Even though there are already seven freckled redheads in the Weasley clan, we would have been more than eager to welcome an eighth. And that just might have happened if Harry Potter creator, J.K. Rowling, kept to her original Goblet of Fire manuscript. That right, there was originally another Weasley.
Her name was Mafalda Weasley and she was the daughter of a second cousin who stayed at the Weasley household the summer before her first year at Hogwarts. But she’s a Weasley with ulterior motives. Rowling wanted Mafalda to become a Slytherin spy who, according to Teen Vogue, “rivals Hermione’s academic prowess if she hadn’t been written out.”
An evil Weasley? That’s unimaginable.
We really have no reason to be shocked, because this information was actually disclosed years ago. Rowling talked about Mafalda’s character in an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in 2000. In the interview, Rowling explained there was a “huge gaping hole in the middle of the plot” that prevented her from making her deadline.
EW asked what the gaping hole was all about and Rowling said, “I had to pull a character. There you go: “…the phantom character of Harry Potter.”
She continued, “[Mafalda] 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.”
Rowling went into more detail on her website a few years later. There she released the name of the “phantom character” and her backstory. Unfortunately, the explanation was lost after website reformatting, but a diehard Harry Potter Reddit user found it and shared with the world this week. The quotes below are from the original Rowling post.
According to the official Harry Potter website:
It is later revealed that Mafalda’s parents actually wanted to get rid of her because she was a horrible child. Go figure.
So why did Rowling take Mafalda out of the wizarding equation only to replace her with “sleazy Rita Skeeter”?
“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 fulfill Mafalda’s function, was much more flexible.”
It’s fascinating to think what the Harry Potter saga would have been like with the introduction of Mafalda – especially if she rivaled Hermione’s smarts. Could she have caused Hermione to become a rule-breaker just to one up her academic opponent?
Perhaps not. Besides, if we’ve learned one thing from these childhood-shaping novels and films it’s that Rowling knows best. If Rowling thought Mafalda was best left to the imagination, then so be it.