Bertha Jorkins was a few years ahead of James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was a gossipy girl and not very bright, which Sirius noted to not be a very good combination. During her school years she would regularly complain about mistreatment from other students and spread rumours, even once ending up in front of Dumbledore following an incident. Bertha was described as being a slightly plump girl with a sulky expression, though her expression could just be due to the fact she was complaining to Dumbledore. She once complained about being Hexed by a boy whom she teased because she had caught him kissing Florence behind the Hogwarts greenhouses.
Career at the Ministry
Bertha had the misfortune of making a visit to the estate of Barty Crouch Snr with some papers for him to sign, where she discovered the Crouch family secret that they were keeping their convicted Death Eater son Barty Crouch Jnr trapped in their house under the Imperius Curse and an invisibility cloak when their house-elf Winky was talking to the criminal, of which Bertha heard enough to deduce who was under the cloak. When Bertha confronted Crouch Snr, he had to place a powerful Memory Charm on her to alter her memory and make her forget what she had found out. However, the Memory Charm was so powerful, in fact, that she suffered permanent brain damage, leading to the extreme forgetfulness she had since been known for.
Bertha Jorkins went on holiday to Albania in 1994. One night in a wayside inn, she ran into Peter Pettigrew, who the Ministry thought to be dead at the hands of Sirius Black. Although she recognised him, he was able to persuade her to take a stroll with him into the woods, and he was able to overpower Bertha and bring her before his master, Lord Voldemort, who was hiding in Albania. Lord Voldemort was able to break through the memory charm placed by Crouch Snr on her through torture and learned of the imprisonment of his follower Crouch Jnr, and also learned valuable information about the Triwizard Tournament which he would use to try to kill Harry Potter.
Breaking through the memory charm had left Bertha severely "damaged," by permanently damaging her mind and body beyond repair, and Lord Voldemort murdered her with the Killing Curse, because he had no more use for her. Voldemort used her death to turn his snake Nagini into a Horcrux. Pettigrew noted this was a poor move, believing that the Ministry would notice her disappearance and that they could have simply modified her memory to cover their tracks, which Voldemort believed would be an insult to her memory.
As a result of her demise, Bertha did not return when she was supposed to. Her reputation of being forgetful and not very bright made many believe she had lost track of time and was perhaps just lost, so the truth was not discovered for a while.
- "Don’t let go, now! Don’t let him get you, Harry — don’t let go!"
- —Bertha's echo to Harry Potter in the Little Hangleton graveyard[src]
During the duel between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort in the Little Hangleton graveyard, when the spells of the two duellists clashed into a Priori Incantatem, Bertha was one of the echoes to emerge from the bond. She supported Harry while withholding Voldemort. Harry would later report Bertha's fate and temporary return to Dumbledore and Sirius, thus solving the mystery of her disappearance.
Bertha was a slightly plump woman.
Personality and traits
Bertha was a very gossipy and nosy woman, though she was not very bright, which in Sirius Black's opinion, not a very good combination. She was displeased with the mistreatment she received from her schoolmates despite her nosiness being the cause of their motive. Even in adulthood, her intelligence did not improve much, as upon discovering Barty Crouch Jnr still alive and hidden from the world, she confronted Crouch Snr instead of leaving to report to the Ministry, thus letting to her being struck with a Memory Charm. This ultimately became her downfall, as upon seeing the still alive Peter Pettigrew, she easily fell into his trap (which Sirius stated was a high possibility due to her poor personality combination) by accepting his proposal to take a stroll instead of reporting him, thus leading to her capture and delivery to Voldemort's clutches.
After being struck by Crouch's intensive Memory Charm, Bertha's short term memory was permanently compromised, leading others to see as a new trait of forgetfulness that nobody questioned about. When Voldemort tortured her extensively to break the Memory Charm, it left her damaged beyond repair, physically and mentally, though Pettigrew believed she was still fit enough to have her memories modified again and sent back to the Ministry to avoid suspicions.
Upon her brief return to the mortal realm, Bertha was supportive of Harry Potter, as she moved to haunt Voldemort in order to give Harry time to escape.
Her first name, Bertha, means "intelligent" or "shining" — an ironic first name, as she was gossipy, forgetful and not always wisely cautious about danger. Jorkins may be from Mr Jorkins, a character in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol.
Behind the scenes
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Pottermore (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- Sirius stated that he attended Hogwarts with Bertha but that she was "a few years above" him. Sirius' first year was 1971, so Bertha could've started any time between 1965 and 1969, assuming that she was at least two years older than Sirius ("few" indicates more than one year). This means she would have likely been born sometime between 1 September, 1953 and 31 August, 1958.
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 19 (The Hungarian Horntail)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 5 (Weasley's Wizard Wheezes)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)