Meadow waved him off, "I think I know how to handle myself." She winked at him before jumping into the pipe. Hearing him yell at her as she slid down the endless, slimy, pitch-black slide. She heard the next person duck into the pipe and then Weasley's yells as the two boys thudded behind her as they hit the curves.
Chapter Thirty-two: The Chamber Revealed
Meadow shot out of the pipe and came to a stop, standing up before getting plowed over by Harry. She fell on top of him with a yelp. Harry's arms wrapped out Meadow as a reaction, "I'm so sorry, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Meadow replied, as she steadied herself when she stood up, and pulled Harry up after her. She smoothed out her skirt and the two jumped out of the way as Ron Weasley whizzed out of the pipe. Meadow looked down at the ground and saw they were all standing on small animal bones, her stomach dropped as she thought about little Ginny Weasley.
"Lumos!" Harry muttered and his wand lit up, showing a dark tunnel ahead, "C'mon, we have to find Ginny." He said and marched forward, his feet slapping the water that was on the floor.
Meadow stuck close behind Harry, her heart was thudding in her chest, and she wondered if she was the only one felling nervous. "Remember, any sign of movement, close your eyes right away," Harry whispered, but it was still loud in the silent tunnel.
"Harry—there's something up there—" Weasley said, and coughed before grabbing both Harry and Meadow's shoulder.
Meadow's body froze as she saw a large, curving outline of something, her heart sped up as Harry lifted his wand high to see what it was. Very slowly the three preteens looked at the lit up snake body. It was a snake skin, and Meadow relaxed slightly and opened her eyes wider. It was at least twenty feet long and four feet wide, it was a poisonous green color, almost the same green as Slytherin's house color.
Sudden movement behind them had Meadow whip around with her wand in her hand; Gilderoy Lockhart's knees gave out from under him. "Get up," Weasley said as he pointed his Spellotaped wand at the professor.
Meadow rolled her eyes and put her wand away, of course Lockhart had to be dramatic about everything. The DADA professor got up slowly and then dived at Weasley, wrestling the wand away from the second year.
"The adventure ends here, kids!" Lockhart said as he straightened up. "I shall take a bit of this skin back up to the school, tell them I was too late to save the girl, and that you three tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body—say goodbye to your memories!" Lockhart raised the broken want up high, "Obliviate!"
Meadow braced herself for the impact of the spell, however, the wand exploded with such a force Lockhart was thrown backward into the rock wall. Harry's hand grabbed Meadow and the two ran forward into the dark tunnel to avoid getting squashed by the rocks that were shook free from the ceiling. Meadow slipped on the snake skin and dragged Harry to the ground, she forced herself to cover his head with her arms.
As soon as it all started the falling rocks stopped, Meadow and Harry looked up to see a solid wall of broken rock blocking Weasley from helping them, and the way back to the bathroom and Hogwarts.
"Ron!" Harry shouted, "Are you okay?"
"I'm alive," the redhead shouted, his voice was muffled from the way. "I'm okay—this git's not, thought—he got hit with the spell."
"Hello there," Meadow heard a very soft voice of Gilderoy Lockhart, "Who are you? Is this your home? Lovely place isn't it?"
There was a thud and a loud "ow!" it was as though Weasley did something to knock Lockhart out again.
"Now what?" Weasley asked, "We can't get through—it'll take ages…"
Meadow and Harry took a look at the ceiling, there were large gashes in it. "It wouldn't be good to try and break the rocks with magic, it might cave all the way in," Meadow muttered to him. "We're wasting time here, Ginny Weasley is dying."
Harry nodded, "Wait there, we'll go on… Hopefully Shane gets back soon for you and Lockhart."
There was a pause before Weasley spoke up again, "I'll try and shift some of this rock… Be careful you two."
Meadow smiled slightly, since their extra potions lessons, the two had been getting along a lot better. "We'll see you in a bit, and Ginny will be fine," the young Snape replied, hoping her voice didn't shake. And with that, the Slytherin and Gryffindor set off towards the pitch black tunnel. Meadow lit her wand, and the noise of Weasley shifting the rocks soon set into the silence. The further they walked into the tunnel the higher Meadow's nerves got, making her palms sweat, her teeth chatter, and her body send little twitches every so often. At last the two came to a solid wall where two snakes were carved into the metal entwined within each other. They had emeralds as eyes, and Meadow watched at Harry stepped forward and hissed at it.
The serpents parted as the wall cracked open and slid out of sight. The walls did the same, Harry looked at Meadow before he climbed the ladder and disappeared from sight. Her breath caught in her chest as she too entered through the door.
Meadow dropped down and saw Harry's face of awe, she followed his stare and saw a dimly lit chamber that had stone pillars carved with entwined serpents as they rose lost in the dark ceiling. They pulled out their wands and moved slowly forward, worried that the basilisk would be lurking behind a pillar or in a shadow. Harry was twitching at every snake pillar they passed, just waiting for Slytherin's Monster to come out and attack.
As the two reached the last two snake pillars, the gloomy, somewhat green tinged Chamber came into view, there was a giant face above them, ancient and also green tinted. It had a long, think beard that fell into a pond below it. Next to the water was a small, black-robed figure with the famous Weasley red hair.
"Ginny!" Harry muttered and sprinted over to her, Meadow hung back, she was nervous, something didn't feel right about this place.
"Harry…" Meadow whispered, but her friend was too busy shaking Ginny Weasley, who was very limp in Harry's arms.
It was then Meadow spotted a black-haired boy step out from behind one of the pillars. "She won't wake." Meadow's eyes widened as he grinned lazily at her. "So, a fellow Slytherin came in to help finish her off."
"I don't know what—"
"Tom—Tom Riddle?" Harry cut her off, and the older boy nodded. "What d'you mean she won't wake? She's not—she's not—?"
"She's still alive," Riddle replied and Meadow narrowed her eyes at him, so this was the infamous Tom Riddle from the diary, the one who showed Harry that Hagrid was to blame before. Riddle's body was slightly shimmering, like a strange misty light surrounded him, "But only just."
"Are you a ghost?" Harry asked and glanced at Meadow, who shrugged.
"A memory, preserved in a diary for fifty years," Riddle said quietly, he pointed towards Ginny, who had clasped the diary in her hands.
Harry looked at it, almost questioning why Ginny had it. "You've got to help me, Tom," he said and hoisted Ginny up to an almost standing position. "We've got to get her out of here. There's a basilisk… I don't know where… could be here any moment… Please, help me—" He said and looked for his wand.
Little did Harry know, Riddle had taken it and put Meadow into a choke-hold with Harry's wand pointed at her throat. "Now, now, Harry Potter. No need to be in such a haste. It won't come until it's called," Riddle said calmly.
"What d'you mean?" Harry asked and looked up, seeing Meadow in his grasp. "Give me my wand, Tom."
"You won't be needing it," Riddle replied, "Besides, I can't have this one helping you out. I have, after all, waited a long time for this, Harry Potter. For the chance to see you. To speak to you."
"Harry—" Meadow started but Riddle slapped a hand over her mouth, it was a weird feeling. Riddle wasn't fully formed, he was still a memory in the process of becoming human; his hand was soft, although he had been rough with her.
"No talking from you, this is a boy's only conversation," Riddle muttered to Meadow and her eyes widened as she sucked a breath in through her nose.
"We can talk later," Harry said and hoisted Ginny up again.
"We're going to talk now," the older boy said, smiling, and Meadow saw that something in Harry's head clicked.
"How did Ginny get like this?"
Riddle smiled smugly, "Well, that is an interesting question. And quite the long story. Little Ginny Weasley poured her heart and spilled all her secrets into an invisible stranger."
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked and lowered Ginny to the ground, seeing that the conversation was going to be drawn out.
"The diary, my diary. Little Ginny's been writing in it for monnths and months, telling me all her pitiful worries and woes. How her brothers tease her, how she was in secondhand everything, how embarrassing it was, and how she didn't think famous, good, great Harry Potter would ever like her…" Riddle said as his eyes bore into Harry's. "It was quite boring to listen to the silly troubles of an eleven-year-old girl. But I was patient. I wrote back; I was sympathetic and kind. Ginny loved me. No one's ever understood me like you, Tom… I'm so glad I've got this diary to confide in… It's like having a friend I can carry around in my pocket…"
Riddle laughed, it was high and cold, something that didn't suit a handsome face like his. Meadow fought slightly in his grasp, but he poked the wand into the side of her neck, making her pale and stop struggling. His skin was warm, but too cold to be human just yet, it made Meadow feel uneasy and her hair stand up.
"If I say it myself, Harry, I've always been able to charm the people I needed to. So Ginny poured out her soul into me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted… I grew stronger, she grew weaker, the more she told me her deepest fears and darkest secrets. As Ginny kept telling me these things, I started to pour my soul into her, as I grew far more powerful than Miss Weasley."
"What d'you mean?" Harry asked, and Meadow rolled her eyes.
"Haven't you guessed yet, Harry Potter?" Riddle said softly, as if he was talking to a child. "Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber of Secrets. She strangled the school roosters and wrote the messages on the walls. She set the Serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods, and the Squib's cat."
"Yes." Riddle replied smiling. "Of course, she didn't know what she was doing. It was very amusing at first. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries… far more interesting… Dear Tom, I think I'm losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don't know how they got there. Dear Tom, 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. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I'm pale and I'm not myself. I think he suspects me… There was another attack today and I don't know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I'm going made… I think I'm the one attacking everyone, Tom!" Riddle laughed again, "It took a very long time for Ginny to stop trusting her diary. She finally became suspicious and tried to dispose of it. That's when you found it, Harry. I couldn't have been more delighted. You were the one to pick it up, the very person I was most anxious to meet…"
"And why did you want to meet me?" Harry demanded.
"Well, you see, Ginny told me all about you. Your whole fascinating history. I knew I must find out more about you, talk to you, meet you if I could. So I decided to show you my famous capture of that great oaf, Hagrid, to gain your trust—"
"Hagrid's my friend!" Harry said, but his voice was shaking. "And you framed him, didn't you? I thought you made a mistake, but—"
Riddle laughed again, high and cold. "It was my word against Hagrid's! And that blundering oaf had a horrible record anyways, always taking care of beasts, and I on the other hand, poor and parentless, yet brilliant and brave, a school prefect, model student… who would you have sided with? I was a bit surprised how well that plan worked. I thought someone must realize that Hagrid couldn't possibly be the Heir of Slytherin. It had taken me five whole years to find out everything I could about the Chambeer and discover the secret entrance… as though Hagrid had the brains or the power.
"Only the Transfiguration teacher, Dumbledore, seemed to think Hagrid was innocent. He persuaded Dippet to keep Hagrid and train him as gamekeeper. Yes, I think Dumbledore might have guessed… Dumbledore never seemed to like me as much as the other teachers did…"
"I bet Dumbledore saw right through you," Harry said, his teeth clenched and hands balled into fists so tightly his knuckles were white.
"Well, he did keep an annoyingly close eye on me after Hagrid was expelled. I knew it wouldn't be safe to open the Chamber again while I was still at school. But I wasn't going to waste those long years of me researching for it. I decided to leave behind a diary, preserving my sixteen-year-old self in its pages, so that one day, with luck, I would be able to lead another in my footsteps, and finish Salazar Slytherin's noble work."
"You haven't finished it yet. No one's died this time, not even the cat. In a few hours—" As Harry continued to speak Meadow took the time to stomp on Riddle's almost fully-formed foot. He cried out in pain and surprise, Meadow wrenched free from his grasp and whipped out her wand.
"You're the one who forced Ginny to do all those things, write her own farewell on the wall. Once she poured enough of her soul into your stupid diary, her soul was taken over by your soul, and well she's almost dead, you become stronger, and more human-like. When you will never be human. When you left a piece of your soul into that diary, it was for your own protection. It was so that you could live longer, become almost immortal, but here's where you went wrong. Your diary will be destroyed tonight, this piece of your soul will be gone, and you will no longer be as immortal as you think you're real person will be—"
"What a clever witch you are, much smarter than Miss Weasley," Riddle said with a smile. "And who are you?"
"Meadow Snape," she replied and shuffled into a better stance for dwelling.
"Well, Meadow Snape, you are much too clever for Harry Potter, you'd spill all my secrets out to him. And I can't have that," Riddle smiled as he pointed Harry's wand at her, but he looked at Harry. "I knew you'd come, I have so many questions for you."
"Like what?" Harry spat.
"Well, how is it that you—a skiny boy with no extraordinary magical talent, managed to defeat the greatest wizard of all time? How did you escape with nothing but a scar, while Lord Voldemort's powers were destroyed?"
A red gleam took shape in Riddle's brown eyes. "It was because of love, Tom Riddle," Meadow said, trying to get the attention back on her, deep down, she knew Harry couldn't die, not until after the real Voldemort was dead. "Besides, Voldemort was after your time—"
"Voldemort, is my past, present, and future," Riddle smirked at Meadow before removed the wand from her heart and traced letters into the air, writing three words:
TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE
He waved the wand and the name was rearranged into:
I AM LORD VOLDEMORT
"You see? It was a name I was already using at Hogwarts, my most intimate friends only, of course. But I would never keep using my filthy Muggle father's name forever. I have the blood of Salazar Slytherin, himself, run through my own veins. Why would I keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me ever before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch? No, I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
"I wouldn't have said that if I were you," Meadow said coldly, sneering at the older boy.
"You're not," Harry said his voice was dark.
"Not what?" Riddle snapped.
"Not the greatest sorcerer in the world," Harry replied, "Sorry to disappoint, but you will never be the greatest sorcerer in the world. Albus Dumbledore is the greatest sorcerer in the world. Everyone says so. Even when you were strong, you didn't dare try and take over at Hogwarts. Dumbledore saw through you when you were at school and he still frightens you now, wherever you're hiding these days—"
"Dumbledore's been driven out of this castle by the mere memory of me!"
"He's not as gone as you might think!" Harry retorted loudly. Meadow took the opportunity to try and disarm Riddle.
As the red light burst from her wand, Riddle knocked the spell out of the way with a wave of Harry's wand. Music was coming from somewhere, but the two Slytherins kept fighting, Meadow throwing disarming spell after disarming spell to get the wand away from Riddle.
"That's enough!" Riddle yelled, "Avada Kedavra!" The green unforgivable shot towards Meadow and hit her right in the chest, where her heart lay.
The air in Meadow's lungs was forced out and her black eyes widened, she saw Harry's mouth open yelling something. And everything went black and her body hit the ground like a rag doll.
She woke to find herself in a grassy field. Meadow sat up and rubbed her forehead slightly, she tried to get rid of the pain that was there. She looked up to see a dark figure rise above her. "Where am I?" She asked it.
"A place you think the dead would be," the figure said in a male voice. "You do not belong here just yet."
"What do you mean? I got hit with the killing curse," Meadow whispered and tears sprang into her eyes.
The man grunted, "Yes, however, it is not your time yet. You still have many things to accomplish."
"I don't understand…" she muttered, "Who are you?"
"I am Death," he said, "Although in the wizarding world, I do not always have the last say on when people die, I do have rule over you for today."
Meadow's eyebrows furled, "I still… don't understand." She stood up with the help of the cloaked man. "Avada Kedavra is the ultimate killing curse, everyone dies after being hit with that. Of course, Harry is the exception, he had the protection of an old type of magic, a sacrifice of love to protect him. I didn't have that. I am dead."
"I suppose if you want to stay here you can, it is the choice you have every day. However, this is also an exception." Death replied as he took her by the shoulder to show her the opposite side, where her body was laid next to the water. Harry was fighting the basilisk with a sword, running around the Chamber to avoid getting killed.
"Harry…" Meadow's heart ached. "How come my death is an exception? Isn't there some sort of rule that you have in place that once you are dead you are dead or a ghost?"
Death chuckled, "Something like that. But you see, you are different because you were hit with the killing curse of a memory."
The two watched as Harry stabbed the basilisk in the mouth and up through the brain. The serpent let out a loud and long scream, but when it fell sideways onto the ground, in Harry's arm was a single, long fang. "Oh Merlin's beard," Death said and held his hand out in front of him. Suddenly, a phoenix appeared, "They're tears have healing powers, and that one is Dumbledore's bird, it went to the Chamber because of Harry's strong loyalty to the Headmaster as well as Hogwarts. That should heal him right up." Death turned to Meadow, "Since it was a memory that killed you, if Harry Potter here figures out how to kill the memory, you will have no choice but to go back to your body."
"I still don't understand, how could I still be alive?" Meadow said.
Death grinned at her, "Life and death are funny things. However, you weren't killed by a real person—well you were, but only a fragment of that person, therefore, you weren't killed by the person, himself. Which is why you will be forced back into your body in about a minute."
"So I'm not dead?" Meadow asked raising her eyebrows in disbelief.
"No, not yet," Death replied, "You are in the in between, everyone is here for about twenty minutes in case you are revived. You're mother was here, such a delightful woman. Unfortunately, she is now stuck in her own mind. A different unforgivable was used on her, crucio, it does weird things. Now, she has to figure out how to unlock her brain to her body."
"I'm so confused," Meadow muttered and grabbed her head, it was too much information.
Death clapped her on the back, "Don't worry about it too much," he winked at her. "It looks like you are going back to your body."
Meadow glanced down at the Chamber scene, Harry had picked the fang out of his arm and stabbed the diary with it. "How can I thank you?" Meadow yelled at Death, who just waved from under his cloak, as Meadow's spirit collided with her body.
Meadow took a gasp of air, and sat up. "Meadow!" Harry cried and he flung himself at her.
"Hi, Harry," she whispered, her voice was hoarse, probably from being somewhat dead for a while.
"I thought you were dead," her Gryffindor friend said.
"So did I," she hugged Harry, she opened her eyes to see Ginny stirring. "Let's keep this between us," Meadow said and the two let go. Harry nodded and crawled over to the youngest Weasley.
Ginny took one look at the dead snake, Harry's blood-soaked robes, and started bawling, "Oh Harry—I tried to tell you at b-breakfast, but I c-couldn't say it in front of Percy—it was me, Harry—but I—I s-sear I d-didn't mean to—Riddle made me, he t-took me over—and-how did you kill that—that thing? W-where's Riddle? The last thing I r-remember is him coming out of the diary—"
"It's alright," Harry said and held up the diary, "Riddle and the basilisk are finished. C'mon, we need to leave—"
"You!" Ginny squeaked as Meadow stood up and groaned, holding her head.
"It's okay! She helped us find you," Harry said and helped Ginny to her feet.
"Snape!" Ginny said and hobbled over to Meadow, "I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry about my brother Ronald. He doesn't understand that not all people are like the family or houses they're put into."
Meadow snorted and smiled slightly, "It's okay, I don't blame you, or Fred and George, or Percy, or your parents for how Ronald acts. Besides, we've actually haven't gotten into too many fights lately."
Ginny nodded and allowed Harry and Meadow to put an arm around her as the three walked back towards Ron Weasley and Gilderoy Lockhart. Ginny was crying even harder as she heard the sound of slowly shifting rock ahead of them.
"Ron!" Harry yelled, "Everything's okay! Ginny's okay!"
The redhead gave a whoop of joy and the three saw his face, he reached an arm through the gap and pulled his sister though first. "You're alive! I don't believe it! What happened? How—what—where did that bird come from?"
Fawkes the Phoenix had swooped through the gap after Ginny. "He's Dumbledore's," Harry said as he helped Meadow through the gap before following her.
"How come you've got a sward?" Weasley asked, gaping at the glittering weapon in Harry's hand.
"Later," Harry said, "Where's Lockhart?"
"Back there," Weasley said and jerked a thumb towards the room where they first entered from the pipes. "His memory's gone. Doesn't remember who is is, where he is, who we are… The Memory Charm backfired. He's a danger to himself."
Fawkes led the way towards the dirty professor, "Hello there! Odd sort of place, this, isn't it? Do you live here?"
"No," Weasley responded giving Harry and Meadow an 'I told you so' kind of look.
"Have you thought about how we're going to get back up this?" Harry asked and Weasley shook his head. Fawkes hovered in front of Harry and wiggled his tail feathers at him.
"He looks like he wants you to grab hold, but you're much too heavy for a bird—" Weasley said, cutting short and shaking his head.
"Fawkes, isn't an ordinary bird," Harry said and nodded at the bird. "Okay, everyone hold hands, Fawkes is going to pull us back up through the pipe. Meadow, grab my robes; Ginny grab Ron's hand; Ron, you hold Meadow's; Professor—"
Ron nudged Lockhart with a foot, "He means you."
"—Hold on to Ginny's other hand," Harry said and tucked the sword and Sorting Hat into his belt. Meadow wrapped an arm around Harry's waist and grabbed a handful of his torn sweater, she grabbed Weasley's hand before any fuss could break out. Weasley grabbed his younger sister's hand, and Ginny grabbed Lockhart's hand.
With that, Fawkes took off back up the pipe. Meadow snorted as she heard Lockhart yell, "Amazing! Amazing! This is just like magic!" With the trill of being in the air gone as soon as it started, the five dropped to the bathroom floor. Meadow dropped hold of Harry and Weasley and grabbed her head as she curled up into a ball. The effects of being dead and forced back into her body still lingered.
Moaning Myrtle goggled at them as the marble sinks fit back into place. "You're alive," She said to Harry.
"No need to be so disappointed," Harry replied, wiping blood and slime off his glasses.
"Oh, well… I'd just been thinking… if you did die, you'd been welcome to share my toilet," Myrtle said, blushing silver.
"Urgh!" Weasley grunted and stormed out of the bathroom with his sister.
Harry pulled Meadow up into standing again and she leaned on him for support. "My head… My body… Still rejecting being here after dying," she whispered to him as they followed the Weasley's out of the bathroom with Lockhart following them.
"Harry!" Weasley said, "I think Myrtle's grown fond of you! You've got competition, Ginny!" Meadow smiled slightly at the joke to lighten the mood, but Ginny was still crying silently. "Where now?" He asked, looking anxiously at Ginny and then Meadow for the first time.
Harry pointed and Fawkes led the way, flowing gold along the corridor. As they followed the four students and one (probably) ex-professor found themselves outside of Professor McGonagall's office.
Harry knocked and pushed the door open. Professors McGonagall and Snape where behind a desk, Shane Lupin and his father, Remus, were standing off to the side of the room, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley looked wildly around.
"Ginny!" Mrs. Weasley screamed and flung herself onto the first year. Mr. Weasley looked gratefully at the other three students before he joined his wife hugging their only daughter.
Meadow looked just past her father and Professor McGonagall to see Professor Dumbledore standing by the fire beaming. Fawkes flew past everyone and settled on his master's shoulder. Professor McGonagall was holding her chest and taking long gasps. Her father looked relieved to see her as he let out a long breath. Remus was hugging Shane tightly and then Meadow found herself being squeezed by Mrs. Weasley's embrace with Harry and Ronald.
"You saved her! How did you do it?" She asked.
"I think that is something we'd all like to know," Professor McGonagall said weakly.
Harry walked over to the desk and laid the Sorting Hat, and ruby-encrusted sword, and the reminisce of Riddle's diary. He launched into the story of hearing the voice, how Hermione and Meadow figured out it was a snake in the pipes; how Harry and Shane went into the forest, the conversation with Aragog and was told about the victim fifty years ago who died; how he guessed it was Moaning Myrtle, the entrance of the Chamber in the bathroom; and then telling how he killed the basilisk, but 'forgetting' the part where Meadow died.
Meadow had sat down on the floor next to Shane's feet and leaned on him. Dumbledore cleared his throat, "What interests me most, is how Lord Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently in hiding in the forests of Albania."
"W=what's that?" Mr. Weasley said stunned, "You-Know-Who? En-enchant Ginny? But Ginny's not.. she hasn't been… has she?"
"It was this diary," Harry said quickly, pointing at it on the desk. "Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen."
"Brilliant," the headmaster said softly, "Very few people know that Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school… traveled far and wide… sank deeply into the Dark Arts…"
"But Ginny," Mrs. Weasley said, "what's our Ginny got to do with him?"
"The d-diary!" Ginny sobbed, "I've been writing in it, and he's been w-writing back all year—"
Mr. Weasley gasped, "Ginny! Haven't I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps a brain? Why didn't you show the diary to me, or your mother? A suspicious object like that, it was clearly full of Dark Magic—"
"I d-didn't know!" Ginny cried, "I found it inside one of the books Mum got me. I thoughtsomeone had just left it in there and forgotten about it—"
"Miss Weasley should go up to the hospital wing right away, it's been a terrible ordeal for her. No punishment is needed or will be put into place. Older and wiser wizards have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort. Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot chocolate, I find it always cheers me up," Dumbledore stood and winked at the first year, "Madam Pomfrey is still awake. She was giving out Mandrake juice, I daresay the victims will be waking up at any moment."
"So Hermione's okay!" Shane said brightly and smiled at the younger girl, trying to get Ginny to relax. The Weasleys and Lupins walked out of the office to go to the Hospital Wing… it was close to the end of the month for the two werewolves, and Poppy always kept a few potions in her store for Shane.
"Mr. Ronald Weasley—" Dumbledore called the boy back into the office, "Please wait here. Minerva, I think this means a good feast. Might I ask you to go and alert the kitchens?"
"Right," Professor McGonagall said and she got up and moved to the door. "I'll leave you to deal with Potter and Weasley?"
"Certainly," Dumbledore replied before looking at Professor Snape, "Severus, would you please make sure Poppy has enough Mandrake juice?"
The potions master nodded and walked out of the room without glancing back. Meadow stood up and leaned on the desk for support. Dumbledore looked at her with concern, but she ignored the gestor.
"I seem to remember telling you three that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules," Dumbledore said, Meadow's heart sank, and Weasley opened his mouth up in horror. "However, it goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words, you will receive a Special Wards for Services to the School and –let me see—yes, I think two hundred points apiece for your House will do."
Weasley's ears became a hot pink and closed his mouth again, Meadow looked at the sword, diary, and hat, her face slightly pink, and Harry smiled. "But one of us seems to be keeping mightily quiet about his part in this dangerous adventure, why so modest, Gilderoy?"
Meadow whipped her head up to see Lockhart in the corner looking over his shoulder to see who Dumbledore was talking too.
"Professor Dumbledore, sir," Weasley said quickly, "there was an accident down in the Chamber of Secrets. Professor Lockhart—"
"Am I a professor?" Lockhart said, pointing at himself with a surprised look. "I expect I was hopeless, was I?"
"He tried to do a Memory Charm and the wand backfired," Meadow said quietly.
"Dear me, implaled upon your own sword, Gilderoy!"
"Sword? I haven't got a sword, that boy does though, he'll lend you one," Lockhart replied.
Dumbledore just shook his head, and asked Weasley to escort the professor up to the hospital wing as well. "First of all, I'd like to thank you two. You must have shown a great deal of loyalty down in the Chamber. Nothing but that could have called Fawkes to you." Dumbledore smiled at his phoenix and stroked the top of his head. "Second, what really happened with Riddle down there?"
Meadow looked at Harry and spoke up, "Riddle… when those two were talking, I managed to escape from his grasp, but he hit me with the killing curse."
"My dear girl! Are you okay?" Dumbledore responded surprised.
"My head hurts a bit, I think my body is still rejecting my spirit because I was dead for awhile. I talked to Death… He said it wasn't my time, and since I was killed by a memory, I didn't actually die… It doesn't make much sense does it?"
"It does," Dumbledore responded softly. "Your body should accept that you are alive within the next 24 hours." He turned to look at Harry, "I believe Riddle was quite interested in you."
The two spoke for a couple more minutes, Dumbledore saying that Voldemort accidently left a piece of his soul in Harry's, and then going on to explain that Harry is a true Gryffindor. He offered that the two went along to the feast. Apparently, they weren't in that Chamber for very long, two hours at the most.
On their way out, however, Mr. Malfoy threw open the door so roughly it bounced off of the wall behind it. "So! You've come back, the governors suspended you, but you saw fit to return to Hogwarts!"
"Well, you see Lucius," Dumbledore said smiling serenely, "the other eleven governors contacted me today. It was something like being caught in a hailstorm of owls, to tell the truth. They'd head that Author Weasley's daughter had been killed and wanted me back hear at once. Seemed to think I was the best man for the job. They told me very strange tales too… Several of them seemed to think that you had threatened to curse their families if they didn't agree to suspend me in the first place."
"So have you stopped the attacks yet? Have you caught the culprit?" Mr. Malfoy sneered, and Meadow knew she was right to blame Draco's father for how he acted now.
"Well? Who was it?"
"The same person as last time, only this time, Lord Voldemort was acting through somebody else. By means of this diary." Dumbldore held up the small book which had a large hole in the center from the basilisk fang.
Meadow narrowed her eyes but looked at Harry, who was intently watching the elf who almost killed her. He was pointing at the diary and then at senior Malfoy, before hitting himself in his head with a fist.
"I see…" Mr. Malfoy said slowly.
"A very clever plan, because if Harry, Meadow, and their friend Ron Weasley, hadn't discovered this book… Why, Ginny Weasley might have taken all the blame. No one would have ever been able to prove she didn't act upon her own free will… And imagine, what might have happened then… The Weasleys are one of our most prominent pure-blood families. The effect on Arthur Weasley and his Muggle Protection Act, if his own daughter was discovered attacking and killing Muggle-born… Very fortunate the diary was discovered, and Riddle's memories wiped from it. Who knows what the consequences might have been otherwise…"
"Very fortunate," Mr. Malfoy said stiffly, "That Harry Potter will always be there to save the day."
"Don't worry," Harry spoke up, "I will be. And I think I know how Ginny got ahold of that diary, do you want to know?"
Mr. Malfoy rounded on the Gryffindor, "And how should I know how that stupid little girl got hold of that diary?"
"Because you gave it to her," Meadow said, looking into his eyes with a bored expression. "At Flourish and Blotts."
"Prove it," he hissed, "Miss Snape."
Meadow raised an eyebrow, he was tired of threats, and it didn't do anything except bore her even more, "We all know we can't do that. Not unless we take a look at a memory. But even then, how could we force a memory out of your head without you manipulating it?"
"On the other hand, I would advise you, Lucius, not to be giving out any more of Lord Voldemort's old school things. If any more of them find their way into innocent hands… I daresay Mr. Weasley would be sure to find a way to get traced back to you…"
Mr. Malfoy left, and Harry left with the diary and a sock from his foot in his hand, Meadow suddenly felt very ill. Her stomach was turning… As she looked at Professor Dumbledore she tried to tell him, but her vision was closing off, her tongue felt heavy in her mouth, and then everything went black again.
So there is chapter 32! Hope you like it, and I hope the part about Meadow not dying makes sense. Riddle wasn't fully formed from his memory and well… I can't really explain much more into it.