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A Metamorphmagus

"I'm a Metamorphmagus. It means I can change my appearance at will. I was born one."
Nymphadora Tonks regarding her Metamorphic abilities[src]

A Metamorphmagus (pl. Metamorphmagi) was a witch or wizard with the rare magical ability to change their physical appearance through sheer will alone, without the need of Polyjuice Potion, or a spell like most of the wizarding population.[1]

Difference from Animagi

Harry Potter: "Can you learn how to be a Metamorphmagus?"
Nymphadora Tonks: "Bet you wouldn’t mind hiding that scar sometimes, eh?"
Harry Potter: "No, I wouldn’t mind."
Nymphadora Tonks: "Well, you’ll have to learn the hard way, I’m afraid. Metamorphmagi are really rare, they’re born, not made. Most wizards need to use a wand or potions to change their appearance...."
— Nymphadora Tonks explaining Metamorphmagi to Harry Potter[src]

Unlike Animagi, Metamorphmagi could take a wide variety of forms, changing gender and age, potentially looking like anyone at all, or even just changing a part of their appearance, such as the colour of their hair or shape of their noses.[1] Animagi could also transform at will, but only into one animal form which is determined by their inner traits.[2]

Also, a Metamorphmagus was born, not made; it was not a magical skill that can be learned.[1] There also seems to be a degree of heritability, as both Nymphadora Tonks and her son, Teddy Lupin, were Metamorphmagi, although both of Tonks' parents, Andromeda and Ted, were not. The ability presented very early in life, as Teddy Lupin's hair changed colour when he was a newborn infant, as did his mother's.[3]

Metamorphic usage

"I got top marks in Concealment and Disguise during Auror training without any study at all, it was great."
— Tonks regarding her Metamorphmagus abilities[src]

Nymphadora Tonks changing her facial features at will and with ease

It is unknown whether Metamorphmagi received any training in developing their innate skill, or if they learnt through trial and error. Given their rarity, it was unlikely that much training was available. However, Nymphadora Tonks showed that she only needed to concentrate a little to change her appearance, so it may be simply a matter of the Metamorphmagi wanting to change.[1] Whilst it was debated whether Animagi transformations and Disapparition required a wand, it seemed that Metamorphmagi did not need theirs to utilise their abilities. Nymphadora Tonks claimed that other wizards needed a wand or potions to transform, meaning Metamorphmagi such as herself were not restricted as such.[1]

It is unknown if Metamorphmagi had to register with the Ministry of Magic like Animagi had to, as Metamorphmagi did not choose to become what they were, while Animagi did. Although unlike Animagi, Metamorphmagi did not possess any distinct markings that come with their transformation, so it would be far more difficult to keep track of them for any signs of ability abuse.

Like many other types of magic, a Metamorphmagus' abilities were affected by their emotional state. The person's appearance at any moment would often reflect the emotion the person is feeling at the time. Strong emotions, such as shock or sadness, could affect their abilities to the point of having trouble using them at all. For example, Nymphadora Tonks had difficulty using her abilities following Sirius Black's death, when she was depressed over her feelings for Remus Lupin.[4]

Metamorphic abilities could be very helpful when it came to disguises. For example, Nymphadora Tonks was able to put her abilities to use in performing espionage for the Order of the Phoenix. She also got full marks in Concealment and Disguise of her Auror training, implying that this ability could be used for official examinations and competitions.[1]

Albus Dumbledore wrote an article examining whether it was possible for Metamorphmagi to use their transformational abilities to disappear without a trace in a 1926 issue of Transfiguration Today.[5]

Metamorphmagi could use their abilities to make themselves look exactly like another person. During her school years at Hogwarts School, Tonks often got detentions for turning into teachers.[6] This also included ghosts.[7]

Known Metamorphmagi

Etymology

In Greek, "meta" means "change", "morph" means "shape", and "magus" (in Latin) means "magic or wizard". Hence, a wizard that can change shape, and the term "Metamorphosis" is the term to describe an animal changing into another animal such as how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

Behind the scenes

  • In Latin, the female form of Magus is Maga. However, female Metamorphmagi are never referred to as "Metamorphmaga" or "Metamorphmagae", which would be the female plural, in canon.
  • Jacob's sibling will jokingly suggest that they may be a Metamorphmagus to distract Nymphadora Tonks when playing Gobstones with her, an apparent tongue-in-cheek reference to the player being able to adjust their appearance at any time. However, there is no canon reference to this. During the game the character may use both polyjuice potion and become an animagus, suggesting that it may not be the case.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 25 (Shell Cottage)
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
  5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (see this image)
  6. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, Chapter 1 (Year Three Begins) - Flying Lesson "Rolling"
  7. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 5 (Penny, Portraits, Peace, and Pressure) - History of Magic Lesson "Giant Wars"
  8. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 7 (A New Curse)