"Good morning, children. My name is Professor Longbottom, and I am here to get you ready to start Hogwarts proper this autumn." Maggie liked the tall man with the gentle face and the sad eyes, and even how his words were all furry and warm. She was sorry that he had to carry a cane and limp, but he smiled so maybe he wasn't sorry himself.
Next to her, Dickon stared at Professor Longbottom. "You a wizard like the one brought me here from London?"
"I am a wizard, yes. Like you..." He consulted the chart in front of him. "Richard, is it? The only difference is a bit of training and I'll give you that. And, yes, like Mr. Douglas, who brought you in to us."
Maggie smiled, thinking of Miss Amelia, who'd come right after Whitsunday to her family's farm, popping out of a clear blue sky. She'd come in a dress that Ma herself would have been proud to wear, and helped with dinner, not even using her wand, but she could read and do magic and she explained that Maggie was a witch, too, and that it wasn't a bad thing at all. And Ma and Da had believed her and let her go to this school to learn to read and write so she could become as fine a lady as Miss Amelia.
There were five of them - Dickon from London and Maggie and Daisy who was from the west and strange Freddy who didn't say much but his eyes were big and scared, and Davy from Wales. They'd been given dark blue robes and funny pointed hats, and oh, so much food for breakfast already. Dickon had stared and stared at so much and piled almost more than his plate could hold, and Freddy had to be coaxed to eating any of it, and put some in his pocket. And it had just appeared on the table. Dickon was afraid it would be fairy food and melt away, but there was a grease stain from the bacon on Freddy's pocket, so Maggie thought it would stay.
She returned to Professor Longbottom, who had tapped the black wall behind him and white letters appeared. Maggie knew they were letters but didn't know what they meant. He pointed to a row of letters and numbers. "This is the date. The 24th of May, eighteen hundred and twelve.. All of you were born around the year eighteeen hundred and one, so you would be eleven years of age now." The children all looked at each other. Professor Longbottom smiled. "We will start with the alphabet. How many know their letters?" None of them raised their hands. "That's fine. That's why we're here. Take out your slates and chalk, children, and copy the letters as they appear, and say them with me. A..." A large letter appeared on the board. Maggie did as she was told.