Harry falls foul of Rita's quill

Rita Skeeter's Quick Quotes Quill embellishes the truth in her first interview with Harry

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

Her hair was set in elaborate and curiously rigid curls that contrasted oddly with her heavy-jawed face. She wore jewelled spectacles. The thick fingers clutching her crocodile-skin handbag ended in two-inch nails, painted crimson.

‘I wonder if I could have a little word with Harry before we start?’ she said to Bagman, but still gazing fixedly at Harry. ‘The youngest champion, you know … to add a bit of colour?’

‘Certainly!’ cried Bagman. ‘That is if Harry has no objection?’

‘Er’ said Harry.

‘Lovely,’ said Rita Skeeter, and in a second, her scarlet-taloned fingers had Harry’s upper arm in a surprisingly strong grip, and she was steering him out of the room again, and opening a nearby door.

‘We don’t want to be in there with all that noise,’ she said. ‘Let’s see … ah, yes, this is nice and cosy.’

It was a broom cupboard. Harry stared at her.

‘Come along, dear – that’s right lovely,’ said Rita Skeeter again, perching herself precariously upon an upturned bucket, pushing Harry down onto a cardboard box and closing the door, throwing them into darkness. ‘Let’s see now …’

She unsnapped her crocodile-skin handbag and pulled out a handful of candles, which she lit with a wave of her wand and magicked into mid-air, so that they could see what they were doing.

‘You won’t mind, Harry, if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill? It leaves me free to talk to you normally …’

A what?’ said Harry.

Rita Skeeter’s smile widened. Harry counted three gold teeth. She reached again into her crocodile bag, and drew out a long acid-green quill and a roll of parchment, which she stretched out between them on a crate of Mrs Skower’s All-Purpose Magical Mess-Remover. She put the tip of the green quill into her mouth, sucked it for a moment with apparent relish, then placed it upright on the parchment, where it stood balanced on its point, quivering slightly.

‘Testing … my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.’

Harry looked down quickly at the quill. The moment Rita Skeeter had spoken, the green quill had started to scribble, skidding across the parchment:

Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty-three, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations

‘Lovely,’ said Rita Skeeter, yet again, and she ripped the top piece of parchment off, crumpled it up and stuffed it into her handbag. Now she leant towards Harry and said, ‘So, Harry … what made you decide to enter the Triwizard Tournament?’

‘Er’ said Harry again, but he was distracted by the quill. Even though he wasn’t speaking, it was dashing across the parchment, and in its wake he could make out a fresh sentence:

An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming face of Harry Potter, whose eyes

‘Ignore the quill, Harry,’ said Rita Skeeter firmly. Reluctantly, Harry looked up at her instead. ‘Now why did you decide to enter the Tournament, Harry?’

‘I didn’t,’ said Harry. ‘I don’t know how my name got into the Goblet of Fire. I didn’t put it in there.’

Rita Skeeter raised one heavily pencilled eyebrow. ‘Come now, Harry, there’s no need to be scared of getting into trouble. We all know you shouldn’t really have entered at all. But don’t worry about that. Our readers love a rebel.’

‘But I didn’t enter,’ Harry repeated. ‘I don’t know who’

‘How do you feel about the tasks ahead?’ said Rita Skeeter. ‘Excited? Nervous?’

‘I haven’t really thought … yeah, nervous, I suppose,’ said Harry. His insides squirmed uncomfortably as he spoke.

‘Champions have died in the past, haven’t they?’ said Rita Skeeter briskly. ‘Have you thought about that at all?’

‘Well … they say it’s going to be a lot safer this year,’ said Harry.

The quill whizzed across the parchment between them, back and forwards as though it was skating.

‘Of course, you’ve looked death in the face before, haven’t you?’ said Rita Skeeter, watching him closely. ‘How would you say that’s affected you?’

‘Er,’ said Harry, yet again.

‘Do you think that the trauma in your past might have made you keen to prove yourself? To live up to your name? Do you think that perhaps you were tempted to enter the Triwizard Tournament because’

I didn’t enter, ’ said Harry, starting to feel irritated.

‘Can you remember your parents at all?’ said Rita Skeeter, talking over him.

‘No,’ said Harry.

‘How do you think they’d feel if they knew you were competing in the Triwizard Tournament? Proud? Worried? Angry?’

Harry was feeling really annoyed now. How on earth was he to know how his parents would feel if they were alive? He could feel Rita Skeeter watching him very intently. Frowning, he avoided her gaze and looked down at the words the quill had just written.

Tears fill those startlingly green eyes as our conversation turns to the parents he can barely remember.

‘I have NOT got tears in my eyes!’ said Harry loudly.

Before Rita Skeeter could say a word, the door of the broom cupboard was pulled open. Harry looked around, blinking in the bright light. Albus Dumbledore stood there, looking down at both of them squashed into the cupboard.

Dumbledore!’ cried Rita Skeeter, with every appearance of delight but Harry noticed that her quill and the parchment had suddenly vanished from the box of Magical Mess-Remover, and Rita’s clawed fingers were hastily snapping shut the clasp of her crocodile-skin bag. ‘How are you?’ she said, standing up and holding out one of her large, mannish hands to Dumbledore. ‘I hope you saw my piece over the summer about the International Confederation of Wizards’ Conference?’

‘Enchantingly nasty,’ said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. ‘I particularly enjoyed your description of me as an obsolete dingbat.’

Rita Skeeter didn’t look remotely abashed. ‘I was just making the point that some of your ideas are a little old-fashioned, Dumbledore, and that many wizards in the street –’

‘I will be delighted to hear the reasoning behind the rudeness, Rita,’ said Dumbledore, with a courteous bow and a smile, ‘but I’m afraid we will have to discuss the matter later. The Weighing of the Wands is about to start, and it cannot take place if one of our champions is hidden in a broom cupboard.’


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling