There was Quidditch practice that night. Ginny Weasley had ached to play the sport since she was four years old and her older brothers had informed her that the Quidditch pitch was no place for such a tiny girl like her. However, even the thought of her hero, Harry Potter, flying that night with her twin brothers on the Hogwarts pitch couldn’t distract Ginny from the daunting task that lay ahead of her.
It had all begun on Valentine’s Day when Draco Malfoy had teased Harry in the corridor, flaunting the little black book in front of the Gryffindor’s face. Ginny had watched in complete horror as Harry had angrily whipped out his wand and shot a spell at Malfoy, sending the diary flying into Harry’s outstretched hand. Ginny Weasley was far too familiar with that diary. The innocent-looking black book belonged to Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Ginny had discovered the diary jammed into an old book purchased at Flourish and Blott’s before the school year had started. She had already been feeling thoroughly embarrassed, standing next to the famous Boy-Who-Lived with her ragged second-hand book. And then, when the Weasleys and Harry returned to the Burrow, Ginny had discovered the thin diary, blending in perfectly with her used books. She had no idea where the book had come from or how it had made its way between the pages of A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration. At first, Ginny had been extremely wary of the book, remembering her father’s tale about the hag in Bath who hadn’t been able to put down a cursed book. However, when she had tried everything she could think of and the book still hadn’t cursed her, shot ink at her, bitten her nose or attacked her in any way, Ginny forgot about the little black book. It was only when her mother had scribbled part of a grocery list on one of its pages that Ginny discovered how it worked.
Mrs. Weasley had jotted down a note, and then turned back to cooking breakfast. Ginny watched in amazement as her mother’s messy scrawl vanished before her eyes. Ginny, making sure that no one was looking her way, had quickly slipped the book under her jumper and ran up to her room . She spent the whole afternoon penning to whom, she quickly learned, was the diary’s previous owner, Tom Marvolo Riddle. Tom was very interested in everything about her, something that had never happened to little Ginny Weasley before. With six brothers, special treatment was hard to come by, but Tom provided all the attention Ginny could ever want. He flattered her and made her laugh; he eagerly produced new insults that fit Percy’s pompousness perfectly; invented wonderful pranks that left even Fred and George stunned and gaping; and most sympathetically comforted Ginny after each of the many embarrassing encounters with her brother Ron’s best friend, the great Harry Potter, who was staying with the Weasleys over the summer. Tom became the best friend that Ginny had ever had.
However, the excitement of befriending the entertaining Tom Riddle quickly vanished once she started her first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Tom began the year by telling her all about the secret passageways he had found during his seven years at Hogwarts; Ginny had a jolly time exploring the castle and telling Tom of her various adventures. Despite all of the fun she and Tom were having, Ginny began finding herself in the strangest spots. One night before supper, she was walking back across the grounds to the warm castle, deep in thought, almost trance-like. She had roused herself to pull her cloak closer to her body, for it was growing cold as the night quickly overtook Hogwarts. She pulled her hands away from the fastenings of her cloak to find them covered in feathers that looked as though they had belonged to a chicken. Bewildered, she looked around for some explanation. The light in the window of Hagrid’s hut caught her eye. Her mind was put at ease instantly: she had been returning from visiting Hagrid, and he had probably been preparing his dinner of chicken and stuffing. Ginny reckoned that she had probably caught a few stray feathers on her cloak, and wrote off the incident as nothing. A few weeks later on Halloween, when Mrs. Norris, the caretaker’s cat, was found Petrified, Ginny had no memory of what she herself had been doing. The entire school was twittering about Hermione Granger and her brother Ron being found with Harry Potter at the scene of the crime, but Ginny couldn’t remember where she had been.
I think I’m losing my memory, Tom, she wrote in her diary. I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I’ve got paint all down my front…
Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick were attacked next. Ginny became frantic. I think I’m going mad, Tom, she scribbled in her diary, her hand shaking from fear. There was another attack today and I can’t remember where I was then. I think I’m the one attacking people, Tom! The truth had come out then. Tom told her all about the Chamber of Secrets, and that he was the heir of Salazar Slytherin.
And you’ve been my assistant, he had written. Don’t you feel pleased that you have helped to achieve Salazar Slytherin’s noble dream?
It did not take a lot of thought for Ginny Weasley to realize that the diary must be destroyed. She tried every destructive thing she could think of: lighting it on fire, Banishing it, shredding it with a newly-learned Cutting charm; she even tried slipping it in a flaming cauldronful of incredibly potent Insect-Repelling Solution during Potions, which only succeeded in earning her a detention from Snape and a badly stained sleeve. Nothing she tried seemed to harm the diary. Getting desperate, she finally flushed the book down an out-of-order loo on the third floor. As soon as it disappeared down the toilet, she bolted.
Ginny had just begun to breathe a little easier when the diary had appeared out of Harry Potter’s torn school bag on Valentine’s Day. Since then, Ginny had been filled with such a dreadful sense of foreboding: It was only a matter of time before clever Harry Potter and his friends figured out the magic of the diary. Ginny knew what she must do: nick the book back before Tom could tell Harry it was she who had opened the Chamber of Secrets.
Ginny had been waiting for the moment when all of the second-year boys were away from the dormitory. She sighed, frustrated, from her position across from the staircase as Neville Longbottom went up and her brother came down, a chessboard under his arm. He joined Hermione Granger by the fireplace. They had just begun to play when Neville returned with a book. He joined Ron and Hermione and opened his book. Ginny waited a moment until she was sure they and all the other occupants of the Gryffindor common room were occupied, and then snuck carefully toward the stairs. She quietly shut the door behind her and peered around the room.
What a mess. She was able to pick out Harry’s four-poster bed immediately. Thrown at the foot of the bed was a hand knitted jumper emblazoned with a large letter “H,” the emerald one Mrs. Weasley had given Harry for Christmas. At first, Ginny tried to keep everything as neat as possible, not wanting to give her hero cause to worry. After ten minutes had passed and Ginny still had not found Tom Riddle’s diary, she decided to throw all caution to the winds. She stopped abruptly as she heard footsteps. She dove behind Harry’s bed and out of sight just as the door opened. Dean Thomas entered the dormitory and stopped at the first bed, rummaging in his trunk for something.
“Aha!” he exclaimed triumphantly as he pulled out a pack of Exploding Snap cards. He left the room and Ginny, relieved, let out the breath she had been holding. As she rose to begin her search again, she saw, to her alarm, seven red shapes making their way toward the castle from the Quidditch pitch.
“Oh, no,” she moaned aloud. She desperately began tossing Harry’s belongings from his school trunk, ripping the pocket of a pair of robes in the process.
Sorry, Harry, she thought distractedly, plunging her hand into a corner of the trunk. “Yes!” she whispered victoriously as she pulled the thin black diary from under a pile of dirty socks. She stuffed it in a pocket of her robes and descended the stone staircase as fast as she dared. She plopped herself into a chair directly across from the portrait hole, trying to catch her breath and look as unconcerned and innocent as possible. She picked up an abandoned book and waited.
She didn’t have long to wait. Ginny heard Neville saying something about Transfiguration homework and he again took off for the dormitory. A minute later, Harry entered through the Fat Lady’s portrait, crossed the room and ascended the stairs. She heard Neville say frantically from the top of the staircase, “Harry—I don’t know who did it—I just found--”
Panicking slightly, Ginny jumped up from her chair, letting the book fall to the floor. She clutched Tom’s diary through the front of her robes as she hurried off to the library.
Ginny couldn’t eat. Tom was worrying her sick. After she had taken the diary back from Harry, Tom had reprimanded her most severely.
Ginny, it’s been so long since we’ve talked, he wrote. You’ve been such a naughty girl, he scolded her mockingly, trying to flush my diary down the toilet. Didn’t anyone teach you to play carefully with others’ possessions?
Tom, what did you tell Harry? You didn’t tell him about the Chamber of Secrets, did you? Ginny had scribbled in a panic.
Of course I did, the diary wrote back matter-of-factly. Harry was most eager to learn everything…
Since then, Tom had been egging on her fears, telling her that soon Harry would tell a teacher or the Headmaster that Ginny had opened the Chamber.
Harry Potter is a good boy, Tom had mocked earlier in the day. He will have you expelled soon, especially since his friend the Mudblood was attacked.
Ginny moaned in despair while Tom wrote a new message.
Never fear, Ginny. Your suffering is about to come to an end.
What do you mean, Tom? Ginny wrote back, alarmed.
I mean that it is now time to complete Salazar Slytherin’s work. I’ve lured Harry Potter right into a trap. He just needs a prod in the right direction.
What are you going to do, Tom? Don’t hurt Harry!
Not quite yet, foolish girl. What do you think will happen to the boy who supposedly defeated Lord Voldemort if his best friend is killed?
NO, Tom! Don’t you dare touch Ron!
You seem to forget who is in control, Ginny, wrote Tom threateningly.
No, you can’t make me do it, Tom! I won’t let you do this!
I have the power, Ginny!
“I won’t!” Ginny shouted out loud.
You foolish girl. It is far too late for protests. I think you must be punished for your insolence. Youwill pay….It is time to unleash Slytherin’s monster once more!
Before Ginny could even move, a glowing mist, thicker than the densest fog, emerged from Tom Riddle’s diary. Like a magnet, it latched onto the form of Ginny Weasley, passing ghostlike through her skin. Ginny slumped forward, unconscious, her mouth opened in a silent scream. A moment passed in which nothing seemed to move. Suddenly, Ginny’s eyes opened, their usual brown laced with a poisonous red. Stiffly, as one unaccustomed to her own limbs, she rose from the chair, the black diary clutched in one hand. She walked purposefully out of the library and into the girls’ lavatory on the third floor. As she approached the second sink, words issued from her mouth in a low hiss, and the cracked sink opened to form a long, dark tunnel. From within the youngest Weasley, Tom Riddle laughed jubilantly as Ginny stepped forward and entered the passageway, falling down into the Chamber of Secrets once more.