Inside the Slytherin common room

Harry and Ron make it into the Slytherin common room while disguised as Crabbe and Goyle

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling

Malfoy paused by a stretch of bare, damp stone wall.

‘What’s the new password again?’ he said to Harry.

‘Er –’ said Harry.

‘Oh yeah – pure-blood!’ said Malfoy, not listening, and a stone door concealed in the wall slid open. Malfoy marched through it and Harry and Ron followed him.

The Slytherin common room was a long, low underground room with rough stone walls and ceiling, from which round, greenish lamps were hanging on chains. A fire was crackling under an elaborately carved mantelpiece ahead of them, and several Slytherins were silhouetted around it in carved chairs.

‘Wait here,’ said Malfoy to Harry and Ron, motioning them to a pair of empty chairs set back from the fire. ‘I’ll go and get it – my father’s just sent it to me –’

Wondering what Malfoy was going to show them, Harry and Ron sat down, doing their best to look at home.

Malfoy came back a minute later, holding what looked like a newspaper cutting. He thrust it under Ron’s nose.

‘That’ll give you a laugh,’ he said.

Harry saw Ron’s eyes widen in shock. He read the cutting quickly, gave a very forced laugh and handed it to Harry.

It had been clipped out of the Daily Prophet, and it said:

  Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, was today fined fifty Galleons for bewitching a Muggle car.

Mr Lucius Malfoy, a governor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the enchanted car crashed earlier this year, called today for Mr Weasley’s resignation.

‘Weasley has brought the Ministry into disrepute,’ Mr Malfoy told our reporter. ‘He is clearly unfit to draw up our laws and his ridiculous Muggle Protection Act should be scrapped immediately.’

Mr Weasley was unavailable for comment, although his wife told reporters to clear off or she’d set the family ghoul on them.

  ‘Well?’ said Malfoy impatiently, as Harry handed the cutting back to him. ‘Don’t you think it’s funny?’

‘Ha, ha,’ said Harry bleakly.

‘Arthur Weasley loves Muggles so much he should snap his wand in half and go and join them,’ said Malfoy scornfully. ‘You’d never know the Weasleys were pure-bloods, the way they behave.’

Ron’s – or rather, Crabbe’s – face was contorted with fury.

‘What’s up with you, Crabbe?’ snapped Malfoy.

‘Stomach ache,’ Ron grunted.

‘Well, go up to the hospital wing and give all those Mudbloods a kick from me,’ said Malfoy, snickering. ‘You know, I’m surprised the Daily Prophet hasn’t reported all these attacks yet,’ he went on thoughtfully. ‘I suppose Dumbledore’s trying to hush it all up. He’ll be sacked if it doesn’t stop soon. Father’s always said Dumbledore’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to this place. He loves Muggle-borns. A decent Headmaster would never’ve let slime like that Creevey in.’

Malfoy started taking pictures with an imaginary camera and did a cruel but accurate impression of Colin: ‘Potter, can I have your picture, Potter? Can I have your autograph? Can I lick your shoes, please, Potter?’

He dropped his hands and looked at Harry and Ron.

‘What’s the matter with you two?’

Far too late, Harry and Ron forced themselves to laugh, but Malfoy seemed satisfied; perhaps Crabbe and Goyle were always slow on the uptake.

‘Saint Potter, the Mudbloods’ friend,’ said Malfoy slowly. ‘He’s another one with no proper wizard feeling, or he wouldn’t go around with that jumped-up Granger Mudblood. And people think he’s Slytherin’s heir!’

Harry and Ron waited with bated breath: Malfoy was surely seconds away from telling them it was him. But then –

‘I wish I knew who it is,’ said Malfoy petulantly. ‘I could help them.'

“Ron’s jaw dropped so that Crabbe’s face looked even more gormless than usual. Fortunately, Malfoy didn’t notice, and Harry, thinking fast, said, ‘You must have some idea who’s behind it all …’

‘You know I haven’t, Goyle, how many times do I have to tell you?’ snapped Malfoy. ‘And father won’t tell me anything about the last time the Chamber was opened, either. Of course, it was fifty years ago, so it was before his time, but he knows all about it, and he says that it was all kept quiet and it’ll look suspicious if I know too much about it. But I know one thing: last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, a Mudblood died. So I bet it’s only a matter of time before one of them’s killed this time … I hope it’s Granger,’ he said with relish.

Ron was clenching Crabbe’s gigantic fists. Feeling that it would be a bit of a give-away if Ron punched Malfoy, Harry shot him a warning look and said, ‘D’you know if the person who opened the Chamber last time was caught?’

‘Oh, yeah … whoever it was was expelled,’ said Malfoy. ‘They’re probably still in Azkaban.’

‘Azkaban?’ said Harry, puzzled.

“Azkaban – the wizard prison, Goyle,’ said Malfoy, looking at him in disbelief. ‘Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backwards.’

He shifted restlessly in his chair and said, ‘Father says to keep my head down and let the heir of Slytherin get on with it. He says the school needs ridding of all the Mudblood filth, but not to get mixed up in it. Of course, he’s got a lot on his plate at the moment. You know the Ministry of Magic raided our Manor last week?’

Harry tried to force Goyle’s dull face into a look of concern.

‘Yeah …’ said Malfoy. ‘Luckily, they didn’t find much. Father’s got some very valuable Dark arts stuff. But luckily, we’ve got our own secret chamber under the drawing-room floor –’

‘Ho!’ said Ron.

Malfoy looked at him. So did Harry. Ron blushed. Even his hair was turning red. His nose was also slowly lengthening – their hour was up. Ron was turning back into himself, and from the look of horror he was suddenly giving Harry, he must be, too.

They both jumped to their feet.

‘Medicine for my stomach,’ Ron grunted, and without further ado they sprinted the length of the Slytherin common room, hurled themselves at the stone wall and dashed up the passage, hoping against hope that Malfoy hadn’t noticed anything. Harry could feel his feet slipping around in Goyle’s huge shoes and had to hoist up his robes as he shrank; they crashed up the steps into the dark Entrance Hall, which was full of a muffled pounding coming from the cupboard where they’d locked Crabbe and Goyle. Leaving their shoes outside the cupboard door, they sprinted in their socks up the marble staircase towards Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom..

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling