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In my question here, I asked if Patronuses were corporeal or not. The answer was that they are decidedly so, and can interact with the physical world.

Now my question is if they are indeed corporeal and can be touched and moved, can they block the curse from Avada Kedavra?

"You produced a fully fledged Patronus?"

"Yes," said Harry, "because -"

"A corporeal Patronus?"

"A - what?" said Harry.

"Your Patronus had a clearly defined form? I mean to say, it was more than just vapor or smoke?"

(Order of the Phoenix)

  • Not too sure if it's worth an answer but: Avada Kedavra is a flash of light. A patronus has to form when cast. By the time an opponent has cast the avada kedavra, how long would it take for a patronus to form large enough to block? Also some patronus forms could be small, so not large enough to block. In my opinion, it's possible but not practical. – user3564421 Apr 22 '16 at 9:46
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    Aren't patronii linked to the life force of the conjurer? That seems a flaw in blocking an instant death spell with it. – The Nate Apr 30 '16 at 3:36
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It might be possible to block Avada Kedavra with a Patronus. Canon doesn't suggest this anywhere, but there are other situations in which Avada Kedavra has been blocked or diverted. For example:

  • In Goblet of Fire, Voldemort's Avada Kedavra is blocked, or at least held at bay, by the Priori Incantatem spell, which can disallow wands with dual cores (cores from the same source, as Harry and Voldemort's wands had) from landing their target(s) when a spell is cast.
  • Pure love seems to be capable of diverting Avada Kedavra, as Lily Potter demonstrated when she gave up her life for Harry. Voldemort was subsequently unable to kill Harry with Avada Kedavra after Lily died, because he was protected by the magic of pure love.
  • Dumbledore is able to use corporeal objects, such as statues and whatnot, to divert Avada Kedavra during his duel with Voldemort at the Ministry for Magic in Order of the Phoenix.
  • The Dark Lord mentions the Lethifold in the comments below, and it's a great point to consider. Fantastic Beasts indicates the Patronus is more than mere wisps of mist, as it actually uses its horns to repel a Lethifold, which seems to be a corporeal being -- a Lethifold has volume, it can eat humans and perhaps beasts as well, and it can physically digest its prey. From Fantastic Beasts, recounting a Lethifold attack on Flavius Belby: I performed the Patronus Charm. Almost at once I felt fresh air upon my face. I looked up to see that deathly shadow being thrown into the air upon the horns of my Patronus. It flew across the room and slithered swiftly out of sight.

As the Patronus is a corporeal creature, and this is canonically correct, I don't think we can rule out the possibility that a Patronus might be useful against Avada Kedavra.

There's no canon example of this happening, but Potterverse does have strong elements of possibility.

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    I think it's likely that the state of matter is important when dealing with Avada Kedavra. Dumbledore blocked it with statues of marble, not with water. In my opinion, though a patronus is corporeal, I think it's pretty wispy, like an intricate smoke shape. The killing curse would likely go right through the first hole/gap it found. – TylerH Apr 21 '16 at 21:02
  • @TylerH Corporeal: adjective 1. of the nature of the physical body; bodily. – Anoplexian Apr 21 '16 at 21:39
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    @Anoplexian That doesn't really change anything; 'physical' (read: corporeal) just means matter of some kind you can interact with. Smoke is matter. – TylerH Apr 22 '16 at 0:04
  • @Tylerh Refer to the link in the question. The accepted answer addresses this with canon sources. – Anoplexian Apr 22 '16 at 16:58
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    @Anoplexian: I don't think you are interpreting that definition correctly. A wet paper bag has a "physical body" and is thus corporeal. But it's not going to save you from anything that might do you any amount of harm. While a Patronus is corporeal, what you're really trying to find out is "is it solid enough and durable enough to stop/block a killing curse?" I kind of doubt it. – Ellesedil Apr 22 '16 at 18:06
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No, on two grounds.

Firstly, the Patronus has one very specific primary function: to defend its caster from Dementors. (Granted, they also have a secondary function as messengers). A Patronus can't be used as a generic counter-curse or defensive spell in the same way that Protego can.

Secondly, you can't block Avada Kedavra with anything.

"Ah," said Moody, another slight smile twisting his lop-sided mouth. "Yes, the last and the worst. Avada Kedavra...the killing curse."

"Not nice," he said calmly. "Not pleasant. And there's no counter-curse. There's no blocking it. Only one known person has ever survived it, and he's sitting right in front of me."

Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14, The Unforgivable Curses

Harry survived Avada Kedavra three times, the first time because of his mother's sacrifice and the other two times because of wandlore. These were the exceptions, not the rules.

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    But you can hide behind things... - scifi.stackexchange.com/a/36462/20774 – Valorum Apr 21 '16 at 20:04
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    @Bellerephon, I'm open to the possibility that I may be wrong but my understanding of a Patronus is that it forms a physical barrier between the castor and a Dementor that forces the Dementor back. I wouldn't have thought that a Patronus would influence any form of spell one way or another. The curse (in this case Avada Kedavra) would travel through the Patronus unimpaired. So yes my answer would be the same. – The Dark Lord Apr 21 '16 at 20:25
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    @Anoplexian, Dumbledore put a physical barrier in the way of the curse so that it didn't hit Harry. It wasn't a counter-curse. It was just throwing things in the way! The conclusion I would draw is that physical objects can protect you from AD (they can stop you getting hit). But that Patronuses only act as physical barriers to Dementors. So a Patronus wouldn't act as a physical barrier to anything else (including a curse). If someone throws AD at you hide behind a wall, don't cast a Patronus! In other words, my answer is different to that others gave you in your linked question. – The Dark Lord Apr 21 '16 at 20:33
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    @TheDarkLord Take a look at the link in the question. It has canonical references that although difficult to cast, Patronus' are very much corporeal in general. – Anoplexian Apr 21 '16 at 20:41
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    @Anoplexian. I've taken a look at it. The key quote seems I think to be the one with Madam Bones. Corporeal Patronus is contrasted with "a fully fledged Patronus" with "a clearly defined form" which is "more than just vapour and smoke". I understand that as the difference between the flimsy, inaffective Patronus that Harry was able to create in his lessons with Lupin in comparison with the fully-fledged stag he was able to create at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. So corporeal in context means 'substantial' not 'material, things will bounce off it'. Though clearly it's material for Dementors. – The Dark Lord Apr 21 '16 at 20:51
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Perhaps, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea.

Firstly, from a practical point of view: you would likely need to have summoned your Patronus ahead of time, since my understanding is that when first summoned it is only a sort of mist and requires a few seconds to take full corporeal form. In most cases, your adversary is unlikely to allow you the time to do this, and if they do, it would probably be easier and safer to disapparate.

Even if your Patronus is already present, it isn't clear how quickly and precisely the wizard can control its actions - getting it to jump in front of you at just the right time might be challenging. (Admittedly, this would not be as much of a problem if you have a large Patronus like Harry's.)

More importantly, it seems to me that a Patronus is a corporeal representation of your inner being. If it is corporeal enough to block Avada Kedavra, it is corporeal enough to be affected by it, and it seems very likely that this would have a severe effect on you. (It seems even more likely that Avada Kedavra would be unable to affect a Patronus, but in that case it wouldn't be blocked by one, either.)

Absolute best case scenario, it would destroy the happy memory you used to cast it (which might be worth it if it saves your life) but it seems more likely that it would cripple you severely enough that death would be preferable - perhaps you would lose the ability to ever be happy, for example, or perhaps it would outright destroy your soul. (The latter is my guess, given the relationship between the Patronus spell and Dementors.)

Given the risks involved, I doubt that anyone has been willing to experiment. So this is probably an unresolved question, even from an in-universe perspective.

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    I don’t think there’s any indication anywhere that destroying a Patronus (if at all possible) would have any effect whatsoever on the caster. The Patronus spell requires happiness, through focusing on a happy memory, but there’s nothing to indicate that the Patronus itself takes any of the caster’s memory or happiness with it into the real, corporeal world. Your first point is good: it would take far too long and be far too slow to use a Patronus as an actual defence against Avada Kedavra; but I don’t think your second point holds up. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 22 '16 at 4:56
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: there's clearly some sort of connection between the caster's soul (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and the Patronus; if it were just an external entity you were conjuring up, you'd be able to conjure whatever sort of animal you liked. Of course the connection might not be as strong as I'm speculating, but in the absence of any WoG evidence either way, I think it a reasonable guess. IMO it fits better with the overall theme of Harry Potter than assuming that having your Patronus destroyed would be harmless, or that a Patronus could block AK without being affected by it. – Harry Johnston Apr 22 '16 at 5:21
  • @HarryJohnston Another point to make is that AD doesn't affect or destroy your soul. It kills your body instantly, allowing your soul to go "on" (as Dumbledore puts it). So AD poses no threat to a Patronus, only to the person its aimed at. I agree with Janus Bahs Jacquet. The Patronus needs a happy memory to be activated but is not tied to the soul. Hence, Umbridge's Patronus disappears in DH not because her soul is hurt but because she's been stunned unconscious. – The Dark Lord Apr 22 '16 at 9:35
  • @TheDarkLord: actually I think that's the most likely scenario, that AK would have no effect on a Patronus. But in that case it wouldn't be blocked by one, either. Sorry, thought that was obvious - I'll edit it in. – Harry Johnston Apr 23 '16 at 0:39

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