Standing on a golden perch behind the door was a decrepit-looking bird which resembled a half-plucked turkey. Harry stared at it and the bird looked balefully back, making its gagging noise again. Harry thought it looked very ill. Its eyes were dull and, even as Harry watched, a couple more feathers fell out of its tail.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1. How frightfully awkward. Burning Day and in comes the Boy Who Lived.
2. I wasn’t gagging, per se. It was more a clearing of the throat. You have no idea how difficult it is to summon the energy to swallow when I’m about to set myself on fire.
3. I would like to add that my eyes are not dull, they are enchanting. Although the feathers falling out is a tad mortifying.
4. I wonder if he knows that he’s staring? I’m aware of his unpleasant upbringing, but surely he should have better manners.
Harry was just thinking that all he needed was for Dumbledore’s pet bird to die while he was alone in the office with it, when the bird burst into flames. Harry yelled in shock and backed away into the desk. He looked feverishly around in case there was a glass of water somewhere, but couldn’t see one. The bird, meanwhile, had become a fireball; it gave one loud shriek and next second there was nothing but a smouldering pile of ash on the floor.
5. Oh this is far too awkward, it’s fire time.
6. [muffled by ash] Splendid, I made him scream. (You would also find joy in the small things if you were reduced to ashes every now and then.)
7. At least this time I didn’t set fire to any portraits. That was an upsetting day.
8. Was he really going to throw a glass of water at a phoenix? Must have a word with Albus about Hogwarts’ fire plan.
‘About time, too,’ he said. ‘He’s been looking dreadful for days, I’ve been telling him to get a move on.’ He chuckled at the stunned look on Harry’s face.
9. I really didn’t look that bad, Albus. You should take a look in the mirror sometime. Need a beard trim, much?
10. I also enjoyed the expression on the boy’s face. Maybe having him here wasn’t so bad after all.
‘Fawkes is a phoenix, Harry. Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes. Watch him ...’
Harry looked down in time to see a tiny, wrinkled, new-born bird poke its head out of the ashes. It was quite as ugly as the old one.
11. I don’t need your approval, young man. I’m fabulous in any form I take.
12. I’m every phoenix! It’s all in me!
‘It’s a shame you had to see him on a Burning Day,’ said Dumbledore, seating himself behind his desk. ‘He’s really very handsome most of the time: wonderful red and gold plumage. Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers and they make highly faithful pets.’
13. Exactly my point, Albus. This is why we work well together.
14. Nothing like a self-esteem boost on Burning Day, I can tell you that much.
15. Now if someone could oblige me with a feather boa until I grow my own back, that’d be fabulous.
Music was coming from somewhere. Riddle whirled around to stare down the empty chamber. The music was growing louder. It was eerie, spine-tingling, unearthly; it lifted the hair on Harry’s scalp and made his heart feel as though it was swelling to twice its normal size.
16. Yep, that’s my tune.
Then, as the music reached such a pitch that Harry felt it vibrating inside his own ribs, flames erupted at the top of the nearest pillar.
17. I know, right?
18. Rise like a phoenix, I say.
A crimson bird the size of a swan had appeared, piping its weird music to the vaulted ceiling. It had a glittering golden tail as long as a peacock’s and gleaming golden talons, which were gripping a ragged bundle.
19. No flash photography please, yes it’s me.
The bird stopped singing. It sat still and warm next to Harry’s cheek, gazing steadily at Riddle.
‘That’s a phoenix ...’ said Riddle, staring shrewdly back at it.
20. Five points for Captain Obvious over here.
‘And that –’ said Riddle, now eyeing the ragged thing that Fawkes had dropped, ‘that’s the old school Sorting Hat.’
So it was. Patched, frayed and dirty, the Hat lay motionless at Harry’s feet. Riddle began to laugh again. He laughed so hard that the dark chamber rang with it, as though ten Riddles were laughing at once.
‘This is what Dumbledore sends his defender! A songbird and an old hat! Do you feel brave, Harry Potter? Do you feel safe now?’
21. This young man sorely needs a lesson in manners. I know he turns out to be the Dark Lord and everything but did you hear the way he spoke to me just now?
22. I must remember to tell Albus that he shouldn’t worry too much about Tom Riddle. He seems a little self-involved if you ask me.
Harry backed away until he hit the dark Chamber wall, and as he shut his eyes tight he felt Fawkes’s wing sweep his cheek as he took flight. Harry wanted to shout, ‘Don’t leave me!’ but what chance did a phoenix have against the king of serpents?
23. Oh ye of little faith.
Fawkes was soaring around its head, and the Basilisk was snapping furiously at him with fangs long and thin as sabres. Fawkes dived. His long golden beak sank out of sight and a sudden shower of dark blood spattered the floor. The snake’s tail thrashed, narrowly missing Harry, and before Harry could shut his eyes, it turned. Harry looked straight into its face, and saw that its eyes, both its great bulbous yellow eyes, had been punctured by the phoenix; blood was streaming to the floor and the snake was spitting in agony.
‘No!’ Harry heard Riddle screaming. ‘Leave the bird! Leave the bird! The boy is behind you! You can still smell him! Kill him!’
24. Ha, this so-called great beast of the Chamber of Secrets is actually a great lummocks.
A patch of scarlet swam past and Harry heard a soft clatter of claws beside him. ‘Fawkes,’ said Harry thickly. ‘You were brilliant, Fawkes ...’ He felt the bird lay its beautiful head on the spot where the serpent’s fang had pierced him.
25. Oh Harry, don’t make me cry. Actually, wait, I’m an amazing phoenix, please for the love of god make me cry.
‘You’re dead, Harry Potter,’ said Riddle’s voice above him. ‘Dead. Even Dumbledore’s bird knows it. Do you see what he’s doing, Potter? He’s crying.’
Harry blinked. Fawkes’s head slid in and out of focus. Thick, pearly tears were trickling down the glossy feathers.
26. Look, there’s just something in my eye, okay? Maybe you should try getting in touch with your emotions some time. Also my tears are MAGICAL. Honestly.
Harry gave his head a little shake and there was Fawkes, still resting his head on Harry’s arm. A pearly patch of tears was shining all around the wound – except that there was no wound.
‘Get away, bird,’ said Riddle’s voice suddenly. ‘Get away from him. I said, get away!’
Harry raised his head. Riddle was pointing Harry’s wand at Fawkes; there was a bang like a gun and Fawkes took flight again in a whirl of gold and scarlet.
‘Phoenix tears ...’ said Riddle quietly, staring at Harry’s arm. ‘Of course ... healing powers ... I forgot ...’
27. Yet another reason why they should introduce Phoenix Studies at Hogwarts.
Led by Fawkes, whose wide scarlet wings emitted a soft golden glow in the darkness, they walked all the way back to the mouth of the pipe. Gilderoy Lockhart was sitting there, humming placidly to himself.
28. I really must have a word with Albus about the employment of this pretty boy fool.
Ron shook his head, but Fawkes the phoenix had swooped past Harry and was now fluttering in front of him, his beady eyes bright in the dark. He was waving his long golden tail feathers.
Harry looked uncertainly at him.
‘He looks like he wants you to grab hold ...’ said Ron, looking perplexed. ‘But you’re much too heavy for a bird to pull up there.’
29. Look, ginger, I’m not some common house sparrow.
30. Weren’t you the boy who vomited slugs earlier this year?
An extraordinary lightness seemed to spread through his whole body, and next second, with a whoosh, they were flying upwards through the pipe.
31. Yes boys, rise like a phoenix I tell you!
‘First of all, Harry, I want to thank you,’ said Dumbledore, eyes twinkling again. ‘You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber. Nothing but that could have called Fawkes to you.’
32. I am a tough bird to please, you know.