The Heir of Slytherin

chapter seventeen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In the Chamber of Secrets, Harry meets Tom Riddle – and discovers that he, a memory of the boy who would grow up to be Lord Voldemort, has been enchanting Ginny and opening the Chamber. Then, as Riddle attacks, Fawkes comes to Harry’s rescue and helps him kill the Basilisk and then Riddle, and Harry and Ginny find Ron and Lockhart and retreat to safety.

The Chamber of Secrets, by MartinTenbones

And between the feet, facedown, lay a small, black-robed figure with flaming-red hair.


Enter Tom Riddle, by Tealin Raintree

A smile curled the corners of Riddle’s mouth. He continued to stare at Harry, twirling the wand idly.


Tom Riddle, by glockgal

“I’ve waited a long time for this, Harry Potter,” said Riddle. “For the chance to see you. To speak to you.”


Basilisk in the Chamber, by Laurence Peguy

Something was stirring inside the statue’s mouth.


Fawkes & the Basilisk, by odella

Fawkes was soaring around its head, and the basilisk was snapping furiously at him with fangs long and thin as sabers –

(by odella)


The Heir of Slytherin, by James J. Dunn aka JamusDu

A gleaming silver sword had appeared inside the hat, its handle glittering with rubies the size of eggs.


It's All Right, by Mudblood428

“It’s all right,” said Harry…. “Riddle’s finished.”


An extraordinary lightness seemed to spread through his whole body and the next second, in a rush of wings, they were flying upward through the pipe.

Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Lockhart by glockgal


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I’ve always wondered what’s going through Ron’s head during this chapter. He thinks his sister is dead, his best friend just went off alone to face a basilisk (a basilisk which might turn up for Ron as well), and I can’t imagine he doesn’t feel the shuddering when the basilisk enters the Chamber and falls dead. Harry gets a lot of attention for his bravery in defeating Riddle and the basilisk, and rightly so – but Ron deserves credit for his own bravery, too, staying put with terrible scenarios invading his mind, dealing with Lockhart, and working hard at clearing a path for Harry to come through if he ever returns. Given a choice, personally I’d almost rather be in Harry’s shoes than Ron’s.

Life at Hogwarts

There are plenty of arguments in defense of Salazar Slytherin, many of them valid. And perhaps he didn’t hate Muggles with the sort of racism that Voldemort’s followers display today, or intend for his basilisk to kill Muggle-born students. But when you consider the fact that he built the Chamber of Secrets… with a towering statue of his own head inside it… and put a basilisk inside a school…. well, let’s just say he had to be at least a little bit of an extremist.

The Boy Who Lived

For the rest of his childhood Harry will tell anyone who asks that he was able to kill the basilisk and Riddle because he was lucky, and because he had help. And to a certain extent, of course this is true – he’s facing quite possibly the most dangerous creature in the world and quite possibly the most dangerous wizard in the world all at once, at age twelve, without his wand (which he stupidly threw to the side). But a close reading shows that luck and help aren’t quite the full story. Fawkes only comes to help Harry when he shows his loyalty to Dumbledore; he’s smart enough to keep his eyes screwed shut when the basilisk arrives, though he certainly would be tempted to peek from time to time; he uses the sword at exactly the right moment; and he steps up to confront Riddle even when he’s entirely overmatched. There’s luck involved for sure, but there’s also a whole lot of loyalty, quick-thinking, and above all bravery to lead him in the right direction.

It’s also interesting to contrast Ginny’s reaction to all that has happened with Harry’s own response. Ginny’s concerned about many of the same things that worried Harry when he started at Hogwarts – worrying about being expelled, and what others will think of her, and so forth. Harry has come a long way in a year and a half though, where now he has twice willingly risked expulsion, once to save the wizarding world from Voldemort, and once to save Ginny. He’s only a year older, but his priorities have already shifted radically. And as Ginny grows, we’ll one day see the same sort of transformation take place in her.

Something to Remember

Tom Riddle’s diary is unlike any other magical object we’ve ever seen, or ever will see. Harry’s not old enough yet, or experienced enough in the wizarding world, to realize its uniqueness or its unbelievable power. However, Dumbledore will realize exactly what it was, and years down the road – when he’s ready to hear it – Harry will come to terms with its full meaning as well.

The Final Word

“What would have happened if Ginny had died and Tom Riddle had escaped the diary? …It would have strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably.”–J.K. Rowling,

36 Responses to “The Heir of Slytherin”

  1. Yay, I had been waiting for the new chapter. Thanks for putting it up. Very good comments! One small thing though: I’m not a native speaker, so I might not have read it correctly, but you wrote that Harry saved Voldemort from the wizarding world. Shouldn’t you put that the other way around?

    Okay, and here are again some questions that are going through my head or some things I have noticed:

    I was wondering exactly HOW Ginny opened the Chamber. How did that work? Harry used Parseltongue to open both entrances, but Ginny doesn’t speak it. And did Ginny actually go down there everytime? What’s the diary’s role in the opening? Can anyone shed some light?

    Ginny has been looking forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since Bill went. But Bill is 11 years older than Ginny. And since students start at Hogwarts when they are 11 years old, Ginny was just a baby then…

    Couldn’t Harry have tried to talk to the Basilisk? I’m not saying that if would actually have listened to him, but I still wonder how that would have played out.

  2. Kim, thanks for your response! Stupid mistake on the Voldemort thing, I’ll fix it now.

    As for how Ginny opened the Chamber, she was being possessed by Riddle through the diary. Because he was possessing her, he could force her to speak parseltongue (the same way he forces Harry to talk to Dumbledore when he possesses him in the Ministry in book 5).

    I’ve wondered about Harry talking to the basilisk, too. Seems it was at least worth a shot. But clearly it didn’t cross his mind.

    Oh, and yes… the Weasley ages are all kinds of screwy. Jo just messed up on that front.

  3. Josie, thanks for reminding me of the scene at the ministry.

  4. squee! Two new updates! It made me forget that my computer has crashed for almost 10 full minutes! anyway, on to the next one! Great work!
    x-kim (the other one:P)

  5. I’m definitely late with the comments :)
    I agree with the fact that Ron gets little credit for what he does. Harry is practically thrown into dangerous situations all the time. Yes, sometimes he looks for them, but it’s mostly a ‘kill or be killed’ kind of thing, if anyone understands me. Basically, Harry has very little choice. Ron does have a choice, though. He could easily walk away unharmed. But he doesn’t; he sticks by his friends and makes some huge sacrafices for them.

  6. It was stupid for Harry to throw aside his wand in his rush to help Ginny. However since he did, Riddle does not defeat Harry (ever) to get the wand. That may prove important to the final story.
    Isn,t Ginny’s reaction the longest run-on sentence in the entire series?

  7. They addressed the “Why doesn’t Harry speak to the Basilisk?” problem in the film version. Riddle says something like, “Don’t bother trying to talk to it Potter, it only obeys me.” I know the films aren’t canon, but this is a pretty good explanation, in my opinion.

  8. Sean, I think the film probably got it right in suggesting the basilisk wouldn’t have obeyed Harry. Still, Riddle never says that in the book so we can’t use it as a reason why Harry didn’t give it a go. I like to think that it just doesn’t occur to him, because he’s only ever done it unintentionally (not counting when he speaks to the images of the snake to gett into the chamber) so it’s not something he thinks of as part of his arsenal.

    Bill, I’d never noticed that before. Just think how differently everything could have turned out if Harry had kept hold of his wand and Riddle had wrestled it from him!

  9. I agree that Harry,Ron,and Hermione get thrown into this stuff and Proffesor Mcgonagal expresses that in the 6th movie after Katie is attacked by saying “why is it always you three.”

  10. Re: Something You May Not Have Noticed
    Thanks! I had never considered this whole event from Ron’s perspective before! It seems that Dumbledore does though… for in the next chapter he awards 200 points each to Harry & Ron. I’m so glad he recognizes Ron’s bravery!

  11. Why did Tom Riddle take Ginny into the chamber? Many people who are on Harry Potter forums thought that she was the Heir of Gryffindor,bringing up the feud between the two house founders. The obvious reason is that Ginny went into the chamber whilst under Tom’s control

  12. RE something you may not have noticed – that is a very, VERY good point. Ron is extremely brave. That’s why he’s a Gryffindor!

  13. Yep, it’s somehow easier to be the one doing something than just waiting around hoping that others complete tasks on which theirs and your life depend on…
    @Andrea I love how Dumbledore always understood how valuable the trio’s friendship is and that both Ron and Hermione are crucial to Harry’s success and character development.

  14. David Kenny, I always assumed that Riddle took Ginny into the Chamber because she was the only one he could control, since she was the one with the diary. It wasn’t Riddle’s decision whose hands it ended up in, it was Malfoy’s, so I doubt being an heir of Gryffindor has much to do with it.

  15. what would have happend if Fawkes’d have looked into the basilisk’s eye?
    would it have taken rebirth???
    hoow do you kill a pheonix?

  16. I know this discussion is old, but if anyone happens to know- about “The Final Word” – that quote was written pre-HBP, now, knowing what we know, how specifically would it have strengthened Voldemort? Would 16-year-old Tom Riddle regain a body and would there be two Voldemorts walking around?

  17. i know im really late on this discussion, but i just found this site on stumbleupon and i absolutely love it! i always wondered why Harry never took Ginny’s wand.. did she have it on her? or did Tom take it prior to Harry arriving? we later find out that the wand wouldn’t work out that well for Harry bcuz it’t not his, but at least to have something on him for protection would have been smart

  18. Double symbolism in this set-piece.

    (1) St George slays the dragon and so rescues the maiden who is fated to be his true love.

    (2) And a very different kind of hero destroys the power of the Devil (serpent).

  19. I like to think of the films as at least a little good for taking facts for the series. I mean, JKR works very closely with the filmmakers to make sure it comes out correctly. I mean, there’s always going to be that disappointment that it isn’t EXACTLY the way the books are written, but that’s why it says “based on the novel” not “copied directly from the novel” correct? I’m not saying I love every Harry Potter film, because there’s several I always get grumpy over when I watch them. I’m just saying, that maybe some parts of the films JKR uses to gloss over what she previously didn’t write into the books. Like Harry not trying to control the Basilisk. She realized that was a bit of a hole, and patched it over in the film. Simple as that.

  20. I’d never thought about what Ron was doing while Harry was in the Chamber of Secrets, that’s really interesting. There’s also a cruel side that you didn’t point out – even if there was a moment when Ron lost his nerve and wanted to leave, he didn’t have a way out. That must’ve been horrible…

  21. q, that’s a good point and one I hadn’t considered. For that matter, what would Ron have done if Harry *had* been killed by the basilisk? How long would he have waited? Then what? Would he have tried to follow Harry in, or leave? It’s a horrible thought.

  22. @David, Riddle tells Tom that he took Ginny because he knew that Harry would come looking for her in the the Chamber. Always playing the hero.

    @Grace has victory, interesting comment about St. George. Never thought of that before!

    Also, this chapter has one of my favorite quotes from the entire series: “Harry could hear Lockhart dangling below him, saying, ‘Amazing! Amazing! This is just like magic!'” (pg. 325 in my book)

  23. I have heard a lot of people profess that they are relatively not enamoured of Chamber of Secrets, compared to the other books, and that one reason is that the events within it are too similar to those in Philosopher’s Stone; it has been described as “more of the same”. However, I was rewatching CoS just now, and I was reminded of how I felt first reading it as a child in 1998 or thereabouts: in this book, unlike in PS, Harry is forced to confront an enemy which can kill just by him looking at it, so he has to severely incapacitate himself by closing his eyes, just to stand a chance. He also has to directly save someone else in the process, unlike last year. And then there’s the scenes beforehand, where the Weasleys and Harry are in shock over Ginny’s abduction, plus this is the first time H&R put wands to the head of an adult authority figure (Lockhart). These, then, are all reasons to consider CoS a progression from PS in terms of the characters’ growth, and a stopgap until next year when they will attack Snape, fight bureaucratic prejudice and learn their adult friends can be flawed people. I personally don’t have an unfavourite among the books, perhaps because I first read them at the ages 11-19 (although I can understand some of the reasoning behind those who do). On the “Sky Movies” channels, the film of Cos always seems to be the most commonly shown. I wonder why? Perhaps because it’s seen as the most “child-friendly” (whatever that means)/the one with the least emotionally ambiguous ending?

  24. A word on the Weasley ages, if it’s not been mentioned yet. I’m fairly certain it contradicts Word of God, but I’m willing to go by the book rather than by what JKR said outside of it, and what I agree with (based largely on the quote in PS about how Gryffindor haven’t won the QC since Charlie was at school, but also taking JKR’s statement of their birth dates as canon), is an interpretation I’ve read online somewhere: Bill born late 67, Hogwarts 79-86; Charlie born late 69, Hogwarts 81-8; Percy born summer 76; Hogwarts 87-94. And the rest is in-book history, except for the fact that apparently Ginny was born in August.

  25. i always thought that if riddle had succeeded, present day voldemort wouldnt’ve been too happy about it, there’s so much emphasis on him liking to ‘go it alone’, there wouldve been some rivalry surely!

  26. Riddle mentions that Hagrid was “trying to raise werewolf cubs under his bed”. Was this just something he said to represent what Hagrid got up to or was it true? If it was true how can there be werewolf cubs? Didn’t Lupin mention that Teddy was the first child of a werewolf? If they did have kids they would be children and not cubs. The only time they would be cubs would be if they were conceived during the full moon between two werewolves. Knowing what happens during the full moon I would say they would be more likely to fight than do anything else. It’s probably just a throwaway line but JKR must have know she was going to write about Lupin in the next book so she must have had ideas about werewolves and rules surrounding them.

  27. I’ve also been confused by the clone-Voldemort thing, if there would have been two of them or something, but I’ve always figured something along the lines of that Voldemort in Albania had some kind of connection to the Horcruxes, and once the diary Horcrux became stronger, that was where he was the most alive and the place where he put his energy, if that’s possible. I figured he would think coming back as sixteen year old Tom Riddle would be better than not coming back at all, and this was an attempt to regain a physical body, as he wants to in GoF. But, it seems JKR’s quote in “The Final Word” contradicts this theory, so I should probably just shut up.

  28. Amy, here’s a Rowling quote that references the werewolf cubs, from an online chat back in 2000:

    blaise_42 asks: In Chamber of Secrets, Hagrid is supposed to have raised werewolf cubs under his bed. Are these the same kind of werewolves as Professor Lupin?
    jkrowling_bn: no… Riddle was telling lies about Hagrid, just slandering him

    So it seems to me that they’re just made up – somebody else recently pointed out in another chapter that students can’t know much about werewolves as a rule, or Draco wouldn’t have been so scared of the forest being “full of” them when he did his detention there.

  29. Thanks for that Josie. I thought he was just making it up but it did make me stop and think. I think you’re right, students can’t know much about them. It just goes to show the prejudices that exist.

  30. Oh, and another thing. It’s quite interesting what big problems one single line in this chapter was to the translators, since Tom Riddle’s name had to become “I am Lord Voldemort” when the letters were moved around. In my Swedish edition they were never really able to make it work since the literal translation of “I am” would be “Jag är” in Swedish.
    Instead, the name of Tom Riddle is in the Swedish books changed into Tom Dolder, and the “I am”-phrase into Latin: “Ego sum Lord Voldemort”. And they threw in a line where Riddle is saying “that means “I am” in Latin, as you know”.
    “Dolder” is a name that they took from the word “dold” which in translation would be “hidden” – to try and keep the mysterious ring of “Riddle”, I presume. I can only imagine all the time the translators around the world spent trying to make this work :P

  31. * whoops, they actually changed his name into “Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder” to make this work with the Latin words.

  32. Wow, thank you Josie (is it ok if I call you by your first name?) You have just redeemed Ron in my mind. Ron was always a character that really annoyed me after book 4 and in book 7 I’d completely written him off. And now that I’ve been going through fanfiction like crazy Fanon “Ron the Deatheater!Stories” have been warping my mind. That one observation that you made in the beginning though really does prove Ron’s true character when you think about it. lol. Thank you.

  33. Re: Something to Remember. Indeed, Josie! Having Riddle pour his soul into Ginny because she trusted the diary so much made me remember something – Hermione saying that you cannot grow too attached with a Horcrux or else you’re in dead trouble. Lucky Harry is brave enough to go after Ginny and save her. :)

    I was also wondering how come the Riddle that came out of the diary hadn’t been wearing the ring he stole – the same one he made into a Horcrux.

    And then there’s the fact that as a sixteen-year old boy, Riddle had already turned the diary into a Horcrux – which means that he had already succeeded in killing someone (Murder is required to split part of your soul). I wonder if it was the murder of Myrtle which allowed him to turn the diary into a Horcrux…

    Re: Something You May Not Have Noticed: Nice commentary on Ron! It’s simply a proof that his character is growing more and more. :)

  34. Tom Riddle to Harry Potter: We even look something alike.

    Because they are related through the Peverells.

  35. Jeremy, that’s true, but we’re probably talking two thousand years of descent between Harry/Voldemort and the Peverells, their most recent common ancestor. That’s not a great reason for H&V to look alike – I’m more inclined to believe it’s either a coincidence or a consequence of the Horcrux. Good thinking though. :)

  36. I believe that should the sixteen year old Tom have succeeded, he would rejoin his original body. Like Voldemort would absorb his own soul or something.

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