It’s long been known that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the book that almost broke J.K Rowling because she had to overhaul the plot. But a Reddit user recently revisited this issue with an intriguing insight: Before Rita Skeeter existed, Hermione almost had a rival witch her own age.
According to this redditor, Rowling originally added a Slytherin Weasley cousin named Mafalda in the story.
Her house was plot-convenient, as she was supposed to learn information about Death Eaters and convey it to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. In the final version of Goblet of Fire, Rita Skeeter ended up serving this function in a more plot-convenient way.
But most intriguingly, Rowling said,
The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione. 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.
Fans have long imagined a more devious version of Hermione who readily embraces rule-breaking. That’s partly why she’s frequently paired romantically with Draco Malfoy in fanfiction, in a couple known as Dramione.
Even more intriguingly, recall that Mafalda is the name of the witch Hermione impersonates to break into the Ministry of Magic in Deathly Hallows. Perhaps she retained some of that devious spirit after all.