A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, Tabby starts school.
Tabitha was only really alone at night during those first two months. The entire staff had been notified of the strange circumstances, and a number of teachers had cut their vacations short to come back. Ten of the twelve students who were staying there that summer also rallied around. The elves happily kept her under close scrutiny, as did most of the ground keepers, who were quickly used to seeing the thin red-head wandering the grounds throughout the day and evenings before her curfew.
Tabitha also quickly found her way along a trail and over a low rise that took her deeper into the woods. That was where the Eagle Camp was located. While the Ysgol students were always allowed to go to the camp, and many friendships were made by those Eagles that attended classes at the Ysgol, relatively few from the Ysgol made the trip to the camp. She did not come to sight-see, but merely sat and listened to the open lessons.
It was clear that Tabitha was thirsty for knowledge, but not ready to seek out self-knowledge. Considering her age, that was hardly surprising. It was understandable that she wanted to gain some personal experiences, to fill her mind with something other than the impersonal knowledge which was all she had been left with.
The four girls who were staying over the summer pampered Tabitha. Unlike Hogwarts, where students of one House never (legitimately) entered another House area, the Ysgol allowed visits between the same genders in their rooms (although each House had at least one private common room that the other students were not allowed in). The girls visited Tabitha and encouraged her to visit them in return. A 16 year old Muggle-born Brown dragon showed Tabitha how to do her nails, and the girls did each others' hair every Saturday.
Mrs. Swank and the Headmaster were surprised that Tabitha was so socially well-adjusted. It wasn't that she was 'normal,' let alone typical for her age, but none of the worst-case scenarios they could have imagined seemed to be more than hinted at in her behavior.
"We still need to keep a close watch," Becky reminded the staff in a meeting held on August 2. "Starting off as she is as an almost blank slate, these problems might just take time to manifest."
"Did those Muggle case studies on amnesia help at all?" George Stratis, one of the Muggle Studies teachers asked.
"Some, although amnesia as complete as this is much rarer in fact than in Muggle fiction. It's much more common for people to lose or repress part of their memories rather than all of it," the Infirmarian answered.
"The Sorting Hat did well by putting her in Green," Drew Loveland, a Transfiguration teacher and Red dragon mused. "My House does not care much for ambiguous ancestry, and the Blues and Browns really dislike mysteries on principle. I just wish there were more Greens here this summer."
Becky shrugged. "Perhaps, or perhaps she might have felt smothered by the attention. This way she can retreat if she feels over-whelmed. I haven't seen any evidence of it, but we must make just as certain we give her just enough room to discover who she now is as we do that she doesn't fall."
"We shall," Hilda stated. "I'm glad she was sorted into my House for another reason: it will be easier for the faculty to look after her."
"Why is that?" Galen Hardy, one of the astronomers and the Head of the Blue dragons asked.
"Three of the nine female staff members are Greens," she answered. "It will give her more chances of finding a mentor. She already knows Courtney and myself, and Mary will be here on Monday." Courtney Carey was one of the librarians, Mary Tyler one of the teachers of Magical Languages and Symbols.
"Miss Buddig, Miss Keyes, and of course Miss Weiss have already agreed to help out as well. Miss Hardy and Miss Sior have also written to say they will be returning early," the Headmaster said simply. "Miss Pyrs, of course, do as she thinks best."
"Where does the old lady go every summer, anyway?" Rhys Sadwrn, another Potions teacher asked, somewhat rhetorically.
"No one knows, but she's apparently been going since graduating back in 1821, so I don't think she's likely to change habits now," Lowri Buddug, junior Divination teacher to Elan Pyrs, commented drily.
"Going on, Mister Stratis, you mentioned you had something for us?"
"Something to consider, anyway. The immediate evidence suggests that the father is a powerful wizard, most likely an Old Believer, perhaps a Hidden, while the mother was an Old Believer Squib, possibly now deceased. This scenario would have them meeting before the Squib was sent off to live in the Muggle world."
"It IS a likely scenario, although there are many others," the Headmaster said.
"Well, if that IS the scenario, then the mother is likely still alive, unless she died from a illness that lasted some time and knew what would happen to her daughter. If she died in an accident, then the father knows current Muggle culture fairly well, which certainly rules out the Hiddens."
"Why would you say either parent would have to know much about current Muggle culture?"
"The girl's name, Tabitha Stephanie Spellman, could not have been used by her before this, as she would have been tracked. Spellman is not an unknown name in the Muggle world, but it has also been the name of a blonde character in a group of Muggle comic books called 'Sabrina, the Teenage Witch' for the last six years. Second, Tabitha is NOT a very common name. There is a Muggle television show called Bewitched, where a witch is married to a Muggle. They had a daughter two years ago named Tabitha Stevens."
"Stevens, Stephanie, yes, we understand," Loveland drawled. "Your conclusions?"
"Who ever planned this out, assuming it was just one person, knows popular Muggle culture." He shrugged. "That's all I can say."
"I shall pass that information on to the Intelligence people. Very few in that sector of the Agency know much of Muggle culture, current or otherwise."
Sunday, September 1, 1968
As August passed by, Tabitha didn't really notice that she was still under close observation, if only because she had no memories to compare her situation with. She did very little reading or studying, but much time meditating and discussing Ysgol social customs and the First year in general with Tudor and the four girls. She was clearly preparing for the start of the academic year, which soothed many worries amongst the faculty. The time she spent with the Eagles was mostly spent in nature walks, the rest merely listening.
Because of the students for the Ysgol came from all over the United States and Canada, gathering the students had to be different than the unifying British custom of the Hogwarts Express. Instead, the students were mostly gathered by the house elves, essentially by class, First years first, although if a household had more than one student they would all appear with the youngest student in the family. The Prefects also appeared with the First years. Since the students came from so many time zones, the few students from Hawaii and other Pacific islands came in with the Seventh years. The process was spread over seven hours, starting at 11:30 Eastern time.
Tudor escorted Tabitha to the great entrance hall, where she could watch the other First years arrive. As they flashed in with their elf escorts, Tudor felt the small hand in his squeeze harder and harder. "What's wrong?"
"There's so many. . . . And my life will be bound up with theirs for seven years."
'I swear she's thirty, not eleven,' Tudor thought. "Yes, that's how it works."
"First years! First years, through this door! The elves will take care of your luggage!" Miss Keys called out from one of the corridors. "Upper years! Report to your common rooms."
"Run along," Tudor said kindly. "Prefects! Prefects over here!" Tabitha took a deep breath, and followed the other First years out of the hall.
Unlike many of the First years, Tabitha found the lectures after the First Years' Lunch rather boring. She already knew the majority of the faculty and staff. She probably knew the school and its grounds better than most Second years. Still, she supposed, it was better for her to undergo a bit of boredom rather than stand out from the rest of her classmates. At least 90% of them were taller than her, but most seemed either nervous or friendly. A few seemed snooty, unfriendly, hostile, or just plain mean. She hoped they were sorted into other Houses.
It was a pleasant enough day that the First years were allowed to play in one of the courtyards under the eyes of some of the Prefects for an hour, although it was emphasized that this was to be a one-time occurrence.
Tabitha turned around and saw two girls looking back at her. They looked similar enough to be sisters, or to be Tabitha's -- thin, long-legged, cute, strawberry blondes. "Hello."
"I'm Margaret Banks, and this is my cousin, Megan Poppins. Are you a cousin, too?"
"I don't think so. My name is Tabitha Spellman." 'Say something friendly!' Tabitha told herself. "I can see why you'd ask. Are you both from magical families?"
"Oh, yes," Margaret said. She was obviously a lot more outgoing than her cousin. "We're from the Old Settlements in upper Michigan."
"Oh? From the forges or the fisheries?" There were a number of mines and smelters run in cooperation between the wizarding world and the goblins, and also a few villages that fished Lake Superior, many dating back to the 1700s.
"Farms, you forgot the farms," Margaret mocked scolded. "We're sort of in-between, geographically speaking, although most of the active forges are actually across the lake now. You?"
"My family was magical, but sort of migratory. As far as I know, I don't have any family now."
Margaret started to ask what had happened, but caught herself. "We're sorry to hear that." She tried again to stop herself, but couldn't a second time. "Where. . . ."
"I guess I'm a ward of the school. I've been here since July. I think they'll say something about it to all the students tomorrow."
"Why?" Megan asked.
"Because everyone will be more curious if they don't say anything."
The two cousins looked at each other and reached agreement. "Only she has been allowed to call me Marge and no one calls me Margie. You can call me Marge."
"And you may call me Meg, if we can call you Tabby."
Tabitha smiled. "All right." 'I hope they feel the same later on.'
"So, have you already been Sorted?" Marge asked.
"Green, but they're going to have the Sorting Hat confirm it."
"Greens are good," Marge said. "My families are generally Greens or Oranges, although I think they've been in all of them over the years."
"Mostly Brown and Orange for me," Meg said, "but we should all hope for Green, now."
"Let's!" Marge said. Tabby smiled again. Across the courtyard, Tudor smiled in relief, and went off to his next meeting.
At 6:00, the First years were taken into the dungeons and ate a light dinner while the upper-classes ate in the Great Hall. Afterwards, the Headmaster addressed the students. He stressed, as Headmasters had since the late 1700s, the unity of the magical world. Old Believers of all types, Old Colonial families, more recent European 'Pure-Bloods', magical children of all other races, Muggle-born, Mixed and Half-Bloods -- the Ysgol fully served them all, plus aided in the education of the Eagles. The faculty and the House Prefects who would be taking care of the First year floors noticed that the Headmaster was even more emphatic about teasing students of unusual parentage not being allowed.
As the Headmaster spoke in the Great hall, the First years were told to straighten up their robes. At 7:45, they marched into the Great Hall, and the Sorting started almost immediately. Some students took only a few seconds to sort, the longest took four minutes. The whole process took over two hours.
Tabitha was glad to see that both her new acquaintances were chosen for the Green dragons. Her re-Sorting took only a few seconds, which the Sorting Hat used to assure her she was doing very well. In all, nine girls and twelve boys were sorted into the Greens.
Tabitha was of course towards the end of the Sorting. Still, once she reached the long Green table, she was able to enjoy some hot chocolate. At 10:20, the students were dismissed to their dorms.
Tabitha led her two friends through the crowd, and had them at the elevators in the Green tower in time to catch the second elevator up. Their Floor Prefect, a Sixth year named Gwen Lloyd, had been introduced to Tabitha earlier that day. She saw Tabitha leading two other Firsts towards the Tower, and so was able to concentrate on getting the other six students along.
Papers with the First year students' names were already on their doors. Tabitha was pleased to see that her two friends were in the same room, between the first study room and her own room. She explained the layout and how they would work their door once the Prefect authorized them.
By 11:00, a very tired Tabitha was glad to climb into bed. Students from other time zones took mild potions to help them fall asleep.
The First years were woken up at 7:00. While the rest of the students started their classes, the First years would get to know each other and their surroundings better their first full day.
The Greens were gathered into a small classroom right after breakfast. To everyone's surprise, the Headmaster and two strangers were also present. The twelve boys introduced themselves first, in alphabetical order. Then it was the girls' turn.
"I'm Margaret Banks, from an Old Colonial family in Upper Michigan, where my family has lived since the mid-1700s. I'm in room 503. I only answer to Margaret. My family's mostly Green and Orange, so I'm happy to be here with Megan and Tabitha, and I hope we all get to know each other." Tabitha breathed a silent prayer her friend would think so after she introduced herself.
"I am Efa Gwener," a girl with a heavy Welsh accent said, "a member of the Mellt sect of the True, or if you prefer, Old Believers, and I live in one of the Mellt areas in northern Ontario. I am in room 511."
A tallish black girl was next. "I'm Kizzy Johnson, a full-blood from Toronto." She looked around. "This is a lot different than the city! Oh, and I'm in 517."
"I'm Megan Poppins," Meg said softly. "I'm from the Upper Peninsula, too, and I'm a Colonial, too, and Margaret's cousin and room mate."
"I am Modlen Rhisiart, a True Believer of the Tyrfau sect in 511. So, thunder will live with lightening." Mellt of course meant lightening, Tyrfau thunder. "The Tyrfau lands are in Prince Edward Island."
"Hola, I am Maria Rodriguez, a Full-Blood from Brooklyn. I'm in 519."
A nervous, slightly pudgy girl was next. "Cynthia Snyder, but my friends call me Cindie. I still can't believe any of this! I'm from a small village in upstate New York called Chemung. I'm in room 519, too." Maria put a reassuring arm on her Muggle-born room mate's shoulder.
"I wish I could tell you who I am, and what my heritage is, but I don't know. I'm going under the name Tabitha Spellman, and I'm in room 504."
At the out-burst of talking that caused, the Headmaster came forward and quickly quieted the children down. He gestured for the last girl to speak.
"My name is Anna Tanfani, and I'm a half-blood from a small town near Denver, Colorado. My father was Muggle-born, as were my mother's parents. I'm in room 517."
"Thank you, children. Let me explain about Miss Spellman. Miss Spellman has had her personal memory destroyed. After much research, her family remains essentially unknown. However, we believe she is from two Old Believer families, a true member in the case of her father, a Squib or Marginal as a mother." A 'Marginal' was a witch with some magical powers, which just never fully developed. Like a Squib, Marginals either had to stay celibate in Old Believer society, or left around the age of seventeen.
The Headmaster gave a slightly fuller description of Tabitha's situation, and then concluded, "The Green dragons traditionally are a fairly diverse House. I hope none of you have any problems with Miss Spellman's ancestry. Two people would like to speak with you on the subject. First, this is a Deputy Minister of the Confederation, Michael King."
"Thank you, Headmaster. Miss Spellman," he said with a slight bow, "students. We are fully satisfied with Miss Spellman's magical ancestry, although we regret we can not be more specific. I expect this will be a topic of gossip for the next few weeks. If any one's family has any leads for us, please let us know. Thank you."
The Headmaster didn't seem too pleased with that short speech, but he went on to introduce the very elderly wizard next. "The other person who wishes to speak is Adda Lloyd, senior. . . ." All the Old Believers and Tabitha shot to their feet and bowed their heads. ". . . senior member of the Tuatha, the trio of leaders of the Old Believers."
Three weeks before, a set of instructions that must have had a timed release of some sort had surfaced in Tabitha's mind. She had written out a sheet of parchment, understanding the language but not many of the references. She understood enough to realize that much of it was Druidic lore, the kind that was only learned from secret oral tradition late in the twenty year learning process. Her magical parent was insuring her acceptance by the Old Believers. She had sealed it, and a note from herself, in an envelope, and then in six more. She had taken the package to the school owlery (the Ysgol did not permit familiars or pets of any kind) one night and sent it off. Each envelope had a different address and a sheet of codes that she did not understand. The recipients had understood, and sent everything up the chain of command, until one of the Tuatha had read it. Whomever had designed and implanted the knowledge in her head had not just been an Old Believer, but part of the Druid priesthood, the leaders of the Movement.
"Knowing your ancestry can be a wonderful, even satisfactory, thing. Knowing a close, loving family, and your community, is even better. Miss Spellman has been robbed of all that, and the innocence of youth as well. Should she accept our beliefs, she, like any member of this school, would be eligible for membership in what is commonly called either the Outer or Open Believer Sect. However, we feel she is owed more than that. She is eligible to join any, I repeat any, sect within our belief." The Old Believers' eyes went wide open at that, especially the Headmaster's. Some groups had very secret requirements even for those born into the sect.
"Every year, a Druid, often a novitiate, speaks to the new students here at the Ysgol. He would tell all who are not of the Faith that you are welcome, if you believe. Much of your instruction in History over the next few years will have the story of the Faith associated with it, for that is also much of the history of the magical communities of Europe and North America. He would also remind all Old Believers that we must tolerate those who do NOT believe, so long as they do not harm our Community or the general magical community. Miss Spellman is at least a witch of half blood. She is also under my supervision and protection, if she will accept either, or both. Miss Spellman?"
Over the previous three weeks, she had thought hard about the beliefs of the Old Believers. She straightened up and then bowed deeper. "May I approach the One of Three?" she asked in medieval Welsh accents.
She walked up and knelt before the old man. "I know I am too young to join the True Belief, but I ask to be considered as if I were the devote and curious child of Open Believers."
Saying it first in Welsh and then English, the Druid said, "We accept this child as a child of the True Belief, and say it Openly."
The Old Believers in the room bowed three times. FitzWilliam smiled as he did so. Any of the Pure-Bloods who would be hostile to any Muggle-born or half blood would now have to face the Old Believers. Some of them, and their families, might not like this child's ancestry, but would defend her against all Outsider attack.