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's Fifth year.
Tabitha returned to the Ysgol on Monday, August 9. Mary Tyler, one of the Magical Symbols and Languages teachers, was one of the Green faculty on duty on that summer. She had left a note for Tabitha to stop by her office when she returned.
Tabitha was glad to learn that her room assignment still hadn't changed. Sometimes the Third and Fourth years were displaced by necessity to other floors, but this year she and her friends were staying put.
Tabitha checked on Miss Tyler's office, and found she was in. "You wanted to see me, Miss Tyler?"
"Ah, Miss Spellman. Welcome back. I take it everything went well with your training?"
"Good." She knew she couldn't ask the details. "Now, Miss Swank and I were talking, along with Miss Weiss. You've been exposed to small-town Muggle life, and life in various magical homesteads. We are concerned that you haven't had much exposure to magical town life, or any time in a city. We talked it over with the Headmaster, and, not to make things a mystery, we were wondering how you would like to spend some time in Newton and New Amsterdam."
"Really!" Tabitha said happily.
"Really." Miss Tyler leaned over and said confidentially, "To tell you the truth, Miss Weiss and Mister Williams are dating and wish to visit New Amsterdam. I think they are even less used to a huge Muggle city than you would be. Now, I shall travel to Newton Thursday evening and return late Saturday morning. Do you wish to accompany me?"
Tabitha had never traveled by floo, and found her first experience very disconcerting, ending with her taking a forward somersault into the Lookout Inn. "Watch out, young miss!" Strong arms helped pick Tabitha up.
"Ah, thank you, Mister Jones," Miss Tyler said. Tabitha felt herself being cleaned up by the man and Miss Tyler.
"First time flooing?" the man asked.
In answer, Tabitha coughed.
"I take that as a yes. Toby, get the ladies a cold lemonade or butterbeer."
"Lemonade for us both, please."
Tabitha was finally able to open her eyes, and saw she was on a large veranda, which did indeed overlook the valley Newton was in. She knew the statistics and the history. Newton had been the original capital of the Old Believers and First Settlers back in the 1500s. The new capital, in western Ontario, was merely known as 'the Capitol,' after the primary building complex.
The town of Newton was a very large magical town by European standards, average by American. It had a wizarding population of about 3300 and a goblin population of about 600. The Outlook Inn was on the north end of the valley, while an access road touched the south end. Some actually managed to drive autos there, although none were allowed in the town itself.
A young boy brought them mugs of lemonade, while his father had returned to the main dining room off the veranda. "Excuse me, do you go to the Ysgol?" he asked Tabitha.
She swallowed a little lemonade, and answered, "Yes, I'm going to be a Fourth year Green dragon. This is Miss Tyler, who teaches there."
"Oh! It's nice to meet both of you! I'm Toby Jones. I start this September."
"I'll look for you, Toby," Tabitha said.
"Father said your rooms will be ready when you come back. Did you want to order dinner now?"
"What's the special today?" Miss Tyler asked.
"Oh, today it's a choice of shepherd's pie or a Mediterranean salad with chicken. Fresh strawberries and cream or strawberry ice cream for dessert."
The women both ordered the salad and ice cream for later, and made their way down the path to town. They would walk the town the first afternoon, and then actively shop the next day, stay a second night, and leave the following morning.
Tabitha knew about all the various magical instruments and appliances. That was of course very different than actually seeing them. Despite being tempting, she bought very little. She had little need, after all, until such time as she decided to set up a household. She did buy a set of storage jars with permanent preserving spells on them. Tyler was amused to see her student fill them with teas, nuts, and dried fruits rather than candy.
Tyler was a bit surprised to see Tabitha visit Pwy Llath, to see if she could find a better match than the wand she had been given. After an hour and a half, she hadn't found anything as good, and let the quest go.
"I think you have an admirer," Miss Tyler teased Tabitha at dinner.
Tabitha saw young Toby was hanging about in the background. "I hope this one is Sorted into another House." She frowned. "Am I particularly attractive?"
"For a young girl who has just started to develop, yes, I would say most boys would think you attractive. Are boys bothering you?"
"Well. . . ."
"Are girls bothering you, too?"
"A bit of both to tell the truth. I'm just not ready for boys."
"I see. Anything you want to talk about?"
"No, nothing I can't handle. I just would prefer not adding to the problem."
"Well, as you said, we can hope young Master Jones is Sorted elsewhere. What do you think of Newton?"
"It's marvelous! I knew about all the magical gadgets, but I never got to see most of them before. I certainly don't need to buy much, although I would like to go to a music shop tomorrow, but it's a lot of fun just shopping!" She paused. "I might invest in one of those record players that work by crank, magic, and even electricity."
"How about clothes?"
"I have enough robes and underclothes and such." Tabitha paused and thought. "I could use a good pair of hooded cloaks, one for the winter and a slightly lighter one for the autumn and spring."
"Do you go out much? You don't take Care." The castle was so large many students never had to go outside during the winter.
"Well, not to play or anything," she said in the tone of any teen being accused of acting childish. "I go to the Quodpot and Quidditch matches, and I also walk over to the Eagle camp a few times a month."
"Are you friends with some the Eagles?"
"Some of the faculty, actually. And of course I'm out for most of the ceremonies, but I wouldn't wear a regular cloak for those."
"Good point. We'll go check out some of the cloaks, and the two music stores. They would probably have good deals on the record players, too. Are you going to be looking for records, too?"
"Oh, no. I should be visiting lots of music stores in New York, magical as well and Muggle."
Marcus Williams actually proved himself quite comfortable in New York as well as New Amsterdam. Rebecca Weiss was totally overwhelmed by both. Tabitha found herself sort of in between the pair in her feelings. She felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size and bustle of New York, but not to the point where she felt paralyzed, like Weiss did a few times when confronted by a larger-than-usual crowd or blatant Muggle rudeness.
Even parts of New Amsterdam, in a section of the docks that Muggles saw as run-down warehouses, were built on a large scale. Tabitha concentrated on shopping for music (sheet music and records), and a few odds and ends for her friends, especially Tom Lawrence, who was missing his Muggle life a bit. She also had fun in the Muggle book stores, ransacking them for titles on ancient history. She was glad she had been able to borrow a magically-enlarged carpet bag to store it all.
Williams agreed to teach her the charms which would prevent the records from getting scratched or from wearing out, and Tabitha helped the adults figure out their way through Manhattan, with some help from Anna, who came in from Brooklyn to show them the main the Muggle sites.
Tabitha's Fourth year was a bit more complicated that her previous ones. She and Megan kept their relationship going, while continuing their more casual relationships with Jim and Henry. The two girls found a lot of satisfaction with the situation. The two boys, who didn't have a clue about the girls' intimate relationship, found things a bit more frustrating.
While she was glad Toby Jones had been sorted into the Blues (although he still stared at her often), Tabitha became even friendlier with Tom Lawrence. He was learning a wide-range of languages, and often came to Tabitha for information on the cultures and magic associated with them, even though she only spoke sixteen languages. He was also a year behind her in his druid studies, and she helped him a bit there, as well.
Tabitha did find it amusing to see other girls flirt with Henry. None of the girls of her House year were about to poach on her territory, but a Third year Green, and a number of Fourth and Third year girls from the other Houses saw him as fair game. Tabitha felt secure, however. With their sessions working on their druidical studies, general homework sessions, their work in the dueling club (where Tabitha had moved up to first alternate), and above all their continued weekly dream-sessions, Tabitha spent more time with Henry than any other girl possibly could. Whereas her relationship with Megan was fully sexual, Tabitha and Henry only progressed to full kissing over Christmas and had not gotten to petting by the end of the year. Henry, not knowing any better, was fairly happy with the progression of their relationship, and was proud to escort her to the Spring Dance (right after Valentine's Day that year) for the second year in a row. By the end of the year, they were acknowledged as a couple by their most ardent pursuers, and most of the flirts went elsewhere.
Tabitha kept up with her scrapbooks on the growing violence in Britain and Ireland. Many Muggle-born and half-bloods were found tortured throughout the course of the year. Tabitha saw that the Dark Wizard was now universally referred to as either 'You-Know-Who' or 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' and his followers were now referred to as 'Death Eaters.' Tabitha even did a history paper comparing Voldemort with earlier Dark Wizards. She wondered, as she looked at the perfect grade, if students had done the same when Grindelwald was trying to exert power.
She had found another person interested in the subject besides Henry. Tom Lawrence was passionately interested in the wizarding culture he now found himself part of, as well as the Muggle culture he had left. Tabitha felt a little sorry for him. He hadn't made the same sort of close friends she had. They weren't very close, but she saw she was the closest thing to a friend her fellow orphan had. Understanding that Tabitha saw him as a younger brother, Henry had even gotten over his jealousy of their spending time together.
As the end of her Fourth year moved towards its close, Tabitha was again given a large number of offers to visit. When she found out that Tom not only hadn't gotten any offers that year, but that he had not left the castle grounds since arriving in 1969 except for his druidical studies, Tabitha made an appointment with the Headmaster and worked out her summer schedule.
Tabitha would stay at school from June 23 through July 2. She also arranged for a day trip to Newton for herself and Tom. From July 2 through July 9, she would be at Cindie's. From July 9 through July 20, she would be with Megan, and from then until August 2, she would be at the dragon ranch with Henry. Her druidical training was from August 2 - 23, and she would return to the Ysgol on August 23. She hoped to make another trip to Newton before school started with Tom.
The summer went off exactly had Tabitha had hoped. Her grades were as high, or even slightly higher in the case of Charms, than usual. She felt she had helped Tom feel a bit more socially at ease, had rested well at Cindie's, and had a passionate time at Megan's. She had had to resist Henry's offers for a more intimate relationship -- she was both uncertain of her own sexual attitudes towards boys and certain that necking with Henry while in their bathing suits was as close to increasing their intimacy as she wanted to get.
At the August training, Tabitha found herself in the 'main-stream' building, while Henry remained in with 'doubtful' students and Cadfael was transferred in with the stricter students. Without Tabitha giving him dream-learning, Henry had to struggle much harder than usual, and in fact just barely was passed. He would have to work harder, and hope Tabitha would visit him when they were back at the Ysgol if her hoped to be invited back for the important Fifth year of training.
The Fifth year at the Ysgol was in many ways the most important. It was of course the students' WT year (the North American term for O.W.L.s). The outcome of the WTs would determine the final two years of study, and narrow most students' career choices. The few students from the stricter backgrounds would have to decide if they wanted to return to Strict Observance and start craft apprenticeships, or ask for another two years of training, risking possible banishment if their sect and family elders felt they had become to 'Outsider.'
Even with her encyclopedic knowledge, Tabitha found her Fifth year far from easy. She might have nearly all the information she needed at her mental command, but she still had to organize it for the progressively difficult essays. She was also spending much of her little free time helping Henry and the other two Old Believer students struggle with their new material, and spending hours of her weekend dream-time teaching Henry. Because the rest of her classmates were even more stressed out, however, Tabitha did manage to move up to the third spot in her House year dueling team.
Tabitha was not too busy to keep up with the news from Britain and western Europe. 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' and his Death Eaters had moved from brutalizing the Muggle-born, Mixed-bloods, and those married to them in Britain and Ireland to some random killings, which now sometimes also occurred in the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of north-western France. The Ministries seemed to be successful only in turning away attempts of other national ministries and the International to help out, claiming that they were about to have the situation under control.
The WTs and N.E.W.T.s were always held in early to mid-June. For Tabitha and her class, that meant between June 4 and June 15. She breezed through her theoretical exams, and managed to work her way through the practicals without making any obvious errors. As always, she felt her charm-work and transfiguration were only slightly above average at best. She knew her theory was brilliant enough to overcome anything other than a disaster in those two subjects. She just hoped she had done well-enough to score E's, which she needed to move on.
Once the WTs were over, most of the Fifth years collapsed in exhaustion. For those striving to make the rank of Novice Druid, the most they could do was go to the final Quidditch matches Saturday (the junior Blues versus the junior Reds, which started at 9:30 and lasted either to 11:30 or whenever the snitch was caught, which ever occurred first, followed by the regular Blue versus Red teams, from 1:00 until the catching of the snitch or until noon Sunday, whichever came first) and the final Quodpot match Sunday at 1:00 (Green versus Orange, Green won the Quodpot Cup, but the Browns managed the junior Quidditch Cup and the Blues the regular Cup that year). After that, they had to prepare for a Full Recitation (which would take between three and four hours), written exams, ritual re-enactments, and a short musical performance.
Candidates from all over North America converged on the oldest tower of the Ysgol, 96 in total this year. Between the school and Weston was a recreation of a great Stone Circle. Those who made it through the testing would be given the First Full Consecration at dawn on the Solstice. Those who were to be allowed to continue would receive Second Consecration at sunset.
The Recitations were on morning and afternoon of the 19th, the musical performance was that night. The short written exams were the following morning, the ritual reenactments that afternoon.
After dinner the evening of the 20th, Tabitha, Henry, Ofydd Pwy, and Awstin Mihangel, the four remaining of the six Greens who had started off together, sat in one of the small lounges at the base of the Green tower. They were waiting to hear the Summons.
"What do we do if we don't make it?" Awstin asked for the fifth time. He had had the greatest difficulty that year.
"Not being called is not a reflection of our faith," Henry reminded them. "Faith calls us all to worship. We are still equal in the Faith, even if we are not called."
Tabitha tried to comfort them without revealing that it was rare for a candidate who reached this stage not to be allowed to take the First Consecration. The real question was who would be allowed to take the Second.
Shortly before sunset, the Headmaster and a Druid entered the room. "Henry Dorff, Awstin Mihangel, Ofydd Pwy, Tabitha Spellman, you are all Called to greet the sunrise with the True Believers. Do you heed the Call?"
The four students stood, bowed, and each said, "I accept the Call."
The students flooed to near the stone circle, and then were separated for ritual baths. The students then sat through the night in meditation. When the first rays of dawn appeared, they rose, stripped off the robes, and greeted the longest day as they were brought into the world along with nearly all the full druids and most of the lesser orders. After they finished the prayers, they were anointed. They were druids, novices, but druids. For a brief time, from the start of the dawn prayers until the last prayer after the last novice was anointed, they partially shared a magical bond, forming part of one gestalt
Afterwards, they dressed and ate breakfast. As they finished, one of druids, acolytes or higher, approached the Novices and led them away. 24 were led back to the Ysgol, 72 were taken to tents.
Tabitha was one of the 72. She scanned the crowd for Henry, but didn't see him. After she rested in the tent, she looked again in the late afternoon. She knew he had been told he probably wouldn't advance before, but she had hoped.
She did find Ofydd Pwy, who confirmed that both Henry and Awstin had been sent back. She also found Cadfael and introduced him to Ofydd.
That evening, the group went through the Second Consecration. It seemed strange not to have Henry nearby. She hoped that the Dragons would still consider him.
The next day, Tabitha learned that she had been accepted by the River sect, and would be considered by the Owls if she went on to higher training after the N.E.W.T.s. Novices who wished to study towards becoming an acolyte who were not already members of a traditional clan could either apply to membership in one, or join one of three 'new clans' -- one had been created in the late 16th century while the other two had been created in the 18th century. This was needed as druids were associated both with sect and clan functions. Tabitha decided to apply to her mother's clan, the Danadl, even though few of them led lives Outside.
Since she was continuing her training, she had to stay for two weeks of additional training before going back to her room. To her friends' dismay, Tabitha was staying at the Ysgol this summer. She had accepted one of the two positions for female Green Prefects. She would be supervising the First years, while Margaret would be the Prefect for the Sixth years. (Henry and Ofydd were the boys' prefects.) She would be the one Green prefect staying the summer.