Quidditch fans and sometime wannabe teenage wizards who thought they would never grow up, take a moment to allow the following piece of information to sink in: Harry Potter has two kids and he is going gray.
The disturbing reminder of Potter’s mortality comes from a 1,500-word story—which takes the form of a Quidditch World Cup final match report written by the ethics-free fictional tabloid journalist Rita Skeeter—published today on author JK Rowling’s official Pottermore website (you’ll need to sign up).
As well as being a catch-up with the dramatis personae of the most successful children’s books of modern times—Ron Weasley runs a magic shop and is going bald and Hermione has two kids—also functions as a withering attack on the tabloid press.
As well as numerous bitchy remarks—EG: Harry’s glasses are “better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old” and “Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No—look at her hair)”—Skeeter makes many unsubstantiated allegations, carefully framed as rhetorical questions.
At one stage she writes, when speculating on the cause of a “new” scar on Harry’s cheek: “Has his wife perhaps cursed him? Are cracks beginning to show in a union that the Potters are determined to promote as happy?”
The Pottermore piece also has Skeeter writing: “One always hesitates to invade the privacy of young people, but the fact is that anyone closely connected with Harry Potter reaps the benefits and must pay the penalty of public interest.”
Rowling’s satirical take on press coverage of celebrities stems from personal experience. Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics in 2011 she told how a reporter once tried to contact her by putting a note into her 5-year-old daughter’s schoolbag.
However, it is probably the update on the lives of the central characters that will be of most interest to Harry Potter fans.
Harry has two kids—named James and Albus—and there are “a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror’s black hair”. His wife, Ginvera, has landed a job reporting on the Quidditch World Cup, a task that Skeeter suspects was given to her because “when your last name is Potter, doors open, international sporting bodies bow and scrape and Daily Prophet editors hand you plum assignments.”
Ron Weasley—“whose famous ginger hair is thinning slightly”, Skeeter notes—initially got a job at the Ministry of Magic alongside Potter but left after two years to work with his brother George at “the highly successful wizarding joke emporium Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes”.
Neville Longbottom is a popular Herbology teacher at Hogwarts, married to Hannah. Luna Lovegood is married to Newt Scamander’s grandson, Rolf, and they have twin boys.
And Bill Weasley remains happily married to Fleur Delacour despite being “grievously scarred from an encounter with a werewolf”.
Skeeter signs off by saying, “But let us not be severe. Harry Potter and his cohorts never claimed to be perfect. And for those who want to know exactly how imperfect they are, my new biography Dumbledore’s Army: The Dark Side of the Demob will be available from Flourish and Botts on July 31st.”