Birds of a Feather
Book One: First Flight
Authors note: This chapter is mostly focused on Antigone and Morag. Why? Cause it is, thats why. Nah, really, we know that Carolina and Padma are having a wonderful time at home, so I want to focus on these two. I'll pay it back with a chaper on Carolina and Padma later.
Great gods, this was a hard chapter to write! I know its been months and months, but my classes were throttling me. Stupid classes/summer/etc. Well, thank goodness its out, anyways.
Thanks Haggridd and Madhuri for Beta reading.
A Winter Break Worth Mentioning
Morag woke up Christmas morning to complete silence. He found this odd, because Terry Boot was known to snore in his sleep. Rubbing his eyes, he remembered that he was the only first-year Ravenclaw boy who had remained at Hogwarts. He looked at the pile of presents at the foot of his bed-- when he had said that he was staying in the dorm for the holidays, his mother had promised to owl him all his presents. He wondered how many owls it had taken-- the pile was a bit on the large side-- when there was a knock on the door. He sleepily pulled on his robe and opened it to see Antigone in her dressing gown and slippers, with a gaily-wrapped box in her hands.
"Happy Christmas, Morag," she said, grinning and handing him the box.
"Happy Christmas, Antigone." Morag replied.
"Do you mind if I come in? Im the only other First-Year who stayed behind, and I dont think the few prefects that are here are even awake. We could open our presents together."
Morag thought about it a moment, then nodded. "I dont see why not. Where?"
"Why not in one of our dorms? Were the only First-Years still here."
"Wont we get in trouble, Tig?"
Antigone shrugged, looking at her feet. "Well, true but so long as either of the two prefects that stayed behind doesnt see us in the same dorm, what harm would it do? It's not as though they go peeking in the dorms anyway, at least not this early. I saw both of them go to bed rather late."
Morag gave Antigone a friendly push. "Act like this again and Ill start teasing you about belonging in Gryffindor or something. So my dorm or the common room? I can't go in yours."
"Oh, yes, that silly charm on the girl's dorms that keeps the boys out. Your dorm, then, you're the only one there."
Morag nodded. Antigone went to her room and picked up her packagesmost of them were small and neat. Shadow followed the two back to Morag's dorm and got inside just before the door closed on his tail.
"Shall we open them all at once or go back and forth?" asked Antigone as she sat on the bed with Morag.
"Back and forth," Morag said, picking one from his mother. "Ladies first."
Antigone blushed slightly and opened one from her aunt. There was a neat little card on the outside, wishing Antigone the best, and when she opened it a warm blue sweater with silvery-white trim was enclosed. She sighed and hugged it to her, rubbing her cheek against a sleeve. "Mummy must have told her my house colors! My aunt always makes me the nicest sweaters for the winter, and just the right size. Oh, and its of the softest yarn too."
Morag nodded his appreciation, and opened the one from his mother. It was her standard gift to him since he had gotten older: five Galleons and a brand new book. When he opened it, the pictures didnt move. He was almost tempted to shake it and make the people move when he looked at the spine. "Oh, Treasure Island. Its a Muggle book. Silly me, Im so used to the pictures moving that I thought it wasnt reacting right."
Antigone stuck her tongue out at Morag and opened a box from Padma. "Oh, wonderful! She gave me five Chocolate Frogs. Open yours from her, I bet its the same thing." It was, in fact, and they munched on the Chocolate Frogs as they continued opening packages.
Lawrence Hilbourgh had given each of them a gift package of candies from Honeydukes, including Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans and Drooble's Best-Blowing Gum. Morag was pleased with his gifts: a book on Quidditch was from Carolina Kipley (who had noticed his adoration of the game) along with a large stack of cookies she had baked while at home. Instead of a book, Antigone had received a very large plush bear with a big bow charmed to change color gradually, along with an apology for how she'd been acting before she had left (which Antigone read to herself in private). From Cho Chang there was a small bundle of Color-Shifting Sticks, a type of peppermint stick that changed colors each time you licked it.
Morag was setting the gifts from Miriam and Aunt Opaline to the side (Miriam had given him two Galleons; Aunt Opaline had given him a box of double-chocolate fudge) when he saw Antigone pick up the last gift she had, a tiny box. He had politely refrained from mentioning the small size of her stack of presents. She hadn't gotten anything from the rest of her family, while he had gotten small things from his mothers sisters and brother. Only her mother had given her a gift, a witch doll with long dark hair dressed in a pretty blue velvet cloak and matching robes, with a note attached that said Esmerelda had picked it out for her at Diagon Alley and so it was a gift from the two of them. There was also a cat toy for Shadow, a ball of Self-Winding Yarn that rolled itself back up as Shadow batted it around with a little bit of catnip in the center. "Wheres that one from, Tig?"
Antigone picked up the note attached to the slim box. "Well, thats strange. It only says, To Antigone Moon, from someone who cares about you. Take care of it. " Inside was a long silver chain, and dangling from it was a blue-black circle with small twinkles of light behind it and a tiny silvery-white crescent moon on one side. She gasped as she looked at it, holding it so that it twirled in the light. "Great Merlin! Its gorgeous!"
"Looks to have cost a goodly amount of Galleons," Morag said. "Pure silver?"
"Most likely." Antigone held it in her hands. "Feels like it. Oh, and it's warm!"
"Wait a minute. Were at crescent moon now, right?"
"Yesthats what I remember from astronomy class." Antigone looked at her pendant. "Sos the pendant."
"I think thats a Luni Pendant. I read about them in Magical Jewelry Monthly."
"Why were you reading that?"
Morag sighed heavily. "Having a girls name gets you some of the oddest junk mail. Anyways, those are very expensive. I think it said about forty-four Galleons."
"How much would that be in pounds?"
"About two hundred and twenty pounds. And thats not counting the chain."
"Two hundred and twenty pounds! Who would have that kind of money in my family?"
"I don't know, Tig. It looks a little old, actually, like an heirloom."
"But Mummy doesnt have any types of heirlooms like this I knew about."
"Well, well figure that out later. You were told to take care of it, right? Well, do that until we find the giver."
Antigone nodded. "I should put it on." She hooked it neatly around her neck.
Morag grinned as she held it up again. "It looks good on you."
"Thanks. Open your last one." She pointed to Morags last gift; he had opened two at once at some point so that they would end at the same time. It was a neat little parchment envelope, and once he saw the "Miss Morag MacDougal" he knew exactly who it was from.
"My uncle wrote back!" he said, opening the note.
"He still addresses them 'Miss Morag'? Haven't you told him you're a wizard?"
"I havent thought about it, honestly. Ill read it aloud." Antigone scooted near him to read along.
I am sorry I have not replied since November. I was very glad to hear you are doing well in class and are a Ravenclaw as well. You seem like a very bright witch (at this Morag inwardly groaned) and are probably doing well at Hogwarts.
The reason I did not reply is because I wanted to make sure this was perfect before I owled you back. My plans were hampered somewhat, but I have finalized them and they can be carried out now. You are on winter holiday, yes? This means that, unless you are at Hogwarts, you should be able to get to Hogsmeade for at least a day, especially if you can ask Miriam or Opaline.
I want to see you with my own eyes. I will be at The Three Broomsticks on the 27th of December from nine a.m. until two p.m. Just look for a tall man with red hair in a hooded black cloak at one of the corner tables. There are things about which I would rather speak to my niece in person.
Morag reread the letter, hovering over the part about the Three Broomsticks. "Thats two days from now."
"I know. But were both here at Hogwarts and while its not that much of a journey to HogsmeadeLawrence said it was an hour's walkits not going to be easy to get there from here. Well have to turn him down."
"Do you think Im going to let you go meet some stranger you dont know by yourself? Even if it is your uncle. Either way, you have to turn it down."
Morag sighed heavily. "Yes, I wiwait. Theres a post script. P.S. If you are at Hogwarts, then youll have to be a little more sneaky. Take the secret tunnel to Hogsmeade. Go rub the gold-trimmed mirror on the fourth floor along the left side with your wand, and itll open up to a secret passage. Its a long walk, but youll come out right behind the Three Broomsticks in the wooded area. Its safe. "
Antigone sighed. "Well, were going then?"
"Of course we are! Ill owl him back tonight."
"Morag, we could get in trouble! Its probably perilous!"
"What are our school days if not a time to get into a little bit of peril? Only this once, Tig."
Antigone sighed, twirling her necklace. "Well, then tell him youre bringing a friend."
"I will." Morag pulled out a sheet of parchment and scribbled a note on it. "Lets get your stuff back into your dorm, then get dressed for the feast. Its casual wear and Im putting on Muggle clothes."
Antigone enjoyed the Christmas feast immensely. She was wearing her aunt's Christmas present as well as a comfortable pair of slacks. Rather than draw the attention of the other students who had stayed behind to her unusual gift, she dropped her pendant underneath her sweater.
It was a grand feast. There were all types of foods on which to gorge themselves, and wizard crackers (which were nothing like Muggle crackers). When Antigone popped one, it went off with a loud startling bang and a puff of green-gold smoke. Small gifts fell into her hands as a small bird fluttered out. The other Ravenclaws that were their friends had gone home, and since they didn't have to sit at their House tables, they sat together at an end by themselves and ate happily. Antigone cleaned her plate several times. She thought she noticed a slight vibration from her necklace, but she shrugged it off as a side effect of the magic that was happening around them.
All four of the Weasleys were there, in lumpy knitted sweaters. She noticed that Harry was wearing a neat green one. Even the teachers were enjoying the revelryProfessor Dumbledore was wearing a flowered bonnet instead of his wizards hat, and Professor McGonagall had an odd looking top hat on her head. After dinner there were delicious flaming puddings, and Antigone noticed the oldest of the Weasleys startle as he bit down on what was discovered to be a Sickle. Snape looked as stern as ever, even with the holly pinned to the outside of his black bat-like robes, but he did crack a smile when a Sixth-Year Slytherin girl leaped out of her seat after a white mouse fell into her lap.
Later, Antigone and Morag walked back with arms loaded with gifts from the crackers. Antigone was most proud of the various decks of cards she had collected, including Exploding Snap cards, and Morag seemed very pleased with the Wizard Chess set hed gottenhe really liked chess and hadnt played much since hed left home as the common sets in Ravenclaw Corners were taken by the older students most of the time. After dropping everything off, they grabbed their cloaks and Shadow and headed out the front door. Over near the lake, there were bobbing red heads and one black one engaged in a snowball fight, and some of the Hufflepuffs were over near the trees, engaged in building snowmen. They walked around the lake, talking casually about class and subjects, until it was too cold to continue.
They returned to the common room and curled up in front of the fire, and Morag taught her how to play chess. It was a little harder than she expected, especially when the pieces kept talking to her and chastising her for bad moves. Morag won the first three games, but Antigone won the fourth.
After a late dinner where Antigone filled herself with turkey sandwiches and crumpets, she was so sleepy and tired that Morag had to guide her up to Ravenclaw corners, where she changed into her pajamas and climbed into bed. Shadow, who had also had his fill of turkey Antigone had brought back for him, curled up on her feet and fell asleep right before Antigone did.
The next day, curled up in the chairs around the fire, Antigone and Morag read away half the day and played chess in the evening. Antigone was catching on fast; she won half the games that evening. As she went to bed, Morag tapped her on the shoulder.
"Hmm?" she said softly, a book tucked under her arm.
"Tomorrow. Were heading out at eleven a.m. to Hogsmeade." He held up a parchment. "Uncle Alex got my owl. Hell be there."
Antigone swallowed; she had completely forgotten. That ruined her sleep for the night; she spent most of it tossing and turning, worried about them being caught and possibly expelled for sneaking off the grounds. She definitely did not want to get caught. Holding her necklace tight and desperately wishing that they wouldn't be caught, she finally fell asleep late in the night.
It felt as if she had just fallen asleep when there was a knock on the dorm door. She gulped and got dressed quicklyMorag had told her to put on school robes since they would not stand out as much as Muggle clothes. Grabbing their school bags to make it look as if they were headed for the library (no one would question two Ravenclaws headed for the library) and leaving Shadow in her dorm, the two quietly made their way towards the fourth floor. It would have been easier if one of the staircases hadnt shifted on them halfway up. As they made it to the fourth floor, they started to look for a mirror. It took fifteen minutes of searching until they came to a gilt-framed full-length oval mirror.
Morag was about to pull out his wand and touch the mirror when Antigone noticed a very distinct vibration from her Luni Pendant. Something was very wrong. "Morag, stop!" she hissed, grabbing Morags wrist and pushing his wand away from the mirrors edge.
"Whatd you go and do that for?" he hissed, trying to move her away.
"Whered you get a silly notion like that?"
"It just is! Somesomeones coming!"
"No ones com " Morags words died as his eyes widened. Professor Snape had just turned the corner. Morag stuffed his wand up his sleeve just as Professor Snape stopped in front of them.
Professor Snape glared down at them as he stopped his stride. "Why, may I ask, are two Ravenclaws this far from their common room this early in the morning? One would think you would be asleep or otherwise frittering away your free time while its there."
Antigone looked at Morag. He looked nervous, but still determined, and she knew that his mouthing off at Snape would be dangerous. She swallowed, then stepped in front and spoke without thinking. "Please, Professor Snape Sir, were only headed to the library to do some of our homework over the break. I was planning to look up more on asphodel for the report due in your classthe last thing I want is a poor grade in your class, Professor Snape."
Morag looked at Antigone like shed just told the biggest lie everand for her, it was. She fought the urge to swallow, knowing that would give her away. There was a painful silence, then Snape sneered and Antigones stomach sank. I knew it Im a horrible liar. Were going to get detention.
"Make your way there quickly then. Bookworms as you are, Miss Moon and Mr. MacDougal, we mustn't keep you from your research." He walked past them, and Antigone let out a silent sigh. She felt a soft buzz from her pendant, and she reached up to grab it.
"Miss Moon, what is that around your neck?" Snapes voice cut through the air like a knife.
Antigone froze. Oh no! Its outside my robes! "Aa Christmas gift, P-p-p-professor Snape."
"Looks to be a Luni Pendant. Common, but quite expensive. May I see it?"
Antigone nodded and looked at her feet as she took it off. Snape held it in his hands. Letting it dangle, he spoke again. "A member of your family gave this to you?"
"Yes sir, Professor S-s-s-snape. Its a heirloom." I hope he doesnt remember that Im Muggle-born let him think Im a half and half
"Looks like one." He continued to look at it. "Ive seen one once before. A little extravagant for a First-Year, dont you think?"
He cant take it! He just cant! "I cant say, sir. Ive never seen one before today. Except in catalogues," she quickly recovered.
He nodded. "Take care of it, Miss Moon. It may be of some use to you." For a moment, he sounded pensive, almost pained. Then, with a firm hand, he shoved it back into her hand. "Off to the library now, the two of you. Hurry." His hand was quite cold, and Antigone detected a faint shaking, like a tremble. She didnt comment on it.
"Yes, sir," Morag finally spoke as Professor Snape walked off. As he walked off, Morag and Antigone waited for him to turn the corner, and the harsh vibration that Antigone had felt was now imperceptible.
Morag wasted no time touching his wand to the mirror and watched it swing out. Grabbing the handle on the other side, he pulled Antigone through and shut it behind them, plunging them into darkness. "Oh, whats that bloody spell in the text? Lumos!" The room lit up to show that they were on a landing at the top of a long flight of dusty stairs. Antigone cast the same spell with her wand, doubling the light, and Morag looked at her in shock.
"You lied to Professor Snape," he whispered.
"Yes, I know that," Antigone replied, gulping. "I was nervous the whole time."
"And he believed you!"
Tig nodded. "You told me that its okay to lie; this was a good time to do so."
Morag grinned brightly. "Good Tig," he said, ruffling her hair gently. "I dont know how you knew he was coming. Must have been luck."
"Yah," Antigone said, touching her pendant. "Luck." Luni Pendant Luck.
The stairs led them down for a long length, during which Morag stayed silent. Antigone followed, her wand light bobbing behind her. Finally, they got to the bottom, where a long tunnel stretched off from the tiny cavern at the foot of the stairs. "Looks like a long walk," Morag said, looking down into the darkness. Antigone nodded in agreement. "Well, nothing to do but start walking."
It was a long walk over tree roots in total darkness except for the glow of their wands. They didn't talk; just walking was effort enough. After about an hour and half, they reached a set of stone stairs that led upwards, covered in slime from the ages. Well have to be careful. "Take my hand, Tig. That way you wont fall."
Antigone held her bag tightly, nodded and took his hand. It was as far up the stairs as it had been down the previous ones. Luckily, neither one of them slipped, and they soon made it to a small door with a tiny handle. Morag pushed the handle slightly and it swung open to show a wooded area behind a small building. Morag carefully stepped out of the opening to see they were inside a tree. Antigone followed. After pushing the door shut and noting there was a knot on one side that looked like a button, he looked towards the small building. "Well, lets go in."
Antigone gulped. "Well, we did come all this way." They walked around to the front of the building and looked up to see the sign in front of the inn, labeling it clearly. Inside it was very warm and a bit smoky, and not very crowdedMorag guessed that it was more crowded during a Hogsmeade weekend. A pretty woman was at the bar, serving a small drink to a witch at the counter. Inspecting the persons at the tables, he finally saw a figure in a black cloak nursing a drink in one of the shadowed corners. The firelight reflected off his very red hair.
"That must be him," Morag whispered. He could feel nervous butterflies in his stomach, and Antigone was very quiet. Well, its now or never. They shuffled over to the table and Morag tapped the table gently. The man lifted his head, a little surprised at having been interrupted. "Mr. Alexander MacDougal?" Morag said softly.
The wizard nodded and motioned them to sit. He had longer hair than Morag had expected, tied back in a rough ponytail, and small glasses. After the two had sat down he smiled at Antigone. It was a small smile, but warm. "And you must be Morag." He looked a little confused. "Though I must admit, you don't look much look like your father. I thought you would have taken more after him, but no matter." He touched her hand paternally, and Morag could see her tense as Alexanders eyes lit up. "But its such a delight to finally meet you."
Antigone looked at Morag as if to say, Correct him! Morag sighed and patted his uncle on the hand. "Uncle Alexander (he felt a bit strange thinking of him like this), she isn't Morag, I am. Shes my friend Antigone Moon."
Alexander MacDougal blinked at Morag. There was considerable shock on his face. "You? But youre a wizard!"
Morag sighed. "Well, my father named me before I was born, and even though my mother begged him to change my name, he said he couldnt."
"Mavericka " Alexander looked into his drink, then looked at Morag. "Those eyestheres no doubting that. You do look a lot like my brothers wife Mavericka, but those are Geoffreys eyes staring back at mine. You must be Morag. But Geoff never told me you were a boy after you were born. I never got to see yousoon after that the group of you all went into hiding and I never saw Geoff until right before his death." Morag flinched at the mention of his fathers dying. "But yes. You are Morag. Why didnt you tell me that you were a wizard when I wrote you?"
"I didnt think about it."
"Well, a mistake is a mistake." He waved over the barmaid, who strutted over to the table. "Rosmerta, could you get me two pints of butterbeer for my neiI mean, nephew and his friend? And another rum for me."
Rosmerta raised an eye at the school robes but said nothing. "Sure, Mr. MacDougal." She walked off, and Alex looked at Morag. "Are Mavericka and Opaline here too?"
"No. We stayed at Hogwarts for the break and so had to take that path you told us. How do you know of it, anyway?"
Alex waved his hand. "There are lots of ways out of Hogwarts if only you know where to look. I took one quite frequently during my time there. And I know I wasnt the only one to use it."
"What House were you in, Mr. MacDougal?" Antigone asked innocently.
"Same as every member in my familyOpaline and Geoff too. Slytherin."
"Slytherin!" Antigone nearly shrieked, and Morags fists clenched at the mention. "But thats the house You-Know-Who came from! Its a house of evil!"
"Calm down, young witch, its not what you think." Alexander paused as Rosmerta set their drinks on the table, and Morag started sipping on his tankard of butterbeer. It was even better than the bottles Lawrence had brought for Carolinas partyhot, sweet, and warm. "I went to Hogwarts before You-Know-Who ever came to power. When I was a student, Slytherin was as respectable as any other House at Hogwarts. Both of you should learn this now: not all dark witches and wizards are from Slytherin. Im a very respectable member of society myself, even with the stigma that comes with being a disowned MacDougal."
"Stigma?" Morag said. "A Slytherin of my year insulted me because Im not a Slytherin and you say you have a stigma?"
"A very heavy one." Alex sipped his rum. "Thus has my once proud House degenerated thanks to one who must not be named, and I have no way of redemption for my name as well."
"Once proud? What did you have to be proud of?" Morag said coldly. "You were a Slytherin!"
Alexander grinned, more to himself than anything. "Smart, cunning, slippery as eels. Able to understand both sides, able to see how others operate, able to know that sometimes the ends justifies the means, able to infiltrate without being caught. Morag, some of the best wizards, witches, and Aurors come from the House of the Serpent. But sadly, one bad apple can spoil everything. And the stubborn, proud MacDougals, never one for reason, did not help Slytherins look good in the eyes of others after the Dark Era. Between them and those damned Malfoys " He had a pained look on his face. "And when Geoff married Mavericka, they disowned him. Their firstborn son."
Morag looked at the table, then at his uncle. "Why?"
"Because your mother is a Muggle, dear Morag. Because, before Geoff, no MacDougal had ever married outside of the wizarding world. I have never married, but I loved Geoff as my older brother and would not turn my back on him or his wife for the sake of the family name. Opaline did not marry outside of the blood, but neither did she condemn her beloved older brother. Because Geoffrey tainted the blood of the MacDougal Clan, and because we would not turn our back on our brother, we were all disowned. That is not the only reason, but it is one of them. The MacDougal Clan will not even speak of us with respectthey gave Geoffs title of heir to the second oldest and my other older brother, Brett, and never looked upon us again."
Morag grasped his uncle's hand. "I'm sorry."
"Im not. I'm only sorry that they are too proud of their pure blood to recognize their firstborn's only son." He looked at Morag with pride. "And the Prophecy may still ring true."
"Prophecy? What kind?"
"That the true power of the MacDougal Clan would come through the firstborn of the lost scion, and restore them to their honor." He looked at Morag. "It was the firstborn daughter, though."
"So my father gave me a girls name because he wanted a daughter?"
"No. We all though that you were a girl when the Magi-sound was cast."
"Magical ultrasound. A mediwitch took care of your mother her whole pregnancyshe knew Geoff was a wizard soon after their dating. Generally Magi-sounds dont make mistakes, but this one must have. And the spell had been cast."
"What spell?" Antigone cut in. Morag could tell she was warming up to Uncle Alexander, she was not quite so shy.
"The Charm of Prebirth Naming, which bonds a child to the name the parents have selected. Geoff picked itits your great grandmothers name. Opaline, Geoff, and I cast it on you, and to rename you would have cursed you more than having a girls name has pained you. Opaline probably knew you were born a girl since she had contact with Maverickayou did see her often growing up, yes?"
"Yes, but I didnt know she was a witch until I got my letter."
"Opaline was always low key about her power. Yes, then she knew." Alex reached into his robes and pulled out a wristwatch. "Alas, Ill have to cut this short. It's almost two, and I need to head back home." He rose to his feet.
Morag startled, jumping to his feet. No! He hasnt told me enough about my father or my family! And moreover, why was he disowned? There are too many questions I need answered! "But I have more to ask you. Can't you stay longer?"
Alex shook his head sadly, heading towards the door. "I don't live that near, and it will take the better part of a day to get home. I wish I could stay and talk more, Morag."
"Cant you even stop by Aunt Opalines and see her?"
"I havent spoken to her since Geoffs death." He looked as if he'd been cursed. "I dont even know where she lives."
Morag ripped a piece of parchment off and scribbled his aunts address on it. "Here. Go see her. Tell her I sent you."
Alex looked at the parchment and smiled. "I just might. Im sorry I cant stay longer, Morag." Then, to Morags surprise, he embraced him in a tight hug, enveloping him. "You are a very smart wizard, Morag, MacDougal. And you do my brother proud in ways I can clearly see."
Morag felt his throat lock up at the thought of his father. "Thank you, Uncle Alexander."
Alexander released him. "I will see you again, Morag. You may count on it." He grinned as he opened the door out to the snow. "And when I write you, I'll be sure to put 'Mr. MacDougal' on the letter. Take care, my nephew, and know that you honor your father in all your actions." With a sweep of his cloak, he went into the snow.
Morag couldnt have felt any warmer if hed downed another three tankards of butterbeer.
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