The Sugar Quill
Author: rebeccagrace (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Firetah  Chapter: Chapter One
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(part one)

I stood quietly in a corner of the Great Hall and observed the laughing, jostling chaos around me. So. These kids were going to be my classmates. I could teach them a thing or two, I mused, that even these wise old professors would gape at.

I wasn't just any girl...witch...student. No. I was Anchoret. Only one like me in a thousand years...

That wizard, walking towards me...hmm, must be Dumbledore. Eyes the color of the sky at noon in summer. Oh yes, he's smiling at me. A smile that doesn't quite reach those amazing wise eyes. He knows what I am.

I'm relieved. No secrets from this one. I'm o.k. with that...

His voice startles me. Husky and amused, belying his obvious great age. He sounds like a young man.

"Well, Anchoret, we're happy to have you with us!" his mouth is saying. His eyes say otherwise. Doesn't he know I can see his soul in them?

"Professor Dumbledore," I say, "I know I have no secrets from you. Perhaps you even know things about me even I myself do not know...so let's be honest straightaway, alright?" I say this with deliberate bluntness. I'll tolerate no games, no subterfuge. Not from him, because I like him already.

His eyes acknowledge my statement and he nods. "Anchoret," he whispers, and I shiver. "I just don't know how to approach you, or deal with you, child, and it scares me. I, who always knows. I am at a loss as to how to teach you, and what to teach you. How do I train you? Surely you know everything? More, even, than the greatest of us..."

His speech trails off in an uncertain whisper, and I can tell this is uncharacteristic for him. I sigh to myself. Despite the fact that I am not only a witch, but a Firetah, a spirit of fire, I am still only a child. I tell him this. I reassure him that I still have much to learn...

As we stand there in the Great Hall, unnoticed by the others, I laugh quietly. At his questioning gaze, I tell him that, isn't it funny? We both thought the other knew everything. He laughs aloud, a merry deep sound, and several students turn to stare. I am not noticed, and I can feel his shroud of invisibility around me. His students move on, apparently used to strange behaviour. I tell him that, despite what I am, I am here just as another student, and he is my professor. This assuming of roles seems to hearten him, and a little of the fear leaves his eyes.

"Anchoret, follow me to my office, and we'll have everything settled and discussed before dinner." This time his smile reaches his eyes, and I follow him down the cool hallways to the gargoyle I know hides the entrance to his office. As he opens his mouth to utter the password, I call out "Fizzing Whizbees! " and both he and the gargoyle move. The gargoyle moves to the side and the Headmaster jumps into the air by quite a few inches.

We would both have to get used to one another...

He doesn't question me, but gives me a stern look. I have crossed a line. I nod my head slightly in acknowledgement. I am comforted by his authority over me. I need discipline. For a young girl, I have an old and fiery soul.

We sit down in his office, and the phoenix, "Fawkes", he tells me, comes over to me and nestles in my outstretched arms. If the Headmaster is startled by this, he doesn't show it. I look at him and can tell he is relieved, though, at my passing of his loyalty test. A test performed many times, though never consciously given.

"So," he says, " Tell me all that you know, and I will tell you all you need to know from me". His eyes twinkle. "Then we can lay down some rules and get you Sorted tonight at the banquet."

" A banquet just for me?" I ask liltingly, "Why?" "Oh no, Anchoret, not just for you. It's also in honour of my announcement of a new Potions master for the year." " I see... so no one is to know the full truth about what I am?'' I ask with my usual bluntness. "Anchoret, no one knows the full truth about what you are...not even your Headmaster! So tell me everything."

Looking into his open face, and sensing the banked fires of his power, I tell him all I know about what I am. Not quite, or perhaps more than, a human.

I tell him the familiar story my parents told me about when I was a baby, when none of us realized yet what I was. "Until," I say, "you came to visit when I was a year old." The Headmaster nods at this and his eyes mist over, remembering that day. "Yes," he says. "I knew you were a Firetah as soon as I saw your eyes. Grey, like Northern Sea and Northern stone, but when you looked up at me, I saw the flash of orange in them and I knew."

Curious, that. I ask him how he knew, as not much is known of my kind. He tells me his grandmother had the second sight, and she told him, before she died, that he would meet the only Firetah on Earth, and that he would teach it to use it's power.

I close my eyes and I can see her. Ancient, wrinkled, with those same piercing blue eyes. Her power is close to her...wrapped around her fragile body like a cloak. I thank her for making it easier on us all.

Dumbledore waits a few moments, then speaks again, telling me he was surprised the Firetah was a girl. I nod at this, and tell him his grandmother didn't know either. He looks at me as if seeing me clearly for the first time. I smile, and tell him I don't remember his first visit. This reminds him, I suspect, of the subject at hand, and his eyes sparkle again as he recalls trying to tell my parents what I really was. A Firetah, and although magical, not able to be sent to Hogwarts until I was 15. He recalls explaining to them that their small, fat baby would be entirely too dangerous to attend school until then. My parents, he recalls with a laugh, were incredulous, until I illustrated his point by merely raising my chubby fist and sending my stuffed dragon careening across the floor and out the open door. It flew all the way to London, where it was found by the Department of Missing Magical Articles and returned the next day.

I continue my story by telling him how all his rules were carefully followed. How I was kept guarded by my parents. I tell him that, by their guidance, I learned how to partially control my special powers. Now, I explained, I just needed my new professors to teach me how to use them.

We talk more, and soon the sky outside his window grows pink in the dusk. He reminds me of the banquet, and how I must be Sorted. I think of how it will feel to stand in front of all of those people and have my various qualities announced to them.

On the way to the banquet, I ask him to tell me what he expects of me, so I can be sure and try to fit in. I see that, for a moment, respect for me has tinted his blue eyes violet. As we walk, he outlines his rules for my safety and the safety of his students and staff. Although yet to be spoken, the thought that I could inflict some serious damage if provoked hangs thickly in the cold air between us as he speaks.

"First, Anchoret, there will be no magic performed in the halls. Second, you must try your best to get along with everyone, regardless of whether if you like them or not." His blue eyes narrow. "I will especially be watching you in this, Anchoret. It is imperative that you do not let your emotions make you lose control." I nod, and he continues.

" You will be in your house common room by 10:00 each night, with special permission granted for your Astronomy class, of course. "And finally", he sucks in his breath and turns to face me, his face gentle but determined, " You will check in with your Head of House every evening to talk over any questions or concerns you may have. "And", he adds, in a voice as soft as a cloud," My office is open to you anytime...literally."

His soft tone and gentle power sway me to obedience more effectively than any threats or wheedling would have done, and my respect for him deepens.

A few seconds later, reassured that he can handle me, I take a deep breath and enter with him into the Great Hall.

//
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