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Chapter 7 : The Patronus Charm
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The only reason Rose woke up the next morning was that she was literally pulled out of bed.
She had been up until the crack of dawn finishing her schoolwork, and when the other girls in her dorm had begun to move around only a few hours after she had fallen into bed, she’d pulled her pillow over her head and decided to ignore them. It wasn’t a good plan, but she’d been pulling it off until Roxanne stuck her head in and, upon seeing that Rose was still in bed, had taken out her wand and unceremoniously dumped Rose out of her bed and onto the floor.
She was blearily eating a piece of toast and hoping that Lily and Hugo hadn’t done anything to the breakfast when the post came. Godric swooped down to land in front of her. When she’d relieved him of his letter, he helped himself to her toast.
Good news! I’ve got the entire weekend free!
And you’re on notice. You can never again complain that I don’t love you. There’s a football game that overlaps with your match, and I’m coming to your match instead. Tell Lily a quick capture would be great, because then I could probably still make kickoff, but you’re my first priority. How does that feel?
Rose almost snorted her orange juice out of her nose. Seeing her reaction, James and Albus leaned over and began to read over her shoulder.
The dragons are great. I may be a bit more singed than you remember, but I’m not complaining. Deciding to work with dragons was the best decision I ever made. (… maybe second best.) Hint, hint.
All my love to everyone!
When James and Albus pulled back, she refolded the letter and stroked Godric’s feathers. He nibbled her fingers before taking flight, leaving her with an empty plate.
“Football,” James said, shaking his head. “What kind of witch is she?”
“Who’s that from, Dominique?” Roxanne asked. She was sitting across the table between Tyler and Marion, the former of whom looked almost as groggy as Rose had felt prior to getting the letter and the latter of whom was actually asleep with her head on Roxanne’s shoulder. Rose wasn’t especially surprised by their exhaustion; they’d been up almost as late as she had.
“Yep,” Rose said, pouring herself some tea and feeling especially gratified toward whoever it had been who first discovered caffeine. “She said she’s coming for the whole weekend, and she’s going to watch us play, even though that it overlaps with one of her football matches.”
“I don’t understand her sometimes. Who could even think about choosing football over Quidditch?” Roxanne yawned widely. The movement had disrupted Marion’s head, and only a quick grab from Roxanne prevented her from falling onto the table. “But it’ll be good to see her.”
The movement woke Marion up, who looked around vaguely before pushing her plate away and putting her head down onto the table. “Wake me up later,” she mumbled.
“I guess that’s the trouble with spending your entire day doing pranks,” James commented. He and Albus were the most awake of the six of them, but that wasn’t saying much: James’s eyes were puffy, and Rose doubted that Albus had actually opened his eyes completely since rolling out of bed that morning.
“What is?” Albus asked.
“You don’t have time to do work,” James said, rubbing his eyes. If the action had been intended to help him wake up, it didn’t work: his eyes were redder, but otherwise he looked as exhausted as ever.
It was with a very subdued air that the six of them slouched out of the Great Hall.
Rose usually liked Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. However, when she was so exhausted, a double period of Ancient Runes and a period of Arithmancy immediately after it was pure torture. By the time Rose got to Care of Magical Creatures the next day, she was ready for the day to be over, and it wasn’t even lunch yet.
“Hey, Rose,” Albus greeted her, looking far more awake and cheerful than he had at breakfast.
“Why are you so awake?” she asked shortly.
“I took a nap,” he said, brightly.
Malfoy looked out from behind him. “I didn’t get up until an hour ago.”
She glared at them both for a moment, and then said, “I hate you both,” before stalking away.
Rose didn’t know how she got through the lesson, though she suspected that she’d slept through at least some of it. She knew she must have had lunch, because her stomach was not complaining at her, but could not for the life of her remember anything about it. She perked up a little for Charms, but when time came to go to History of Magic, she felt like death might be preferable to sitting inside the hot stuffy classroom for an hour and a half.
It did feel like a waste of a snackbox, so rather than using one, she just didn’t go, instead climbing the stairs and wandering down the hallway to the room of requirement. Once in front of it, she paced back and forward several times.
After the third pass, the door materialized, and she opened it. There were several chairs remarkably similar to those in the Gryffindor common room. On the table next to one of the chairs was a cup of black tea, and she could see the steam rising above the mug. She smiled and sank into the chair.
She’d been sitting there for about ten minutes, enjoying her tea, when the door opened. She jumped, and was glad she’d had enough to drink that the liquid didn’t slosh over the rim.
“I thought you’d be here,” Al said. Malfoy appeared behind him, and he closed the door softly.
“I should give you both detention,” she said, taking another sip of her tea.
“For what? Skipping class with you?” Albus asked, sitting down.
Malfoy did not sit down. Instead, he walked around the room, clearly interested in it. “This is the room of requirement?” Albus nodded. “Not much, is it?”
Rose was too exhausted to respond, but Albus, who had clearly enjoyed his nice long nap after breakfast, said, “Well, no, not now, because it turns into what you want. Rose wanted her cozy little room and some black tea.”
He looked at her. “This is a frequent thing for you?” She shrugged, and he seemed to take that as a yes. “Guess being an overachiever isn’t easy.”
“I’m not an overachiever,” she told him, taking another sip and putting the empty cup on the table. It instantly refilled itself, but she left it there. She was feeling more awake, and it wouldn’t be any good if she just got jittery from the caffeine. Better to wait ten minutes.
“So,” Malfoy said, now on the other side of the room, “it could turn into other things?”
“Yeah,” Albus told him. “It has turned into other things. This one time, last year, when Dominique was still here, Fred and Victoire snuck in and we had a nice family get-together one night. The room was much bigger then.”
Malfoy raised his eyebrows. “About how many school rules did that break?” he asked.
“Well,” Albus told him, “probably more because they used polyjuice to turn into James and Dominique, in case they were seen.”
“Huh. That’s… interesting.” Malfoy was kneeling on the floor, peering into one of the corners. “Hey, is this wall singed over here, or is that just me?”
“No.” Albus was watching his friend explore the room with some amusement. “It’s singed, it’s always singed, but we have no idea where it came from. It’s been like that since Teddy went here, at least.”
Rose started to feel the full-on exhaustion start to fade into an exhaustion that actually allowed her to stay awake.
“So, you just have to ask it for what you want, and it gives it to you?”
“Within reason,” Albus said. “I mean, it can’t do food.”
“It gave Red tea,” Malfoy said quickly.
“Tea doesn’t count,” she said. “It’s water, not food. You can get water out of nothing. You just can’t do that with food.”
“Ah.” He continued prowling around the room, clearly very interested despite the fact that in this particular state, the room itself was not very interesting. She supposed her reaction would probably be different if she was only just discovering it.
Albus looked at her, suddenly. “Hey, did Alex end up asking you to go with him to Hogsmeade our first weekend last night? I heard him talking to Damien about it before Transfiguration started yesterday.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw Malfoy look over at Albus sharply, but couldn’t understand why.
“Where was I?” she asked. “I sit next to you in Transfiguration, and I didn’t hear that.”
He shrugged. “Probably on your way from Arithmancy. You hadn’t gotten there yet. Well, did he? Was that what he was talking to you about just before dinner?”
Malfoy resumed looking around the room, but she got the impression he was listening very closely. She still didn’t understand what was all that interesting.
“Yeah,” she said. “So?”
“What did you say?” Albus asked, leaning forward. “I’m curious.”
Rose just stared at him dumbly. “Al, you know we’re all planning to spend that day together. I’d already written to Dominique to ask if she could come. And, anyway, the day before that’s my birthday. I like Alex, and he’s nice and all, but I want to celebrate my birthday with my family. Everyone’s going to Hogsmeade, it’s not as though he’ll be alone there.”
She could see Malfoy put his hand over his face. From the way his shoulders were shaking, she suspected that he was laughing. She waited for him to say something, but he clearly decided it wasn’t worth it.
Albus was staring at her. “Rose,” he said, slowly, “you do realise what he was asking you, right?”
“Yeah, to join them in Hogsmeade,” she said, starting to get irritated, “and I said I was spending the day with my family. I don’t see what the big deal is. Sometimes I go with them and sometimes I don’t.”
“Rosie, did he actually say ‘us,’ or did he say ‘me’?” Albus asked, clearly perturbed, and Malfoy’s eyebrows were raised higher than she’d ever seen them.
She thought back. “‘Me,’ I think. So?” Albus and Malfoy just stared at her, and after a few moments, something clicked. “Oh! He was asking me out?”
Albus blew out a breath and looked beseechingly up at the ceiling, and Malfoy finally came over and sunk into a chair.
“You know something, Red?” he said, suddenly. “I owe you an apology.” She and Albus both looked at him, startled, and he continued, “Maybe you’re too thick to be guilty of half of the stuff I’ve accused you of.”
Rose glared at him. “I don’t get what the big deal is. I wouldn’t have said yes, anyway.”
“Why not?” asked Malfoy.
Albus was looking as though Malfoy deciding to participate in the conversation was not somewhere he had really intended it to go.
“I’m just not interested,” she said.
“What, are you just too good for anyone in this school?” Malfoy asked.
Albus looked even more uncomfortable, but as he opened his mouth to say something, Rose said, “No, I’m just not interested in Alex Finnigan.”
“Well, then, who are you interested in?” Malfoy pressed, and Albus stood up.
“We are not having this discussion,” he snapped.
“Why not?” Malfoy asked.
“Because we aren’t,” Albus said. “And you lied to me.”
Rose looked from one of them to the other. She felt vaguely curious, but was too exhausted to care enough to actually try to figure it out.
Malfoy swallowed and suddenly became very interested in the red throw rug in from of his chair. “It wasn’t a lie. Exactly.”
Albus sighed. “I hate you both sometimes, you know that?”
Rose picked up her mug. She was too tired to understand what was going on, and she needed more tea if she was going to get through defense against the dark arts and get some work done before dinner.
By the time Rose had finished her tea, Albus and Malfoy had exhausted their stock of complaints about Binns and had started in again on Trelawney.
She got up, feeling significantly more energetic than she had when she’d entered the room. “We should get to Defense Against the Dark Arts,” she told Albus.
Malfoy had his head cocked to the side and was scrutinizing her. When she tried to stare him down, he smiled and looked away.
Rose frowned. He had a good profile. She had the strangest feeling of déjà vu, but she couldn’t recall a time that she’d had reason to notice Malfoy’s profile before.
“What would you do without caffeine?" Albus asked, who clearly hadn’t noticed anything.
She shrugged. “Unlike some people,” she said, loftily, “I actually signed up for difficult electives.” She headed for the door, and the boys both followed her.
“Hey,” Malfoy said as they entered the hallway, “I’ll have you know that Muggle Studies is plenty hard. Do you know the weird things they do rather than use magic?”
“Yes,” she told him. “They use elevators and telephones and airplanes.”
“See,” he replied, “how do you keep that straight? I’m always confusing elevators and escalators and on a bad day I don’t even remember what the proper word is and end up calling them aggravators.”
Albus laughed. “I should be able to keep it straight. My father can. I try to block out visits to uncle Dudley’s, though, when at all possible.”
Rose flipped her hair over her shoulder and said in what Roxanne referred to as her arrogant voice, “Well, my grandparents are muggles.”
Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Sorry some of us weren’t granted the same opportunities in life.”
When they reached the staircase, Rose felt the caffeine hit her. She’d tried to avoid drinking enough quickly enough to give her the jitters, but she obviously hadn’t been very successful – she was positively giddy.
Malfoy continued on down the stairs after she and Albus turned off at the first floor. She couldn’t help but giggle, though it made Albus give her a strange look. Malfoy’s hair still looked so ridiculous.
As Rose and Albus hurried down the hall, she felt awake enough to be curious about his conversation with Malfoy in the room of requirement, but too excited to pay much attention to it.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was one of Rose’s favourite classes.
As they slid into their seats, she caught her breath.
Professor Goldstein, standing at the front of the classroom, had his wand trained on a silvery hawk that was soaring around the classroom. After a few moments of everyone watching the hawk’s path, he raised his wand, and the hawk faded away.
He looked down at the class, who were all staring at him, completely transfixed. Professor Goldstein had rarely needed to call any class Rose had ever had with him to order; his lessons tended to be so exciting that no one wanted to miss a moment of them.
“The Patronus Charm,” he said, and several people let out “ooo”s. “Now, that’s typically N.E.W.T. standard, but some of you will be done with Defense Against the Dark Arts at the end of this year, and I don’t want to send any student out there who can’t defend against a dementor attack.”
The class was listening raptly. Dementors were bad news, and everyone knew it. The class had covered dementors at the end of the previous school year, and Goldstein had mentioned the Patronus Charm then. Everyone had been very disappointed when they realised that they wouldn’t be learning it.
Rose remembered overhearing Victoire talking to her uncle Harry over the summer about increases in dementor attacks. Rose wondered if that spike had inspired this, or if it was just something Goldstein always did.
She felt excitement building. She’d always wanted to learn to create a Patronus.
“Now,” Professor Goldstein asked, “who can tell me what a Patronus is?”
Rose shot her hand in the air.
“It’s a protector. It shields you from the dementors, and if it’s powerful enough, it can force them away.”
“Excellent. Five points to Gryffindor. What form does a Patronus take?”
Rose raised her hand again, but Daniel was quicker.
“The form of a corporeal Patronus is unique, based on the wizard who conjured it,” he said.
“Exactly. Take five points for Hufflepuff. A corporeal Patronus has the ability to force dementors away. An incorporeal Patronus, which is where every wizard starts, may hold dementors at bay for a time, but only for a time.” He surveyed the class, and asked, “What conditions may make it more difficult to produce a Patronus?” Natalia thrust her hand in the air. “Ms. Jordan?”
“The more dementors there are, the more difficult it is to conjure a Patronus.”
Goldstein nodded. “Precisely. Five more points to Hufflepuff. You’ll be learning to cast this charm without any dementors, and you should keep that in mind. What else? Mr. Finnigan?”
“Well, it’s sort of like Talia said, but your emotions. If you’re unhappy, it’s harder to produce one.”
“Take another five for Gryffindor. Why is that?” Albus put his hand up. “Mr. Potter?”
“Well, to conjure a Patronus, you need to have a happy memory,” Albus said. “If you’re already feeling sad about something, you’re going to have a harder time finding one.”
“Five more points to Gryffindor.” Goldstein paused and surveyed the class. His face was serious. “I want you all to think for a few moments. Find a happy memory, a strong one. You need a powerful memory to fight off dementors.”
Rose looked around at her classmates, who were clearly deep in thought.
The elation was building in her. She wanted to do this, she wanted to get to the spell. She knew that if Goldstein would just let them try to cast it already, she would be able to. She had happy memories. She had a million happy memories. Her exhaustion had faded away. She was ready.
After a few minutes, which she spent fidgeting, Goldstein clapped his hands. “I hope you all have a happy memory. If you don’t manage anything today, don’t get discouraged; this is highly advanced magic, and it can be very difficult to master.”
He made them repeat the incantation after him several times, and then told them they could start practicing. As he headed toward Colleen and Daniel, who were muttering the incantation and getting nothing, Rose raised her wand.
She thought of her fifteenth birthday party, and being surrounded by the people she loved. She thought of their smiles and the homemade cake, and of the little gifts that had all clearly been chosen so carefully, and she felt her eyes tear up. Her body was tingling; it was all she could do to keep from laughing.
“Expecto Patronum!” she cried, and an enormous shape blossomed from the tip of her wand. Everyone turned, and after a moment, she realised that it was a lioness.
“Excellent, Ms. Weasley!” said Professor Goldstein, hurrying over. “Twenty points for Gryffindor.”
Rose waved her wand, and the lioness flew through the air. She kept waving it, back and forth, watching the big cat’s progress, and started to laugh. The laugh quickly became hysterical, and as she sank onto the seat, the Patronus vanished.
“Rose?” Albus put his hand on her shoulder. “Rose, are you okay?”
She wanted to get up, to hug him, to tell him he was one of the best people ever. She wanted to find Hugo and Lily and James and Roxanne and tell them that. She wanted to apparate illegally and tell her parents and Fred and Dominique and all of her aunts and uncles and grandparents how much she loved them. She even wanted to track down Malfoy and tell him that without the red hair, he was actually quite attractive, especially when he wasn’t sneering. She was feeling uncharacteristically magnanimous.
The only trouble with all of those plans was that she couldn’t stop laughing.
She was vaguely aware of Goldstein saying something, and then of Albus leading her toward the hospital wing. Once there, she collapsed into a bed, and Madam Pomfrey bustled out.
“Madam Pomfrey,” she heard Albus say, quickly, “we were in class, and she was fine, and then suddenly she was cracking up.”
Madam Pomfrey bent over her. “Do you know what she’s had to eat today?”
Albus sounded a little taken aback. “Um… I don’t know. Full breakfast. Full lunch. A few cups of tea before class.”
Madam Pomfrey said dismissively, “No, tea wouldn’t do this.” She pointed toward the door. “Out. I’ll sort her out, don’t worry. She’ll be fine.”
Albus took a step toward the door hesitantly. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she said, striding away from Rose. She heard a muffled conversation, and then Madam Pomfrey bent over her again, a goblet in her hand. “Can you drink this?” she asked.
Rose took it, still giggling, but managed to force some of it down. She could feel her eyes start to get heavy almost immediately, and after a couple minutes, drifted into unconsciousness.
A/N: As always, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Thank you so much for reading, and if you have the moment, I would appreciate a review! :)
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