In The Deathly Hallows Chapter 26, Gringotts, shortly before setting off to break into Gringott's, Hermione drinks a Polyjuice poition to transform into Bellatrix. Then we get the following passage (emphasis mine):

[Hermione] spoke, and [Harry] heard Hermione through Bellatrix's low voice.

"She tasted disgusting, worse than Gurdyroots! OK, Ron, come here so I can do you..."

"Right, but remember, I don't like the beard too long-"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, this isn't about looking handsome-"

"It's not that, it gets in the way! But I liked my nose a bit shorter, try and do it the way you did last time."

Hermione sighed and set to work, muttering under her breath as she transformed various aspects of Ron's appearance. He was to be given a completely fake identity, and they were trusting to the malevolent aura cast by Bellatrix to protect him. [...]

It was just possible to discern Ron under his disguise, but only, Harry thought, because he knew him so well. Ron's hair was now long and wavy, he had a thick, brown beard and mustache, no freckles, a short, broad nose, and heavy eyebrows.

So, what is the "last time" that Ron is referring to here? The only instances of Ron changing appearance that I can think of involved him drinking Polyjuice to become someone else, rather than through Hermione's magic.

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    I assume they practised this and many other aspects of their plan thoroughly before putting it into action. So I guess she'd done a few experiments at Shell Cottage. That's my reading, anyway, I'm happy to be corrected
    – Au101
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 0:45
  • @Au101 sounds like a good candidate to be an answer Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 0:46
  • Wasn't there also one occurance where ron and harry transformed into dracos best friends once? (not sure though if hermoine was involved there or not)a
    – Thomas
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 17:46
  • Yeah, @Thomas, that was with the Polyjuice Potion way back in Chamber of Secrets and Hermione was heavily involved in (arguably totally responsible for) brewing the Potion - and for the plan as a whole, really. But that was a very different scenario, because this time she is transfiguring various aspects of his appearance herself, rather than using a potion to give him the wholesale form of somebody completely different.
    – Au101
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


My reading of this has always been that they practised Ron's disguise thoroughly, before they actually attempted the break-in. So I guess Hermione had done a few experiments at Shell Cottage and the most recent one is the "last time" Ron refers to here.

We know from the previous chapter that their plans were meticulous and that they took the attack very seriously:

It was like planning to break into the Ministry all over again. They settled to work in the smallest bedroom, which was kept, according to Griphook's preference, in semi-darkness.


They remained shut in the cupboard-like room for hours at a time. Slowly, the days stretched into weeks. There was problem after problem to overcome, not least of which was that their store of Polyjuice Potion was greatly depleted.


'That'll be enough,' said Harry, who was examining Griphook's hand-drawn map of the deepest passageways.

The other inhabitants of Shell Cottage could hardly fail to notice that something was going on now that Harry, Ron and Hermione only emerged for mealtimes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - pp.411-2 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 25, Shell Cottage

And after all:

'...yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it, I'll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe - 'cept maybe Hogwarts.'

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - p.50 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 5, Diagon Alley

So, all in all, given that:

He was to be given a completely fake identity, and they were trusting to the malevolent aura cast by Bellatrix to protect him.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - p.422 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 26, Gringotts

It seems almost inconceivable that they wouldn't have practised this - as you would, surely, in the Muggle world. Not that I have any personal experience of bank jobs, I hasten to add! But I'm sure you'd try your disguise out before the big day. And human Transfiguration is quite difficult:

'If only we'd done human Transfiguration already! But I don't think we start that until sixth year, and it can go badly wrong if you don't know what you're doing...'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.418 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 26, The Second Task

Also, remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where Ron gives himself a handlebar moustache!

They had just embarked upon the immensely difficult topic of human transfiguration; working in front of mirrors, they were supposed to be changing the colour of their own eyebrows. Hermione laughed unkindly at Ron's disastrous first attempt, during which he somehow managed to give himself a spectacular handlebar moustache...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - p.290 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 15, The Unbreakable Vow

So I'm quite confident that the trio would have experimented with various different looks for Ron and that that's what Ron means. Like you, I can't find any other reference to Hermione tweaking aspects of Ron's appearance using Transfiguration spells.

And even if she had, the context really makes it sound to me like Ron's referring to what makes a good look for his disguise as Dragomir Despard and there aren't any other instances of him assuming such a disguise in this way - they've always used Polyjuice Potion. Also, when he says "remember, I don't like the beard too long" - again, it sounds like they've been practising this recently.

  • Heck, I try out Hallowe'en costumes in advance! This sounds totally solid to me. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 17:03

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