I stood by the gaping hole in the floor of the bathroom. Chantelle was beside me, gripping my hand tightly. I turned to her. "This is it," I whispered. She was crying again, so I hugged her, embracing her for what might be the last time. I stepped back and kissed her forehead, her nose then her mouth. Then I pulled back and stood on my toes on the edge of the hole. I gently let go of her hand, and grinned in sudden triumph.
"Goodbye, Vaith." I heard her murmur, and I stepped out into darkness.
The air rushed past me as I slid down the rubbed-smooth tunnel. I remembered standing in front of the sink that Myrtle had pointed to. I remembered scratching a little snake beside the tap and then stepping back to observe the bigger picture. I started hissing in my pathetic Parseltongue, Myrtle telling me every so often to change my various attempts to try and sound like the one she had heard. And finally, finally, the moment had come. The moment I had been waiting for, for two whole years.
I grinned again as I reached the bottom, sliding out of the pipe with a soft whoosh. My first impact on the Chamber was sitting on a rat's skull as I flew out of the passageway. I lit my wand and walked slowly through the huge stone corridor, which was rounded, like the pipe. I kept my eyes narrowed, ready to shut them tight at the closest sign of movement. After a while I came to another door, this one decorated with five snakes, all bejewelled with green eyes that flashed in my wand light. I made the strangled hissing noise again, though it took me quite a few tries to get it. I was about to burst, panting as though I'd been running and clenching my fingers tightly over my wand. I felt in my pocket for the little square mirror I had and gripped it, my one link to Chantelle. I squidged my eyes shut in excitement when I stepped through the door, not wanting to spoil the surprise of the Chamber for myself till I was all the way in. I took a few hesitant steps into the Chamber. I was going to open my eyes at the fifth step, so it was a bit of a surprise when I fell off the edge of a platform after the fourth. My foot caught in a rung of a ladder and I flipped over, my leg getting crushed under me when I landed. I gasped in sudden pain and surprise, my eyes flying open and my hands shooting to my leg. After a blinding flash of white, painful light, my eyes focused drearily on a huge snakehead statue. And another. Another after that. Then my vision cleared fully and through the pain of my broken leg I saw the Chamber of my dreams, not very much how I pictured it. Better.
The Chamber of Secrets. I was here at last.