Learning To Embrace My House And Patronus / by Jefferson Geiger

Social media got the better of me and I gave in to curiosity. Everyone was sharing their results of the new patronus quiz on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s online home for all things Harry Potter, and I had to know my results. 

Like many others my age I waited for that magical letter to appear on my 11th birthday telling me I was a wizard. I dreamed of attending Hogwarts and wondered what house the Sorting Hat would place me in. Every official and unofficial quiz placed me in Ravenclaw, the home of intellectuals.

Before taking the patronus questionnaire I decided to see if my Ravenclaw streak would continue. I knew I wouldn’t be classified as Gryffindor, who are courageous to a fault, or Slytherins, who are ambitious to a fault. I wished to not be a Hufflepuff, who are seen as lazy and dull.

I got Hufflepuff.

Is the site telling me I’m an unintelligent and unambitious coward?

Well, not exactly. Hermione Granger is smart but was placed into Gryffindor. Neville Longbottom is selfless but was also placed into Gryffindor. The sorting doesn’t mean one lacks traits of the other houses but it shows what one values the most.

This time around I did change my answer to a question or two. I selected a cat as a pet because I actually own a cat. Owls are cool, but impractical. I used to be afraid of being called ignorant but now I’m more afraid of not having friends. That seemed to be a key factor and I can think of a few reasons for the changes.

First, there was an environmental change. Going to a private school on the East Coast when I was younger instilled a strict sense of academia. When I moved to a public school in Colorado I loosened up a bit. Here it’s so chill that wearing jeans to church is perfectly normal.

And yes, Hufflepuffs are known for their green thumbs so don’t think you’re clever for making a marijuana-is-legal-in-Colorado joke.

However, the change in house is most likely due to a change in values as I grew older. After graduating I couldn’t care less about grades. It’s not that I disvalue knowledge—my degree says otherwise. So do my hours spent watching “Jeopardy” and playing pub trivia.

But now I don’t see ignorance as a grave insult. I’m okay with not having the answer to everything. No human does. Ignorance means I have the opportunity to learn and grow. That’s better than being an annoying know-it-all.

Trust, loyalty and kindness don’t sound like dull traits to me. I’m fine with the sorting change because it means I finally have my priorities straight.

I then sorted myself into my Ilvermorny house, North America’s answer to Hogwarts. The similar personality test deemed that I was a member of House Thunderbird. The site only tells me that the house represents the soul of a magic user and favors adventurers. They’re newer houses with no direct translation to their British counterparts. I moved on.

The next quiz told me that my unyielding flexible chestnut wand was made with a phoenix feather core and is a little over a foot long. Those questions focused more on facts like height and eye color rather than personality so I didn’t bother overanalyzing the results.

Finally, it was time to take the quiz that brought me to the site. Unlike the first three, the patronus quiz is timed and plays out more like an interactive video instead of a multiple-choice test. The results would tell me what sort of spirit guardian would appear when shouting, “Expecto Patronum!” to defend myself against soul-eating Dementors.

It was going smoothly until I had to choose between hope, love and trust. I thought too hard about it and the quiz moved on without my answer. Shortly thereafter the program froze and I needed to restart my browser. Upon reboot I casted the charm and held my breath.

“Your patronus is a black and white cat.”

Really? I was hoping for something more mythical and majestic like a hippogriff or dragon. At least I wasn’t stuck with a hedgehog or mole.

But then I realized how perfect my result was. My cat is a black and white cat. His sleek tuxedo coat loans him some regality yet he’s the only cat I’ve met that drools when petted. Named Gibbs, he was acquired a little over a year ago to hunt vermin that have been making noises in my house’s walls. 

He’s grown attached to me more than other family members because I’m the only one not allergic. Recently he started affectionately head-butting me and tried to climb onto my shoulder even though he’s too large.

Gibbs, who eats rabbits almost as large as him, has survived both being hit by a car and an entire harsh Valley winter alone. I think he can handle a Dementor.

This column was originally published in the October 5, 2016 edition of the Valley Courier.