the pearl

Grimmauld: The Incident At 12 Grimmauld Place

Grimmauld: The Incident At 12 Grimmauld Place
By G. Markaway, Marshlands School Of Wizarding Society
Published in the Wizarding Society Journal, October 2076

Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was born evil.

The reader may find that a rather pejorative opening statement, but it does seem to be, as near as can be determined, quite accurate.


The original house, before the Black family moved in and made it their own, was one of a number of anonymous mid-terrace properties built on Grimmauld Place after the Muggle World War II. Before there was a Grimmauld Place, however, there was a large crumbling manor, built in 1753 by Aristotle Grimmauld, a wizard of some repute in the mercantile world.

The Grimmauld line died out shortly before the war under still-undetermined circumstances (i), and the manor quickly fell into disrepair, the wards protecting it from any form of attack failing before the start of WWII, during which the manor was destroyed in a German bombing.

It was shortly after the houses were built in 1950 that Auriga Black purchased Number 12, through an anonymous company that was regularly used for his dealings with the Muggle world (ii). For the next five years, Black performed every protection, deterrent, and confusion spell that can be applied to a non-living stationary object, as well as creating a number of spells to add further protection, many of which are now used in modern wizarding house building (iii). The house became unplottable, untraceable, and was virtually nonexistent to anyone outside of the wizarding world.

After the house met Black's standards, he moved into the house with his wife, Euphemia Meliflua Black, and two house elves. Things were relatively peaceful for a few years, and then Grimmauld Place took its first victim.

One of the house elves, Kreaking, had, according to the report given by Mr. & Mrs. Black, simply "fallen down the stairs" (iv). While this was, apparently, quite a common occurrence for this house elf, it was, however, the first time that he had taken someone with him. Mariella Letizia De Torres, a Spanish witch who had been interviewing for a nanny position, had been following Kreaking through the house when, according to Mr. & Mrs. Black, he tripped, fell down the stairs, and pulled Miss De Torres to her death.

After an investigation by the Ministry of Magic, Kreaking was executed by Mrs. Black, and, to this day, his head can be seen amid the other house elf heads on display at 12 Grimmauld Place.

This was the first death connected with 12 Grimmauld Place, and it would not be the last.


For many years after that fateful afternoon, Grimmauld Place became known for a number of unexplainable deaths that seemed to take place shortly after or during visits to the ill-fated house (v). There were accusations of poisons and curses, as is inevitable when a high status family is the subject of intense media scrutiny (vi), but none of the accusations could be proven, and even after the eventual use of Veritaserum, the Black Family could not be proved to have anything to do with the deaths (vii).

It was shortly after Auriga Black's death in 1965, again under mysterious circumstances, that there began to be a rumour that the house itself was responsible for the deaths.

This rumour was ignored by many of the more powerful families until the rise of the Dark Lord, when the many deaths in wizarding world led to a resurgence in rumour mongering and scapegoating (viii). With the death of Regulus Black, their younger son, in a Death Eater-related incident, the rumours grew, coming to a vicious head with the imprisonment of Sirius Black, their older son, after the murder of thirteen people.

With the temporary defeat of the Dark Lord, the rumours concerning 12 Grimmauld Place faded into obscurity, along with Euphemia Black, who became known only for the long and detailed letters she would send to The Daily Prophet's editorial pages (ix). She died in 1985, having never left the house since Regulus's death in 1979. From then, the house was populated only by Kreacher, the second house elf who came with the family back in 1950, and 12 Grimmauld Place fell into disrepair.

While Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban Prison in 1993, he did not return to 12 Grimmauld Place for two years. From the house, Albus Dumbledore restarted the Order Of The Phoenix, the society essentially responsible for the eventual elimination of the Dark Lord and his Death Eater hierarchy (x).

With Sirius Black's death, the residence passed to his godson, Harry Potter. After the destruction of the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters, Potter moved into the house and lived there, as quietly and without fanfare as possible, until his eventual descent into old age and death. He brought two house elves with him, named Winky and Dobby, who had been taken on by Hogwarts after being freed and then moved to follow Potter after his final year (xi).

When Potter died, Winky returned to Hogwarts, and Dobby stayed in the house, still filled with a variety of Dark Arts artifacts, a collection of house elf heads, and the ephemera of a man who had been called "the saviour of the wizarding world" on a number of occasions.

It is extremely rare for a house elf to commit suicide. Many of them simply move from household to household, their need to serve far outweighing post-mortem loyalties (xii). In this case, however, a year after Potter's death, Dobby was found hanging from the second-story stair railing. With no one else living in the house, no magical portraits hanging on the wall, and no one having visited since Potter's death, it was ruled as a suicide (xiii).

The house passed to the next living relative in the Black family, a distant cousin, Chamaeleon Weasley, who owns it to this day. It is to her this author owes a great deal of thanks, for without her permission to visit the house, none of this research would have come to be.


The team going into the house consisted of Grace Markaway, the author of this book, Remus Weasley, a nephew of Chamaeleon Weasley and who will be the next owner of the house, and two women who had been referred to Markaway as possible conduits for whatever was discovered within the house.

The first was an American Muggle-born witch named Theodora (no last name given), who had developed extremely strong skills in Legilimency with no formal training in the art. Her ability manifested in early childhood, and she consistently scored extremely high on the Zener Card tests Muggle parapsychologists regularly gave her (xiv). After her introduction to the wizarding world and full training in both Legilimency and Occlumency, she had become an occasional researcher into the unexplained, and was more than willing to visit the United Kingdom for this project.

The second was the second daughter of the successful Herbology family, the Longbottoms. Ellenora Longbottom was born shortly after her father's death, and was, to the amazement of the wizarding spectral research community, the only young girl known in wizard history to be the sole focus of attention from a poltergeist (xv). While this is standard practice for poltergeists in the Muggle world, the ability for even a small child to spell a poltergeist away usually means that the spectral entity learns to widen its range of victims. In Ellenora's case, she told no one about the poltergeist for several years, refusing to even speak of it to this day.

In hindsight, if more attention had been given to the mental and physical capabilities of the team, none of the terrible incidents that occurred would have happened. The author takes full responsibility for what happened on that fateful night in August, and apologises, again, to her fellow team members and the family of Ellenora Longbottom.


The team arrived at the house in the middle of a perfect afternoon on August 4th, 2075. They brought with them a number of devices to measure spectral phenomenon in the house, enough supplies to last several days, and, at Chamaeleon Weasley's insistence, a small collection of Dark Arts detectors, countercharms, and counterpotions, in case of any "incidents", as she delicately put it.

They quickly settled into the house, choosing bedrooms that had suffered the least amount of damage over the years, did a small bit of exploring around the house, and the team was in high spirits when they rejoined for supper. At this supper, Markaway detailed the history of the house, and it was during this conversation they had their first inexplicable incident.

At the same time that Markaway had told the team that there were a number of charms placed upon the house to keep the lamps dim and all the doors shut, every door they had propped open during their explorations instantaneously slammed shut.

Upon a quick search of the house, they discovered that only one door remained open — a door from the main hallway to a small cloakroom, which none of them remembered opening and, in fact, faced a large charred section of wall, where, according to the notes Markaway had, was where a large portrait of Euphemia Black once hung, placed on the wall with a Permanent Sticking Charm and finally removed by Potter when he first moved in (xvi).

The devices that Markaway brought in to detect spectral phenomena could not see anything, not even when, suddenly, the door shut in front of them. The SpectroGoggles did not see any emanations, the various detectors remained still, and the only thing that even faintly picked up something was Markaway's Secrecy Sensor, which twitched faintly, but that can be explained away by the table it was resting on, which jumped when the doors slammed.

While many charms often make inanimate objects seem sentient (xvii), it is rare for a charm to be activated by polite conversation in a separate room. Plus, with the single door refusing to shut, it seemed that there was something more to the house than just a particularly enthusiastic charm.


This was proven later in the night by an even stranger incident. Weasley, sitting in one of the lounges and discussing the possibilities of the house with Markaway, saw, out of the corner of his eye, what he believed to be a large black dog. Sirius Black, one of the former owners of the house, had, after his death, been revealed to be an animagus, taking the form of a large black dog (xviii), and, naturally, Weasley and Markaway began to search for this dog.

According to Theodora and Ellenora, it was during this time that a loud tapping began to echo through the first floor, running along the hallways and knocking on the bedroom doors. The tapping grew louder as it approached the bedroom where the two women were, becoming less like a tapping and more like a cannon. The banging intensified, drowning out the women's screams, but, suddenly, stopped, leaving two near-hysterical women and two rather confused people who had been chasing what appeared to be a dog.

The SpectraScopes, Secrecy Sensors, and SpectroGoggles recorded nothing during this time. The Muggle recording devices that Markaway also brought along recorded only the sounds of Theodora and Ellenora screaming, plus the footsteps of Markaway and Weasley as they looked for this mysterious dog.

With no impartial witness to the events, it was agreed that the team would write down their version of the events, and then attempt to get some sleep.


In the morning, the team discovered a new and even more shocking event had occurred during the night, while the team slept, or, perhaps, even during the tapping on the walls. Along the walls of the main hallway, including across the scorched area where Euphemia Black's portrait once hung, someone had written in chalk:


This repeated on both sides of the hall in a sloppy child-like scrawl, the words crooked and oddly spaced.

As a child, Ellenora Longbottom's poltergeist activity manifested itself in three very specific forms. The first, focused only on her, was a regular series of scratches and bites that would appear on her body, in places that would be extremely difficult to self-inflict those injuries. The second, focused on the entire family after the discovery of the poltergeist, consisted of stones being thrown from the sky, ranging from small showers of gravel to, at one instance, a rather large monolith landing in the middle of their sitting room. And the third, which would appear wherever Ellenora was for any large amount of time (including her home, her school, and the inn her family stayed in whenever the poltergeist activity grew too strong), was writing on the walls in chalk (xix).

This last activity was regularly dismissed as Ellenora looking for attention, and, in the interest of fair reporting, the team also believed that at first. However, as Ellenora repeatedly denied knowledge of writing this, the team began to believe her, but, at the same time, began to consider her a liability to the investigation.

This was the point where it could be said that the investigation was doomed. The night before, the team had retired optimistically, thinking about the next day's adventures and the possibilities that faced them. And, at this time, with ghostly tapping that only two people heard, a dog that only two people saw, and writing on the wall naming one already near-hysterical woman, the team was obviously fractured, and it would take very little to shatter them apart.


However, any major explosion needs a catalyst, and despite the unexplainable incidents that had occurred within the walls of Grimmauld Place, there was no single event to set everything off. The incident that set the tragic events in full motion was the arrival of a new team member, Dr. John Markaway, the husband of G. Markaway, and a well-respected Muggle parapsychologist in his own regard. He did not believe that a house such as 12 Grimmauld Place could have supernatural qualities without the empirical evidence of ghosts or curses, and was determined to prove so with Muggle scientific equipment.

Markaway had asked her husband not to join them at 12 Grimmauld Place until they had exhausted all magical possibilities, but a cancelled conference and innate curiosity got to Dr. Markaway, and he arrived with a boot full of devices that he was convinced would prove his wife wrong.

His arrival came as something of a shock to Ellenora, who, as near as can be determined now, had begun to develop a complex fantasy life around the house and Markaway. According to Lilianne O'Leary, Ellenora's sister, Ellenora, who had spent most of her adult life caring for their invalid mother, had been acting strange since their mother's death six months ago, and, since that time, had spent most days reading old diaries and novels they discovered in a trunk that belonged to their grandfather, Neville Longbottom (xx).

It seemed that, having read about 12 Grimmauld Place and the second Voldemort War, Ellenora developed a rather twisted affection for the house long before she arrived. Once she had arrived, she began to create a more and more elaborate imaginary world around it, to where she began to believe that the house was a home for her, away from the small room her sister had given her, away from the outside world she had to give up when her mother became ill, away from everything that terrified her, and away from any place where Markaway and herself could not be together.

It is unfortunate, then, that Dr. Markaway chose to arrive when he did. Along with the hysteria brought on by the messages on the walls, seeing that Markaway was happily married must have permanently damaged something in Ellenora's psyche. Or, perhaps, it was the final crack that allowed 12 Grimmauld Place to fully take control of her.


Before Dr. Markaway arrived, however, the team had been continuing their exploration of the house. Along with a variety of rooms that had obvious signs of a struggle (brought about by Potter's rather drastic measures to rid the house of all Dark Arts related materials (xxi)), there were also several rooms that appeared to have been left alone since the time of Auriga and Euphemia Black, having simply been locked and ignored for many years.

One of these rooms was the nursery, which had been closed off entirely, the door locked and hidden behind a magical tapestry after the Black children reached adolescence, and then remaining locked after Dumbledore, and then Potter, moved in. The nursery remained locked, and the team noted what was referred to in Muggle parapsychology as a "cold spot" (xxii). Both Theodora and Ellenora expressed a general unsettled feeling, as well as a chill, and wished to quickly move on, but none of the devices detected anything out of the ordinary — not even a basic Muggle thermometer noticed the temperature fluctuation.

Theodora, while the devices were being tested, walked down the hallway to the bedroom she had slept in, counting off steps and remembering the night before. After some mental calculations, she determined that the banging began at the nursery and ran down the hallway to the bedroom. It was at this time that Weasley discovered a thin stick of chalk wedged tightly against the nursery door.

The nursery remained locked, but, based on this evidence, the team began to believe that the nursery was the centre of the phenomena that surrounded them. Naturally, then, when Dr. Markaway chose to come to 12 Grimmauld Place, he demanded that he sleep in the nursery, surrounded by his scientific instruments, to measure the phenomena as it occurred. Although the team protested this decision, even Ellenora, who had suggested it in the first place in spite, Dr. Markaway was determined to stay in that room, and, in fact, had procured the skeleton key from Chamaeleon Weasley before arriving.

But the nursery door was open when the team got to it, and, with great trepidation, the team retired for the night, Dr. Markaway and his Muggle instruments upstairs, and the wizarding team in the lounge, none of them wishing to sleep alone on this night.


It was during this night that tragedy struck.

When it began, it seemed that, despite Dr. Markaway residing in the nursery, there would be no spectral phenomena. The team, having spent most of the afternoon and evening in a heightened state of nervousness, began to relax, making jokes and recalling the events of the night before.

That was, of course, when the house chose to strike back. Without any warning, the floor seemed to tilt, dramatically, knocking the team off of their feet. Doors seemed to bend, walls creaked, and the house was on the verge of collapse. The team held onto whatever they could find in an attempt to keep themselves upright, but they quickly landed on the floor, hopelessly clutching at pieces of furniture to hang on.

However, just as quickly as it started, it finished, leaving Markaway, Weasley, and Theodora on the floor and, inexplicably, Ellenora standing. Before the rest of the team could react, she was out the door, running up towards the nursery in a panic. The team followed and, distressingly, discovered that Dr. Markaway, and his equipment, had disappeared.

The team, except for Ellenora, who stayed in the nursery, began to search the house, looking for Dr. Markaway. While they searched, it is believed that Ellenora's fantasy world began to unravel, leaving her extremely vulnerable to the house and its unnatural ways.

Upon their return, Ellenora informed the team that the house had taken Dr. Markaway as a "gift" to her, and that, she "would be staying here forever." (xxiii) Naturally, the team attempted to reason with her, but she would have none of it, refusing to speak to them as she sat on the floor of the nursery, surrounded by the decrepit and decayed toys the Black children once played with.

The team moved to the hallway, and discussed the best possible way to get Ellenora out of the house and into some form of care. After determining the best possible route, they returned to the nursery, wands at the ready, and quickly immobilised her, apologising profusely when she began to cry.

They moved her from the nursery into the hallway, then released her, providing her with her suitcases and their pity. Ellenora protested viciously at being forced to leave, but, inevitably, began to walk down the stairs towards the entrance, repeating that the house "wanted" her.

It is difficult to explain what happened next, but this is what the team believes happened:

  1. While Ellenora walked down the stairs, Dr. Markaway, having run off in the middle of the night to explore a sound he heard coming from the attic, returned, looking haggard and distraught.
  2. When Ellenora saw Dr. Markaway, she panicked, and tripped on the staircase.
  3. Ellenora fell down the stairs, breaking her neck when she reached the bottom and dying instantaneously.

This unfortunate series of events would go without notice, if it had not been the same spot that Mariella Letizia De Torres had died on, one hundred and fifteen years earlier. Also, although this could not be verified by any device, or, even, the accounts of the other team members, but Theodora and Markaway both claimed to see a small figure lunge at Ellenora just before she tripped.

The figure was about the size and shape of a house elf, even though there had been no house elves living in 12 Grimmauld Place for nearly fifteen years.


Despite this minor mystery, the Ministry of Magic declared Ellenora's death an accident, and quickly closed 12 Grimmauld Place down, refusing any further investigation. (xxiv)

Chamaeleon Weasley and her nephew, Remus, quickly slated 12 Grimmauld Place for demolition, despite protests from the Wizarding Historical Society, and were planning to, according to Remus, "tear it down and salt the earth." (xxv)

However, at the time of publication of this article, 12 Grimmauld Place still stands, a testament to darkness, to insanity, and to death.



  1. See Jasper Cockleburr's "Nigellus vs. Grimmauld: The Dangers of Inter-House Rivalries", Obscurus Books, 1986, or, for a differing viewpoint, Araminta Meliflua's "Grimmauld: The Recent Menace", Cirrus Publishing, 1910.
  2. Andrewsdaughter, Caspar, "Blood Money: How Pureblood Wizards Profit In The Non-Magical World", Ravendor Press, 2005
  3. Chiselhand, Caelum, "A Modern Habitat: Building In Muggle City Centres", Apollonius Press, 1970
  4. Ministry Of Magic, "Testimony: Auriga & Euphemia Black", September 17th, 1959
  5. Ministry Of Magic, "12 Grimmauld Place", collected file, released 2055
  6. Lestrange, Rudolfa, "The Daily Profit: How Your Need For News Ruins Families", Cirrus Publishing, 1990
  7. Ministry Of Magic, "Testimony: Auriga Black", July 20th, 1963
  8. Bones, Albert, "Rumours And Riddles During The First Great War", Ravendor Press, 2000
  9. O'Connelly, Patrick, et al., "The Readers Speak: The Best Of The Daily Prophet's Letters", Propheteering Publishing, 1991
  10. Lupin, RJ, "Burn: My Life With The Order Of The Phoenix", Ravendor Press, 2015
  11. Granger-Weasley, Ginerva, "Harry Potter: A Biography", Ravendor Press, 2050
  12. Granger-Weasley, Hermione, "House Elves: The Shameful Wizarding Secret", Ravendor Press, 2003
  13. Ministry Of Magic, "Post-Mortem Report: Dobby the House Elf", November 3rd, 2041
  14. Dobson, Wright, Chegwin, et al., "An Evaluation Of Extra-Sensory Perception In Pre-Adolescent Females", Harvard Parapsychological Press, 2065
  15. Chufflewaith, Eustace, "Spooks And Spectres: Household Ghosts And What To Do With Them", Propheteering Publishing, 2060
  16. Lupin, RJ, ibid
  17. Goldfinch-Gramophone, Maurice, "A Living Home: Household Charms For Beginners", Obscurus Books, 2020
  18. Lupin, RJ, ibid
  19. Chufflewaith, Eustace, II, "Poltergeists And Other Spectral Phenomena", Ravendor Press, 2074
  20. Ministry Of Magic, "Testimony: Lilianne Longbottom O'Leary, August 7th, 2075"
  21. Granger-Weasley, Ginerva, ibid
  22. Markaway, John & Grace, "The Nonmagical Realm Of Parapsychology: A Guide", Ravendoor Press, 2070
  23. Ministry Of Magic, "Testimony: Theodora, August 6th, 2075"
  24. Ministry Of Magic, "Ellenora Longbottom", collected file, released 2076
  25. Conversation with Remus Weasley, January 2076.

This Harry Potter/The Haunting story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at