Did you notice JK Rowling’s clever hints at Rita Skeeter’s secret identity?

The writer magically threads in a reference to Rita's beetle animagus long before Hermione catches the gossip writer in that jar...

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There are many reasons to read (and re-read and re-read) the Harry Potter series, but the most enjoyable part comes in spotting something you didn’t see before. 

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Now an eagle-eyed reader (who gets at least ten house points for spotting it on their first read) has noticed a clever little hint from JK Rowling about the tactics of gossip writer Rita Skeeter, that you may not have caught before. 

GoF (which is Goblet of Fire, not ‘Game of Frones’) sees Mr Potter hit the headlines after earning an unexpected place in the Triwizard Tournament. Ms Skeeter floods her Daily Prophet column inches with the goings on of Potter and his friends: sometimes made up, sometimes with what seems to be information leaked direct from Hogwarts. 

But as Hermione, Ron and Harry discuss whether she could be ‘bugging’ them or not, have you ever spotted how this hints towards Skeeter’s secret animagus? Namely a beetle. 

“There’s something funny, though,” said Hermione ten minutes later, holding her pestle suspended over her bowl of scarab BEETLES. “How could Rita Skeeter have known…?”

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And that’s not the only reference. As ‘katar’ points out in the comments, there are several more clues dropped around ‘bugging’. 

In chapter 28:

“Maybe she had you bugged,” said Harry. “Bugged?” said Ron blanky. “What… put fleas on her or something?” Harry started explaining about hidden microphones and recording equipment. Ron was fascinated, but Hermione interrupted them.”

And chapter 31:

“Well, you’re the one who’s supposed to be researching magical methods of bugging!” said Harry. “You tell me how she did it!” “I’ve been trying!” said Hermione. “But I… but…” An odd, dreamy expression suddenly came over Hermione’s face. She slowly raised a hand and ran her fingers through her hair.” 

Of course Hermione isn’t caught out for long and eventually cuts a deal to ensure the beetle does no more ‘bugging’, which involves some quick thinking and a jar. 

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Yet more proof that this is a story as neatly joined up as Hermione’s writing.