The Second Shape-Shifter
by Kaelli Karali
In John G.’s editorial Looks Can Be Deceiving, he mentioned that he believed that Tonks was created for the sole purpose of introducing Metamorphmagi to readers because there is, or will be, another Metamorphmagus whose shape-shifting ability will play a far more important role in the plot of a future book (he believes it will be in the seventh). I think this entirely plausible, and maybe even likely. John also stated:
While this really could be anybody (it could be the Half-Blood Prince for all we know), my personal belief is that the Metamorphmagus is someone whom we already know well. In each of the first four books, there was at least one character that we thought we pretty well understood, and who turned around and shocked us with something…Guessing who this is would be a shot in the dark, because as far as I can tell we have absolutely nothing to go on.
I also believe that this is quite possible. However, as far as guessing the identity of our mysterious “M” is concerned I disagree. Nothing to go on? So it would seem…at a first glance.
Let us go back to the first book for a moment. In Chapter 2, The Vanishing Glass (pg. 23, Canadian version):
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barber’s looking as though he hadn’t been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his fringe, which she left “to hide that horrible scar.” Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and sellotaped glasses. Next morning, however, he had got up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off. He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldnt explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Harry couldn’t explain how his hair appeared to “magically” grow back overnight but perhaps I can. By now I assume you all know what I’m driving at — suppose, following John G.’s theory about a second Metamorphmagus, that Harry is a Metamorphmagus, theMetamorphmagus, Johns second shape-shifter.
Now, before you all write me off as clinically insane please consider the following: In Chapter 3 of OotP, The Advance Guard, Tonks clearly states Metamorphmagi are really rare, theyre born, not made. Most wizards need to use a wand, or potions, to change their appearance.
How could a child, even one as powerful as we know Harry is, accidentally change their appearance without using a wand or potions when most adult wizards need to use these magical aids!? Obviously, wizard children can do some pretty impressive things when they really need to — one need only think of Neville being dropped from an upstairs window and bouncing all the way to the road, or Harry winding up on the school roof after trying to escape Dudleys gang — so this could just be an instant of prodigious, albeit uncontrolled, magic — the likes of which Harry seems particularly prone to.
The problem with this argument is that it contradicts Tonks later statement; not only that, but I simply cant think of a reason why JK would put the scene with Tonks in there in the first place unless it would play a part in the plot further along the road. Why would she have Harry specifically ask how to become a Metamorphmagus if it werent to have some relevance later?
I realize it seems odd, if not downright far-fetched, that Harry wouldnt know that he was capable of changing his appearance, that he was a Metamorphmagus. Surely there would have been other instances when he would have changed his appearance — even if he didnt realize what it was he was doing. However, he didn’t know that he was a Parselmouth until the second book, Chapter 11 (I spoke a different language? But – I didn’t realize – how can I speak a language without knowing I can speak it?). And that was only the second time he had spoken to a snake, too. Furthermore, that particular ability turned out to play a major role in the plot of the second book.
Honestly though, this is all just pure speculation: Harry could be a Metamorphmagus, but then again he just as easily could not be. The important thing to bear in mind when theorizing and speculating about the Harry Potter books is that nothing is too far-fetched or bizarre for the extraordinary JK Rowling. Time travel,done. Pet rats turning into cowardly traitors, done. Famous Auror teachers actually being insane Death Eaters out to get the students, done. Discovering seven books down the road that the protagonist is actually a Metamorphmagus…maybe.