Maggie liked being home, mostly. She'd missed her parents and the other children, and the farm, and it was nice to go to her own church with the familiar rector and the prayers she was used to. The church at Hogsmeade was Scotttish and she missed the prayers for the bishops and all the pretty decorations.
It was different, though. She wasn't allowed to use her wand, even for the magic she'd been taught in the week or so since getting it, and her parents kept staring at her like she was something else.
"Is it that I can read now?" She looked up from her new schoolbook, the one on Charms. "Is that why you're so odd?"
"We're that proud of you that you learned so quickly, our Maggie, though you shouldn't be getting a big head about it. It's the rest of it."
"You're talking all gentry now, Maggie." Her next brother, who was fixing a leather strap by the firelight, kept his eyes down.
"No, I'm not!" She paused. "And what if I am?"
"You're not gentry. Your father is a freeholder, but nothing more. And that's enough for me, too." Papa didn't look at her, either. "You shouldn't be getting above yourself."
She stared at them. They didn't understand, any of them. Miss Amelia said that it didn't matter if a wizard's parents were farmers or lords; that even the daughter of Muggles could go as far as any other witch if she tried hard enough. And that a witch could go as far as any wizard. And she knew that. The Minster for Magic was a witch and Hogwarts had a Headmistress, whom she'd met before going home for these two weeks before term. Professor Stewart looked hard, but there was something in her eyes that Maggie liked. And maybe she could be headmistress someday.
"I'm not getting above myself. I'm a witch, aren't I? There are things I need to know."
"She's right, Da." Ma looked funny. "She needs to be knowing these things. She's not ours anymore."
"That's the truth, isn't it?" Da looked funny, too.
And Maggie was glad she'd be going back to Hogwarts in a couple of days.
They came to pick her up in a coach with winged horses. There were three other students there. Daisy was one of them, and after she kissed Maggie, she introduced her to the two boys. One, John Milkwood, was from the midlands and very spoiled looking, but also very frightened, and the other was a merchant's son from London named James Michaels, and he was also scared.
"This fellow came to our store and he had this letter with him. And when Dad read it, he was shocked. Our family aren't Puritans now, but his grandpa was and magic was wrong. But this fellow, he convinced him. And now I'm to be a wizard and I even have a wand."
"Did you go to Diagon Alley with that man?" Daisy took her own out – willow with a unicorn hair. "Maybe we saw you when we were there with our teachers."
"And why did you get to go early?" John had an ugly pout.
The two girls looked at each other. "I had to…catch up. My da's a farmer." Maggie blushed.
"And they let you go to the finest wizarding school in England? I'm surprised girls go at all. The best schools are all boys. My older brother goes to Eton and there are no girls there." And John turned back to the window.
They had to change flying horses twice before they got to Hogsmeade, and then they met the other first years. Some had come by other coaches, and some had been apparated or floo'd to Hogsmeade and walked over. They were loaded onto little boats and taken to the great castle.
Maggie could hardly breathe. Even after being there all summer, this was the real beginning. This was where she belonged. This was where she'd learn to be a witch.