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 makes a close fr...
The first thing on Tabitha's agenda for September 1 was to deal with Emily.
Emily's eyes had lit up when she saw Tabitha, but they fell when she saw the expression on the young girl's face. Tabitha tried to be gentle, concluding, "So I'm just not ready for a physical relationship. I'm not upset with you about what happened in July, I don't regret it. I like you, and I am attracted to you, but I'm just not ready." She had grown over the last year, but was still a little shy of 5'. She stretched up to kiss the 5 foot 3 Emily lightly on the lips.
Emily grabbed Tabitha and hugged her tightly. "Are you sure you don't hate me?"
"I could never hate you." They kissed more firmly, and Emily let her young friend go. She was glad she didn't have another meeting for half an hour. Maybe she would be cried out by then.
Tabitha felt a huge surge of relief as she left the prefect's room. The floor was very busy, just before lunch. All the Third years and all the Sixth years except for the prefect for the First year girls were on the floor, as was one Fourth year girl -- for a total of 20.
Tabitha went down to Suite 509 and knocked. Marge and Meg were in one room, Anna and Cindie in the other. The five girls went down to lunch together, chatting about the summer.
That night, Marge and Meg sat in their room, taking turns brushing the other's hair. This was a ritual the pair had engaged in since they had been eight years old and had started staying over nights with each other.
"Go ahead and say it, if you want to," Meg said as Marge started on her hair.
"Say what?" Marge asked guiltily.
"Complain about Cindie and Anna being too noisy, complain about Tabby, try to make me jealous again that she spent time with Cindie, Emily, Henry, and the Old Believers, and that Anna spent a week with Cindie, too. Tell me that Efa and Modlen are snootier than ever to everyone except for Tabby."
Marge pulled the brush back and glared at the back of her friend and cousin's head. Meg was the only peer who could talk to her like that, but that didn't mean Marge liked it.
It especially hurt, Marge suddenly realized, because it was true. "Alright," she said with a sigh. "Cindie and Anna are noisier than I expected. I really wish those crank record players didn't work here. But the music is nice, and we'll work out the noise-level. I like Tabby, although not as much as you do. I wish we'd thought of asking her to visit at least one of us. . . ."
"I suggested it. You talked me out of it."
"That was only after she'd been invited everywhere else. We can work things out after Yule." She sighed again. "I do like her, but she's so . . . different from all of us! She's nice; she's helpful; she's pretty. She's so smart it hurts. When I'm when her, I love her, but something about her bugs me when we're not with her."
"I really like her, Margie."
"I like her like you like Emily."
"What!" She lowered her voice. "I mean, what do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. I saw you looking at her looking at Tabby all during dinner. You're crushing on Emily." She sighed in turn. "I'm crushing on Tabby."
Marge laid the brush down. "I'm not just jealous of Tabby, you know."
"I know." Meg suddenly smiled. "So, should we be miserable in our crushes, or should we do something about them?"
Marge smiled. "Let's do something about it."
Saturday, September 5, 1970
Meg laid on Tabby's bed. It was a coolish afternoon, but Tabitha had one of the window panels open in her room. Meg and Tabby were studying Runes and History together. Tabitha was sitting in her easy chair across the room, and Meg was trying to figure out if she should go through with her plan to get closer to her friend. She took a deep breath, and hoped for the best. "Tabby?"
"Can we give the Runes a rest for a while?"
"Sure." She read Runes and the ancient languages already, and was just helping Meg anyway. "What should we do?"
"Can I try some palm reading?" Meg was taking Divination and Runes as her extra courses. She sat up and gestured to the bed next to her.
Tabitha smiled and moved over next to her friend. Meg took her hand, and studied the palm intently while Tabitha studied her friend. She, Megan, and Marge were now about the same height, Tabitha perhaps half an inch shorter than her friends. Tabitha's hair had grown a bit redder, Marge's blonder. Marge had developed more feminine hips and an A-cup bust, while Megan's figure was half-way between Tabitha's undeveloped form and her cousin's figure. After a few moments, Tabitha asked, "I thought they started with tea leaves."
"What? Oh!" Megan blushed prettily.
Tabitha grasped her friend's hand firmly, and said in her friendliest voice, "If you wanted to hold my hand, all you had to do was ask." Then she added, "Why don't you tell me all about it?"
Meg sat on Tabitha's bed, feeling very nervous. She had explained her tentative feelings for Tabitha, and Marge's feelings for Emily, and her and Marge's complex relationship. Tabitha had listened in that wise way she often had, thought hard, and then said she'd fix everything up and asked her to wait. That had been twenty-five minutes before.
Finally, Tabitha came back into her room, smiling in a satisfied way. "What's happened?" Megan asked.
Tabitha sat on the bed and said in her usual straight-forward way, "I suppose I should tell you. First of all, Emily seduced me this summer."
"What? I mean . . . she . . . Wow!"
"I really like Emily," Tabitha said, "but it was just . . . too much."
"You mean . . . actual. . . ."
"Sex. Yes. Oral and manual and lots of mutual rubbing." Megan turned bright red. "That's actually about how I felt about it, once I had a chance to think about it after I left. I wasn't ready for anything like that last summer." Seeing how nervous Megan was, she went on. "I thought Emily had accepted things, but she was pretty nasty to me the other day, saying that she should have known better than to get involved with a baby, who only wanted to cuddle and hold hands, and have little tea parties." Megan's expression cleared up a little. Tabitha smiled. "Actually, that sounds about right for me. How about you?"
"Oh, yes! but what about Marge?"
"Marge is with Emily right now. And you know what Emily's doing?"
"No!" All sorts of lewd images came into Meg's head.
Tabitha leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, "She going to . . . fix tea."
Megan snorted with laughter. "Seriously," Tabitha said. "I told her to go slower with Marge."
"Okay, Marge is taken care of," Megan said. 'At least, I hope so,' she mentally added. "What about Henry?"
Tabitha bit her lip. "I like him, too. He's very . . . snuggly." Meg snorted. Tallish, muscular Henry did not seem 'snuggly' to her. "Well, he is! I just feel I'm not ready for boys. That can cause too many problems."
"I agree," Megan said. "I like them, but the older ones are snotty and the ones our age still seem too young."
Tabitha pulled a tea pot out of a compartment of her trunk. "I have several kinds, if you don't mind it plain."
"I don't, if you have peppermint."
The pair happily gossiped all afternoon, holding hands and drinking tea. They went to dinner together, arm in arm. This was, fortunately, fairly common behavior for pairs of girls who were just friends, at least if they were in the same year or just a year apart. Larger groups often walked together, holding hands or with arms linked.
As the pair neared the Great Hall, they came across Emily and Marge, walking slowly and looking at each other wistfully. Tabitha moved her hand so that she could clasp Meg's and then grabbed Emily's. Emily and Marge looked startled, but then Emily caught on and moved her arms around Marge and Tabitha's waists. The other girls did the same, and they walked slowly into the Hall, laughing. Henry and Tom, watching the group from behind (not that they noticed each other), frowned.
The next morning, a large owl dropped a letter in front of Tabitha. "Cadfael?" Henry asked as she glanced at the contents.
"A note about him, actually, from the Chief Inquisitor, asking me to fill out a questionnaire."
"Who's Cadfael?" Marge asked.
"A boy we met at training in August. Rather sweet, although Henry didn't like him."
"He kept making sheep-eyes at you," Henry complained.
Tabitha glanced up from the letter. "He's a Hidden, or something close. I have to promise not to, quote, 'seduce him by Outsider ways,' unquote, if I am to write to him without supervision."
"Do you like him?" Emily asked.
"As a person, yes. Beyond that, no. He's sure he wants to become a druid, but I think he's tempted by the Outside life, even if he doesn't have much of an idea what it's like."
"What are you going to do?" Meg asked.
"Well, I want to tell them I'll write to Cadfael, and that while I'll answer any of his questions honestly, I won't try to 'seduce' him." She paused and looked thoughtful. "I think I'll talk with Mister Pedr."
"Why him?" Cindie asked, wrinkling her nose. Adda ap Luc ap Pedr was one of the three History teachers, and also taught the Magical Traditions course to the Second years. He did not think highly of those from any but strict Old Believer backgrounds. He had been teaching at the Ysgol since 1880, and had grown more disapproving every year.
"Because he's from such a strict background, he might be willing to help me phrase the letter better."
Tabitha's fall term was a great deal of fun. Her classes and druidical training were easy. She continued to spend much more time coaching her friends than she ever had to spend on her own work. Where she had spent much of her first two years snooping around the school and trying to gain mere experience living, now she spent most of her free time in her room. She wasn't moping or depressed, she was practicing the lute and had also taken up the small Welsh harp, which she and two of her Old Believer House mates were helping Henry and the other two Old Believers in the House year to play. They needed to learn the basics by the next summer.
When she wasn't practicing, Tabitha and Megan took to hosting little teas on Saturday morning. When they just had girls, they had it in Tabitha's room or in Megan's suite. Every other week, they engaged one of the small rooms on the Common Room floor, and invited some of the boys they knew, in their House and out. Henry and Jim came every time, as it was obvious that Henry liked Tabitha and his roommate liked Megan. They also invited other students, although not as often.
Sunday afternoons, the nine Third year Green girls gathered in the suite to do their hair and nails, gossip, and eat cookies. Despite their disparity of backgrounds, all nine were determined to work together. There were plenty of dissensions around the school to point up the dangers. So these girls came together, and although they teased each other about boys and crushes, no one went over a line where feelings could be hurt.
The pair had no idea how far Marge and Emily might have gone. They did know that Marge spent a fair amount of time in Emily's room. Prefects had a small bedroom, a sitting room, and 1/2 bath (toilet, sink, and shower), and some Saturday nights Marge spent the night with Emily.
Tabitha and Megan had not gone far at all -- massages and light kisses. The few Saturday nights they slept together, sleep, and some cuddling, was all they did. Their relationship was based more on emotional comfort than anything else.
Neither Megan nor Henry were very happy with Tabitha writing to Cadfael at first, but she only sent him one letter a week, and wrote it when she was alone. Since neither of the two people closest to her felt it took anything away from her time with them, they grew used to the idea.
Tabitha was very careful with her writing, certain that someone besides Cadfael would be reading the letters. Cadfael was, unsurprisingly, a bit less discreet. Although Cadfael never broke any real taboos (such as mentioning the exact locations of the Hidden School or any of their settlements), he did go into greater detail about everyday life amongst the Hidden than many of his fellows would have been comfortable with his revealing.
Barely noticed in September and October were small news items reprinted from the European press and reports from North American reporters in Europe. Dark activities were on the rise, and unsigned proclamations were being left, threatening those of Muggle and mixed ancestries.
When the morning newspapers arrived for Monday, November 2, however, the news was hard to miss. A small group of British Muggle-born had organized a pro-Muggle-born pressure group in 1967. They and their families, Muggle and magical, had all been massacred Halloween night and into the early morning of November 1. 48 people -- 18 Muggle-born wizards and witches, 15 of their magical spouses, 3 Muggles married to wizards, and 12 children. Over all eighteen houses, a mysterious, smokey green sign floated for several hours.
This was the first time the Dark Mark had been seen. It would be far from the last.
For most of the students at the Ysgol, the attacks rated a few moments of conversation at most. Tabitha, remembering the events of her first Christmas at the Ysgol, and some of the thoughts and memories she had seen inside of young Malfoy's head, had little doubt that the mysterious Lord Voldemort, or someone much like him, was involved. She decided to keep a scrapbook of news reports on the Dark forces arising in Britain, and wondered if she would ever see the name 'Malfoy' associated with it.
Tabitha sent out subscriptions to as many news periodicals as she could. Of all her friends, only Henry, who hoped to go into law enforcement, took any interest in Tabitha's new hobby. Meg, Cindie, and Anna had more fun crocheting with her instead.
Even Henry, who was always happy to read her latest clippings, was much more excited about sports -- he had gained one spot on the House Junior Quodpot team and another as a reserve beater of the Green Quidditch team the previous September, and there were games of some sort every Saturday and Sunday. Whenever Henry was playing that autumn and winter, Jim, Meg, and Tabby could be found in the stands, huddled together under a large afghan, which Tabitha had crocheted from dozens of different shades of green yarn that summer. On other weekends, Henry would join them under the afghan.
It was in early December, that the Headmaster called Tabitha to his office. "I see you're smiling, Miss Spellman. It's not often I get to see smiling children in this office."
"Certainly I'm not the only student you see on a regular, if non-disciplinary, basis, Headmaster?"
"I do have to make general inquiries at times, but nearly all of that I can delegate. And certainly you are not the first ward of the school, no, not by a long shot. As you know, you are not even the only ward of the school in the Green dragons, although I grant you your circumstances are different than any other."
"I'm certainly glad to hear that, sir!"
"Yes, well, as I was saying, you are not the only ward at present, but it is your turn to speak with me. So, tell me how do you feel you are doing?"
"Academically. . . ."
"Academically, you are brilliant. We pass on the academics. Tell me, how are your anxieties?"
"Still there, sir, although not as intense as they were. The Dreamwalking, and the meditation, helps."
"Good. Now, in your First year, you made a number of what we might call casual friends. In your Second, some ripened into true friendships, especially with Miss Poppins and Mister Dorff, and to some degree with Miss Banks, Miss Snyder, Miss Tyne, Mister Mitchell, and even Mister Lawrence."
"And Anna Tanfani, sir."
"Of course, and several of those are even truer friendships now. Tell me, did none of them invite you home over the holidays? And if so, why did you refuse?"
"Cindie only has her mother, and Anna's family is also very small," Tabitha pointed out, defending her friends. "I would really be in the way."
"Well, Margery Banks is a friend of mine, but she's still just a little jealous of Megan spending a lot of time with me. I wouldn't want to cause a problem there."
"I see, go on."
"Tom is going to have to stay," Tabitha pointed out.
"That is true." Besides having no family, it had been discovered Tom Lawrence had a minor magical gift for languages. (Meaning he could probably learn as many as seventy-five. Those with a major magical gift for languages could sometimes learn over 200.) He would be learning another set of languages over the break. "Go on."
"Well, I'm glad I visited Emily's clan last summer, but I don't think I'd be comfortable going back, sir."
"I see. And Mister Dorff's?"
"I think his mother would start planning our wedding," she said frankly. "I don't want to even think about that for another five years, at least!"
"Very well. I have received an inquiry from the family of Cadfael ap Tudur ap Mawrth ap Rhys, that's the Danadl clan. . . ."
Tabitha giggled. "Really? The Nettle Clan?"
"Yes," the Headmaster said in a slightly reproving voice. "They are curious if you have any interest in visiting them."
"Not at this time," she said firmly. "I respect their beliefs and practices, but I have no desire to stay any place without indoor plumbing, especially in the winter."
"Will that make them happy, because it shows I have no desire to seduce Cafael away, or will it make them worry all the more about how much contact with me will contaminate him?"
"Probably both," the Headmaster said with a smile. "Cadfael is the current star of his clan academically. He is almost certain to make acolyte at the least, and will probably go on to full druid. They could use him as a clan advocate in the various Councils."
"You know, just as an experiment, I tried to make a flow chart of the different Councils that make up the Old Believers. They really make no sense."
"Except that it works," the Headmaster reminded her. "I hope you destroyed the charts."
"Of course, Master," she said in Welsh.
"Very good, child. So, you are staying here over break?"
"Winter break, yes, sir. This summer, it may be fun to visit again, before and after training."
"Very good, child. Be off with you, then."
Tabitha's friends were unsurprised to receive crocheted gifts as well as the traditional silver charms. She had made over a dozen sets of winter caps, mittens, mufflers, and slippers. She sent afghans to Mrs. Snyder, Mrs. Dorff, and Emily's aunt. She had also sent a cap, muffler, and mitten set to Cadfael as well as a token of friendship. She had not received anything from him, but didn't expect anything before Twelfth Night.
Monday, January 4, 1971
Tabitha was very surprised to be summoned to the Headmaster's office again. Besides the Headmaster, there was a man that she remembered had interviewed her back when she first awoke back in 1968. There were also two men in druid robes and two other men in the tartans she recognized as the Danadl tartan. She wondered if Cadfael had somehow gotten in trouble. Or worse, gotten her in trouble.
"Child," the Headmaster said kindly, "we believe we have traced your mother."
Tabitha stumbled backwards into a chair. "Really?"
"It is not proven beyond all doubt," one of the tartaned wizards stated.
"No, but it is proven beyond all reasonable doubt," one of the druids stated even more firmly. The two tartaned men seemed will to accept that.
"There was a girl born in 1939. Her powers never fully developed. She preferred to leave in early 1956 rather than embrace a celibate life." Squibs and nearly all near-Squibs, in stricter Old Believer cultures, were not allowed to breed within the culture.
"She was born Elan, daughter of Tudur ap Lloyd ap Padrig ap Rhys of the Danadl clan. She changed her name to Ellen Lloyd, and was integrated into a Muggle community in central California. She disappeared, pregnant, in February, 1958," the intelligence man said. "We discovered she changed her name to Helen FitzPatrick and gave birth to a daughter, named Theodora FitzPatrick, June Twenty-first, 1958, in Hilo, Hawaii. She would move three times with her daughter, changing family names each time. From May, 1959, until August, 1962, they lived near Naples, Florida, under the name of Jones. From August of 1962 through January of 1964, they lived in Venice Beach, California under the name of Johnson. From then until March, 1968, they were back in Florida, near Sarasota, under the name of Lloyd again."
"Ah. . . ." the Headmaster said. He turned to Tabitha. "There is a magical beach resort near by. Any accidental magic on your part would not be noticed."
"She was involved in a Muggle auto accident in February, and died in late March. A man showed up three weeks before her death, but no one can remember what he looked like. The daughter disappeared right after the funeral. We have found a few school pictures amongst the girl's classmates, and there is no doubt of the chain of events." The intelligence agent looked at Tabitha. "There is no evidence about who the father is."
"The girl left the clan," one of the tartaned wizards stated. "This girl might be related by blood, but she is not of the clan."
"I understand that," Tabitha said. "I am, however, still associated with it, am I not?"
"Well. . . ." the other wizard started.
"Shall I quote the appropriate lore?" Tabitha asked in Welsh. "Need I request a ruling of the Hidden Council? I ask nothing more of the clan, other than the genealogical tables of the lost girl. I would not wish to marry a first cousin."
"No! you are entitled to more than that," the Headmaster said. "I represent your guardians. You are entitled to at least the small allotment."
"She is, since we find the case probable, if not totally proven."
"It cannot be proven now, unless the father steps forward," the Headmaster said. "I have one other question. . . ."
"The family operates an inn, in a Hidden location," a druid said. "She would have known many of the Hidden, and those druids, officials, and members of the Stricter Sects who deal with the Hidden."
The younger of the two tartaned men stood and said in English, "If these links are true, then you are of course not of my clan, but you are still my maternal first cousin, once removed. I believe you know my son, Cadfael."
"I am pleased to meet Tudur ap Mawrth ap Rhys," Tabitha said. "I do have one other question that you might be able to answer."
"Do I look anything like my mother?" Cadfael and his father had short legs and long stocky bodies, black hair, and dark blue eyes.
The man looked at her. "A little. She did have your green eyes, a well-known trait in your mother's mother's lines. You look most like a younger sister of your mother's. They tend towards dark red or auburn hair, however. Your father must have bright orange or reddish blonde hair, along with that length of leg."
"Thank you, sir."
"You are not of the Truest Believers, but you have done your family proud. Should you be asked to join a traditional clan," (all full druids were required to do so, those in training were often asked between their third and fifth summer of training) "we would be honored if you choose us. By what name shall we call you?"
"I shall be honored to join you under the name I was given last, Tabitha Spellman."
"We shall enter that name in the bloodlines, even if there must be a question mark. Good day, Miss Spellman. Oh, since I was entering the world, I brought you this from my son." He handed her a small box. "We wish you well."
The five men left, and Tabitha opened the box. There was a silver dragon charm, which the Hidden used as their hospitality tokens. Tabitha arranged with the Headmaster for the surplus money from her previous years and her small allotment to be invested. She hoped to acquire a house elf and a home some time after she graduated from the Ysgol.
Tabitha did not share her ancestry with anyone right away. She eventually did with Megan and Henry, who took the news without any judgmental reaction. Cadfael was informed by his family, and he became an even more detailed correspondent.