Tonks is used to people asking to see her real face. It happens at some point during every relationship. People think she is hiding it, and they want to see who she really is, what she really looks like. If they don't ask, it's usually because they think that the face she usually has on is her real one. The pale heart-shaped one that looks a bit sweet and innocent. But that's no more her real face than the pig-nose is her real nose. It's simply a face. Her favorite one, just like the faded Weird Sisters shirt is her favorite shirt, but not any more real than the others.
The truth is that Tonks doesn't have a "real" face. They're all the same to her. She's been a metamorphmagus since she was born, and shifted so much that every shape feels natural. She doesn't think of it as being faceless- just as having a lot of faces, one for every occasion. Perhaps one would mean more to her if she'd ever been stuck in it. A lot of families do that- freeze their children's appearance for a few years, to help give them a sense of identity. Tonks' parents never bothered, and she's glad. She's never needed a face of her own, to feel like a person of her own. Besides, she's Tonks; she has enough personality for all the faces she wears.
She understands why the others hide it, though, and the sense of excitement those metamorphmagi must feel when they finally realize what they are. A lot of kids around her when she was a kid went home to ask their parents- just in case- and were horribly disappointed.
Tonks never expected to meet another metamorphmagus. She knows how rare they are. But there is, inevitably, a host of questions when people find out about her.
"Tonks… how do you know, if you're a metamorphmagus? Is there a test, or something?"
She just hadn't expected the questions to come from Harry. Hermione, yes. Hermione has been full of questions all summer. But Harry…
"Harry," she says gently, "You find out by the time you're one, usually. It isn't just a talent. When you're young, you find yourself changing without meaning to, trying on different appearances, imitating those around you."
"Oh," he says. "Always?" And there is a question in his eyes, still, like he isn't sure.
"Oh." He bites his lip a little, hesitant. "Why not absolutely always?"
"Well, it's always obvious by the age of about one. But sometimes people's parents will hide it from them for a while. It can be dangerous, having your child run around with whatever face- especially if they're prone to wandering off. It's easy to lose them…"
"So, sometimes the ability can be… locked away, for a while. But it almost never happens."
"Oh," he says. "How would you know, if it had been?"
"Well- you wouldn't, really. Sometimes a little bit will get through. Not usually. But Harry- you aren't. There just isn't a way. Don't get your hopes up for nothing."
He bites his lip, thinking. "Would your appearance be… resistant, say, to other magic? Like, if you ate one of Fred and George's sweets that was supposed to turn you blonde, and it… didn't? Or- what if you got a haircut you didn't like, and it just grew back?"
She stares at him, then.
"We'd have to look in your vault. The spell would be anchored in an object. Probably made of glass. You smash that, you break the locking spell."
At that moment, Molly walks in, and the conversation is put on hold for a while.
They go to Harry's vault together the next day, ignoring the risks of being out Voldemort is at large. No one is likely to harm Harry in Diagon Ally, and an attack is even less likely in Gringotts.
"Sirius wouldn't have noticed," she mutters as they walk to the counter. "They'd probably have cast it within a few days of your birth. It's almost always noticeable right away."
Harry nods. She does not mention that in some circles, being a metamorphmagus is considered shameful. It runs mostly in dark families, though really the gift can pop up anywhere, so it's a bit like a sign that your family is dodgy. Not enough to scare people, really, just enough to make decent folk sneer. So some people just never tell their children about their gifts. But the Potters surely didn't meant this to be hidden forever; she's heard about them from Remus, and they weren't the sort to brush unpleasantness under the rug.
Harry's trust vault has a trunk in the back, full of books and papers and one fragile glass angel, about as tall as Tonks' hand is long. Well- as long as it is today, at least.
"May I?" Tonks asks, holding it up high and grinning. Harry nods, the look on his face caught between excitement and apprehension. She lets go.
The angel's wings shatter as the figure hits the ground, and her head rolls off somewhere under the piles of gold coins, lost. The moment is ruined when Tonks takes a step forward and falls into a pile of gold.
Harry looks the same as they make the journey up. Tonks doesn't expect him to change until he is safe at Grimmauld Place again. Probably, it will take him weeks to get used to the idea, to realize that he can look like anything. That faces and hair mean as much as clothes and earrings- nothing, nothing at all. Maybe he'll never understand fully; after all, he's a shy boy, when he's not around his friends. Well- not shy, exactly- reserved, perhaps. She expects him to hide the ability a little, to be reluctant with it. Certainly she won't see him walking around with neon hair, like she does.
She doesn't expect him to stay exactly the same forever, except when she asks him to show her what he can do. She expected a little more experimenting. She pegged him as shy, but not as a coward.
"It feels weird," he comments. "I've never done it before."
Tonks imagines a little baby Harry, being held by his father. The little baby looks up to his father, stares at him, and shifts, imitating his father as only baby metamorphmagi can, as natural as to him as smiling. A perfect little baby- and then his mother comes up from behind, whispers a spell, and the perfect little baby is no longer quite as perfect, because he is stuck in one form- no longer whole.
"Then they've won," she comments. "You're stuck."
"There are a lot of people who think that we- metamorphmagi- are strange. The population as a whole, honestly. There are a lot of people who would like to see us normal again. Just like there are a lot of people who would like to see werewolves and vampires dead, and animagi registered, centaurs put in a zoo and everyone exactly equal."
"That isn't your face, you know," Tonks says. "Any more than this is mine."
He shrugs again, turns a little bit away. She can tell he is uncomfortable, and leaves him alone.
It isn't until two years later that Tonks bothers thinking about Harry much again, as a fellow metamorphmagus. It's during the final battle, and she is nearly killed by a Death Eater when she sees Draco Malfoy dive in front of her, cast a quick spell, and turn. He winks, and his open eye turns, very briefly, green.
And suddenly everything is alright, really, no matter how dangerous it is.
If he can use the ability to fight, he can use it other times.
And two figures dart across the battlefield, each wearing a myriad of faces.
A/N: Well. I wanted to write a Harry-is-a-metamorphmagus-but-never-knew fic, and this is what came out. It's always bothered me that Tonks has a "real" face. If I could change my appearence to whatever I wanted, I don't think I'd stick with anything very long. Anyway- please review!