misted window. But there was no mistaking him –

“Tom – Tom Riddle?”

Show of hands, who thought that this was Voldemort on the first reveal? I sure didn’t! I thought he was a bit creepy in the beginning of this scene, but beforehand, I only felt sympathy for him. He was stuck in an orphanage. He tracked down the monster the first time around, or so we thought. Riddle explains that he isn’t a ghost – he is a memory that had been trapped inside the diary for fifty years. Sure enough, the diary is also there, laying on the ground. Harry doesn’t suspect Riddle yet, even though Riddle is super creepy, plus seems to know a bit about the basilisk – “It won’t come until it is called.” Creepy!

That’s my official word for this review, by the way. Creepy. It just fits.

Riddle gets Harry’s wand and starts explaining exactly what happened in traditional villain fashion. He got to know Ginny through the diary, as Ginny was the first one to have it. He made friends with her, and then slowly was able to possess her in a way. Ginny was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets, killed the roosters, wrote the messages on the wall, and set the basilisk loose on the castle.

Show of hands, who suspected Ginny? Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t either.

Of course, it wasn’t Ginny’s fault. She didn’t know she was doing it, thought she was losing her mind because she had large spaces of time where she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing. Keep in mind, this is an eleven year old girl. This must have been terrifying!

Ginny also spent a lot of time writing to Riddle about Harry. Riddle wanted very much to meet Harry, but Harry doesn’t give him a chance to say much more. He is preoccupied with the fact that Riddle had framed Hagrid and got him kicked out of school. Who could have possibly thought Hagrid was the Heir of Slytherin anyway? Please! It was Riddle who found out about the Chamber and set about to follow in Slytherin’s footsteps and rid the school of “Mudbloods.”

But plans have changed. Now Riddle wants Harry. And why? BECAUSE HE’S VOLDEMORT!!! AHHHHH!!

He pulled Harry’s wand from his pocket and began to trace it through the air, writing three shimmering words:


Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name rearranged themselves:


Convenient that his name just happened to spell that, isn’t it.

Riddle had taken on the name Voldemort so he wouldn’t have to use his Muggle father’s name. He is the Heir of Slytherin, through his mother. He wanted to become the greatest sorcerer in the world. But he isn’t, Harry tells him. That’s Dumbledore. Sorry! Dumbledore is amazing and Voldemort is currently a broken down wreck who can only live as a parasite through other people. Riddle doesn’t see it that way. He thinks he is more powerful because he was able to drive Dumbledore away. Harry knows though – Dumbledore told him, that night at Hagrid’s hut, that he would always be there for those who were loyal to him.

I have to admit, Dumbledore shows his appreciation for loyalty in strange ways. If I was going up against the memory of the most evil wizard ever, I would want something more than a bird and a hat, even if the bird was a phoenix and the hat was the Sorting Hat. At least the Sorting Hat brings Harry a sword. That is at least helpful, when Riddle decides it’s time for the basilisk to come out and play. The phoenix, Fawkes, is able to help in the fight, pecking out the basilisk’s eyes so that it can’t turn Harry to stone. Excellent play, that! Still, this is a gigantic snake that could probably swallow Harry in one bite, so it isn’t as though he’s safe.

Harry is able to stab the basilisk and kill it, but also ends up driving a fang into his arm in the process. Basilisk venom is highly poisonous, of course, but here comes Fawkes to the rescue again. Phoenix tears have healing powers, as Dumbledore said before. Harry is back in business, but there’s still Riddle to deal with. Harry does the only thing that he can think of – grabs a fang and stabs it through the diary. I would not have thought to do that, if I was in his position. That was pretty clever, and it makes sense. Riddle came from the diary. Destroy the diary, you destroy Riddle. Destroy Riddle, and you wake up Ginny. Poor, poor Ginny.

“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 r-remember is him coming out of the diary -“

I would not be right after this. I don’t think I would ever recover. This is horrifying. Do they have psychologists in the wizarding world? This girl needs therapy, stat. Poor Ginny is terrified that she will be expelled and what her parents will think. Oh, honey. Can I hug a fictional character? I just want to hug her so bad!

They get back to Ron, who has cleared part of the rubble away so they can get through. Lockhart, on the other hand . . . he isn’t doing so good. That memory charm he tried to use with Ron’s broken wand? It kind of, sort of backfired.

“Hello,” he said. “Odd sort of place, this, isn’t it? Do you live here?”

Yeah. He has no idea who he is or what is happening? For someone who has used memory charms to take credit for the deeds of others, this is pretty sweet karma. With the help of Fawkes, they are able to fly back up the pipe into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Which leads to what is, in my opinion, one of the best quotes in the book.

“Oh, well . . . I’d just been thinking . . . if you had died, you’d have been welcome to share my toilet,” said Myrtle, blushing silver.

Myrtle has a crush on Harry!!

See you next time for Chapter 18, the final chapter of the book!


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!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 15 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPCS BannerIn Chapter 15, we get used to a Hogwarts without Hagrid and Dumbledore (which just feels wrong), find out what “follow the spiders” means (literally, it means follow the spiders, of course), and take an eventful trip to the Forbidden Forest. Let’s go!

Double Harry Potter today! Since it’s getting toward the end of the month, and I’m supposed to start Prisoner of Azkaban in March, I figured I’d better get cracking. And since these books get longer and longer, I should probably get used to it.

On to the review!

I don’t want there to be a Hogwarts without Hagrid! Or Dumbledore either, but especially not Hagrid! It’s not right!


Yeah, everything at Hogwarts is pretty terrible. Everyone is scared, no one is having fun, teachers have to escort the students to and from class. It’s awful. Besides that, Harry and Ron have no idea what to do with those last two clues that Dumbledore and Hagrid left them. Who are they supposed to ask for help? How do they follow the spiders when all the spiders seem to have vanished?

It’s very bleak, not gonna lie. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the other students have stopped suspecting Harry as the culprit ever since Hermione got attacked. They know he would never do anything to hurt one of his best friends. So that helps, a bit. I think.

Harry and Ron do get a lead about the spiders, finding some in their Herbology class, walking in a line headed towards the Forbidden Forest. They decide to head out under the Invisibility Cloak to see what they can find. See, I’m with Ron on this one. I don’t like spiders. They creep me out. Following a bunch of spiders into a spooky forest that we already know is filled with scary stuff . . . forget it. No way. Not gonna do it. They take Fang, Hagrid’s dog, with them to act as a guide and as some protection, but still. Nope. Nope nope nope.

Suddenly, they are suprised by . . . the car. Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia, which has taken up residence in the Forbidden Forest and has gone a bit wild. It has a mind of it’s own, apparently. It’s just enough to distract them from . . . the giant spiders that swarm over them and carry them to the big daddy giant spider. Aragog.

And from the middle of the misty, domed web, a spider the size of a small elephant emerged, very slowly. There was gray in the black of his body and legs, and each of the eyes on his ugly, pincered head was milky white. He was blind.

“What is it?” he said, clicking his pincers rapidly.

“Men,” clicked the spider who had caught Harry.

“Is it Hagrid?” said Aragog, moving closer, his eight milky eyes wandering vaguely.

“Strangers,” clicked the spider who had brought Ron.

“Kill them,” clicked Aragog fretfully. “I was sleeping . . .”

This is nightmare fuel, right there. Terrifying.

Harry yells out that they are friends of Hagrid’s in hopes that the spiders (who seem to be Hagrid’s friends??) won’t eat them or kill them or whatever spiders do. We proceed to learn that Aragog is NOT the monster from the Chamber of Secrets, although he was thought to be when Hagrid took the blame and got expelled. Aragog never attacked anyone. Aragog won’t tell them what the monster is though.

“The thing that lives in the castle,” said Aragog, “is an ancient creature we spiders fear above all others. Well do I remember how I pleaded with Hagrid to let me go, when I sensed the beast moving about the school.”

Let me just say this: anything that terrifies a spider the size of an elephant is not something I want to deal with, especially since it has children who are the size of horses. Again, nightmare fuel. Anyone with arachnophobia should really sit this chapter out.

Aragog decides that he is done talking and the rest of the spiders close in. Harry and Ron are lucky enough to be rescued by the car and escape the giant spiders. Wow, that’s a really weird sentence. They make it out of the Forest and think over what they have learned (after Ron throws up in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch). Hagrid was innocent. He never opened the Chamber, and never even knew what was inside it. Aragog had mentioned that the girl who died last time was found in a bathroom, which means that maybe . . .

“Ron – that girl who died. Aragog said she was found in a bathroom,” said Harry, ignoring Neville’s snuffling snores from the corner. “What if she never left the bathroom? What if she’s still there?”

Ron rubbed his eyes, frowning through the moonlight. And then he understood, too.

“You don’t think – not Moaning Myrtle?”

Yay! More Moaning Myrtle is always good!

See you next time for Chapter 16!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 14 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 14, Harry & Co. wonder what to do about Hagrid, Riddle’s diary is stolen, the monster strikes again, and we meet the Minister of Magic. Let’s go!

Ugh, this is so hard. How would it feel to find out that someone you genuinely liked and trusted could possibly be behind horrible attacks against students? Like Harry, even the first time when I read this and thought Hagrid might be responsible, I never for a moment thought that he did it to deliberately harm someone. Hagrid likes interesting creatures. It is so easy to believe that he could have tried to take care of Slytherin’s monster and lost control of it.

It leads to another conundrum: what do they do? Do they confront Hagrid? Do they go to Dumbledore? If Hagrid was expelled before, wouldn’t Dumbledore already suspect? It also leads to questions about Tom Riddle. He turned Hagrid in, but only because he didn’t want to be stuck at a Muggle orphanage. Harry understands this, given that he is stuck with his unpleasant Muggle relatives over the summer. It builds up sympathy for the person who will eventually become the main villain of the entire series, even if we don’t know that yet.

But life goes on and, for the time being, the attacks have stopped. We get to see some more normal activities at Hogwarts, like picking their advanced classes for next school year.

Hermione took nobody’s advice but signed up for everything.

That’s my girl!

The next mystery to come their way: Harry’s belongings in their dorm is ransacked while he is at Quidditch practice. Things are torn up and thrown everywhere, but there is only one thing missing. Riddle’s diary. Only a Gryffindor could have stolen it, as they would be the only ones to know the password to get into Gryffindor Tower. I don’t remember who I suspected at this point the first time I read this. The only person to have shown any interest in the diary was Malfoy when he saw it during the singing Valentine incident. He shouldn’t have been able to get into the Gryffindor Common Room, but then, Harry and Ron shouldn’t have been able to get into the Slytherin Common Room either, and they did. So maybe I suspected Malfoy, or maybe I thought that someone else was no involved. Either way, the mystery deepens.

The next attack happens, and this time it hits closer to home. During a Quidditch match, Professor McGonagall comes onto the field and tells everyone to go back to their dormatories. She catches Harry and Ron and brings them to the hospital wing, where they see that Hermione has now been attacked, along with a Ravenclaw girl. She had been carrying a small mirror, which McGonagall asks them about, but Harry and Ron have no idea what she was doing with it. After returning to Gryffindor Tower, McGonagall tells the students that the school might be closed if the culprit isn’t caught.

It’s a clever mirroring of the Riddle situation. If the school is closed, what does that mean for Harry? Would he be stuck living with the Dursleys again? Where else could he go?

It’s serious now. Even though they don’t want to, Harry and Ron know it’s time to talk to Hagrid. They sneak down to Hagrid’s at night and Hagrid seems to know that he might be a suspect – he’s nervous as can be. They are interrupted by the arrival of Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic.

Side note: it drives me crazy that the movies kept saying “Minister for Magic.” That’s not right and sounds weird!

Harry and Ron hide under the Invisibility Cloak as they watch Hagrid basically get arrested in front of their very eyes. This made me angry – he isn’t being taken away because they think he’s guilty, he’s being taken away because the Minister wants to be seen as at least trying to solve the problem. Fudge knows full well that removing Hagrid will do absolutely nothing to fix this, a fact that Dumbledore drums into him. To make matters worse, Lucius Malfoy also shows up with a letter from the school governors to remove Dumbledore as Headmaster because he hasn’t been able to stop the attacks.

This is all so stupid. Removing Hagrid and Dumbledore will do absolutely nothing to fix this. At all. Everyone knows that, but they are doing to do it anyway.

Before they are escorted out, Hagrid and Dumbledore each give some very cryptic information:

“However,” said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly so that none of them could miss a word, “you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

Okay, I guess . . .

. . . Hagrid stood his ground, took a deep breath, and said carefully, “If anyone wanted ter find out some stuff, all they’d have ter do would be ter follow the spiders. That’d lead ’em right! That’s all I’m sayin’.”

Um, what??

See you next time for Chapter 15!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 13 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 13, Moaning Myrtle has a temper tantrum, a mysterious diary is found, Hogwarts celebrates Valentine’s Day, and we learn about a former Hogwarts student: Tom Riddle. Let’s go!

Twists and turns and misdirection abound in this chapter! That’s what makes it so much fun!

Hermione spends a great deal of time in the hospital wing to recover from being half a cat which, with all the attacks happening, causes a bunch of rumors around the school. Luckily, Hermione hasn’t been attacked (yet), but doesn’t want everyone to stare at her furry face either.

The problem is, they don’t have any other leads in the mystery of the Chamber. They know it isn’t Malfoy, and know that Malfoy doesn’t even know who it is. Where do they go from here? To be honest, I probably would have given up at this point. I would have done what I could to avoid the monster and help my friends do the same, but really, where do you go from here?

You find another mystery to solve, of course! Harry and  Ron hear Filch going off about the cleaning he has to do and find that Moaning Myrtle has flooded her bathroom. Again. Water everywhere. They ask her what is wrong and she tells them that someone threw a book at her. Harry attempts to comfort her, I think, by saying that at least it couldn’t hurt her.

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!”

Oh, Myrtle.

They find the book, which looks very unremarkable, but Ron cautions Harry anyway. Some magical books can be very dangerous. But this one doesn’t appear to be. It’s just a plain book, a diary, that had been bought at a Muggle bookshop. The only thing written in it is the name T. M. Riddle. Ron remembers that name because it was on a special services award down in the trophy room, where he had to help polish trophies for detention.

A quick warning for series spoilers (it’s been well over 10 years, but still).

THEY FOUND A FREAKING HORCRUX IN MOANING MYRTLE’S BATHROOM! A HORCRUX THAT GINNY HAD BEEN CARRYING AROUND THE ENTIRE YEAR! I’m sorry, this makes me feel less sympathetic to Ron walking out in Deathly Hallows because he couldn’t handle how the locket was making him feel. Ginny is only 11. She was able to fight off the effects and get rid of the horcrux. She’s a badass!

Ahem. Back to the story at hand.

Hermione, fresh out of the hospital wing, tries everything she knows of to see if there is a hidden message in the diary, but it just comes up blank. They know that T. M. Riddle was a student fifty years ago, which is around the same time the Chamber of Secrets had been opened before. T. M. Riddle probably knows something about it (and how!), but they can’t figure out what.

Let’s talk really quick about the funny part of this chapter: Lockhart’s plan to boost morale at Valentine’s Day. The Great Hall is covered in pink and confetti and Lockhart has arranged for dwarves dressed up as cupids to deliver singing valentines to students. Why wasn’t this included in the movies?? It would have been hilarious!!

Harry gets a valentine, although he tries to avoid it, but the dwarf tackles him and sings anyway.

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,

His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,

The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.

Aw, and it was Ginny who sent it to him, we find out as Malfoy tries to steal the diary. Poor Ginny. She is so fascinated with Harry and doesn’t know what to do about it. I would never have had the courage to try and send a valentine to the guy I had a crush on when I was her age. It didn’t go well, but still, at least she tried.

Let’s talk about the most important part of this chapter, and the one that leads to one of the biggest twists in the book. Harry figures out the diary’s secret: he writes in it and the diary writes back. The diary shows him Tom Riddle during his fifth year at Hogwarts. Tom is an orphan who doesn’t want to go back to the orphanage for the summer holidays, but who will not be able to stay at Hogwarts because of the attacks going on. We get to see the headmaster before Dumbledore, Professor Dippet, who isn’t unsympathetic to Tom’s plight, but is also facing the potential shutdown of the school if the attacks don’t stop.

Tom’s version of events: he confronts a rather large student who has some sort of monstrous pet. The large student, Rubeus, protests, saying that his pet didn’t do anything and didn’t hurt anyone. They argue and fight, and the pet presumably gets away.

Harry sat up. He was sweating and shaking.

“What’s up?” said Ron, looking at him with concern.

“It was Hagrid, Ron. Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago.”

And just like that, the story takes another sharp turn. It’s so brilliant! We knew Hagrid had gotten expelled – he said so in the first book. I had thought at the time that he was just a really bad student and not good at magic, although there are other students who aren’t good in class (like Neville, or sometimes Ron) and they aren’t kicked out. It makes sense that Hagrid would have to have done something awful to be expelled, but who would ever think that this gentle giant would ever hurt anyone? He wouldn’t, of course, but he also has a soft spot for creatures that he feels are misunderstood (like dragons, for example). It is entirely plausible that Hagrid would have heard about the Chamber, tried to make friends with the creature inside, and lost control of it. Completely and entirely plausible. This is the story that Tom gave to the other teachers and they believed it.

Just wow. The first time I read it, I totally believed this too. Well done, J. K. Seriously.

See you next time for Chapter 14!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 12 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 12, we see Dumbledore’s office for the first time and meet his very unusual pet, enjoy holidays at Hogwarts, and see the polyjuice potion in action. Let’s go!

First of all, I just want to say that this is my 600th post here on Life With No Plot! I’m so excited about that! You all don’t know how much I appreciate anyone who likes or comments, or even just takes the time to read my silly little drabbles here. So thank you!

On to the story now . . .

While I generally have issues with Dumbledore as a character over the entirety of the series, this chapter is one of the reasons why I like him. Let’s be honest – Harry’s case doesn’t look good here. He’s been caught twice now at the scene of the crime and is now known to be a Parselmouth – both things that could be damning circumstantial evidence of Harry being guilty. But Dumbledore believes Harry, knows that he wouldn’t do something like this, not only giving him the benefit of the doubt, but giving him the freedom to figure things out on his own.

I also really love that the first time Harry sees Fawkes the Phoenix, he thinks that somehow, he was responsible for the bird burning up.

“Professor,” Harry gasped. “Your bird – I couldn’t do anything – he just caught fire -“

Poor Harry. He’s just having a rough time.

We also get to learn important information about phoenixes, their strength and their healing tears. I’m sure that won’t come into play anywhere in the future, no not at all.

I also love Hagrid’s immediate and emphatic support of Harry. Hagrid is the absolute best.

It is my dream to be able to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. The castle all covered in snow and icicles. The Great Hall decorated with it’s enchanted Christmas trees and sparkling lights. It just sounds so beautiful. It is both lovely and sad that Harry looks forward to spending his holidays at school when everyone else looks forward to going home with their families. Also, what on earth is wrong with the Dursleys, that they send him a toothpick for a Christmas present? Why bother sending anything at all? Morons.

Moving on to the polyjuice portion of our show tonight. The potion is ready. They just need something from Crabbe and Goyle to complete it. Which they get easily, luring them with cake that has been laced with sleeping draught. Because they are dumb. Really dumb. I would question cake that was just sitting on the staircase. Not just eat it.

Oh wait. It was chocolate cake? All bets are off then.

I also really love that all this rule breaking is basically Hermione’s plan. Perfect Hermione who never puts a toe out of line. She would make an excellent crime boss, I’m just saying.

They get their hairs from Crabbe and Goyle (Hermione got a hair from a Slytherin girl during Dueling Club) and drink the polyjuice potion. This is an experience that I am glad is fictional, because I don’t want to ever have to go through something like this. It sounds absolutely horrible. But it works! Let’s give a cheer to Hermione once again – brewing a highly advanced and difficult potion as a 2nd year Hogwarts student! She’s just amazing!

Hermione is my favorite character, in case you didn’t know or couldn’t tell.

They transform, although something has gone wrong with Hermione’s transformation and she can’t go, and learn a fair amount about Malfoy. One, he is not the heir of Slytherin. Two, he doesn’t know who is, but wishes he did so he could help them. And three, his family manor house has been raided by the Ministry for Dark Artifacts, but haven’t found anything because they are hidden in a secret compartment under the drawing room.

Also, Mr. Weasley got in trouble for owning a flying car. Malfoy really loved to joke about that. Stupid git.

After the polyjuice starts to wear off, the boys run back to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to tell Hermione what happened and find out that Hermione does sometimes make mistakes. She thought she got a human hair off of Millicent Bulstrode’s robe, but Millicent must have a cat because . . . well . . .

Her face was covered in black fur. Her eyes had turned yellow and there were long, pointed ears poking through her hair.

Polyjuice isn’t used or animal transformations. She may be stuck like this.

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!”

Poor Hermione.

See you next time for Chapter 13!