of a Feather
Book One: First Flight
Author’s note: Two chapters in a night! Well, in twenty four hours. Does this make up for my bad performance over the past year or so? Yes? Yes? I hope so.
Hope you’re not offended at my portrayal of Christianity. If you are, well I took a couple digs at my own pantheons as well, so I wasn’t unfair.
Thanks to Haggridd for beta reading.
I call it Philosopher’s Stone, as there really are stories about it, and I do like the British term better.
Secrets and Solutions
Morag wanted to punch something: the walls, a chair—anything. If a Slytherin had walked by right now Morag would have made him regret even stepping into the hallway. The idea of Tig’s having to be removed from Hogwarts because of her father made Morag wish he knew a good hex or two—anything to take his rage out on that horrible man. He hoped he’d never see the person who had hurt his friend like this.
“Tell us everything,” Cho said. “Start from the very beginning. Start from getting your letter—the Hogwarts one.”
Antigone looked up at Morag, eyes wet with tears. She seemed to have calmed down. “Will you help me out, since I’ve told you already?”
Morag sat down besides her. “Of course, Tig.” Anything to help a friend.
“My father—Daddy—he’s Christian. Not that there’s anything wrong with being Christian, of course.” Morag nodded in agreement—he’d explained to Antigone months back that his mother was Christian though she’d never had a problem with her father not believing as well. “Well, he’s what is known as a fundamentalist, one who is really strict on the Bible, who follows every word literally. He wasn’t born here in England—he’s originally American. My mother met him over in the States. He married her and they moved here right after I was born, since Mummy is English and she wanted her children growing up here. Well, everything was fine, if a bit strict—at home I’m not allowed to wear pants or play music or go to dances or anything. I was originally supposed to go to boarding school in the states.”
“That ‘Truth and the Covenant’ thing?” Carolina cut in.
Antigone nodded. “It’s an all-girls boarding school. One of my aunts is a professor there—only they call them teachers, not professors. The day I got my letter, Daddy saw the words ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’ and nearly had a fit. He accused me of bringing Satan into the house and spanked me good.”
“Spanked you!” Padma gasped. “I’ve never been spanked!”
“ ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ Either way, he refused to send me at all, burning the letter up. Well, I guess Hogwarts keeps sending them when you don’t get them, because the next day I got another one. Mummy got it first though and read the whole thing to me, then sent off the form for us to meet an official and everything. When we got the reply back with the date for us to go shopping, Daddy found it, and when he’d heard that my mother had defied him they got in a fight. It ended when he gave her a good solid whack and then marched out of the house—I don’t know where he went, Mummy and I called a cab and went to my aunt’s for the night. We had to leave my brothers and sisters there. My aunt—Mummy’s sister—lives in a small house just outside of London, she’s never been married.”
“Is that where you father found your mother?” Carolina asked.
“He knew exactly where to look, and while my aunt was out at work he showed up and gave Mummy a beating. Put her in the hospital. Esmerelda—I’ve mentioned her before—found out and came to get me. She helped Mummy get a flat in London all to herself, with room for me once I got back. But Mummy had a hard time finding a job—she’s never had any marketable skills, you see, as she’s been a housewife since she got out of school and hadn’t had any outside training. And while I’ve been here studying, she’s been struggling out there.”
“So why’d she go back to your father?” Morag’s voice was controlled. “It wasn’t because you stayed here for Christmas, was it?”
“No, no. It was something I did, but not that. That happened because of As the Gods Make It.”
“That book you got as a prize for the wall,” Lawrence mumbled, hand on his chin. “I’ve had to get that book a few times for Muggle Studies, dead useful for studying Muggle religious beliefs…oh.” His voice died away as he caught on. Antigone tensed, and Morag took her hand and squeezed it.
“I’ve read the school copy of it,” he continued, letting Antigone pause. “Antigone’s interest got me reading it. It’s about Muggle religions and how some of their religious beliefs have been influenced by magic, witches, and wizards they’ve seen. For example, there’s the story of Baba Yaga, who was one of the earliest dark witches, who used to slaughter Muggles that found her if they asked her for anything. You had to jump through hoops to keep her from slaughtering you; and the book also mentions Isis and Osiris, who started one of the oldest magical schools known: the Memphis Institute for Mages. Isis herself was one of the first Healers, who came up with some of the first spells for magical maladies. It’s a fascinating book as books go.”
“That’s the book in which Antigone showed me Yeshua Bar-Joseph, isn’t it, the one she called Jesus?” Carolina looked at Antigone.
“Yes. He was a master transfigurer, and later in life tried to still some unrest in the Muggle Middle East.”
“It ended poorly, though,” Morag continued. “He was executed in the fashion of the time: crucifixion. The Wizard Council there tried to help him—even sent in one of their own, Pontus Pilate, to try and protect him—but it wasn’t of any use. The Muggles wanted him dead, and so did a wizard or two for getting involved in Muggle politics. Well, soon after he died one of his fellow mages came and got the body since they were only using the grave temporarily. Sort of a layover, you know? His parents wanted him entombed near his birthplace, and all. Well, things got really mixed up after that, and stories were all switched around by some of his Muggle followers, and then this one guy—Saul, or something—started claiming he’d gotten some message that Yeshua had risen from the dead and was the son of God. There was a call by wizards to have Memory Charms placed on his muggle followers to try and prevent rebellion, but weren’t as perfected as they are now so some of the Muggles retained scant memories even after they had been modified. Only they were all muddled up and the stories were off. Soon the whole mess had spread further than anyone could have expected it to, and a cult started up around him and then, the next thing you know…”
Morag shrugged. “The next thing you know, Christianity—that’s what they were calling it—had spread. Lots of witches and wizards thought it loads of amusement, just let it go on. After all, it wasn’t often some wizard or witch got a big Muggle following, and they always petered out after a while. The last really huge one in that area had been the Cult of Isis so the wizards thought it was just a small thing. But it got bigger than anyone had thought it would and centuries down the line a good portion of the followers were trying to flush out witches and wizards alike and said we were working for some guy named Satan. That whole mess is a chunk of why we’ve got the International Code of Wizarding Secrecy.” I may not pay lots of attention in History of Magic, but I do know a good lot of it.
“And this is what your father believes?” Cho asked.
“It’s what my whole family believes. So when I told Mummy about what I’d read in my book, it was the end of it for her. Sending me to school to learn magic was one thing, but starting to question the teachings of the Bible is just too much for her to deal with from me. She went back to my father and he took her back. He said he was only going to stay with her on one condition, though, and that was me being pulled out of Hogwarts soon as possible. He’s decided the best way to keep me from doing anything even more damning is to pull me right out. As soon as I get home, all my things are going to be destroyed—burned, most likely. Daddy’s fond of burning things.” She sniffled. “I’ll give Shadow to one of you—Daddy doesn’t like cats either—but the rest of it, all of it, is going to be gone and there won’t be a thing I can do about it. The day I step off the Hogwarts Express is the day it’s all over.”
Morag’s teeth clenched involuntarily. “Like hell it is, Tig. I’m not letting some great big load of Muggle like your father take you out of Hogwarts. Doesn’t he know that your magic will just become more and more uncontrolled without training?”
“He doesn’t care. And Mummy’s sister can’t take me in—she can’t afford to, and she won’t risk my father coming by again, she said it to Mummy.” Antigone started crying again, as hard as before. “He won’t have a witch for a daughter. ”
“I don’t care what he’ll have and what he won’t have, we’re going to do something about this right now!” He stood up. “I’ll go get Professor Flitwick, and we’ll do everything we can to keep you here, Tig. You’re coming back next year. You’re too bright not to.”
Later that evening Professor Flitwick escorted Padma, Carolina, Morag, and Antigone to Professor McGonagall’s office—she was the Deputy Headmistress. Flitwick at first had only wanted to bring Antigone, but when he saw her crying he’d let the other four come along for support. Cho and Lawrence had stayed behind.
Professor McGonagall, in her tartan bathrobe, looked quite upset at having been disturbed right before bedtime. Her hair was still pulled back into a bun, and she hadn’t pulled on her hair net. Flitwick stood by the door as she looked at the four First-years seated in front of her—there was normally only one chair but she’d conjured up the other three. “So, Professor Flitwick said that something important has come up with a Ravenclaw student. I’d like to hear about it.” Her voice was firm, but not harsh.
Padma looked at the other three. Morag looked as though he was going to yell if he opened his mouth, and that wouldn’t have sat well with Professor McGonagall at all. Antigone was still crying, only quietly, and Carolina was shuffling around as if they were in trouble. It’s up to me, then. “May I speak, professor?”
“If you’re the only one who can.”
“Well, see it’s about Antigone. I’m not sure if you know how things have been for her—it was very hard for her to get to Hogwarts.”
“I remember getting notice that her first letter had been destroyed, so I just sent another one. It happens once in a while—carelessness, the family dog getting the mail first—things like that, so another one is sent. The worst case was with Mister Potter. I finally got tired of addressing them myself and had Professor Dumbledore just send out charmed duplicates. And finally, when that wasn’t enough, we sent Hagrid to retrieve him from one of the worst lot of Muggles—but that’s not the point. Mostly just one duplicate has to be sent, sometimes two.”
“Well, Antigone’s father isn’t going to let her return to Hogwarts next year. He’s sending her to a school in the states--”
“Miss Patil, it’s within parents’ right to send their child to another magical academy if they so desire. Hogwarts is the only one in Britain, but there are others, some even in Europe.”
“That’s the thing, though. It’s not going to be a magical school, professor.”
Padma was sure Professor McGonagall had blinked at that. “What do you mean by that? She needs magical training, same as any witch. Why would they send her to another school?”
“Her parents are fundi—fundo—what’s that word again, Morag?”
“Fundamentalist.” Morag spat the word out.
“That’s it. Fundamentalist Christians. Well, it’s mostly her father’s idea. He seems to think that magic is evil, and her mother has gone back to him, you see. Morag and Antigone explained the whole thing to me. It involves some wizard in the history books that many Muggles seem to fancy tons. Either way, the day Antigone gets back from Hogwarts he’s going to destroy all her things and send her to a religious boarding school in the states.”
“I see.” McGonagall adjusted her glasses and looked at Antigone. “Is this true, Miss Moon?”
Antigone nodded, still crying. Professor McGonagall fished a neat white handkerchief out of her drawer and handed to Antigone, who wiped her eyes with it. “I’m not sure exactly what we can do. It might very well be that you have to go back to your parents…”
At this Antigone cried harder, and Morag and Carolina leapt to their feet. Padma gasped in shock. “Professor McGonagall, you can’t send her back!” Morag was the first to yell, fists clenched. “He’ll break up all her stuff—burn her wand up, all her books, all of it!”
“But her father’s horrible!” Carolina cried. “If she goes back, he won’t let her train or anything—he thinks it’s satanic—he’s the worst kind of Muggle!”
“Miss Kipley, will you please…”
“Her father hits her and her mother!” Padma cut in, upset. “She told us herself! It would be beastly of you to make her go back! Just beastly!”
“All of you, just sit down, or I’ll start taking points from Ravenclaw!” McGonagall rose to her feet, and the other three sat back down in their chairs. Padma tapped her foot nervously and bit her bottom lip and Morag clenched and unclenched his fists, but no one spoke. Antigone kept crying, but that was the only sound until Professor McGonagall spoke again.
“Yes, I said that she might have to go back. But I didn’t say she would. This is a special circumstance, and something must be done about it. As is, there’s nothing that can be done right now other than reporting it. I’ll speak to Professor Dumbledore first thing in the morning and we’ll do our best for you, Miss Moon. Rest assured. Now you all should go to bed. You’ve got a week before exams and a lot of studying to do. And Miss Moon?”
“Yes, Professor McGonagall?” Antigone sniffled.
“You had better work hard. The past few days of slacking have not impressed me much, and it won’t do for us to work at keeping you if you fail out.”
Antigone nodded. “Now get straight back to your common room, all of you.” The four nodded and headed off. Professor Flitwick walked them part of the way.
“See, Antigone?” Padma said, hugging Antigone protectively. “Professor McGonagall is going to talk to the Professor Dumbledore himself—and he’s one of the best wizards of our time, if not the best of them all. He’ll do something for you, okay? He’s going to examine everything he can before they think of even making you go back to your father. Okay?”
Antigone nodded. “But what if they can’t?”
“They will, Tig, they will.” I hope.
Antigone threw herself into studying and into her classwork with renewed fervor. If there was any chance for her to stay in Hogwarts, she would not jeopardize it by doing poorly on her exams. Professor Flitwick grinned at her when he saw her diligently practicing her Charms work after class and gave Ravenclaw ten points, and even Professor McGonagall gave her a point or two for trying so hard to make up her bad work the week before. The only person who seemed to be unimpressed was Professor Snape, who worked her no less hard and docked her a full ten points on her homework for not having been there to hear the initial assignment.
She was in that class, working carefully on her potion, when Professor McGonagall stepped in. “Professor Snape?”
“Yes?” Snape drawled, though not as cockily as he spoke to students.
“I’ll need to see Miss Moon for the rest of the class. Send her assignments with Miss Brocklehurst and she’ll make them up later. Miss Moon, gather your things. ”
Antigone winced, then looked up at Snape. He looked disgusted, then dismissed her with a wave of his hand. “Go on, then,” he hissed, “and be quick about it.”
Carolina’s mouth fell open in shock as Antigone hastily stuffed her books and notes into her backpack. “He’s not even going to take away points!” she whispered quietly, so Snape wouldn’t notice. Antigone didn’t say anything. She nodded, grabbed the last of her things, and headed to the door where McGonagall was waiting.
Antigone quietly followed her down the halls, until they stopped before a rather large, angry gargoyle. “Sugar quill,” she said, and the gargoyle hopped aside as the wall split in two. Behind the wall was a spiral staircase that moved smoothly upwards. They stepped on it and it carried them up. Antigone closed her eyes so as not to get too dizzy. It wasn’t until she heard Professor McGonagall step off at the top that she opened her eyes and stepped off in front of a polished oak door with a griffin-shaped knocker. Professor McGonagall rapped on the door and it opened. Antigone didn’t get much time to look around the room—she only saw the Sorting Hat sitting on a shelf, various silver items, some of the old headmasters and headmistresses snoozing in their frames, and a pretty red and gold bird about the size of a swan with a long gold tail and alert black eyes. A phoenix, she thought, before her eyes focused on Professor Dumbledore. There was another person sitting in one of the three chairs in the office—Esmerelda in her ministry robes, who rose to her feet and swept Antigone up in a rush of purple.
“Oh, sweetie, are you okay? I heard at the office Monday morning what had happened. I got right on it because I’d been involved from the start, so I arranged to be here today. I knew it was bad but I’d never thought your mother would go back to your father! Had I known I’d have helped her out myself, but there’s only so much I can do at the offices—most of it’s dreadful, I’ve been filling out parchment after parchment about this and talking to so many others—at least it’s in the same central department or there would have been more paperwork.”
Dumbledore allowed Esmerelda to fuss over Antigone a bit more before he motioned for her to sit in the chair in the center.
“Both Miss Toners and Professor McGonagall have told me about your rather unusual circumstances, Miss Moon.” He looked over his half-moon glasses at her, and she didn’t feel nervous at all. Rather, she felt a little more comforted. “I have to admit, these are some rather unusual circumstances. This is the first time since I became Headmaster that I can recall a student’s parents not wanting a child to return on religious grounds.”
Antigone shifted. “Er, well, professor, it’s because of my father—he’s a fundamentalist…”
“Miss Toners has told me a good portion of the situation with your parents,” Professor Dumbledore interrupted, nodding. “I dare say Yeshua never thought that he’d be the cause of so much strife in the world after he passed on. From what I’ve read of his personal writings he was a peaceable person, always talking about helping all people, Magic or Muggle—pity he died young, but many did back then. Ah, but that’s not the point. The fact of the matter is that your father seems to think that magic and Christianity are not to be mixed and he will most likely not allow your return here. And while your mother sent you here in the first place, she has since sided with your father.”
“Yes, sir.” More like submitted to.
“Well, once Minerva had alerted me I spoke to the Liaison Office and they got me right in contact with Miss Toners, as she’s already had dealings with your family. She tried to contact your family—even sent a letter in the Muggle way so that the letter would be as inoffensive as possible, but it seems that your father has made no reply to either letters.”
“He replied to the second,” Esmerelda said bitterly. “With a curt note that said only ‘Exodus 22:18’, and I know it’s a verse from the Bible but I’m not sure which one.”
“Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” Antigone recited the verse automatically, then blushed.
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, then folded his hands together, as if thinking deeply. “Of course, this doesn’t make your parents look well in the office. Which might actually make things better in the long run for your case.”
“I’ve petitioned the department to hear your case and decide on the best course of action. This isn’t large or bothersome enough to take the Wizengamot, so it’ll just be the heads of the Department of Muggle Situations and Interactions. I know the head of the M.B.W.W.L.O., he’s really very nice.”
“What do you mean?” Antigone looked at Esmerelda.
“Basically, Professor Dumbledore has asked the offices to appoint you a magical guardian. Some one to keep you over the summer, or at least a person who will ensure that you return to Hogwarts this fall if we must send you back to your parents.”
Antigone’s eyes widened in delight. Not have to go back? Ensure I return to Hogwarts? “Are you serious?” she asked. “That they’ll make sure I can come back?”
Professor Dumbledore nodded. “I’ll pass on Professor McGonagall’s report and Miss Toners will be speaking on your behalf—you’ll need to send her the letter you got from your parents right away. We’d send you directly, but exams start next week and you need to review. The teachers have reported your drop off in classes over the past week due to this,” he added, and Antigone blushed, “but you should be able to make it up after all, being a Ravenclaw. Classes should be over now, but you’ve got work to do over the next few days.”
“Yes sir! I’ll study my hardest sir!”
Dumbledore rose to his feet. “Good, Miss Moon. Miss Toners will inform you of the results of the meeting. You may return to your common room.”
Antigone kept quiet. It wasn’t until she was in the hall, past the gargoyle, that she broke out into a wide happy grin. Sure, she’d have to do a lot of studying to make up for the days she’d slacked off, but she could pull it off. She practically ran back to Ravenclaw Corners to tell the others.
Padma looked at her issued quill for the exams. It had an Anti-Cheating Charm, so it’d be no use looking at any neighbor’s parchment. Not that she needed to—the night before she’d studied all sorts of Charms for two hours, since it wasn’t one of her best subjects. She scribbled down everything she could remember about Levitation Charms for a solid hour before their parchments were collected. Then she had to go through a practical, which she found frustrating. Professor Flitwick had called her into his classroom, where a single pineapple was sitting on his desk.
“Go ahead, Miss Patil. Make it tap-dance across the desk.”
Padma pointed her wand at it. “Perfomia Tapita!” The pineapple started making soft tapping sounds, and she moved her wand up and down in a line. She made it almost to the end—quite wobbly, she was ashamed to say—before the pineapple sat back down and moved no further.
“Hmm, not quite all the way, but good.” He dismissed her.
The Herbology exam was the easiest for her, as she was best at that subject. She’d sorted and properly labeled each of the four plants in Professor Sprout’s greenhouse and written down what their uses were without a stumble. History of Magic was fairly difficult, as she’d gotten a few of the laws mixed up, but overall she’d felt she’d done well. She spent all night studying with the others, with Carolina giving her some pointers.
Transfiguration would have probably gone a lot better if her snuffbox hadn’t skittered off the desk and gotten caught in the trap at the end of the desk. And Padma didn’t mess up at all on her Forgetfulness potion, setting a neat vial on Snape’s desk labeled properly.
Antigone was the last one out of the classroom, finally bottling a liquid only a shade off the color it should have been and scrambling out. It had been their last exam, and as they walked out Antigone sighed heavily. “I think that’s the worst potion I’ve ever made,” she whined. “It took me twice as long as the rest of you and it was still oddly colored. I’m going to fail.”
“I don’t think so, Tig,” Padma said. “Well, no worries. We’ve got a whole week off. Nothing to do, and no classes.”
“You’re right,” Carolina said, whistling cheerfully. “I think I did super in Transfiguration—it should balance my score in History of Magic.”
“Nothing to do but wait until we get our results,” Morag said, flopping down on the grass. “Well, that and the Ravenclaw match against Gryffindor. But that’s two days from now.” He reached into his satchel and pulled out his deck of Exploding Snap. “Fancy a game?”
The four played against each other, Carolina losing spectacularly. Then Carolina taught the others how to play Hearts with a Muggle deck she’d brought home during the holidays. They whiled away the afternoon in card games mostly, with Morag ducking off for an hour to play Quidditch. Finally that night, they curled up with books in Ravenclaw Corners and read before bed. Padma was glad to see Antigone once again nose deep in As the Gods Make It, but she also had a copy of Magical Mending and Repair, having mentioned something about needing to clean up her robes. They finally all curled up in their beds, and Padma fell asleep, glad to have nothing to worry about.
The next morning on her way to breakfast Parvati flew at her, knocking her over. Morag raised an eyebrow but said nothing, and Carolina giggled. (Antigone was asleep still—she had been up most of the night and was opting to skip breakfast and just eat a large lunch. Carolina had promised to sneak a plate back to her in case she woke up before noon.)
“Oh, Padma, have you heard? I’m hoping you haven’t, I haven’t got to tell you any good gossip since Harry, Neville, and Hermione lost all those points for us but it doesn’t matter anymore, who cares about points when Harry’s done something just—Oh Merlin!”
“Parvati, let go,” Padma said, trying to push her twin sister off her. “What idle gossip do you have now?”
“It’s not idle, it’s important, I pressed Ron and Hermione for it all night, and they wouldn’t talk at first but once I kept prodding they told Lavender and I all about it—she’s off telling Susan Bones right now, she’ll want to know right away of course…”
“Know what? What are you talking about?”
“Oh, Harry went after the Philosopher’s Stone last night! He fought off You-Know-Who!”
“The what?” Carolina asked.
“He fought who?” Morag blinked. He wasn’t one for gossip, but even Padma noted this was something big.
“Last night Dean Thomas went out to go take a bath—he’s really odd you know? Bathes really late at night if he can’t sleep, says it soothes him—anyway, he was headed for the baths when he saw Neville lying on the floor in the Full Body Bind. Another Gryffindor must have done it to him; it’s not like that time he dragged himself through the passage to our Common Room cursed with the Leg-Locker Curse, though that was hilarious. Anyway, once Dean had taken pity on him and unlocked him, Neville told him that Hermione Granger had done it. No one would have expected that of her.”
“Hermione? That buck-toothed girl with bushy brown hair?” Carolina said.
“That’s not nice to say,” Padma chided. “She’s quite nice, we’ve studied with her once in a while.”
“Well it’s true,” Parvati cut in. “She should really do something about that hair, Marilyn and I tried to give her suggestions and she wouldn’t listen at all. Anyways, she and Ron were gone most of the night. They finally were escorted in late last night, with some injuries—Ron looked like he’d been stunned a bit but was mostly okay, they’d had to stop by the Hospital Wing first. So since half the house was up anyways we pressed them and they told us that the Philosopher’s Stone had been kept in Hogwarts all year, it’d been brought here for safekeeping by Professor Dumbledore and they’d been looking into it all year, but that one of the teachers had gone after it!”
“What’s the Philosopher’s Stone?” Carolina asked, a bit more urgently.
Morag spoke up. “I read about it the other day in an alchemy book—it’s got astonishing powers, turns any metal into pure gold and produces the Elixir of Life, which if imbibed on a regular basis makes the drinker immortal. Only one’s ever been made though, and to know it was kept here, that is fascinating!”
Parvati dismissed that with a wave of a hand and a sniff. “Honestly. That’s not important. Ravenclaw, always reading more than they have to. Lot of bookworms, nothing better to do than read all the time and top each other in marks.”
“Hey!” Padma snapped. She’d been the one to check the book out—she was interested in Alchemy.
“Oh, you’re not so bad, Padma. You don’t have your nose stuck in a book all the time—only half of the time.” Parvati went on as though she hadn’t insulted Padma’s entire House. “Well, they’d all gone down to stop whoever was stealing the Stone—I bet it was Snape, that grimy slug—and Harry hasn’t been seen since! I wonder if he died?” Her eyes took on a mystic, odd look, and Padma bit her tongue.
“Wouldn’t they have told you if he died?” Carolina asked. Padma detected a nasty tone in her voice. I’m upset myself. Parvati going on about us being a load of bookworms, and we’re one of the most creative houses here!
“Well maybe.” Parvati looked embarrassed.
“Hmph. There goes Gryffindor again, not thinking before they speak or act.” Morag was curt.
“Oh shut up! At least my name isn’t for the wrong gender and people don’t mistake me for a girl!”
“Oh, so you’re saying you’re not a girl?” Carolina hissed. “Funny, I thought you and Padma were identical twins. But if you’re a boy then you must be fraternal. Good Charm you’ve got there to disguise it, though I’m surprised you can do it since Hermione told me you don’t half study for class.” Padma turned to look at Carolina in surprise—she knew Carolina could be bitingly sarcastic but hadn’t seen her use it much.
Parvati’s cheeks flushed in anger. “Ooo! Jealous, the both of you, just jealous! Just because Gryffindor’s got the famous Harry Potter, and he was out doing some thing brave and honorable last night instead of staying up half the night reading uselessly when we don’t even have any more classes this year! What would you have done if you’d faced You-Know-Who, hmm? Bored him to death? Lectured him away?” She inhaled sharply, as if offended. “I hope we trounce you tomorrow at Quidditch!”
“It’s the only way you’ve got at the moment to make up for those points the so-called honorable Harry Potter lost you before exams,” Carolina quipped. “Or did you forget about all that, along with your need to study anything?”
“Beasts! The both of you!” Parvati flounced off, braid bouncing behind her.
“ ‘Honestly, that’s not important,’ ” Carolina drawled, mimicking Parvati. “How rude!”
“Lot of bookworms my arse,” Morag snapped. “Bet we all three outperformed her on exams. Come on, Carolina, I’m hungry.” The two walked off, the Carolina turned to face Padma. “Are you coming too?”
“Er, yeah,” Padma replied, catching up. Merlin! Parvati’s never acted like that to my friends before. What’s gotten into her? She shrugged. I’ll talk about it to her on the train and clear it all up. Hopefully.
The next day dawned bright, clear, and warm. Carolina ate a quick breakfast with her friends and they headed out to the Quidditch pitch, getting good seats. Cho slid in beside them, holding a small blue banner to cheer for Ravenclaw. “Hope we do good today—this is the first time we’ve played Gryffindor, I wonder how our team will hold up against them today. I hope we do well.”
“I hope we trounce them,” Morag huffed. He was still offended at what Parvati had said. Padma also looked offended, as she didn’t wave her sister over when they entered the stands and Parvati went to go sit with the other Gryffindors. “Lawrence lent me his binoculars, said they’re no good to him while he’s playing today.” He scanned the players, all warming up. “There’s Lawrence, throwing the practice Quaffle with the other Chasers. The oldest one’ll be gone next year, there’ll be a spot open for someone else to play. I’ll try out. Not sure I’ll get a spot but I’ve been practicing loads with Lawrence. Hmm…that’s interesting…”
“What?” Carolina asked.
“Potter’s not there.”
“What?” Antigone gasped. “Nowhere to be seen?”
“Not a sign.”
“From what Par—my sister told me,” Padma said, noticing the glares from Morag and Carolina and changing mid-sentence, “he’s in the hospital wing and has been since last night. But the way she talked he was sure to be up and on a broom, ‘no harm no foul.’”
The Gryffindor captain was down on the ground, fussing with Madam Hooch, who seemed incensed herself. Finally she pointed to the sky, and he flew up. Five team members, clad in scarlet, flew over to him while they huddled. Then two of the Chasers—Gryffindor’s team had all females—whimpered, and the Weasley twins looked disgusted.
From the Gryffindor stands there was an audible groan. Carolina only took a few seconds to figure it out before doubling over in peals of laughter.
“What is it?” Padma and Antigone turned to look at her, but Carolina was laughing too hard to speak. Between her shrieks she heard some of the Gryffindors miserably complaining.
“That’s horribly unfair! He wasn’t expected to…”
“…shouldn’t have sacked the reserve, then…”
“…How are we going to make this one up?’
Morag was the second to start laughing, chuckles welling up and bubbling out. Carolina let out another high pitched squeal and fell over laughing. “They—don’t—have—a Seeker!” Carolina finally managed to choke out before being overcome by laughter.
Cho’s mouth fell open. “You’re kidding.”
Carolina managed to shake her head, hand over her mouth.
“And right after they got Potter, Oliver Wood sacked their reserve—said he wasn’t needed anymore. He was a fifth-year; took it quite hard when he found out,” Morag muttered, holding his sides.
“And with no reserve, they’ve got no choice but to play…” Antigone started, but Padma finished.
Carolina screeched out another laugh. “I’d like to see us get trounced when they have no Seeker!”
The game was easier than any of them had expected. Ravenclaw completely flattened Gryffindor—while they managed to get a good number of goals, it wasn’t enough to over take the total once Ravenclaw caught the Snitch. As the four walked out of the stands, Carolina couldn’t resist snapping at Parvati, “So, you hope we get what?” The flush to Parvati’s cheeks was worth it. As they walked off snickering, they stole a glance at the hourglasses. The total was enough to launch them back into second place, but Carolina was sobered by seeing Slytherin in a firm first.
“Not cheering so much now, hmm?” a snide voice said. The four saw Alph Kamain standing there, with Moira Ryans. “Despite your illustrious performance out there today, we’re still ahead. And with the last totals, I dare say that gives us the House Cup seventh year running. Hope you don’t mind it all being decked out in silver and green—as usual,” he added snidely.
Morag looked like he wanted to sock Alph but he simply turned and headed off. The others were behind him. “He’s right, you know?” he sulked as soon as they’d gotten a safe distance off. “We’re only second.”
“Well, it’s better than last.” Carolina said. “Day after tomorrow’s the Great Feast, and then we get our grades. Right? I bet we did loads better over the term than them—we saw them in Herbology, Moira couldn’t remember which way up was a gillyweed…” She patted Morag’s shoulder firmly.
“Right lot of bookworms we are,” Cho added, “but we do have the sense to have a backup Seeker. Come on, Ravenclaws, we won. Tonight’s the night for a party of our own again!”
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