“I do apologize Albus,” the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher inclined his head toward Dumbledore, “I am needed in London all this week in order to give testimony in front of the Wizengamot in the trial of Thaddeus Morquette.”
“Ah yes,” the old wizard nodded gravely, “The so called last Death Eater, or at least if we were to believe the Daily Prophet.” A twinkle came to Dumbledore’s eyes as he smiled. “Which of course, I don’t.”
The African Wizard gave a low guttural laugh. “As you have made abundantly clear In our many, many years of friendship Albus. But my testimony is certainly needed and warranted to determine guilt or innocence, therefore I shall need to be there.”
“Of course, my dear Amen. Jurisprudence must always win the day. I will endeavor to find a suitable substitute for you in the interim.” The headmaster’s finger slid down a sheet of parchment that sat partially rolled up on his desk. Another smile crossed his face, “And I think I have just the person.”
The notices that this week’s newt level Defense Against the Dark Arts class would be held in the Great Hall led to all kinds of rampant speculation. The buzz was only heightened when students who received the Daily Prophet learned that Professor Qasim was in London giving testimony at a trial, or the younger students who came out of their class before the sixth years telling them the horrors of Professor Kettleburn setting loose a hoard of nifflers on them and being told to protect pots of gold with stunning jinxes. Several of the students left the hospital wing hours later with hickeys of various size all over their arms.
“That’s why I didn’t take Kettleburn’s ruddy class in the first place,” Tom said indignantly, “Monty always said he was a nutter.”
Walking, almost bouncing along to the right of Tom, Rose grinned. “Well, we know it’s not Professor Sprout,” she said with a mischievous glance past the Gryffindor to Danny standing on Tom’s other side.
A smile flitted across Dan’s face. “Aye. She tellt us herself while Rose wis helping me wi’ Herbology.” He chuckled. The tutoring session had quickly dissolved into a session of joke telling, which Professor Sprout had joined in on while tending to a peaky looking boomberry shrub. “Bit she wouldn’t say wha th’ substitute wis”
“She didn’t seem worried though,” Rose added, taking up the story from her side of Tommy. Actually, the Herbology professor hadn’t seemed anything but relaxed as they’d laughed at Danny’s slightly naughty jokes.
“Maybe it’s Dumbledore himself,” Tom’s eyes twinkled slightly, “I bet he could teach us something incredible. Or maybe give us a blow by blow account of his duel with Grindlewald.”
“Nae,” replied Foozle with a shake of the head. “Tha wid be tae close tae boasting fer Dumbledaur’s style.” The group trotted up the steps toward the great hall. “Ah reck it’s McGonagall. Her oor Flitwick. Wha ense wad it be? It’s no lik th’ heidey’s gauntae pat Quirrell oor Trelawney in front o a Defense Again’s th’ Dark Arts cless…”
Tom laughed. “Aye, that would be true,” he said in his mock Scottish accent and was immediately smacked in to back of the head by Céilidh.
“Whit huv ah tellt ye aboot that?” Céilidh said sharply as she gave a wink to Rose.
Orlando reached over and pinched Tommy’s cheek. “Ah think tis cute.”
The Gryffindor batted his friend’s hand away with a chuckle. “Don’t try and help me. You’ll only make it worse.”
“Oh, he excels at that.”
The doors to the Great Hall had been pulled open and the crowd filed into the room. The long tables and benches were all gone. Even the professor’s dais had been removed. In place of them, warm colored carpets had been laid out around the room over its usual stone. The enchanted ceiling showed a clear, sunny day overhead, a front belied by the weather clearly seen through the Hall’s long windows.
Foozle’s brow arched up, and he leaned over toward Danny. “Whits aw this then?”
The Ravenclaw looked around. “Ye gat me.”
“In. Come in.” At the center of the room Professor Quirinus Quirrell waving them all into the room.”Plenty of room, of course. Come in. Find yourself some carpet.”
Tommy grinned back at his Hufflepuff mate. “It’s no lik th’ heidey’s gonna pat Quirrell in front o a Defense Against th’ Dark Arts class,” he muttered under his breath complete with that mock Scots accent.
Foozle muffled a laugh, and jabbed his friend in the ribs with an elbow. “Mebbe’s we’re here fur a nap?”
The sixth years, some of them rolling their eyes at the meek Muggle Studies professor, gathered around on the plush carpets that now covered the great hall’s stone floor. A group of Slytherins who had slid behind the teacher in the back of the circle around him openly laughed and pointed at the jittery teacher as he watched the students encircled him.
“Welcome, students,” he said with a nervous smile on his face, “for those of you who do not know me, for I will admit that I do not know all of you, I am Professor Quirrell.” He gave a slight bow. “Most normally I am the Muggle Studies professor, but with Professor Qasim in London on business I have been tasked to teach his N.E.W.T. students. For today, I have chosen a subject that has been called by some the most difficult.” He bounced excitedly on the balls of his feet and almost tripped over his own cloak, sending up a fresh wave of tittering from the Slytherins and a few others.
At the back of the room there was a faint clearing of the throat. The eyes of the room all turned to find the school’s headmaster seated in the corner. He smiled, nodding his head to Quirrell. The chuckling died away.
To his credit,Quirrell recovered quickly, but his grin faltered a little as he looked at the assembled students. “Yes, yes.” He drew his wand and with a small flourish cast, “Expecto Patronum!”
A bright shimmering strand burst from the end of his alder wand. The thin tendrils quickly spread into a thick cloud which curled around, lighting the room up even brighter than the enchanted sky. Quirrell twisted his wand and the glowing vapour arced about, circling the young faces in the room before fading away.
“The patronus charm,” Quirrell said, clearing having a level of confidence returned, “is, to, um, perhaps oversimplify it, goodness in a charm. It is… While it is incredibly complicated to conjure, it is one of the most powerful spells a witch or wizard can have, one of the only spells that may serve you against some of the, um, darkest creatures. Leithifolds and Dementors, and the like.”
“Now,” he strolled around the room, consciously hiking the ends of his robes up around his ankles, “I do not mean to discourage any of you, but I do want to emphasize that the patronus is, um, difficult. Exceedingly difficult to master and many, uh, many do not. But those that do…” He stopped, hesitating for a moment with a smile. “Per… um, perhaps our headmaster would care to demonstrate?”
Again all eyes of the room shifted. Dumbledore had risen to his feet. “I would be happy too, professor.”
Just as Quirrel had before him, the headmaster cast the patronus, only this time the white light that burst forth formed into a great phoenix which soared around the great hall in grand circles, leaving a soft contrail of light in its wake. Several in the room held their breath and some others gasped in wonder.
Quirrel thanked the headmaster and continued his introduction to the charm even as Dumbledore’s patronus made one final swoop around the room before climbing into the sky. Tommy turned to the Hufflepuff at his shoulder. “I thought you said boasting wasn’t Dumbledore’s style?” He gave his brother a teasing smirk.
“Ah didnae say he didnae hae style…”
The Gryffindor nodded. “He certainly does.”
Quirrell inclined his head. “Now as we have already discussed, the first and primary component of this spell is a happy memory.” Quirrell’s smile broadened. “Now, uh, to the reason we see the great hall as it is. I would, uh… There are, um, many of you here, and, I would… I would like you to spread out through the great hall and meditate for a few moments on one happy memory.”
Laun had remained mostly quiet thus far, he was almost too excited for this particular lesson. He had always been one of the only of his class who had actually seen a Patronus in action, and while it was when he was quite young, it was an image that has never left him.
He pictured that scene again. His Uncle Carolinus “Loony Linus” was being approached by the dementors; according to his Uncle all of his “paranoid theories” had come true and they were finally coming for him. He muttered the great words and soon a giant sloth burst forth batting the shadowy figures backwards.
Laun would later learn they were merely lower level aurors who wanted him for questioning, not dementors. He was eventually interred in St. Mungo’s mentally infirm wing. But Laun always loved him, always knew he wasn’t crazy.
It was Uncle Carolinus who had taught Laun to think outside the box. He remembered the first time he shared one of what his mom called his crazy ideas with Uncle Linus, and he instantly believed him. That had never happened before or since.
“Expecto Patronum!” Laun said brightly, as from his wand burst forth half a dozen silvery-white luna moths that fluttered around him in a circle. He soon realised everyone was looking at him. It shook him out of his reverie.
“Well… Mister Orris-Whitmoor, quite impressive!” Professor Quirrell said slowly, “Students you, uh, you should know that this is highly unusual, and don’t feel disheartened if it takes you somewhat longer to conjure a, um, a full patronus.”
As Quirrell turned back to the class, explaining how you harness those good memories, Laun got the odd feeling that he had missed out on a moment that he wasn’t even trying for, but just then he made eye contact with Professor Dumbledore, who smiled at him brightly.
Danny clapped the Slytherin on the back and grinned. “Guid job, mate,” he said with more enthusiasm than he felt. The Ravenclaw was worried about his ability to perform the charm. Big magic always came easier to him when he was under pressure. Flying a broom and his first animagus transformation were prime examples.
Then there was the matter of his happy memories. All of the good ones that came to mind were recent, involving Ambrosia, and they were all tinged with regret.
A small hand crept into his as the class drifted away from one another to find spots to meditate. “Okay, now I’m really nervous,” Rose whispered, standing on her toes to get closer to his ear. “I closed my eyes to meditate, and all I see is a whole lot of nothing coming out of my wand.”
Danny looked over at the girl and smiled. “Surely ye huv a memory that’s happy enough, hen,” he said softly. “Ye’r th’ happiest body ah ken.”
Blushing slightly, Rose shook her head. “Happy seems like such a…” She paused, searching for a word. After all, Danny made her happy… except for the times he made her sad. “I just mean, the things that made me happy last year, or last week even, aren’t always the things that make me happy today.”
“That is a very astute observation, Miss Sheridan.” Professor Quirrell came up behind the Ravenclaws, “So if that is the case how would one choose the their perfect memory?”
The little blonde bit her lip as she thought it over. “I haven’t figured that part out yet,” she admitted. “It can’t be just trial and error. That would be a really bad idea if a dementor or leithifold was coming at you.” She looked to Danny for inspiration.
“Meibbes tis nae juist happy, bit something mair,” the young man mused. “Pure joy, or as claise as ye’v ever felt. Something that bides wi’ ye guid or ill.” He paused for a moment and looked at the stone floor as memories rushed through his head. “Mebbes the memory o the feeling is as important as the feeling itself.”
“That is a good point,” he paused for a moment and both Ravenclaws could feel that he was searching in vain for Danny’s name before giving up, “So how would you conjure something like that to the front of our minds?”
Rose nodded slowly. “I think I get it,” she said, not wanting to monopolize the professor’s time, or try anything with him hovering over her shoulder. Thinking about what Danny had said really did make her feel like she had an idea. A feeling. And one that went beyond merely being happy. “Thank you, Professor Quirrell.”
He blinked, perhaps not used to genuine thanks from a student, and smiled before moving on to help the other students throughout the room.
Foozle shifted his weight from foot to foot. Looking over to his left he saw Danny and Ambrosia talking with the Professor. When the Ravenclaw Scot saw the Hufflepuff looking his way Foozle gave him a thumbs up and wagged his eyebrows, grinning.
He took a step back and cupped his hand to his mouth, and yelled to the boy on the other side of them. “Wey tae pit the pressure oan, Laun!” When the Slytherin looked over he shot him a playful wink.
Orlando shifted his weight again, his wrist flicking and his wand dropping into his palm. He took a breath and closed his eyes. “Alricht… Alricht…”
Confidence was not something the Hufflepuff was in short supply of, he knew that. In truth, he had more than his fair share, more than he probably should. He knew that too. It was probably owed to the fact that he’d managed to live through every scrape he’d managed to get himself into.
His eyes opened. Staring at the wand that hung at the end of his arm and listening to Quirrell’s voice, he tried to recall something happy, something perfect.
He couldn’t think of anything. His mind was blank.
“Expectae Pitronum,” the boy groaned to himself. Looking to his right he saw the others. Nicolette. Tommy and Céilidh. He flashed a bit of smile at them.
“What?” Tommy gave him a quizzical look as he sat on the carpet that now lay on the floor of the great hall. His legs sprawled out in front of him as he lazily clicked the souls of his shoes together.
Lando’s shoulder shrugged. “Whit whit?”
He twirled his wand between his fingers. Looking back over his shoulder he watched the professor walk around the room and talk to the various students as they began to call out ‘expecto patronum’. Only a bare few managed a puff of white from their wands, and none had managed the full corporeal moths that Laun had.
“Ye ken,” he continued, “Ah reck gif they pit a Dementor in the ruim this wad be easy peasy.” He tried not to sound frustrated, but wasn’t terribly successful.
For the young Hufflepuff it was one thing to have your life on the line and have to act, staring down a quintiped or a bloodthirsty redcap, even chasing down those kids that had turned into grotesque spider creatures with Rose earlier that very year. Your blood and adrenaline was pumping, and you didn’t have to think – only to act.
It was something completely different to be put on the spot, standing there with nothing but the time to think. That was all well and good for research. Research left plenty of distractions and ideas to pull from. This spell, the patronus, it was wholly different sort of spellwork.
Tom gave a throaty laugh. “Lad if they did that,” Tom became rather solemn, “I think we would have been more peeing ourselves rather than casting a patronus.”
“That’s a mental picture ah didnae need richt nou.” Céilidh elbowed Tom in the ribs. She was having a hard enough time without the idea of the assembled students suddenly losing control of their bladders en masse.
Tom laughed again. He leaned back on his palms and looked up at the ceiling. “At least all of us have pretty powerful good memories. And besides,” he shrugged with that smile that he always seemed to pull from nowhere, “we’re us. What can’t we do?”
Foozle looked down at his fellow Gentleman. “Shuir we hae, but…” He grumbled a little to himself, looking back to watch Quirrell again as he spoke with a pair of Gryffindors. “Sae, guid thochts is whit ye need tae power yuir patronus, richt? Fill it wi tha positive fushion, richt?”
“Sae ye latch oan tae tha guid myndin tae prime it, but the ill anes, thay drain it. Sae think guid thochts. And dinnae think ill thochts.”
“Whitever ye dae, dinnae think o a gryphon.” Tommy looked at him. “Whit are ye thinkin aboot?”
“Sae ye see my problem.” He lifted his wand, trying to focus on something positive, something concrete. He thought of that first time he went to platform 9 ¾, seeing that big train. He caught his twirling wand in his palm and swung it forward, “Expecto Patronum!”
Even as he called out the incantation, he could feel it in the back of his mind, the lingering thoughts. The uncomfortable doubts. The sadness that settled into those quiet and still moments alone.
Orlando sighed. “Bugger.”
Nicolette Ainscough’s wand sat on the red carpet in front of her. She made no movement to pick it up, no movement to cast the spell, no movement at all. Her head just sat in her hands as she stared down at it. So often, she was ahead of the class. It was one part natural talent, but it was also one part cheating. She had been casting spells since she was old enough to speak. Her parents weren’t much for waiting until the ministry said she could start learning. They weren’t much for following anyone else’s rules but their own.
This, however, was a problem.
She wasn’t going to say so, but the little wisp from Quirrel’s wand had been the first time she had ever seen a patronus in any form. It was widely said, true or not, that dark wizards lacked the capability to cast patronuses. Due to personal experience, she was inclined to believe it was true. Those old worries bubbled back up to the surface. What would it mean if she couldn’t do it? Could she fight against the wickedness in her genetics?
Her head dropped to the carpeted floor with a groan, her wand still untouched. She didn’t even want to try. You couldn’t fail if you didn’t try.
“Ah’ve seen ye happy.” She looked up to see Orlando. He gave a her that smile that told her he knew what she was thinking. “Juist saying.”
“I know…” She didn’t bother to shield her concerns from him. For the most part, he would know it all anyway.
In the meantime, Tom’s memories of his first time on a broom filled his head. He stood up nonchalantly and gave a little flick “Expecto Patronum!” There was some slight wisps of silver light curled out of his wand. Tom was shocked.
He looked at Laun who was making his moths swoop around the room. How was it that Laun can get this in one shot but he couldn’t? Tom shut his eyes and took a breath. He needed to calm down. He knew Laun was a very good wizard, hell easily as good as he was. He threw himself back down to the carpeted floor to calm down and try once more.
“Expecto patronum!” Foozle shook his head.
“Ye twa are niver gauntae wirk this oot frae oan th fluir.” He looked over his shoulder at his girlfriend and his brother. He kicked off his trainers and stepped on his socks to pull them off. “Ah mean leuk. Thare’s naethin tae it.”
His toes spread out in the carpet’s pile. He took a breath and cast again, and again nothing happened. The Hufflepuff grinned. “See? Naething.”
The Ravenclaw sat up and leaned back, looking to her other side at her cousin. “What was that spell to make your nose stop working again?”
“Oor ye coud pik yersel up aff the fluir.”
“I doubt such a short distance would remedy the situation.” She knew she was being contrary, but there was a difference between knowing and stopping. “Standing doesn’t seem to be doing much for most everyone else.” Her hand opened in a vague gesture around the room.
Céilidh looked at Dan and Rose, Foozle and Nicolette, Tommy… listening to the banter that so often was the crux of their relationships – sarcastic and warm, teasing and familial – and everything that should be right, seemed to be. Her gaze lingered on Tom for a moment longer before she took a deep breath and gave her wand a flourish.
Silvery light burst forth from the end of her wand. While the form remained indistinct, there was little doubt in the redhead’s mind what her patronus would eventually coalesce into with more practice as it traced fading ribbons of silver around Tom’s ankles.
“Not bad at all, Miss…” the Professor stumbled on the redhead’s name as he came up behind her.
“MacAllister, sir.” Tom finished for him, grinning up at the sub.
“Thank you, Mister Llewelyn,” he gave the Gryffindor a short nod. “What was the memory you were using, Miss MacAllister?”
“A uh…” Céilidh shot a quick glance in Tom’s direction. Her cheeks bloomed red that crept over her entire face and disappeared into her hairline. “Tis a wee bit oan th’ personal side, Perfesser.”
Professor Quirrell chuckled, “That is fine. We just want to make sure that when we think of a memory that it is a good strong memory.” He placed his hand on her shoulder. “Do you feel it was as strong as it could have been?”
The freckles on Céilidh’s face disappeared as she blushed even deeper. “A’m sure it’ll git thare.” The faintest twitch of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Wi’ practice.”
“Aaaand now I’ll never be able to make a patronus with that in my head.” The Ravenclaw chimed in from the other side of Céilidh’s boyfriend.
“A wee mair ‘expecto patronum’,” the smirking Foozle said, giving Nicolette a playful jab under the ribs with his toe, “and a wee less colour commentary.”
With a sigh, Nicolette scooped her wand up off the carpet and pushed herself to her feet. She brushed the wrinkles and fibers out of her clothes and cast another look around the room. Some of her classmates were showing impressive results already.
A purely happy memory… “Whose stupid idea was this spell in the first place?” Everything she could think of was a shade of gray. “Expecto Patronum!” She cast the spell with no memory behind it to at least make a show of trying.
After watching his friends, his family, make their attempts at casting the spell, Danny closed his eyes and tried to draw upon the best memory he had. Thoughts of the fun he had with Orlando, Tom and Céilidh passed by, but they didn’t seem strong enough. Memories of his time dating Cecilia were tainted by the way they broke up.
The Ravenclaw man rolled forwards. Thoughts of studying in the greenhouse with his tutor, golden curls waving in the wind during broom rides, his housemate eating those silly pink donuts, sitting under the stars with Rose, the mystery girl on Halloween. Those would be the memories he would have used if not for one crushing fact: When he tried to kiss her, her headache, her powers, flared up to such a point that her brain shut down. And Danny wasn’t willing to take the risk again.
He finally settled on the first time he held his siblings, Dearg and Daisy. “Expecto Patronum,” he said clearly without a trace of an accent. His wand didn’t so much as glow.
“Shite,” Danny said. He took a few steps back and leaned against the cool stone wall and let himself slide downward into a seated position.
“No, Mister Llewelyn,” Professor Quirrell smiled up at Tommy, who was at least a good three inches taller than the Professor, “I don’t think the first time you rode a broom is a good enough memory. Try to think of the moment that you were at your happiest.”
The moment I would be at my happiest would be the moment I don’t have your breath in my face, Tommy thought as he gave a slight cough, did you eat dragon dung?
Tommy closed his eyes and gave a deep breath. He started thinking about all the wonderful happy memories from his childhood. As he cycled through them, one face kept popping into his mind. Céilidh. Her smile, the smell of cinnamon, everything.
Tommy smiled. He could feel the tension and pressure behind trying to cast wash away. A large smile grew under his closed eyes. His wand wand began to move of what felt like its own accord, as his lips parted, “Expecto Patronum!” A bright flash of gray and silver burst from his wand. The light quickly formed itself a beautiful ghostly eagle, that soared over the students’ heads before landing lightly on Tommy’s shoulder.
“Richt bonnie wirk, Tommy!” Lando said proudly, walking over to take a look at the bird perched on his shoulder. “Fu corporeal patronus.”
He reached up with one finger and touched the thing, stroking its skull. Despite the almost icy whiteness of the phantom falcon, she was warm to the touch. The sensation of sunlight ran from his finger and up into his forearm before fading away. He smiled, as if a trace of whatever happy memory had called her into existence left an echo in him as well.
“A bird, eh?” The Scot chuckled. “A jalouse we dinnae hae tae ask ye whit ye wis thinking o.” He shot a wink to Céilidh.
“Whit kin ah say? Ah mak’ a guid inspiration.”
Rose smiled, taking in the sounds of her friends voices as she inched toward what she hoped would be mastery of the spell. It seemed to her that Danny, not the professor, had the right way of looking at it. This was more than a happy thought or a warm fuzzy feeling. This was protection, what you wrapped yourself in when darkness came for your very soul.
She shifted her angle to think about the dementors. You couldn’t grow up in a wizarding family without hearing about them. The darkest of the dark, the ones you never wanted to face. Lethifolds too, in their own, very different, way. Anything that required a patronus to deal with it was bad enough to make the word evil an understatement.
So she thought about protection. Just some random happy memory wouldn’t do. Happiness was so… fickle. What made her happy changed from one day to the next. But there were things deeper than ‘happy’, more constant. She just needed to find one. And try.
“Expecto Patronum.” The blonde gave a small squeak of surprise to see the tip of her wand glow for a second or two.
“Come on, Rose.” Tom clapped his hands together, “You can do this. I know you can.”
Her answering smile was like the sun coming up. “I know. I just need to think a little bit more.”
Céilidh shook her head, her ponytail bobbing back and forth, “Ye dinnae need tae think, ye need tae feel.”
Foozle smirked at his sister. He knew that their professors knew quite a bit. One didn’t become a professor at Hogwarts by being a slouch, not generally anyway. That said, this was the sort of lesson that really thrived more on the encouragement and success of your friends than any kind and intelligent words of a professor.
Standing between the lot of them, he thought about his friends, as their voices rang in his ears calling out to each other. He shook off those failures from earlier and let the sounds of Céilidh and Rose and Tommy drown away the darkness and loneliness that had been plaguing his grasp of something happy.
He thought back to their first time at Hogwarts, and that nervous excitement as they all boarded the train together. How the castle looked in the night when they saw it for the first time, crossing the lake. He thought of that first lesson in charms when he cast his first official legal spell…
The bluish white light curled from the end of his wand. It grew into a gentle bright arc, and as he gave his wrist a flick, the shield shot off ahead. It grew just a little bit more before finally dissipating.
Orlando had the right of it now, and he knew it. He reached back into that well feeling without waiting for it to fade as the patronus had. He thought back to that one spell, the very first spell he ever crafted. He could practically see the soft yellow light at the end of the wand he had snuck from his grandmother’s apron. Reliving watching the writing desk shrink down to such a small size, it was just as if it was happening now, and that rush of pride and joy crashed over him as it had all those years ago. Behind it all he could hear the faintest clapping.
The light burst from the end of his outstretched wand, brighter but smaller than it had moments ago. Instead of a growing shield, the cloudy light had coalesced into the frame of a smaller creature which landed gingerly on its four little legs.
Foozle grinned a broad grin as he looked down at his patronus. “Ye shuir lik tae kep me waitin dinnae ye?”
The raccoon swished his bushy striped tail and stood up on its hind legs, looking back at its caster. Shiny eyes glimmered under the lines of its mask as it paused, regarding him a moment. It bound forward, scrambling up his body like a tree right to the branch of his shoulder. It planted its paws on his face and head to stay upright and look around the room.
That warm sensation he had felt touching Tommy’s falcon was even greater when it came from his own, pure happiness. Unable to smile any bigger and feeling unaccustomed to a loss for words, Foozle just beamed at his little companion.
It hopped down from it’s perch and darted around the legs of his friends.
Rose giggled as the silvery white raccoon circled her ankles. “He’s beautiful,” she told Orlando. Seeing the success around her encouraged her to join in, to put her feelings into practice. And because she’d been thinking and feeling, she knew what to do now.
It wasn’t a single memory. It was family. Love, protection and, yes, happiness all under one roof. Washing their feet after a morning in the garden, her mother humming in the kitchen, the puff of smoke from her dad’s camera, Halcyon’s new laugh. On their own the memories seemed small. But rolled together the feeling was more than happiness; it was joy and it did wrap around her. Maybe it would be different if there was a dementor or something else evil in front of her. But right now she felt protected. And ready to try again.
She heard the whir of wings before the silvery mist showed its full form. Even without the typical jeweled colors, the tiny hummingbird was brilliant and Rose’s eyes filled with tears at the sight. “Hi there,” she whispered to the bird who hovered in front of her face.
With a flick of its tail, the hummingbird inched backwards then, in a sudden burst of speed, took off to circle the room. Leaving the wisp of a silvery contrail in its wake, it flew past Laun’s moths, hovered beak to beak with Tommy’s hawk, then buzzed past the glowing raccoon before coming back to hover near Rose’s shoulder once again.
The next thing Rose knew, two arms wrapped around her from behind and lifted her off the ground in a bear hug. “I knew you could do it.”
Rose giggled and snuggled into her friend’s arms, causing the hummingbird to fly around them both in happy circles. “Thank you, Tommy. I knew it too… sorta.”
Looking over at his housemate, Danny smiled. “Guid wirk, Brosia,” Danny looked around the room sighed, then took a deep breath and concentrated on being happy, not any specific memory, just happiness. “Expecto Patronum.”
For the second time, nothing happened, and Danny’s wand arm dropped to his side.
A hand was on his shoulder, and Danny found Lando standing beside him. “Gif ye lat yersel git frustratit yuir juist gauntae be frustratit.” The Hufflepuff smiled a little. “An thare’s nae muckle happy in frustration.”
The Scot took his wand and gave it a little swish. “Ah dinnaken whit Quirrell sez, Ah wisnae listenin.” The raccoon patronus crawled over to stand in front of them both. “Ah dinnae think a body kin pull ‘happy’ oot o thin air oan caw juist fer naething.” He looked down at the raccoon that was putting a paw on his shin to stay upright. “Happy disnae come frae naething. Gif we wis sittin in Snape’s cless – worser yet, Binns’, an Ah turned tae ye and telt ye tae be happy. Whit wad ye dae? Thare’s naething happy there. Tha’s a miserable hell. Tha’s wha we daydream, Ah reck.” A smirk came over his face. “Less there wis mebbes a nice lass sittin neist tae ye. Ane tha put a wee bit o pink in yuir cheeks? Then ye micht find it.”
“Sae it ayweys comes frae somewheres.” Foozle gave his brother a wink. “Ye kin uise the memory as an anchor, ye ken? Gae back tae it.”
Danny looked at Foozle. “A’ve git a lot o’ memories. Bit none seem guid enough. Th’ twins, th’ pranks, naethin’ seems tae be enough.”
The Hufflepuff shook his head. “Ah reck they are. Yer juist tae muckle in yer head, ye Ravenclaw.”. Lando gave him a rap on the skull with his knuckle. “Thare’s a difference atween ‘remembering’ an ‘reminiscing’, ye follae?”
Taking another deep breath, Danny rolled his head around, then his shoulders, almost as if he were stretching before a duel. He willed his mind to go blank, like a fresh section of parchment without a spot of ink on it. Then his mind began to wander, searching for contentment, happiness.
His mind finally settled on sitting side-by-side with his Hufflepuff brother, looking down at all of the Hogwarts students as the two Gentlemen soared around the same room they was standing in now. A smile curled his lip as he let the moment wash over him, remembering the cheers of the students, the looks on his friends’ faces as they opened their gifts, and the joyous laughter as he and Orlando joined them.
“Expecto patronum,” Danny said, almost without meaning to. A plume of pearly white light erupted from the Ravenclaw’s wand. It coalesced into a sort of funnel, a solid disk of light presenting a shield.
Orlando elbowed his friend. “Ah tellt ye sae,” he said with a grin.
“Yeah, yeah.” Danny replied in his American accent, returning his friend’s smile.
Nicolette’s lips pressed into a thin line as she watched her friends’ success one by one. Even the happiness she felt for them was tainted, and that only served to make her feel worse. Every memory she had dug up was stained somehow. “This is stupid.” Even the brightest light in her was surrounded by a wispy frame of shadow and that was all it took to keep her wand from obeying. It was maddening that she was failing miserably, even more so because she couldn’t control something as personal as her own emotions. “They can’t seriously make a class on something so ridiculously subjective as happiness.”
She stuck her wand in her boot with much less care than usual and left her allotted carpet, not even pausing as she cut off Professor Quirrel’s objection with a curt, “Girl problems,” which left him sputtering awkwardly. Her steps picked up pace just a little as she reached the door and passed through it with a slam that welcomed no one to follow.
Tom’s eyes followed his cousin to the door and then to Orlando, by then both his eyebrows were up. Céilidh rolled her eyes to the enchanted ceiling. The Scot gave a knowing shake of his head that said some bears were better left unpoked.
“Och, boys!” Her voice dripped with pity. She swiftly maneuvered through her classmates and through the door. She looked around in both directions, but Nicolette was nowhere to be seen. Céilidh planted her hands on her hips, shaking her head with a small sigh. “Lass is as fast oan foot as she is oan a bruim…” She glanced up the stairs and made her way for Ravenclaw tower.
In the Great Hall Professor Quirrell stood in the center. “Yes. Um, well..” He clapped his hands together, putting a somewhat awkward smile onto his face. Around him a few other bright lights flashing from the ends of wands. It wasn’t many, but judging by the pink in the man’s cheeks it was more than he had expected. “Quite, uh, quite well done, all of you.”
He put his hand on the shoulder of one of the Hufflepuffs. The boy lowered his wand. “Don’t get discouraged. It’s harder than it seems, much harder.”
Three men sat in the headmaster’s office, the headmaster himself, Professor Quirrell, and professor Qasim.
“Thank you for this opportunity, both of you. I would say the sixth year class was a giant success.” The Muggle Studies Professor beamed brightly at the other two men.
“I would agree,” Professor Dumbledore sat back and smiled, “At least it went much better than some of the others,” the Professor chuckled.
“I heard,” Amen laughed as well, “I’m glad that Madam Pomfrey was able to regrow Ms. Saddleford’s finger.”
“Quite,” Albus nodded, “but I would definitely say that Quirinus handled the class admirably.”
“So that I don’t plan the same lesson,” Qasim took a long sip from his cup of tea, “what did you do Quirinus?”
“Patronuses.” Quirrell said with glee and pride in his voice. “Now I know that normally that is not until seventh year but the Headmaster and I agreed that…”
Professor Qasim was in the middle of another sip of tea when he began to choke.
Professor Quirrell gave Qasim a side long glance, “Are you alright Professor?”
Qasim coughed, “Fine, fine.” He said coughing once more. “Just swallowed wrong.”
“I do so hate when that happens,” Dumbledore chuckled, “Once I did that with one of Madam Pomfrey’s pepper up potions. I was exhaling smoke for almost a week.”
“I’m glad to hear that it went well,” Qasim said recovering instantly, “It is a very difficult spell, and yet I am not surprised that the sixth years had success. There is something extraordinary about that class.”