As Harry thrust the sword into the roof of the serpent's mouth, blood spurted from the wound, drenching him, and he felt a searing pain just above his elbow. One long, poisonous fang sank deep into his arm. It splintered as the basilisk keeled over sideways and fell, twitching, to the floor.
Trying to blink the stinging basilisk’s blood from his eyes, Harry slid down the wall to the floor. He grasped the fang and wrenched it from his arm, screaming as a white-hot pain tore through his body. Dropping the fang, he tried to clear the blood from his eyes with his good hand so that he could see the wound, but it didn’t help. My eyes! Tears poured down his face, making tracks in the serpent blood that was smeared across his face. He heard a soft clatter of claws on the stone beneath him.
“Fawkes,” said Harry thickly, his tongue heavy in his mouth. “You were fantastic.”
He felt the bird lay its beautiful head on the hole in his arm where the fang had pierced him.
Echoing footsteps approached him and a dark shadow moved in front of him. Harry blinked, trying to clear his eyes so he could see Tom, but he just remained a dark shadow towering over him.
“You’re dead, Harry Potter,” Tom taunted. “Even Dumbledore’s bird knows it! He’s crying.”
Harry tried to look, but Fawkes was just a pinkish blur.
“I’m just going to sit here and watch you die, Potter! Take your time. I’m in no hurry!” The dark form sank to the floor in front of him.
“So ends the famous Harry Potter!” Riddle crowed, and Harry found it hard to focus on the words as Tom blithely described Harry’s predicament, dying alongside Ginny in the bowels of the school on the cold, wet floor of the Chamber. Harry’s thoughts raced to Ron trapped in a pile of rocks and Hermione petrified in the hospital wing and then to the warm fire in the Weasley’s kitchen. He sank into the feeling of what it would be like to be embraced again by Mrs. Weasley. But then the cold of the Chamber started seeping back, and he felt as if he were waking up. Tom’s voice came back into focus. He was talking about Harry’s mother, calling her a mudblood. The vile word shook him and he opened his eyes, blinking, trying to bring the world back into focus and to take the stinging away, but everything was still shadowy.
If this is dying , Harry thought, it’s not so bad . The pain was receding from his arm and he felt stronger. He straightened his back and wriggled the fingers in his injured arm. It didn’t hurt anymore. He ran his fingers over the spot where the fang had gorged him, but his skin felt smooth and whole. There was no wound.
“Get away, bird!” Riddle shouted. Harry felt the air shifting and heard Tom scrambling to stand up as he lunged for the phoenix. Harry flinched against the wall as he heard the wings flapping and an explosive bang. “Phoenix tears!” Tom shouted in exasperation. “Fucking healing properties.” Tom’s shadowy figure loomed over Harry again.
“But it makes no difference,” his voice controlled again. “In fact, I prefer it this way. Just you and me, Harry Potter. You… and… me…”
Harry heard Fawkes overhead again and felt something land on his lap. He grabbed it. The diary! Leaning forward, Harry felt the fang roll under his knee. He seized it and, kneeling, plunged the fang into the diary over and over again. Sticky liquid poured out of it as he turned it over to plunge the fang into it from the other side. Tom let out a piercing wail, as if he was the one being stabbed, not the book. And then, suddenly, his shadowy form melted away and he was gone. Only the echo of his scream remained, reverberating off the walls of the Chamber, until it, too, evaporated.
Harry dropped the oozing book and started crawling forward on his hands and knees, feeling the ground in front of him for Ginny, blinking hard, trying to see through the tears that kept filling his eyes. God, how they sting, he thought. His hands found the cold body of the serpent instead. It rose like a wall next to him and he pulled himself up, running his hands over the scaly skin. He heard Ginny gasp for air as if she had just surfaced from underwater and started hurrying toward the sound along the basilisk's body. Her moan drew him closer and he dropped to the floor again as he moved away from the serpent, reaching out with his hands until he felt her robes.
“Ginny, Ginny! Are you okay?” His fingers brushed over her face and hair until he found her shoulders, and grasped them.
“Harry! What happened? Are you hurt? You’re covered with blood!”
“I’m okay, Ginny. It’s the basilisk's blood. I’m okay. Are you okay?”
“I’m so sorry, Harry. It was me. I tried to tell you. I swear I didn’t mean to do it. Riddle made me do it. The last thing I remember is him coming out of the diary,” she sobbed.
“He’s gone, Ginny. You’re okay now.”
“Harry, how did you do it? How’d you get rid of him and… kill the snake?” She had twisted toward him and then shuddered, presumably when she saw the serpent’s body.
“I had help. Fawkes brought me the Sorting Hat and the Sorting Hat gave me a sword. And I stabbed the diary with the Basilisk fang. That made Volde- I mean, Riddle vanish.”
He sat up and pulled her off the floor, hugging her to him, feeling her warmth against his chest and her hair tickling his face. He trembled as he held her body against his, relief flooding his senses. Ginny’s okay! She held onto him, shuddering with sobs until she was done, her breath more even as she pulled away to wipe her face. Harry wiped at his eyes, too. They still burned.
“What’s wrong with your eyes, Harry?” Ginny asked.
“I got something in them. Basilisk blood, maybe venom. Can you help me wash it out? Is the pool close by?”
Ginny stood up and pulled Harry up, too. “Come on. It’s over here.”
She pulled him a few steps over to the pool and knelt down by it. He dropped next to her and reached for the dank water, splashing it up onto his face. He realized that his glasses were missing. He hadn’t even noticed when he lost them. Not that they’d help now, his vision was worse than when he first woke in the morning, before he put them on. In fact, it was worse than when he first got the blood in his eyes. Blinking through the steady stream of tears, he could really only make out vague shadows, light and dark, but it was hard to keep his eyes open to see even that.
Phoenix tears! Harry thought suddenly. “Fawkes, can your tears help my eyes?” he asked the bird who had hopped over next to him by the pool of water.
He lay down on the cold, wet floor again and turned his head toward the bird. Fawkes laid his feathery head on Harry’s face and he felt the tears sliding into his left eye, then turned his head so that they’d slide into his right eye. He blinked to spread the tears and felt immediate relief. The stinging stopped.
“Thank you, Fawkes. You’re amazing.” Harry sat up and looked around. He could open his eyes now, but the Chamber was still shrouded in dark shadows, with only flickering blurs of light. He rubbed at his eyes again and looked again, but it was the same.
“Is it any better, Harry?” Ginny asked softly.
“It stopped stinging, but I still can’t see anything really - just shadows,” Harry said gravely. He shook himself and tried to focus.
“Ginny, do you see my wand anywhere? Riddle took it. Maybe he dropped it when he vanished?”
“I’ll look for it.” He heard her jump up, and her steps clattered away from him, echoing off the walls. He heard the distinctive sound of the hardwood of a wand on stone and knew she’d found it. Harry sighed with relief. Her footsteps started coming back to him, then stopped.
“What is it?”
“The diary. Let’s take it back.” She sounded sad, and a bit fierce.
“Careful of the venom, Ginny!” Harry called to her.
“Oh, right,” she said. “I’ll wrap it in my cloak.” He could hear the rustling of her cloak and her footsteps coming closer, then there was a pregnant pause.
“Um, here’s your wand, Harry.” He realized she must have been holding it out to him, expecting him to see it and take it. He stood up slowly, reaching forward, and felt her place it across his palm. He tucked the wand in his cloak pocket.
“How are we going to get out of here?” Harry wondered, squinting as he tried to see through the shadows and orient himself. Could he even find the tunnel he’d followed here? And then there was the caved-in portion of the tunnel. He heard Fawkes’ claws scrape on the stone and his wings flapping as he launched into the air.
“Fawkes is flying that way, let’s follow him.” Ginny grabbed his arm and pulled him with her. He stumbled alongside her, then pulled up short. “Wait, what about the sword and the Sorting Hat? Where are they?”
Harry felt Ginny turn as she looked around the room, tugging his hand with her as she moved.
“I see the Sorting Hat. Wait here, I’ll go get it.” She ran across the Chamber. Harry moved toward the wall of the Basilisk's body and started following it toward the head, keeping his hand on the cold, scaly body.
He tripped and stumbled over stones that had been knocked loose in the struggle with the serpent, but managed to stay upright. The serpent's body got wider as he reached the head, and he heard Ginny join him.
“Oh!” she gasped.
“What is it?”
“The sword is stuck up really far in the roof of the mouth. Here, let me get it.” She started to move past him as she spoke.
“Careful of the fangs! The venom!” Harry called out as he listened to the sickening sound of the sword sliding out of the flesh of the Basilisk’s mouth. Metal clattered to the ground.
“I’m okay,” Ginny reassured Harry as he found her back and gripped her shoulder. She bent down and heaved at the sword.
“Let me get it,” Harry said.
He reached around her, following her arm to her hand, then took the sword from her. It was heavier than he remembered during the struggle with the great snake. He fumbled with the edge of his robes and then wiped the blade against them, cleaning it off, and stuck it under his belt so that it hung by his side. He tightened his belt so that the sword wouldn’t pull his trousers down.
Fawkes had settled on the serpent’s body as they sorted out the sword - he could hear his little chirps. He took off again, leading them to the tunnel.
“Here, let me hold onto your shoulder,” Harry told Ginny as she grabbed onto his arm again to lead him. “That’ll be easier.” She was about a head shorter than him. He didn’t like being pulled along. “Any chance you see my glasses around here?”
“No,” Ginny said, then he heard her reaching into her robes. “ Accio glasses!” she called and Harry heard a whooshing noise.
“Here they are, Harry, but they are all busted.”
She pressed them into his hand and he felt their contorted form and cracked glass.
“Crap,” Harry sighed. He tried to open them up to place over his eyes, but one of the earpieces broke off. Holding them up to his eyes, they didn’t make a difference. Nothing.
He shoved the broken glasses in his pocket and grasped Ginny’s shoulder.
“Let’s get back to Ron,” he said.
“Ron’s here?!” Ginny exclaimed. “Why wasn’t he here with you?”
“Lockhart tried to blast us with a spell and made a part of the tunnel cave in. Ron’s okay, just trapped behind the rubble. Let’s try to find him. He was trying to move the rocks so that we’d be able to get back through once I found you.”
“Lumos,” Ginny said and her wand lit up as the shadows of the tunnel swallowed them up. He shut his eyes against the harsh, blinding light.
"Oh, ow," he muttered.
"You can see that?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah, it's just so bright." The light from her spell was all Harry could see - he had to keep his eyes closed against it and just follow her blindly through the tunnel. After a bit, they could hear the sound of rocks being moved and picked up their speed. The sword slapped against Harry’s hip as he moved.
“Ron! Ron!” Harry shouted, “Ginny’s alright!” They could hear Ron’s muffled cheer. Ginny stopped close to the wall of rock and Harry slipped and slid over the loose bits of rubble strewn over the floor.
“You did it, Harry! You saved Ginny!” Ron’s gave a strangled cry mingling both jubilation and relief. His voice sounded like it was coming through a pipe.
“Come through the tunnel. Here, Ginny, you first.” Harry felt Ginny being pulled forward and heard her scrabbling through the rocky tunnel that Ron had made. He heard Ron helping Ginny through.
"Why are you wearing the Sorting Hat, Ginny?" Ron asked in awe.
Harry felt around the rock pile until he found the entrance and then started climbing through after her. He had to climb back out and take the sword out of his belt because he couldn't climb through the tunnel with it on. He tried again, holding the sword in one hand in front of him. It was tricky crawling through the hole with it. Cool air blew across his face as he emerged from the small tunnel feeling his way forward.
“Can someone take the sword?” he called out, afraid that he’d accidentally poke someone with it.
“Whoa! Where’d you get this? It’s so cool!” Ron exclaimed as he took it from Harry.
“The Sorting Hat gave it to me,” Harry explained, but he was distracted. He could hear Ginny sniffling. He pulled himself through the hole, stumbling as he tried to find his footing on the rocky ground.
“You okay, Harry?” Ron asked, perplexed, grabbing him by the arm to steady him.
“Not really. I can’t see. I got venom in my eyes. I can’t see anything - just shadows and light.” His voice cracked. “I bet Madam Pomfrey can sort it out."
“Venom from the basilisk? Whoa!” Ron exclaimed. “What happened? How did you escape?”
“Harry killed it with a sword! And he got rid of Riddle, too!” Ginny burst out, grabbing Harry by the other arm and helping him navigate through the rubble. He noticed that her voice was full of tears and that she was trembling.
“Riddle? How was he down here?” Ron questioned.
Ginny gasped out a sob in response, and before Harry could answer, he heard Fawkes’s claws scrabbling through Ron’s tunnel and then his wings flap as he rose into the air.
“Whoa! Where did that bird come from?” Ron cried in surprise.
“Fawkes helped us. He’s Dumbledore’s phoenix. We wouldn’t have made it without him.” Ginny started crying more audibly and Harry slipped an arm around her, trying to comfort her. “Ron, I’ll tell you everything later. Let’s get out of here. Where’s Lockhart?”
“That old git,” Ron muttered. “He’s over there.”
Harry guessed that Ron was pointing. He squinted, but couldn’t distinguish any human-like shapes in the shadows in the tunnel.
“No, this way. Man, you really can’t see, can you?” Ron uttered, horrified.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. I mean, we’ve got magic, right?” Harry tried to reassure Ron. Ginny cried harder.
“Ginny, what’s wrong? Why are you crying? ” Ron turned toward his sister.
“It’s all m- all my fault! I did it! I’m going to be ex- ex- ex pelled ! Mm- Mum and Dad are gonna hate me! And- and now Harry’s blind because of me!” Ginny wailed.
“What do you mean, ‘you did it’?” Ron questioned.
Harry spoke over Ron. “Ginny, it’s not your fault. And I’m going to be fine! I’m not blind, I just can’t see right now.” He pulled her close and smoothed her hair back from her face, which was wet. From the Chamber or from her tears, he wasn’t sure which.
“Okay, let’s get Lockhart and get out of here,” Harry tried to sound more confident than he felt.
“Right, he’s over here. He’s in a bad way. Come and see… uh. Well, you know what I mean.”
“Funny, Ron.” Harry jostled his arm as held onto Ron, moving across the rock-strewn floor. He could hear Fawkes’s song leading them through the tunnel. He closed his eyes again because Ginny’s lumos was too bright. He was so tired… and hungry… and thirsty.
Harry could feel the cool air blowing through the tunnel - they must have reached the pipe that they traveled down from the girl’s bathroom. They stopped, and Harry heard Lockhart humming to himself.
“His memory’s gone,” said Ron. “The Memory Charm backfired., hit him instead of us. He hasn’t got a clue who he is, or where he is, or who we are.”
“Hello,” Lockhart’s voice seemed cheerful. “Odd sort of place, this, isn’t it? Do you live here?”
“No,” Ron said and Harry snorted as he imagined the face Ron was pulling.
Harry pulled out his wand and charmed a stream of water to come out of it and aimed for his mouth. He missed at first and shot water up his nose, leaving him sputtering. Finally, he got it in his mouth. At last satisfied, he tucked his wand away, wiped his face, and crouched down, holding his hands out in front of him. He could feel the breeze from the pipe stronger now and leaned forward until he found the exit hole they had fallen through.
“Ron, have you thought about how we’re going to get back up the pipe? I think it’s too slippery to climb,” he said as he felt the surface, his voice amplified as it moved up the pipe. He could hear Fawkes hovering near and feel the wind his wings made. “What is Fawkes doing?” Harry asked.
“It looks like he wants you to grab a hold of his tail feathers…” Ron said, sounding perplexed. “But you’re much too heavy for a bird to pull up there…”
“Fawkes isn’t an ordinary bird.” Harry reached back trying to find Ginny until her small hand grasped his. “We’ve got to hold on to each other. Someone hold Lockhart’s hand.”
“Who’s Lockhart?” Lockhart said.
“He means you!” Ron said with exasperation.
“Is everyone holding on? Ron, you still have the sword?” Harry asked, not bothering to turn around to look. Ron confirmed that they were all linked and that he had the sword. Harry moved his hand through the air in front of him until he found Fawkes’s feathers. They were strangely hot, and an extraordinary lightness spread through his whole body as he grasped them. Without warning, they were floating up the pipe.
Lockhart’s voice came up from below as he shouted, “Amazing, amazing! This is just like magic!”
Suddenly, Harry felt the wet floor beneath his feet as Fawkes lowered them and heard the sink behind him sliding back into place. Moaning Myrtle gurgled somewhere in the air above him.
“You’re alive,” she said blankly to Harry.
“There’s no need to sound so disappointed,” he grouched, squeezing Ginny’s hand. She sniffed in response.
“You would have been welcome to share my toilet.” Myrtle giggled as the group left the bathroom. Harry put his hand on Ginny’s shoulder again.
“Where now?” Ron asked. “Oh, Fawkes is leading the way. Let’s go.” They followed Fawkes through the deserted corridors and then stopped.
“Where are we?” asked Harry, confused.
“We’re outside Professor McGonagall’s office,” Ron said as he rapped on the door, and then pushed it open.