The Very Secret Diary

chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry finds a discarded diary, and after a forgettable Valentine’s day (where he receives a very public valentine), he writes in the diary – and it writes back. Soon he is inside, and Tom Riddle is showing him that Hagrid was expelled fifty years ago for opening the Chamber of Secrets.

Moaning Myrtle, by Jess Siswick

“Don’t ask me,” Myrtle shouted, emerging with a wave of yet more water, which splashed onto the already sopping floor. “Here I am, minding my own business, and someone thinks it’s funny to throw a book at me….”


Maybe He Murdered Myrtle, by gerre

“Could’ve been anything,” said Ron. “Maybe [Riddle] 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….”

(by gerre)


Valentine's Day, by Vizen

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Lockhart shouted. “And may I thank the forty-six people who have so far sent me cards!”

(by Vizen)


His eyes are as green... by gerre

Harry would have given all the gold in Gringotts to evaporate on the spot.

(by gerre)


Let Me Show You, by TomScribble

“I can show you, if you like,” came Riddle’s reply. “You don’t have to take my word for it. I can take you inside my memory of the night when I caught him.”


Tom Riddle, by Laurence Peguy

A boy of about sixteen entered, taking off his pointed hat. A silver prefect’s badge was glinting on his chest…. “Ah, Riddle,” said the headmaster.


The Very Secret Diary, by Keith James

His spell lit the corridor with a sudden flaming light. The door behind the large boy flew open with such force it knocked him into the wall opposite. And out of it came something that made Harry let out a long, piercing scream unheard by anyone.


Harry Potter, by Laurence Peguy

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


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

When Riddle was hiding waiting for Hagrid, he didn’t pick a classroom at random – he hid in the Potions classroom, where we’ll learn years later he was probably pretty assured of safety if he was caught. After all, he was very close to the school’s Potions professor at the time, and the professor certainly wouldn’t have suspected him of any ill will.

Life at Hogwarts

Armando Dippet – the headmaster preceding Dumbledore, who Harry sees in Tom Riddle’s memory – doesn’t seem quite as sharp as Dumbledore. He may have been an excellent Headmaster, we don’t know; but every time Harry visits Dumbledore he feels as though Dumbledore is seeing right through into his inner thoughts and intentions, and he’s already said that Dumbledore seems to pretty much know everything that goes on in the school. In Dippet’s case, however, he seems to quickly and easily buy a lame excuse of Riddle’s that Harry sees right through, and readily admits he has no idea of the source of the attacks. After which Riddle runs into Dumbledore in the hallway, where Dumbledore gives him “exactly the kind of penetrating stare” Harry is used to. I wonder how differently the school was run under Dippet’s leadership than it is today.

The Boy Who Lived

It’s never confirmed in the books, but J.K. Rowling later said in an interview that Harry’s Valentine was indeed sent by Ginny Weasley, “of her own volition.” Judging by the references we’ve seen to her thus far (deeply shaken by the attacks, desperate to attract Harry’s attention, getting sick and needing Pepperup Potion, Fred and George torturing her into having nightmares, etc.), the poor girl is having a very rough first year at Hogwarts.

Something to Remember

Harry seems to have a very strange, inexplicable attachment to T.M. Riddle’s diary, and it’s particularly interesting that the name perks his interest in the way it does – “almost as though Riddle was a friend he’d had when he was very small, and had half-forgotten.” Even when Harry learns more about the diary, this bizarre attachment won’t be explained. But he’ll find out one day why it exists.

27 Responses to “The Very Secret Diary”

  1. I’m reading the book along with your chapter-uploads (only a tiny bit ahead) Funny what you mentioned in Something to Remember was exactly what I truly understood for the first time when I read it this time :)

  2. It’s so weird when you find out the whole story about the diary in HBP. It’s was part of JKR’s tendency to let the books grow with the characters and the readers.

  3. I agree. Really, I am no fan of this book, it’s not my favourite of the seven but it gives away so much and you do not realize that until the end. It’s great! Even with Ginny’s character. I think that part of what happens to her this year is the reason she evolves in the person we see in book 7.

  4. Agreed, Paula & Michkey. This is probably my least favorite of the series, but it does blossom into so much of HBP. And the whole thing with Lockhart and Valentine’s Day…it is so satisfying when he finally gets his comeuppance.

  5. Whoops, typo: Mickey.

  6. When Harry & Ron first find the diary, I love how Harry laughs at Ron’s suggestion that the book might be dangerous… so ironic considering what this book turns out to be!

    Ron is also frighteningly close to the truth when he offhandedly guesses about what Riddle might have done to receive an award for special services to the school: “Maybe he murdered Myrtle, that would’ve done everyone a favour…”

    Concerning Ginny, the Valentine delivery must have been a completely horrific moment for her… Harry hated the Valentine, everyone was laughing, Malfoy taunts her, and worst of all, she discovers that Harry has the diary in which she’s confided her most private thoughts. Eeek!

  7. I wonder why Harry is so quick to trust Tom Riddle? I mean, Harry has a strong dislike (understandably) of Slytherins, and he finds out that Tom Riddle was one when he was at Hogwarts. Where did all of that prejudice go?

  8. How fantastic (and also frightening and strange) would it be to be able to leave a part of yourself behind in a diary for when you are gone? Could you imagine having something like this from your great great grandparents or something? You would get to “speak” to them (sort of) and be able to go back in time and see what it was like to live their lives. Just saying, it would be extremely interesting…

    RE The Boy Who Lived – I love Ginny. I can’t imagine going off to college/high school/etc. and having the kind of first-year experience that she did at Hogwarts! Good thing she has such a great support system, otherwise what she experienced might have been enough to stave her off from the place altogether!

    @Andrea OMG I can’t believe I never made the connection before about Ron saying “Maybe he murdered Myrtle..” nice observation!

    Also, I’ve always found it quite terrifying what Ron says when he mentions to Harry that the diary might be dangerous. I love books, and I couldn’t imagine having to constantly worry that one might put some life-ruining curse on me!

  9. When in the diary, Harry enters Dippets office before Riddle, how can this be? Riddle wasn’t there so how can he remember it for Harry to see?

  10. I was wondering that too, Gingercat. Technicality I suppose. After all, if Snape is focused on his exam how can Harry see what the Marauders are doing in other parts of the hall? Maybe memories allow for some imagination on the part of the rememberer. Dippet says to Riddle he was just reading Riddle’s letter.

    I read someone say once that Hermione is always right except when she gets emotional and Ron is always wrong unless he makes a joke. Not quite fair but as a general rule it’s fairly accurate, given Ron’s comment about Myrtle.

  11. I’ve been rereading the series and thought this today…Hogwarts has an award for Special Services to the School for Tom Riddle in the trophy case. If it was awarded to him, why didn’t he take it with him when he graduated? Is that an American thing? And (*SPOILER ALERT*) When he became Lord Voldemort, why wasn’t it removed? I wonder if there is some bit of magic that keeps it there? Am I forgetting something?

  12. @Misshearthend. I suppose because only Dumbledore suspected that Tom was Slytherin’s heir and he had no proof. After the events in CoS he might well have removed it.

    As to who keeps the trophies it might vary from school to school. I got a cup for French once, which I was allowed to keep for a year and then it was given to the next winner.

  13. Another possibility is that Tom got a plaque or trophy or something to keep, and then his name was added to the permanent marker in the school as well so it would be visible to future students. If I remember correctly, I think that’s how my high school did big awards.

  14. about harry trusting riddle: rowling was smart to omit a very improtant fact in the chapter, and that was that tom riddle was a slytherin. harry sees a silver badge that indicates he’s prefect but there is nothing about what house he belongs to. i think that he trusts him simply because he felt riddles name should mean something to him. once he sees the memory, he identifies with riddle after seeing riddle ask dippet if he can stay at hogwarts over summer.
    about removing the trophy: i think it stayed there because few people really knew who tom riddle became. DD says in the end that few people knew that lord voldemort was once know as tom riddle. and i think he started using his new name sometime in his later hogwarts years. i can see dumbledore leaving the trophy in the case as a reminder of a once handsome, resourceful and smart boy that used to walk the halls. he was one of the brightest students DD had ever taught

  15. Kayno- Whoops! didn’t check that one. Thanks!

  16. okay so has anyone noticed that since Hagrid was about 13 when the chamber opened 50 years ago he would be (correct me if its wrong, i suck at math) 63?! he doesnt seem that old and then at the end of the books he would be round 68! voldemort (gasp!) would be around what, 15? when he framed hagrid and that about 65 and then at the end about 71! well he cant die i guess… and the dumbledore had a gray beard at the time so im thing around 55 plus 50 and wow 105 and then at the end about 110! maybe wizards age mush slower than muggles.

  17. Lily, JKR has said that wizards have a longer life-expectancy. Dumbledore lives to be 116, and McGonagall is 70 in GoF.

    The one that doesn’t make sense to me is Bathilda Bagshott, who is supposed to be old enough to be Dumbledore’s great-aunt. Now, even if she’s a very young great-aunt, she must still live to be about 130. And very few other wizards seem to make it past 90. Dumbledore, although within the possible range of longevity for wizards, was supposed to be an exception.

  18. @Gracehasvictory So Bathilda is another exception. The oldest recorded person, and by that I mean muggle, lived to the ripe old age of 122, though undoubtedly not as spry as Dumbledore. This being the case, Bathilda’s age is unusual, but not unreasonable by wizard’s standards.

  19. GhV, I don’t think Dumbledore’s a huge expection. After all, Elphias Doge is still around, and they were in the same year at Hogwarts. Grindelwald was only a year or two younger, and he’s still alive at the beginning of DH despite having been in prison for decades. Plus there are the OWL examiners, at least one of whom was already an examiner when Dumbledore himself was sitting for the OWLs.

  20. *exception

  21. I’ve just finished reading this chapter and noticed that Hermione didn’t leave the hospital wing until early February. They took the polyjuice potion on Christmas day so she has been there for at least 38 days. It just seems such a long time to be in hospital for ‘just’ being semi-turned into a cat.

  22. It’s interesting that, in the books, the student’s doesn’t appear to be wearing anything that gives away which house they belong to. As in this chapter, where Harry has no idea that Riddle is a Slytherin (a fact that probably would have made him more suspicious if he knew), and just in the previous chapter with the Polyjuice Potion, Harry and Ron approach a Ravenclaw girl and ask her for the way to Slytherin’s common room.
    So, at the tables in the Great Hall and in their Quidditch robes seems to be the only times when the students are differing visually from each other… it’s interesting because in fan art it’s very common with ties, scarfs, cloaks and such in the colours of the house, not to mention in the movies. But I guess it would make sense to add that when making a movie or drawing, simply to make it easier for the watcher to recognize who the characters are.
    Maybe the school is so small that the students learn quickly who belongs where, but it would seem in line with the story to have at least a badge or something, since the rivalry between the houses seems to be so deeply rooted, at least between Gryffindor and Slytherin. But maybe some do wear things that give away their house of free will – it isn’t hard picturing Malfoy with a cloak fastening in the shape of a silver snake, or Fred and George with a Gryffindor lion hat like the one Luna has.

  23. Re: The Boy Who Lived. So it was truly Ginny who sent that Valentine to Harry. Why in the world did she use the term “Dark Lord”? I thought only Death Eaters and close associates of Voldemort were familiar with the term? As far as I have known, they are the only ones who use this term. A probable slip-up in Jo’s part, you think?

    If I hadn’t been so irritated with Lockhart, I’d find him comical. Imagine, he managed to humiliate or infuriate all his colleagues now since he began teaching at Hogwarts – the latest victim being Flitwick. How inconsiderate and shallow-minded.

    I find it unfair that even with no evidence, Riddle successfully got Hagrid expelled. Come to think of it, Aragog had escaped before Riddle could tackle it and so, the case of Hagrid’s expulsion rested on Riddle’s word solely. And yet, they seemed to trust Riddle so much – what with him being a top student and a Head Boy – that they took his word for it and expelled Hagrid, with the exception of Dumbledore, of course. Or maybe, just like the present-day Ministry under Cornelius Fudge, the Ministry back then just wanted to see some action done, so as to reassure the public.

  24. It finally hit home to me that when Hagrid was expelled and became assistant gamekeeper, he was a thirteen-year-old orphan. He’s been without a family and supporting himself since he was just thirteen. I can’t imagine that . . .

    No wonder he’s so loyal to Dumbledore.

  25. May – Perhaps Ginny using “The Dark Lord” in the poem is another hint at what her year has been like so far.

  26. @May – I agree with what Erin said. While Ginny is obviously NOT a Death Eater, she’s probably much closer to Voldemort than anyone besides maybe Harry has ever been. She’s literally being possessed by him and, as she points out to Harry in OotP, “I’m the only other person in the world who knows what it feels like to have Voldemort in their head.”

    She may not have joined forces with Voldemort willingly, but she’s very ingrained in his plans this time, and very deeply connected to him.

    That’s a lot for an eleven year old girl to handle I’d say!

  27. How did Draco know that Ginny send Harry that valentine?

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