- "Unstable and cruel, Gormlaith was a fanatical pure-blood who believed that her sister’s helpfulness to her Muggle neighbours, was setting Isolt upon a dangerous path to intermarriage with a non-magical man."
- —Gormlaith's prejudice and supremacist beliefs[src]
Gormlaith Gaunt (c. 1576 – 1634) was an Irish pure-blood witch. She was the aunt of Isolt Sayre, the founder of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Gormlaith had attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where she was sorted into Slytherin House.
Gormlaith believed strongly in pure-blood supremacy and had an intense hatred for anyone that went against these views. Her hatred went so deep that she murdered her own sister for showing sympathy towards her Muggle neighbours. Gormlaith died in 1634, while trying to enact revenge against Isolt and her family.
Gormlaith was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was born into the Irish branch of the family. She believed in the same pure-blood supremacy Slytherin did and owned his wand.
Raising Isolt Sayre
Gormlaith became estranged from Rionach by the time her niece Isolt Sayre was born around 1603; this was most likely due to their differing beliefs. Rionach was helpful to her Muggle neighbours by producing cures for them and their livestock and did not seem to share her family's beliefs in their pure blood superiority. One day, Gormlaith started a fire at Rionach's house of Ilvermorny Cottage which killed her and her husband William Sayre. Gormlaith "saved" Isolt because she hoped to put her on the "right path". She believed Rionach's idea of helping Muggles would lead Isolt to marry one, of which the very idea was something Gormlaith found completely unacceptable. She then moved her niece to the neighbouring valley of Coomcallee.
Gormlaith kept Isolt in isolation for twelve years and was very wicked to her niece by making her watch when she jinxed any Muggle or animal which strayed too close to their cottage. She wouldn't let Isolt attend Hogwarts because she said it was an establishment which taught Mudbloods. She would say it was a shame Slytherin had been unable to stop them attending and wouldn't even let Isolt have her own wand. Gormlaith left Isolt feeling very alone while also thinking her aunt was insane. At some point, Gormlaith began teaching Isolt Dark magic until Isolt had learned enough to be able to escape along with Gormlaith's wand. However, Gormlaith was very good at hunting people down, and so she eventually found Isolt living in England. But when Isolt escaped a second time and took the Mayflower to the New World, Gormlaith would not find Isolt again for some time.
Some time later, around 1634, Gormlaith found out a headmistress at a new school of magic in the New World was nicknamed "Morrigan". She remembered her niece was named this by her father because of their lineage to Morrigan herself. When she also heard the school was named Ilvermorny, she knew it was Isolt because it was the name of the same cottage Isolt was born in and Gormlaith set fire to. She was also upset to hear Isolt had married a Muggle and opened the school up to anyone with magic and not a select few of pure-bloods.
Gormlaith went to Ollivanders, a wand shop she did not want to buy from. She was given a wand with a dragon heartstring core before she went on the ship Bonaventure under the guise of a man with the name of William Sayre — the same name of both Isolt's father and someone she killed. The Bonaventure landed in Virginia before Gormlaith made her way in the winter to Mount Greylock, Massachusetts where Ilvermorny School was placed. She wanted to kill Isolt and her husband James Steward and steal their young daughters, Martha and Rionach Steward, in which Gormlaith planned to set them on the same path she had hoped Isolt herself should have done.
Gormlaith then said a spell with the name of Isolt and James which put them in a deep sleep before she spoke Parseltongue to make Isolt's wand — which had originally belonged to Gormlaith — become inactive. But when Gormlaith went into Ilvermorny, she had not known Isolt had two adopted sons aged sixteen and fourteen who were skilled with a wand made of Horned Serpent horn. When she spoke Parseltongue, she had awoken their wands instead which warned Chadwick and Webster Boot of Gormlaith. Chadwick had dreamed of such a Dark witch coming to Ilvermorny and went out to meet and stop her.
Gormlaith underestimated Chadwick when they began to duel because even though she was more powerful than him, he had been well taught by Isolt. Gormlaith didn't want to kill Chadwick because she thought he was very talented and wanted to know whether he was a pure-blood. She told him she would not want to kill him if he was because he had so much potential. However, Chadwick would not reply and when Webster eventually joined them, the Horned Serpent horn core the brothers' wands shared increased their power. The duel woke up young Martha and Rionach Steward who were scared and cried for their parents. Gormlaith did not understand love and, as a result, the cries of their children woke Isolt and James by breaking through the enchantment Gormlaith had placed upon them.
Gormlaith, Chadwick, and Webster were then joined by Isolt, but the wand she took with her was still inactive and proved to be unhelpful. Gormlaith then drove them back inside the castle and upstairs to the room where she could hear her great-nieces crying. When Gormlaith managed to break down the door to the room, she found James standing in front of his daughters in order to protect them. But when Gormlaith went to kill him, Isolt said the name of her father William which instead called upon the pukwudgie she had befriended several years earlier. The pukwudgie pierced Gormlaith's heart with one of its poisonous arrows tipped with pukwudgie venom which-due to interaction with Gormlaith's own protective magic-reduced her to nothing except dust and a broken wand of which nothing but some of its core remained.
Gormlaith died unmourned by her immediate family. Her grand-niece Rionach Steward was the only one of her descendants who inherited the Gaunt family's ability to speak Parseltongue, but Rionach abhorred her great-aunt's memory. Indeed, it was rumoured (though never confirmed) that Rionach never married because she was afraid of producing offspring with the same ability, and hoped that, if she died childless, then the last of the Gaunt family line would die with her. In this she was mistaken, since the Gaunt family survived in England, eventually ending with Marvolo Gaunt, his children Morfin and Merope, his grandson, Tom Marvolo Riddle, and great-granddaughter, Delphini.
Personality and traits
Gormlaith was a pure-blood supremacist and dark witch with an unstable temper. She was obsessive, controlling, and homicidal, to the point where she was willing to murder her own sister due to not sharing traditional Gaunt family beliefs. She was so consumed by her pure-blood fanaticism that she was willing to kill at the slightest provocation, and would be willing to spare only pure-bloods but more than willing to murder or torture anyone else.
She was the portrait of a psychopath: possessed of delusions of grandeur, believing that purebloods were inherently greater and more powerful entities; enjoying the basic nuances of human torture and murder, taking great pleasure in ending human life; having no sense of remorse for her murders, and actually taking pleasure and pride in the ones she committed.
Magical abilities and skills
- Dark Arts mastery: Gormlaith was incredibly talented in the Dark Arts, having immersed herself into magic aimed largely at bringing pain and death to others, to the extent of it altering her physical appearance. She was noted to have forced her niece to watch as she cursed and jinxed any Muggle or animal that strayed too near their cottage, showing her proficiency with malicious spell-casting.
- Duelling: She was a gifted duellist, capable of overcoming the combined efforts of both Chadwick and Webster Boot during her attack on Ilvermorny and drove the brothers back inside the castle, despite the twin cores of their wands increasing their power tenfold, which speaks for her considerable capability at Martial magic.
- Tracking: Gormlaith was noted for her prodigious talent of tracking people down. She very easily managed to locate her niece in England when she fled from Gormlaith, only for Gormlaith to eventually find her not long after.
- Parseltongue: Gormlaith was a Parselmouth, a trait she inherited from her ancestor, Salazar Slytherin. She used Parseltongue to disable Isolt Sayre's wand.
- Gormlaith is a spelling derived from the name Gormflaith which is an Irish name meaning "blue or illustrious princess". It was one of the most popular Gaelic-Irish female forenames between the 8th and 16th century.
- 'Gorm' is also the Irish for 'blue' 'green' or 'grey' depending on the dialect.
- Gaunt is a way of describing the physical appearance of someone, meaning lean, haggard or grim.
Behind the scenes
- The merchant ship Bonaventure did list a William Sayre on the passenger manifest for its 1634 voyage to Virginia. The listed Sayre was 58 years old at the time.
- When she burned down Isolt's childhood home, it is very possible she accomplished this by the means of Fiendfyre, seeing as how both her sister and her brother-in-law were also possessing wands and magical ability but were unable to save themselves, yet Gormlaith could enter the burning building to 'rescue' her niece without endangering either of them, which would make sense if she controlled the flames and they could not be extinguished by the Water-Making Spell.
- Gormlaith's manner of death is described similarly to various deaths in the later Harry Potter films, particularly those of Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort.
Notes and references
- ↑ The passenger list for the Bonaventure lists William Sayre as "58" but it is unknown as to whether Gormlaith was lying about her age or not; there is a possibility that she was born in 1576 and actually was 58 at the time.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" at Pottermore
- ↑ Gormflaith on Wikipedia