It was the most wonderful time of the year! Not Christmas - although Christmas was a delight that Toby looked forward to every year, encouraging the house-elves to wear little bells and festively colored tea cozies. No indeed, it was the first day of the wonderful dawn of a new term at RMI! Merlin only knew what exciting and enlightening things this year would bring. With his students, Toby always found a surprise around every corner. He remained staunchly in denial of the fact that ‘surprise’ sometimes meant ‘a plot to poison the guidance counselor’s oldest child’. That had been all sorted out of course, at the end of last term, which left everyone free to enjoy the promise of a new term together, around brightly colored bonfires.
Aside from a brief jaunt to IWCE annual conference, where he had attended the most fascinating panel on restorative justice as student discipline, Toby had a quiet summer. He had picked up gardening, actually, although he had done his best to steer clear of Professor McCloud’s greenhouses as one could never be sure if anything in there was poisonous. All things considered, Tobias Morgan was a tad unsure if it was the wisest idea to be instructing the students in the care and keeping of poisonous plants, but as always he trusted his professors to the utmost. The hiring process at RMI was most rigorous - Toby oversaw it himself - so he was certain there was nothing to worry about.
Since it was time for the Opening Feast, it was also time to look as spiffy as possible, so Toby had selected royal blue robes with a subtle diamond pattern to wear to the Feast, which were also rather swishy. He enjoyed the swishing feeling around his ankles as he reached the top of the staircase that descended into the entrance hall. It was exactly 6PM Mountain Time, which meant that the students were popping into the hall below him via Portkey. The Portkeys were the dreamcatchers sent with the students’ acceptance letters, which always surprised a few of the new students, but the letter did warn them about it. As usual, Toby stopped to greet no few of the students, doing his best to avoid those who looked as though they might sick up. Portkeys could be a quite unpleasant method of travel. Toby would prefer a good broom ride any day of the week and it was truly unfortunate that was not a reasonable method of transportation to most wizarding locations.
Toby entered the Finer Diner. It was all ready to go: the room was lit as though it were dusk in the prairie, and on the walls were images of tall prairie grass passing by as they might have been seen out the window of a train. There were five fires: four in the House colors (seafoam green and brown for Lyra, blue and silver for Cetus, red and gold for Draco, cream and gray for Aquila) and one the standard colour for a fire on a raised dais at the front of the room. Most of the staff were already seated around or standing by the staff fire on the dais. Above the Draco fire hung a giant, sparkling dreamcatcher, indicating that the House had won the Inter-House Points Competition the year before. He heard the noises of students pushing their trunks against the walls of the entrance hall, knowing that the school house-elves would make sure that each students’ belongings ended up in the correct room. The older students began trickling in through the door, each heading to the fire corresponding to their House. The first-years and transfers, of course, were standing by the door with Bellamy Fell, the Deputy Headmaster.
Everyone settled in and his Deputy led the new students in to stand against the wall by the door. Toby grinned at the group, then amplified his voice so it could be heard over the murmur of friends greeting each other after the long break and the crackling of the fires.
“Welcome and welcome back to Rocky Mountain International!” he announced in a strong Welsh accent. The hall quieted. “For those of you new students, my name is Toby and I’ll be your Headmaster!” Toby beamed around the room, happy to see the students all so enthusiastically back for a well-had year of learning. “First-off, I’d like to invite our new students to take their dreamcatchers out,” there was a rustle as the gaggle of first-years pulled out the jet-black dreamcatchers that had been sent with their acceptance letters. A moment later, each dreamcatcher slowly morphed into the colour of one of the RMI Houses. “The colours your dreamcatcher have turned are the colours of the House you have been sorted into - congratulations! Please make your way to the appropriate fire.” The older students cheered as the first years and transfers walked over to the fire that matched the colour of their dreamcatcher. “I know you’ll all make great friends this term,” Toby smiled over the students.
“Now for our announcements! First, let us all congratulate Drew Tennant and Anssi Lundqvist on being our new Head Students!” General applause from the room as the two students came up to collect their pins. Toby beamed at the two boys as they came to collect their pins. Drew was looking much better than he had been at the end of the last school year; it was clear that the excellent summertime weather had done him some good.
Once they had seated themselves, Toby continued. “As for our new prefects, congratulations to Elliot Phippen, Sadie Embers, Joey Blair, and Eugene Hardy!” The prefects came to collect their pins as well, which Toby handed over with a cheerful ‘congratulations’ clearly intended (and failing) to be a whisper, as he had quite forgotten the amplification charm he’d placed on himself. “And now,” Toby said, clapping his hands together, “let us all eat and celebrate another year of magical education!”
With a pop, a small horde of house-elves appeared with platters full of foods from across the world. Toby cheerfully thanked the house-elf who handed him a delicious-looking bowl of cold noodles and crunchy veggies. It was the most delightful of RMI traditions, really, and one of the things that set this school apart from the others. As he looked out on the bonfires surrounded by now-chattering students, the Headmaster grinned in anticipation. What a wonderful year it would be!
Welcome and welcome back to RMI! Please remember that you cannot leave your House fires and go to your Commonrooms until after your Head of House posts their welcoming speech—a few days from now. Until then, enjoy yourselves around our traditional bonfires!