6

Rita Skeeter's story is pretty well established from The Goblet of Fire to the Order of the Phoenix. Throughout the Triwizard Tournament she harasses Harry, eventually also getting on Hermione's nerves. As Mrs. Weasley and Harry hug at the end of chapter 36, Hermione manages to capture Rita Skeeter in beetle form unawares on the windowsill.

There was a loud slamming noise, and Mrs. Weasley and Harry broke apart. Hermione was standing by the window. She was holding something tight in her hand.

When Hermione, Harry, and Ron were traveling back to London in the Hogwarts Express, Hermione says,

"I've told [Rita Skeeter] I'll let her out when we get back to London...I've put an Unbreakable Charm on the jar, you see, so she can't transform. And I've told her she's to keep her quill to herself for a whole year. See if she can't break the habit of writing horrible lies about people."

A little less than a year later, Hermione forces Rita to write an honest article on Harry's experience with Voldemort. At this point, Rita seems to disappear from the story. The Quibbler issue comes out and sells like crazy, but there seems to be no mention of Rita until the end of the Half Blood Prince, when she attends Dumbledore's funeral.

So what happened to her between the time she wrote The Quibbler article and attended Dumbledore's funeral? Hermione said that she would keep Rita quiet for a whole year, so after that year did she let Rita Skeeter go? However, I find it hard to believe that Hermione would let Rita go voluntarily; after all, if Hermione wanted, she could inform the Ministry that Rita is an unregistered Animagus and Rita would promptly get thrown in Azkaban. Perhaps the Ministry of Magic hired her to spread propaganda and lies about Harry. Could anyone find me some in-text evidence as to what happened to Rita Skeeter to confirm if Hermione let her go or if she escaped through the Ministry's help?

11

Actually, evidence in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix points to Hermione having let Skeeter go free before the interview Harry gave her:

Chapter 25: The Beetle at Bay

Unemployment did not suit Rita. The hair that had once been set in elaborate curls now hung lank and unkempt around her face. The scarlet paint on her two-inch talons was chipped and there were a couple of false jewels missing from her winged glasses.

It says she was unemployed (which Hermione probably enforced on her with the threat to expose her to the Ministry), not captive.

“What deal?” said Rita, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. “You haven’t mentioned a deal yet, Miss Prissy, you just told me to turn up."

Hermione asked Rita to "turn up". Which again shows that Rita was living on her own (in hiding perhaps, again on Hermione's behest).

“They’ve run plenty of horrible stories about Harry this year without my help,” said Rita

Again, if she was captive as a beetle, she would not have access to the Daily Prophet newspaper to know that they were slandering Harry.

Rita Skeeter looked as though the taste of Stinksap was strong in her mouth again as she rounded on Hermione. “I’m supposed to do this for free?”

“Well, yes,” said Hermione calmly, taking a sip of her drink. “Otherwise, as you very well know, I will inform the authorities that you are an unregistered Animagus." (emphasis mine)

That proves Hermione had been using the threat of exposing her to keep Skeeter in line all the while. Hermione obviously would let Skeeter go free since she has this threat she can carry out in case Skeeter started printing false stories again.

Also, Hermione wouldn't just inform the Ministry of Skeeter being an Animagus. She believed it would be much more useful to hold the threat as leverage over Skeeter, as it proved to be so in their fifth year at Hogwarts.

Skeeter finally broke free from Hermione's control in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows presumably because Hermione(and Skeeter as well) guessed the Ministry had its hands full trying to control the damage being caused by Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Tracking down unregistered Animagi would have been very low on their list of priorities. Also, Azkaban had been relinquished to all intents and purposes with the Dementors going over to Voldemort's side.

  • 1
    I love your answer; however, you mention that "Skeeter finally broke free in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ." That is not correct. She was free before that. As I mentioned in my question, Harry says in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that Rita was at Dumbledore's funeral, presumably to collect tidbits for the biography she was planning to write on Dumbledore. – petra_delphiki Feb 17 '16 at 12:00
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    @petra_delphiki she does not have to be free of hermiones influence to visit dumbledores funeral, what he means is completly free. – Eumel Feb 17 '16 at 12:15
  • @Eumel In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Rita is described as having "a notebook clutched in her red-taloned hand." Both the notebook and the painted nails seem to imply she's back to her old nasty business, along with Harry's "infuriated" reaction. However, until the Wizarding War, I suppose she would not be COMPLETELY free, since Hermione could still inform on her. I suppose that was the point you were trying to make? – petra_delphiki Feb 17 '16 at 15:50
  • Judging from the answer she got like that from unemployment, so she might have found a job not necesarrily telling lies in a newspaper. – Eumel Feb 17 '16 at 16:50
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    @petra_delphiki Yes I meant broke free of Hermione's control. I've edited the answer so its more clear. – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Feb 17 '16 at 20:09

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