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, Tabitha starts her dr...
Tuesday, June 24, 1969
The Ysgol school year ended with a sunset ceremony on the summer solstice. Two or three days later, the students were sent home with one-way portkeys, leaving anywhere from noon until 6:00 pm, depending on what time zone they lived in.
Tabitha, of course, was staying the summer. She spent the previous day saying goodbye to her friends. Tudor, Meg, Cindie, Anna, and Henry were the hardest to say goodbye to. Somewhere, deep in her heart, Tabitha had hoped one of the people who claimed to consider her a friend would have asked her to come to their home for at least a week or two.
'Maybe next year,' she had thought, as she watched people portkey home. At least Gwen was staying the entire summer, while Christine would be back after July 4th. On the plus side, she, Marge and Meg wouldn't be moving their rooms. The other rooms would be assigned later that summer. She had also promised to write Marge and Meg by owl, and use the school's postal drop to write Cindie.
"Good morning, Miss Spellman."
"Good morning, Headmaster."
"Johnson the Dreamwalker will meet with you this afternoon at Three at the Eagle camp. When you return to your room after lunch, your grades should be there."
Tabitha furled her brow. "If they're ready today. . . ."
"Why not send them home with the students yesterday? Well, we don't always have a weekend to tabulate the grades, and we still had to mark the parchments. Even with magic, that takes some time. Plus, for the students who may not have done as well as they were expected to, well, let's hope it gives them a day or so more to find a warm welcome."
"You did well, child. Be happy."
Tabitha took a deep breath and opened her grades:
Astronomy . . . . . . 99
Charms. . . . . . . . 91
Defense . . . . . . . 96
Flying. . . . . . . . 72
Herbology . . . . . . 96
History . . . . . . .105*
Potions . . . . . . .105*
Transfiguration . . . 89
. . . . . Total . . . 94.125
*Highest Possible Grade
Tabitha smiled, and sat down to start letters to her friends.
Thursday, July 3, 1969
"You asked to see me, Headmaster?"
"Yes, Miss Spellman. Please sit down." FitzWilliam leaned back in his chair and looked at her. "I must say, Miss Spellman, we are very pleased with you. Just a year ago tomorrow morning, you were found. We had no idea what we might expect from you."
"Or what types of damage I might have suffered, or how trainable I might be," Tabitha supplied.
"Yes," FitzWilliam admitted, "that was part of it."
"I am damaged," Tabitha stated. "Life before last July is a blank. I fear that blankness. I fear someone tampering with my memory; I fear deep sleep; I fear death. I'm eleven years old. I shouldn't know the things I know; I shouldn't fear the things I fear, at least not yet. If I live to be two hundred, those fears will still be with me, and they'll never go away. In all likelihood, they'll increase. My classmates look upon me as a freak, because I am a freak. I've just been very lucky that some really do like me anyway."
"I am very sorry, Miss Spellman."
"So am I."
"You take no comfort in our beliefs?"
"I take some comfort in our beliefs. Faith is a hard thing for me, apparently. All any of us can have is faith. The possibility of oblivion is behind the drive for faith."
"Faith is a hard thing for many. At least you desire to believe. You are a good person, Miss Spellman. Try and have faith. You are also very impressive, and our guest instructor from Australia agrees. Despite your lack of firm belief, would you still accept studying as a druid?" The training started the summer after the First year of school, and Tabitha had applied.
"Really. You could not move past the first initiation in five years without firmer belief, but you may address that in time."
"I already know all the information through at least the tenth year, you know."
FitzWilliam's jaw set. "We are aware of that. Should your father ever be identified, he will have a great deal to answer for."
Tabitha started to say something, but held it in.
"Go ahead and say it, child."
"Why the devil couldn't they have just have passed me off as the bastard child of a squib!"
"That is a very good question. I wish I knew the answer. Now, have you an answer for me, child? Did you Hear the Call?"
"I Heard the Call, and I will Heed it."
"Be happy, child. You already know the information, illegally or not. While the others are memorizing the oral tradition, you may help them along. If you do it kindly, they will appreciate you, and not resent you."
"I hope so, Headmaster."
"And it will still take some practice to do the ceremonies."
"Of course, Headmaster."
"There is one more thing. We were wondering if you could help us."
"We have a new student this summer, whose situation is not entirely unlike yours."
Tabitha had to think about that sentence for a few seconds. "Yes, sir?"
"Like you, he is alone. Unlike you, he is Muggle-born. His entire family perished in a fire this past March." FitzWilliam stopped, because Tabitha was giving him a very prescient look.
"He did it, didn't he sir?"
"No one knew he was magical. He did something that made them laugh at him or in some other way humiliate him, and he accidently caused the fire that killed them all."
"I hope others find it more difficult to puzzle that out," Fitzwilliam said. "He doesn't quite understand what happened that day himself. The staff will be keeping a close eye on him this year, and we'll explain it to him next year if he still hasn't figured it out, or if he's in denial."
"What's his name?"
"Thomas Lawrence. He's been pre-sorted into the Greens. He is with Miss Weiss now. After we get him acculturated this month, we'll test him to see if he has any discernible talents." All students were tested to see if they had any number of 'special' gifts, although many, such as her own Dreamwalking or prophecy, could not be tested for.
"Yes, sir, I understand. I know the way."
"Now, run along."
Lawrence looked like he could be Tudor Myrddin's younger brother, with the same basic build, wild black hair, and deep blue eyes. Somehow, Tabitha couldn't imagine Thomas growing to be that tall, and in fact he would never surpass 5 foot 10.
Still, he was smart and pleasant. He was also totally ignorant of magical culture (he had spent late March through the end of June with foster parents). Tabitha enjoyed coaxing Tom along over the weeks before she left for the start of her druidical training.
Thursday, July 31, 1969
In the mountains of southern Alberta, near the Montana border, is the small academic and religious center of Weston. Only Old Believers and a few invited academics may visit, let alone live there. It is the home of the primary Old Believer institute of higher learning, the Sefydliad ('Institute'), and it also serves as a training center for the druids, the intellectual, spiritual, and in many ways the political elite of the Old Believers. Tabitha was one of 186 children (45 girls and 141 boys) who were to be tested for the druidic life at Weston, while about an equal number of children from the strictest sects went through the same training elsewhere.
Tabitha was glad to see the four Old Believer boys from her House year (Lloyd Adda, Awstin Mihangel, Dewi Puw and Ofydd Pwy), plus Henry Dorff, were there. A stern looking Druid came up to them and said in Welsh (as all the conversations would be in Weston for these three weeks), "Well, since you six seem to know each other, and we need teams of six, you are team twenty-one. The tent should be to your left."
The six quickly found their tent, which had a note instructing them to wait outside and to place the knapsacks they had been allowed on the benches in front of the tent. Nearly an hour later, a druid came up to them.
"I see someone has a sense of humor. First off all, I need your names and school information." That information gathered, the druid went on, "So, you all know each other. I hope you are not shy. You are about to become closer to nature. This is serious religious training, so no harassment of any kind will be tolerated. You will have clogs and a robe to wear, when you are wearing anything at all. Remove all other clothing and jewelry and put them in your knapsack and leave your knapsacks here. They will be returned to this tent when you leave. Robes and clogs are in the tent, go change and come out so I can size them. You have a few hours until dinner. Do NOT stray from the marked tent area, except to go to the latrines, which are at the end of the rows. Well?"
"But. . . ." Lloyd sputtered, gesturing at Tabitha.
"Get used to it or leave." He looked at Tabitha. "You have any problems with this, Spellman?"
"No, sir. I would trust these boys with my honor before any others." She looked at the druid. "Is this tent magically enlarged?"
"No, it's not."
She pulled off her travel robe, leaving her in a t-shirt and panties. "I suggest you all take your travel robes off out here. It will be tight in there." She ducked into the tent. Henry shrugged and followed her lead, and then the other boys did as well.
When Tabitha came out of the tent, the druid had moved on to the next tent. He came back to size their clothes, and then reminded them not to talk to anyone from another tent.
"Why do you think we're not supposed to talk to anyone else?" Awstin wondered.
"In part, to build us as a team, and in part to give us a basic task, to see how well we follow orders." She turned to Henry. "Ignore them," she said, referring to two boys in a neighboring tent who were horsing around and trying to tease Tabitha.
"But. . . ." Henry protested.
"Ignore them," Tabitha hissed.
"Then what should we do?" Dewi asked.
"Sit and wait."
And so they did. The taunting went on for ten minutes, which is when three druids seemed to appear from nowhere. "Spellman!"
He pointed to the nearby tent where the two boys had been teasing them. "Did any of these four try and restrain these two?"
"All did, Master."
"I didn't say anything!" one boy who had been taunting Tabitha complained.
"Silence!" The druid looked at Tabitha. "We have been watching. Had these two silenced themselves, we would have kept it in mind as the training started. You six did well." He turned and looked at the surrounding tents. "Some of you did well, others should have done better. You four could have done better. You two, come along. It's time to go home."
"What!" the louder of the two boys protested. "Do you know who we are? Who our families are?"
"No, I do not know your families. They are probably not of the Faith. That would not matter, if you had discipline. You do not. You do not know how to listen, obey, or behave. You two will join the others who failed their first test. Come along."
While the first druid led the two protesting boys away, a second addressed the children. "Come. It is time to eat. You will arise before down to greet the sun."
"How do we, you know, sleep?" Dewi asked that night.
"Do any of you tend to have to, well, have to get up during the night?"
"Ofydd does," Lloyd said. Ofydd gave his school room mate a dirty look.
"Then let's try this tonight. It looks like it would work best if we all lay against one side, it would give us the most room. Why don't we try it Ofydd at the entrance, Dewi, Lloyd, Awstin, Henry, and me in the back."
They tried it, and they stuck with it the rest of their time in training.
It was growing chilly as they went into the tent. There were six pairs of blankets laid out and a third rolled up to be used as a pillow. Tabitha slipped between the blankets, and when Henry settled himself, she scooted next to him. Cuddled together, they both fell asleep.
Tabitha found herself facing herself. She quickly realized she was seeing herself in Henry's dream. She pulled herself out of his dream, then sat up and crawled through the tent. They had been warned not to wander the camp, so she sat crossed-legged and looked at the stars, curious if there would be any others Dreamwalking besides her.
"Is there a problem, Spellman?" a voice asked her five minutes later. One of the druids was patrolling in his dreams.
"No, Master. I just love looking at the stars."
"And why are you sitting here?"
"I didn't want to wander, just to look."
"Very well. Get back to your dreams."
Going back through the back of the tent, she saw Henry had stopped dreaming. She reentered her body, and fell asleep against him.
The three weeks passed quickly and easily for Tabitha. The children had to memorize a series of prayers. Some they were already at least familiar with from the sunrise ceremonies at school. Most of the children from Old Believer families already had many of the prayers memorized. Tabitha spent much of her spare time coaching Henry.
Early in the second week, during the a rest period, Tabitha had sat under a tree and watched a group of her fellow acolytes play Swivenhodge in a meadow. After about twenty minutes, some of the players dropped out while new ones joined. Henry flew over and landed near her.
"Well played," was all she said.
Henry sighed. "I don't know if I can do this."
"It's difficult for those not raised in the Faith to get started. After this summer, they won't have so much of an advantage."
"I can coach you more," Tabitha offered.
"You have your own studies," Henry pointed out.
"Will you keep a secret?"
"For you? Of course."
"You know how I have all this information in my head? Well, that includes at least the first ten years of memorization."
"Wow!" Henry frowned. "So that means your father was a druid of some kind, right?"
"Right." After completing 5 years of study, the student became a novice, allowed to do most ceremonies. After ten years, the novice became an acolyte, allowed to do even more and to attend even the most secret ceremonies as at least an observer. At fifteen years, the acolyte became a disciple. At twenty years, the disciple became a druid. Of the 186 students, probably between 75 and 90 would make it through the five year program, but less than 20 would make it all the way through to become druids.
"Henry. . . ."
"You can call me Harry, if you want."
"Really? I've never heard you called Harry by anyone."
"My father and grandfather are also Henrys. MY father is called Hank."
"Yech. Harry is much better. You may call me Tabby, then."
"Thank you." Harry looked at her. "What were you going to say?"
"If you'll keep another secret, I can help you. I can't tell you what it is right now, though. Will you trust me?"
Henry was dreaming that night -- the 'drill druids' were yelling at him for a mistake he had made in reciting a long poem, one he just couldn't totally recall and which he would be tested on again the next morning. He was startled when he saw Tabby quieting the druids down. She walked over to him and took his hands. "Say it again, Harry. Say it with me."
He did so, and they said it perfectly. What was more, he was now certain he knew it. "You do know it," Tabitha said. "I've shared it with you. Every night, I will help you memorize the day's lessons, if you will let me."
"How. . . ."
"I'm a Dreamwalker. I've never deliberately entered your dreams before, and I won't without your permission." She put her hand against Harry's cheek. "Now, sleep more deeply. We both need it."
The next morning, Henry came up to Tabitha during a break. He tried to start saying something several times, but just couldn't spit it out.
Taking pity on him, Tabitha asked, "Did you want to ask about a dream you had last night?"
Henry merely nodded, then said, "You were there, weren't you? You Dreamwalked into my dream, and then dream-taught me."
"I did both," she admitted. "Are you upset?"
"I could be, I guess, but I'm not. Thank you."
Tabitha made it through the three weeks of training easily. With her coaching, her four Old Believer tent-mates had few problems. Henry, of course, also made it through easily once Tabitha started giving him dream-teaching and tutoring. Henry and Tabitha had also become very close friends. For the rest of her life, on the rare nights when sleep came with difficulty, Tabitha only had to remember sleeping next to her friend on a chilly night in that slightly musty tent to feel warm, secure, and loved, and she would drift off quickly.
Tabitha returned to her room at the Ysgol on August 25, and prepared for her Second year.
In every way, Tabitha's Second year was her easiest. Instead of flying, students had to take either a course in 'Surviving in a Muggle World' (a basic introduction into Muggle culture and a primer in passing for 'normal' while passing through it) or 'Wizarding Traditions and Ceremonies,' depending on their family background. Tabitha knew all the information for both, but asked to take both. Having the information and being totally comfortable with it and the applications were, after all, two different things. With Henry's permission, she visited his dreams twice a week to help him with the memorization given to the druidical students during term. The courses, along with her regular courses and her druidical studies, were all review for her, except for the practical parts of Charms, Potions, and Transfiguration.
The four Old Believer boys in her House year remained her friends, albeit not very close ones. They, she, and Henry would often study their druidical lessons together, before going to bed. Tabitha also kept up her close friendships with Meg, Marge, Anna, and Cindie. She stayed or made friends with a few of the other students in her year, both in her House and in some of the others, although few ever became very close friends. Tabitha also became friendly with some of the older students in her House, especially with Gwen, Christine, and Emily, who all treated her as a little sister as well as a friend. The only First year she became friendly with was Tom Lawrence, although they were never very close in school until their last years.
As the summer of 1970 approached, Emily, Cindie, and Henry each asked if she could spend any of the summer with them. Tabitha approached the Headmaster to see if arrangements could be made.
The Headmaster consulted with his faculty and staff. Whatever the personal demons the young girl might still be wrestling with were obviously not affecting her school work or her personal relationships. While certainly not a leader in her House year (which would be Henry and Marge), Tabitha was certainly near the top of the pecking order, and well able to be let out of the protective cocoons of the Ysgol and Old Believers. They also felt it would be good for her to see something of the world.
The students would leave on June 23, and Tabitha would be traveling for three weeks of intense druidical study on July 31. She would therefore be allowed to stay with Cindie from June 25 - July 5, with Emily's family July 5 - 18, and with Henry's July 18 -31. She'd go with Henry to the training.
As Tabitha sat, waiting for her portkey to activate and take her to Cindie's home, she reflected on the past year. Her nightmares were almost gone, she had solid friends she could rely on, she had found a place in her world where she was comfortable, and her grades were outstanding:
Astronomy . . . . . . 99
Charms. . . . . . . . 93
Defense . . . . . . . 96
Herbology . . . . . . 96
History . . . . . . .105*
Magical Customs . . .105*
Muggle Survival . . .105*
Potions . . . . . . .105*
Transfiguration . . . 90
. . . . . Total . . . 99.33
*Highest Possible Grade
The next year, she would start her selected courses: Muggle Studies, Runes, and Arithmancy. As she felt the portkey tug her away, she hoped the next year would be as much fun as the last.