“A cluster of crude stone dwellings stained with algae
loomed suddenly out of the gloom on all sides. Here and there at the dark
windows, Harry saw faces... faces that bore no resemblance at all to the
painting of the mermaid in the Prefects' bathroom...
The merpeople had greyish skins and long, wild, dark
green hair. Their eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore
thick ropes of pebbles around their necks. They leered at Harry as he swam past;
one or two of them emerged from their caves to watch him better, their powerful,
silver fishtails beating the water, spears clutched in their hands.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 26 The Second Task pg. 432
“He looked around. Many of the merpeople surrounding them
were carrying spears. He swam swiftly towards a seven-foot-tall merman with a
long green beard and a choker of shark fangs, and tried to mime a request to
borrow the spear. The merman laughed and shook his head.
“We do not help,” he said in a harsh, croaky voice.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 26 The Second Task pg. 433
“Dumbledore was crouching at the water's edge, deep in
conversation with what seemed to be the chief merperson, a particularly wild and
ferocious-looking female. He was making the same sort of screechy noises that
the merpeople made when they were above water; clearly, Dumbledore could speak
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 26 The Second Task pg. 438
The first glance we have of a merperson in the books is the painting of a
mermaid which hangs in the Prefects' bathroom which Harry visits shortly before
the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament in his fourth year. This image of a
mermaid fits, more or less, the common appearance of a mermaid as popular
opinion and folklore dictate (think The Little Mermaid, or the Sirens of Greek
legend). However, it is important to
remember that the merpeople in Hogwarts' lake are NOT like that (see description above).
It is probable that most witches and wizards have no idea what a merperson
actually looks like. Clearly, they do not emerge above water very often.
Merpeople have their own language; Mermish. They perhaps can speak English, but
this is probably a scattered talent which very few merpeople possess, if at all
(due to friendship with Dumbledore, perhaps?). The Mermish language sounds
almost unbearably horrible to human ears, a loud, screeching sound not unlike
the musical saws at Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday party. However, it is unique
in that when both the speaker and the listener are underwater, the screeching
noise becomes a voice and the listener can understand what is spoken, without a
knowledge of the language.
During the Second Task Harry discovers the true appearance of a merperson, and
there are more hints at their lifestyle. Merpeople clearly live in a
hunter-gatherer style community, with some knowledge of art and music (think native tribes
of America, Africa or Australasia). Their dwellings are basic. Many carry
spears, and there are lots of references to hunting; it is likely merpeople eat
fish. They also, apparently, keep smaller water-dwelling creatures such as the
Grindylow as pets.
If you are interested in roleplaying as a merperson, it is likely that you will
have little contact with most human characters in the roleplay. You would
certainly not travel onto the land. You can, however, breathe in the air, and
human visitors to the lakeside might catch a glimpse of you; or, if they are
lucky, get to talk to you! (Anyone speak Mermish?) It is also important to note
that merpeople have no magical ability at all; when faced with an angry Harry's
wand in the lake, they scattered.
Useful Links to Information About Merpeople
The HP Lexicon
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