The classroom was quite a bit louder than normal as the Fourth Years filed in. The source of the noise was soon discovered when the students noticed the large cage next to Professor Mitchell’s desk containing about ten gray speckled birds. The professor cast a quick Silencing Charm on the cage before beginning the lecture.
Welcome back, class. I hope you’re all excited for your first trans-species transformation today! It will be fun and a little tricky, but I have confidence that you will all be successful with a little practice. First, though, we’re going to go over a little more theory and re-touch upon a topic you all should be familiar with.
Principal Exception of Life Revisited
Last week, I briefly mentioned that the creatures transformed via animate to animate transformations are, in fact, still fully alive in their transfigured state, but didn’t quite explain why. The Principal Exception of Life prevents us from creating a living creature, does it not? This apparent contradiction can be resolved by noting that the law prevents us from creating life out of nothing. That is, we can’t take something that lacks a life force and give it one. Our starting object in animate to animate transformations, however, has a life force to begin with. Therefore, we are not creating a new life, but merely bending and altering one that already exists.
That said, while we can alter this life force, we cannot change its power. A life force is designed to maintain the body and mind of whatever creature it supports. Put it into a different body and mind and you may find it has an easier or harder time maintaining it. Take, for example, a monkey and a fly. The life force of the monkey is comparatively larger than that of the fly. The creature it powers is larger, more complex, and lives a great deal longer. The fly, on the other hand, is small, relatively simple, and lives for only a few days, depending on the species. Attempting to transform the fly into a monkey would not work all that well, as its life force is not strong enough to power the larger and more complex monkey body. Alternatively, transforming the monkey into a fly would result in a fly that far outlives the average longevity for both the insect and the primate. The spare life force that is not being used to power the mind and body would go into extending the creature’s life.
The other thing to note about the product maintaining life is that it still goes through all the bodily functions that we didn’t experience with inanimate to animate transformations. They still need to eat and sleep, their heart still pumps blood, and their body continues to grow. Because of this, we really need to keep in mind all of the biological aspects of the creature including, but not limited to, all of the body systems we went over last year and their associated organs. If something inside the body isn’t transformed properly, there could be major consequences. We’ll touch upon these and other ethical concerns next lesson.
Today we will be transforming guinea fowl into guinea pigs. I’m sure you all heard our squawking friends up here as you entered the classroom. A guinea fowl is a medium-sized bird native to Africa. A guinea pig, on the other hand, is a mammal native to the Andes in South America. Despite their similar names, they are two remarkably different creatures. Some of these differences, that will be important to keep in mind while casting, include the differences between a bird and a mammal, feathers and fur, and legs and wings. They also have a significant size difference, though at this point I don’t believe any of you should have a problem with that. What differences you note and concentrate on when attempting the transformation I will leave up to you.
Failure to properly perform this transformation could result in a guinea pig that attempts to fly. If this happens, it is a sign that you did not apply quite enough willpower. Remember this is what alters the mind of the creature. If you do not apply enough, some part of the brain will still try to think like a bird, leading to confusion and stress in the creature. Other signs that the mind was not completely transformed include insomnia, an interest in food outside the guinea pig’s diet, and staring blankly into space. These backfires, essentially atypical behaviors for the resulting creature, are common to nearly any trans-species transformation you will encounter when willpower is lacking.
As concentration controls what physical changes are happening, both inside and out, any issues here could have slightly worse effects. You can usually notice if something is off if the creature appears sick or is especially lethargic. A good habit to get into is doing a quick check that your guinea pig is breathing immediately after you transform. This indicates that there is no immediate, life threatening issue.
Where did this come from? Why do I care?
This transformation was actually discovered by a good friend of mine. I met Miss Alyssa Abernathy when I was travelling through the States. She’s a little advanced in age now, but used to experiment, albeit illegally, with transformations on her farm when she was younger. This spell came about in 1968 when she was getting increasingly annoyed at the racket her guinea fowl would make morning, noon, and night. With her daughter’s birthday approaching and not yet having a gift, Alyssa was struck with the idea to transform her birds into a smaller, quieter pet that her daughter could take care of. It took her a few weeks of experimenting and testing to get it right, but in the end, the Guinea Fowl to Guinea Pig Transformation was born.
There are not very many explicit practical uses for many animate to animate transformations. Many times they are cast in the spur of the moment, when a sudden need strikes. I doubt there will be a time in your life where you will need to cast the spell you learned today, however, it is always good to be ever increasing your magical repertoire on the off chance that you find yourself in an odd situation. As always, it is also good to practice a wide variety of spells while you are young and in school as it teaches you how to approach new spells you may learn outside of the classroom.
And with that, I hope you all enjoyed today’s lesson! You have both an essay and a quiz for homework. Be sure to keep practicing your transformations - you can come to my office if you need to borrow a guinea fowl - and I will see you all next week!
*Guinea fowl image credit: http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/helmeted-guineafowl*
*Guinea pig image credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/old/rodents/guinea-pig.html*