An original editorial by Briana B.
In the fourth book, house-elves began to be a growing concern for Hermione (and many of our faithful readers). Along with this, we are introduced to the Hogwarts kitchen elves, including our favorite misfit, Dobby, and a newer character: Winky. She wasn't exactly a major character, but she did play a large role in Goblet of Fire. She is one curious creature, is she not? We all care for her because of her butterbeer addiction. JKR has recently announced that she will never overcome it. Will this lead to other things?
First, let's analyze her character. Winky is the typical house-elf: weak, loyal, and dependent on her wizarding master. It seems that she was bound to Crouch like a Band-Aid that can't come off without pain. We all remember her emotional breakdown when he gave her the dreaded punishment of clothing. Working with Dobby in Hogwarts for wages seemed an absurd, embarrassing thing for her to do, and she spent her days
getting drunk on butterbeer. She always spoke highly of her masters, even Crouch Jr., who she knew was a servant of Voldemort; but, then again, this is the norm. By the fifth book, she still hadn't recovered.
It is this undying loyalty without controversy that has brought me to my worries of her place in the series. We all have read about how a house elf will be devoted to a family no matter what. I will take a look at Kreacher for an example. He spilt the beans to another member of his family (though distant) and cost the series a life.
He was, after all, mad at Sirius's disloyalty, so kept his own by reporting valuable information to the rest of his family. However soft Winky may be, I find that this is a parallel I cannot ignore.
This is one theory I've come up with: in one of the upcoming books, she could run to another family member of the Crouches that doesn't know she is free. Dobby himself said that either one of them can leave at any time, if they so choose. I fear that this person, like Crouch Jr., could be close to Voldemort, or even a Death Eater.
Since she works (well, sort of, she doesn't do much actual work, does she?) in the undergrounds of Hogwarts, after dark, there is no telling what she could hear about the Order, Dumbledore, Harry, or anything about the anticipated 'final battle'. Realizing that she could prove her allegiance to her old masters' lineage, she may take off at a run and try to be taken back in (if this is possible). After all, she only works, not slaves, for Dumbledore, and can do whatever she pleases. I fear this because it has been mentioned by Dobby much more than once, a major reason to be suspicious of a clue. Winky could, very possibly, be the turning point as the 'final battle' draws nearer.
Harry has mentioned Winky's condition in the fifth book, as well as Dobby. There is no telling if her plotline will continue as is or if it will darken into something thicker; but if it does, I hope the outcome will not be the one I fear. Winky must get over her old bindings and grow closer to Dumbledore and Dobby if we don't want to be apprehensive of a threat.