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 suffers hear...
Tabitha moved her things from 504, which had been her home for the last five years, down to the prefect's suite in 324. She was allowed to floo to Newton on Saturdays, and went two Saturdays in July to pick up some odds and ends for her tiny suite.
WT results came out on June 16.
. . . . . . . . .Theory. . Practical . .Total
Arithmancy. . . . .O . . . .-. . . . . . O
Astronomy . . . . .O+. . . .O. . . . . . O
Charms. . . . . . .O+. . . .E. . . . . . O
Defense . . . . . .O+. . . .E. . . . . . O
Herbology . . . . .O+. . . .A. . . . . . E
History . . . . . .O+. . . .-. . . . . . O+
Potions . . . . . .O+. . . .O+ . . . . . O+
Muggle Studies. . .O+. . . .-. . . . . . O+
Runes . . . . . . .O+. . . .O+ . . . . . O+
Transfiguration . .O+. . . .A. . . . . . E
Tabitha was very happy with her results, and sent off letters to her friends, wishing them well in their results. She met with the Headmaster and those teachers staying over the summer to determine her schedule for the fall.
The problem was she could only take seven classes, and she wanted to take ten: Arithmancy; Basic Medicine; Charms; College Prep (so she could attend a Muggle university); Defense; History; Muggle Studies; Potions; Runes; and Transfiguration.
Tabitha was unsure of her career path. She was primarily interested in spell building/weaving, potions, and in both wizarding and Muggle culture and history. That allowed her to cut out the idea of Medicine -- she would learn some of the same material in N.E.W.T. Potions. She also took the Muggle S.A.T. exam. If she scored well enough on both the verbal and math portions of the exam, she might be able to forego the College Prep course.
Arithmancy and Charms were of course required for her hopes of becoming a Spell Weaver. Defense and Transfiguration were also seen as very useful. The Headmaster pointed out that Sixth and Seventh year Defense was mostly learning dueling and fighting techniques, which she already knew the theories behind. If she stayed with the dueling club, she would get plenty of practice. So, in the end, she wound up taking Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, History, Muggle Studies, Runes, and Arithmancy, since she found out in August that she had scored an 800 on her verbal SAT and a 610 on the math.
As Tabitha worked through that, she decided that life was good. She could look back over five years of accomplishment at school and with the Druids. She had good solid friendships, a wide-range of acquaintances, and satisfying relationships with Henry and Megan.
The rest of July was not as happy a time for Tabitha as she had anticipated. The Saturday after she received her WT results, Tabitha also received an owl from Megan.
While Megan was uncertain if her relationship with Jim would last past school, she was certain that her relationship with Tabitha wouldn't. Therefore, while she wanted to stay Tabitha's close friend, she felt they could no longer be lovers.
Tabitha was stunned. The news came out of nowhere.
Despite her background, Tabitha had managed to construct a very happy and productive life for herself. She now found that all that happiness was ground to dust in the aftermath of her first real love affair crashing. For the rest of July, Tabitha moped and pouted around the school and its grounds. It was the worst weeks of Tabitha's life so far, at least after her first month of consciousness back in July, 1968.
The teachers and the students present who knew her could tell Tabitha was suffering from a broken heart. Most were confused when Tabitha denied any trouble with Henry. Some of the female teachers, remembering back to their own school crushes, guessed both the true cause and the other person concerned.
Tabitha spent most of the daylight hours walking the forest paths around the school. As her angst entered its second full week, the Headmaster consulted with his teachers, two of whom let him know in private what they thought the problem was.
There being no ready potion to cure a broken heart, there was little the Headmaster could do, except ask his counterpart at the Eagle camp to ask his charges to keep an eye on Tabitha as she wandered the woods.
As attached as she had been to Megan, Tabitha was still not totally non-functional because of the break-up. She was careful in the woods, planned out her up-coming course work, checked out the files of the Third and Fourth year girls who were staying on her floor, and then spent every night playing Bach on her lute and blues records loudly on her phonograph.
This sour mood was at least conducive to Tabitha's catching up on her scrapbooks, which she had let lapse in the run-up to the WTs two months before. She noted that in addition to the individual murders and tortures, one family (a Muggle-born, a half-blood, and their children) had been tortured to death. That was more than enough to keep anyone in a poor mood.
Friday, August 3, 1973
Some days in July and August, although rare, could soar to the mid-nineties around the Ysgol. The average high temperature might be only in the mid-70s, but this Friday it was over 90, even in the shady woods. Tabitha sat on a smallish elm which had fallen over a spring, in shorts and a t-shirt, her bare feet dangling just over the cold water, her wand tucked behind her right ear.
She was deep in her own thoughts, and so had no clue there was anyone near, until she heard a voice ask, "What troubles you, sister?"
Tabitha looked up and blinked. What looked rather like the Hollywood image of an Indian maiden was standing a dozen feet away -- an attractive girl of about 16 or 17 in a buckskin dress, moccasins, and head band, all beaded with bone and antler, her long hair in two braids. Many of the most traditional Natives wore native garb, but rarely of this quality.
Something of the surprise must have registered. "What?" She looked down. "Oh, this. We were having a formal meal at noon." She looked puzzled, and added, "Then the Chief took me aside and directed me here, saying I was to ask my sister what troubled her." She shrugged. "I don't have a blood sister, but when I saw you, I thought he might have meant you."
"Maybe," Tabitha agreed. She was about to introduce herself when she recognized the patterns on the girl's dress. "Are you a Chemung?"
"I am," the girl stated. During the 1780s, the decade after the magical Colonials had destroyed nearly all of the magical Iroquois and the Muggle Revolutionaries had destroyed the power of the Iroquois Confederacy, the only surviving Iroquois wizard, a Seneca who now went under the name of Chemung (from the river where the great defeats had occurred), had collected all the Iroquois he could find with any trace of magic and moved them and their families to a fairly inaccessible area in west-central Pennsylvania. There had been just over a thousand, and the numbers hadn't really increased since. They still lived a very traditional life-style, hunting and gathering as well as tending fields and orchards.
Unlike the old Iroquois, they also kept their names as secret as the exact locations of their valleys.
"I know you," the girl said. "You're the knowledgeable Old Believer who's a Dreamwalker."
Tabitha did not recall seeing this girl before, but many shied away from strangers. Still, the girl obviously knew her. Few members of the Eagles took the full seven year course of study at the Ysgol, or even the first five years. About half took a special four year course, usually from age 13 to 17, concentrating on potions, a combination of Defense and Creatures, and Charms. Most of the others came part-time over a ten year period, most often in the summer, alternating with training with their own wizards, shamans, and medicine men. Most groups were taught in three month units (December-February, March-May, June-August, September-November, with the fewest attending December-February).
"That's me, Tabitha Spellman, walking encyclopedia. What may I call you?"
The girl smiled and nodded. "You really do know a little about everything. Why not call me 'Maple'?"
"All right, Maple. Did the Chief say anything else?"
Maple looked shy. "He said I should listen to you, and you should listen to me, that together we might at least find a sympathetic listener." She looked back at Tabitha. "So, why are you out here, looking sad?"
"Broken heart," Tabitha said simply.
"I'm not certain why the Chief sent me." Maple looked indecisive for just a moment then decided,. "Well, why not. Actually, he might know some of the reasons why I'm not happy. I certainly do not have a broken heart. In fact, I will never have my heart broken by a boy."
It took Tabitha a few seconds to figure that out. She gave Maple a twisted smile. "As it happens, my heart wasn't broken by a boy, or a man for that matter."
Maple looked at her, her mouth open from shock. Finally, she said, "Really?"
"Really. I do have a boyfriend, whom I like very much, but we haven't gone very far and I don't know if we ever will. I know at least right now that he's the only boy I can imagine wanting to kiss me. But for nearly three years, this one girl and I have been very close, and for two years, we have been . . . intimate. She decided soon after she got home for the summer that . . . that. . . ."
"That she wanted to move on to boys full-time?" Maple asked softly.
Tabitha nodded. She looked away, tears again streaming. Maple hesitantly approached the tall, lanky young woman with the long bright red hair, and finally laid a hand on her shoulder.
Tabitha cried harder, and Maple hugged the taller girl to her shoulder. "I understand that it hurts. Yet you've had something that I'll never have."
"Why is that?" Tabitha managed through her tears.
"Because that sort of behavior isn't acceptable to my people. There are so few of us, we are all expected to have children, one way or another, so long as there's no force. I really can't imagine living my life in any other way, or with any other people, so I must return. So, even though I've been allowed to extend my stay for a full year to study potions instead of leaving in November, I know that when I return, I must have at least one child, and that everyone would be most comfortable if I do that in a regular relationship. Marriage, if you prefer the term."
After resting in Maple's arms a few more minutes, Tabitha sat up and transfigured a pair of oak leaves into a handkerchief and blew her nose. "It seems as if you've already found yourself an alternative, even if it's far from an ideal one," she pointed out when she'd recovered her poise.
"You may be right."
"So what are you studying now?"
"The usual for us, but I want to concentrate on potions, and will likely only study that after November."
"You're in luck," Tabitha said.
"How is that?"
"I am brilliant at potions. If nothing else, I think we can both use a friend right now, and I think I would be allowed to help you."
"Thank you," Maple said, taken back.
"What type are you most interested in? Healing ones from common indigenous ingredients? Ritual potions? Something altogether different?"
"Mostly the first," Maple admitted. "I'm hoping to come up with some new ones that only use local ingredients." The Chemung had few resources to buy outside products.
Tabitha looked around in thought, then said, "How about a pain and fever reducer that doesn't depend on rabbit, willow, or birch?"
Tabitha pulled together a pile of leaves and stick, and transformed it into a large basket with a handle, and then transformed a rock and a pebble into a bottle and stopper. "Do you have any hickory trees left in your valleys?" From the little she knew, they would have once been more common than willow or birch trees in Maple's area.
"Oh, yes." She shook her head sadly. "I think those lands under magical guardianship are the only ones where the hickory survives, let along thrives like they do in ours."
"Good. We need some of the immature nuts. If you're free, we can run the potion this weekend, and see how it works."
"You don't know?"
"It should work, but since we're inventing it, it will need to be tested."
"We're inventing a potion?"
"You did say you wanted to," Tabitha pointed out. "This will combine ideas from the Old Believers, the Cree, and the Seminoles, adapted for your ecosystem. Fill that up with spring water, and then we'll gather the ingredients. We can ask for permission for you to stay with me this weekend and try it out."
"Now wait a moment. . . . !"
"Oh, I'm not going to ravish you! Come on!"
'That's almost a shame,' Maple said to herself.
In less than three hours, they had filled the large basket, gotten permission for Maple to stay at the Ysgol until early Monday morning and found time for Maple to change into everyday buckskin, gotten permission to use the student potions lab, and were already preparing the ingredients. They would prepare the ingredients in two ways, one using the cauldrons, retorts, and other lab equipment, the other using traditional Indian equipment (eg boiling baskets and the like). Afterwards, they would subdivide those potions and add the more traditional bases, so the differences could be gauged.
The two also ate dinner in the lab, which is when Maple asked one of the questions that was bothering her. Tabitha had explained the rational for each of the 33 ingredients, and why they were being prepared as they were. As she saw the huge quantities of ingredients boiling away, she turned to Tabitha. "Do we really need this much?"
"Well, we'll be reducing this quite a bit," Tabitha answered. "We have what, two batches of ten galleons going right now? We'll reduce it down to a combined total of three by the time we're done. These ingredients aren't as potent as the blood and bark, and if we started off with twenty galleons of the usual potion we'd still be reducing that down to about six."
"That's true," Maple admitted.
"Remember, the idea here is to create a fever and pain reducer out of what for you are more common things, not one that's more effective."
"That's true, too," she admitted. "So now there nothing to do except tend the fires and make certain the baskets don't burn through?"
"Exactly. Still, the regular batch should be done by Seven-thirty. We can clean up and flavor and bottle that while the traditional mix takes its time. And even there, we should be done by Eleven."
"Why are you doing this?" Maple asked directly.
"Because I'm bored and lonely, because I have this huge amount of knowledge in my head and it's fun to actually use it instead of regurgitating it, and because you are cute and were nice to me."
"Oh. . . ."
They finished their stew and went back to observing the cooking and writing their notes -- and getting to know each other as people a little bit better.
Maple woke up with aching muscles. The second thing she noticed was that she was laying on something far too soft to be comfortable. Then she realized she was laying against something warm, if less soft. Memories flooded and she hissed in a combination of pain, confusion, embarrassment, and worry.
"Good morning. . . . I don't remember you in my dreams."
"I wasn't in them. In case you've forgotten, you were practically asleep on your feet, and didn't want to sleep in one of the spare rooms."
"I know. This mattress is too soft. My entire body aches."
"If you won't think it too decadent, you can take a shower. If you won't think me too forward, I could massage you first and then in the shower. It doesn't have to go any further than that."
"If you want."
It was nearly noon before the pair made it to the potions lab. They gathered up the various combinations and copies of Tabitha's notes and brought them to Miss Swank, who besides being her Head of House was one of the three Potions teachers, and Miss Weiss. They would check the potions and then arrange for trials.
After lunch, Tabitha asked her friend, "What shall we do until dinner?"
"May we please go back to your room?"
"Of course." They went back, hand in hand.
To their considerable surprise, there was a note from the Eagle camp, granting Maple permission to stay at the Ysgol throughout August.
"What do you think about it?" Maple asked.
"If you're asking if I'd like you to stay, then the answer is yes. Do I also think it might be hard to let you go in September? Yes."
"I wonder why they're allowing it."
Tabitha shrugged. "Living a traditional life-style isn't always easy if you know about modern ones. They know you aren't happy with the traditional choices you've been given, so they're giving you a chance to see the alternative. I went through something a little like this with a traditional Old Believer, although except in the summer training we're just correspondents. I don't criticize his culture, I don't prettify ours. There are some really awful aspects of our culture. There's a madman and his followers butchering people in Britain for an ideology, there are the conflicts between the different segments of the culture here and around the world, not to mention the problems with the Muggles. The wards that the Old Believers helped your people create keep you away from the evils of the world, as well as from its material progress. There's really no way to separate them completely."
"I'm sure there is a lot of ugliness in the world," Maple said. She stood and removed Tabitha's robe and underwear. "Right now, all I care about is beauty." Tabitha smiled at her shorter friend, while Maple gazed at her. Tabitha had a light tan on her face, arms, and shins, but the rest of her was creamy white. "May I ask a personal question?"
"Do you shave there, or don't European girls have hair there?"
"Oh, we do, some more than others. If you'll let me depilatate you, you'll see why I've kept mine public area clean for two years."
"You're my guide, I can but follow. And tonight, I hope to see the real you in my dreams."