A Patronus is a charm in the “Harry Potter” universe that’s used to drive away soul-sucking Dementors. It’s very difficult to conjure a corporeal Patronus (“It’s the only spell she ever has trouble with,” Harry says when Hermione struggles to make one), but if you can do it, it takes the form of your very own guardian animal.
So … which animal did you get?
If it’s something small, your Patronus is probably really lame.
My patronus is a rat. Not even pizza rat. Just a regular, dirty, sewage rat.
— K. Lucarelli ???? (@KristinaLuca) September 22, 2016
Boss: “Hey. I need you to put some pants on. Big time.”
People seem especially upset if they got a salmon — like Luna Lovegood actress Evanna Lynch. In the series, Lovegood’s Patronus is a hare, but Lynch wanted a cat.
My sad lil salmon would make me cry &feel bad things & doesn’t that defeat the whole point of a patronus?! WHERE IS MY FIERCE LION PATRONUS
— Evanna Lynch (@Evy_Lynch) September 23, 2016
I got a salmon. My patronus is a SALMON. You all get cool cats and stags. I get something that poaches great with dill and lemon slices.
— Marko Kloos (@markokloos) September 22, 2016
The thing about Patronuses is that we don’t really know much about them. We know that they can only be conjured when the wizard or witch is thinking of a very happy memory. But they also seem to kind of have a life of their own. They tap into some deep part of you: Harry’s Patronus is a stag, for instance, which is the same animal his father could transform into.
What we do know is that, in the Manichean world of J.K. Rowling, Patronuses are a good form of magic that serves partly as a foil to the bad magic of dementors. Patronuses are, in other words, a type of magic used for good to fight evil.
But how is your Patronus supposed to fight the bad guys if it’s super tiny?
Look no further than a passage in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” that illustrates this point. When Harry and Hermione sneak into the Ministry of Magic in their quest to steal one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, they find Dolores Umbridge sentencing Muggle-born wizards — those who were born to non-magical parents — to Azkaban. The “courtroom” is filled with dementors, and Umbridge keeps herself safe with her own Patronus cat:
The moment he had passed the place where the Patronus cat patrolled, he felt the change in temperature: It was warm and comfortable here. The Patronus, he was sure, was Umbridge’s, and it glowed brightly because she was so happy here, in her element, upholding the twisted laws she had helped to write.
Later on, Harry stuns Umbridge, and her Patronus disappears. Harry casts his own Patronus — a big, badass stag — to keep back the dementors and escape from the courtroom.
And here’s where “Harry Potter” fans should be disappointed in their smaller Patronuses. Harry’s bigger stag warms up the entire room much better than Umbridge’s Patronus cat:
The silver stag soared from the tip of Harry’s wand and leapt toward the dementors, which fell back and melted into the dark shadows again. The stag’s light, more powerful and more warming than the cat’s protection, filled the whole dungeon as it cantered around and around the room.
Now, it’s possible Rowling might explain away Harry’s powerful Patronus by arguing that he either is more pure of heart than Umbridge or that he is a more powerful wizard.
Still, the more obvious solution is that the size of the Patronus — and thus the animal in question — matters.
Rowling’s preference in Patronuses may even prove this point. At first, she got a pine marten (a kind of lame badger), but she decided the quiz wasn’t finished. In the final version, she got a huge heron.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to say that I have a badass wolf.
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