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 Seventh ye...
"Old Believers! We follow the true master of magic!" one Death Eater called out. The Death Eater in charge had obviously been mis-informed somewhere along the line about how many people would be present at the ceremony. As he had noticed he and his group were outnumbered more than 100-1, his voice trailed off. "Bow down and . . . follow . . . us. . . ."
Silence hung over the crowd outside the stone circle. The remaining initiates near the alter stood as still as the others. The gestalt held the druids together, and they simply stared at the thirty Death Eaters. The druids had no fear, because they were united.
The same could not be said of the Death Eaters. The silence unnerved them. One suddenly raised his wand. "AVADA. . . ."
The Death Eaters never said another word. Hundreds of stunners were sent at them before the first death curse was completed. The Death Eaters were stripped and bound, then moved from the sacred stone circle.
Then the initiations were completed.
"Would you come with me, please?"
Tabitha left lunch and followed the disciple. She was surprised to find herself led to the pavilion where the Council of Druids and the Tuatha were having lunch.
A voice in Welsh commanded, "Ah, Sister. Sit."
Tabitha sat and bowed her head before Adda Lloyd, eldest of the Tuatha. "No need of that. Brother FitzWilliam has told me you have a strong interest in these barbarians."
"Yes, Wise Master."
"At first, because of the plot to kill me my first Yule at the School."
"I remember the attempt. It was connected to this Voldemort?"
"Yes, Wise Master."
"I had thought so. It may interest you to know that the young man who made the attempt was one of the idiots who disrupted our ceremony."
"I had wondered when his name would appear, Wise Master."
"Tell me, what is the penalty for such desecration as was caused today?"
"In the Old Days, the penalty would be death."
"By what means?"
"Any or all could be put to death by being consumed by the fire of the wicker man." Druids had ritually burned those convicted of capital crimes in wicker structures which resembled the human body. "Any or all could be used as divination sacrifices. The one who started the death curse could also be beheaded, although that would have gone to whomever disarmed him, so that he could claim the head, to decorate his door."
"Very good, child. Anything else?"
Tabitha thought about that for a moment. Finally she said, "I suppose the head of the spokesman could be preserved and sent to his Master. . . ." She suddenly remembered noticing a cedar bucket near the door. She glanced at it, and swallowed nervously.
"Yes, we extracted what information we could and then beheaded him. The others burn tonight at dusk. Although dressed as Death Eaters, these were actually young and foolish hopefuls, except for the leader. They have had, so far, very little information for us. That little information will be sent to the British authorities, although we believe they will do little with it."
"Yes, Wise Master," Tabitha said in a very small voice.
"Now, as we saw and remember the event, you were actually one of the first to fire a stunner when the Call went out. It is impossible to know if you hit this Malfoy. However, if you wish it, you may have his head as a trophy."
An image of Malfoy's face sitting on her shrine spring into Tabitha's mind. "No, thank you for the honor, but no, Wise Master."
"May I ask a question, Wise Master?"
"The Burning tonight?"
"Do you wish to attend? As a party more injured than most, you may."
"No, Wise Master. I was merely curious if, if well. . . ."
"If they will feel the burning of their flesh? No. No, we are weak compared to our ancestors. They will be unconscious. Now I have a question."
"Are there any you would wish to share knowledge of these events with?"
Tabitha thought about that. "Perhaps one, Wise Master. He is a Novice who did not advance with me last year."
"Ah, Brother Dorff? Very well. Share with no other who was not here today, and tell him to treat your information as a confession. If you do not wish to see the burning, you may leave after the Novices receive their second concentration. It is not a pretty sight. However, the tents are far enough away that you will not have to see the details. Go no further."
"Yes, Wise Master." At his gesture, she left the pavilion, avoiding the cedar bucket with the hair floating at the top.
Tabitha watched the flames from the camp of tents, along with most of the younger people present. She sat with Tom, who had been part of the group consecrated that evening.
"I don't know if I can go on," Tom said.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean just what I said. Was there a trial?"
"Was one needed? Death Eaters, or Death Eater wannabes, aren't under Imperio, you know. They violated the ceremony, and at least one tried to kill."
"I guess. Sometimes, it seems as if force is more important than law."
"It is," Tabitha admitted. "Even in the Confederation, we're as close to old tribal laws as we are to the pure rule of law. The rest of our world is even worse when it comes to political crimes, and few Muggle countries are any better. Most are much worse."
They sat in silence for some time, glad the smoke was blowing away from them.
Finally, Tom spoke, changing the subject. "You would know this. I'm interested in learning the ancient runic ceremonies, the anti-demonic ones, and ritual magic. Would I have to make it to acolyte, or beyond, to learn these?"
"Yes and no. Yes, if you move beyond acolyte, you learn them. You can ask for permission to learn them anyway, but it's not automatic. The most powerful magic there is in this area are found in the various Mesopotamian and Tibetan rituals, and some of the ones from Africa are almost as powerful. There are . . . maybe eight of the greatest experts in the world on demonology and ritual magic teaching in the Confederation that I know of. Two Buddhists teach out in California. One teaches at the Sefydliad and another at Salem. Three teach at the Vieux Carrie in New Orleans."
"And the other?"
Rhys Gwyn was one of the two Magical Language and Symbols teachers at the Ysgol. "Really? Is that why he left the Faith?" He had been a Hidden, but had left the sect, and then the Old Believers.
"I don't think so. I think he had some kind of run-in with the Powers of Darkness. If so, that sort of thing changes a person."
"I can understand that," Tom said, watching the smoke pillar high up into the starry night sky. "I killed my family, you know."
"You accidentally caused the fire that killed your family."
"No," Tom said sadly, "I killed my brother. I didn't do it on purpose, but I blasted him across the kitchen, which broke his neck and started the grease fire that killed everyone else. A few hundred years ago, the Muggles would have burned me alive like we are those Death Eaters, except without my being magically unaware. Why them and not me? Why wasn't I punished?"
"I think you've punished yourself fairly well," Tabitha pointed out.
"Maybe. Maybe not. That's the problem with punishing yourself. You're either too hard or too easy on yourself." He sighed. "Thanks for being my friend."
"I haven't been a very good one."
"Well, you're the only one. That makes you a pretty good one as far as I can see."
"There no one in your class? And what about Gloria?" She was a third year Brown Tom had taken to the dance in February.
"She wanted to go to the dance, and I wanted to take a girl. That's as far as it went. As for my class . . . maybe Lloyd Trowbridge, but no. Sorry, Tabby, you're my best friend, even if I'm not yours."
"Then thank you. What are you going to do? You'll meet with the trainers tomorrow, or at least we did last year."
"I think I'll ask about the ritual and demonology training outside the regular training, and I'll tell them I'm sticking with the Open Believers. I'll finish this year, if they want me to."
"Good luck," Tabitha said, hoping he would find a way to deal with his inner demons as well.
When Tabitha came back from training in northern Quebec, she found that Tom had been released from his training. Mister Gwyn had agreed to give Tom private lessons in demonology and symbolic and ritual magic, although they wouldn't start until August.
While she spent some time being friendly with Tom and some of the other students who were staying during the summer, Tabitha also spent two days a week in Salem. There she met with the women who might sponsor her for study at the Salem Witches Institute. They also took her to visit some of the Muggle universities where she was planning on applying for Classics and Cultural Anthropology. Between her excellent (although not fantastic) SAT scores and the large number of universities in the Greater Boston area, plus the fact that she was fluent in all the relevant languages, she felt certain she could find some place which would accept her for at least one of the programs.
In the end, Tabitha decided to apply to Tufts, Boston University, and Radcliffe/Harvard. Since she spoke all the necessary languages (Latin, Classical Greek, and German) and more besides, she was sure she'd at least get into the classics programs.
In her heart, Tabitha was still a bit confused about what she wanted. Her ties with Henry were strong and real. On the one hand, they were unlikely to ever have a 'conventional' relationship, let alone marriage. That was where everyone was expected to head. Conventional wisdom would say she should move on to another boy.
Yet on the other hand, she could not imagine becoming involved with any other male. Homosexuality was actively despised in most of the Muggle world, with a few small spots of hidden tolerance. The Pure-blood and Old Colonial families were even more hostile. Some sections of the general magical community and the more liberal sects of the Old Believers discouraged it, but at least had some tolerance.
Of course, unlike nearly everyone else, Tabitha didn't have to worry about what any family had to say.
Faced with all these conflicting feelings and paths, Tabitha decided to go ahead and stay with Henry and his family. He had proven himself her best friend as well as an excellent and tolerant boyfriend. There was always a chance that he would not be accepted as a hit-wizard (she could not believe he would fail to make it through auror training). In that case, marriage might be possible around 1980, which is when she would be finishing her training in any event.
That wouldn't solve all of Tabitha's conflicts by any means, but she did feel it would be a workable solution.
And it was six years away.
A lot could happen in six years.
As usual, Tabitha had topped or come close to the top of the grading scale in all her classes. Henry had also done very well, and if he could claim at least five E or O N.E.W.T.s (the one in Defense mandatory), he had been assured entrance into the auror program.
Henry was now the oldest student in the dragon ranch community, as well as being from the owning family. Tabitha had wondered if this meant Henry might not be tempted to run a little wild. As things turned out, Tabitha's time at the dragon ranch was more relaxing than she had anticipated. They were much more supervised than they had been before, which in retrospect made a great deal of sense. As things turned out, most of their best 'intimate time' was spent in their dreams.
They did manage to find times (and places) for some serious necking and petting every day. It was a great deal more difficult to find the privacy for more intimate play. To Tabitha's pleasure, Henry was very fair in making certain that Tabitha 'had a good time' (their code phrase) as many times as he did, one way or another.
Henry's mother was more solicitous than ever. She was obviously hoping that the pair would be coming back with some sort of announcement the next summer. Cautious probing revealed that Mrs. Dorff was hoping that her son would be persuaded into following a less hazardous career than law enforcement. Mr. Dorff still hoped his son would join the family business, but he seemed to be the only person who still thought there was any chance of that.
The rest of the family seemed to support Henry's decision to go for auror, if not joining the Dragons and hopefully the hit-wizards. The extended family also seemed to accept Tabitha. She was a little uncomfortable, as most seemed to make the same assumptions about the young pair as Henry's mother.
Tabitha really liked staying with the Dorffs. Never having had a family, she couldn't help but long for a family life. Still, she wasn't in any hurry to have her own.
Tabitha left the Dorffs to spend a few days with Cindie. She had remained a solid friend throughout the emotional roller coaster which had been Tabitha's Sixth year. Cindie, comfortably ensconced in a good relationship with a half-blood Brown, was planning on moving to New York City after her Seventh year and work on Muggle degrees in elementary education and child development. She was one of a small group who where planning on opening a series of magical combination daycare/elementary schools -- both of which were both lacking and in large demand in those urban centers with large magical populations. Tabitha went back to school for her last year with a new plan.
Tuesday, September 3, 1974
Boris Rasputin, the senior potions teacher, looked over the Seventh year Green, Blue, and Brown N.E.W.T. students. He was glad his first class of the year was the N.E.W..T. class. "This year, we will complete your intermediate knowledge of potions preparation. I hope you have all completed your summer essays. You were also to choose one of the potions which take at least three months of preparations." He held up a small stack of parchment slips. "Any last minutes changes?"
No one said anything. "No? Then I assume you all see that pile of yew needles. Chop them coarsely and add one cup to one pint of grain alcohol. Then shred the foxglove, and add three cups to the mixture. Remember, the result will be poisonous. Be careful!"
He sat and flipped through the slips, until he came to Tabitha's. His eyes bulged and he looked up at the girl, who smiled back. He sighed and went over to talk to her. "Miss Spellman?" Spellman was his favorite student.
"Yes, Mister Rasputin?"
"You really intend on doing this potion?"
"And you will be doing this for?"
"For Mister Dorff, sir."
"I see. And do you intend on collecting the ingredients yourself?"
"All but one, sir."
"I see." He turned to Dorff. "Do you have any idea what we're talking about, Dorff?"
"I'll expect informed consent, Dorff, before I approve Spellman's potion."
"So, what was that all about in potions?" Henry asked as they sat on a bench in a courtyard that afternoon.
"I found an interesting strengthening potion. It really only works for one person. It takes six months to brew, and is then distilled. If it's properly done, it will last for at least a century."
"I take it's special because it's keyed to one person?"
"In part, that and it's power. If any guy takes it, other than a near blood relative, it will about as much effect as that new Muggle drink they had us analyze last year."
"That's it. It will have a slightly stronger effect on any witch or close male relative. But for you, it will be six times more effective than the strongest general healing potion available."
"Okay, I'll bite. What makes it special?"
"Well, for the batch I want to run, I'll need six pints of blood, drawn over a four-month period."
"Ouch. Is that what he meant?"
"No . . . I'll also need twelve fluid ounces of semen, over a six-month period."
"What! I mean," he went on, lowering his voice, "what?"
"I'll also need some nail pairings and skin. That can come from a callous. I'll have to give you a pedicure for the clippings, I guess."
"Please tell me you're teasing!"
"Nope." Tabitha's grin disappeared. "When I'm done distilling it, I should have about ninety two ounce doses. Think about that. If you make it as an auror or hit-wizard or dragon, you will get hurt. Sometimes, you will be seriously hurt. I can't protect you, Harry. This is one thing I can do to at least reduce the hurt, and help you heal."
"Then I think I shall give my informed consent." He grinned. "Are you sure you don't want to collect that ingredient?"
"I'm certain. I hate harvesting live lizard tails. You get me the three ounces I need, and I'll take care of the rest."
"Deal." Henry smiled. "You should have been an Orange Dragon." Tabitha had found a plan to help him in the future, but more importantly to him at the moment, she had secured a small private lab where, if they were careful, they could be alone. And, she had basically promised to help get him off numerous times over the year.
Even for Tabitha, the Seventh year was far from being an easy one. Most of the extra-curricular activities (other than Quodpot and Quidditch) were front-loaded. The Seventh year duels, for example, were all held between mid-September and the end of January. Tabitha, her power finally catching up with her older classmates, had moved up to the number two spot, and ended up the number three-rated dueler in the Seventh year.
Tabitha received her acceptance from Tufts in early January. Although she was also admitted to BU and made an alternate at Radcliffe, she decided to stick with Tufts, in part because they had asked fist and in part because it would be slightly easier to commute between there and Salem. The Ysgol staff arranged for her to visit Tufts over the short spring break to try and test out of as many courses as she could.
Early June brought the N.E.W.T.s. The students all agreed, as they did every year, that as nasty as the WTs had been, the N.E.W.T.s were worse. And, as in every year, the Fifth years refused to believe it, and the Sixth all hoped it wasn't true.
The question had arisen several times over the previous year where Tabitha would live after she graduated. In early April, she had been given conditional admittance to the Salem Institute for both Spell Weaving and Potions. In addition, she had been admitted for less stringent programs, should she fail to achieve the necessary N.E.W.T.s. Therefore, her guardians, her mother's clan, and others came together and bought her a small house in Lynn, between the Salem Institute and Tufts. After she returned from her three weeks of training and visiting Henry for a week, but before visiting Maple for three weeks, she would also have to take her driver's exam (she had already been practicing, along with others interested in integrating with the Muggles).
The house had been built in the early 1920s, and had never been remodeled at all. Therefore, it would not be ready for her to move in until mid-August in any event. Fortunately, everything Tabitha owned could be moved into her trunks, with plenty of room to spare.
Tuesday, July 15, 1975
"Well," Mrs. Dorff demanded, "you've been waiting for a month, if not for a year. Open them!"
Neither Henry nor Tabitha wanted to open their N.E.W.T.s. It meant their lives had to move on. It meant that roads that had been in front of them might now be closed off. This was especially true for Henry. He had no idea what he might do with his life if he couldn't go into the higher end of law enforcement. Unlike most of his classmates, he had never wavered in his desires. He had done everything right along the way, but it still came down to the little bit of parchment he had taken from the owl.
Finally, Tabitha said, "I'll go first.
N.E.W.T. Results for Tabitha Stephanie Spellman
. . . . . . . . .Theory. . Practical . .Total
Arithmancy. . . . .O . . . .-. . . . . . O
Charms. . . . . . .O+. . . .O. . . . . . O
History . . . . . .O+. . . .-. . . . . . O+
Potions . . . . . .O+. . . .O+ . . . . . O+
Muggle Studies. . .O+. . . .-. . . . . . O+
Runes . . . . . . .O+. . . .O+ . . . . . O+
Transfiguration . .O+. . . .E. . . . . . O
Tabitha was grinning as she read off the scores. She added, "They also included a note from the Salem Institute, saying I've been accepted as an apprentice Spell Weaver and apprentice Potions Maker."
After receiving congratulations from the assembled family, Tabitha looked at Henry. "Go ahead. If you failed everything, you can come to Boston and be my houseboy."
That made everyone laugh, and Henry finally opened his results.
N.E.W.T. Results for Henry Frederick Dorff
. . . . . . . . .Theory. . Practical . .Total
Charms. . . . . . .O . . . .O. . . . . . O
Creatures . . . . .E . . . .A. . . . . . A
Defense . . . . . .O . . . .O+ . . . . . O
Potions . . . . . .E . . . .E. . . . . . E
Muggle Studies. . .E . . . .-. . . . . . E
Transfiguration . .E . . . .O. . . . . . E
"There's a note. I am to report to the Sefydlaid on September 29 if I still want to join the Dragons. I'll be initiated on November First, and my auror training starts at the Capitol November Third."
Everyone except Mrs. Dorff congratulated Henry. His mother was still obviously unhappy about his career choice.
That night, the couple sat underneath the bright stars, in a very private spot.
"I guess it's time to decide what we're going to do about . . . us," Henry said.
"There can't be an 'us,' in the sense of any sort of real bond, for at least four or five years," Tabitha pointed out. "If you go beyond auror and dragon, well, hit-wizards actively serve a maximum thirty years, so it could actually be thirty-five years before we are able to marry. For all intents, I'm magical born, so there's an excellent chance I'll still be able to have children when I'm in my early fifties, but that's no guarantee."
"That's true, but I do love you, Tabby."
"I know, and I love you, too. But while I can promise to wait in some respects, I do want affection, Harry. I won't promise not to become involved with other women."
"I know. I won't hold it against you."
"What are you going to do now in August and September?"
"I'm not certain," he admitted. "An awful lot of physical training, that's for sure!"
"Tell you what. Tufts' term starts September Fourth, and Salem the Eighth. Why don't you plan on joining me from the Twelfth through the Twenty-ninth? The Institute has dueling chambers which I can sign us up for, and there are some Muggle health clubs you can work out at."
"Really?" Tabitha nodded. "Thank you. I will."
"Good. Now lean back." Henry was just wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Tabitha undid his zipper and then opened the boxers underneath. She leaned over, while Henry leaned back and smiled.