You guys didn’t think I was going to make it through A to Z without talking about at least one more lady from the Harry Potter series, right? Honestly, it was difficult not to just fill up the list with characters from the series, because it is a very expansive series with a lot of wonderful female characters to talk about…And so many of them are witches, obviously! But in the interest of fairness, I decided to limit myself, and I chose characters like Fleur–and Helena–who are often misunderstood or completely ignored.
Helena Ravenclaw is the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw (one of Hogwarts’ four founders); by the time Harry and his friends are in school, she has been The Grey Lady, ghost of Ravenclaw House, for centuries. Helena Ravenclaw is a rather mysterious witch–even as a ghost she is quite introverted, and so not a lot is known about her. Though she appears several times throughout the series, the only time we really hear her voice is in the sixth book of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In his quest to find the horcruxes and destroy them, Harry realizes that the lost Ravenclaw Diadem (the last known relic belonging to Rowena Ravenclaw) is probably one of the horcruxes—he searches for the Grey Lady in his efforts to learn more about the object.
During Harry’s conversation with Helena Ravenclaw, short as it may be, we learn quite a bit about the witch who haunts the castle–and about the Bloody Baron, the Slytherin House ghost. Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, we learn, was stolen by her daughter when she was a student at Hogwarts. The diadem was a jeweled headband set with a large, oval-shaped sapphire that had been enchanted to make its wearer more intelligent. Helena fled to Albania with the diadem. Her mother became quite ill in her absence, and she sent a man to Albania to bring her daughter home. The man, who had made advances and been rebuffed by Helena before, found Helena Ravenclaw and tried to compel her to come home. She stashed the diadem in a tree and refused his advances again, refusing to come home. In a fit of rage he stabbed her, and then he was so overcome with grief that he killed himself, too. The two became ghosts at Hogwarts—Helena became Grey Lady of Ravenclaw, and the man became Slytherin House’s ghost, the Bloody Baron covered in blood cursed to drag around his chains for eternity. Helena Ravenclaw also reveals another secret history to Harry. She has told this story before, to a young boy named Tom Riddle. Riddle, of course, eventually became Voldemort and used the diadem as one of his horcruxes.
What a life—and death—has Helena. She attends classes at Hogwarts still, often sitting in Transfiguration classes and taking notes. Ravenclaw students suggest that she has been quite helpful to them, especially when they have lost things. Perhaps it is her propensity for finding lost things that I like so much about her. And maybe that relates somehow to her entire story, as it is all wrapped up in things lost and things found.