The Chamber of Scerets
Chamber of Memories
October 31, 1992
Minerva McGonagall sat gazing out of her bedroom window into the rain swept grounds of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was nearly midnight, but Minerva was unable to sleep; the event of the evening were still playing in her head. "The Chamber Of Secrets has been opened; enemies of the heir, beware". The image of the ominous message on the wall seemed to be etched on the insides of her eyelids. She shivered at the thought of the chamber being opened again. Memories began to resurface, memories that she had long tried to forget, and yet, she still held close to her heart… horrible memories. Fifty years had passed, but Minerva could still recall, with frightening detail, the last time the chamber had been opened.
In the early hours of the morning, a fitful sleep finally found Minerva. And, with sleep, came dreams.
February 25, 1943
Minerva sat by the fire in the Gryffindor Common Room, chatting jovially with her friends. As it was a Saturday night, the room was seething with life. Most students, like Minerva and her friends Poppy and Augusta, had elected to put aside their studies until the following day and revel in the freedom of the weekend. However, the throng fell silent when Professor Dumbledore, head of Gryffindor House, stepped through the portrait hole and into the common room.
"I regret to inform you", he began solemnly, "that there has been another attack on a muggle-born student. As a result of this most recent attack, several new rules will be implemented…" Professor Dumbledore read the lengthy list of new restrictions. "In conclusion, I implore all of you, both muggle-born and otherwise, to exercise extreme caution. We don’t want anyone else attacked". He bade them all 'good night' and exited through the portrait.
The tension in the crowd was nearly palpable in the air, everyone was concerned as to when these attacks would end. Minerva and her friends were discussing the most recent attacks, when a younger girl with a spotty nose and large round glasses approached the circle.
"Um … Minerva….", said the young girl shyly.
"Hello Myrtle," said Minerva to her younger sister, "What's wrong?".
"It's just that this last attack has really made me nervous, and today Olive Hornby was teasing me about being muggle-born, and she said that it was only a matter of time before I was attacked too, and that the school would be better without all of the filthy mu.., mud…". Myrtle couldn’t go on, for she had burst into tears.
Minerva passed Myrtle one of her tartan edged handkerchiefs and placed a consoling hand on her shoulder. "Don't think another minute on what that cow Hornby said to you. You know that she's just trying to scare you. Don’t pay her any mind".
"But what if she's right?".
"She's NOT right! She can't possibly know who's going to be attacked and who isn't," Minerva said firmly, "And, the next time someone calls you a 'mudblood', say that your proud to be muggle-born, and ask if their father is fighting in the war to bring down Hitler."
"Okay," she replied with a deep breath, "thanks Minerva". She gave Minerva a swift hug and dashed across the common room and up the girls staircase.
"Do you think she's alright?" Poppy asked Minerva concernedly.
"I think so", replied Minerva sadly, "She's under a lot of stress just now. Mum just died this past June, and dad is off at war. Plus, all of these attacks on Muggle-born students are really starting to scare her."
"Are you managing alright?", asked Augusta, in concern, "You're under the same stress that she is, and you have NEWTs coming up in June".
"I'm fine.", Minerva replied tersely, "I've always dealt with my emotions better than Myrtle has".
"Better or differently?", asked Poppy skeptically.
"Either way," replied Minerva uncomfortably, "I'm going to bed. This evening has become less than enjoyable". And with that, Minerva retreated to the safety of her dormitory.
She had never truly understood why she guarded her emotions so closely, never letting anyone in. In truth, she thought it was because she was afraid of her own feelings. She wanted always to remain in control, to stay composed. She had watched, from a very young age, her mother slip away into insanity, consumed by emotions that she couldn’t control. She had watched her mind fray with this disease until she no longer knew the women who sat before her. And, finally, the women was gone, slipped into oblivion, and Minerva was left to mourn the mother who was so long gone from her.
That experience changed Minerva. She built up a façade, to hide her feelings from prying eyes and wanting hearts. It was behind this façade that she hid herself tonight.
February 27, 1943
Minerva walked through the moonlit corridors. As a Head Girl, it was her duty to patrol the halls on certain night. Normally, she enjoyed the traipsing through the corridors lost in her own thoughts, but tonight was a different story. She had received a letter from her father that morning, and she was eager to write him back as soon as possible. She didn’t let it show, but she was very worried about him. He was a pilot in the royal air force, and though Minerva knew that he was an excellent flier, she was still haunted by all of the things that could go wrong.
She was shaken from her reverie by a silky voice that came out of the darkness.
"Hello Miss McGonagall, how are you this evening?". The voice belonged to Tom Riddle, a Slytherine prefect a year below her. Minerva was not particularly fond if Tom, she found him arrogant and self centered, but he was always civil with her, so she felt obligated to return this courtesy.
"Good evening Mr. Riddle. I'm fine, and you?"
"I'm doing quite well thank you. I'm quite glad it's been a quiet evening"
"As am I. I'm sorry, but I must continue my rounds, Good evening". Thus was not entirely true, but she had no desire to sit and make small talk with Tom Riddle.
"I shant keep you then. Good night Miss McGonagall." he responded pleasantly.
But, it was not a good night. Minerva rounded the corner to find a girl lying on the floor perfectly still, petrified.
"Tom", She called down the corridor, forgetting decorum entirely, "Go and fetch a teacher, there's been another attack."
February 28, 1943
The news of the previous night's attack spread through the school like wild-fire, and Minerva had become an instant celebrity. She sat at the Gryffindor table at breakfast and explained for possibly the hundredth time that she hadn't seen the attacker, shed just found the victim. Just as she finished the story, the post arrived. There were no letters for her, but she hadn't been expecting any. Her father was her only correspondence, and she had just received a letter from him the previous day.
As the owls were leaving the great hall, Minerva heard a small voice say, "Is it true, did you really find the most recent victim?". The voice belonged Myrtle, who looked quite shaken up.
"Yes, I did." Minerva replied
"This is getting really bad" said Myrtle frantically
"The mandrake will be ready soon and then we'll find out who's behind all of this." Just then, the bell rang for first period. "See you later Myrtle."
Minerva was taking notes in Charms when there was a knock at the classroom door, and professor Dumbledore, her head of house, entered.
"Excuse the intrusion, but may I barrow Miss McGonagall?" . The Professor's expression was neutral, but Minerva's heart began to race anyway.
The was a moment of relief when she stepped into the hall and saw Myrtle standing there alongside Dumbledore, but it was short lived, and her sense of panic began to rise anew. They walked in silence to the Headmaster Dippet's office. The two girls took seats across the desk from him. Professor Dippet didn't say a word. Silently, he handed Minerva a yellow envelope, a telegram from the war office. Minerva stared at it silently for a moment. She couldn’t believe it, but it was plainly addressed to 'Miss Minerva M. McGonagall'. With trembling hands, Minerva opened the telegram.
We regret to inform you that your father, Robert McGonagall, was killed in action last evening when his plane was shot down over Berlin.
Our sincere condolences to you and your family.
London War Office February 28, 1943.
"We are all very sorry for you loss" said Professor Dippet, rather awkwardly, "We will make arrangements for the two of you to travel home and burry you father".
Minerva nodded her head numbly. Myrtle was now crying uncontrollably into Minerva's shoulder. Dippet continued to speak of their travel arrangements while the waves of reality washed over Minerva.
Finally, it was time to leave the office. Minerva, Myrtle, and Professor Dumbledore made their way down the moving stairway. Professor Dumbledore, as their head of house, was to accompany the two sisters on the night bus to ensure they reached home safely.
The trip passed uneventfully Myrtle cried softly into her handkerchief, and Minerva sat beside her, in silent disbelief, unfeeling. They arrived at the small cottage on the Scottish Highlands.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" asked Professor Dumbledore gently.
"No thank you, Professor," said Minerva weekly, "Thank you for seeing us home."
"I you need anything, someone to talk to, you know where to find me"
"Thank you Professor"
Dumbledore offered his condolences once more and left them alone. Myrtle drifted away to her bedroom, seeking solitude, but Minerva stood in the center of the living room, taking in the scene. There was her father's chair by the wireless, old newspapers piled neatly beside It, just as he had left them. On the table sat her father's well worn copy of Macbeth, were he had set it down, a book mark was left to hold his place. On the mantle stood several photographs of the McGonagall family, mother, father, and two daughters, all smiling happily together. It was a remnant of a happier time, a time long past, a time that could never be reclaimed. Seeing her home so cold and empty, she could finally feel again, and at last, she cried.
March 20, 1943
Almost a month had passed since her father's death when life finally settled down again for Minerva. She and Myrtle were now completely alone in the world, they had no family other than each other. This left Minerva as the head and sole provider for their tiny broken family. Minerva was 18, so she could legally inherit their father's money in the muggle world, and become guardian of her sister. Because of this, a tremendous weight had been weighing down on Minerva's shoulders since the funeral. Though she would be done with her education at the end of this term, her sister was only a first year. Minerva was now responsible for putting her sister through six more years of school at Hogwarts. With little money left to her, Minerva had to finish school with high enough NEWT marks to secure a high paying job immediately.
I was these thoughts that plagued her as she patrolled the corridors that night. There was no moon outside, and the low burning torches turned the black windows into eerie mirrors. Minerva turned around a corner and saw a yellow flash in one of the windows.
Suddenly, everything went black and she couldn’t move. It felt as though every joint and muscle in her body had swollen to the point of immobility. As the constant ach radiated through her body, she realized that she had been petrified.
June 13, 1943
Time had lost all meaning for Minerva, as had coherent thought; she could have been sitting there for an eternity of merely a few hours. It no longer mattered, even her many worries were eventually dispelled from her mind. All that was left to her in her delirium was the constant ache in every one of her joints and muscles.
And finally, one day, there came relief. The pain in her joints began to disappear, and her fingertips began to tingle as the blood rushed back into them. Every muscle in her body relaxed, and she seemed to fall limp. Exhaustion then overtook her, and she fell into a deep, restful sleep.
Consciousness returned to Minerva in degrees. First, she could feel her surroundings; she seemed to be in a soft, warm bed. It was very comfortable. Then, she could hear what was going on around her; there were people talking quietly in the background. Was she in the hospital wing? Finally, Minerva opened her eyes; though the light was dim, it burned her eyes at first. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she began to observe her surroundings. White curtains seemed to surround her bed on two sides, but she could see down off the foot of her bed; she was in fact in the infirmary. This was strange, she couldn’t seem to remember how she had gotten there. Minerva racked her brains, and then, the memories flooded back into her head. She had been petrified. A thousand questions buzzed around in her head; how long had she been petrified, had they caught the attacker, was Myrtle okay.
Just then, the matron walked around the curtain and said, "Ah, Miss McGonagall, your awake. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," Minerva replied hastily, "What's been going on, what day is it?"
"It's June 13. You have been petrified for nearly three months, and you need you rest" the matron replied curtly.
"But I need to hear what's been happening! What's…"
"You can ask all the questions you want in the morning," the matron cut across. "As for this evening, you need your rest. Professor Dumbledore wishes to speak to you in the morning, so it won't do to be drowsy." she said a bit more kindly
Minerva, recognizing defeat, nodded her consent and lied back down on her pillows. She had not realized how exhausted she still was, and she fell quickly back to sleep.
The next morning, when Minerva woke up, she ate a small breakfast of buttered toast, and took the potions that the matron provided. Minerva was beginning to feel uneasy, Why did Professor Dumbledore want to see her? Minerva had just finished her last potion when Dumbledore walked into the ward. With a neutral expression, he approached Minerva's bedside.
"Would you please give us a moment?" he asked the matron, who was busy fixing Minerva's pillows. The matron nodded once, and she left the wing without saying a word. Minerva's heart began to race, she could feel that something was terribly wrong. She was about open her mouth to ask what was going on when professor Dumbledore spoke. "Miss McGonagall," the professor said gently, "how are you feeling?"
"Fine," she lied. She was too choked by fear to say anything else.
"Good, I'm glad that your recovery is on its way," Dumbledore's eyes did not twinkle as they usually did. Minerva's panic had nearly reached the breaking point. She merely nodded in response. "Miss McGonagall… Minerva," Dumbledore seemed to be at a loss for words. "I'm very sorry to have to inform you that you sister has died. She was killed last month in an attack."
Minerva seemed to deflate, Dumbledore's words hit her like a freight train. She couldn't believe it, it COULDN'T be true. She had just spoken to Myrtle before she went to patrol the corridors; Myrtle was safe in her dormitory, alive and well. Or, she had been three months ago, before Minerva had been petrified. An overwhelming feeling of guilt crashed over Minerva. If she had been there she would have kept Myrtle safe, if she had been there Myrtle would still be alive.
"It's my fault," was the first thing that Minerva said, and she dissolved into tears. She was overwhelmed by terrible loss, and she couldn't contain her grief; it flowed from every fiber of her being consuming her. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn't think, she could only cry.
"Shhh," said Professor Dumbledore, placing a consoling hand on Minerva's shoulder, and pressing a handkerchief into her trembling hands. "It is in no way your fault. there's nothing that you could have done". Minerva did not respond, she couldn't. Dumbledore placed an arm around her shoulder to comfort her before he continued. "Your sister chose to come back to this world as a ghost, you can talk to her when you are well again."
"What?" croaked Minerva, "She's not really gone? I want to see her now, where is she? I need to talk to her, I need to tell her that I'm sorry! I …"
But Dumbledore cut across Minerva, "I'm sorry, but you can't see her just yet."
"What!? Why? She's my sister!" Minerva screamed in disbelief, "I need to talk to her!"
"I'm sorry," said Professor Dumbledore sincerely, "but it would be too disturbing for you right now. You need time to grieve and accept that your sister is gone before you confront her ghost."
"But she hasn't gone! She's still here! Please let me see her!" Minerva begged. But to no avail.
Dumbledore shook his head grimly. "Myrtle is gone Minerva," he said firmly, "Her ghost is a mere shadow of the girl she was. You wouldn't even know her. It will be far easier for you if you just leave well enough alone until you've had a chance to mourn your sister. Now," he said before Minerva had a chance to respond, "I'm going to put you to sleep so you can get some rest." And with a flick of his wand he cast the sleeping spell. Before Minerva could protest, she slipped into dreamless oblivion.
Much later that night, Minerva awoke from her induced slumber. As soon as she regained her consciousness there was only one thought on her mind, finding her sister. Minerva slipped out of the infirmary, wrapping a dressing gown around her slender frame.
It was as if gravity pulled her towards the girls bathroom, she could feel that her sister was in there. Halfway down the corridor, she stepped into a puddle of water, and her a moaning from inside the bathroom. Minerva quickened her pace until she was almost running.
Minerva burst into the bathroom and cried, "Myrtle, Myrtle, it's me, it's Minerva! I'm so glad to see you! I'm so sorry I wasn't there.."
But Minerva was cut off. "Who are you?", said a voice with awful coldness, "Have you come to make fun of me too?!"
Minerva was astounded, this didn't sound like her quiet, sweet sister. "It's Minerva, your sister", she said, voice quavering, "Don’t you remember me?"
The silvery figure of Myrtle came into view, and Minerva gasped at the sight of her. Her body and hair was just as Minerva remembered it, but her face was as hard and cold as ice. Who was this girl?
"I don't know who you are, but I hate you!", she screamed, "My life was miserable, and now you are making my death misery too!" She let out a terrible wail.
"Please!," whispered Minerva through tears, "I'm you sister, I love you! Please….PLEASE!" But it was no use Myrtle zoomed away from her, down the toilet, leaving a sobbing Minerva on the soaked lavatory floor.
Minerva didn't know how long she knelt there and cried, but when she was spent she sat there water flowing all around her and she whispered, "I'm sorry. I love you Myrtle… Goodbye" She knew that Myrtle couldn't hear her, but she said it anyway, and she prayed that one day Myrtle would understand and forgive her; then she could forgive herself. Minerva stumbled to her feet, and she left her sister, forever.
November 1, 1992
Minerva jerked very suddenly. It had been years since she had dreamed about the chamber of secrets, but with the events of the previous day, she was not surprised that she had. Minerva glanced over at her clock, 4:30 AM, I was hours before breakfast, but she doubted that she would be able to get back to sleep. As she lie awake, she mulled of the events of fifty years ago in her head. Remembering that time was like remembering a different life. The painful memories turned into fears about what might happen this time, she shuddered to think of the pain that it will undeniably cause.
However, no matter how hard she thought, she couldn't think of who could be opening the chamber this time. Last time, the blame had been laid on Hagrid, but she had never believed it, it just didn't fit. But then who could it be! And then realization hit her; it had been there the whole time, how could she have missed it. Tom Riddle. Lord Voldemort had opened the Chamber of Secrets! It all made sense, he had even been there when she had found the girl petrified. There was no doubt in Minerva's mind that Voldemort was behind the attacks fifty years ago, and he was responsible for opening the chamber this time as well. But, how? Minerva drew a blank; she had no clue how Voldemort was opening the chamber this time, but she was going to find out, and there was only one man who could help her. Minerva leapt out of bed, pulled on a dressing gown, and set out for Dumbledore's office.
Author's Note: All characters, places, and recognizable storylines are the outstanding property of the fabulous J.K. Rowling. I own nothing but a computer and my own imagination.
**If you liked this story (even a little bit), or you love Minerva McGonagall (and are willing to put up with my writing and interpretation) check out the rest of my stories! I also write for fanfiction.net and harrypotterfanfiction.com under the penname M. B. Walsh.
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Minerva McGonagall age 18