|Beth H (bethbethbeth) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2009-04-30 12:22:00
|Entry tags:||beholder 2009, fic, grey lady, het, sir cadogan|
FIC: "Lady of Sorrows" for flourish
Title: Lady of Sorrows
Pairings: The Grey Lady/Sir Cadogan
Word Count: 5274
Warnings: Mild violence and an ending of the non-"happily ever after" variety
Summary: A budding romance between a ghost and a portrait could be a tale out of a storybook. But does Helena Ravenclaw's "fairy godfather" have good intentions, or something more sinister in mind?
Author's Notes: flourish asked for a complicated, non-fluffy relationship where magic was an integral part of the story. I hope this suits. (Also, I hope Cadogan's frequent use of "my lady" doesn't come across as smooshy; I certainly didn't intend it to. Please imagine him saying it in the most respectful fashion possible.) Thanks to my beta and the fest organizer for their help and patience.
The knight in the portrait had repeated his salutation at least three times before the ghost known as the Grey Lady realized he was speaking to her. She would have continued to ignore him, but the other paintings’ irritated murmurs as he ran clanking through their frames after her made it difficult for her to pretend ignorance of the commotion. Silent as ever, she glided to a stop and spun to face her pursuer.
Had she been hoping for a dashing figure, she would have found herself disappointed. ‘Stocky’ was too generous a term for his overall height and shape, and his walrus brush of a mustache was badly in need of a trim. Still, he carried himself with surprising grace and strength, especially taking into account the weight of his armor, and his brown eyes glinted with a spark of intelligence she was not accustomed to encountering in fighting men.
Or so she thought, until he stopped panting long enough to state his business. “Would you be so kind as to direct me to Gryffindor Tower?”
The Grey Lady raised an eyebrow. Behind the knight, several of the other portraits whose scenes he had disturbed were doing the same.
“Quite right, my lady,” the knight responded, as though she had spoken. “I could have called upon another for aid. But in all my travels, none I have met or observed carry themselves with such purpose toward their destination. Only one of such unswerving focus and determination could I trust to guide me.”
She had been expecting a sheepish apology, or some sort of paean to her silvery hair and eyes. Instead, she found herself oddly charmed by the compliment. “Gryffindor Tower is at the other end of the castle. Go down this hallway, to the left, up the staircase…” The one which had no pictures hung in it, she remembered just in time. “No, never mind. Take a shortcut through the Headmaster’s office and keep going until you reach the Fat Lady. You’ll need to get by her in order to get in.” A task which, she reflected, should pose very little trouble to one with such a gift for flattery.
The knight chuckled. “No fear. ‘Tis she Headmaster Dippet has requested I relieve while she visits a friend.” He bowed deeply. “Many thanks for your assistance. Might I persuade you to accompany me there?”
She fought back a small, unwanted smile at his hopeful expression. “Don’t press your advantage, sir knight.”
“’Tis Cadogan, my lady.” He bowed again. “Sir Cadogan of Merionethshire. Cadogan the Wizard-Knight, Knight of the Shattered Shield and Gryffindor’s man to the bitter end.”
Startled, she scrutinized him again, this time searching for familiar features. The armor didn’t seem quite right, but she had never paid much attention to such things. “You knew Godric Gryffindor?”
“Nay, my lady. I was born three centuries too late for that honor. I speak of Llewellyn Gryffindor, last of his direct line, who taught me what magic I know and whose gracious commendation led to my commemoration here some centuries later.” His chest swelled with pride, and for an instant, ‘dashing’ did not seem the most ridiculous description imaginable for him. “But I must be about my business, and I fear our conversation must wait. Perhaps we may continue it anon?”
She offered him a brief curtsey. “Perhaps.”
“Until then.” He smiled, and this time, she was unable to resist returning the gesture. With one last bow, he charged back the way he had come, sending the other portraits scurrying for cover.
The Grey Lady watched him go, wondering how she had been the one left wanting more.
Nearly a week passed before the Grey Lady returned to the spot where she had met Sir Cadogan, though the thought of doing so was seldom from her mind. At first, she felt the need to justify the errand with some pretext, but could come up with nothing other than the belief she might enjoy it. This conclusion unnerved her so deeply that she required several more days of indirect analysis and self-reflection before she could confront it head-on.
Ultimately, the smile was what persuaded her to retrace her steps. A long time ago, she had learned to divide the world into two groups of beings: those who ignored her, and those who thought there was something to be gained from cultivating her friendship, whether that was access to the Ravenclaw secrets or some baser gratification. She could not recall anyone who had sought her out for the sake of pure companionship, let alone seemed to find genuine pleasure in her company. And it had been pure and genuine, she was certain, or she would not have smiled back. Not after the experiences that had led her to prefer being ignored.
Cadogan was in his own portrait when she located him, galloping through a field on the back of a squat, well-fed pony. Seeing her, he nearly lost control of his mount.
“Hold, Gwythyr!” he ordered. Bringing the pony to a balky stop, he swung himself off and doffed his helmet. “Good to see you again, my lady.”
Expecting the next question to be concerning the reason for her delay, she hesitated, unsure of whether to offer the explanation herself. But from the twinkle in his eyes, she gathered he was not the slightest bit concerned with anything other than the fact she was here now. “As I recall, you wished to hear more regarding Sir Llewellyn?”
Before she could assent, he launched into a rollicking tale of an evening spent camping by the side of a road in the North Country after a skirmish: Llewellyn in one tent, his men in another. The latter awoke to found their small band surrounded by a host of highwaymen who had already slain the sentry and taken the liberty of relieving the soldiers of their arms. Just as they prepared to defend themselves as best they could, a disgruntled Llewellyn emerged from his own tent with eyes still half-shut in slumber, single-handedly dispatched half the brigands, and sent the rest fleeing for their lives with an admonition not to return ‘til morning ringing in their ears.
“His ancestor was just the same,” she found herself saying, once she had stopped laughing. “Worked without rest for weeks when the occasion demanded it, but heaven help the man who disturbed Godric Gryffindor once he retired for the night at last!”
Cadogan, she realized, no longer shared her mirth, but was regarding her thoughtfully. “My lady…the question you posed earlier…might I enquire the same of you?”
The last echoes of her own laughter died away. So his failure to press her for information earlier had not been disinterest after all. He simply hadn’t known. A part of her longed to keep him in ignorance. But if the knowledge was going to change his treatment of her, she might as well see its effect now. “I did. I am – was – the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw.”
He said nothing, nor pressed her to elaborate, simply maintaining the same inquisitive expression. Soon, she found herself sharing stories of her own, stories that under his patient gaze took on a rosier cast than they would have otherwise, stories she had nearly forgotten: of her mother coaxing her to sleep with visions of the school she intended to build, of racing through the half-finished halls of Hogwarts, of sneaking into the Great Hall the night of the first Sorting Ceremony and watching with eager eyes as she pictured placing the Hat on her own head.
“’Tis little wonder you were so eager to remain here for all eternity,” he breathed.
“No,” she admitted. Surely he would hear the full story soon enough, if he was not already toying with her – though she did not think a look of such innocent captivation could be counterfeited. Still, she felt compelled to hold back the most sordid details. “I fled with something very precious to her, and died in my pride and anger. Thinking to reproach her for her part in what happened, I made my way back. But by then, she had passed on herself, and my anger had faded. And with nowhere else to go, here I stayed.”
Cadogan closed his eyes. She steeled herself for condemnation. Instead, he spoke so quietly she had to strain to hear. “I am no stranger myself to what it means to defy a parent,” he told her. “I was the youngest of three brothers, born to Muggle minor nobles who believed their fertile years long behind them when I arrived. There was little inheritance to divide as it was, so on my eighth nameday, my father handed me over body and soul to the Church.”
“Magicked the bars from my abbey cell the third night – though little did I know ‘twas magic then. I only saw the path to freedom. So out the window I went, and never once looked back.”
His voice had returned to normal volume, yet she still leaned forward to catch his words. “And what happened then?”
A smile stretched slowly across his face. “I fear that is rather a long tale, my Lady Ravenclaw.”
“Helena,” she corrected him. After years of disuse, the name felt strange on her tongue, but fitting. “Please.”
After their first talk, Helena hesitated less before paying Cadogan a visit. She would have come daily, had she not feared he would tire of seeing her. Besides, a small part of her took a certain relish in the anticipation.
One afternoon, after a particularly long absence, she arrived only to be met with an empty meadow. In the distance, Gwythyr munched happily away at a tall patch of grass, but Cadogan was nowhere to be seen.
“He isn’t here.” Startled, she turned to find a handsome, dark-haired boy in Slytherin robes and a prefect badge leaning against the opposite wall. His general attitude bespoke nonchalance, but the intensity of his stare reminded her strangely of someone she had known long ago. “The Headmasters’ portraits have gotten into another quarrel over who deserves the frame behind Dippet’s chair, and he needed to step away to restore the peace. Or so he asked me to tell you before rushing off.”
Attempting to conceal her interest in this information under her usual detachment would have been futile even with a less attentive student, she decided. “Thank you.”
The boy continued watching her. She braced herself for a smirk or scorn, rather than the respectful tone which followed. “May I ask you a rather personal question?”
“What?” she asked warily. A long time had passed since any students had ferreted out her identity, but after the talks with Cadogan, those memories were even fresher than usual.
He seemed to take this for assent. “What is being a ghost like?”
Helena paused. Several possible answers came to mind, most of them centered on the monotony, the frustration of watching life rush past around her. Then she reflected on the past few weeks with Cadogan, and the description no longer seemed apt.
The boy was still waiting for a response, she realized. “No worse than being alive.”
Something in the depths of the boy’s eyes sparked. He nodded once to her in thanks, then strode off down the corridor before she could respond with any inquiries of her own.
Although Helena had known the initial joy of discovery could not last forever, she was nonetheless dismayed some months later to discover that a tension had sprung up between herself and Cadogan. Increasingly, the flow of conversation was broken by long pauses between anecdotes, in which they would stare at each other expectantly but fail to break the stalemate. Goodbyes, too, had somehow become an ordeal of drawn-out silences and aborted, repetitive efforts to depart on a satisfactory note.
Ending the friendship was unthinkable; going too long without seeing him left her more restless than the alternative, and she kept forgetting why she had hesitated when his face lit up in greeting, or when he launched into a new tale of his exploits. But more and more, she came away from their meetings with an emptiness she could not place.
One evening, as she returned to Ravenclaw in a particularly dissatisfied mood, she came upon one of the fifth-year girls and a boy in Hufflepuff yellow saying goodnight at the door. Though their small talk grew thinner and thinner, and the transitions between topics more and more awkward, Helena could tell that neither of them wanted to leave. Just as the girl prepared to introduce a new bit of chatter, the boy leaned forward and cut her off with a kiss. Her eyes flew wide open in surprise for a second, then shut as she pulled him closer, twining her arms about him.
Only then did the realization of what was she had been missing come crashing down on Helena.
Leaving the new couple to their embrace, she floated through the halls, dazed. In life, she had kissed and been kissed by men, but there had never been mutual enthusiasm involved. Not that she was entirely certain Cadogan wanted to kiss her, but it didn’t take an intellect of her mother’s stature to infer his intent from the way he would sometimes step to the edge of the frame before remembering it was there when bidding her farewell.
And not, as the obstacle reminded her all too vividly, that desire could do anything to overcome their mutual limitations. She had died in part for her refusal to do what was expected of a dutiful if unexceptional daughter. Was this her reward, then? Condemned to act the part of a lovesick teenager without hope of reciprocation or reprieve?
“No crime could possibly be worth such a punishment.” Until the interjection, she had not realized she had spoken aloud, or that she was not alone. The voice sounded familiar. Turning, she discovered the Slytherin prefect with the strange question: out on patrols, she assumed. “Forgive me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, especially after my previous rudeness.”
“No matter, seeing as I lied to you.” She laughed bitterly, speaking her thoughts aloud rather than to him. “Friar Honorius told me once that he became a ghost because he feared he was already damned for his magic, in spite of his good deeds and pious life. My life was far from pious, and yet I cannot imagine a worse fate awaiting me in Hell.”
The boy seemed surprisingly untroubled by this tirade. Instead, he seated himself cross-legged before her and looked up, gaze attentive but less penetrating than before. “Perhaps you just need a better confessor.”
And so for the second time after so many years of silence, Helena found herself sharing her life story with a stranger. The second rendition did not come as naturally as the first: there were several points where she stopped, satisfied she had told enough. But every time she did, the boy had a gentle question or comment that compelled a response. By the time she was truly finished, she had told him even more than Cadogan, including the nature of her theft and the identity of her killer, and a good deal on the subject of her current feelings. She could tell he was eager to hear more of the former part of the tale – he was young, and no soldier; bloody drama would hold a certain natural fascination for him – but she needed little prompting once the words began to flow at that point, and he restrained himself.
After she was done, he turned away for a bit, quietly mulling over all she had said. “The Friar is wrong,” he declared at last. “Why are we put on this earth at all, if we are not meant to use those gifts and opportunities which present themselves to us?”
Helena shook her head. “No such opportunities remain for me.”
“I disagree.” She stared at him in confusion. “It happens that I’ve been conducting something of an independent study on the subject of soul transference and magical objects. Assuming I find what I’m looking for, I may be able to apply what I learn to your situation.”
Her eyes widened as the connection slid into place. “You mean…you think it would be possible to…”
The boy nodded. “Bring you into his world, so to speak.”
“If—“ She hesitated, half-embarrassed by her desperate willingness to entertain such a mad notion, half-afraid that her vague dreams might yet become solid reality. But only for a second. “If you were to find anything, I would be most grateful, Mr.—.”
“Call me Tom, and consider it done.” He stood and bowed to her in the same style as Cadogan. In other hands, she might have considered the gesture mocking. “A gift from one heir to another.”
Then once again, he was gone before she could puzzle out what he had meant.
Of all the people in the castle who might address her by name, the unseen voice that did so now was the one whose company she least welcomed. Even now, centuries after his accent had lost most of its distinctiveness, she could still feel her chest constrict at the slight aspiration on the first syllable. “Heinrich,” she replied, in her coldest tones.
The Baron drew up alongside her. “I must speak with you.”
She quickened her pace. “There is nothing you can say to me that I am interested in hearing.”
“I know.” He raced ahead, blocking her path. While she could have floated through him, it seemed clear he was not going to go away until she listened, so she settled for folding her arms. “Rumor about the castle has it that you have struck up a most unusual friendship.”
“What if I have?” she demanded. “Any time I spend with Sir Cadogan is none of your concern. I made it clear to you on the night you stabbed me that I would never be your property!”
In truth, she had been expecting the confrontation for some time now, but the Baron still seemed taken aback by her outburst. “Have you told him?” he asked at last.
“Not that it was you.” Cadogan, she felt certain, would respond in rage, and a duel in which neither participant could touch the other over an offense far too late to rectify would do no one any good.
His next question was a long time coming, and he seemed unable to look her full in the face. “Are you happy?”
Not sharing his fear or reluctance, she moved closer, until he had no choice. “Yes.”
With or for anyone else, the look on the Baron’s face would have inspired pity, but the best Helena could manage was a grim satisfaction. “Then I bow to the skill of a warrior greater than myself, for he has done what I could not.”
Her arms relaxed a fraction of an inch. “Is that all?”
He shook his head, setting his chains swinging. “It is not about Cadogan that I wished to speak to you.” Before she could interject, he continued. “You should not place so much of your trust in the Riddle boy.”
For a moment, she could not figure out who he meant. Then she remembered the Slytherin prefect and his impetuous promise of a few weeks past. “Tom, you mean? Don’t tell me you’re jealous of him.”
“No!” Despite her best efforts, she shied away at his vehemence. The gesture did not go unnoticed, for he lowered his voice. “I am the ghost of Slytherin House, sworn and bound to keep its secrets as surely as I am bound to my chains. But some secrets should not be kept. The girl from your house who now haunts the second floor has a story to tell that you should hear. It seems that she—”
“Myrtle is an impressionable, attention-starved girl who will say anything in exchange for a flattering word, especially one that comes from a man. As I am certain you already know.” She took advantage of his stung look to begin backing away down the hall. “Stay away from her, me, and all of us.”
As weeks turned to months without a word from Tom, though, Helena began to fear her warning had been for naught. Just when her hopes had all but faded to a wistful daydream, there came an evening in the Great Hall when she noticed Tom staring at her across the Slytherin table over supper, with a focus that would have put a snake to shame. Once he determined she had made eye contact, he turned and nodded to a small knot of younger students.
Immediately, one of the boys threw a punch at the other. The rest were quick to pile on. Before long, the entire House had been drawn into the fray, and the Baron was attempting to help the Headmaster and other professors restore order. In the commotion, Tom slipped away and motioned to her to follow.
They hurried down silent halls, coming to a stop in front of Cadogan’s portrait. In the foreground, the knight lay propped up on one hand, snoring gently. Beside him, Gwythyr nickered in his sleep.
“Side effect of the charm,” Tom explained, tapping the edge of the frame. Cadogan did not stir. “It should wear off once you’re inside.”
Helena examined the painting skeptically. It didn’t look any different on the surface. “How do I…?”
“I used a one-way modification of a Portkey spell on the canvas. As for how you enter, that’s largely a matter of will and belief.”
She frowned. Could it really be that simple? And if so, why did she find the execution so difficult to envision?
“I have my doubts as well,” admitted Tom. “But in a way, your very existence is an act of will, is it not? All you have to do is transfer that to your sense of place as well as self.”
How such a philosopher had been sorted into Slytherin and not her mother’s house, she could not fathom. “Will you wait here in case something goes wrong?”
“If it does, there’s very little I can do. Though I suppose I can read here as well as anywhere else.” He settled in beneath the portrait and pulled a small, leather-bound journal from the pocket of his robes.
Helena waited in vain for good wishes, but Tom already seemed absorbed in his new task. It appeared she would have to make her own luck. Her eyes took in every fleck of the portrait background, then every feature of Cadogan himself: his proud, solid bulk, his ruddy complexion, the dimples at the corners of his smile, his expressive eyes. “Here goes everything.”
She closed her eyes, picked up the hem of her skirts, and stepped through.
Her eyes opened again on a grassy field under a pale spring sky. Looking down, she gave a start to see her skirt no longer translucent, restored to its original royal blue. The hand still clutching it now bore the warm, pink tones of living flesh.
Experimentally, she took a step forward. Her own muscles seemed to respond appropriately, but she could not feel the ground beneath her. This would have distressed her, but the more acclimated she grew to her surroundings, the more she became conscious of missing aspects. The lack of birdsong, breezes, or even the scent of fresh earth left her increasingly disoriented.
Enough, she decided. If she concentrated too hard on the flaws, she might pull herself out of the scene altogether. She had to find Cadogan.
Making her way across the field as quickly as she could without a sense of her own footsteps to guide her, she discovered him still asleep in the foreground. She was debating how best to wake him when he opened his eyes in the middle of a particularly large snort and stared blinking up at her.
It was all she could do to keep from laughing in delight at his look of hopeful astonishment. “Helena? How…?” He shook his head, as though attempting to clear it as he stumbled to his feet. “Do I dream?”
“No dream,” she assured him, holding out her hand.
After a second’s hesitation, he reached out. His hand met hers – and slipped through, without even the brief sensation of dispersal that occurred when a living person accidentally made contact. It was as though there was nothing there at all to occupy the space.
They stood for a moment at arms’ length, watching each other: the oil paint representation of a long-dead knight and the insubstantial essence of a murdered woman.
Cadogan was the first to look away. “Perhaps…perhaps it is for the best,” he offered quietly, clearing his throat in a futile effort to remove a raspy undertone. “The bards say that the highest form of love is also the purest.”
“To hell with the bards,” she spat. “I haven’t come this close just to give up. Maybe there’s something else in Tom’s books, or maybe I just need to try harder, but there is a way. And I intend to find it.” Realizing he was gaping at her, her resolve faltered. Perhaps she had misjudged the situation after all. “If—that is, if you want me to.”
He still did not respond. She was about to apologize for her outspokenness when he laughed. “Did I not say you were a lady of determination and purpose when first we met?” He stepped forward and swept her a courtly bow, which had the side effect of bringing him toe-to-toe with her again. “’Twas an understatement of the highest order. Your lady mother may have been first among eagles, but Godric himself would have been shamed by the daughter’s fierce roar when roused.”
As he rose, he leaned forward and brushed her hand with his lips. She could see them pass through the outline of her knuckles, the nonexistent skin and bones…but for just a second, if she closed her eyes and concentrated – or maybe just imagined – she thought she could feel a whisper of sensation that set her tingling.
“I’ll be back,” she promised.
Tom was still seated at the foot of the portrait when she emerged, intently taking notes of some sort in his journal. The instant she addressed him, he slammed it shut and thrust it into his pocket before looking up, his expression more distracted – annoyed, even – than surprised. “It didn’t work?”
“Yes and no.” She explained what had happened, briefly. “I don’t know if the flaw is in the spell, or us, but…Is there anything else in the books you could try?”
“I suppose there are a few more sources I could check,” he acknowledged, with a strange diffidence. “But first, I need a favor from you.”
“What?” she asked, startled.
Although Tom shrugged as he got to his feet, he never once took his eyes off her. “I thought we might continue our conversation from earlier. Only this time, you could fill in a few of the missing details.”
Something in the way he lingered over the last words made her hesitate. “Tom, please don’t think I’m ungrateful for all you’ve already done, but…”
“This isn’t a request, Lady. Or a negotiation.” If the Baron’s warning had not already been lurking at the back of her mind, she would have been completely caught off-guard by the sudden absence of cordiality. “Merely payment for services rendered.”
“Before, you spoke of gifts,” she protested, hating the feeble, pleading note in her voice.
Tom laughed: a high mirthless sound, almost inhuman in its coldness. “Foolish shade. Centuries of experience and observation, and you truly believed anyone other than your idiot paramour would aid you out of the goodness of his heart?” He ignored Cadogan’s indignant sputtering. “I offered to help because your needs happened to serve my own. They no longer do. If you still desire my generosity, you’ll have to earn it.”
She glanced up at Cadogan, who smiled reassuringly down at her. His lady of determination and ferocity. She would not disappoint him. “Then I don’t need your generosity.”
“Pity. I’d hoped to accomplish this without resistance.” Tom drew the journal from the pocket of his robes again. “But at least this grants me an opportunity to test the other applications of my research.”
There was nothing he could to do her, or to stop her from fleeing, she knew. Yet she found herself paralyzed with a terrified fascination as he opened the diary. Above her, the same curiosity seemed to be holding Cadogan rapt. Without even a glance to ensure they were watching, Tom tapped one of the blank pages with his wand. “Corporeus.”
A silvery wisp floated up from the book. It grew, acquiring a human shape and features which turned more and more familiar until they had filled in completely. Cadogan uttered a shocked oath, and Helena gasped and floated backwards a step. Unperturbed, the second, ghostly Tom Riddle took its place beside the first, like some nightmarish negative of a shadow.
“Begone, fiend!” Cadogan demanded, as he scrabbled for the hilt of his sword. “Helena, fly! Sound the alarum!”
“Oh, be quiet,” said the corporeal Tom, leveling his wand at Cadogan. “Tabula obtusum!”
The canvas rippled violently. In an instant, it seemed to age decades, its most vibrant colors drained and faded. When it settled, Cadogan stood there blinking with the vacant stare of a Confundus Charm victim, sword forgotten on the ground beside him.
Before Helena could cry out, the spectral Tom was on her, one hand clamped over her mouth and the other wrapped around her neck. By some means she did not understand, he existed in a state that was both flesh and ectoplasm at once: she could actually feel the pressure of his fingers, but they still managed to penetrate and suffuse her essence. Had she not known such a thing was impossible, or been able to think through the fear and pain at all, she would have labeled the sensation ‘choking.’
“Now, then, Helena Ravenclaw,” said the Toms in cold, eerie unison, as the pressure on her airway released even as the buzzing in her head grew louder. Perhaps it was the disorientation, but for a second, she fancied she saw their eyes glow red. “Tell me more about the location of your mother’s diadem.”
In the days and weeks that followed, the other denizens of Hogwarts noticed a change in Sir Cadogan. He seemed to have lost awareness of his surroundings, only intermittently remembering that he was not his living counterpart. His emotions, too, were out of balance, as he alternated between challenging passerby to duels and enlisting their help in increasingly outlandish quests. Shaking their heads, they concluded he had gone mad, and Dippet banished his portrait to a far-off corner of the school.
Sometimes, though, when Cadogan’s distracted wanderings took him further afield than usual, or when the atmosphere in Ravenclaw Tower grew intolerably tense or collegial for a ghost who craved only solitude, his path would cross with a straight-backed figure. At such moments, a spark of buried purpose would flare to life in his eyes, and he would run after her in his now-squeaking armor, entreating her attention with cries of “My lady!” and “Helena!” that pierced the heart of all who heard them.
All, that is, but one. For it would be many, many years before the Grey Lady spoke to anyone again.