Robinton Stein had been dismayed when the owl reached him at last in his journeys. Having been so completely out of touch, he'd completely missed the quakes of change through his homeland. He comforted himself against not having been here to help by remembering the incidents he had assisted in or recorded, far from the Isles.
Now, walking through the mostly rebuilt school, having accepted Minerva McGonagall's plea to come and take over one of the open positions, he could feel the echoes of loss, of grief, of determination. There was history to capture, to frame in cautionary tales. All respect to the dedicated Cuthbert Binns aside, the purpose of history was both to ground the students in how they came to be, and to warn them against excess. The headmistress was in agreement on his intentions, and he'd continue to learn all that he had missed to include alongside his greater stores of world wizarding events.
The determined steps of someone in the corridor with him made him turn, recognizing on a basic level of his awareness the noise had been meant to gain his attention. He found himself looking at Aurora Sinistra, now the deputy headmistress of Hogwarts, and a very fluffed, confused looking owl.
"Professor Stein," she said formally, coming to stand at a proper point in front of him. Her very lack of excitability had made Robinton wonder if Septima Vector might not have been the better choice to fill the position.
"As school is not yet in session, surely 'Robinton' could suffice?" he asked, never one to stand on his given name. After all, he shared it with his father, a man that had an uncomfortable legacy for him.
"I feel it better to set the tone that is most correct, Professor," she told him in neutral tones.
"Oh, believe me when I say I am always as correct as possible," he rejoined, said without even a gleam in his eyes for the wording. She could not take it as anything but acknowledging her statement.
"Formalities aside, Professor, it seems that this owl is being affected by a particular hexing that throws off a sense of direction and purpose. Such hexes, I remind you, are something of a trademark of your family line." Those words were not quite accusatory, yet they were left on a note to encourage some form of explanation.
Robinton did not even hide his chagrin, bringing a long-fingered hand up to press his head against the palm. "Father, what have you been at?" he muttered before composing himself. He gave her a brief nod of his head, then spoke. "I shall find him, and the student that is being barred their owl and invitation, Deputy Head-Mistress Sinistra," he told her, holding a hand out for the owl. It came to his forearm, chirring with distress at being thwarted. "There, there… we'll find the student you are meant for."
The seaside village was quaint, oppressive, and very Muggles-only, was Robinton's first perception. Tracking his father, who had been addled by the loss of his wife during the earlier troubles wrought by revolution, was never an easy thing for Robinton's magic or his soul. Yet he would not abide by keeping a child from the school, ignorant to their heritage. Especially if the child was surrounded by the mundane lives of the non-magical. What had Petiron been thinking?
His keen eye took in what looked to be a funeral procession returning to the village, noting one girl of the correct age that lingered behind, gazing back to the waters beating against broken cliffs. Sea burials were not unknown to Robinton, with all of his travels, but he was surprised to find one being practiced here…
…and for just a moment, his chest felt heavy and tired, for he knew full and well that Petiron would have asked such a coda to his own life, even as addled as he was in his thinking. They had given Merelan to the sea, for her love of it, and her husband could only follow.
Grief, more for what could have been, had Petiron merely trusted in his son enough to reach out than actually for his father, swelled briefly before Robinton made his way down into the village proper to acquire lodging and knowledge.
Menolly, the child, was quickly identified to the handsome stranger in the village. There were warning words from these Orcadians, telling how strange the child had been until the 'good man' Stein had taken her under wing as a helper. The child was last of a large brood, ignored by parents and siblings alike except when things went awry around her. Murmurs of 'Morgause' could be heard in the eldest voices, a reminder that these isles had once had a strong presence in the wizarding world.
Robinton only hesitated long enough to find the child and ask, knowing time was ticking down on when school would commence. He would not abduct the girl without her consent, even as he knew how ticklish a factor that was. If Petiron had been watching over her, perhaps it would let Robinton stand as her guardian in magical affairs.
And so he wandered the beach, having been told the children were wont to comb the sands for trinkets dropped by the ferry loupers, and to gather contributions for their families. Menolly, a strong runner, often went a distance by herself, and Robinton plied his long legs in an easy jog to seek her.
He found her, oddly enough, with his ears. The clear sound of pipes being played well drew his run up, letting his eyes seek the player. Music was the keystone of his family, and always had been outside of the shared magic. If Petiron had found a young witch with tunes to share, it made more sense that he'd intervened. Robinton finally sighted the child, wearing worn cast-offs already too short for her legs and arms, half-hidden by a swell of sand. He walked over slowly, raising a hand at her attempt to stop playing. He then encouraged her with a flourish of the same hand, coming to crouch near, listening. While her notes grew hesitant for a moment, they solidified as she fell back into the spell of the music.
Robinton felt the magic, a simmering potential, under the music, and understood more. This child was an heiress to wilder magic than most found in Hogwarts these days, one that was well-known to the Ongola-Stein bloodline, as it was keyed to the music rather than the more Roman-influenced ways of the modern world.
"Menolly, isn't it?" he asked gently when she did come to an end in her song.
"Yes," she said, all but flinching inward.
"Petiron was my father, child, and I have come for you, if you wish to go from this place, and learn about the tickle under those notes you play." For demonstration, to gain her trust more quickly, he waved his fingers open, thumb rubbing across a ring he wore, bearing a light charm. An orb of soft glowing light emerged in his palm, and her eyes went wide. She scrambled to her feet, looking at him with the hope and fear of a child that had known far too much suffering.
"He said there was war, that it wasn't safe," she told him, pipes in one hand even as she wrapped her arms around herself.
Robinton quickly understood; this child had been born among Muggles, and Petiron had conflated the danger of war, the loss of his wife, and the nearing time to gather in the next generation as a cause to set the hex.
"The war is done, and the school is wishing you there, Menolly. Will you come?" he asked with his most caring tones, for this child needed care and love. For answer, she reached with her free hand to touch the glow of the light he held.
Hagrid had always prided himself on the task of bringing the first years into the hall for the Sorting. So he frowned a bit as the new professor, McGonagall's own friend and former student, escorted one more unknown face into the hall suddenly, throwing off the routine of this solemn moment. He saw the poor waif looked a bit shy of Harry's own predicament, with her scared eyes and nervous motions, but she joined the first years when shooed. Hagrid kept her on his mind as the evening commenced. When the time came for her to sit beneath the Sorting Hat, poor thing still in the midst of mending as it was, she was trembling, and it did not move so quickly.
He wondered just what had made the Hat have to ponder, and what the tale behind this child was when it finally came out that the girl belonged in Ravenclaw, just as the new Professor was. He wondered, briefly, if that was part of the hesitation, but soon he was merely cheering on each new student's sorting. He did appreciate that Luna Lovegood was watching, and wondered what the odd but brilliant young woman saw when she looked at the new waif of her house.
Time would tell them much, as the School attempted a return to normal operations.