Disclaimer – The world of Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling and various publishers. I make no claim to ownership.

A/N: Thanks to my beta Vettesr, and those kind enough to review.

Readers might have to re-read chapter 17 since I revised it Wednesday July 23 2008.

Chapter 18: The Chamber of Secrets

The first thing Harry and Hermione saw when they reached the bottom of the Chamber access was a pile of animal skeletons. Harry shuddered when he saw the size of some of them.

Harry! Those bones! The Basilisk must be huge to have eaten something that size.

We need a plan Hermione. We can't just barge in there. One look could kill us. Any ideas?

Well, aside from the sight problem, we also need a way to kill it. Our magic should be enough to do that. We just need a spell. What about the bludgeoning spell we practiced last month? Then there's a severing spell we found in a book in your parents vault.

Yeah, let's try for the bludgeoning spell first and then try to cut it's head off.

Wait! If we can blind it first… But how do we do that without seeing it?

We'll have to cast blind with our eyes closed.

But how will we know where to cast?

Umm… How about if we cast a real strong mist spell? It might prevent it from seeing us until it's too late. Cast it just above the floor while we crawl. That way we can at least see the creature. We have to keep an eye out for Ginny, otherwise I'd suggest a banishing spell. We'll have to hold hands for this, love.

Okay, let's work our way forward. This doesn't look like any kind of a chamber yet.

LOOK OUT! I SEE MOVEMENT! Harry exclaimed.

"Emily! And Neville! What are you two doing here? I thought I told you to alert Dumbledore!" Hermione exclaimed exasperatedly.

Emily had left the girls loo and encountered Neville. He had wondered where Harry and Hermione were since his two best friends had not shown up in the Gryffindor common room or in their new apartment. Worried, Neville had checked with McGonagall and then set out to look for them in their last seen place.

"Neville, Harry and Hermione are going after a Basilisk in the 2nd floor girls bathroom!" Emily exclaimed. "I didn't want to leave them, but they made me go and get the Headmaster."

"What's a Basilisk Emily"

"It's a really large poisonous snake that can kill with a look."

"We can't let them face a Basilisk alone, Emily!" Neville said. "Come on, we have to help."

"Um, Neville, you know that a Basilisk can kill with a single look, don't you?"

"But we have to help them! We'll wear blindfolds when we spot it and cast stunners at it. That should at least give Harry and Hermione time to kill it." Neville suggested.

"Stunners? Against a Basilisk? Somehow, I don't think that will do much, Neville."

"All we have to do is distract it, it doesn't matter if we hit it, as long as we give Harry and Hermione the distraction they need."

"Okay, here we are at the loo. Inside, quick, before someone sees us." Emily pushed. "Here's the entrance and it's still open. Harry opened it using Parseltongue."

"I'll go first, Emily and see if it's safe."

"I'm right behind you. Oooh, it's dark!"

Neville softly called "Lumos", and they descended by wand light.

"Look, there they are. Ugh, look at the skeletons! Some of them are really big. How big is a Basilisk anyway?" Neville asked.

"I'd say it's huge, judging by these bones. Bigger than a horse, at least."

"Harry, Hermione, we couldn't let you two face this alone!" Neville proclaimed.

"Nev, we really appreciate your help, but it's too dangerous for you two down here," Harry explained. "We figure the Basilisk must be at least sixty feet long, judging by the shed skin over there." Harry pointed to a huge snake skin off to the side of the cavern.

Emily and Neville gulped, real fear setting in for the first time.

"W-well we're down h-here now, we can help distract it while you deal with it," Neville stuttered nervously.

"Well, this cavern seems to be empty, at least. There's another door ahead. When we go through that, you two better not look until we cast a fog. Then cast the strongest stunners you know at head height. Be careful and you'd best do it blindfolded. If you accidentally look and see it's eyes…"

"We have to be careful we don't hit Ginny, remember," Hermione reminded them. "We don't know where she is in the Chamber."

Harry approached the locked door and saw that it was locked by a set of three snake like bolts. "OPEN", he hissed in Parseltongue. The snakes slithered out of the way and the door slowly opened.

Meanwhile, Albus and Minerva had accosted the DADA professor. "Gilderoy. Going somewhere?" Albus asked.

"Um, y-yes, have to go, so sorry, unavoidable, have to meet with…" he paused, trying and failing to think of a logical excuse.

"You're a fraud, aren't you?" Minerva exclaimed. "You really don't have a clue. I'll bet all those things you've written in your books are false!"

"Yes, well, about that… You see, nobody would buy my books if I told them that those things were really done by others. But I'm really good with memory charms." And he turned, wand out and was set to obliviate their memories, but Albus was much faster and stunned him.

"Get his wand Minerva, We'll hold him for the authorities. I'm sure a spell in Azkaban would be in order. I wonder if he's used that spell on any students? "Legilimens," Albus pointed his wand at Lockhart, sifting through his memories. "Oh dear, how disgusting! I'm afraid he's taken advantage of some of our female students. Floo call Amelia Bones at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and get an auror here to take him into custody. I think he will get the Dementors Kiss for what he's done!"

Minerva winced at that and hurried to make the call.

As they peered around the door, Harry noticed the chamber was quite large. No Basilisk was in sight. The greenish light that they noticed in the cavern was brighter here. It appeared to emanate from the walls, as if the walls were glowing. There also were stone statues of giant snakes on each side of the chamber. Looking around, Harry spotted a figure lying at the far end of the chamber. Behind the lone figure was a huge statue of a snake-like man. The eyes were large emeralds and the mouth was open. A dark cavern like hole lay behind the open mouth. Stone snakes were twisted in its hair. It gave Harry the shivers, seeming almost alive.

"Okay guys, I think it's safe to enter, but keep a sharp eye out for any movement. Ginny's lying at the far end of the cavern," Harry spoke.

Slipping through the door, they all gaped at the surreal fixtures in the chamber. Harry quickly made his way to the prone body of Ginny. Feeling for a pulse, he found a weak beat but when he tried to rouse her, she would not wake. She seemed to be clutching the diary.

A soft voice behind Harry spoke. "She won't wake, you know. The transfer of her essence to mine is almost complete."

Whipping around, Harry saw an almost solid shade of a young boy, perhaps in his teens. He was quite handsome, but had a hard cold look to his face.

Unnoticed by Harry and Hermione, their rings started pulsing with power.

"W-who are you?" Harry asked.

"Oh, you would know me as Lord Voldemort," sneered the shade.

"You're too young to be Voldemort and besides, he's dead," Harry answered.

"I was once Tom Marvolo Riddle, but I discarded that name when I made myself immortal. Tell me Harry Potter, how is it you are alive but I am but a shadow of my former self? Oh yes, I know all about you. That silly little girl Ginny has been writing about you all year. And who are your friends, hmm? Oh, the two girls must be the filthy Granger mudbloods, Hermione and Emily. Ah, and I see the only worthy pureblood here… Neville Longbottom, I believe. Yes, Ginny has told me all about you four. But where are the other two? Ron and Luna. Oh yes Ron was petrified, I forgot, but it doesn't matter, soon I will be very real and Ginny will be dead. Even now her life force is slipping away to make mine whole."

"You'll never have her!" Hermione, quickly, a banishing spell!

The spell, however, passed right through the shade.

Laughing, Tom called the Basilisk. "Come to me oh greatest of Slytherin's companions" Tom hissed in Parseltongue.

Harry spoke in Parseltonge as the great snake slithered out of the statue. "Attack the shade, oh mightiest of snakes."

"It obeys only me, you stupid boy. Only the heir of Slytherin can control it."

"Cover your eyes guys!" Harry exclaimed. Hermione, come here and hold my hands.

The golden shield formed around Harry and Hermione as they held hands. As the shield solidified, a strange intense purple glow emanated from the rings on their hands. Pouring all their power into the shield, it rapidly expanded, engulfing the snake and hurtling it head first, back into the wall with a sickening crunch. It's head smashed, the snake lay still.

Tom screamed, "No! You may have destroyed my pet, but in a few moments, it won't matter. Ginny will have given me life through the diary."

The diary, Harry! That's the secret. Destroy the diary!

Harry acioed the diary from Ginny. Pointing their wands at the diary, the four poured all their magic into the book in a single Incendio spell. The rings pulsed purple once again and Hary's and Hermione's wands shot an intense violet beam at the book.

Tom screamed as the book burst into flame, and as the ink leaked out, Ginny slowly regained consciousness. The shade that was Voldemort burst into flame and quickly disintegrated, screaming. Harry retrieved the smoldering diary, casting an auguamenti spell to finally extinguish it.

"H-Harry, Hermione, Neville, Emily! What happened?" Ginny cried. "I don't remember anything, except…"

At this, Ginny broke down completely, sobbing.

The four gathered around her, lifting her to her feet and hugged her, soothing her. "It's all right Ginny," they all whispered to her. "It's over, Tom's gone," Hermione continued.

Gathering together in the Hospital wing later, the four were seated by Ginny's bed as Madam Pomfrey checked over the distraught girl.

"I've given her a dreamless sleep potion, so you four may as well leave. She should sleep for two days to recover her strength," Madam Pomfrey told them.

The Headmaster approached them as they were leaving, asking them to accompany him to his office.

"Sherbert Lemon," the Headmaster spoke and the Gargoyle guarding the entrance to his office jumped aside and a circular moving staircase bore the group up to his office. Conjuring comfortable chairs, Albus bade them to sit and be comfortable.

"Now, Harry, perhaps you will fill this old man in on your group's exploits. I see you've rescued young Miss Weasley from certain death, but an explanation of your actions would be most helpful."

At this point, an enraged Molly Weasley floo called the Headmaster. "Albus, what has happened to my daughter? Percy owled that Ginny was taken by a monster! How could you allow…"

"Calm yourself Molly, she's safe. Young Harry and his group rescued her. Perhaps you would like to hear the story in person? I was just about to interview them."

"Can you open the floo for me and I'll be right there."

As soon as Mrs. Weasley arrived and settled, The Headmaster urged Harry to begin.

"Sir, Hermione and I saw the writing on the corridor wall and after a check, found Ginny missing. Hermione and I had worked out that the entrance to the chamber was somewhere in the girls bathroom on the second floor. In each case of people being petrified, there was a large quantity of water on the floor near that bathroom. The details of the petrification led Hermione to research that the likely culprit was a Basilisk."

Molly gasped at this. Evidently, she knew the powers of a Basilisk. "B-but surely you would be k-killed if you encountered it?"

Hermione continued the narration. "We couldn't let that stop us, Ginny was our friend! Harry and I determined that Moaning Myrtle might know something, so we questioned her. She said that a girl entered a hidden hole by the sinks, so Harry discovered the location and opened it."

Hermione continued, helped by Harry and related how Emily and Neville joined them and the encounter with Tom Riddle's shade and the Basilisk, ending in the rescue of Ginny.

"I'm deeply impressed by your actions, but I'm also disappointed that you chose to lead this rescue operation without consulting a teacher or myself. All of you could easily have been killed and no one would have ever found you. So, for your heroic actions, I'm awarding each of you a Special Award for service to the school. I'm also awarding points to Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, but each of you will serve a weeks detention with Professor McGonagall for disregarding school rules and for your serious lack of judgment."

Molly, who had remained open mouthed and astonished by this tale, jumped up and hugged each of the children, sobbing her gratitude for rescuing Ginny. "I can't begin to thank you all for saving Ginny," she wailed. "I'll be in your debt forever."

Recovering somewhat, she rounded on Dumbledore. "I want a word with you about the safety of the students here! Honestly! 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' and a Basilisk!"

Albus cringed under Molly's onslaught, but finally she left, promising further talks.

Dismissing Emily and Neville, The Headmaster was about to ask them more details, now that Mrs. Weasley and the others had left. A knock on the door and Lucius Malfoy and his House Elf Dobby, entered the office.

"So, Dumbledore, I was assured that the… 'problems' were solved." A glance at Harry and Hermione, told him not to pursue the actual details too far. After all, they were not supposed to know about the diary and how it worked. He was a bit surprised that everything seemed to be back to normal, however.

"Yes, Lucius," Albus replied. "These young students managed to solve the 'problem' as you so quaintly put it."

"And? Who was the culprit?" Lucius inquired.

"Voldemort again, although this time he worked through a diary. I'm sure the person who provided that diary, when discovered, will be unlikely to escape justice!" the Headmaster replied Dobby was glancing at Lucius and catching Harry's eye, tried to indicate who the true culprit was.

Harry and Hermione were quick to catch on. "Mr. Malfoy," Harry stated, "I believe it was you who placed that diary in Emily's books at Flourish and Blotts store."

Glaring at Harry and Hermione, Mr. Malfoy denied involvement. "That's a vicious lie and you would have a hard time convincing anyone of that!"

With that, Lucius left, shaking with anger; Dobby following close behind.

Seeing an opportunity, Harry asked the Headmaster if he could take the diary's remains. It's a little burnt, but is somewhat intact.

"Of course Harry, but I'd still like to speak with you "I'll be right back Professor."

Chasing after Mr. Malfoy, he confronted him. "I believe this belongs to you sir."

Lucius took the diary and passed it to Dobby. "I don't know what you're talking about! Your parents were meddlesome people too and look what happened to them."

Dobby took the diary, catching Harry's eyes indicating to him to open it. A sock fell out.

"Master has presented Dobby with clothes!" cried the elf. "Dobby is FREE!"

"WHAT? I didn't…" Spotting the sock, he yelled. "You've cost me my House Elf," and he drew his wand. He was starting to speak the killing curse when Harry's golden shield flared, throwing Lucius backward into the wall. He slid to the floor unconscious.

Harry returned to Dumbledore's office where he told Hermione and the Headmaster the details of his encounter with Mr. Malfoy.

"You've made a dangerous enemy, Harry. Mr. Malfoy will most likely attempt to get even. Beware of this man," Dumbledore warned.

After Harry and Hermione apprised the Headmaster of the details in the destruction of the diary and Riddle's shade, he dismissed them, allowing them to return to their apartment in the school.

Returning to the Gryffindor common room, Neville was greeted by the Weasley twins, Ron and Percy, demanding explanations. This took the better part of an hour, as the rest of the house wanted to hear the details as well.

In the Ravenclaw common room, her housemates similarly accosted Emily. Luna was particularly interested in the details.

"Emily, you realize that was really dangerous, what were you thinking."

"Luna! Ginny's our friend! How could I not be there for her!"

"I'm sorry Emily, of course you're right. I was just thinking how dangerous it was…"

"Luna, I hope you'd be there for me if I was in that situation!"

"Oh, Emily! Of course I would," Luna cried. "I-I don't want you to think that I wouldn't do anything to save you or Ginny. You two are my best friends. J-just b-be more careful next time."

The end of term exams started two weeks later, and all the students were nervous going into each exam. Hermione was convinced she did badly on all her exams. "Honestly, There were several questions that I'm sure I missed! What was I thinking? I'm sure I failed at least one subject!"

That got Ron's attention. "Hermione, what are you on about! Really! You do know that you are the most brilliant witch in this school! Hermione fail an exam? Not going to happen! Now me…"

"Will you two shut it! We're the top students, there is no way we could have failed. Hermione MAY only get 100 percent on some of her exams, but I'll bet a galleon that she's the top student again this year," Harry said energetically.

At the leaving feast the following week, Professor Dumbledore awarded the house cup. (Once again to Gryffindor, thanks to the efforts of the Quidditch team winning their closely fought final game). He presented Harry, Hermione, Neville and Emily with their special awards, without really explaining the details to the rest of the students. Most of the students already knew, however, since the Hogwarts gossip network was as efficient as ever.

Finally, the last day of school arrived, trunks were packed, goodbyes were exchanged and the students boarded for the ride home on the Hogwarts express.

Harry and Hermione claimed their usual seats at the end of the train and settled in for the ride back to King's Cross.

Sighing heavily, Hermione settled on Harry's lap, her arms around his neck. Harry, I know it's going to be hard this summer, but we have each other. We'll protect each other and your relatives had better behave!

I know we'll have to work it out somehow with my relatives. Uncle Vernon will be the hardest to convince. He's always the one to hate me the most.

They settled in and kissed until they were interrupted by Emily, Neville and Ginny entering their compartment. Ginny hadn't a chance to properly thank them since her rescue. Shyly she approached Harry and Hermione, stuttering her thanks.

"Y-you guys could have been killed saving me. I owe you my life, I was so stupid, reading that cursed diary." She looked down at the floor. "After awhile I c-couldn't help myself," she sobbed. "Tom possessed me and made me do things… evil things. Sometimes I would awake and not know where I'd been. There were hours missing from my memory. I don't even remember the last two days that T-Tom possessed me."

"Ginny," Hermione said softly, "It's not your fault. You just have to be more careful what you write in."

Neville sat between Emily and Ginny, undecided which one he liked best. Ginny was in his house and was fun and pretty. Emily was almost as pretty and was smart. He would have a hard time deciding, next term, but he wanted one to be his girlfriend. But just which one, he wasn't sure. He'd have to decide quickly, before someone else grabbed them.

The rest of the trip passed quietly, with Hermione dozing on Harry's lap, and Neville covertly glancing at Ginny and Emily.

END Part 2