Oh Potter, you rotter

Peeves causes chaos at the scene of further attacks

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

Harry stamped up the stairs and turned along another corridor, which was particularly dark; the torches had been extinguished by a strong, icy draught which was blowing through a loose window pane. He was halfway down the passage when he tripped headlong over something lying on the floor.

He turned to squint at what he’d fallen over, and felt as though his stomach had dissolved.

Justin Finch-Fletchley was lying on the floor, rigid and cold, a look of shock frozen on his face, his eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. And that wasn’t all. Next to him was another figure, the strangest sight Harry had ever seen.

It was Nearly Headless Nick, no longer pearly-white and transparent, but black and smoky, floating immobile and horizontal, six inches off the floor. His head was half off and his face wore an expression of shock identical to Justin’s.

Harry got to his feet, his breathing fast and shallow, his heart doing a kind of drum-roll against his ribs. He looked wildly up and down the deserted corridor and saw a line of spiders scuttling as fast as they could away from the bodies. The only sounds were the muffled voices of teachers from the classes on either side.

He could run, and no one would ever know he had been there. But he couldn’t just leave them lying here ... he had to get help. Would anyone believe he hadn’t had anything to do with this?

As he stood there, panicking, a door right next to him opened with a bang. Peeves the poltergeist came shooting out.

‘Why, it’s potty wee Potter!’ cackled Peeves, knocking Harry’s glasses askew as he bounced past him. ‘What’s Potter up to? Why’s Potter lurking –’ Peeves stopped, halfway through a mid-air somersault. Upside-down, he spotted Justin and Nearly Headless Nick. He flipped the right way up, filled his lungs and, before Harry could stop him, screamed, ‘ATTACK! ATTACK! ANOTHER ATTACK! NO MORTAL OR GHOST IS SAFE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! ATTAAAACK!’

Crash – crash – crash: door after door flew open along the corridor and people flooded out. For several long minutes, there was a scene of such confusion that Justin was in danger of being squashed and people kept standing in Nearly Headless Nick.

Harry found himself pinned against the wall as the teachers shouted for quiet. Professor McGonagall came running, followed by her own class, one of whom still had black and white striped hair. She used her wand to set off a loud bang, which restored silence, and ordered everyone back into their classes. No sooner had the scene cleared somewhat than Ernie the Hufflepuff arrived, panting, on the scene.

‘Caught in the act!’ Ernie yelled, his face stark white, pointing his finger dramatically at Harry.

‘That will do, Macmillan!’ said Professor McGonagall sharply.

Peeves was bobbing overhead, now grinning wickedly, surveying the scene; Peeves always loved chaos. As the teachers bent over Justin and Nearly Headless Nick, examining them, Peeves broke into song:

‘Oh Potter, you rotter, oh what have you done?

You’re killing off students, you think it’s good fun –’

‘That’s enough Peeves!’ barked Professor McGonagall, and Peeves zoomed away backwards, with his tongue out at Harry.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling