Birds of a Feather
Book One: First Flight

by Nethilia

Author's Notes: A bit of the text near the end is directly quoted from Sorcerer's stone pg. 111-114 American Edition, because I had to capture what Hagrid and Prof. McGonagall said.

Remember, ships don't float in the sky of Ravenclaw Blue here. *sings* Sky of blue, sea of green, in a yellow submarine--darn those Beatles!—we all live in a yellow submarine…

Also needing remention: I don't own this. I tried the Polyjuice potion, but I didn't turn into J. K. Rowling. I got the wrong hair and turned into a rabbit. So nope, this isn't mine.

Many thanks and cookies to Haggridd and Madhuri, my beta readers. ^.^

Okay, have fun reading.


Chapter 2:
Hogwarts, Here We Come!

"Padma! Parvati! Get up girls!"

Padma yawned and tugged the covers over her head. "Fifteen more minutes, Father," she whispered sleepily.

"Get up! It's the first of September! We've got to get to King's Cross Station in time to make sure that we won't miss the Hogwarts Express."

That roused Padma immediately. She scrambled out of bed pulled on her house slippers, then went over and shook Parvati. "Parvati! Get up!" Parvati grumbled reluctantly, got up anyway. The twins quickly dressed alike in black slacks and purple turtleneck sweaters, then took turns braiding each other's long thick black hair. Just as they were fastening purple ribbons to the ends of their braids, their father came in and started to take their trunks downstairs. As soon as they finished dressing, Padma and Parvati headed to the kitchen, where their mother sat sipping her morning tea, a drowsy look appearing prominently on her face. She must have just woken up, thought Padma.

"How are we going to get to London without being seen by Muggles?" Mrs. Patil stifled a yawn as she got on her feet. Amar was nowhere to be seen. He was still fast asleep. "We could use the Floo Network, but then we’d have to appear at the Leaky Cauldron and walk to the station—but that’s such a far distance to walk with two heavy trunks. Broomsticks are right out, of course." She set breakfast in front of the twins, who hurriedly started to eat, impatient to get going.

"And the girls can’t Apparate, of course," their father said. "I guess we can take taxis. I’ll call Taiga’s." He threw a pinch of powder into the fireplace and called, "Taiga’s Taxi Service." There was a moment of silence, then a young man in uniform appeared in the flames. He didn’t step out however. "Taiga’s Taxi Service, servicing wizard transportation needs since 1904. What is it you’ll be needing?"

"One taxi from the Patil residence to King’s Cross Station, please," Mr. Patil said.

"We’ll be there in a few minutes, Mr. Patil." The man disappeared back into the flames. Padma pulled out her book again from her tote bag and was about to start reading while she finished off her eggs when her mother appeared fully dressed in a simple blue-black pants suit, holding a very sleepy Amar. He was still in his pajamas.

"Finish eating, girls. The taxis will be here any minute now. They don’t take long at all, you know. Padma! How many times do I have to tell you no reading and eating at the same time! You'll get foodstains all over your books!"

"But Mother--"

"Don’t ‘but mother’ me. Put the book away and finish eating." Padma grumbled and but closed her book. They had just finished breakfast when there was a knock on the door.

"The taxis are here!" Parvati, forgetting that her plate was still on the table, ran towards the door with her tote in hand. Padma got up slowly and went outside, where her father and the taxi driver were placing the luggage in the trunk. Her mother flicked her wand, causing the breakfast dishes to soar up, then fall into the sink. She closed the front door with a locking spell, then climbed into the taxi beside Parvati, who had rushed to get a seat by the window. Amar, still asleep, sat on her lap. Padma slid in beside her mother, and their father sat in the front by the driver. The driver started up the car, and they drove off towards London.


Antigone Moon placed her backpack in the back seat while her mother and Esmerelda Toners, of the Muggle-Born Wizard and Witch Liaison Office, placed her large trunk into Esmerelda’s car. It looked at first as if it wouldn’t fit, but Esmerelda pointed out how her trunk was charmed so that it would hold more than it looked. The trunk fit in neatly.

She went up to the room where she and her mother had been staying the past few weeks. She had neither seen nor heard from her father. Her aunt had reported that he'd been calling every few days with some rather nasty comments, however her mother hadn't taken the calls. As Shadow prowled around her bed, Antigone picked him up to put him in his carrier. "C'mon, Shadow, we're on our way to Hogwarts now, you have to get in here." Shadow yowled as if offended, spitting and hissing at his new Mistress. Antigone finally managed it, then looked at him as he glared at her with big yellow eyes. "I know, I’ve let you wander free since we got home from Diagon Alley, but I don’t want to lose you on the trip." She picked up the carrier and headed downstairs to the car.

As she set Shadow inside, her aunt looked over at Antigone’s mother. "What platform are you leaving from?"

Antigone looked at her ticket. She’d kept her ticket in her bag so that there would be absolutely no question of where it was. "Platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven o'clock."

"Platform what?" Her aunt looked a bit shocked.

"Nine and three-quarters, auntie."

She reached into the car and took the ticket from Antigone. "You must have misread it." She looked the ticket up and down. "No, that's what it says: Hogwarts Express... September the first... Eleven o'clock... Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. There must be an error. There is no platform nine and three-quarters. I've taken lots of trains from King's Cross and there has never been a platform nine and three-quarters. We'll figure it all out once we get there." She handed back the ticket.

"Most certainly," Esmerelda replied. She looked at Antigone with a knowing look.

"I guess so," Antigone whispered. Her mother nodded, and they headed off to the train station. It was a rather uneventful trip. Antigone spent it reading one of her textbooks.

They arrived at the station about a quarter past ten. Antigone’s mother helped lift the trunk onto one of the carts, and the trio wheeled the cart into the station, Antigone holding on tightly to Shadow’s carrier.


She turned to see Carolina Kipley calling her over to platform nine, while waving with a piece of half-eaten toast in her hand. Her trunk was on a cart beside her, with Nike sitting in her cage on top, looking quite indignant at the throngs of people that passed by. She ran over to Carolina, jostling Shadow's carrier and causing him to let out more pitiful mewling. Her mother and Esmerelda came up behind her, pushing her trunk.

"Hello, Carolina. It seems you got here just fine." said Antigone's mom.

"Yes, Mrs. Moon. Papa and I had a nice trip here—Nike was the only one complaining because she was in the cage the whole time." She tapped Nike’s cage, and Nike looked over at Antigone boredly.

"Where is you father, actually?" inquired Ms. Toner.

"He’s off looking for you. I’ve spent the past weeks training Nike. I also bought one of those gloves bird keepers wear so she can perch on my arm without hurting me." She took a munch on her toast.

Mr. Kipley came back up then. "Haven’t found her yet. She must be wearing norm—I mean Muggle clothes. She does tend to blend in rather well." he added, embarrassed.

"Very well indeed, I should say, seeing as I’m standing right here," Esmerelda quipped.

"Oh! Hello." Mr. Kipley looked a might sheepish.

"Never mind. Now, do any of you remember how to get onto the platform?"

"Not really," Antigone’s mother said, meekly looking at her feet. "I know it has something to do with this barrier here. Perhaps it opens up."

"Maybe. Perhaps we’re early." Carolina suggested.

"None of those," Esmerelda corrected. "The Muggles aren’t paying a lot of attention right now, so I’ll take you all through now."

"Through what?"

Esmerelda pointed directly at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. "Just walk straight towards it."

"What?" Carolina said. "It’s quite solid!"

"To Muggles and those who don’t see it, yes. To us, it’s just an illusion. Don’t stop once you head towards it. And pretend to look interested at something else, so that it appears casual. Go on now. You two first," she said, motioning towards Antigone and Carolina. "I’ll bring your parents behind you."

Carolina and Antigone looked at each other, almost worried. "Well, okay…" Antigone replied shyly.

"I’ll lead," Carolina suggested. She picked up Nike's cage in one hand, reached out and took Antigone hand with the other, then pulled her forward, towards the barrier. Antigone scrunched up her eyes, imagining how silly she would look if her nose bashed up against the barrier. She worried too that Shadow's carrier might crack open if they hit too hard.

"Whoa." Carolina’s breathless voice made Antigone open her eyes. She cracked one eyes and then gasped, squeezing her hands tightly around the handle of Shadow’s carrier.. Before them was a large scarlet steam engine with lots of people wandering around the platform, placing trunks on the train and gathering in groups. Many of the adults were in robes, and so were some of the children. They stood there, turning and looking at the sight. A pale boy with a pinched face walked past them casually as Carolina squealed, "This is so cool!" He looked at them as if they had made a scene, then mumbled something as his parents led him off with his trunk and owl. It sounded like "mudbloods," but Antigone ignored him. Whatever he had said, it wasn't important. He didn't look very nice, anyway.

Behind them their parents and Esmerelda appeared, underneath the iron archway that read Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. "Come on, I know there’s an open cabin near the front. Let's load your trunks."

"I’ll help." Mr. Kipley stepped forward. "If Antigone’s trunk is like Carolina’s, it’s more than a bit heavy." Together he and Esmerelda, along with two railroad porters, helped tuck their trunks into one of the empty compartments. Mrs. Moon followed as they got situated into the compartment. "You don’t have to put on your robes now, but it’ll make it easier near the end of the trip."

Carolina nodded. I'll put them on before we get there."

"Mine’s in my backpack," Antigone said. "I’ll—I’ll do the same."

"Surely," Esmerelda said, grinning. "We’ll see you off, of course, we’ll be waving."

Antigone nodded. Her stomach fluttered with excitement. I’m on my way to Hogwarts.


Morag MacDougal walked up and down the corridor carrying his trunk with his cousin Miriam's help. Aunt Opaline, Miriam and he had gotten to King's Cross Station without any difficulty. His mother had not come—she had wanted to, but she couldn't afford to refuse the offer of extra hours work when the call came from her job—so his aunt was seeing them off by herself. Miriam had already tucked her trunk away in another compartment with two of her friends, and was just waiting for Morag to find a place.

"Hurry up, Morag," she complained. "Your trunk’s extremely heavy, and carrying it is no picnic."

Morag ignored her and peeked into one of the compartments that didn’t look as full as the others. He knocked on the door and it was slid open by a girl with thick curly auburn hair pulled back in a messy ponytail and dark eyes that looked at him quizzically. Behind her he could see a large brown owl in a silver cage. "Yes?" she asked.

"Is this compartment full?" he asked.

She shook her head. "Come on in, there's only my friend and I. You'll fit."

Morag let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks a lot." He motioned to Miriam, and they carried in his trunk and stowed it inside near the other two. Miriam went off to her friends, and Morag sat down on a bench on the opposite side of the cabin. The other girl inside was sitting meekly, holding a small black kitten on her lap. Her dark black hair was in a neat plait, and her skin was a pretty caramel brown. The auburn haired girl grinned at Morag. "I’m Carolina Kipley and this is Antigone Moon. We’re first years. What about you?"

Morag pushed back some of his hair from his eyes. "Me too. My name’s Morag MacDougal."

Carolina shook Morag’s hand. "Nice to meet you." She looked out the window. "They're getting up steam. We'll be going soon. Come on, Antigone, put down Shadow and wave at your mum."

Antigone set the tiny kitten on the floor and leaned out the window. Morag heard Carolina calling out loudly, "Bye, Papa! The train’s about to leave!" Antigone’s quieter voice called out to her mother behind Carolina’s, and they both received calls back of "Have a good term!" and "Take care, honey!" There was a whistle, alerting that the train was about to pull off. Morag leaned over the both of them and saw a tall, brown haired man, a pretty black haired woman, and a petite black woman waving at Antigone and Carolina. He saw Aunt Opaline behind them and waved out the window himself, grinning. She waved back at him. Morag looked down the train and saw Miriam waving and calling out happily to her mother. The train started to pull off, and all three of them waved until the train turned a corner and the platform went out of sight.

"Are all those people in your family?" he asked just before they all sat down and Antigone picked up Shadow from where he was batting around a feather that had fallen from the owl’s cage.

"No," Carolina said. "The man’s my father. The black lady is Antigone’s mother, and the other lady is a Ministry official. She helped us get into Diagon Alley when we went shopping."

Morag looked at them confusedly. "You had a guide with you in Diagon Alley?"

"Of course," Carolina said.

"I didn't. I went with my mother, my cousin and my aunt."

"Well, we didn’t know a thing about magic before we got our letters."

Antigone looked up from playing with Shadow. "We’re Muggle-born witches," she whispered. She must be awfully shy, Morag thought to himself. Carolina seems to talk more than her—and louder too.

"Oh—I’m a half and half, I guess, My father was a wizard, but my mother's a Muggle. I wonder how many people starting this year have Muggle blood in them," he mused.

"Probably a good number of us, if there is a Muggle-Born Wizard and Witch Liaison Office." Carolina remarked. "I wonder when the lunch cart comes around. Papa had me exchange some Muggle Money so I could buy lunch—I doubt I’ll need many Muggle things here at Hogwarts." The owl opened one eye and looked at Morag, then hooted softly and went back to sleep. Carolina motioned up toward where she saw Morag was looking. "That’s Nike, my owl. I heard that owls are used for mail and stuff. It sounds so interesting. Do you know anything about magic? Did your father tell you all about it?"

Morag looked a bit hurt. "My father’s been dead since I was a little baby."

"Oh." Carolina looked highly embarrassed. "I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I just assumed—since you didn’t have a guide with you in Diagon Alley…"

"My aunt’s a witch—she’s my father’s sister. And Miriam—she’s my cousin, and this is her last year at Hogwarts. She’s who helped me carry in my trunk."

"Oh," Antigone said. "I wondered who she was—she didn’t look like a sister."

"Nope, I’m an only child. What about you two?"

Carolina spoke up first. "I live with my father—my mother divorced him when I was about five and went to live in the States. At first I was going to live over there, but then Mum remarried and I decided to stay with my papa. I’ve got half brothers and sisters, but I’ve never seen them—they all live with Mum and her new husband. As a matter of fact, I haven't seen my mother in a few years; but Papa and I get along well. We live near the moors, way outside of London."

Antigone was a bit reluctant to speak. "I’m the oldest daughter—I have five little brothers and sisters. My mom and dad are—erm, they’re currently separated." She blushed furiously in embarrassment. "I live pretty far from London, but not quite so far as Carolina."

Morag looked out the window. "We’re far out of London now. What time is it?"

Carolina looked at her watch. "It’s a little past twelve. I wonder when the food's coming?"

Just then there was a shuffling outside and the door was slid back by a dimpled woman. "Would you like anything off the cart?" she asked, smiling.

The three stepped out and looked over the cart. There were all sorts of treats: pasties, thick sandwiches packed with meat, and various candies. "What would you recommend?" Morag asked the lady.

"Ah, Muggle-borns!" she grinned. "You’ve never seen stuff like this, have you?"

All of them shook their heads. "The Cauldron Cakes are very good," she said, handing Morag some. "And I bet you’d like Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans. Now when I say every flavor, I mean every flavor. There are the good ones, like chocolate and cherry, but there are some in there like salad dressing and pocket lint." She held out a bag. "You can taste one if you wish."

"Those sound cool!" Carolina pulled out a white looking one before putting it in her mouth and chewing. "EW! Yuck!" She spit it out, making a face. "It tastes like school paste!"

The witch grinned. "I warned you-- every flavor. I also have pumpkin juice, pumpkin pasties, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum—it blows bubbles that won’t pop for days—Chocolate Frogs, and Licorice Wands as well as some other stuff. Get whatever you want."

The three looked all over the cart until they finally decided on a small stack of Cauldron Cakes, a sandwich each, and some iced pumpkin juice (On Morag's advice, Antigone bought and tasted a glass first, and informed Carolina that it wasn't too bad). Carolina bought some Every-Flavor Beans—despite her initial reaction—Antigone purchased a handful of Licorice Wands, and Morag got a goodly amount of the Chocolate Frogs. They each paid their share and settled down to eat.

Through a mouthful of sandwich Carolina asked, "Want to try a bean?" She swallowed before continuing, as she held out a handful. "There’s bound to be a few okay flavors in there."

Antigone looked at it suspiciously, then picked up a greenish one and chewed on it. "Grass," she announced.

Morag took another, a purple one. "Mmm…grape."

Carolina tried another. "Hey, strawberry. Guess it’s a take your chances type of thing."


Padma looked up from her book at the group that had assembled in her compartment, finished off a Chocolate Frog, and added the enclosed "Circe" card to her tote. It wasn't that she was antisocial, but now she was even further along in her book and didn't want to put it down. In the compartment were four additional persons who had come over from their cabin to visit and play around. Padma knew all but one of them from childhood.

Her parents had guests stay over whenever they had held dinner parties, so now she could place their faces easily, once they had seen one another. Terry Boot was a somewhat chubby wizard with large blue eyes and thick brown hair. Hannah Abbott had long blond hair she almost always wore in pigtails. Lisa Turpin was a tall, lanky blonde who was a half muggle—her father was muggle, but her mother was a witch, and both had come to functions the Patils held. She’d been the one who brought the Every Flavor Beans with her. Mandy Brocklehurst was the one she didn’t know—a pretty Muggle-born girl with shortly clipped brown hair and green eyes that darted all around the cabin. She’d come in with Lisa—Lisa knew her parents through the Muggle parties she’d attended at times. (Padma remembered when Lisa had come back from a Muggle birthday party when she was seven and complained that there hadn’t been anything useful in the noisemakers.) Parvati was the one who’d invited them to come over—Hannah and another girl, Susan Bones, had been in here. But Susan had gone to Terry’s compartment instead.

"Ew! Yuck!" Lisa Turpin gagged. "Earwax!" She looked as if she wanted to spit, but she swallowed the whole thing down before grabbing a chunk of chocolate and stuffing it in her mouth. "That was beastly!" she mumbled through the mouthful. The others giggled.

Padma decided to join the group after finishing her next chapter and set her novel down. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"We're playing 'Guess The Flavor.' You pull out a bean, and everybody guesses what flavor. Whoever is closest to the truth gets to select the next bean." Lisa explained. "Whoever pulls it out has to eat it, however." she added with a grin.

"And no spitting allowed." Terry added, "You have to pop it in, chew it all up, then swallow it, no matter what—of course, we do have a decent supply of chocolate to help get rid of bad tastes. We’ve gone through half a bag so far. Want to play?"

Padma shrugged ."Might as well. Whose turn is it?"

"Mine," Mandy said. "I guessed beeswax, and that’s the closest. Everyone else thought it would be something tasty, like caramel or treacle tart." She reached into the bag and pulled out a pale blue and white speckled one. "Well?"

Hannah looked it over. She looked a bit confused. "Perhaps it’s blueberry. I’ll guess that."

"Blueberries aren’t that blue, they’re indigo. Plus, they aren’t speckled." Terry gave it the once over. "I’ll say that it’s pocket lint. I’ve had pocket lint that color."

"Ew," Mandy gagged. "I won’t eat it if it’s pocket lint."

"You have to." Lisa was staring at it now. She finally looked up. "It looks like sea foam. Ocean water."

Parvati was still staring at it. "Bird feather. Like blue birds."

Padma looked at it carefully. Hmm…I can’t think of a food that would be that color. The only thing it reminds me of is the color of house paint. I’ll go with that. "House paint."

Worried, Mandy gulped. "I wish you all had thought of better flavors than those." She tossed the bean into her mouth and began to chew. Immediately, she made a face. "It tastes like oil paints." She reached for chocolate as soon as she swallowed.

"Padma, you were closest. Your turn." Parvati poked her sister. "Go on, reach in."

Padma reached in and pulled out a white one. Immediately everyone had the same reply. "Toilet paper!"

"What?" Padma looked horrified. "Why that choice?"

"I got that one and it was toilet paper," Hannah nodded. "It was fairly gross. They all thought it was popcorn or maybe lotion." Everyone else nodded. "You’re going to need the chocolate."

"No other choice then?" Everyone shook their heads. Padma sighed and started to eat the bean, expecting the taste of paper. It wasn’t. "All wrong," she said, leaning back and chewing with a grin on her face. "It’s vanilla pudding."

"Nuts," Hannah said. "We were all wrong. That means you have to take another."

"I do?"

"Yes, none of us were close."

Padma sighed and was about to reach for another bean when a voice echoed through the train. "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minute’s time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."

"No more time to play," Terry said as he, Lisa, and Mandy rose to their feet. "Later then? Padma, it’s your turn." Padma nodded as the three left and Susan Bones returned. They all pulled off their jackets and pulled on their robes, and the train came to a stop as they all looked at each other nervously and joined the crowd in the corridor.


Carolina held Antigone’s hand as Morag held her own. Some inner voice had told them to stay together. The feel of a handclasp was somehow comforting. Antigone held Shadow tightly to her—she had refused to leave him on the train—and he was mewling plaintively as she kept a tight grip on him. The doors opened up and Carolina got a quick glimpse of a small dark platform before a group of older students stepped in front of them. She followed them and stepped onto the platform. The night air was freezing. Carolina wished her hands were free so she could pull her cloak a bit closer around her, but she didn't want to let go of the two hands she was holding. "Where do we go now?" she whispered. "Did your cousin tell you?"

Morag shook his head. "Miriam’s headed off another way."

A large, booming voice called out over their heads. "Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!" Carolina turned to see a lantern bobbing over everyone’s heads, held up by a hand that looked like it could cover her entire head. She followed the hand to the arm, up the arm to see a face covered in thick wild black hair. "Firs’ years!" the voice boomed out again, and she saw that this man was its source.

She pulled Morag and Antigone behind her, toward the enormous man. They shuffled through the crowd and found themselves surrounded by a bunch of students like them—with nervous faces and shuffling steps. Beside them stood a young girl with thick bushy hair and large front teeth, who was trying desperately not to look as nervous as the others. Carolina caught her eye and mouthed, "Don’t be nervous." It seemed to calm her down a bit, and she let out a held breath that frosted in the air.

"C’mon, follow me! Any more firs’ years?" The voice kept calling out loudly. "Mind yer step, now! Firs’ years, follow me!" The lantern started to bob off, and Carolina let go of her friends' hands, who stayed right on her heels. They headed down a dark, steep path that was probably surrounded by thick trees—Carolina felt one brush her face and she shivered and pulled her robe tighter. Antigone hit a slick spot and fell with a shriek as Shadow yowled his disgust. Carolina caught her and lifted her to her feet as a wave of giggles broke out briefly. Carolina couldn’t see it, but she knew Antigone was blushing furiously as she tried to brush off some of the dirt from her robes. "Yeh’ll get yer first sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec," the same booming voice called out. "Jus’ round this bend here."

Carolina looked up and gasped just as a loud "Oooooh!" rippled through the crowd. The path was open to a large black glassy lake that didn’t even ripple in the night wind. On the other side was a tall mountain that had a backdrop of glittering stars. On top of the mountain was an absolutely splendid castle with turrets and towers full of iridescent windows. "No more’n four to a boat!" the man called out, gesturing to a fleet of small boats that floated on the shoreline. Morag gulped and started to shiver.

"What is it?" Antigone asked, still holding tight to Shadow.

"I don’t like boats," Morag sniffled.

"Oh," Carolina said, "It’ll all be right. You can hold my hand if you wish." She heard snickering beside her and turned to see that same pale boy who had been walked past them when they had arrived at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. This time he was flanked by two large, brutish boys. "Oh, sod off," she hissed, tempted to push him into the lake. He glared back and sounded as if he was going to say something, but Carolina turned away.

Antigone, Morag and Carolina boarded, along with a small brown haired boy who had to be helped in somewhat. "Everyone in?" the huge man shouted just as Carolina sat down. He was in a boat to himself. Of course, Carolina analyzed silently. He’s much too large to share a boat with someone. He took a glance over the fleet. "Right then—FORWARD!"

Morag stiffened beside Carolina and dug his fingers into her arm as, all at once, the boats glided forward to a cliff. He kept his eyes shut the entire time, and looked as if he was going to be sick. Carolina, however, just stared at the beautiful castle, as it loomed closer and closer. She winced at Morag's grasp but didn't yelp. "Heads down!" the man called out as they reached the cliff. Carolina ducked and used her free hand to move away part of the ivy that brushed against her. The whole time, she kept her head down but her eyes open as they were carried through a dark tunnel. We’re probably right under the castle, she thought, as Morag whimpered beside her. Finally, the boat bumped against what sounded like a pebbly shore. Carolina shook Morag as Antigone and the other little boy climbed out. "You can let go now," she whispered.

Morag let go and Carolina stepped out as the man checked out each boat. Shadow was still in Antigone’s grasp; she had now wrapped him gently in a fold of her robe and he was silent. The only indication he was the lump in her jacket was his yellow eyes, glowing. The man inspected all the boats, returning a toad to a round faced boy. The group made their way up a passageway (this time Antigone didn’t fall), the lamp leading the way. Finally they came out on smooth, slightly damp grass with the shadow of the castle falling over them.

Carolina’s mouth fell open. The castle looked even more impressive directly in front of her—she wanted to tilt her head backwards and stare up at the very top. The crowd was moving towards the stone steps and the huge oak front door, so she made do with quick glances at whatever she could see.

"Everyone here?" the man asked, holding up his lantern carefully. "You there, you still got yer toad?" The boy nodded vigorously. The man turned, then raised a fist the size of two basketballs put together and knocked three times on the door.

The door opened almost immediately, and a tall, black haired witch stood in front of them in pretty emerald green robes. Her look was stern, and Carolina blinked. "The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall," the man said, motioning over the group.

"Thank you, Hagrid," she replied stiffly. So that’s his name. "I will take them from here." She opened the doors wider to reveal a entrance hall so wide that Carolina felt like she was being engulfed. Along the stone walls flaming torches lit the way, and when Carolina tilted her head up, she couldn’t even see the ceiling.

The group shuffled over the stone floor. "Pretty." Morag whispered. Carolina nodded agreement as she looked up the marble staircase. There were the sounds of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right, most likely leading to a large hall. Carolina suspected they would enter that way until Professor McGonagall led them to a small empty chamber on the side. They all made it in, a little closer than Carolina would have liked. At the other end of the chamber a girl with hair clipped short was looking around, her head darting around like a bird.

Professor McGonagall looked at all of them, her eyes stern. "Welcome to Hogwarts."

Chapter 3

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