A wish even dearer to him was to see this student body entirely united. In the final years of Salazar Slytherin’s presence at Hogwarts, all four Founders were so divided from one another that at least one student described it as “four separate schools with the false appearance of one.” Before Slytherin’s departure, most of the Godric Gryffindor’s youngest students never even met him, and likewise the students taught by the different Founders rarely met, and when they did, they often took up the hostility of their teachers. After Slytherin left, the other three made some effort to mend their breaches, and even Slytherin's former protégé Cornelius Scylla, who took over the running of his House, cooperated in merging the students’ lessons and making them feel like they were schoolmates, but the feeling of division had come to stay. In the early 1000s it was still more common for students and alumni of Hogwarts to describe themselves as being educated in “Gryffindor House at Hogwarts Castle” or “Ravenclaw House at Hogwarts Castle” than to say they were educated at the school itself. In an effort to change this, Charney not only insisted all students be taught by the same teachers regardless of their house, but even that first-years have all their classes together, though this practice was abandoned when the larger numbers of new students made it impractical.
Indeed, in many ways Charney was thwarted by his own success in growing the school. A visitor to Hogwarts castle in the 1010s described the number of students as a little less than a hundred. In 1171, the first year a record was kept on the names of those currently in attendance, 513 names were listed. This may only be about half of the student body today, but it should be remember that the population both the world and of Britain in general, and of the wizarding population by extension, was far lower than it is today. Perhaps it can best be summed up by Charney’s boast, in 1082: “Because of me, every young witch and wizard on this island, be they from England, Scotland, or Wales, or even born in in France, be they born rich or poor, of witch or of Muggle woman, be their mother’s tongue Latin, Saxon, or also from France, every one of them passes through my walls to have their minds and their magic formed.” But the increase in student load meant the house system, originally formed as a method of the four Founders to manage their students before they had further aid, once again became a vital method of organizing the student body. By 1044, after a few years of détente, relations between the four houses, though much more civil than previously, were again becoming distant.
Those who have read this account so far may have noticed distinct differences in the four Weyard sisters. They will have noticed that Cian and Dian are both bolder than the other two, Fian more humble, and Nian more wise and philosophical. They may have even noticed certain attitudes of Dian, particularly her malice towards Giuletta. Therefore it should come to no surprise to those familiar with Hogwarts Sorting procedures that when the four of them each in turn put on Godric Gryffindor’s enchanted old hat, each found herself sent by its judgements to a separate house: Cian to Gryffindor, Dian to Slytherin, Fian to Hufflepuff, and Nian to Ravenclaw.
One can imagine the distress felt by all four at this turn of events, though at it happened, they were at first so uneducated about the workings of the house system that they did not comprehend how great a divide there was. From the start, furthermore, they were to indicate to their new housemates their refusal to forsake each other, thanks, partly, to one of the unifying measures taken by Master Charney. It was his policy that in the Great Hall, which had fallen in an out of use during the previous century but had by this time become the center of all schoolwide activity at Hogwarts, the students of the different houses should be mixed together at the tables; each table in the Great Hall for much of the Middle Ages sat ten, and filling any up with members of only one House, until the 14th century, was frowned upon.
Therefore after the Sorting, all four girls, who were sorted last, ignoring invitations offered by their various housemates, placed themselves together at an otherwise empty table. This distressed not only their new classmates, but Master Charney, who went so far, during the following feast, to make his way over to their table and urge them to mix with their new housemates. But the girls, who had spent years never daring to disobey their elders, refused together. In fact, throughout much of their first year, they continued to eat all their meals together whenever they could, forsaking the company of others, and it was only when they had been at Hogwarts for months that they were willing to mix with others during mealtimes.
But try as they might, they could no longer live their lives together, especially because as one their housemates banded together to make it impossible. Time and again, whenever one of the sisters found some time to herself to go where she wished, it would immediately be taken from her by one of the elder students, who had the unofficial ability to command the younger students to do whatever they wanted, and the younger students did not dare disobey. The girls would be locked up in their towers, with their classmates ‘forgetting’ to tell them the passwords to get out, because at the time passwords were needed to get out of as well as into both Gryffindor and Slytherin Towers. Their teachers, too, participated in the enforced separation, finding any excuse they could to keep the girls after lessons had ceased, often as punishments for infractions that might have been overlooked in other students, which provoked resentment from them.
“After half a decade of necessary obedience,” Dian wrote of this first year, “of having looked forward to freedom at Hogwarts Castle, to find ourselves only the more oppressed, the more resented and resenting, Cian and I agreed it was not to bourn.” While Nian and Fian appear to have been more compliant, accepting their lot in life, their Gryffindor and Slytherin sisters rebelled, and Dian even turned vicious; at one point the school records her being disciplined for getting up in the middle of the night and performing the full Body-Bind on half of her housemates.
Eventually the first two sisters won the second two over to some measures. On their urging, all four sisters became experts at sneaking out of their towers through windows and secret passages. By the time their first year had ended, they had developed the custom of sneaking out on an agreed night of the week, initially Friday but then changed each week, for fear the other students would find it out, and to spend two hours together. This they would do even during the coldest time of the year, although when their nocturnal meetings became suspected they found it was no longer safe to stay in the castle and were forced to go outside.
At this time, much of Hogwarts’ modern-day grounds had not yet been cleared, and even its great lake was almost entirely surrounded by what was then known as Hogwarts Woods. It would eventually be renamed the Forbidden Forest, when it would be slightly further explored and a high amount of dangerous creatures found to be residing there, but at the time many of the more dangerous ones may not have even been there yet, and certainly there was no rule expressly forbidding entry to anyone, and it is fact unlikely that the Weyards were even the first to penetrate into its depths. They were, however, the first known humans to make contact with the merfolk native to Hogwarts’ lake, as their frequent presence on its shores was noticed enough by the merfolk that appeared to them, apparently to demand what they were doing there. “We could not understand their words,” Nian writes of this, “nor they ours, but I believe we eventually came to understand that we wished only to be left alone, and they wished only that their waters not be entered into, and so those became forbidden to us, which was inconvenient when we wished to brewe, but otherwise we did not mind much.
Early in their second year they finally set up a permanent camp in a tiny clearing about ten minutes walk from the edge of the woods. There they cleared out the tangled undergrowth and scarred the soil so that it would not grow back, using the since outlawed Carthage Curse, and in fact their application of it was so powerful that when the wood was cleared over a century later an expert curse-breaker was needed to reverse the effect. They also wove a canopy between the surrounding oak trees with magically joined leaves and grass and stashed two old cauldrons. Here they would go not only for smooth, safe earth to sit on and shelter from the rain, but also to conduct experiments, both in Divination and other forms of magic, some very successful; as we will learn later, when they were sixteen it was there they successfully created a Portkey.
All four were in fact very intelligent, and very good students. Cian showed a particular talent for Charms, when they were thirteen the school records her being called upon to perform spells in front of the older students, because she had already mastered what many of them were still trying to learn. Nian also from the time she was twelve began filling any spare parchment she was able to get her hands on with notes writing from corner to corner, back and front, every inch, in tiny handwriting. It is estimated about half her notesheets survive, and they are filled with not only practical facts and instructions, but also even the earliest ones contain philosophical musings, logical theories, and a number of prophecies, some of which were confirmed during her lifetime, others of which were much further-reaching.
Giuletta Ollivander had by this time finished her schooling, and had in fact married, to one Mundungus Rowan, the son of a former Council member, an arrangement made by her parents. Gecundus and Gaineda were both still attending, both of them in Hufflepuff House with Fian. However, to her alternating delight and dismay, Fian was quick to discover her relationship to both was to change. After two years at school, with new company, Gaineda apparently had come to see herself as more “grown-up” and was embarrassed to be associated with a lowly first-year who so flagrantly violated the school's most sacred unspoken rules. Nian’s notes record several incidents in which Fian reported herself thus being snubbed, and she noted too Dian’s anger at the girl’s ingratitude. On the other hand, it appears that even at those times when all her other housemates forsook her, Gecundus, who had never paid much attention to Fian at home, would go out of his way to pay attention to her or show her kindness, even once taking several hours out to help repair her most of her robes when one cruel housemate magically ripped them to shreds.
Both Nian and Dian speculate on his motives, though nobody besides himself could ever have been certain of them. It is possible he merely pitied Fian. Or, as he came of age and became aware that he was supposed to marry one of the girls, he began to think he ought to pay more attention to them, though he still said little to the three outside his house. It is even possible that he had privately decided he wished to marry Fian, finding her Hufflepuff traits most desirable in a wife, and was attempting to establish her as the most logical matrimonial choice in both the eyes of his father and those of the sisters. However, it was extremely unusual for upper-class children to take such initiative in involving themselves in their parents’ marital arrangements for them, and all accounts emphasize his dutifulness towards his family, and it seems more likely he continued to assume Nian would be his wife, and Fian his future sister-in-law.
The sisters themselves, naturally, soon formed other ideas on the matter. Nian notes that they never actually outright discussed the matter, “but when we spake of Gecundus, it was always with the thought, lodged in each of us, that he shoulde marry Fian and noone else, and, in time, the other three of us ceased to think of ourselves as potential wives for him at alle, so much did we believe that this woulde happen.”
When Grianne came to Hogwarts, she joined Nian in Ravenclaw. “This was unfortunate,” Nian writes, “because of the four of us I was the one she loved leaste.” Nian records that she still sought out her company the first few days, but later became more involved with her own friends, who were probably quick to remind her of Nian’s betraying her housemates for her sisters, and that they only kept each other company occasionally.
It is not impossible that, with time, some tentative friendships formed between the sisters and their other housemates, but there is no record of it, either in their own writings or elsewhere, for either Nian or Dian, suggesting, at the very least, there was noone either of them valued very much. Nor did Cian ever show indication of forming any relationships that would last beyond their school days. In Hufflepuff House, however, even a girl like Fian would not be entirely left out of the general feeling of brotherhood that began to form when the students were fourteen and fifteen, and for those that stayed in the school until they were of age, Fian included, connections were formed that would last for a number of years afterwards. Letters survive written to Fian when she was in her forties from four different former housemates.
In fact, as the girls got older, Nian too found her housemates treating her better, and no longer trying to hinder her attempts to meet with her sisters. This might have been out of respect for her growing seniority, or out of a greater maturity that viewed the divide between the houses more as a self-made construction rather than a sacred boundary, or a combination of these. Matters were different, however, in the less logic-driven environments of Gryffindor and Slytherin Tower. Cian continued to endure harsh remarks and attempts to keep her restrained, and Dian and her own housemates remained hostile to each other; the last wrote numerous soliloquies on the misery she endured.
It no doubt made the lives of all four easier that when they turned fifteen their classmates started to leave. Until the 16th century Hogwarts did not have any kind of standardized classes for specific ages, or dates when they could first come in and when they had to leave; students came when their parents sent them and left when they had learned all they felt they needed to know, or when they felt it was time for them to go out and work. In the case of witches, also, it was typical to leave when they married, which sometimes happened with girls as young as twelve, though by the 11th century this had become uncommon.
In fact, when the Weyards turned sixteen, they celebrated what they imagined to be Fian’s upcoming nuptials, and expressed their great regret that she would not stay with them. When they returned to Gaius-Claudius Ollivander’s house that spring, their expectations became known, both that the wedding would happen immediately and who the bride would be.
Their benefactor, meanwhile, had never before heard anything to indicate that his son would not marry the eldest, and though he knew such a marriage had not been absolutely set, that between themselves they had settled on his choice of daughter-in-law without his knowledge angered him. However, as it happened, he had not thought of necessarily marrying Gecundus and Nian immediately, believing the girls, with their special gifts, ought to be given more time in school for them to develop. He told them this, and made it clear it was his authority, not theirs, which would determine which of them his son married.
For the first time, the girls felt true anger at him, Dian especially. “He spake of our marrying,” she wrote, “as if he bore a father’s authority, and he was not our father; our father only spake of one of us marrying Gecundus, and only he coulde spake which of us.”
It should be noted at this point that while arranged marriages were so common amoung the upper classes that it was only natural for children raised there to believe that was how it was done, so much that they would accept a father’s authority over their future without question, this was not at all true for the lower ranks from which the Weyards had been born. Their parents had found each other with no assistance expected or given from any of their parents, and while Arthur Weyard had consented to one of his daughter’s marriages, it is likely he did this less as something he would do per se, but simply because he accepted it what was to be done to get them a better life, and would have seen no reason to decide himself which. But this was not something Dian Weyard appeared to think of; after ten years as the ward of an aristocrat, she had so absorbed the aristocratic mindset and seen herself as belonging to this class that she apparently automatically gave her father the prerogative to behave accordingly.
However, Gaius-Claudius Ollivander was not sure, by the end of the spring, if he himself wished for Nian to be the sister to marry his son. He wrote of her at the time, “her intelligence is making her arrogant,” and noted that she did not appear to like Gecundus very much; the other three girls, in his eyes, all appeared to be warmer to him, Fian especially. He may in fact have decided Fian was to be the girl himself, but at that point in time his pride forbade him to acknowledge it, at least to them. And so the question remained unresolved while the girls returned to Hogwarts.
He is not the only one to accuse Nian of arrogance. Many of her classmates did the same, especially those in the other three houses. To be sure, inter-house rivalry would spur such comments from the latter, but their sentiments were echoed also by the teachers, including those who had not attended Hogwarts and were truly neutral when it came to the houses, and even by her own sister; Dian uses the word to describe her more than once. It should be remembered, of course, that throughout history there has been a double standard between the sexes, and what has been seen as normal or even laudable in a man has often been disparaged in a woman, and it is perfectly plausible Nian was no more arrogant than anyone might be in her position. She was, after all, an exceptionally intelligent young witch, encouraged by the environment of Ravenclaw Tower to think highly of this and make herself even more knowledgeable, knowing also she had a special power she was only beginning to comprehend the true rarity of, and the oldest of four sisters, the younger three more likely than not to defer to her, and who, further, had violated all her school’s unwritten rules, and more or less gotten away with it.
As the sisters settled into their forest retreat, meanwhile, Nian’s authority grew. Their experiments and excursions were becoming more complicated, and she wanted them to be more ambitious still. She began planning them beforehand, completely on her own; multiple rolls in her surviving collection, filled from pole to pole with her unmistakable handwriting detailing her schemes and plans, including specific tasks to be assigned to her three sisters. It is known that some of these plans were carried out; indeed one roll had the contents of its lists checked off, and that some of them were not, though for a few it is unknown whether anything ever came of them. All evidence points to her going unchallenged within the group.
From their first five years, the Weyard sisters can boast of one great contribution to wizarding knowledge, in their exploration of the specific ideal uses of St. John’s wort. Before they took interest in it, it was a plant paid more attention to by Muggles than by wizards; the Muggle religion of the time gave it sacred properties. It was already known to be useful in general healing potions, particularly for injuries extensive enough to result in major blood loss, but its use in magically debilitating injuries was then sporadic at best, until a particularly vindictive housemate began slipping Dull Powder under the then fourteen-year-old Cian’s pillow, resulting in she who was usually the most cheerful and upbeat of the sisters to turn depressive, to the point that she stopped doing her schoolwork or wishing to keep company with anyone; both Nian and Dian write of finding her weeping on the castle steps multiple times. The powder was eventually identified and once confronted, the housemate ceased, but by then Cian had been exposed for more than six weeks, which left her beset by a lingering gloominess.
Today she would have a whole plethora of potions and charm therapies for getting this treated, but at the time Dull Powder was able in this way to do people permanent damage, to the point that it was always a point of resentment on Dian’s part, at the very least, that the witch responsible was allowed to stay at Hogwarts and apparently never suffered very much punishment at all. A determined Nian, however, began looking at all the healing herbs she could get her hands on or hear about. She wrote to Gaius-Claudius about it, who wrote to other wandmakers, but they did not seem to have any knowledge which Nian found useful. Eventually her efforts paid off; Cian discovered it aided her mood to take a potion which mixed St. John’s wort with several other ingredients, most notably alihosty roots, and she took it constantly for several months before she apparently went through two weeks of very high giddiness and at that point went off it. Thrilled with their discovery, the Weyard sisters found five more uses for the various parts of the plant, and their findings would serve at the basis for centuries of research after them; just about all modern uses of the plant stem from the Weyard sisters' findings.
However, they did not keep at it for very long once Cian was fully recovered. Their main reason was very simple: it clearly had nothing to do with divination. Although youthful curiousity and especially Nian’s inquisitive nature had them dabbling in all sorts of subjects in the woods, they never forgot their own gifts, and their overall intention was always first the improvement of them.
It fueled their choices in what they studied within the castle walls as well; they always took whatever opportunities there were engage in extra study. Hogwarts did not at this time have a permanent Divination Master, but they were visited by an aged Moorish seer, Umar al-Fahim, for a few months every three years, and in their second and especially fifth year at Hogwarts the girls became his shadows, even begging him in their fifth year to remain in Scotland a little longer. The old Saracen, who was received begrudgingly by teachers who would not have allowed it had they known anyone else they could bring in to teach his subject, and greeted with hostility by the students, wrote several times how amazed he was by having pupils so eager to see him. His gratitude, as it happened, kept him from being able to tell them much about their own futures, but in the early days of their second he did foresee one event, for when they were sixteen, that he apparently chose not to foretell them about, though an account of it survives in a letter written to his brother.
This was the event by which they might have had the most influence in the world within their own time, immortalized them, eventually, in Muggle theatre, albeit in an extremely grotesque form, and in the short term would give them the confidence needed in their abilities to assert themselves and establish themselves as known Seers, but in the long term would eventually contribute to their end, once they found the full truth about how two Muggles had acted because of what they had told them.