A patronus, Harry tells Hermione, is acing a test and the warmth of a butterbeer between your hands. It is your friends holding you when you fall, and Ron’s sparkling eyes when you whisper hi. And there’s an otter, swimming, and Hermione is blushing.
A patronus, Harry tells Ron, is Ginny’s shaky smile lighting up the world at the end of second year. It is winning the Quidditch World Cup, unwrapping yet another knitted jumper, and your startled surprise at the sight of Hermione punching Draco in the face. And there’s a dog, chasing the otter, and Ron is laughing.
A patronus, Harry tells Luna, is the feeling of starlight on your skin and grass between your bare toes. It is snow melting through your fingers, the magic your mother used to make, something singing in your heart when you stare at the impossible. And there’s a hare, jumping, and Luna is shining.
A patronus, Harry tells Cho, is Marietta shouting the lyrics of her favourite song, dancing in the rain during a storm. It is the look on Cedric’s face when he saw you at the Yule Ball, his hand holding yours and never letting go. And there’s a swan, sliding, and Cho is crying.
A patronus, Harry tells Seamus, is Dean’s funny expression when he is about to burst into laughter and the sound of a explosion that turns out right. It is the fireworks, bright flowers blossoming in the night sky; and the fire burning in your lungs as you fly. And there’s a fox, running, and Seamus is smirking.
A patronus, Harry tells Ginny, is the world expanding underneath you and the wind playing with your hair. It is dancing and laughing until there are tears on your cheeks, Molly’s disapproving voice and Arthur’s amused eyes after one of the twins’ pranks. And there’s a horse, flying, and Ginny is grinning.
A patronus, Harry thinks, is that weird feeling that lives in his chest when the Room of Requirement glows silver, speaking of times when the world was golden.
A patronus, Harry tells Neville, is the scent of freshly turned earth and the feel of the sun through the Greenhouse glass. It is working with your hands in a garden, helping fragile plants and tender seeds grow. It is being buried under friends at a Closing Feast, having won the victory through a different kind of courage. But there’s no victorious moment here, no animal appearing in swirling silver. Just a puff of smoke, insubstantial and insignificant and isn’t that just the way of it for him?
You’ll get there, Harry tells Neville. I mean, it took me ages to learn. You’ll find the right memory. Though Neville sees an uncertainty in his eyes when he says it that he’s all too used to.
And Harry is wrong. Neville doesn’t get it. Not that year, not in the year that follows, and not when Harry disappears and Neville is left to try and fill a space he knows he will never fit into. It’s his secret, the one he doesn’t tell anybody, that their leader, their hero, their general, can’t produce a patronus of his own.
A patronus, he tells so many others, is the feeling of your mother hugging you goodnight, of your father telling you he’s proud of all you’ve done. It’s family-filled Christmas mornings and sun-drenched summer days and the knowledge that you are protected, that you are safe, that you are loved. He feeds them the memories he wishes he had, and it works, for them, and he is proud of their successes. He is. He is.
And then, when the battle comes, as he always knew it would, they appear, black and lethal and full of despair. And he watches them swoop down on the battlefield, watches them prey on his friends, his soldiers, his comrades, and he fills with fury, that they dare come here, that they dare try to hurt the ones he has sworn to protect.
He is filled with fire, and he doesn’t even need the words. He points his wand, and a silvery shape explodes from its end, banishing the Dementors with its strength and size and power and fury. And as the massive lion makes its way back to where Neville stands, he knows the truth.
A patronus, he thinks, isn’t the feeling of dirt on his hands or the smell of the lilacs that grow outside his bedroom window. A patronus is a sad story told in bubble gum wrappers and vacant stares, a lifetime of criticisms and reprimands and knowing that he’ll never be good enough. It is a childhood with not enough happy memories in it, and a child who somehow overcame all that to stand where he is today.
Someday, a patronus will be the scent of flowers, the laughter of his child, the feeling of his beloved in his arms. Someday, it will be all those moments and memories he fed to others. But today, a patronus is seeing with his own two eyes that even in a world as dark and bleak and black as this one has become, there are things and people and ideas worth protecting. It is doubting yourself and your abilities and your worth, but in spite of that, never once doubting for the briefest instant that protecting those things and people and ideas matters so much more than protecting yourself.
Wow, that was amazing, thank you for adding it, intelligencehavingfun
Ok but someone tell me why Harry didn’t grow up to be the best Defense Against Dark Arts professor Hogwarts has ever known
RIGHT??? what is up with this he becomes an auror crap?? Harry would have loved being a teacher and watching his students improve throughout the years. Revamping the curriculum because if he could teach kids as a child himself how to cast a patronus, perhaps everything they think of as only NEWTs levels and beyond really just weren’t taught well before.
Making him become an auror just makes him continue the fight he was forced into as a child and didn’t enjoy, Harry enjoyed teaching the DA. Why wouldn’t he chase after doing something he loves with his life????? And then he’d be able to train the next generation to make sure that they can protect the world, too.
YES. I can just picture Professors Potter and Longbottom joking about students and the other teachers during meals, playing mini pranks on Headmistress McGonagall, who’d purse her lips and remind them that they were adults, then look away before they could catch the twinkle in her eye. All the students would either have a massive crush on them or admire them or both. Harry is the only teacher capable of taming Teddy (who became known as the prank king, comparable to the Weasley’s twins) and eventually James, Al, and Lily. He develops connections with each of his students and teaches them according to the way he’s noticed they learn best and his classroom becomes a usual hangout for students, as he’s always got food and a “lame dad joke” that everyone secretly loves.
I could go on, but I have to stop myself before I get too into this.
Okay, this now officially drives me nuts because this would have made SO MUCH SENSE. And not only because of Harry’s temperament. Yes, he would have LOVED teaching DADA, but do you know who else wanted to teach DADA?
Voldemort cursed the position so no one could stay for over a year, and Rowling said that the curse broke upon his death. It would have brought the Prophecy’s plot line to full circle, because it shouldn’t have been anyone other than Harry who became the first un-cursed DADA professor.
It would have been just another part Harry vanquished.
And how important would it be to the students as well, and to him being able to progress with a comfortable, normal life? Because every witch/ wizard in the UK goes through Hogwarts. The first year after the war, he starts, and the students all come home at Christmas or in the summer and their parents are all ‘WOW you’ve been taught by HARRY POTTER what was he like?” And all these students who are totally over it already like “I don’t know, just… he’s just Professor Potter. He’s just Harry. He makes shit jokes and hands out chocolate in lessons. He’s just a really great guy.”
And over the years it stops being people yelling ‘The Chosen One’ or ‘The Boy Who Lived’ in the streets. He goes in to Diagon Alley with his family and everyone’s like ‘Oh my god, Sir! Hi! Look, it’s Professor Potter!’ And no-one wants to know how it felt to die or what vanquishing Voldemort was like- they want to tell him how their doing, and chat with him about how they want to go into the Aurors or Dragon taming, or what they’re doing now. They want one of their favourite teachers to meet their kids, reminisce about old lessons.
But of course, everyone still knows it’s Harry Potter. And it becomes like a thing among the students, whenever anyone feels low on confidence or like they’ll never achieve things in life, and someone’ll cut in like ‘Of course you can. Harry defeated the greatest Dark Wizard in memory, and he’s a massive dork who’s a little bit frightened of his wife and kids, still trips over the trick step, didn’t get the date he wanted to the Yule Ball and spills pumpkin juice all over his robes regularly. He’s human just like you, and if he could do that, you can sure as hell make the DMLE if that’s what you want.”
Like Harry and Neville being constant reminders to all their students that heroes are just people- just real, normal, faulty people.
(And then can we also have Ginny Weasley, taking some time off from playing professional Quidditch so she comes to do a few years as the flying coach. And her first year Harry goes down to the pitch with a few of the 7th years he has under his wing, and Ginny being, as always, vaguely terrifying but in an incredibly attractive way. And all these 7th years just gaping at her like ‘Woah. You are married to her?!” And Harry just massively smug like ‘Yeah, I know right?’)