of a Feather
Book One: First Flight
Author’s note: Okay. After one college graduation and a cross country move, I’m ready to give you all the end of this. Happy fun!
Again, if you’re offended…well, you just are.
Thanks to Haggridd for beta reading. Boy, you put up with so much from me. I'm so grateful.
All Downhill from Here
Morag was quite worried. His uncle Alexander hadn’t spoken or written to him since he’d sent the letter asking about what had really happened the night his father had died. He hoped he hadn’t upset him too much, or opened an old wound by asking, but weeks had gone by without anything happening. Now there were only three weeks left till exams. Padma and Carolina had started reviewing hard about a week ago, because, like all Ravenclaws, they wanted to score as high as possible. Antigone was doing quite well in her classes, with the exception of Potions, but wasn’t failing that Subject. Morag was reviewing as well—he wasn’t very good at Astronomy, but otherwise was expected high grades.
At least all of Ravenclaw wasn’t ignoring him quite as badly since he’d made up some of the lost points through doing well in classes (and Terry Boot himself had lost ten points for nearly setting the Potions classroom on fire back in April). After the Ravenclaw First-Years had stopped being overtly mean to him and just settled on being cold in passive ways, the major thing left on his mind was his uncle Alex.
He set his book down and sighed. “I’m not getting much studying done now.”
Padma looked up from her Potions text, which she and Antigone were poring over. “Pardon?”
“I’m just reading and not retaining anything. I need to go clear my thoughts.” Morag rose to his feet, then grabbed his spell book as an afterthought. “I’ll be back later, okay? I’ll get some studying done outside.”
“Sure.” Antigone gave Morag a concerned look. “See you at dinner if you don’t come back earlier.”
Morag made his way out of Ravenclaw Corners, noting that Oliver and Anthony were still pointedly ignoring him. Shaking his head and sighing—it’d been almost a month since his screw-up—he made his way to the outer grounds. He saw a couple of the older students playing a pickup game of Quidditch, and sat watching them for a while.
He still hadn’t heard from his uncle. He was tempted to send off another note. After all, what if the first one hadn’t arrived? What if Uncle Alex was ignoring him? No, he decided, shaking his head. That would be impatient of me. Uncle Alex will owl me when he owls me, he thought. I’ll probably get a letter at breakfast tomorrow, to plan out our next meeting. I’ll worry about how to sneak out when it arrives. He decided to practice his Charms—it would be useful to get some studying in before dinner, and while it was his best subject, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure he had things down firmly.
The next morning at breakfast, he got the post by owl he’d been expecting. However, his mood became sour as he read it to himself.
I know you’d like to see me once again before exams, especially after what’s happened with Opaline and Miriam. However, I think it best that you stop worrying about me and focus on your exams at present. While they might not seem too hard right now, they may be difficult, and you should study hard. Worrying about sneaking out to see me will be a distraction. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the teachers are keeping an eye on you—yes, I’m referring to the scene you made at breakfast that you told me about. The last thing your family needs is your being expelled from Hogwarts. I’ll keep owling you, though. Keep me informed. I can’t wait to see you again.
Morag grumbled under his breath. There’s nothing about my father in here! Is he deliberately avoiding the topic? Antigone gave him a look of concern, and after breakfast pulled him to the side as they were headed to their first class of the morning. “That was from your uncle, right?”
“Yes, and he’s telling me that he won’t be seeing me again until the end of term—that I should focus on my exams. And he didn’t even mention my father!”
“He does have a point, Morag.” Antigone gave him a friendly hand squeeze. “First of all, nothing about your father will be on the exam, and it’d be better to find out in person. And you shouldn’t be worried about seeing Alexander right now. You’ll be able to see him after the term is over and we’re back home. It’ll be a lot easier to get away from your mother’s place than to sneak out of Hogwarts. We were lucky the first time and we still almost got caught. You shouldn’t take that chance again. I don’t think the professors are over that incident at breakfast yet. They’ve probably got their eye on you.”
“You’re lecturing me, Tig.”
“But am I right?” Antigone gave him a compassionate, but firm look.
Morag sighed “Yes, you are. After all, it won’t do to disgrace the family name further by failing out.”
“Good. Will you study Astronomy with me tonight? I know you’re struggling, and I’m not the best but I’m fairly good.”
“Sure, Tig.” Morag smiled.
Padma had gotten up early to study before breakfast. She’d wanted to go to the library, but it wasn’t open just yet. So she’d decided to study in the Great Hall, along with Cho and Lisa Turpin. Cho was helping them go over their History of Magic notes and getting in some studying herself. An hour before breakfast, the Great hall was open, so it was okay to stake out seats early and study quietly. Being rowdy could get students removed and sent back outside to wait.
She had been diligently checking the House points that were displayed in large hourglasses on the wall of the Entrance, ever since Ravenclaw had made it into third place behind Slytherin. Chestnut-sized sapphires filled the Ravenclaw hourglass. They fell from the upper bulb into the lower one as students earned points, and were pulled and rose back up as points were lost. Near the top were each house’s totals, which kept an accurate count of the points. On the day Morag had lost Ravenclaw forty points—a loss that still stung—there had been considerable comment at the loss of points when everyone had come out of breakfast.
Padma glanced over the others as an afterthought. Hufflepuff, not known for standing out much, was on the low end, but holding their own. The Slytherin emeralds glinted, and as Padma watched, five more fell into the lower bulb. She wrinkled her nose—Slytherins were always tweaking points unfairly and Snape was not any help. It was too early in the morning to be earning points. But it was twenty lower than it had been, and that was a comfort. Well, fifteen, what with the probably unfairly added five.
She glanced over at the Gryffindor hourglass. Wait a minute… she blinked. Then she gasped aloud. Lisa and Cho, who had been idly talking as they’d been walking, turned to face her.
“What is it?” Lisa asked. “Another disgusting addition of Slytherin points again? Honestly Padma, you should be used to…”
Padma shook her head mutely, then pointed to the Gryffindor rubies. “No. The Gryffindor numbers. They’re down one hundred and fifty points!”
“One hundred and fifty! Padma, you can’t be serious! Are you sure?” Cho looked at the glass, and her jaw dropped as she saw the total. “By Merlin! You’re right! They were in first and now they’re dead last!”
“But...but…but…” Lisa stammered a moment before finally continuing her though. “Who could lose one hundred points overnight? How could one person mess up so badly?”
“Not one. Three. Three very stupid First-Years, that’s who.” The voice that spoke was bitter. The three of them turned to face one of the Gryffindor prefects—though, Padma noted, not the Weasley one. There was always a prefect assigned to the Great Hall for the early morning students. “Caught out of bed, two in the Astronomy tower and one in the halls, just wandering around for no good reason. Couldn’t even explain themselves to Professor McGonagall. And do you know who one of those was?” He didn’t give the three time to answer. “The famous Harry Potter, that’s who. I hope he’s proud of himself. He’s cost us the house cup.” He huffed angrily and turned to glare at the hour glass, as if to wish the points back in.
Cho, Padma, and Lisa didn’t wait to discuss the circumstances with the obviously angry prefect. They scooted into the Great Hall and grabbed a seat at the end of the Ravenclaw table. About a half hour of solid studying distracted Padma, until a group of Hufflepuffs made their way in.
“D’you see the hourglasses?” one of them whispered to the others.
“One hundred and fifty!” the other said. “And I was so hoping they would finally beat Slytherin too!”
Padma sighed and put her book away. There wouldn’t be any more studying during breakfast with this going on.
All the buzz at breakfast was about the massive loss of Gryffindor points, and how Harry Potter—the famous Harry Potter—had lost them so many points. The Slytherins grinned boastfully as they walked in, as this effectively put them solidly in first. Morag was the first of their group to plop down at the table, his eyes wide with shock. He seemed to be smiling though, which made Padma raise an eyebrow.
“The hourglasses—did you three notice?”
Padma nodded, as Joseph slid in beside her. “It’s kind of hard not to. It’s a staggering loss.”
“Staggering? It’s a crushing blow! Why, I shouldn’t hear another thing about the amount I lost! I was only by myself and we’ve made up a good part of it!”
Joseph nodded. “Yah, I’d have to agree with Morag. What they did pales in comparison.” Oh, so the other first-years are paying attention to him. No wonder Morag’s not focusing as much on their talking to him again.
“And even more shocking, do you know who caused it?” Morag would have continued relating the story, but a hush spread over the hall and silenced him. Padma leaned over to see Harry Potter standing near the door, looking dejected. Besides him was the youngest Weasley, Ron, their bushy-haired friend Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom, who had red rimmed eyes as if he’d been crying all night. The silence continued as the four walked to their table, all eyes on them. You could hear their footfalls echoing on the stone floor.
The silence was broken only when Draco Malfoy called out, “Thanks, Potter! You’ve given us the lead!” The rest of the Slytherins there whistled and clapped, but no other house even moved. The four quietly made their way to the Gryffindor table, sitting down at the far end. A couple of the other first-years were there—Padma could make out Parvati, who had tight lips and looked to be glaring at Harry. She’d related the whole story to Lavender so loudly and angrily as she’d sat at the table that Padma didn’t even have to get up and walk over to hear her. Then, pointedly, they all got up and moved as far away as possible. The other Gryffindors scooted over to give them room, isolating the four completely. Neville suppressed a sob. Then the chatter started again, filling the Great Hall.
Morag gave a low whistle. “The cold shoulder from the entire House.”
“It should be from every House! They deserve it!” Lawrence snapped. He’d been sitting there a while. “The one chance anyone had to overtake Slytherin in six years, and they go and blow it! I hope they’re happy with themselves!” Lawrence slammed his fist on the table, rattling the goblets that held their pumpkin juice. Lisa had to wipe some drops that had landed near her book.
“I’d feel sorry for them, but honestly—one hundred and fifty?” Morag shrugged, picking up his goblet. “They should be shunned. That’s bad form, even for Gryffindors.”
“I hate to say it, but I agree.” Padma gave one more look towards the four First-Years sitting alone before starting in on her breakfast.
Antigone ignored the soft hoots as she stood in the Owlery and read over her note to her mother. In it, she had said everything she wanted it to say, including what she’d found out in months of extensive research: that what she’d been told about magic by her father, including how sinful it was, had been canceled by this startling fact about Jesus. Yeshua, she corrected herself, the letter gripped tightly in her hands. She’d made it seem like a casual fact she was learning, rather than be blatant about it, and Carolina had helped her write parts of it so it didn’t sound too important. She hadn’t told Carolina why it needed to sound so casual, however. Perhaps Mummy will understand too. She looked up to see if she could spot Nike. One she did, she whistled like Carolina had shown her, and Nike fluttered down. Carolina had trained her pet to take orders from Antigone as well as from her. Antigone tossed Nike an owl treat and watched the owl eat it, while waiting patiently for Antigone to tie the letter onto Nike’s left leg. Antigone watched Nike fly off, then made her way out. Hope I get a quick reply, she thought.
Antigone received her reply only a day later. One of the school owls dropped a neatly sealed letter on her plate just before she’d started buttering a biscuit. Nike had been carrying a package for Carolina and a letter, so her friend had gotten something from her father. Antigone noticed absently that the letter had been resealed in parchment, which had probably been done at the central Owl Post Office. She opened it and pulled out the neatly written letter. Not even a sentence into reading though, she choked back a gasp. She continued to read, her eyes welling up.
How dare you! How could you say such slanderous things about your Lord? The idea of God’s only son being a wizard is nothing but blasphemous thinking. He is Son of God, not some turner of magic tricks. His glory came from the Creator. And the idea that you read this from a book at that school—and that some book shook your faith—makes me wonder if I did the right thing sending you there.
I sent you to Hogwarts because you are a bright young girl and this is the best school for you to cultivate your magic powers. Even against your father’s wishes, I sent you there, with the hopes you would use this as a chance to glorify the Lord with your skills. But there is no excuse for this behavior, young lady. You are there to learn magic, not to defy God, and if you send me anything like this again I will think twice about sending you back.
I’d advise you to take a good hard look at why you’re going to that school, Antigone, if lies from some slanderous book can shake your faith in the Lord.
The letter was signed in tight script. Antigone’s hands shook as she refolded the letter and slid it back in its parchment. Carolina noticed that she was upset.
“What’s wrong, Antigone?” she said, setting her fork down.
Antigone fought tears. “You know that letter I wrote Mummy and sent off last week?”
“The one I helped you with? What about it?”
“Mummy wrote me back.”
“So what’d she tell you?”
“She…I’ll just tell you about later, okay?” Antigone shuffled through her backpack to make sure she’d gotten all her books and supplies. “I—I’ve got to go get my Transfiguration book before class. I left it back in the dormitory.”
“Sure, Tig. But…” Carolina laid a hand on Antigone’s shoulder. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”
“Mmhmm.” Antigone shuffled off, head down, to go get her book. She was silently grateful that she’d left it, as walking back gave her time to gather her thoughts. Mummy can’t take me out of Hogwarts! She just can’t! But, if she’s this upset, she just might. Does she even have the authority? Can she really keep me from returning?
The threat of not returning to Hogwarts ruined the rest of the day for Antigone. She half-heartedly paid attention in both Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts. McGonagall looked very upset at her and nearly took points from Ravenclaw for it, but Quirrell seemed preoccupied with something else altogether and didn’t notice. Since there were no longer flying lessons, she’d gone to hide out in the Library. While it wasn’t isolated—many students were there reviewing hard for exams—no one disturbed her. The text swam in front of her eyes, though, obscured by one thought.
She can’t take me from Hogwarts.
It was only two weeks or so before exams were to start that Carolina saw her best friend take a turn for the worst.
Detention notices were been delivered—one each to Harry Potter and the other two First-Years that had lost points, she noticed—as well as regular mail. Antigone’s letter was just like the last one she’d gotten, Carolina noticed to herself. Her father had sent her a care package of sweets (a mixture of magical and Muggle sweets) along with a note to do well on her exams. She was pulling out one of the Licorice Wands to nibble on the way to class when she heard a choked cry from Antigone.
Antigone was scanning the letter in her hands, trembling. As she read on, her eyes took on a dead, hurt look, that worsened as she kept reading. By the time she reached the end of the letter, she looked like she’d gotten the worst news of her life. Without another word, she ran out of the Great Hall, nearly crashing into Saraminta Fawcett.
“What’s with her?” Andrew asked, watching her.
“I’ll go see,” Carolina said. “She probably went to the dorm.”
But Antigone wasn’t in the dorm, and she didn’t show up to any of her classes that day. Professor Sprout clicked her tongue and Professor Flitwick looked upset, but Binns didn’t even notice. When Carolina returned to the dormitory to give Antigone a copy of her notes, she heard soft sobbing coming from her bed. She must have returned. But why is she crying? The curtains were drawn tightly, and Shadow was under the bed, quiet for once.
“Tig? Are you okay?” she asked.
“Go away,” Antigone’s tearful voice came through the curtains, with a hint of sharpness.
Carolina winced. Antigone had never been sharp with her. “I made a copy of my notes to give to you. It’s mostly review, but I know you’d like them. And I’ve got your homework assignments. When you’re feeling better, come out and I’ll go over class with you. I’ll leave the notes on the bed.” She reached to part the curtains, but Antigone’s voice cut her off.
“Leave me alone!” she wailed. “Go away and leave me alone!”
Carolina didn’t need to be told twice. She left the notes on Antigone’s trunk and headed out. But Antigone’s reaction plagued her, and she got little sleep that night.
The next day Antigone made it to class, her eyes puffy from crying. She walked as if in a fog, barely even trying in Transfiguration and Defense against the Dark Arts. Potions was the worst, as Antigone completely screwed up the initial steps and sent splatters of Stinksap across the room when it exploded all over her and Carolina. Luckily it wasn’t anything toxic, and Carolina was only plagued by being completely soaked and reeking of manure.
“Scourgify!” Snape hissed, and the glop cleaned itself up from everything, including Carolina. Then he turned his rage onto Antigone. “Miss Moon, have you forgotten everything you’ve been taught? Is there anything in that empty little head of yours? Have you paid no attention to your work all year? Or did you think that since it’s near exams, you don’t have to perform as well anymore?”
Antigone didn’t answer, staring at the table. “Well?” he snarled, even angrier, bending over to stare into her eyes. “Answer me!” Antigone responded by lowering her head further, still silent. Snape snorted. “Well, maybe your classmates will thank you later for a loss of twenty-five points from Ravenclaw, both for your abysmal screw-up and refusing to answer me.”
There was still nothing from Antigone. Carolina couldn’t even see tears in her eyes. It was like Snape was yelling at a dummy. The Potion Master’s glare became fiercer as he straightened up.
“Since you won’t speak to me, you can go talk to Professor Flitwick and tell him why you seem to have lost your tongue along with your Potions skills, poor as they had been. The rest of you return to work. Miss Kipley, you can redo your potion alone.” He returned to his desk and wrote on a piece of parchment, sealed it up, and sent Antigone off with it.
Carolina measured out the Stinksap out again, watching Antigone shuffle off towards the door. Oh, Tig. What’s wrong with you?
Morag wanted to shake Antigone hard by the end of the week. Whatever she’d gotten in that note a few days ago had turned her into a shade of what she’d been. She’d lost points left and right, widening the gap between Ravenclaw and Slytherin and nearly dropping them below Hufflepuff. Even Flitwick had to take points reluctantly when Antigone hadn’t participated in the review session, choosing to sit there quietly with her wand on the desk in front of her. It was going to take a spectacular performance from Ravenclaw during the last match against Gryffindor to make up this travesty.
After classes were over that Friday, Morag went up to Flitwick. “Professor Flitwick, may I have a word with you?” he asked.
“Yes, Mister MacDougal?” Flitwick set his wand down. “Is it about the exams? I know you don’t need any tutoring, you’re one of my best students, but if you’d like some review…”
“I wish it was. It’s about Tig. Antigone, I mean.”
“Yes, Miss Moon. She seems quite distracted nowadays.” Flitwick shook his head. “And she was doing so well.”
“Professor Snape send her here to speak to you the other day, after she messed up.”
“Yes. She received a detention for her, well, lack of performance in class. She’ll be spending the evening helping Professor Kettleburn clean out the stables.” Morag absentmindedly remembered that Lawrence had mentioned him as the Care of Magical Creatures professor and added on that he was missing his left leg and a couple of fingers from his right hand.
“Well, did she say anything to you? She’s been walking around like she’s gotten horrible news, and she won’t talk to anyone.”
“I’m sorry to say no. She barely answered me when I told her about her detention that day, and even then she was strangely quiet. I know she’s a quiet girl, Morag. Perhaps her friends can get more out of her than any of the staff.”
“I’ll try. Thank you, professor.” Morag made his way to the outdoors—he was going to play a quick three-on-three soccer game with Joseph and some other students. It was afterwards, on his way to dinner when he realized what it might be about.
Her father! Her father might have something to do with this! Morag’s throat locked in fury. Compared to not being able to see his uncle right now, this was much worse. At least his uncle had nothing against him being at Hogwarts, and it was only so he’d focus on his exams. Honestly, how can someone hate magic, especially because of something so moronic? Dammit Tig. I won’t rat you out. But if it’s about your father you had better tell before things become even worse.
“Has anyone seen my copy of Stuart Little?” Carolina asked in Ravenclaw Corners Sunday night. “It’s a Muggle book and I brought it out the other day for some casual reading. It’s my only copy too.”
“Paperback or hardback?” Penelope asked. She had her head buried in one of her textbooks.
“Paperback—I’ve yet to get a hardback copy.”
“Look under the chairs. I saw one of the Seventh-Year’s cats batting a book around.”
“Thanks.” Carolina got on her hands and knees and started feeling under the chairs. There was mostly dust, and once Carolina poked one of the cats and almost got scratched, but she felt nothing book shaped until she reached one of the chairs on the far end of the room. It was hardback, however, and when she pulled it out she was shocked to see the title: As the Gods Make It. She didn’t even have to open it up to know the book belonged to Antigone.
“That’s the last straw!” she screeched, causing Padma and Morag to turn to face her, as well as a good number of students.
“What?” Padma said, worried. Carolina didn’t answer, only marching over to where Antigone was sitting, her chair turned towards the wall. Antigone looked up at her, eyes, wide, as Carolina started screaming.
“Antigone Moon, you explain this right now!” she hollered, thrusting the book at her. Shadow leapt out of his mistress’s lap and hissed at Carolina but she wasn’t letting a cat put her off.
“Ex—explain what?” Antigone said, shrinking into the chair.
“You explain right now why this book was under a chair here in Ravenclaw Corners!” Carolina shook the book angrily. “Better yet, you explain the past week! You’ve been moping around ever since you got that stupid note, and you haven’t told anyone about it or even who it’s from and you’ve lost points left and right for Ravenclaw—I’m surprised no one’s shunned you like they did Morag! You’ve dropped us behind Hufflepuff because of how’ve you been acting! You’ve been crying and sulking around, you haven’t studied anything—the exams start next Monday—and you’re not even trying, Tig! You don’t even care! It’s like you want to fail out of Hogwarts!” Carolina didn’t realize she was crying until a tear dripped onto her hand. “It’s like you don’t even want to be a witch anymore--”
“It doesn’t matter if I want to be a witch anymore!” Antigone screamed. Now everyone in Ravenclaw Corners turned to look at the two, and Mandy gasped—Antigone had never raised her voice so loudly at anyone. “What does it matter what I want if I’ll never be returning to Hogwarts anyways!” Then Antigone did the last thing anyone expected of her—she slumped to the floor in hysterical tears.
Padma was at Antigone’s side in a minute, guiding her to her feet and quickly shuffling her outside to sit in the hallway. The last thing she wanted was to make things even worse for Antigone. Carolina looked frozen, until Morag prodded her and led her out behind them. Cho and Lawrence had also tossed their books down and followed them into the hall. Once they were outside Ravenclaw Corners, Padma helped her sit down on the stone steps that were nearby.
“Now, what’s this about not returning to Hogwarts?” she asked softly.
Antigone tried to speak, but she was crying so hard nothing would come out. “Mummy…my mother…she’s…Daddy…”
“What? What about your father?”
“Did he hit her again?” Morag hollered, causing the others to look at him.
“Again?” Cho whispered. “You mean your father’s abusive, Antigone?”
“When did you find this out, Morag?” Padma said, feeling a lump in her throat.
“Antigone told me back in December, that day she ran out crying. I promised not to tell anyone, but Tig, this has gotten bigger than that and you know it.” Antigone hiccupped, but otherwise didn’t speak. “That’s why she had to go home early in the school year, because her father had found her mother and practically beaten her to death. She’d left him at the start of the year, over Antigone coming here, but it wasn’t enough.”
“That’s horrible!” Lawrence said. “Why, it’s disgusting!”
“Is that what you’ve been keeping from us all year? Oh, Tig, you could have told me,” Carolina said, and Padma noted that there was a tone of pity in her voice. Any anger she’d held towards Antigone had been washed away by finding this out. “I wouldn’t have hated you for that. It’s not your fault.”
“Yes, yes it is!” Antigone sobbed. “Daddy started hitting Mummy when I started going here!” She sobbed again, burying her face in her hands. “He hates magic, he hates the idea of me being a witch, and now I won’t be coming back to Hogwarts because I’m an evil sinful little girl and they’re right, I should have never started here at Hogwarts!” Tears continued to roll down her cheeks.
“What?” Cho blinked. “Why not?”
“There’s a letter—in my trunk, right on top. Padma, could you get it? I don’t want to go back in just yet. ”
Padma made her way back into their dorm. As Antigone had told her, the letter was right on top. Returning to the others, as an afterthought, she scooped up Shadow and brought him too. “Should I read it for you?” she said, setting Shadow in her lap.
Antigone nodded morosely. Padma opened it and was shocked from the first sentence.
“ ‘Antigone, I’ve gone back to your father. I should never have defied him and should never have sent you to that school. As soon as you return, we’ll be pulling you out and sending you to the Truth in the Covenant School for Girls back in the States. I don’t like this, but it’s the only way to keep the family together. Bring all your things with you. You father will dispose of them immediately so you won’t have any excuse to return. Mummy.’ Antigone, does this mean what I think it means?”
Antigone nodded. “I’m not coming back to Hogwarts.”
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