Throughout the years, we’ve found out a lot about J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world that wasn’t in the Harry Potter books. Whether it’s background on our favorite characters (Dumbledore was revealed as gay after the final book was published, for instance) or things that changed along the way (Dean Thomas’ amazing original name). Now here’s another: the already large Weasley clan was meant to have another member. And she was sorted into Slytherin.
Every once in a while “new” information pops up about Rowling’s world that’s not actually new at all but still a big surprise to some fans. After all, not everyone was online in the early 2000s or keeps up with stuff outside of the main books and films. This latest bit of trivia seems to have been revealed after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published, but this is the first I’m hearing of it. A writer at Bustle spotted the news via a Harry Potter Reddit thread in which fans discussed Rowling finding “a big hole in the middle of the plot” of the fourth book while she was writing. Here she is discussing it back in 2000.
Q: You mentioned something in a recent interview about a flaw in Book 4. . .
A: Did I? Oh yes. . .I repaired it! This is why Book 4 nearly caused me a nervous breakdown – because for the first time ever I lost my careful plot – which I’ve had since 1994, I think. I really should have gone through it with a fine toothcomb before I started writing and I didn’t. I had a false sense of security because all my other plans had held up so well. So I sailed straight into the writing of Four, having just finished Azkaban. I had written what I thought at the time was half the book – it turns out now to have been about a third of the book – and I realised there was this big hole in the middle of the plot and I had to go back and unpick and redo. That’s part of the reason it’s longer than I thought it was going to be.
The Reddit user was asking if anyone knew what that flaw was and another fan revealed Rowling gave the answer to Entertainment Weekly later that year.
I had to pull a character. There you go: ”the phantom character of ‘Harry Potter.”’ She was a Weasley cousin [related to Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend]. She served the same function that Rita Skeeter [a sleazy investigative journalist] now serves. Rita was always going to be in the book, but I built her up, because I needed a kind of conduit for information outside the school. Originally, this girl fulfilled this purpose.
Ahh, the plot thickens! But the author didn’t give more specifics at the time and certainly didn’t delve into why this Weasley would have been Rita Skeeter-like. It turns out the cousin’s name was Mafalda (not to be confused with Mafalda Hopkirk, a witch who works for the Improper Use of Magic Office at the Ministry of Magic). Reddit user Galious had this information about her that used to live on Rowling’s official website:
Mafalda was the daughter of the ‘second cousin who’s a stockbroker’ mentioned in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’. This stockbroker had been very rude to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in the past, but now he and his (Muggle) wife had inconveniently produced a witch, they came back to the Weasleys asking for their help in introducing her to wizarding society before she starts at Hogwarts. The Weasleys agreed to taking her for part of the Summer, including the Quidditch World Cup, but regretted this almost immediately. Mrs. Weasley suspected that Mafalda’s parents simply wanted to get rid of her for a while, because she turns out to be the most unpleasant child Mrs. Weasley has ever met.
Mafalda was supposed to convey certain information about the Death Eaters to Harry, Ron and Hermione, because as a nosy, eavesdropping Slytherin who likes to impress, she does not keep her mouth shut when she overhears their sons and daughters talking. Unfortunately, however bright I made her, there were obvious limitations to what an eleven year old closeted at school could discover, whereas Rita Skeeter, whom I subsequently built up to fulfil Mafalda’s function, was much more flexible.
So the character didn’t entirely disappear, she just never developed into what Rowling originally had planned – a Slytherin spy. And a Slytherin Weasley to boot? But Rowling also added she would have been a big of a thorn in Hermione’s side as well. “The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione,” she wrote. “To the latter’s horror, Mafalda was highly gifted and a real show-off, so that Hermione was torn between deploring the rule-breaking and longing to join in and beat her.”
Wow. I know quite a few Harry Potter fans who would have preferred time to have had time spent on another multifaceted female character other than Hermione’s never-ending S.P.E.W. dialogue. What do you make of this Weasley information?
(Via Teen Vogue)