Birds of a Feather
Book One: First Flight
Author's Notes: Once again, real life gets in the way of fic writing--hopefully nothing will get in the way of my next installment.
This one is not as full of plot as I would like it to be, but I picked a good stopping point. There will be more about my group's winter vacation in the next installment, including an unexpected visitor at Hogwarts, courtesy of a certain letter...
Thanks to Haggridd and Madhuri--I'm such a pain, yes, I know. Thank you.
The Start of Vacation
"It's freezing!" Carolina held her hands close to her bubbling cauldron in Potions class, hoping to warm her cold fingers while Snape inspected their solutions. Antigone shivered beside her, their breath coming out in thick mists. They were most grateful when Snape dismissed them all with only a minimum of points taken away, and they could scramble back to Ravenclaw Corners. The First-Years headed back to the common room en masse, but Morag wasn't among them. He had left his book behind, and was running back to get it. The look on his face when he realized where he'd left it showed that he would rather eat slugs than go back to Snape's Dungeon, but he had no choice. It was his book, and he was a Ravenclaw.
As soon as they made it inside, Carolina let out a sigh of comfort as she sank into a chair, glad that the Ravenclaw Corners' fire made the entire common room warm and toasty in the evenings. It had been extremely drafty in the halls since the heavy snowfall last week. She was also happy that the Christmas break began in just a few days. Last week Professor McGonagall had taken the names of those who would be going home on the Hogwarts Express, and Carolina had signed up immediately.
"I cant wait to go home," she sighed. "A nice long break to catch up on casual reading instead of everything being for class. I already wrote Papa and told him that Im coming home."
"Bet he cant wait," Padma said. "I know Mother and Father are eager to see to see Parvati and me. Sos my baby brother Amar, though he probably hasnt noticed much. I bet hes grown a lot now."
"Bet you cant wait to see your parents either, Antigone." Carolina smiled.
Antigone stared over at the wall, petting Shadow who was asleep in her lap. "Im not going home, actually."
"Not going home! Why not?" Carolina looked at Antigone in disbelief. "Dont you want to see your mom and dad over the holidays? They probably miss you a lot."
"I do want to see my mum very badlyand my dad, of course," Antigone added hurriedly, stumbling on her last words as if they weren't quite the truth. "They might miss me as well, but I don't think theyll mind that Im staying over Christmas."
"But they havent seen you since September," Padma asked concernedly, looking up from the Transfiguration book in her lap. "Im sure that your father and mother would love to hear about what youve done since you came here."
"Maybe you can even show them some of the spells youve practiced, even though we shouldnt do magic over the breaks. Im going to show my papa a few spells. Little minor ones. I bet they would love to see real magic." Carolina grinned brightly at Antigone, hoping to get a pleasant reaction.
She got quite another reaction. Antigone whimpered as though she'd been locked up and kicked, all the while staring at the Fourth Year's wall as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. She wouldnt say another word to either one of them, looking as if she was fighting back tears.
Carolina blinked. "Whatd I say wrong?" she asked. Antigone didnt reply.
"Come on, Tig," Padma pleaded, "Tell us, so we'll know not to say it again. Youre one of the best witches in our class, especially at Charms. Wouldnt you like to show others how good you are at magic, especially your family?" She leaned over to touch Antigone on the arm. Antigone pulled back as if Padma's hand were on fire, her eyes wide. With an outburst of tears, she leapt to her feet (dumping Shadow on the floor in the process) and ran out of the common room fast as she could, tears running down her face.
Carolina watched Antigone run off, hurt at her friends reaction. Padma looked like shed been slapped. Whatd I say wrong to make her clam up like that? I dont even know what I did wrong to deserve such a harsh reaction. She should tell me what I said wrong, at least. And Im supposed to be her best friend Even Shadow looked confused, meowing his distress.
Morag walked in a few seconds later, his book under his arm. "Snape almost took points off for returning to his classroom! I'd rather have left my book with Peeves!" He stopped speaking when he saw Carolina slumped over in her chair, sniffling. "Whatd I miss?" he asked, a look of confusion on his face.
"I just asked Antigone why she wasnt going home over the Christmas break." Carolina's lower lip trembled. "I must have touched a nerve, because when I said that she would probably like to show off some things she learned, she clammed up and wouldn't say another word to Padma or me. Then we asked about her family again, and she took off running."
Morag sighed and set his book down. He didnt sound aggravated, only upset at the way Antigone had acted. "Ill go see if I can find her. I didnt see her run past me, but logic dictates shes somewhere on the grounds. Ill be back with her, okay?"
Carolina bit her lip to fight her tears. "Ookay." She watched Morag head back out the door, then looked over at Padma. "I don't know what I did to deserve that."
"Neither do I." Padma's eyes reflected the hurt Carolina was feeling. "She's never reacted like that, no matter what we asked. We must have touched a sore spot, or something."
"She's supposed to be my friendmy best friend, as a matter of fact-- but she acted as though I hit her or something."
"I dont know whats wrong with her," Padma said. "I wish shed tell me."
Carolina nodded, miserable. I wish she would tell me too.
Morag sighed heavily as he made his way up and down the corridors. It was bad enough that he had to endure the Potions Master's sneering glare when he went back to retrieve his book from Snape's classroom. Now Antigone was overreacting to what had probably been a harmless and sincere comment about her family, and had hurt Carolina and Padmamost likely without realizing she had done so. It didn't help that he hadn't heard anything from his uncle since that last letter. It was enough to make him go ask Professor McGonagall if he could still sign up to go home instead of staying with Antigone over the Christmas break-- but he wouldn't break his promise to her.
He was almost to the great hall when he heard noises behind a suit of armor. "Antigone?" he asked, hoping it was her.
"Yes?" a voice asked softly. He quietly looked around it to see Antigone curled up behind the armor, sniffling.
Morag kneeled down on the cold stones and leaned towards her. "Antigone, Carolina and Padma told me you ran out of the common room crying when they asked you why you were going home."
Antigone looked embarrassed, but nodded.
"Now whyd you react like that, Tig? Carolina thinks shes committed a crime just this side of assault, and Padma looks like a whipped puppy. Theres no reason to act like youve been insulted beyond reproach. You really should go back and apologize, and you know it!"
"II know. But...but..." Antigone started to tear up again. "I can't go home to my family and show them real magic. Its bad enough Im here at Hogwartsgoing home would only make the situation worse."
"Bad enough youre here? Tig, what do you mean by that?" Morag sat fully down on the stones, ignoring the chill. "Antigone, were your parents going to stop you from coming to Hogwarts?"
Antigone nodded sadly, but didnt say anything.
Antigone looked up at Morag, eyes full of tears. "Do you promise not to tell Padma or Carolina anything until I say you can?" Her eyes were pleading, almost mournful.
Morag hesitated, then nodded. "I promise."
Antigones buried her face in Morags shoulder, her voice barely a whisper. "Daddy hates magic."
Padma turned to see the door open and Morag and Antigone walk in. "He found her!" she said, catching Carolina's attention.
Carolina looked up from her book and broke into a smile. "Good, maybe well finally understand why she acted like that." They both rose to their feet, but Morag turned to them and gave them a look that clearly said Wait. Antigone followed him, silent. Her eyes were red rimmed, but she hadnt said anything or even looked up from the floor.
Morag motioned for her to come over to the wall design. Antigone and he had become the best in Charms over the term, and so they had been appointed to add the final charms to the almost completed design. The competition was that Sunday, since everyone was heading home on Monday. Antigone scrambled over to the First Year Wall, pretending to be very fascinated with the charm she was going to perform. Morag nodded and then walked over to Padma and Carolina as Antigone started to add sparkles to the wall.
"Shes okay now," he said, sitting in a chair. "You touched a nerve, but she understands you didnt mean to."
"So whyd she run off like that? She scared us half to death." Padma looked worriedly at Morag.
"And why wouldnt she want to go home?" Carolina added.
Morag sighed, then looked at Antigone. "Her fathers against magic."
Padmas eyes widened in shock. "Against magic? But why?"
"That I cant tell you. Thats all she told me."
Padma gave Morag a look that clearly said he was hiding something, but Morag didnt blink. I think Morags lying again. I wish he wasnt so good at it, I cant tell if hes honest or not. She was about to ask more, but Carolina cut her off.
"Why'd she tell you before me? I thought I was her best friend. Ive confided my secrets to her but she wont do the same." Her voice trailed off.
"I dont know, Carolina," Morag replied, placing a hand on her shoulder. "But she did tell me to tell you."
Carolina brushed his hand off, glaring past him and at Antigone. "I hate finding things out through a third party." Then without another word, Carolina spun around and stormed towards her dorm, slamming the door behind her and knocking one of the glass ornaments off the First Year wall. It shattered at Antigones feet, startling her.
"Dammit," Morag cursed. "How are we going to fix that?"
"Move away, move away!" Penelope Clearwater made her way to the wall, her wand out. "Reparo," she said, pointing her wand at the shards. They flew together and resealed, the ornament as good as new.
"Thanks," Padma said as Morag hovered the ornament back to its place on the wall.
Penelope shrugged. "No use in having to try and clean it up the Muggle way. I hate dustpans, and you never get the glass completely off the floor." She returned to her books.
Padma looked at Antigone. She still looked upsetPadma could tell Antigones moods now, though she managed to hide them well for the most part. A wizard or witch had to really know Antigone to know the way she showed her emotions. Right now Padma could see that Carolinas reaction had unnerved her. Carolina has a point Tig should tell us things and not make us have to figure it out ourselves. But she didnt have to be mean to Antigone. She is her friend.
Padma picked up her books and headed to the dorm to put them away. But why would a Muggle hate magic, unless they were given a reason?
Sunday night was a celebratory time at Ravenclaw Corners. Everyone who was going home would be on the Hogwarts Express first thing in the morning. All the other girls in Antigone's dorm had packed their things. Antigone had not, of course, as she was staying here. Carolina hadn't said a word to Antigone since her outburst a few days before. Antigone couldn't fault her, exactly, since she hadn't been completely honest with herbut it still hurt.
All around the common room, students were exchanging presents and chatting. A bunch of Sixth and Seventh-Years had brought food from the kitchens and butterbeer from Hogsmeade, and everyone was feasting. Antigone noted that, though Carolina was sitting near Morag, Padma and herself around one of the tables with all the First-Years, she wasn't saying a thing to her if at all possible. Antigone sighed, softly, sipping her butterbeer in the silence.
There was a loud clap from one of the Ravenclaw prefectsManny Rawling, a Sixth-Yearand everyone turned to face him. "My fellow Ravenclaws, now is the time to reveal the designs for the class walls. I know youve all been working on them since the start of the term. Unless you're a Sixth-Year, that is, because theyve been doing things at the last minute their whole time at Hogwarts." This got giggles from the Sixth-Years. "The designs will be revealed in descending order, as usual, starting with the Seventh-Years, and everyone can then see the fruit of our labors."
Antigone watched quietly as the charmed veil draped over the Seventh-Year door fell away to display their wall. She thought it looked much better than the First-Year wallthen again, the Seventh-Years were only a few terms away from being fully trained wizards and witches. She turned to look at Carolina, who had moved and now was sitting at the far end of the bench between Lisa and Mandy. Padma was still sitting with Antigone and MoragCarolina was the only one who wasnt with them. I should tell her but Im scared to tell anyone. Morag only got as much as he did because he found me first. Antigone looked at her lap. Thenthen why didnt Carolina come look for me? If she's really supposed to care for me that much wouldnt she have come after me?
Her thoughts were broken by Mannys voice. "And now, last but not least, the First-Years!"
"Thats our cue," Morag said, rising to his feet. Antigone stood up beside him, trembling. Performing charms in front of Professor Flitwick and the class was one thing, but in front of all of Ravenclaw Cornerswhat if she messed up?
Morag held up his wand, pointing at the dark blue curtains that had been hung around the doors. Moving their wands in opposite directions, the two chanted, "Movova!" The curtains parted, revealing the fully decorated wall. Antigone had yet to see the completed wall.
Across the top of the door hung ornaments and decorations that the Muggle-born First-Years had brought with them or had sent from home. Antigone had added a soft Lumos charm so that they each had a little aura around them making them glitter and shine independent of the firelight. The area around each door was covered in thick velvety fabric that Mandy had asked her mother, a fashion designer, to send her. Morag had added shimmers to the cloth so that it rippled in varied shades of blue looking like a waterfall. All over both doors were pictures of each of the First Years Carolina had learned how to develop her pictures so that they moved, and had set them in small frames. All over both doors were pictures of each of the First-Years: There was Oliver, bouncing up and down and waving excitedly; Carolina with Nike on her arm, flapping her wings softly and looking around with her large owl's eyes; Padma and Morag on brooms, zipping back and forth; Lisa, grinning and holding her pet cat Bobby; even Antigone was there, peering shyly over As The Gods Make It with Shadow perched on her shoulder. The centerpiece was a picture of them all in brilliant color, waving and hugging each other while Lisa and Joseph held up a banner reading "Ravenclaw First Years, 1991."
Manny clapped as hard as he had for the other designs. "Shall we vote now?" There were unanimous nods around the room. Manny walked over towards the center, stepping down from the table on which he'd been standing. "Hold your hand up for the door you like the best. No double votingIm very accurate with my Arithmancy and Ill know. No voting for your own door."
" No voting for your own door?" Antigone asked Padma. "Why not?"
"Cho told me about thisthis is the first year this was put in place. The Seventh-Years who graduated last year voted as a bloc for their own wall, and won almost every time. Plus, its kind of unfair to vote for yourself."
Antigone nodded, and held up her hand for the Fourth-Year wall which had been charmed to snow--a fine sprinkling that started at the top of the doors and dissolved as soon as it hit the stone floor. Finally, Manny pointed his wand towards the First-Year wall.
Hands rose at every table. Antigone was happy to see that Cho and Lawrence had their hands up and were waving them enthusiastically. Even some of the Seventh-Years had their hands up. Manny looked around and waved his wand over the group, as he'd done for each of the walls before, then pointed to the piece of parchment posted on the main doors. "Tablulata!" he announced, and numbers blossomed on the paper. They started to shift and move around, showing all the votes that had been counted. Finally, the numbers stopped shifting and the parchment rolled up. Manny walked over and pulled it from the door, unrolling it and stepping back onto the table. "Hmm... third place goes to the Sixth-Years for their rendition of The First Christmas at Hogwarts. Second goes to the Fourth-Years, with their Snow Falling on Fourth-Years."
Manny took a deep breath. "And first place goes to hmm, this is definitely a first since Ive been at Hogwarts. "And First place goes to the First-Years, for their First Shots Display!"
Carolina cheered and hugged Mandy. "We won! We won!" She could barely contain her excitement. It had been fairly tough, learning to develop the pictures so that they didnt stay still. She had gone through a goodly amount of photopaper and various shots that were of poor quality before getting the best ones for the wall. She turned to see Antigone happily squeezing Morag's hand, and a streak of jealousy went through her. She hadnt spoken to Antigone since shed gone storming out of the dorm a few weeks back. She was still upset that Antigone hadnt spoken to her first. Antigone seemed to get closer and closer to Morag since their detention. Still Carolina felt left out, as the other three were seated together and apart from her.
"So what do we get as a prize?" Joseph asked, saying out loud what all the First-Years were probably thinking.
"The satisfaction of knowing you bested all the other classes?" Manny teased. The First-Years collectively shot him a look that would melt steel. "I'm kidding! I'm kidding!" Manny recanted, holding up his hands. "Cant put anything past you guys, can I?" He reached into a bag by his foot and pulled out what appeared to be ten wrapped packages. "Some of these set some of us older kids back a bit, but we never recant on a promise. Each of the books you asked for as a prize, special order from Flourish and Blotts." He grinned as he handed each of them a package.
Carolina squealed with delight. Shed listed Maria and the Griffin of West End, as shed been looking at Padmas copy and wanted one of her own. However, when she opened it, it wasnt the book shed asked for; it was a copy of As The Gods Make It. She knew exactly who it was forAntigone had reluctantly returned the school's copy only when Madam Pince had said keeping the book out for well over a month and a half was pushing it.
She looked at Antigone, who had just turned up to look at her. They stared at each other tensely, then Carolina rose to her feet and made her way to Antigone. She didnt look at her as she thrust the book at her, whispering, "I believe that Ive gotten your book by mistake."
Antigone looked up at Carolina, and Carolina saw out of the corner of her eye that that she was fighting back tears. Carolina, however, was not going to back down until Antigone apologized first. She felt Antigone take the book and hand over her own. There was a moment of silence, then Carolina started to walk back over to where Mandy and Lisa sat.
"Carolina?" Antigones voice was little more than a whisper.
Carolina turned around, looking at Antigone. "Yes, Antigone?" she replied, refusing to use her nickname.
Antigone looked at her feet, where Shadow was batting around the wrapper of her book. "Nothing."
Nothing. You know, its really annoying when you dont tell me anything, Tig. Carolina turned back around and sat between Mandy and Lisa.
"What was that all about?" Mandy said, holding her copy of Draconea Dracae: A Beginning Study of Dragons. (Once Mandy had discovered the dragons she had always liked as a small child were realthough not as nice as she had dreamedshe had poured her free studies into learning all she could about dragons.)
"Nothing important." If she says its nothing, Ill treat it as such.
The next morning, as Carolina and Padma were heading out to catch the Hogwarts Express back to London, Carolina didn't say anything more than a passing "good-bye" to Morag and Antigone. Padma gave them both tight hugs and told them to take care before heading out to the carriages. Padma waited until they were alone in a compartment on the train before turning to Carolina. "Dont you think youve been a little cold to Antigone since that whole incident about her father? You do know that you're hurting their feelings."
"If she really cared about anybodys feelings, she wouldnt have made Morag tell me for her."
"She did the same to me, you know, and Im not acting all up in arms about it."
Carolina shrugged and opened the book. She had decided to read it on the train ride home. When she opened it, her eyes widened.
"What is it, Carolina?" Padma asked, looking over Carolinas shoulder.
Carolina held out a piece of neatly folded parchment, written in Antigones neatest script. Beside it was one of the pictures Carolina hadnt used on the wallof her and Antigone, hugging each other closely and waving. Antigone had one of her rare smiles on her faceAntigone almost never smiled widely for any reasonand Carolina was grinning broadly. The two waved at Carolina, and she stared at it before reading the letter.
I know that youre very upset that I had Morag tell you about my fathers not liking magic. I should have told you face to face, rather than having him speak for me. Its a very touchy subject with me and I dont like addressing it, but thats no excuse. I hope that you can forgive me. Im not upset that youre not speaking to me still, but I hope that your present makes up for it.
On that topic, I didnt get to give you your Christmas present today. I meant to, but I didnt have a moment with you, and what I had to give you is very personal. I had to do the best I could. Look in your suitcase as soon as you get home; Ill see you after the holidays. Hope to speak to you then.
Still your dearest friend, even if you are no longer mine,
Carolina looked down at the note, and guilt swarmed over her. Antigones not mad at me! and and she still got me something She reached into her tote and pulled out a small roll of parchment.
"What are you doing?" Padma said, with a tone that clearly said she knew exactly what Carolina was doing.
"Writing an apology note to Antigone. Shes right, Ive been beastly to her since that day."
Padma leaned back and munched on a Chocolate Frog. "I knew switching your orders would work."
Carolina looked up from her letter. "You what?"
"I knew that Antigone was too timid to speak to you when youd brushed her off so coolly, and I knew that you are as pig-headed as a Gryffindor when it comes to apologizing for anything. so Morag and I went to Manny yesterday and told him to switch your orders around without telling either of you. Then I had Antigone write a note of apology to you and slide it in the book right before you switched back."
Carolina gasped. "How deceptive!"
"It worked, yes?" Padma licked the chocolate neatly off her fingers. "Now finish your note so we can send it off soon as we get to London."
Carolina grinned, knowing Padma was right, and continued writing.
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