The Horcrux fights back

Harry jumps into an ice cold pool to retrieve the Gryffindor sword

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

With fumbling fingers Harry started to remove his many layers of clothing. Where ‘chivalry’ entered into this, he thought ruefully, he was not entirely sure, unless it counted as chivalrous that he was not calling for Hermione to do it in his stead.

An owl hooted somewhere as he stripped off, and he thought with a pang of Hedwig. He was shivering now, his teeth chattering horribly, and yet he continued to strip off until at last he stood there in his underwear, barefooted in the snow. He placed the pouch containing his wand, his mother’s letter, the shard of Sirius’s mirror and the old Snitch on top of his clothes, then he pointed Hermione’s wand at the ice.

‘Diffindo.’

It cracked with a sound like a bullet in the silence: the surface of the pool broke and chunks of dark ice rocked on the ruffled water. As far as Harry could judge, it was not deep, but to retrieve the sword he would have to submerge himself completely.

Contemplating the task ahead would not make it easier or the water warmer. He stepped to the pool’s edge and placed Hermione’s wand on the ground, still lit. Then, trying not to imagine how much colder he was about to become or how violently he would soon be shivering, he jumped.

Every pore of his body screamed in protest: the very air in his lungs seemed to freeze solid as he was submerged to his shoulders in the frozen water. He could hardly breathe; trembling so violently the water lapped over the edges of the pool, he felt for the blade with his numb feet. He only wanted to dive once.

Harry put off the moment of total submersion from second to second, gasping and shaking, until he told himself that it must be done, gathered all his courage and dived.

The cold was agony: it attacked him like fire. His brain itself seemed to have frozen as he pushed through the dark water to the bottom and reached out, groping for the sword. His fingers closed around the hilt; he pulled it upwards.

Then something closed tight around his neck. He thought of water weeds, though nothing had brushed him as he dived, and raised his empty hand to free himself. It was not weed: the chain of the Horcrux had tightened and was slowly constricting his wind pipe.

Harry kicked out wildly, trying to push himself back to the surface, but merely propelled himself into the rocky side of the pool. Thrashing, suffocating, he scrabbled at the strangling chain, his frozen fingers unable to loosen it, and now little lights were popping inside his head, and he was going to drown, there was nothing left, nothing he could do, and the arms that closed around his chest were surely Death’s ...

Choking and retching, soaking and colder than he had ever been in his life, he came to, face down in the snow. Somewhere close by, another person was panting and coughing and staggering around. Hermione had come again, as she had come when the snake attacked ... yet it did not sound like her, not with those deep coughs, not judging by the weight of the footsteps ...

Harry had no strength to lift his head and see his saviour’s identity. All he could do was raise a shaking hand to his throat and feel the place where the locket had cut tightly into his flesh. It was gone: someone had cut him free. Then a panting voice spoke from over his head.

‘Are – you – mental?’


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling