When you put some hairs/essence of a person into a Polyjuice Potion, the potion ends up a color that roughly represents the person.

Mafalda Hopkirk, as a Ministry witch under the corrupt Voldemortian Ministry, was a very bad person by the time Hermione Polyjuiced herself into her, but the Polyjuice Potion that Hermione drinks is described as being a “pleasant heliotrope”.

Now this is heliotrope:

Heliotrope colour

Looks like a nice color to me.

So why was Mafalda Hopkirk such a “pleasent heliotrope?”

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    Any canon source for the colour of Polyjuice potion representing the person? Seems like the answer here is just "Because she was." – Anthony Grist Apr 23 '16 at 13:39
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    Who says Mafalda Hopkirk was a very bad person? I don't recall any indication of that in the book. She is never actually described at all, as far as I can recall; only her letters to Harry for improper use of magic are seen. So why wouldn't she be a pleasant heliotrope in Polyjuice form? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 23 '16 at 13:57
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    @AnthonyGrist Plenty. Crabbe or Goyle’s is described as being the colour and consistency of boogers, while Harry’s is a clear, bright gold. We don't know what Bellatrix’ colour was, but she apparently tasted worse than Gurdyroots. There are probably more examples; the colour and taste of Polyjuice Potion is, as far as I can recall, completely consistently represented as fitting how we perceive the person in question. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 23 '16 at 14:04
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    No, that makes no sense whatsoever. There are plenty of people working at the Ministry when it is taken over by Voldemort—they didn’t all suddenly just turn evil. Many (if not most) Ministry employees were good people who kept their jobs by keeping a low profile and probably trying to discreetly minimise the damage the new leaders of the Ministry were doing. Or do you also consider Arthur Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt (both of whom continued to work at the Ministry after its change in administration) to be very bad people? Or Reg Cattermole whose Muggle-born wife was being interrogated? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 23 '16 at 14:19
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    Remember what Percy said when he joined the Battle of Hogwarts - the Ministry wasn't letting people quit. Good or bad, you either stayed or you went on the run. – Harry Johnston Apr 23 '16 at 14:22

I'm at a loss to find anything that confirms that Mafalda was a "very bad person". She was certainly working for the Ministry both before and after Pius Thicknesse took over, but there's no special indication that she was in any sort of position of authority or that she wasn't simply keeping her head down and getting on with her job.

Percy (in Deathly Hallows) mentions that by the point that it had become obvious that the Ministry was under the control of dark forces, that anyone who quits the Ministry would probably be labelled a traitor, with all the consequences that implies to them and their families.

‘It’s been coming on for a while,’ said Percy, mopping his eyes under his glasses with a corner of his travelling cloak. ‘But I had to find a way out and it’s not so easy at the Ministry, they’re imprisoning traitors all the time. I managed to make contact with Aberforth and he tipped me off ten minutes ago that Hogwarts was going to make a fight of it, so here I am.’

Best guess is that Hopkirk was actually quite a pleasant person, whose job simply involved sending letters and missives on behalf of more powerful people.

As noted in a comment, she does take the time to go above and beyond when it comes to signing off her letters, implying that she's normally quite cheerful.

We would also ask you to remember that any magical activity which risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offence, under section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy.

Enjoy your holidays!
Yours sincerely,
Mafalda Hopkirk

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 2 - Dobby's Warning


As you have already received an official warning for a previous offence under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on the twelfth of August.

Hoping you are well,
Yours sincerely,
Mafalda Hopkirk

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 2 — A Peck of Owls

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    The warning that she sent Harry in his second year, ending with “Enjoy your holidays!” would seem to support the pleasant person theory. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 23 '16 at 15:12

Heliotrope is the name of one of the characters in The Little White Horse, one of J.K. Rowling's favorite books as a child. Miss Heliotrope had a very kind heart, and was also very well-mannered and proper. So I'm guessing the heliotrope color of Mafalda Hopkirk's polyjuice potion was meant to signal that she was a very nice person.

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