Harry in the Ravenclaw common room

Luna takes Harry to the Ravenclaw common room in search of the lost diadem

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling

Harry had prowled the castle at night many times before, but never had his heart hammered this fast, never had so much depended on his safe passage through the place. Through squares of moonlight upon the floor, past suits of armour whose helmets creaked at the sound of their soft footsteps, around corners beyond which who knew what lurked, Harry and Luna walked, checking the Marauder’s Map whenever light permitted, twice pausing to allow a ghost to pass without drawing attention to themselves. He expected to encounter an obstacle at any moment; his worst fear was Peeves, and he strained his ears with every step to hear the first, telltale signs of the poltergeist’s approach.

‘This way, Harry,’ breathed Luna, plucking his sleeve and pulling him towards a spiral staircase.

They climbed in tight, dizzying circles; Harry had never been up here before. At last they reached a door. There was no handle and no keyhole: nothing but a plain expanse of aged wood, and a bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle.

Luna reached out a pale hand, which looked eerie floating in mid-air, unconnected to arm or body. She knocked once, and in the silence it sounded to Harry like a cannon blast. At once the beak of the eagle opened, but instead of a bird’s call, a soft, musical voice said, ‘Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?’

‘Hmm … what do you think, Harry?’ said Luna, looking thoughtful.

‘What? Isn’t there just a password?’

‘Oh, no, you’ve got to answer a question,’ said Luna. ‘What if you get it wrong?’

‘Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right,’ said Luna. ‘That way you learn, you see?’

‘Yeah … trouble is, we can’t really afford to wait for anyone else, Luna.’

‘No, I see what you mean,’ said Luna seriously. ‘Well then, I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning.’

‘Well reasoned,’ said the voice, and the door swung open.

The deserted Ravenclaw common room was a wide, circular room, airier than any Harry had ever seen at Hogwarts. Graceful arched windows punctuated the walls, which were hung with blue and bronze silks: by day, the Ravenclaws would have a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The ceiling was domed and painted with stars, which were echoed in the midnight-blue carpet. There were tables, chairs and bookcases, and in a niche opposite the door stood a tall statue of white marble.

Harry recognised Rowena Ravenclaw from the bust he had seen at Luna’s house. The statue stood beside a door which led, he guessed, to dormitories above. He strode right up to the marble woman and she seemed to look back at him with a quizzical half smile on her face, beautiful yet slightly intimidating. A delicate-looking circlet had been reproduced in marble on top of her head. It was not unlike the tiara Fleur had worn at her wedding. There were tiny words etched into it. Harry stepped out from under the Cloak and climbed up on to Ravenclaw’s plinth to read them.

‘“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”’

‘Which makes you pretty skint, witless,’ said a cackling voice.

Harry whirled round, slipped off the plinth and landed on the floor. The sloping-shouldered figure of Alecto Carrow was standing before him, and even as Harry raised his wand, she pressed a stubby forefinger to the skull and snake branded on her forearm.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling