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A Simple Solution: Polyjuice Potion and Tonks

by Whitney

On a recent rereading of Order of the Phoenix, I could not help but notice that Tonks holds a distinctive position in the Order: her abilities as a Metamorphmagus are uniquely suited for espionage, allowing her to blend in with any crowd and serve virtually any purpose the Order could require. A polyjuice potion containing the hair of Nymphadora Tonks would, theoretically, give any member of the Order this advantage as well. Why have they ignored this opportunity?

Given the little we know about Polyjuice Potions, one of four things could result from using Tonks’’s hair (or toenails):

1. The drinker gains the full abilities of a Metamorphmagus while under the influence of the potion. This seems unlikely, but it would be highly useful.2. The drinker assumes the shape that Tonks was in at the time the hair was taken. This seems the most plausible to me because a cutting of hair would capture a “moment” of a person’’s appearance, therefore the Polyjuice Potion would reflect that.

3. The drinker’’s appearance mirrors that of Tonks, and every time she changes her appearance while the drinker is assuming her shape they change to reflect her, rather like the principle behind the coins Harry uses to alert the DA. This seems like the most far-fetched to me, but it is still a possibility.

4. The drinker assumes the “natural” shape which Tonks would have if she did not morph her appearance in any way. We do not even know if Metamorphmagi have natural shapes, kind of like boggarts, but it is a possibility.

Some of you by this time probably see what I am getting at: any of the four possible outcomes of a Tonks Polyjuice could have allowed Sirius to leave Grimmauld Place. Think about it. If any of the scenarios with the exception of number 3 were true, Tonks and Sirius could simply look like two completely separate people and both serve the Order without being detected.

This brings up another issue. Is it possible to take a Polyjuice Potion of someone of the opposite sex? We have seen the potion in action in books two and four (an even book pattern, anyone?) but we have never seen a switch of sexes. Would it have been possible for Sirius to assume the shape of Tonks, or would it have gone horribly wrong like Hermione’’s attempted cross-species switch in CoS?

Assuming it would have been safe and possible for Sirius to take a Polyjuice Potion of Tonks, why didn’t he? Cooping him up obviously did no good, so why let a member of the Order sit around uselessly when they needed all of the help they could get? There could be several reasons for not allowing this:

  1. Polyjuice Potions are a Dark Art and Dumbledore refuses to stoop to that level. We have no proof that the potion is not evil in nature. The book it’’s in is restricted and the only people we have ever seen use it are a Death Eater and some kids too young to know the difference.
  2. Voldemort can detect an impostor through Legilimency, so his disguise would be useless. This is not a very plausible excuse because I’’m sure the Order could find a job which did not require direct run-ins with the Dark Lord.
  3. They (Dumbledore or JKR) simply did not think of the possibility of using a Polyjuice Potion to get Sirius out of the house.
  4. There were other reasons for keeping Sirius inside, and lack of disguise was just a front.

All of this raises a lot of questions about the intent of the Order and/or their aptitude at espionage. Even if a Tonks Polyjuice would not work, they certainly could have used someone’’s hair to get poor Sirius out of the house, and the fact that he was cooped up to the point of ultimate desperation suggests either underlying motives or a severe lack of creativity on the part of the Order. Meanwhile, I believe that if they are not already doing so the Order should look into using Tonks’’s condition to their advantage in the books to come.

I would love to hear what other people think about this topic, and I may be reached at lemuridae at hotmail dot com.