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Today's Pottermore treat: A peek into Diagon Alley (and J.K. Rowling's process)

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POTTERMORE

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is a marvellous place

Full of jokes and potions by the box and the case.

The premises are stuffed with people, ready to pop

But on what magical street can you find this fun shop?

The answer to today’s Pottermore Christmas riddle, the second in a series of 12? Diagon Alley, of course. Answering the rhyming message above leads Pottermore users into Fred and Geoge Weasley’s colorful joke shop, which is scored by the sounds of popping balloons and laughter. Double click a few times, click on a floating hot-air balloon, and you’ll be led to the first bit of today’s new material from J.K. Rowling herself—a bit of backstory on Florean Fortescue, an ice cream shop owner whom Rowling intended to play a much larger role in the story.

“I originally planned Florean to be the conduit for clues that I needed to give Harry during his quest for the Hallows, which is why I established an acquaintance fairly early on,” she writes. “The problem was that when I came to write the key parts of Deathly Hallows I decided that Phineas Nigellus Black”—the pureblood Black ancestor who once reigned as Hogwarts’ least popular headmaster—”was a much more satisfactory means of conveying clues.” Which means, Rowling concludes, that she had poor Fortescue “kidnapped and killed for no reason”—making him the only wizard Voldemort murdered that Rowling feels “guilty about, because it was all my fault.”

Click on a floating ship, and you’ll also find the second bit of information released today: a brief history of The Leaky Cauldron, the dingy pub best known for concealing the entrance to Diagon Alley. Rowling’s words reveal that it is, in fact, the oldest pub in London; that one of the bar’s former landlords honored a former Minister for Magic with a new brand of beer “so disgusting that nobody has ever been known to finish a pint;” and how the pub survived past the late nineteenth century, when Muggles built Charing Cross Road—which “ought to have flattened [The Leaky Cauldron] completely.”

Head over to Pottermore for the full scoop on Florean and The Leaky Cauldron.