Jul 17 2014 11:00am

The Harry Potter Reread: The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 13 and 14

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsThe Harry Potter Reread would do the Hokey Pokey and turn itself around, but then it would have to turn back in the other direction—otherwise it wouldn’t feel symmetrical. This is important, honest. Or it could crash into a wall on accident.

This week we’re telling all our secrets to disembodied strangers from the past and meeting politicians with questionable fashion sense. It’s chapters 13 and 14 of The Chamber of Secrets—The Very Secret Diary and Cornelius Fudge.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 13—The Very Secret Diary


Hermione is stuck as a half-cat until the beginning of February, so Ron and Harry go visit her each evening (because they are awesome friends), and bring her homework. Myrtle’s bathroom overflows again, leading the boys to head in and find out what’s wrong. Turns out, someone chucked a book into Myrtle’s toilet. It’s the diary of T.M. Riddle, a boy who attended Hogwarts 50 years back and got an award for special services to the school. Hermione realizes that Riddle was in the school the last time the Chamber was opened, but the diary is oddly blank, providing no clues from that time. Even spells and magical implements don’t manage to proffer results.

The Mandrake are slowly maturing and no attacks have come about recently, so the student body is beginning to relax. Lockhart believes he’s the one who has made Hogwarts safe and decides to throw together some overblown Valentine’s Day activities as a pick-me-up for the school. Dwarves are delivering valentines to the students throughout the day, and Harry gets one (from Ginny) that is utterly embarrassing. His bag rips when he’s trying to get away from it, which leads to Draco finding the diary and trying to read it, not knowing that it’s not Harry’s and also blank. Harry gets it back, and notices that while all his books were splashed with ink, the diary appears clean.

That night, Harry decides to solve the mystery surrounding the diary. He realizes that ink absorbs and disappears into it. When he writes in the diary, Tom Riddle writes back. He asks Tom about the Chamber of Secrets, and Tom tosses Harry into his memory, showing him what happened at the school that year. Tom was a Prefect at the time, and Headmaster Dippet wasn’t able to let him stay at school for the summer due to the attacks; Tom lived in a Muggle orphanage when he wasn’t at Hogwarts, a half-blood whose witch mother named him for his father and grandfather. Riddle lies to Professor Dippet and clearly knows something about what is happening with the Chamber.

Later on, Riddle confronts a student about a monster he’s keeping, insisting that if he turns the kid in, the attacks will stop. The other boy is adamant that whatever he’s keeping is not responsible for what’s going on and his “pet” escapes—a giant spider. Harry comes out of the memory realizing that the boy with the monster was Hagrid… and he must have opened the Chamber of Secrets.


Stuck as a near-cat for over a month and no one thinks anything of it. Not a big deal at all. Just another term at magic school, where even the star student can make such a large mistake that she misses weeks of class. Gosh, I wish my school had been so understanding when I had mono in tenth grade. I find it adorable that Hermione is so embarrassed over it, though. I can think of lots of people who would be thrilled to look like half a cat for a while.

I’d forgotten Ron’s many warnings to Harry about what the diary could be before he picks it up, which is adorable, and yet again another example of how Ron’s background in the magic world is invaluable. (Even if his paranoia doesn’t pan out in this instance.) And then of course, there’s the question over why Riddle got his award for Special Service to the School, which leads to this:

“Could have been anything,” said Ron. “Maybe he got thirty O.W.L.s or saved a teacher from the giant squid. Maybe he murdered Myrtle; that would’ve done everyone  a favor….”

Little accidentally psychic there, Ron? Because Riddle did murder Myrtle, didn’t he? Or rather, he set the thing on her that did the murdering. This is the best hand-tipping ever written. And it only really hits you on further reads.

Then there’s Harry fascination with the diary, his sense that he knows the person who wrote it, almost as though they were long-lost friends. I always wondered—is that a horcrux-calling-to-horcrux kind of situation, or does Harry himself simply have an affinity for identifying Voldemort due to that horcrux? I suppose what I’m trying to ask is, do those pieces of Voldemort’s soul naturally sort of reach for each other, or is this more the result of Harry having familiarity with a bit of Voldemort already via living side by side in the same body? Sorry, this is sort of complicated and difficult to word precisely. I guess I’m wondering how much the horcruxes have minds or wills of their own. They clearly have some….

Hilarious sort of catch-all on teenager-hood via talk of the Mandrakes:

[…]Madame Pomfrey was pleased to report that the Mandrakes were becoming moody and secretive, meaning that they were fast leaving childhood.

I mean, that’s probably the easiest way to describe the differences between a kid and teen, right? The hours I spent alone in my room playing music really loud can attest to this.

Ugh. That Valentine’s Day nightmare. Everything about it is just so icky. Also, we never hear much more about dwarfs in the Potter-verse, so this is sort of a weird encounter to have. Did Lockhart hire them? Capture them? Are they related as a species to any other magical beings? Are you as horrified as I am that Lockhart has them in wigs and costume? Could this is be any more weirdly exploitative?

And then there’s Ginny’s Valentine song, which does a great job of covering up her horror at seeing Harry with the diary. Genius. There’s so much emotional trauma going on, it’s no wonder her zoning in  on the black leather book is easy to gloss over. Also, weird question that probably doesn’t matter so much: I assume that Tom Riddle got money from some sort of scholarship fund that Hogwarts has? But even if that’s the case—where does he get the Muggle money to buy that diary? I suppose he just exchanged it, but it seems like it would have made more sense to simply buy a wizard diary… unless perhaps that would be harder to make into a horcrux for some reason?

Harry’s got some pretty bright detecting skills, figuring out how the diary works after the epic ink-splashing. It’s also interesting that the horcrux has the ability to function roughly like a pensieve. I keep trying to remember what it was like to read this flashback section not knowing that Riddle was Voldemort. It was clear that something was up, with his specific parallels to Harry, but Rowling smartly doesn’t tell us which house Riddle is in—probably because there’s no indication on his person. (It’s easy to forget that even though the films make the distinction, Rowling doesn’t insist that all school uniforms are clearly distinguished with house colors.)

And knowing that Hagrid is liable to make mistakes with not-so-friendly beasts, this reveal was such a nasty shock, so perfectly insinuated. The idea that he might be Slytherin’s Heir seems patently ridiculous from the beginning, but pulling him (and his expulsion) into the story is just the right amount of hurt at the right time.

Chapter 14—Cornelius Fudge


The trio are unsure of what to do with their newfound dirt on Hagrid. They all agree that he would never intentionally hurt anyone, and figure that he’d probably just wanted to meet the rumored monster inside the Chamber of Secrets. Since no one has been attacked recently, they figure their problems might be over anyhow. In the meantime, second years are in the middle of picking out what new courses they’ll take next year. Hermione wants to do everything, while Harry just signs up for whatever Ron does.

One evening, Harry comes back to his room to find his belongings ransacked; Riddle’s diary has gone missing. Since the dorms are password protected, it stands to reason that only a Gryffindor could have taken it. As the Quidditch match against Hufflepuff is about to take place, Harry hears that disembodied voice again, threatening to kill. Though no one hears it besides him, this fact seems to trigger a thought in Hermione, who leaves them to check on something in the library. Harry heads out onto the field with the rest of the school, but the match is abruptly cancelled. Hermione and a Ravenclaw girl named Penelope Clearwater have both been petrified.

Hogwarts is put under serious lockdown, with students getting escorted everywhere and no one allowed outside the dorms past 6pm. Harry and Ron decide that they really do need to ask Hagrid about the Chamber, so they bust out the Invisibility Cloak and head down to his house. Hagrid seems ill at ease, when someone else knocks on his door. The boys hide and in strolls Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, with Dumbledore in tow. Albus insists that Hagrid is innocent of any wrongdoing, but Fudge believes some action must be taken; Hagrid will be sent to Azkaban prison. Lucius Malfoy then enters to inform Dumbledore that the Board of Governors for Hogwarts have decided to replace Dumbledore as headmaster, an act even Fudge is against. Hagrid suggests that Malfoy probably threatened the Board into taking that action.

Before Dumbledore leaves, he makes a point of saying that he will never be absent from the school if anyone loyal to him remains, and that anyone at Hogwarts who needs help will receive it if they ask. Hagrid makes a point of saying that if anyone needed some info, they might want to follow the spiders. Also that someone should feed Fang while he’s gone. Harry and Ron are understandably distraught by this turn of events.


There’s some great setup going on here for the next book in picking new classes. We hear that Hermione signs up for everything, but we don’t yet know that’s impossible, or what Hermione will have to go through to make that course list come true.

The ransacked room is an excellent clue that seemingly leads nowhere; you’re inclined to believe that whoever would go after something containing information from fifty years ago would have to be the Heir, but the fact that the person should be a Gryffindor makes it difficult to create a list of suspects. It’s also just honestly scary. (I would also like to point out that this might have been avoided if Hogwarts was equal under their terms of who was allowed into opposite sex dorms. We find out later that the boys cannot enter the girls dormitory—it should be the same the other way around, then.)

By the way, that extra bit of Mandrake commentary about “moving into each other’s pots”? Way to get a bit of that adult humor into the kid’s book, Rowling.

It’s also frightening how quickly Hermione is taken… and just as she was about to figure the whole thing out, too. Always gotta bench the MVP when things get rough or the story ends too early. And of course, the clue is there again for Percy and Penelope, but it’s hard to pay attention when Hermione is out of commission.

It is weird that I’ve always enjoyed Cornelius Fudge’s weird fashion sense?

This is our introduction to Fudge, and I’m amazed this time around at how clearly Rowling establishes his position and the power dynamics at work. From this chapter alone you can predict everything that Fudge will do in the following books. His character flaws are glaringly obvious; like many politicians, he takes so many actions just to make it seem as though he’s taking care of business. It’s clear that he has no idea what to do, and putting Hagrid in Azkaban (first mention of the prison as well, I believe, and the Dementors obliquely) is an overreaction that looks strong, but ultimately accomplishes nothing by Fudge’s own admission. All they had to do was make Hagrid leave the grounds, right? If the Heir’s not around to direct the monster, it should stop. But instead he gets carted off to prison.

Even with all this, Fudge is mortified at the idea of Dumbledore being relieved by the board. So again, we see the power dynamics; Fudge wants to look good in the public eye, but he’d prefer to defer to Dumbledore, knowing that Albus is ridiculously powerful and has a track record with evil, so to speak. Fudge is a mouthpiece, someone who enjoys his position, but has nothing practical to show for it. He is owned by fear, ultimately, no matter what direction that fear is coming from.

And then Lucius Malfoy struts in with his trump card and lays waste to the place. I can’t help but respect the guy, despicable as he is—he knows how to get what he wants.

We do manage to end on a comical note, with Dumbledore and Hagrid both basically speaking to air while everyone else blinks in a befuddled manner. I sort of wish this happened more often when the cloak was in play.

Emily Asher-Perrin wonders what it says about her that she'd rather have a robot for a friend than a diary that talked back. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Kit Case
1. wiredog
Draco finding the diary and trying to read it, not knowing that it’s not Harry’s and also blank.

Wait, didn't Draco plant the diary on Ginny while Lucius distracted Arthur? So he should've recognized it.
James Whitehead
2. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@1wiredog, Lucius slipped the diary in with Ginny's other books after the fight made such a mess.

3. Random22
Ah, Fudge. I love his punny name, it does so well reflect his personality and career. He's the sort of person you actually do want running things when nothing important is happening, he's a safe pair of steady hands, but when any sort of crisis happens (no matter how minor) you need someone just a bit more imaginative.

Speaking of well meaning blunderers who really shouldn't be in positions of power, Hagrid, yeah dude ya kept a murderous giant spider as a pet in your dorm. Ya kinda had your expulsion coming. Lets face it, Hagrid is pretty much the Steve Irwin of the wizarding world, and you just know that it isn't going to be a case of if, but when. Don't get me wrong, I love Hagrid and have cuddly plush Hagrid doll as my favorite Potter-plushie, but he just is not that bright and does some pretty dangerous things without any forethought.

Of course, I can't help but think that Fudge would probably have been happier in his life if he was a vetrinarian.
Adam S.
I'm trying to remember at what point I knew the diary was not just a chekhov's gun, but a very central piece of the puzzle. I think it may have been right here, when Riddle presents Harry with a version of events that depict Hagrid as the culprit for unleashing the monster. As you say, it's patently ridiculous to imagine Hagrid as Slytherin's heir, so I immediately because suspect of Tom Riddle Jr., though I hadn't figured out the anagram of Riddle's name (did we even know his middle name at this point?)
It's so typical Hermione that she has a sudden brilliant insight, and immediately has to rush to the library without even hinting at what she suspects. If Harry and Ron just knew a LITTLE bit more, the whole mystery would have been solved. Same goes for Dumbledore, who could have just told Harry a bit about the monster and/or Tom Riddle. Dumbledore surely had a good idea of what the monster was, and likely knew that somehow Riddle had left something behind that triggered the attacks, yet he continues to just let Harry figure things out as he can...risking many students' lives in the process. I love the man, but sometimes you really do have to question his methods.
I want to play poker with Hagrid. Not only would he be tons of fun to drink with, but he'd have the worst poker face EVER. Subtelty is not his specialty.
Kit Case
5. wiredog
@2, Thanks.
I wonder how old Volde-moldy reacted when he found out that Lucius managed to get the diary destroyed instead of keeping it safe.
Emily Asher-Perrin
6. EmilyAP
@MDNY - We do know Riddle's middle name via the flashback because he gives it to Dippet. Even so, it's not exactly an easy switch up to guess at, since it's not just his name when he rearranges them - it's "I am Lord Voldemort." Which is a rather clever way of keeping people off the scent, I think.

With Dumbledore, I'm less inclined to believe that he knows exactly what's happening in this book. If Riddle had left something behind in the school, this whole thing would have likely happened sooner--the introduction of the diary via Lucius is a bit of a wild card, and I'm not surprised that the reopening of the Chamber would come as something of a shock. Whatever Albus might suspect, he wasn't in charge of the school at that point in time, so what he really knows about what happened might be less than we think...
Thomas Thatcher
7. StrongDreams
@5, why else do you think Voldemort sets Draco on a lose-lose mission in HBP? (Either Draco commits murder and fragments his soul, or he dies in the attempt, or he fails and Voldemort kills him.) I don't think it was just over the loss of the prophecy.
James Whitehead
8. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@5wiredog, if I remember correctly, the big V was none too pleased with our Lucius. The only thing that saved his bacon was the fact that Lucius had no idea that the diary was a Horcrux. I guess sometimes it does pay to keep one's staff appraised of some of the more important goings on in your group when planning complete societal domination.

David Levinson
9. DemetriosX
I'd always felt like Hermione was overreacting to Harry's use of the Potions book in HBP (or couldn't stand the fact that he was suddenly better than she was). Ron's paranoia here and the rest of the events surrounding the diary really should have made all of them a lot more suspicious of that book. Sure it was four years later, but a little more caution might have been called for.

The joke abot the mandrakes moving in and out of each others pots is most likely a little adult humor to go over the younger readers' heads (and good child-targeted works always have several layers like that), but it's also not uncommon for teenagers to practically move in to a friend's house, not even always going home to sleep. Plenty of parents find themselves with extra kids during their offspring's teenage years.

And I think the bits of Voldemort's soul call to each other. It's not clear here, certainly, but later on Harry starts getting visions of what Voldemort is up to. Not to mention the old "my scar hurts" business. There's definitely some sort of communication going on there. You'd think they might have been able to exploit that to track the horcruxes down.
Paul Rando
10. SerDragonReborn
"which leads to Draco finding the diary and trying to read it, not knowing that it’s not Harry’s and also blank. Harry gets it back, and notices that while all his books were splashed with ink, the diary appears clean."

First of all, wasn't the diary lying around Malfoy's house for 12 years? You'd think he'd come across this mysterious blank diary of TM Riddle's before.

Secondly--Imagine what Riddle's 'memory' thought when all of a sudden he gets a message in his diary: and it's just pages worth of inkstains: I am the Dark Lord Voldemort, all mortal beings shall bow before me. *ding* I've got mail! Maybe it's from my penpal, the angsty girl-child. We have so much in common! Both obsessed with Harry Potter...oh. It's just lots and lots of ink. *sigh* I never get any good mail."

"Are you as horrified as I am that Lockhart has them in wigs and costume?" Yes, because it reminds me of a certain Purple Wedding.
Paul Rando
11. SerDragonReborn
By the way, this, "Fudge is a mouthpiece, someone who enjoys his position, but has nothing practical to show for it," is not entirely true. As I recall he and Barty Crouch, Sr, did good work rounding up as many Death Eaters as they could find after Voldemort's fall and sending them to prison. Fudge just has nothing RECENT to show for it.
12. Random23
I always wondered how the conversation between Penelope and Hermione went. Did Penelope look round the corner in her mirror first, leaving Hermione to get the mirror from Penelope's petrified hand, and look round on her own, knowing what would happen?

Or did they look together?

I prefer the first idea as I think it says a lot for Hermione's courage.
Emily Asher-Perrin
13. EmilyAP
@SerDragonReborn - I imagine that Lucius doesn't actually leave a lot of the more important dark magic items just lying around the house for Draco to pick up. Especially since Draco has a real hard time keeping his hands out of things. My guess is there are a few forbidden rooms at Malfoy Manor, or at least some locked closets...
Adam S.
14. MDNY
@10, 13- I always figured Lucius kept the diary in his vault at Gringotts, just like Bellatrix kept Hufflepuff's cup there. After all, Voldy didn't reveal what these items were but clearly indicated that they were very powerful and important to him. When he went shopping in Diagon Alley with Draco this year, Lucius stopped by Gringotts first (as most people do, to get their money for the school supplies) and retrieved the diary, thus having it on hand when he got into a fight with Mr. Weasley and decided to slip it into his daughter's books. He was clearly planning on getting it to Hogwarts somehow, but I don't think he had predetermined the method until the run-in at the bookstore.
Andrew Berenson
15. AndrewHB
I would love to have read the messages that the school sent to the parents of the kids who were petrified. The Wizard world is certainly a different culture than Muggle society. If this happened in a Muggle school, I cannot imagine parents letting their kids come back once they get unpetrified. Second, there would be some major litigation.

I get the impression that in the wizarding world, the petrifying of students is something that is a cost of teaching magic to their children.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
16. Lisamarie
So, one thing that has always niggled at me a bit is the mandrakes. Are they sentient? Are they basically being bred for slaughter?
Thomas Thatcher
17. StrongDreams
As I think about it, I don't like the idea of Lucius giving Ginny the diary at all. Did Voldemort tell him, "this diary contains a copy of my 16 year old self--if you give it to a pre-teen girl, I can possess her and f* up the school." Much more likely I think, Voldemort said, "this is an enchanted object that is precious to me, keep it safe or I will slaughter your entire family."* So how would Lucius ever get the idea that it was a diary that talked back?

So I just invented a new headcanon to explain...

Voldemort originally told Lucius, "this diary contains a copy of my 16 year old self. If I should ever disappear for any length of time, write in the diary and I will tell you what to do."

November 1, 1981. Bad news, my lord. You attacked the Potter family last night and although James and Lily were found dead, baby Harry survived and you disappeared in an explosion, presumed dead. What should I do?

Idiot, I can not die. I must be alive somewhere, find me!

1985. Can't find you, m'Lord.

1990. Still can't find you, m'Lord. I really have been looking, honest!

November, 1991. I don't know if this is important, but Draco tells me someone in the Dark Forest has been killing unicorns and drinking their blood. Oh, and Harry Potter is a first year at Hogwarts.

That must be me, idiot. Find some way to give this book to a girl at school as soon as possible. If she writes in the diary long enough, I can possess her and wreak havoc at the school.

m'Lord, you mean you can possess people who write in the diary too often?

Oh, Lucius, only someone I really needed to manipulate. Lucius? Where did you go? Lucius? Get back to your desk this instant and answer me! Lucius! Damn. Oh well, after being stuck talking to Malfoy for 11 years, how bad can a little girl be?

(*There's no way Voldemort told Lucius or Bellatrix that those objects he wanted safeguarded were horcruxes. It would have given them too much leverage over him.)
18. happytoscrap

nice headcanon. :)

I think Lucious gave up on Voldemort returning. I bet the diary was safely stowed away at Malfoy manner and I bet it did sinister things there too. A sinister object given by the dead dark Lord that does things Lucious cannot understand...probably not something you want to keep around if you believe that dark lord to be dead. He probably thought it was cursed and wanted it out of his house.

If Voldemort was still alive, he probably hangs onto it. Instead, he gave a cursed book to a family he hated. He probably figured it either woudln't do anything, or it would curse the Weasleys. Either way, he gets rid of it.
19. Sophist
I suspect that it never occurred to Voldemort that someone would stab the diary, and with a basilisk fang, no less. He expected it would be perfectly safe, even if recognized as an evil diary, because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition horcrux.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
But even if that’s the case—where does he get the Muggle money to buy that diary?

I don't think he was given enough money to have some left over for an extravegance like that leather book. It wasn't purchased his first year, but his fifth, so I imagine he stole the money.

@6, Ah, but whatever Dumbledore didn't know then, he has access to now as the portrait of Armando Dippett sits directly behind his chair, under obligation to forever serve the Headmaster of Hogwarts.

@14, 17, 18

We know Lucius was also in Diagon Alley to sell some dark arts materials to Borgin. I imagine he formulated his plan upon seeing the Weasley's in The Leaky Cauldron, which is likely what set Draco off on his most recent I HATE THEM rant.

In addition, we know from Dumbledore, who likely learned it from Snape, that Malfoy knew it would open the Chamber and hoped to discredit Arthur. Arthur's raids are a pivotal part of the plot in this book, as they are the driver that leads to Lucius to part with things he wants, which causes him to retaliate by implicating Ginny,

They are also a big indicator of this ideological divide that has just started to emerge. Arthur does the work he does, not just because he's fascinated by Muggle inventions, but also because he truly desires to protect Muggles from harm by magic. While Lucius would find some innocent looking Muggle item being dangerous the height of hilarity.

headcanon time

I like to think that Arthur's love of Muggle things comes from that Squib relative Ron mentioned that's an accountant. It's mentioned that Squibs are encouraged to join the Muggle world, and I imagine that for a Wizard family ignorant of Muggles would buy adding machines and calculators in an attempt to find toys for the poor kid, and that Arthur would always take them apart and break them.

I like to think that kida came out okay, because while it must suck to get an abacus while everyone has toy brooms and sugar quills, that sure as hell was a lot more effort and thought than the Dursleys ever did, and if he could see Arthur liking that Muggle stuff, maybe it wouldn't be too bad.
Emily Asher-Perrin
21. EmilyAP
@Aeryl - Interesting information from Pottermore: The potraits don't actually automatically have all the knowledge of their subject. It would seem that once your portrait is painted, it's up to you to school it into acting like you? So portraits are either different from photographs (which would be fascinating), or portraits and photographs only hold vague impressions of the moment in which they are painted/taken, and then a portrait can only learn by example.

What this means is, the portrait is basically given all information by that headmaster/headmistress that they think would be useful to future headmasters and headmistresses. So there's no guarantee that the portrait of Dippet has all the relevant information for Dumbledore. Dippet would have had to teach the portrait that information - and even if he managed it, it doesn't mean that the portrait's knowledge base is complete....

Love the headcanon for the Squib Weasley. I can definitely see Arthur doing something like that.
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
So, Sir Cadogan spent a lot of time with his portrait to MAKE it act that way? That's hilarious.

I'll still go with him having most of it, though, f it's your portrait's duty to serve the school, it's YOUR duty to equip it with the knowledge to do that.
Adam S.
23. MDNY
@21 Emily-I'm not doubting Pottermore, but how does that jive with the end of Deathly Hallows, when Dumbledore's portrait appears to know everything Dumbledore knew, even though it seems to have just appeared after his death (I don't think it was painted in preparation, though I could be wrong)?
Emily Asher-Perrin
24. EmilyAP
@ Aeryl - Or alternatively, Sir Cadogan's portrait learned to act that way out of lack of guidance from his subject? Whoa, I actually think I like that idea MORE.

@MDNY - For headmasters, it seems as though the portrait can be painted any time in your tenure, and then there's a cabinet where it's kept. While it's in the cabinet, you teach it how to act like you and load it up with information as you will. Which means that Dumbledore was probably info-dumping into that thing every chance he got, since he had to have known his death was likely in this fight. That portrait had to be an encyclopedia.
David Levinson
25. DemetriosX
The heck with Sir Cadogan. What does that say about Sirius' mother?
Thomas Thatcher
26. StrongDreams
Most portraits and photographs are just echoes of a brief moment in time, the person as they were at that moment. Hogwarts portraits are special, endowed with more "life" than others in the wizarding world, and headmasters portraits are even more so.
27. Dr. Cox
@3 "Of course, I can't help but think that Fudge would probably have been happier in his life if he was a vetrinarian."
LOL :)
Matthew Glover
28. themightysven
I read these chapters this morning, and noticed in Chap 13 right after visiting Hermione, Snape had given them so much homework, Harry thought he was likely to be in the sixth year before he had finished it. Which is, of course, exactly when he finished his last homework from Snape
29. Owlay
Welcome to Owlay's Spot! Part I:

What do you mean by mono, Emily?

Did you had any idea at all about who was behind the attacks at this point?

Harry and Ron should be lucky they are getting only the right homework for this term. On their sixth year we will compare their homework then with their workload now and we'll see who's laughing now.

The Hair-Raising Potion would seem to me to serve for people who have lost their hair.

Is this flood bigger than the one when Mrs. Norris was attacked, or not? The Basilisk didn't had anything to do with this one, right? If he didn't, it seems to me that it's a lot of water to come from a single toilet............. Unless the Hogwarts plumbing system is more complicated than I think.

The reason why a ghost would still mind if someone threw something at it is because even them have their dignity.

Why would someone want to bewitch a book like in the examples here?

I don't think Tom Riddle bought the diary in between his fourth and fifth year. I'm more convinced he bought it before that (possibly even just before he started at Hogwarts) and when the diary became a Horcrux everything that was written in it (because I'm not convinced that Riddle bought the diary solely to turn it into a Horcrux) was erased, leaving behind only the basic identifying features, like the name of its owner. This would be for the better as the diary would have likely contained all the information he had gathered about the Chamber.

A lot could be said about the symbolism of Ron getting slime all over TM Riddle's award, but I'm too tired to talk about it.......

A lot of people think Vauxhall Road was near Riddle's orphanage and thus use it as a clue to pinpoint its location. Where do you think it was?

Would you try to throw something at a ghost?

Oddly, I can't stop picturing the scene where H&R present Hr. with Riddle's diary as being set in the hospital wing. This must be because I saw the movie first (even if this scene is on the Deleted Scenes).

Ron's theories about why Riddle won his award are even more laughable than you think: It's impossible to get 30 OWLs and the giant squid is known to be generally gentle.

This is the only time we see the Aparecium Spell or the Revealer. What do you think they mght be used for? For since this is a similar case as with Alohomora, since it occurs to me that wizards would find cleverer ways to disguise their writing than by invisible ink, choosing instead to try spells resistant to the two things above.

I wonder how much had JKR written about Horcruxes at this point, if she had at all.

This doesn't deny the Horcrux theory completely, but I think Harry's fascination with the diary is mostly because he knows the diary is contemporary with the first opening of the Chamber and Riddle's award, and somebody tried to get rid of it. Thus he knows there's more about it than meets the eye and tries to figure it out.

Why do you think Dumbledore didn't remove Riddle's award or had it revoked?

How come HRH don't find information about who was Tom Riddle in the Hogwarts files? Are there such a thing as the Hogwarts Archives? And how come the special awards don't carry the details of why they were granted? If only there were clearer files on the Hogwarts students HRH would have been saved a lot of trouble.

Notice that Harry doesn't notice that ever since he laid hands on the diary there have been no more attacks.

I wonder if basilisks hibernate. If they do it would explain the continued presence of one within the walls.

What do you think Dumbledore thought of Lockhart's Valentine decorations?

Yes, we don't see dwarfs (or dwarves) for the rest of the series and this is the only time they are mentioned. However, there's the possibility that 'dwarfs' in here refers to the medical term and thus the ones seen here are what we would call (in more modern terms) wizarding midgets. That term is also used in ASOAIF and 'dwarves' (or 'dwerrows' if you're really into this) seems to be the correct term when refering to the mythological beings.

In HBP we discover the truth about Love Potions and why that is not the more correct term for refering to them as this. Meanwhile, I wonder how it goes with Entrancing Enchantments.

By now Lockhart has managed to offend all four House Chiefs (though I don't know if JKR had already decided on which were all of them).

Do you notice that all three suspects of opening the Chamber (Malfoy, Percy, Ginny) are present in the same place when the diary is exposed?

Did you gave a tune to Harry's valentine? How did it went?

How come Harry got to carry around Tom Riddle's diary in his bag? It could have been snatched!

Like some above, I also think Malfoy didn't spot the diary back at home. His father would have kept it well hidden. Also, I don't think Mr. Malfoy ever wrote in it since we are told later that when Voldemort gave him the diary he was only told that it had the power to open again the Chamber of Secrets.

It seems that the Expelliarmus Charm can not only remove wands from the opponent's hands but it also removes all other objects grasped in hands. Now I begin to notice why a duel between a wizard and a Muggle would be very unequal.

Do you notice that Percy doesn't bother to take points off this time?
Birgit F
30. birgit
Dumbledore seems to know that Harry is there. How exactly does he keep track of Harry? Does the Fat Lady tell him when someone invisible leaves the common room? Or can he use his Deluminator to track Harry? Does he have his own Marauder's Map?

Maybe portraits have the character of the person but have to be taught the knowledge they have.
31. BigBadBox
@ Emily
Though Harry and the diary both being horcruxes may have a role in the feeling Harry has that Tom Riddle is an old friend, I think what really happens here is only that he recognizes himself in this orphan boy who considers Hogwarts his only home. Voldemort himself, and Rowling, emphathize a lot the similiarities between Harry and Voldemort in this book and even more so in OotP and HBP.

@ 9
In HBP, Ron and Hermione both try to convince Harry not to use the book, and Hermione confiscates it to test it and check that it isn't cursed in any way, only returning it when all of her tests failed to prove that it is magic.

@ 29




No one is laughing now : people have been petrified.

That would make sense.

Yes : the previous flooding was 57 liters of water flowing on the floor when this one almost 100 liters. It was the basilik again.

Yes they do !

For fun !

I don't think there is any actual info about that. One may only guess. It does seem likely that he bought it before thinking about turning it into an Horcruxe since the things he turned into horcruxes were already significant to him.

Please talk about it !

I think it was in Soho.

Certainly not, that would be mean !


The point is that they'd be ridiculous.

Probably to reveal stuff.

Me too.

Clever Harry :)

Because it didn't care about it.

Wizard bureaucracy is practicly meant to be useless. Probably but there's no reason HRH should know where to find them.

Well noticed.

Most reptiles winter rather than hibernate, so it is likely the same goes for basiliks.

He probably found them amusing.

I think in the potterverse dwarves are more of gnome-like creatures.

It goes the same way, only it's less powerful.

He's good (and she had) !

No, but well done.

Yes. On the train.

There's no reason anyone would have snatched it from his bag, would this awkward moment not have happened.


Yes. You can dodge spells, though, not bullets.

32. BigBadBox
@ 30
As shown in HBP, Dumbledore can sense magic, and the magic of the invisibility cloask is a powerful one.
Maiane Bakroeva
33. Isilel
So, no sentient Snape portrait then? A pity.

Anyway, I have to say that in hindsight Dumbledore looks absolutely awful as a headmaster here. Whatever Dippet did or didn't tell him, he had enough evidence to figure out that there was a basilisk on the move _and_ thanks to Snape's stunt at the Dueling Club meeting, he also knew that Harry was a Parseltongue and could potentially help him track it. He also lets Hagrid send Harry and Ron to the man-eating giant spiders in this chapter.
Back before DH it was possible to think that Dumbledore was carefully and unobtrusively training Harry for his inevitable confrontation with LV and had judged that risk to other students' lives was worth it. Hard, but somewhat understandable. Harry as fantasy Ender, if you will.
But after DH, when it has been made clear that Harry's skills were never supposed to be the point?!! Ol' Albus just looks completely incompetent and a terrible human being to boot.
I know, I know, the intended audience isn't gong to notice, but still...

And speaking of Tom - again, nitpicky, but it's kind of funny that he was supposed to be sent back to the orphanage for summer smack in the middle of WW II. As if a basilisk could compare, danger- wise!
And also that he was there at all at his age, when kids were usually thrown out of orphanages as soon as they reached legal age for finding work - which was 13 or 14 back then, IIRC.
34. Athreeren
“Do those pieces of Voldemort’s soul naturally sort of reach for each other, or is this more the result of Harry having familiarity with a bit of Voldemort already via living side by side in the same body?”
I don't think Rowling started thinking about the horcruces (horcruxes?) before she mentioned that locket in the Order of the Phoenix, so it must be the second solution.

“Where does he get the Muggle money to buy that diary?”
Even at the orphanage, Riddle was a kleptomaniac, so he may have stolen it. Anyway, it's important to him that his... soul containers are beautiful objects, so he found a way to get what he wanted.

“Since the dorms are password protected, it stands to reason that only a Gryffindor could have taken it.”
Of course, it's impossible to have a student in a dormitory that isn't theirs, say, two Griffindors in the Slytherin dorm. I know, it's unlikely that others students used polyjuice potion, but Harry and Ron should be more paranoid than that.

“Hagrid will be sent to Azkaban prison.”
Ha, wizard justice! No arbitrary arrest and complete respect of due process!

I've never read the first three books in English, and I remember that in the French version, the minister of magic doesn't have the same name in the newspaper that Hagrid reads just after meeting Harry in the Philosopher's Stone and in the other books. Was it already Fudge?

@3: “Of course, I can't help but think that Fudge would probably have been happier in his life if he was a vetrinarian.”
You mean someone who follows the political views of Havelock Vetinari? That would certainly be better for everyone.

@30: There are gnomes, their existence has been discussed extensively in chapter 3; given how they are treated there, we can only hope they are no more that animals, or de-gnoming would be extremely cruel. Then there are people like Pr. Flitwick, who is a half-goblin.

@33: according to the wiki, there is a portrait of Snape (it's Snape we're talking about, the first thing he did when being appointed headmaster was certainly to have his portrait painted). I wonder how it behaves though: I doubt Snape would have told the portrait he was spying on Voldemort and still obeyed Dumbledore's orders, the risk Death Eaters would learn about it would have been too high. So is it a portrait of Death Eater Snape or Order of the Phoenix Snape?
Chris Nelly
35. Aeryl
@29, The Reveal spell is used multiple times. Hermione uses it on HBP's book, and they have to use it in the Potions class on creating antidotes.

@30, I don't think Dumbledore so much keeps an eye on Harry, but has set his Deluminator to tell him when Harry talks about him, so he knows when Harry needs him.

I imagine that since Dumbledore had 10 years to study the cloak, he eventually determined how to penetrate it, or identify it's magic when nearby.

As far as when the diary was purchased, I'm pretty sure that Harry notes that the date was published on the book, and it's given as the same year the Chamber opened, hence it was his 5th year.

@33, But after DH, when it has been made clear that Harry's skills were never supposed to be the point?!!

I don't get how you can say that. Harry still needed skill and confidence in himself to defeat Voldemort. And as far as WWII, it's a huge gaping hole in the middle of the story, so I just supposed that the Blitz didn't happen in Potterworld.

Also, not all the dorms are password protected. Ravenclaw's is an intelligence test that changes with every questioner, recall McGonagall & Luna opening it, when McGonagall isn't a Ravenclaw and Luna hadn't been at school since Christmas.

The question of who established the passwords was brought up, I imagine that while Dumbledore establishes when they change, the Fat Lady creates them herself. Remember "abstinence"?

@34, There is too much evidence for Harry as a Horcrux for Rowling to not work it out until later. I think she knew from the start exactly how Voldemort survived, or else why actually introduce one this early?
Emily Asher-Perrin
36. EmilyAP
@Owlay - Using the spelling "dwarves" for the fantasy race was actually something that was started by J.R.R. Tolkien, if I'm not mistaken. It's still legitimate to use the "dwarfs" spelling in a fantastical context, just not quite as common since Lord of the Rings.

The diary was likely bought between Riddle's 4th and 5th year simply because it has specific dates printed on the pages. (Unless those dates are lacking a year marker? We're never told.)

@BigBadBox - The comment about Harry thinking of the diary as the story of the friend comes before he finds out anything about Riddle besides his award. So it's definitely not him relating to Riddle as an orphan at that point in the narrative.

@Athreeren and Aeryl - Yeah, I agree on Harry definitely needing a skill set, and learning how to handle things on his own being pretty important. (Also, technically Hagrid doesn't mention the spiders until Dumbledore's out of the hut, so he might not have heard?)

As for WWII, I do wonder if wizards automatically consider "magic problems" to be more dangerous and worthy of note than "Muggle problems." We know wizards have logic issues, and a lack of familiarity with modern warfare would likely skew their understanding of things.
37. Underbelly
Quick thought on the portrait thing... as all portraits can talk with all other portraits of their subject/person, maybe they could teach each other. So you wouldn't need to fully teach them as they could teach each other about the person that Dumbledore was during his early/mid/later days.

Just a thought.
Janice Boyd
38. scaredicat
@3, @27 Fudge might be happier as a veterinarian...and his brother could be the doctor... ;-)
39. Owlay
Owlay's Spot Part II:
Why would Fred and George sing Harry his valentine constantly? I thought they only pestered constantly people who annoyed them, like Percy. They would have known what annoyed Harry since they began to grow closer since the summer.

Do you think there might really be ways for wizards to record their memories like in here without the object in question being a Horcrux? I mean, this object would be something like a blank book or diary, where you would ask it questions and requests and the object would come up with a pre-recorded answer or memory (like in the Pensieve) that's stored in there. This would be something like a Wizarding Database. Also, are Horcuxes and the Pensieve the only ways in the WW in which you can see other people's memories?

Couldn't there be ways to see memories through a screen, like television? Also, is the experience of being in memories like being in the Holodeck? (I have never seen Star Trek, though, so I may be wrong in parts.)

In this (and other) instances, we see a part of the memory at the begginning that happens before the person who created the memory (Riddle) entered the room. How do you think that's possible? My guess is that Riddle simply elaborated, coming up with what most likely happened before he came in.

I know that in memories if an object or someone goes through where the watcher is watching, it goes through them as in ghosts. How would it feel for them?

Unlike the film, Riddle's memory in here is in color. This change was made in order to keep hidden from viewers to which House he belonged to. As for why Harry doesn't realize it in here, I know some people don't consider the scarves and other identifiers as canon, but I wonder if Riddle may have not edited this memory to keep it hidden.

It seems (and was kinda confirmed) that the silver contraptions were invented by Dumbledore and Fawkes didn't came around until sometime after Dumbledore became Headmaster. However, as some people in the comments have already pointed out, Dumbledore may have already owned Fawkes by this time and he kept him somewhere else. The reason why we don't see him in his memory in chapter 20 of HBP may be because he was only going for a ride.

When I first saw the movie and read the book I thought that 'fifty years ago' meant 1950, or something closer to 1952, since at this time I thought the first book was set on 2001. What did the rest of you thought?

Another thing: Riddle's prefect badge is mentioned as being silver, since at this point all these badges were silver. However, since OotP, we know that they are arranged to be indentifying of the prefect's House. As a result, a description in PS/SS was amended to keep in order with this fact. Has Riddle's badge also given an alteration? Either way, it cannot give him away as a Slytherin. He might have been a Ravenclaw.

Riddle and Harry are mentioned as being kinda similar physically, but all I can come up with is that they had the same hair color. In what else do you think they resmbles each other? Perhaps they had the same hairstyles?

To all the people talking about Tom Riddle going back to his orphanage during the bombings: Do you notice that this is only a suggestion? The WW may have been pretty much aware of the situation in the Muggle World (henceforth the MW) and were considering putting him in a foster home. However, Hogwarts was the only place in the world where Riddle wanted to stay and that's why he put his plan in action. And what's more, I think that by 1943 the bombings had subsided considerably. Also, this is the only time where we see that certain students (specially those who live in Muggle orphanages) are allowed to stay at Hogwarts for the summer holidays. Whether Riddle has been granted that privilege already or this is the first time that he requests it or whether he was allowed later are things I don't know. Who else do you think may have been granted that privilege? I also wonder why Harry didn't ask Dumbledore for it in subsequent years.

JKR said that she had written more about Tom Riddle's background but she saved it for HBP (a possible title for book 2 was even going to be The Half-Blood Prince!). I wonder if this means that she had already created Slughorn. When (not if) she publishes The History of Harry Potter we'll know for certain. (BTW, do you think any of JKR's children might be a potential Christopher Tolkien?)

Why do you think the Ministry never tried to close Hogwarts before this? (This question is mainly directed to the cynics who believe that Hogwarts is not a safe enough place.) You don't think that they wanted to close it here solely to fumigate it?

Do you think Dippet ever realized what kind of person Tom Riddle really was?

Do you think Riddle had learned Occlumency (and possibly Legilimency) by now?

Discovering later that Riddle was friends with the then-Professor of Potions gives a new light to his decision to hide in the Potions classroom.

I wonder if memories can be edited in order to compress passage of time.

Riddle claims that Myrtle's parents will arrive at Hogwarts, even though they are both Muggles. How do you think that might be possible? Is it likely that select Muggles (like the parents of Muggle-born students) have the Muggle-Repelling Spell lifted off them? (I don't even want to think what they must have felt, what with their daughter becoming a ghost and all.............)

Did you realize it was a spider on first reading? The movie makes it clear that it is so.

When Riddle turned Hagrid in, did he told anyone that the Monster was an Acromantula? By now nobody knows what kind of monster lives in the Chamber.

Did you prefer the film's version of Riddle's memory? Do you think it improved it? How? BTW, in this version Riddle is less sympathetic, particularly in his confrontation with Hagrid.

What do you think are the differences between the memory shown here and memories shown in the Pensieve?

In the illustration (in the American version of this book) for chapter 14, a number 12 written in Roman numbers appears at the head of the parchment. What do you think it stands there for?

I wonder what other creatures Hagrid might have kept between fifty years ago and now.

Do you think Hagrid might have suspected the Monster was a Basilisk? After all he is one of (if not the) Hogwarts' resident experts on magical creatures.

Do you think Hagrid would have wanted to keep the basilisk as a pet? I wonder also why he never tried to get one or hatch one. *shudder*

Since Hogwarts is huge, it's a good thing that there are no more dangerous monsters like the basilisk lurking somewhere.

Why Harry didn't ask Riddle to show him his memory again but this time with Ron and Hermione coming along?

What do you think of Ron comparing Riddle to Percy?

Hagrid was really buying slug repellant then, right? Or was he there for another reason?

A thing which in like in the movie is Hagrid suddenly appearing inopportunely when HRH are discussing him. He then proceeds to talk a bit before leaving but I can't remember what he said. I think it was about the incoming Quidditch match.
Adam S.
40. MDNY
@39 Owlay- As usual, you raise a lot of questions (too many for me to address now) but I do want to address your first question in the second post, about F+G singing the love song to Harry. Remember who it was from. I think they felt compelled to sing it in the hallways because it was their sister, and as the oldest of 3 boys I know how difficult it is to resist needling your younger siblings.
Regarding Professor/Headmaster Dippet, remember later that Riddle says that Dumbledore never seemed to accept him as easily as the other teachers (I think he says something like "he kept an annoyingly close watch on me"). So I took that to mean that everyone else, teachers and students alike, were totally fooled as to the nature of his personality. Remember that he was a prefect, and later Head Boy, which would indicate that Dippet did indeed think very highly of him.
41. Sophist
I see Fred and George as part of the bullying problem at Hogwarts. Most of the time they torment other students, and when it's Draco or someone equally unsympathetic, we laugh. Their behavior becomes more exposed when they go after someone like Ron, Harry, Neville, or Ginny.
42. Owlay
Owlay's Spot Part III:

Next year, Ron will regret having thought about leaving DADA. I do wonder how this year must have been for sixth-years who got an appropriate enough score to continue this subject only to find it was Lockhart teaching it (not to mention what must have gone through the minds of fifth-years this term).

Were we ever told what subjects did Neville and Dean (and Seamus, since we are in it) take?

Why Ron chose the subjects that he did?

Ginny's search of the diary was unusually frantic but is not unexpected, considering the circumstances. However, questions still remain.... If Ginny was really that scared to get her diary back, why wait weeks, if not months? You don't think it's possible that Tom Riddle may have somehow influenced her in doing this?

You don't think it's possible that some Gryffindor may have told the password to a student of another House (not Slytherin) with whom he/she was friends with? I still don't want to consider the presence of students of different Houses in the same common room as non-canon.

How many people do you think know about how and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts?

Do you notice that Harry doesn't notice that as soon as he loses Riddle's diary the basilisk strikes again? From what we see later, it seems like Harry didn't gave the diary much importance within the general frame of the Chamber mystery.

You don't find it frustrating that Hermione ran off to the library without giving her friends so much as a clue? If she was so convinced she was right then she would have taken additional precautions.

And what if a student wants to use the bathroom in the middle of the night? In which case, I'd better hope that the common rooms already include bathrooms. This is a point in favor of their existence.

Do you think the basilisk deliberatedly spared the Slytherins? After all, there were Muggleborns in Slytherin, as JKR herself comfirmed.

Why do you think Penelope didn't went to see the match

Do you notice that this time we aren't told how is Ginny looking after this attack?

Had Hogwarts closed wouldn't Harry and the other students have simply went to another school (even if it was in another country) or been educated by other wizarding families?

Did you on your first reading ever believed or suspected that Hagrid was somehow connected to the attacks at all?

Another thing I prefer in the movie is that when H&R visit Hagrid, they are invisible at first but then they take off the cloak at his presence.

What do you think Hagrid would have told H&R had he not been interrupted?

I will not say whether you enjoying Cornelius Fudge's fashion style is weird, but I definitively know that it forms a combination of colors that is widely considered in the MW as seriously clashing. (Seriously, what is with wizarding fashion sense? It seems to me that their definition of good taste is vastly different from ours.)

In the CoS film, Fudge looks different from in the other movies. Is this because he is being played by another actor?
43. Random22
@42 Fudge is played by Robert Hardy in all the movies he appears. Just in CoS they've fluffed up his hair and given him quite noticeable sideburns. That gets toned down for the other films, plus Hardy was to age very noticeably over the course of the movies.
44. Owlay
Owlay's Spot, Part IV:

What do you think Fudge should have done about the attacks?

Aren't there other Wizarding detention facilities within the country? If taking Hagrid into custody was really a precaution, couldn't he have been held within another place or at least in an area of Azkaban with less Dementors?

Why did Mr. Malfoy had Dumbledore removed from Hogwarts? I think I know, but I'd like to hear you out first.

JKR herself confirmed in an interview that Dumbledore performed a non-verbal Homenum Reveal (what is the proper name for this spell? The Man-Revealing Spell?) on H&R. (Yes, I know that the Invisibility Cloak is supposed to be impenetrable to spells, but couldn't a very powerful wizard like Dumbledore have found the way? After all, he had the cloak in his possesion for ten years.)

Did Harry and Ron feed Fang? Who else might have fed him?

@3, Which must mean that there is a kind of wizarding stingray we'd rather not meet..............................

@20, What do you think of the theory that Mr. Malfoy was planning to give the diary to Harry (with the intention of turning him into a new Dark Lord) only to change plans when he had his confrontation with the Weasleys? It would at least explain why Dobby kept insisting so much in saving Harry's life.
Birgit F
45. birgit
However, questions still remain.... If Ginny was really that scared to get her diary back, why wait weeks, if not months?

She didn't know anybody had found it until she saw it when Harry's bag split on Valentine's Day.
46. jjpuckhead
I find this illusttative of Riddle.......

We've seen DD's memories lots of times and Snapes as well, and the actions of people peripheral to the person are still doing whatever they were doing even if the person remembering wasn't paying attention to them. But Riddle's memory has Dippett pacing around and twiddling his thumbs because that's how Tom sees him. He couldn't possibly be doing anything else at that moment.

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