The Lady and the Baron

The Grey Lady tells of her own past and the origins of the Bloody Baron

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling

'When I lived,’ she said stiffly, ‘I was Helena Ravenclaw.’

‘You’re her daughter? But then, you must know what happened to it!’

‘While the diadem bestows wisdom,’ she said, with an obvious effort to pull herself together, ‘I doubt that it would greatly increase your chances of defeating the wizard who calls himself Lord –’

‘Haven’t I just told you, I’m not interested in wearing it!’ Harry said fiercely. ‘There’s no time to explain – but if you care about Hogwarts, if you want to see Voldemort finished, you’ve got to tell me anything you know about the diadem!’

She remained quite still, floating in mid-air, staring down at him, and a sense of hopelessness engulfed Harry. Of course, if she had known anything, she would have told Flitwick or Dumbledore, who had surely asked her the same question. He had shaken his head, and made to turn away, when she spoke in a low voice.

‘I stole the diadem from my mother.’

‘You – you did what?’

‘I stole the diadem,’ repeated Helena Ravenclaw in a whisper. ‘I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it.’

He did not know how he had managed to gain her confidence, and did not ask: he simply listened, hard, as she went on, ‘My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts.

‘Then my mother fell ill – fatally ill. In spite of my perfidy, she was desperate to see me one more time. She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so.’

Harry waited. She drew a deep breath and threw back her head.

‘He tracked me to the forest where I was hiding. When I refused to return with him, he became violent. The Baron was always a hot-tempered man. Furious at my refusal, jealous of my freedom, he stabbed me.’

‘The Baron? You mean –?’

‘The Bloody Baron, yes,’ said the Grey Lady, and she lifted aside the cloak she wore to reveal a single dark wound in her white chest. ‘When he saw what he had done, he was overcome with remorse. He took the weapon that had claimed my life, and used it to kill himself. All these centuries later, he wears his chains as an act of penitence … as he should,’ she added bitterly.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling