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 settles in L...
Saturday, August 2, 1975
"I am Roger Symthe-Davies, with the Confederation Bureau of Native Affairs."
"Really? The Confederation Bureau of Native Affairs? Tell me, are there Confederation Bureaus of Old Believer Affairs and Pure-Blood Affairs and Colonial Affairs?"
"No," he admitted, confused, "but there are Bureaus of Immigration, Muggle Affairs, and . . . oh, this might be relevant, for Separated Communities Affairs, which would include many of the Old Believers."
"I see. And what may I do for you?"
"You have been authorized to go to the Chemung's Visitor's Longhouse. . . ."
"Correct. I believe, in fact, you might make me late."
"No, I have your portkey. However, I was asked to speak with you before you left."
"I believe you are."
Smythe-Davies frowned, but held his temper. "You are probably not aware that you are the first unofficial visitor requested by the Chemung since their final treaty was signed in 1797."
"What makes the difference between an official and an unofficial visitor?"
The man looked puzzled.
"Let me guess. An official guest is sent by the Government, and unofficial one is one requested by the Chemung?"
"Not quite," Smythe-Davies admitted. "The Chemung also have some traffic with other Native groups -- magic, Muggle, and mixed."
"So, we have to treat this as we would any visit to those native groups who prefer . . . their privacy, for lack of a better term. Since the visit is approved by the head of the tribe, we don't have to worry about searching your possessions."
Tabitha's eyes went wide at that.
"I must remind you that unapproved travel to any of the Chemung's territory puts you totally under the tribal laws. Granted, the area is protected by anti-apparation wards, but you should never try to make your own portkey. If they choose to kill or torture such visitors, that's up to them. I therefore suggest that you NOT go without a formal invitation, as you have for this trip. The portkey will automatically return at noon, August Twenty-fourth."
"Noon Eastern Daylight Time, or noon sun-time?"
"No clocks there, you know."
"Oh." The man was embarrassed. "I don't know. I suggest you prepare for either. Anyway, please be aware that you might be questioned upon your return. We will not be asking for any private or personal information. We are concerned with the health and welfare of the Chemung, and yet we cannot supervise them as we should, since they are a sovereign community within the Confederation."
"Thank you for the warning."
"Have a good trip.
"Thank you," Tabitha answered.
Tabitha found herself on a hillside covered with hardwoods, next to a small longhouse that blended in well. She could see three types of oak, four types of maple, hickories, and many others. Some trees were ancient -- she was in a forest such as most of the eastern United States hadn't seen in a century or more.
"Welcome," a voice said.
Tabitha turned and bowed to the chief, who had come out of the longhouse. The chief nodded, and looked at the girl. Nearly two years older, she had reached her full height of five foot ten. She was slender, but moderately well-muscled. She had dressed in a simple blue t-shirt, denim skirt, and leather sandals, and carried a leather satchel.
"Were you visiting in slightly cooler weather, daughter, you would be well-dressed. Some of our young prefer just what you would call a loin-cloth. If you are more modest, or if you fear being burned, we will get you some buckskins that cover as much as you have covered now."
"I've spent some time getting tanned all over. I'll be happy to conform with your customs wherever I can."
That took the chief aback. He had hoped to shake up this woman a little. "Keep what you have for now. We have all learned to address your friend as Maple when we speak in other than our own language. She has her own longhouse, where she may spend time making potions."
"I never asked. Does this mean you move according to the season, or stay in one place until the ground grows tired?" The Iroquois had usually stayed in a village site until the fertility of the fields started to give out, when they would move a short distance. That would allow them to tend the orchards they had made famous in up-state New York while moving as needed for their other crops, usually every ten to twenty-five years.
"Unlike our ancestors, we move according to the seasons. The valley bottoms tend to have many biting insects during the summer, the top of the ridges are far too cold and windy for more than half of the year. Still, while there is a great distance in terms of height, there is usually less than a half a mile in straight-line distance. We have five groups, each with two villages, spread over four valleys, plus a group of young men who wander, hunting, over five other valleys as well. They also intercept any straying Muggles, these days mostly drunken and lost hunters. Come. We have a six mile walk to Maple's house, which is in a central location to the other group sites. You will see it is in what you might call a glen or hollow. You are not to leave it without Maple as escort, unless I am with you. That will prevent any misunderstandings." They set off.
"Not everyone is happy you are here, but they will not harm you in the hollow. If you are out alone, there might be a few who are tempted to do something stupid."
"I see. Maybe I should keep my shirt on, then."
"That would not provoke or prevent an attack. May I ask, what do you plan on doing these three weeks?"
"I plan on helping Maple brew and lay down some of the medicinal potions which will have the longest shelf-life, assuming you don't object to my using ingredients and containers I brought with me. I hope to learn any of the medicinal lore she is allowed to impart. I had hoped to help gather materials, but that will be difficult if I'm confined to this glen. And beyond that, it's not any of your concern."
"Well, I shall just wish you a pleasurable stay, shall I? And feel free to use whatever you brought. We appreciate it."
They walked the rest of the way in near silence, the chief merely pointing out a few features or animals along the way. Tabitha said little, other than repeating Smythe-Davies' statements. The chief shrugged, unconcerned.
They were traveling over a wide trail, but it wasn't easy walking, especially at the pace the chief walked it. They covered the six miles in just over an hour, and stood in front of a four foot waterfall.
"You can see the creek takes this short fall. Do not go past the falls without Maple or myself as escort. Your portkey will work from within this area as well as back at the lodge. I may or may not be able to visit. Have a pleasant stay." The chief took off on a run.
Tabitha shrugged and climbed up the ledge.
The path was narrow, as the stream had worn away a higher ledge of softer stone. The creek managed to squeeze between the rocks (the path climbed some 20 feet above the creek), and then the area opened up. She worried about Maple having to tread this path in the winter, but later learned that the two springs nearby were thermal springs, which helped keep the path ice free except in the most extreme weather.
The hollow was perhaps a hundred yards wide at its widest point, and just over a mile deep. A main ridge rose more than 700 feet in front of her (to the west), and there were two round knobs on either side of the glen, some 300 and 350 feet high. All were too steep for easy climbing, and Tabitha was willing to bet there were more than a few rattlesnakes in the rocky outcrops she could see on the steep sides.
Tabitha carefully made her way down the path. The longhouse was perhaps a hundred yards along the path west. Tabitha stopped about fifteen yards before the door, and shouted a hello. She didn't want to disturb Maple if she was making a potion -- which was the only reason she could imagine Maple hadn't been waiting for her, either at the Visitor's Longhouse or at the waterfall.
A very surprised-looking Maple came out of the structure. As the chief had mentioned, she was only wearing a loincloth and moccasins.
"Tabby! What are you doing here? I wasn't expecting you until next week!" She embraced her startled friend, and then pulled back with a frown. "And let me guess. This was the date all along. The chief guided you here."
"And said I wasn't to leave the hollow under any circumstances, other than with you or with him," Tabitha agreed.
The frown deepened. "I thought we'd spend two weeks living at the Visitor's Lodge."
"Nope, three weeks here, I guess."
"Why would he do that? The only building with plumbing is the lodge."
"Maybe he wants to put a price on my visiting? If I'm miserable, I won't want to come back."
"Probably." Her frown went even deeper.
Tabitha leaned down and kissed her friend's forehead. "You look very sexy in almost nothing."
Maple smiled. "Thank you." She hugged Tabitha again, and the two kissed deeply. "I've missed you."
"And I you." They kissed again.
"I'm glad you're here, but there's not much food, and like I said, no plumbing."
"Maple, do you think I didn't come prepared for everything?"
"Really. How much food do you have?"
"For two? I only have enough corn meal and dried venison for a week. I have enough of everything else, but we'll still need to do some gathering, and maybe some hunting and fishing."
"Well, I'm not much good at either, and I've never had fish outside of chowder, but I'll give it a try. Now, do you have any potions on?"
"Not right now. I do need to brew up some of that fever/pain drink you invented."
"We invented. It's on the patent. I have some ingredients that will improve it, or we can use them to make a stronger version for when you need it."
"I don't want to get you in trouble," Maple said. Then she added, "I don't want to get in trouble, either."
"I have blanket permission from the chief."
"And I suppose that includes a toilet?"
"And a shower, yes. I didn't want to use up any scarce resources, you know."
The two women broke into giggles.
"How does it feel?" Maple asked.
"Oddly natural, which shouldn't surprise me. Is this a new custom?" The pair were standing outside, nude except for the loincloths.
"It wasn't unknown, but no, it was never common, especially for the women. Why 'oddly natural'?"
"Well, odd because I'm not used to being nude outside. Natural because it should be natural to be nude when relaxing outside. I mean, I understand all the reasons for the taboos on nudity common to most cultures, but it still feels right."
The chief arrived on Tabitha's third day, along with six men carrying food. Tabitha stayed out of sight until the six men left. She was only wearing the loincloth and a rabbit-skin shawl, for which the chief was glad -- he wasn't used to seeing female foreigners in a state of near-nature, especially not one slightly taller than himself.
"I am not happy you are here," he said once they had walked away from the longhouse for some privacy.
"I had gathered that. So why did you ask me to come? This was your idea, remember."
"It was," he acknowledged. "Your friend . . . we need your friend. We are just a large enough group to survive, especially since about half of the few magical children born to the Muggle Iroquois decide to join us. Nearly all of us have at least some small magical ability. Only about fifty of us have what you would call above-average power, however. Your friend is the only person to have a real feel for herbology and potions so far this century. It's one thing to follow a recipe in a lab, it's another to make potions from scratch, collecting and preparing all the ingredients. She has that ability. Without her, we would soon have to beg the Confederation for help. With help would come interference, well-meaning, but we wish to maintain as much of our traditional life as possible. Should one of our younger children develop an equal ability, then she will have more options."
They walked slowly in silence for a few moments. "You are a price we pay for her happiness. She has chosen a young man to mate with, sooner or later. He is kind, and has fair magical talent. He will be a good match for her. She did not crave the Outside, she craved a person such as you. And you were too perfect for her. She fell in love with you. You fell in love with her, to some degree. So, you must be invited here, as long as she, and you, desire it. We will tolerate it."
"But you don't like it."
"No. Please understand me, we do appreciate your coming. If she invites you, and you notify us, you may come for up to twenty-eight days during the summer months. We shall discover the portkey coordinates and notify the Bureau of your status."
The pair of teens walked the woods early nearly every morning, looking for potion ingredients. They prepared the ingredients in the mornings, brewed potions in the afternoons, and made love every night. The three days it rained, they simply stayed in and made love inside instead of outside.
Tabitha had brought one of her magical trunks, shrunken in her pack. On her sixteenth birthday, a hidden panel had revealed itself. Inside was a small flat. She had to fill the water tank and stock food, but after that, it was a self-contained flat for up to a month's use for a pair of individuals. She would have to flush out the septic system when she got home. She only used it for the toilet and to shower, but she was glad she had it.
When it was time for Tabitha to leave, they had prepared three years worth of storable potions. Maple's parting present was a necklace made out of animal teeth and quartz from one of the hills inside the Chemung territory.
Smythe-Davies tried to debrief Tabitha, but got little satisfaction. There really wasn't much Tabitha could tell the man, but wasn't about to give away the location of Maple's medical glen, or 'the state of their habitat'. She figured that all that was the tribe's business. She merely said that the ones she had seen seemed very healthy and there were no shortages or problems she was aware of, all of which was true.
In the end, she took great pleasure in handing the Bureau representative the notification of her free access to the tribal areas. Since she refused to explain why she was allowed in, and it was really none of his business, he had to accept it.
Tabitha knew she would miss Maple, but she had a life to start just as her friend did. Her short-term goal was to exam out of as many courses as possible at Tufts.
While she was living through them, Tabitha thought that the five years between 1975 and 1980 were the most exciting and most important years of her life. Later on in life, she realized that they had seemed to be mostly because this was by far the freest time of her life.
Although she was not wealthy, Tabitha had some money of her own. She had won scholarships for her undergraduate programs that paid the tuition both for a fine (and expensive) private university and for the Salem Witches Institute. She owed little to anyone. She had some obligations as a novice druid; she would owe an explanation to the Headmaster back at the Ysgol as her trustee until she turned twenty-one should she do badly in either school or seriously misbehave. She had emotional ties to Maple and stronger ones to Henry.
That was about it. She would be living a life she loved on her own terms, with no other responsibilities. Few people were so lucky to have that much time with that kind of freedom.
On the other hand, it also meant she had no one on hand to congratulate her when she was told she had passed out of a third of all the credits required for her two undergraduate degrees, or when the Institute decided to allow her to study part-time over a five year period for her apprenticeships, to allow her the time to do her Muggle degrees, rather than the usual three.
That aspect changed of course when Henry showed up to spend the early autumn with her. While they respected the Maiden Charm, they spent a fair amount of time exploring all the other sensual possibilities they could think of. When they ran out of ideas, they looked over some Muggle 'how-to' books Henry came across in his explorations of Muggle Boston.
The house in Lynn was a fairly small one, although more than ample for one person. Because of the slope of the roof, the upstairs was even smaller than the downstairs. There was a good-sized bedroom with a 'half-bath' (toilet and sink), a small bedroom, and a small bathroom. When Henry first arrived, the house was fairly bare, other than a small kitchen table with two chairs, a bedroom suite, and the chairs and 'shrine' from her Ysgol room, plus a small potions lab in the basement, sharing space with the Muggle furnace, washer, dryer, freezer, and water heater. Just before Henry left, he supervised some Muggles, who moved in a bed and dresser to the small bedroom, a sofa for the living room, and furniture for the tiny room Tabitha was going to use as a home office.
"You never said what you needed to the other bed for," Henry pointed out after the Muggles left.
"Here," she answered, handing him a set of five keys.
"What are these for?" he asked, frowning.
"These two are the keys to the front porch," she answered. The house had an enclosed front porch. "These two are to the front door. Before you unlock the front door, do a reveal spell. Then use these two keys, and finally the front door locks, always going to the higher lock first."
"What's wrong with my using the back door?"
"When you leave, I'm increasing the spells on the back. The back porch invites a break-in." There was also a small enclosed patio/porch behind the house. "This way, you can always come in, even when I'm not here."
"You mean. . . ."
"That the other bedroom is for you? Yes. No matter what our relationship is over the next five years or so, you'll always have a bed. It may or may not be with me, but it will be here. There are six drawers in that dresser. Feel free to take the bottom three, or the bottom two and some of the closet space."
"You always think of everything, Tabby." He kissed her gently. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, and I just think of more scenarios than you do." That made Henry smile. Tabitha went on, "We've been seen together, at school, at the Institute, and by the neighbors. What's your cover story?"
"Why not say I'm going to a technical college in Ontario?"
"Fair enough." Tabitha suddenly grabbed Henry and pulled him into a fierce hug. This was very uncharacteristic of their relationship, but Henry improvised.
When they broke the embrace, Henry asked, "That was wonderful, but why?"
"Because I'll miss you, you silly ass," she said with tears in her eyes.
"Thank you. I'll miss you, too."
Two days before he left, Henry 'fixed' dinner (that is, he ordered and picked up a pizza, along with a bottle of wine). After they had finished off the pizza, they sat in the living room, and watched a magical fire in the fireplace.
"I know things have to be up in the air with us. You're not sure what you want out of life, or if you would want to spend it with me. I have no idea how far I might be going in law enforcement."
"And despite that, I was wondering if you would wear this."
'This' was a small white gold ring, with a small emerald in it. "It doesn't mean we're engaged. It doesn't mean we're even promised to each other as anything more than intimate friends."
"In that case, I accept with pleasure." She slipped it onto her left ring finger. "No matter what, you are my best friend."
"And you will always be the girl of my dreams, in every sense possible."
"Let's go see if we can make some memories for our dreams to build on."
Tabitha missed Henry terribly, but in missing him she devoted herself to her school work. The Muggle University thought highly of her work, especially the Classics and History departments. The Anthropology and Philosophy professors she worked with only saw her as one of any number of bright students, although the Anthro profs would come to regard her as brilliant eccentric -- not uncommon in Bostonian academic circles by any means.
The Spells Mistress she was assigned to at Salem found her work promising, but the Potions Mistress was soon raving about her. Hilda Swank, her old Head of House back at the Ysgol, moved to a position at the Institute in 1976, and that furthered enhanced Tabitha's opportunities at Salem.
Tabitha finished off her two Muggle BA's in the spring of 1978. She would work on two MA's over the next two years: Modern European History at Tufts and History of Science at Harvard. She would complete her apprenticeship in Potions in with autumn of 1978, in Spell Weaving in the spring of 1979. It would take her just over a year to earn the 'master' level in both disciplines. There were levels beyond 'master,' and she was thinking of working on both in potions and perhaps alchemy.
Despite what most Muggle-born would have guessed, southern and central New England has about the lowest ratio of magical to Muggle populations in North America. The reasons were easily understood. The Puritans were fervent haters of magic (even if they failed to catch any actual witches or wizards, there were many close calls), and the region lay between two competing magical regions. The Old Believers and the Old Colonial families who had come over with them in the 1500s had settled in what is now Maine, Quebec, and the Canadian maritime provinces, and were moving into Ontario and beyond by the time of the Muggle American Revolution. Old Colonial and Colonial families that came over between the early 1600s and the early 1800s (the late-comers still took the name, to distinguish them from the third wave of immigration that came over in the second half of the 19th century) were (and still usually are, as far as the self-proclaimed Old Colonial 'gentry' are concerned) found in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and western Virginia and West Virginia. It was the regular colonial families, half-bloods, Muggle-born and the like who settled most of the rest of what the Muggles would call the United States, while the Old Believers settled Canada and Alaska, while both groups spread through obscure valleys in the western mountain chains in the United States.
This left the rest of New England mostly as a buffer zone. It was for this reason that a group of independent-minded witches moved into the area in the mid-19th century. They opened the Salem Witches Institute in 1869. Its visionary, forceful, and wealthy founder, Susan Sanger (1803-1980), had kept the Institute free from outside interference. By the start of the 20th century, the Institute was the second only to the Old Believer Sefydliad in its reputation as a center of higher learning in many subjects.
Despite her close affiliation with the druids (most Old Believers in the area were with the Open Believers or just the average members of various sects), Tabitha fit in well with this magical society. This was why, despite her youth, she was asked to be one of the presiding clergy at Mistress Sanger's funeral in January, 1980, along with two Wiccans (since Tabitha was the highest ranking druid living in the greater Boston area at the time).
While Tabitha was welcomed into the various magical groups around Boston, they really didn't know what to make of her. She was careful not to come into conflict with the Wiccans (this had, after all, become their power base in North America over the previous 50 years). The Wiccans were just as careful not to come into conflict with her -- all other factors being equal, Old Believers, especially druids, rarely lose political confrontations in North America. The two groups had enough in common that they could come together to celebrate their ideas and downplay the ceremonial differences. The druid leaders, who tended towards the patriarchal, where happy enough to see this ecumenicalism, since they could always disavow it if it got out of hand.
Tabitha also stood at a midpoint of a cultural rift that existed in these magical circles of witches. One group, containing many of the elderly leaders left over from the 19th and early 20th century, preached celibacy (at least in public). The younger witches were starting to push for homosexual lifestyles, while most of the outsiders were more strictly heterosexual. Tabitha, who was openly bisexual, if unattached and celibate from the time Henry left until she visited Maple in August, 1976, could have been attacked by all sides. Instead, she moved between them, practicing tolerance and acceptance. As this was what the majority of the magical population were looking for, she fit in very well.
Tabitha did not engage in any casual relationships. She did have two relationships with two witches, one during part of the 1977-1978 academic year, and one in the spring of 1979. Both relationships ended on very friendly terms. Both women had decided that they could not stay with Tabitha under the circumstances. She spent large segments of each summer through 1978 split between her druidical studies and spending time with Maple. 1978 was both when she was consecrated as an acolyte, and was introduced to Maple's husband and three month old daughter. She would never return except for brief visits. She also spent a few days each summer at the Capitol with Henry, and Henry spent a few weekends each year at Tabitha's.
After her tenth year of druidical study, Tabitha was consecrated as an acolyte but did not go beyond at her choice. Those who went on past their acolyte ritual had to make their service to the religion the focal point of their lives, which Tabitha was not interested in doing. As an acolyte, she would still be serving as a sort of part-time clergy. She was, however, without the suffrage for selecting the druidical representatives (limited to disciples and full druids) and unable to perform the highest ceremonies. She could perform all the public ceremonies, including marriage, however and could attend any ceremony.
With her magical, druidical, and Muggle studies, and her relationships, Tabitha did not have a great deal of free time. She spent some of it playing her lute and harp. Her Muggle classmates were sometimes able to entice her to a film or a concert. Beyond that, at least once a week (usually Sunday mornings), Tabitha would update her scrapbooks.
The fight in Britain was nearly a war in every sense of the term. It was still secret to the Muggles, but barely at times. Open fighting in front of the Muggles was one of the few ways that would bring the International and other national Ministries into the fight.
It was clear why Voldemort would keep the fight on that scale. Grindelwald had managed to start two Muggle world wars, hoping that the Muggles would exterminate themselves. Instead, the Second World War had partially unified the Muggle world against the Nazis and Japanese, and united most of the magical world against Grindelwald. The International had made things clear that that level of magical interference would never be tolerated again.
It was less clear why the British Ministry was refusing to call in help. The best explanation anyone had come with was that the British Ministry had always assumed it was the leading voice of the magical world since it started to form back in the late 1600s. Granted, the rest of the world rarely agreed, but the British, although it was not the most powerful Ministry (there wasn't one until the Confederation moved into that spot in the early 20th century), it did contribute more leadership than any other single Ministry through the middle of the 20th century. Perhaps any Minister who appealed for help too soon would face the end of their career.
Tabitha came to believe that at some point the British Ministry would either have no choice but to call in outside help, or the International would come in any way. A group of family massacres started occurring in the summer of 1978. By the end of 1979, eight of the thirty most famous 'light' magical families -- famous for their wealth and ancestry -- were completely destroyed, and others, such as the Prewitts, had come close. The entire Dumbledore family was reduced to two elderly brothers. The Bones family was down to a brother and sister, and the brother was severely injured. The Potter family was down to one young man a little younger than Tabitha. The Crouchs were down to a father and son. The Moodys were down to one late middle-aged auror. At Halloween 1979, another family was totally massacred while two others, the Browns and Macmillans, managed to escape attacks with just a few casualties.
Sooner or later, something was going to break.