A local student recently shared an emotional appeal on social media appeal begging friends, family, and even strangers to stop making fun of her patronus’ appearance.
“You don’t even know how much it hurts her to hear all the comments about her form,” wrote Becca Burstbleat on her Facebook page. “Patronus shaming ought to be banned!”
A patronus is supposed to be a positive force, Becca adds, but it is really hard to maintain positivity when so many hurtful remarks are made on a daily basis. The young witch goes on to explain how all the negativity is making it hard for the patronus to even be summoned.
“What would you do if all you heard were comments about the hideous shape of your corporeal form?” Becca wrote in her post. “You wouldn’t want to go out in public either, I bet!”
“What if someday I really need to summon her for protection against a dementor or something, but she won’t come out because she starts believing all the things people are saying about her?” Becca asked in her post. “A lot of which isn’t even true!” she added.
In a follow-up email, Becca told Laserflail that trouble began almost immediately when she first learned how to summon her patronus.
“It was during Defense Against the Dark Arts class, of course, and everyone was really struggling with the patronus charm. One or two other kids had summoned theirs, but nobody else was having any luck. And then, all of a sudden, it just clicked. I said, ‘Expecto patronum’ really confidently, and like, it just formed right there in the air, like it was supposed to.”
The first time any patronus forms, there is always a moment of hesitation, Becca explained, while the shape is still forming. Initial misidentification of the animal is not uncommon, but usually within a few seconds the shape clarifies and begins to act accordingly.
Becca’s excitement at conjuring a patronus quickly turned to dismay, however, when she was able to identify what animal it resembled.
“It was fat and lumpy,” Becca described in her email. “It had five legs, though one of them was much shorter than the others and just sort of flopped around uselessly. At first I thought it might be some kind of rodent, maybe a really big hamster or something, but the proportions didn’t seem right.”
Becca’s unusual patronus quickly caught the eye of the other kids in the class, as well as the instructor. They all gathered around her and watched as the silvery creature kind of shuffled about aimlessly and then fell over. “What is your patronus?” she remembered one of her fellow students asking. Someone else said, “It looks like a Chernobyl mutant,” and the class burst out laughing.
It is, of course, impossible to dislike one’s own patronus. Nonetheless, Becca felt disheartened from the ensuing mockery. In the cruel way of schoolmates, other students started pestering Becca to summon her “mutonus” – a portmanteau of “mutant patronus” – which she did a few times before realizing that all the other young witches and wizards wanted to do was laugh at it.
“But you know what?” Becca wrote in her Facebook post. “I started to realize that what other people thought didn’t matter. I love my little mutonus. It’s unique, and it’s a hell of a lot cuter than Timmy Anansi’s tarantula!”
Now, Becca wrote, whenever someone asks her to show her patronus, she does so proudly.
“If they’re just curious, I’ll summon it just to show them,” Becca said. “But if I think they’re trying to make fun of me, I point my wand right at their face – and then say the magic words.”