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 Sixth year, ...
Sunday, September 1, 1973
Maple woke up a little after dawn and stretched. This was likely the last time she would be waking up in Tabitha's bed. She wouldn't miss the too-soft mattress, but she would very much miss Tabitha. She wasn't sure if she was in love with the girl, or if she just had a great wealth of respect and affection for her. Hopefully the latter. It would make their separation easier.
Maple would be returning first to the Eagle camp, and then in just under a year, back to her world, better equipped in every respect than she had been just under a month before. Tabitha had been an inspired teacher of life. Maple now better understood the compromises that all people had to make as they traveled through their lives. Most people did not even realize they were making them, but Tabitha was well-aware of most of the ones she had made. Anyone looking at her would see a beautiful, well-adjusted if very aloof, brilliant young woman. Maple had learned the how much that picture was just an image that Tabitha projected. Her extreme experiences at 10 could have crippled Tabitha, it instead made her sense of self and self-control the strongest of anyone Maple had ever or would ever come across. This in turn forced Tabitha to stand apart from the people around her. Only Henry, Megan, and now Maple herself had been allowed even a glimpse of the tremendous emotional depths as well as the towering intellect. Friendly, caring Tabitha was really very lonely. Understanding Tabitha's compromises helped Maple understand and accept hers, even embrace most of them.
She sat up on the too-soft bed and stretched. Yes, he would miss the hot showers and indoor plumbing, she would miss Tabitha's gentle love-making and intelligent concern and conversation, she would miss sharing dreams -- sometimes she had felt she was swimming in the warm, comforting sea of Tabitha's love when visiting Tabitha's better dreams -- but she would not miss this bed.
She would be going back materially better off as well. She would be taking a set of cauldrons and other lab equipment. Maple had felt a bit guilty when Tabitha had taken her to Newton to shop, but had let herself be convinced. No Chemung had taken a fifth year of potion study in almost a hundred years, and the other three primary potion makers were over 135. The others could create the basic potions, but potions could be an exacting calling and few Chemung could spend the time to stay in constant practice.
Maple picked up her new wand. Most Eagles used generic wands, which did a decent-enough job for the basic work they needed. Maple was surprised at how wonderful a proper wand felt. She found her new wand so interesting she didn't even hear the door open.
She gave Tabitha a small smile. "To a degree. This has been a wonderful month."
"It is," Tabitha agreed. She embraced and kissed her friend's forehead.
"UkÃºwÃ¦," Maple said, "My darling Red Oak. I'll think of you when I taste unÃ¶sta'shÃ¦' and uthÃ¶ta'ktÃ¶'."
"I taste like sassafras and raspberry?"
"Then I'll think of you when I taste . . . uskwai'ta' and ukÃ¶hsa'," she teased back, meaning ginger and honey. They kissed lightly. "UkÃ¶hsÃº," Tabitha murmured, "my darling Maple."
The girls were walking down to breakfast when Tabitha felt Maple stiffen beside her. Looking up, she saw the Eagle chief, two other Native Americans, and the Headmaster.
"It's time to come back, daughter," the Eagle chief said, "unless you intend to stay here."
"If those are my only choices, then I suppose I must go," Maple said sadly.
"I understand your concerns and your sacrifices," one of the others said softly. "We will help you be happy with your choices. Now go, while I talk with your friend. I shall see you before I leave."
"Miss Spellman," the Headmaster said, "remember to meet with the head prefects when the First years start arriving."
"Yes, sir." Tabitha watched her friend being led away.
"She's not being sent into exile, let alone execution, you know," the man said to her.
"Are you the chief of the Chemung?"
"Those would be the terms for both in English," the man agreed. "I wanted to thank you for befriending . . . what did she have you call her?"
"Really? That was her mother's nickname for her. As I was saying, thank you for befriending Maple. I knew she would not desert us, but she longs for something we cannot supply her."
"Are you going to force her to marry?"
"No, not marry."
"But she needs to have at least one child."
"She should, but again I shall not force her. Do you know anything of our culture?"
"I know the general ideas of the Iroquois, but nothing more than that."
"Then remember, our property and ancestry are matrilineal. While most of our longhouses have for some reason more women than men, she has been the only heir to hers for some years. It would make things easier for all if she had a daughter."
"I see. Thank you for explaining that."
"You are a novice druid, are you not?"
"I am. I hope to go on to acolyte."
"Very good. After Maple leaves next year, you may owl her. Address it to Maple, but tell the owl to take it to the Great Longhouse of the Chemung, or the Shamunk, if you prefer our pronunciation. I shall see that it gets to her. And, should she owl you, you may freely ask the owl to wait to take the response directly back to her. More importantly, if she and you both wish, you may visit her in two summers."
"Really. We do allow the occasional member of the Confederation Government to visit, and the occasional Old Believer as well. I hope you both at least stay in enough contact for her to ask your advice on potions -- I understand you hope to train as a master."
"I do, but I'm sure you'll find Maple is quite a knowledgeable and capable witch." 'Especially since I helped her dream-learn all the native lore and potion principles I could,' she added to herself.
After the floor meeting that night, Tabitha managed to get her First years into bed and then took a shower. As she brewed herself some peppermint tea, Tabitha looked at the corn husk doll Maple had made for her. She had also promised to make Tabitha wampum to symbolize their friendship, but that would take several years. Right now, all she had was the doll, her memories, and one wizarding photo that a White dragon had taken of the pair.
She moved over to a piece of furniture she had ordered back in May. It was a small cabinet with four sets of narrow shelves above it. Although it was a Roman idea rather than a Celtic one, she was using it as a shrine.
The top shelf had just two photos: the one of herself and Maple, and one of herself and Henry at the last Valentine's Ball. The second shelf had the doll, while the other shelves were empty. The top of the cabinet just had an incense holder and a candle. She replaced the photo of herself and Maple just as there was a soft knock on the door.
Opening it, Tabitha was a bit surprised to see who it was. "Megan," Tabitha said somewhat formally. "Come in. I was going to have some peppermint tea, if you would care for some."
"Thank you." Tabitha had added a second chair, a rocking chair. Megan sat on the old stuffed chair while Tabitha sat on the rocker.
"How was your summer?" Tabitha asked politely.
"You hate me, don't you? You're furious."
"No, I'm not either. I was furious, and terribly hurt, but I could never hate you." She poured the tea.
"I understood why you wanted to stay this summer, but I felt very hurt by it," Megan said casually.
"You broke up with me because I didn't feel able to visit anyone this summer?"
"No, but the fact that you didn't visit me hurt, and helped me decide that we wouldn't have a future together."
"Have you and Jim set the wedding date yet?"
"No, but at least that's a possibility. I want a house, husband, and children. I don't regret our relationship, never think that, but it's not the sort of relationship I want in the long run."
"I see. And when did Margaret remind you of that?"
"Marge? She didn't . . . oh, well, I don't think that was the reason. . . ."
"Of course not." 'She's only been hinting about it since Emily graduated,' Tabitha thought.
Megan blushed, but snapped back, "From what I hear, you weren't lonely. Sleeping with an Indian! How discrete of you."
"Of an Indian? Please!"
"You dumped me, and I went through two weeks of hell. I'm so sorry I didn't suffer enough to please you!"
There was a wealth emotion in Tabitha's voice, although she had not spoken loudly. It seared through Megan's heart, and she felt ashamed.
"I'm sorry," Megan said sincerely. She sipped her tea.
"So who told you about Maple?"
"Some of the Red Pure-Bloods, of course." The Red dragons Pure-Bloods wouldn't care what Tabitha did, only that she had crossed racial lines.
"I'll have to kiss Henry at breakfast near their table. That should stop most of the rumors."
"Good luck. I'm sorry I hurt you like I did."
"I know. I understand."
Megan stood and they embraced, and then kissed warmly and deeply. "I'll miss your kisses, as well as everything else," Megan said.
"Thanks. I'll miss you, too." 'More than you or anyone else will ever know,' she thought. They kissed lightly, and Megan went off to bed. By leaving much which was really unsayable unsaid, they were able to part friends.
Monday, September 2, 1973
"Tabby, we need to talk," Henry said to Tabitha over the phone the next morning.
"We have Charms at Nine. . . ."
"I know. Let's eat now, and then talk."
"It must be important for you to call me at Seven!"
"It is. Meet you in front of the elevators."
"Good morning?" Tabitha said, although it came out as a question.
"Then to heck with breakfast," Tabitha said. She dragged Henry down to the dungeons and into one of the study rooms. "Speak. No, let me guess, you heard some rumor about me and Maple. That because we spent a lot of time together, we must be doing something disgusting. Right?"
"It would explain a lot about how you treat me, and other boys. Have you been using me, Tabitha?"
She decided that while she would happily lie to just about anyone else on Earth, the one person she shouldn't lie to about this was standing in front of her. "Emily Tyne seduced me the summer after our Second year," Tabitha told him. "I liked the physical act, but not with her. Megan and I were lovers for almost three years, but she has decided to devote herself to Jim."
Henry was stunned. He finally managed to say, "So you have been using me!"
"No, I have not. I sincerely like you, and am attracted to you. But I'm afraid to push our relationship any further."
"Because. . . ." Tabitha tried to think of how to explain herself.
"Because you're the only boy I can see myself interested in, but we're not heading for traditional lives, Harry. Meg and Jim could marry right after they graduate and live on the family farm and live normal lives for the next hundred and fifty years, and if they don't end up together, she'll find someone else to live that life-style with. She'll almost certainly be married within a few years of graduating. If you become a hit-wizard, you'll never get married. I won't be ready before at least seven more years either. I like you, I might even love you, but we're not likely to be together. . . ." Henry had to admit to himself that was true, although he hated that it was, ". . .and I can't afford to fool around with any boy."
Tabitha took a deep breath and went on, "And it was easier, and it felt more natural, to sleep with girls. No one thinks much about it, because there is a lot of it -- and a lot of it, probably most of it, is innocent, but that just covers up a lot of goings on you couldn't imagine." Henry looked dazed at that. "And, of course, it's easier to get a reputation as a slut than as a lesbian, and both are treated equally badly. I will brazen this out, Henry, but I will not lie to you, I will not use you, I have not used you, and I will not let you use me. I care for you, but I prefer girls to boys, at least right now. You can abandon our relationship, or even our friendship -- you can even confirm the rumors and maybe even have me striped of my prefect-status, but I will not openly lie to you."
"I won't blackmail you," Henry said slowly. "I won't abandon you. Can you swear you really care for me? That you've not just been using me?"
"I swear. Would you like me to make it a formal oath?"
"No." Henry put his arm around his best friend. "I love you. We've been through a lot, and we'll get through this. Since we'll likely both be here through Christmas, we'll sit down then and define our relationship. Until then, we go on as we have, and by then, we might know where we're going."
"Thank you, Harry."
"You're welcome, Tabby. Let's go lose some House points for smooching in class."
The flurry of rumors about Tabitha and Maple died out over the first few weeks of the fall term. A few students from other Houses made snide comments, most often before dueling matches (Tabitha managed to hang onto fourth place on the team). There had also been a few minor scuffles, with the Greens defending her 'honor' against Reds or Oranges, and in one case, young Blue dragon Toby Jones attacking two Third year Oranges. By Christmas, the rumors had died off.
Maple and Tabitha only met in passing a few times that term, and they kept those meetings public -- Maple was receiving some harassment for over-association with a non-Native. The night after the last meeting-in-passing, however, Tabitha was startled to find herself in Maple's dreams. It was the first time she ever found herself in another person's dream while not in physical contact. Johnson the Dreamwalker had warned her of the possibility -- she would have had to had been in dream-contact with the before, they both would have to be dreaming about the other, and both would have to deeply want to establish the contact.
The pair had a long talk and comforted each other with their troubles, but agreed it would be best of they continued to stay apart in the physical world. They would, however, try to strengthen their dream-connection, although they later found out they could not make it over the distances involved after Maple left the area.
Tabitha and Henry went nearly everywhere together. The only time they were apart for any length of time was when they were in different classes and when Henry was a Quidditch practice (he had given up Quodpot that year). While they had the usual opportunities for light hugging and kissing, there was little they could do about anything more intimate (which was certainly on Henry's mind, at the least).
As the winter holidays approached, two of Tabitha's charges decided to stay over, as did one of Henry's. Most of the school would empty out, and they could sit down and discuss their future, at least in the short term.
The pair joined in the solstice celebrations with the other Old Believers.
Wednesday, December 26, 1973
"Did you have a nice Christmas?"
"I'm wearing the hat, scarf, and mittens you made for me, how could I have NOT had a great Christmas. And I'm sure Mom and Dad loved the afghan."
"Well, I'm sure Mom loved it."
"Be sure to thank them for these dragon-hide gloves. And yes, I've sent them a note, but you can send them my thanks as well."
"Cut that out!"
"Ow!" Henry rubbed his upper arm. "You hit hard."
They continued to walk through the woods along a deer trail. "Where are we going, anyway?"
"Some place Maple showed me."
"Are we allowed to be here?"
"I asked if anyone else would be here today, and they said not until after noon."
"It's a retreat, where the Indians can go to be alone."
"It's just a . . . I'm not sure what to call it."
'It' was a small, one room, round structure made out of interwoven branches, reeds, and other such material. It had no windows, and was entered by a short tunnel. Tabitha ducked down and crawled in, followed more awkwardly by the much-taller Henry.
It was dark inside until Tabitha started a magical fire in the fire pit in the center of the room. It was about ten feet across, and only six feet high near the center. Henry, already six foot two, had to stay in a crouch. Tabitha, at five foot seven, was standing up and smiling at her confused friend.
"Since you're down there, put some of the small sticks into the fire. We need some real heat, not just light." There was a small hole, where most of the smoke would escape. But not all. The hut reeked of wood smoke, tobacco, and other herbs.
"This isn't a sweat lodge, is it?"
"Not a sacred one. It's more commonly used for this." She bent over and kissed Henry deeply.
Tabitha pulled out her wand and cast warming charms around the hut. "Just stay there," she said. She took off her cloak and laid it on the spruce branches that were on one side of the hut. Henry's eyes went wide as she then took off her heavy robe, showing that she was now only wearing boots.
She laid back on her robe and cloak, and said, "One reason why I dislike male-female relations is that I see the boy getting all the real pleasures, the girl only getting the pleasure of knowing she's pleased him. If you can learn to pleasure me, my dear, I swear to learn how to pleasure you."
Henry leered. "I'll do my best, my love."
They both left the hut, feeling they had learned a lot about the needs and responses of the other. They never got to use the little hide-away in the woods again that year. If there were any places where mixed-gender couples could get togther at school, they were unaware of them.
Henry was very glad he now had a private room, as he was more frustrated than ever. He could only hope Tabitha could spend time with him at his home that summer. She would spend the last week of June working with the Old Believers at the Ysgol. She would then spend two further weeks at a location she couldn't reveal to him. He had to be satisfied with heavy kissing in the stairwells, and concentrated on his studies, Quidditch, and dueling. Tabitha concentrated on her extra-curricular research and her dueling. By the time the Spring Dance, they seemed like the perfect couple.
Tabitha had agreed to spend three weeks in August with Henry's family. Starting on June 20, however, she would be spending three weeks in her druid training. The first three days would be at the Ysgol, helping with the sorting of the Fifth years.
Friday, June 21, 1974
"Did you sleep well?" the Headmaster asked Tabitha.
"Yes, sir." She smiled. "It's a lot less nerve-wracking this way."
"I'm sure it is. Since it's almost dawn, we should move into position. Join me."
The year before, Tabitha hadn't really noticed how many druids of all ranks there were. She estimated there had to be over three thousand druids of various ranks around the circle.
Just before the last few novices were anointed, the ceremony as interrupted. A group of wizards appeared at the center of the circle.
A group of wizards in masks and black robes.
Tabitha was one of the few who instantly recognized who the thirty wizards were.