The portrait curse (incantation unknown) was a curse that would, once unleashed, trap individuals in magical portraits. The longer the individual stayed inside the portrait, the more the person would continue to gradually lose touch with reality outside the frame, slowly driving the victim to insanity.
While a miserable existence it would appear that, when the victims were subjected to this curse, their bodies were somehow transfigured into paint on canvas, although Jacob's sibling theorised that the victims were trapped in a space created using an advanced Extension Charm, and whilst they retained their mental faculties, years could go by without the victim dying of starvation or dehydration, as demonstrated by both Jacob and the Hungarian Horntail that guarded the Buried Vault. The longer an individual stayed inside the portrait, the more they would continue to gradually lose touch with the world outside the frame, slowly driving the victim to insanity, and quite possibly death hinted by Beatrice Haywood appearing to get weaker. The human victims could not move into other frames unlike the dragon, that guarded the vault, which was able to break out of the frames inside the vault without the curse being broken beforehand. While trapped in a portrait, the victim did not age or change in any way and, upon being freed from the curse, emerged from the portrait not a day older than when they were first trapped, as demonstrated by Jacob, who did not look any different from when their younger sibling saw him last, to which he replied; "Well, I've been trapped in a portrait for years..." The curse appeared to get stronger over time with victims apparently no longer having to touch the frame, like Beatrice, to get trapped inside.
Interestingly, however, victims trapped inside the vault appear to be better sustained than those outside the vault, as Beatrice was more affected by the ordeal within a school year in the portrait on the Grand Staircase than Jacob had been after several years spent trapped inside the vault. It is unknown if this had to do with the relative positions of the portraits compared to the area the cursed was unleashed on specifically, or if it had to do with the skill and/or strength of mind of the victim.
In the 1988–1989 school year, Beatrice Haywood and several other students became trapped inside portraits on the Grand Staircase as the result of this powerful and malign curse being somehow unleashed. The Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor and renowned Curse-Breaker Patricia Rakepick tried to break the curse with the help of Jacob's sibling, Merula Snyde and Bill Weasley. The curse was broken near the end of the year when Jacob's sibling and their friends entered the Buried Vault accompanied by either Charlie Weasley or Penny Haywood.
Notes and references
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 2 (Grave Danger)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 3 (Detention Before Extension)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 30 (Into the Vault)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 28 (About Merula)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 18 (Legilimency and Occlumency)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 20 (Peter Pettigrew)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 31 (After the Vault)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite