The Neo-Marauders and the Philosopher Stone

Chapter 3

Eight in the morning came much too quickly and the three siblings found themselves trying to stay awake and not fall asleep in their porridge. Harry's eyes were still closed as he mechanically slathered a piece of toast with strawberry jam and -peanut butter. Kestrel had finished her plate of eggs and bacon and had pillowed her head in her arms, giving up trying to stay awake and decided to get a few more minutes before their first class of the day. Neville seemed to be in agreement, as he was using Kestrel as a pillow as he ate an apple.

Ginny could only shake her head at her new friends. "I take it you three aren't morning people?"

"What was your first clue, Weasley?" Harry opened one green eye to glare at her, and had to close it again, disturbed by seeing how awake she was, a scowl spreading across his sleepy features. "How can you even be awake at this time of the day?"

"Easy, I have six brothers, all of whose rooms are above mine at home. When they run down them for breakfast it sounds like a herd of Hippogriffs." She shrugged her shoulders a bit as she cut up her pancakes. "Besides if you want any chance of getting food before Ron gets to the table, you need to be up early."

"Oi, I heard that, Ginny."

"You were supposed to hear that, dear brother."

Whatever Ron might have been about to say, was cut off by the arrival of their Head of House, Professor McGonagall, as she handed out their timetables for the year.

"Messer's Potter and Longbottom and Misses Black and Weasley, here are your schedules. It would suit you well to memorize them." Kestrel and Neville both just held their hands out for their paper, not even bothering to raise their heads. The Professor just shook her head and laid the papers on the table and moved onto the next group of students, none of them noticing the small smile that graced her usually stern features.

Ginny being the only one with her eyes open read out their timetable. "Looks like we have Herbology first thing, followed by History, then lunch then we have Transfiguration and DADA." Her three friends made noise of understanding but remained as they were. Ginny chuckled and set about eating another rasher of bacon, and continued to look over their schedule for the week.

Ginny's perusal of her schedule was interrupted by the arrival of hundreds of Owls. Two owls swooped down towards the four seated Gryffindors, and Ginny lifted her plate out of the way so they would have a place to land. One was a beautiful snowy white Owl with bright golden eyes.

This one landed in front of Harry and started to lightly peck at his hand to get his attention. "Oh, good morning Hedwig. You got post for me this morning?" He scratched the owl around the neck while untying the letter from her leg. "Here you go girl, have some bacon."

The second owl was larger than Hedwig, and had two tufts of feathers sticking up above its head, it was a mottled brown colour and like Hedwig, his eyes were gold. This owl landed in front of the sleeping pair; he cocked his head from side to side before pecking their hands, though not nearly as gentle as Hedwig had been.

"Oi, ow! Stupid ruddy owl."

"Barnabas, that hurt!" The owl just squawked indignantly and held out his leg impatiently, waiting for one of them to take the two letters he carried.

Neville took the letters while Kestrel nursed her sore hand, "Why can't you be a nice Owl, like Hedwig?" As soon as the letters were free Barnabas hooted loudly and smacked Kestrel with his wing as he took off towards the rafters and out of the building. "Stupid bloody owl."

Neville patter her shoulder and handed her her letter from her father. "Thanks Nev." Silence reigned in the hall as children read their letters from home. Most were probably well wishes on getting into whichever house and reminding children to write home.

Kestrel opened her letter carefully, and as expected immediately regretted it. There was a flash and a crack and a cloud of smoke obstructed Kestrel from view. Before Harry or Neville realized what had happened they had opened their own letters and were given the same treatment. When the smoke was cleared all three were covered in red and gold glitter and had the word 'Congratulations!' in bright blue written on their foreheads.

The Great Hall filled with laughter as the three new Gryffindors spat glitter out of their mouths, and tried to salvage what they could of their breakfasts. There was a note sitting in between them and Ginny reached for it with her fork, poking at it to see if it too was booby trapped. After several pokes and jabs with nothing happening, Ginny felt safe enough to reach out and open the small folded piece of paper.

"Dear Pup, Cub, and Prongslet,

Congratulations on being sorted into the Noble house of Gryffindor. We are all very proud. Of course we would have been proud of you whichever house you were sorted into (Except for Slytherin!){Shut up Padfoot, Andy was in Slytherin remember? She turned out all right.}(Don't throw your logical arguments at me Prongs!) Both of you shut it. Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted…we're all proud of you and hope you have a good term. We'll see you at Christmas, and don't forget to write.

Neville, your dad sends his love and congratulations too; he got called into the office late last night and so was unable to contribute to this letter.

Take care,

MPP, and Frank.

PS: the glitter will vanish before your first class of the day."

Harry poured himself a new glass of pumpkin juice, giving up getting all the glitter out of his original cup as a bad job. "They realize that we're going to have to retaliate, right?"

"Hmm…yes, they'll be expecting it."

"True, we'll have to be sneaky. We'll discuss more at lunch."

"Agreed."

"I take it that this happens a lot?"

"At least once a week, sometimes even once a day during the summer hols. Having pranksters like our father's for parents, there was never a dull moment growing up."

"I can imagine. Fred and George used to have prank wars with the oldest brothers, Bill and Charlie, when they were still at home."

The bell sounded in the Great Hall, signalling that students should start heading to their first classes of the morning. Neville drained his cup and pushed away from the table, stretching as he went. "Well shall we head down to the greenhouses?"

"You would be excited that Herbology is first."

Neville just shrugged and grinned at his friends as they too stood up from the table. A few students were still snickering at them as the walked buy on their way to the main entrance.

Harry glanced up at the Head Table to see if any of the teachers were going to say anything. The only one he caught looking there way was their Head of House, and he could have sworn that for a moment, her slight frown of disapproval was actually an amused smile. He shook his head, rationalizing that he probably had some glitter in his eye and it was making him see things.

As they exited the main doors the glitter abruptly vanished, leaving them, as promised, in their clean school robes. They made there way without any further incident to the Greenhouses were they were joined by the Hufflepuff first years.

They were not left waiting outside long, as soon as the bell sounded again in the distance signalling that class was starting the door to Greenhouse 1 swung open, revealing a plump, older witch, with frizzy, flyaway black hair, shoved under a wide brimmed straw hat that had seen better days. On her hands were dirt covered gloves, matching the dirt that stained her sunny yellow robes.

"Right this way chaps, in you get. Two students to a table please."

Everyone filed in, with Hufflepuff down one side and Gryffindor down the other. Ginny walked over and paired up with Ron, not having seen much of him since she got on the train. Kestrel watched as Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil partnered up, leaving the last girl Gryffindor, at a workbench by herself. Kes waved to Harry and Neville, who were talking to their other dorm mates, Seamus and Dean, and went and joined Hermione.

"Hi, I'm Kestrel Black." She knew that she introduced herself last night, but decided to do so again anyway, to be polite.

"I'm Hermione Granger, nice to meet you."

"Attention, please everyone. Welcome to First Year Herbology. Today we will be looking at the Flitterblooms, a non-violent cousin of the Devil's Snare. We're going to be re-potting them as they have gotten to large for their current containers. You may talk amongst yourselves, but try and keep the noise level down. There are several plants in here that are sensitive to high concentrations of sound."

Kestrel struck up a conversation with Hermione, while they dug out their oversized Flitterbloom out of its current pot. The plants vines were clinging to the pot tightly as well as tugging at their hands, trying to make them let go. The vines were soft and felt similar to velvet. Between the two of them the managed to get it out of its pot and into the new, much larger one next to them on the floor.

Kestrel and Hermione shoved their hair out of their faces and glanced around the greenhouse to see how their classmates were fairing. Kestrel chocked on a laugh as Neville wrestled their rather cheeky plant into the new pot, and Harry tried to grab his glasses. Their Flitterblooms had taken them in an effort to delay its transplanting.

Harry made one last desperate leap and managed to snag his glasses back from the defeated plant. He grumbled as he cleaned the muck off his glasses and placed them back on his face. "I would get the plant that's also a bully."

"Yes well if you hadn't had poked it with your wand to 'see what it would do' that probably wouldn't have happened."

"Oh, come off it Longbottom. You know that pretty much every plant, magical or not, has it out for me." Neville opened his mouth to argue, but Harry cut him off, "Do you remember last summer, for your birthday we went to those Botanical Gardens in London? Do I have to remind you of the 'Rose Debacle'?"

"…Right. Never mind."

"Are you're friends always so…immature?" Hermione turned a questioning look on Kestrel as she returned with another plant for them to transplant."

"It's not so much immaturity as it is an ability to find something funny in any situation. And in Harry's defence plants really do have it out for him. He avoids the gardens at home like we have Dementors in the bushes."

"I see…what in the world are Dementors?"

Kestrel spent the rest of the class, as they transplanted two more Flitterblooms, answering Hermione's questions about the Wizarding World.

"There's so much to learn about being a witch. How am I ever going to manage to learn it all?"

"That's the beauty of Magic, Hermione. You never are going to learn it all; even if you lived for ever you would still discover something new about magic everyday."

"Wow…that's…thank you Kestrel, that actually took a very large weight off my mind." The bushy hair girl said with a genuine smile on her face. "I thought that being a Muggle-born, I'd be at a huge disadvantage. And I am, I do realize that, but having someone who has grown up in the Wizarding world, tell me that there is no possible way I could ever learn everything about magic, has really helped."

"You're welcome, Hermione. Look I'm going to go and catch up with Harry and Nev. How about every time you have a question that you can't find an answer to, you ask me, and if I can't answer it, then I'll write to my Dad and Uncle's and ask them for the both of us? Deal?"

"Deal!"

"Great, see you in History." With a final wave and a smile Kestrel jogged to catch up with her friends, Ginny joining her along the way.

"You're a mess, Potter."

"Shut it, Weasley."

"Oh, hold still a second, would you." She double stepped quickly to get in front of Harry, pulling out her wand as she went. She pointed it at him, making a sharp jabbing motion, "Scourgify!"

With nary a pop all the dirt and grime on Harry's robes and glasses vanished as if it had never existed. "Brilliant, thanks Ginny. Why didn't I think of that?"

"I don't really think you want an answer to that Harry." Harry glared at Kestrel as she walked passed him into the castle, headed for the passage that would lead to the staircases. They took a few wrong turns but managed to make it to the History classroom before the bell rang.

If they were expecting an interesting account of the Magical History of Britain, there were sorely disappointed. The spent the hour long class, listening to a monotone ghost drone on and on about Goblin wars. Which by its self should have been interesting, but Harry was sure Professor Binns could suck the life out of all the Dementors in Azkaban, with how much enthusiasm he showed about his subject.

DADA was at least more interesting than History, but much less entertaining than Herbology had been. Professor Quirrel had a very pronounced stutter that made it very hard to understand a word the man was saying. Everyone made sure to take careful notes and most vowed to make sure to read the appropriate chapters in their texts before every exam, because they were definitely not going to learn much from Professor Quirrel.

In fact the only exciting thing to happen in DADA was near the beginning after Quirrel had taken roll and turned his back on his students. Harry clapped a hand to his forehead and hissed in pain.

"Harry!"

"You okay mate?"

Neville, Ginny, and Kestrel were all looking at him in concern. Harry just waved them off. "Later, it's nothing, my scar just hurt for a second."

"Your scar?"

"It's never done that before has it?"

"No never. I'll write to Dad about it tonight. Let's just take notes and pray that this class goes fast."

The bell hadn't even finished signalling that class was over and it was now time for lunch, and Harry and his three friends were rushing from the class room, eager to get away and talk, and get something to eat.

They claimed the very end of the Gryffindor table and immediately started loading up their plates with sandwiches, fruits, and some bread. Once the noise level was sufficient enough to drown out their conversation, Neville turned and fixed Harry with an overly concerned look, "Okay, so what exactly happened with your scar?"

"Right. It was after Quirrel took roll, I was still looking in his direction as he turned around, and so instead of looking at his face, I was looking at his turban. As soon as his back was completely to me my scar burned. It…it felt like someone placed a hot coal on it for a second, but from the inside and only focused on my scar." He traced a finger down the lightning bolt scar, an annoyed look on his face.

"And this has never happened before, your scar hurting?" Ginny asked, intentionally clanging her fork loudly against the golden plate as two Ravenclaw third years walked behind them on the way to their table.

"No, not ever…Actually, no, that's not true. It happened at the Welcome Feast too, though I just passed it off as a bit of a headache at the time." He glared at Kestrel and Neville who were giving him exasperated looks. "Don't look at me like that, you two. It only lasted for a moment. I didn't notice whether or not Quirrell was looking in my direction or not though."

"That's very strange."

"That's not the only strange thing that's happened so far here. The Sorting, remember."

Kestrel nodded and swallowed the bite of her ham and cheese sandwich. "I'd almost forgotten about that. When I was being sorted it was like someone had cut the Hat off while it was deciding where to put me."

Neville and Harry both nodded in agreement.

"I think it may have been the Castle itself."

"Why do you say that, Kestrel?"

"After it had been interrupted trying to Sort me, it was silent for a few moments then said, 'Fine you interfering pile of boulders! Well Black, looks like you're headed to Gryffindor.'"

"Why would Hogwarts interfere with our Sorting?"

"I dunno? Let's hit the library after transfiguration this afternoon and look up to see if it's done something like this before. I'll write Dad about too when I write and tell him about my scar."

With that out of the way they started in more earnestly on their lunches. They were soon joined by the other first years. Seamus and Dean had gotten lost on their way down from the dorms, and were regaling the others with their misadventure with a large red eyed tabby cat.

"Oh that'd be the Caretaker's cat, Mrs. Norris." Fred Weasley said as he walked by with his twin. "You'll want to be careful around her; she's a nasty piece of work, just like Mr. Filch. They're always on the prowl for students up to no good."

Harry grinned up at the two older students sensing an opportunity to implement Ginny's idea. "You sound like you have some experience in that field. I'm Harry Potter by the way; these are my brother and sister, Neville Longbottom and Kestrel Black."

"Nice to meet you." They said in unison as they took a seat on either side of Kestrel and Neville. "And we do." Started George.

"You are looking."

"At the current Hogwarts"

"Resident Pranksters"

"In Chief!" Again finishing the sentence in unison. Ginny, who was used to their habit of finishing each others sentences, amused herself with watching Harry, Neville, and Kestrel's heads moving back and forth as each of her older brother's spoke, like they were watching a tennis match.

Kestrel put her chin in her hand and gazed up at the taller Gryffindors, with what looked like admiration. "Really, that's so cool. But you say current, implying that there were other Pranksters before you? Like who?"

"There have been numerous pranksters and practical jokers throughout Hogwarts' illustrious history."

"Right you are George. But never has there been a more inventive, a more genius, more brilliant group of Pranksters, than the Marauders!"

"Truer words have never been spoken Fred, truer words."

"Oh them, they're no big deal." Harry waved his hand in dismissal as he poured himself some tea.

"Yeah, the Marauders are old news. I thought you were talking about somebody cool, not those trickster wannabes." Neville sighed in disappointment and turned back to his lunch taking a bite of his sandwich.

"No big deal?"

"Trickster wannabes?"

"You take that back."

"What makes you two experts, anyway?"

"If you can't take the truth boys, don't ask the hard questions." Kestrel warned them, shaking a chunk of French bread at them.

"You make it sound like you know them." Ginny had by this point busied herself making another sandwich and had her back turned so her brothers wouldn't see her laughing.

Taking a page out of the elder twins' book, the three answered together. "We do."

"What!"

"How?"

"Who?"

"Explain!"

"Well we've known them since we were very young you see. They're friends of our father's; they were all in the same year as one another here at Hogwarts." Harry explained patiently, turning his attention to some of the desserts that appeared on the table.

"So you know their names then?" Fred asked shrewdly, eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion. They way he phrased the question made the answer seem simple enough, but the three knew that it was a test to see if they were indeed telling the truth.

"Of course we do."

"Well then, what are they?"

They sighed and once more replied in unison. "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs."

Fred and George could only stare at the three first years in stunned silence. The only other person they had told the names of their idols to had been their best friend, Lee Jordan, and Ginny, and Ginny hadn't known them long enough for the Marauders to have come up in conversation.

"You know who they actually are?"

"You've met them?"

"Course, they're friends with our parents."

"Can you introduce us?" Harry was pretty sure that if there had been room for those two to kneel at the table the twins would have been doing so.

"I don't know, they don't really like to be bothered, right Nev?"

"True, they're, how did they put it? 'Respectable members of society now, and should try and put all the Pranking nonsense behind them."

Kestrel managed to bite back a laugh, but accidently inhaled some of her juice and ended up choking. Neville patted her on the back until she could breathe normally again.

"Give up Pranking?"

"The Marauders?"

"Never!"

"We refuse to sit here and listen to your slanderous campaign."

"Indeed we do Fred. I say good day to you!"

With that both twins stood up and walked over to where Lee Jordan, and some Third Year girls were sitting, leaving the four First Years to themselves. Harry shrugged and motioned with his head that they should leave the Great Hall, his mouth twitching ominously. They still needed to swing by Gryffindor Tower and collect their text books for Transfiguration. Neville and Kestrel picked up their sandwiches, both obviously fighting not to laugh, and Ginny stuffed a bright red apple into the pocket of her robe and followed her friends out of the Hall.

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