Reid's first class of the day was with the fifth year Gryffindors and Slytherins -- why they scheduled these two houses together so often was still a mystery to him after all these years. It really was no wonder that their ancient rivalry was still as strong as ever. Granted, Reid only seemed to instigate their hatred for one another by having them sit alphabetically, forcing many of them to share a table with a student from their rival house. They whined and protested the entire time. Reid drowned them out by humming to himself.
By the time lunch rolled around Reid had made a third year Hufflepuff cry, broken up a fight in his second year Gryffindor and Slytherin class (seriously, who made these schedules?) and nearly cried himself from happiness at the review work by his fifth year Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students. It was a surprisingly pleasant way to end the morning sessions.
He took to his usual seat at the far end of the staff table, loading up his plate. He grabbed a few extra rolls as well, figuring he could always stick them in his pocket for later.
"When do ya get the little ones?" asked Dervis, sitting down beside Reid.
"I don't today," Reid answered, reaching for his goblet of pumpkin juice.
"How the bloody hell did you manage that?"
"I was supposed to have the Ravenclaws and Slytherins after lunch," Reid began to explain. "But they have flying."
"Lucky bastard," Dervis laughed.
"You'll get your moment of peace later in the week," Reid reminded him, biting into another roll. Flying was a mandatory course for first years but it lasted only a couple of weeks, so instead of setting aside its own block of time, students were pulled out of other classes, alternating throughout the first few weeks of term and taken out to the pitch to learn how to handle a broom. "How are they anyway?"
"They aren't too bad a lot," replied Dervis. "You've got your show-offs and know-it-alls already, most from your house," Dervis winked. "And then you've got the ones who think they'll fly through here just cause of their name," he snorted. "Mostly good kids, though."
Reid managed to nod before a small explosion at the Gryffindor table caused everyone to look up. The two men didn't linger long, quickly deciding it wasn't anything serious and returning easily to their conversation.
"So what are ya going to do with your free period?" asked Dervis, shoveling another bite of potatoes into his mouth.
There was a pause as Reid contemplated the possibilities. "Not sure yet."
Lunch came to an end and the students were dismissed to their afternoon classes. Reid, however, lingered in the hall and picked at his food a moment longer, allowing the masses to empty before he ventured into the rest of the castle himself. He really wasn't sure what he was going to do with his free time. Being the first day he didn't have papers to grade or samples to test, lessons to tweak, or any of the other mundane tasks that would normally fill his time. Reid Oliver didn't particularly like having nothing to do, but then again, moments like these were quite rare. Perhaps he should take advantage.
And so he did, in the only way Reid knew how. He wandered initially, his feet carrying him to the Hospital Wing seemingly of their own accord, where he talked with Madam Pomfrey briefly and even helped her tend to a few students who had already made their way into the wing. Most of them were first years complaining of stomach pains and headaches -- typical signs of home sickness. A simple potion was all it took to calm their nerves and they were sent on their way.
After the majority of the students had been returned to their classes, Reid sat and talked with the old healer for a short time before promising to stop in again and taking his leave. He continued his journey of aimless wandering until he found himself strolling down the far end of the first floor corridor, a decent walk from his own corner of the floor. He heard clapping
"Very good, Connolly!" came an older voice. Well, younger, but older than that of a student. Reid found himself unable to resist, stepping quietly toward the propped-open classroom door. Glancing inside he saw the new blond teacher (‘Luke, Luke Snyder’
) sitting on the edge of his desk, a grand smile plastered on his face. Two students were at the front of the room, one helping the other to their feet, both with their wands out. The classroom was filled with students from each house (“Probably a NEWTs class then,"
Reid thought) and they were all anxiously watching what was unfolding at the front of the room.
"Alright, next group!" Professor Snyder called. The first two students took a seat and two girls excitedly jumped up, scrambling to the front of the room. "Wands at the ready," said Snyder, his tone a bit more serious and instructive. "Three, two, one--"
The two spells were shouted at nearly the same instant, blue sparks issuing from each girl's wand.
One girl went flying backwards, knocking into a cushion that had been bewitched to the wall for just this purpose. The students erupted into cheers again and as before, the winner of the short duel helped the other girl to her feet.
"Excellent, Pennyton!" said Snyder happily, patting the winner on the shoulder. "That was a fantastic effort, Norton. Expelliarmus is a simple spell but sometimes simple is all it takes. Remember, timing is everything. Keep your eyes and ears sharp, and feel your aim all the way through your arm."
As Snyder explained he stood beside the second girl, Norton, professionally holding her by the shoulders to correct her stance and helping her to angle her arm correctly. The girl made a face at some of her friends, who giggled to themselves. Norton blushed as Snyder pat her on the back and sent her back to her seat.
Reid rolled his eyes. Well, it was clear who the female students preferred.
"Alright then, who would like to go next?"
Reid didn't stick around to watch the next pair but he could hear the spells being cast, followed by roaring laughter and cheering as he walked away.
After dinner Reid made his way to the second floor corridor. The faint sound of students scurrying to the library or their dorms barely registered with him, choosing instead to focus on the patterns created by the stone floors. His feet carried him on autopilot around corners and down long stretches of hallway before he finally found himself on the west side of the castle, the sun just peaking over the hills and shining through the large windows. A large wooden door rose along the far wall, stretching to the ceiling. As he approached, Reid waved his hand in front of him, never breaking stride as the door opened with a soft creak
and allowed him passage.
The space beyond the large door was quite large, one massive room only partially divided by pillars and a few decorative partitions. A fire crackled at the far end. An array of mismatched sofas and large chairs littered the room, with a few short wooden tables mixed in.
A few other professors were already in the lounge. Professor Jervais was talking at the young Care of Magical Creatures professor, whose name Reid could never remember and who appeared rather bored with the conversation. Straight ahead, Dervis was laughing enthusiastically. Katie Peretti sat to his left, Matilda Bottomsworth on his right, in the chair across from him was none other than Professor Snyder.
“Ah! Reid, get over ‘ere,” exclaimed Dervis before Reid even had a chance to consider turning around. “I know y’er allergic to being social but surely you can make an exception on the first night a’ term!”
Reid forced a painful smile, hiding his hands in the pockets of his trousers before moving toward the small group. He took the empty chair next to Professor Snyder, decidedly not looking in his direction.
“That’s ma’ boy!” laughed Dervis, leaning across to tap Reid on the knee.
“Luke was just telling us about his NEWTs class,” said Katie, nodding toward Professor Snyder.
“Y’er own Annie wiped the floor with the lot of ‘em!” said Dervis.
Professor Snyder, Luke
, nodded. “She was very impressive, a lot of help with some of the other students as well,” he said to Reid.
Reid looked at him, his face blank. “She’s the brightest in her class. I’m not surprised,” he said simply, folding his hands in his lap. “Her father was an auror, as I’m sure you know; died in the raid on the ministry that April. She was only a first year at the time. Took to defensive spells pretty easily to begin with, even more so after that. In fact, I’m sure she could teach you a few things, Professor
,” Reid concluded with blank expression.
Luke forced a smile and then looked at Katie, who reached for his hand. Luke shook his head, still smiling as he pulled his hands away. Dervis watched the exchange and cleared his throat, turning back to Reid.
“So how was y’er first day, eh Reid?”
Reid tilted his head in consideration. “Predictable,” he answered. “Though I’ll admit to being impressed by my own NEWTs, even the Gryffindors,” he added with a smirk in Dervis’ direction, and Dervis made a face in retaliation. “I expect tomorrow will be a little more exciting, having the first-years.”
“Oh, the first-years were so much fun!” said Katie. “They’re a pretty diverse group, too. It’ll be interesting to watch them over the course of the year.”
“I’m sure they’ll be a delight,” said Reid dryly.
“You’ll love ‘um, Reid, just like I told ya earlier,” said Dervis confidently.
Reid nodded but said nothing back, leading the small group into another bout of silence.
Luke broke the silence.
“I should probably be off,” he said simply.
“It’s still early, Luke!” complained Katie.
“Yeah, I know, but I promised Aaron I’d write him and if I put it off until tomorrow it’ll never get done,” he laughed, stretching as he rose to his feet. Katie stood as well, reaching to hug him tightly.
“Oh, alright. Just be sure to give him my love!” she insisted.
“Of course,” Luke laughed. “Thank you for the invite, Dervis.”
Dervis reached out shook Luke’s hand with a bright smile. “Any time my friend!” he said loudly. The three exchanged quick ‘good nights’ before Luke gathered his robe around him and started to leave their small circle of chairs. As he passed Reid he nodded politely before strolling pass and out the large oak doors.
A moment after the doors closed, Dervis reached out and swatted Reid’s knee with the back of his hand.
“What the hell?” Reid shouted, jumping from the attack.
“Fucking Prince Charming over there,” said Dervis sarcastically. “You could bloody well try to be at list a l’il friendly.”
“Since when have you known me to be friendly?” countered Reid. Dervis glared.
“Oh, stop you, two,” sighed Katie.
“Who the hell is Aaron?” asked Reid before he could stop himself.
“His older brother,” answered Katie.
“And why exactly are you sending Luke’s brother love?”
“This here lad can be a bit slow,” said Dervis, pretending to whisper in Katie’s direction.
Katie laughed. “Luke is my cousin, well, sort of,” she shrugged.
“Sort of?” asked Reid.
Katie took a deep breath. “It’s complicated.”
“How the hell is it complicated? Either you’re cousins or you’re not,” replied Reid.
“Lay off it, Reid,” said Dervis warningly.
“No, no, it’s alright. I don’t mind talking about it so much now,” said Katie with a forced smile, putting her hand on Dervis’ arm to calm him. She then turned to Reid. “I was engaged to Luke’s cousin, Brad Snyder.”
The words processed, and Reid found himself sitting up a little, suddenly feeling tense.
“Brad Snyder, as in the reporter for the Wizarding Wireless Network?”
Katie nodded. “He could be a little reckless, he wasn’t afraid to go to the thick of trouble to get a story,” she explained, a sad smile breaking over her face.
“I apologize, Katie,” said Reid sincerely.
She waved a hand and smiled, using her free one to discretely wipe away the tears just forming under her eyes.
“No, it’s quite alright. It’s been over five years now,” she said. “It’s nice to talk about him sometimes.”
There was silence again as Dervis and Reid exchanged looks, Dervis’ being judgmental while Reid’s eye widened in defense.
“I should probably head up as well, I have the Slytherin and Gryffindor first-years first thing in the morning,” she smiled. “I’ll never understand why they still put those two houses together!”
All three laughed appreciatively as Katie stood, both men standing as well. She said goodnight to each of them in turn, politely dismissing herself as she moved toward the door, giving them a final wave before disappearing into the corridor.
Once the door was shut, Reid hesitantly turned to Dervis – he was glaring.
“How was I supposed to know?” said Reid quickly.
“You shouldn’t have pried!” shouted Dervis. He groaned. “Just brilliant. I finally get her to look twice at me, and you have to go and bring up her dead husband!”
“If she’s pissed she’s pissed at me, not you, Romeo,” sighed Reid. “Shit, though. Brad Snyder? Really?
I knew the connection with him and… Professor Snyder, but Jesus.” Reid sighed again, running a hand through his hair.
“This is why we don’t take you out in public,” said Dervis, falling into the cushions of the couch again.
“Hey, you’re the one who invited me over. I didn’t want to be a part of your little shindig here,” he countered.
Dervis tipped his head. “Fine, I’ll give ya that one.”
Reid tapped his fingers against his thigh, Dervis bounced his knee.
“So you’ve made Professor Peretti cry and insulted the abilities of Professor Snyder, all in the first day. Off to a great start, aren’t we?” said Dervis with a laugh.
“Oh yeah, brilliant,” grinned Reid.
The first week flew by, filled with its usual bundle of minor explosions, missing first-years and a crowded Hospital Wing. Once Friday was upon them and the weekend was well within sight, things began to settle down. Students were far more concerned with going to the Quidditch pitch for the first practices of the year, or club meetings and group study dates. The halls were quieter, the youngest students finally figuring out the quickest way to their classes without getting deserted on the fourth floor. It was practically peaceful
. Regardless of his rough exterior, Reid couldn’t deny how in love he was with Hogwarts Castle – it was impossible to spend so many years within its walls and not feel that way. It was the hustle and bustle he hated, the same immature and unnecessary chaos that had plagued him as a student that still pushed his buttons as an instructor. When the corridors were silent and the students were all tucked away in a classroom that was not his own, he used it to his advantage to admire the building he so adored.
Reid continued to spend time in the Hospital Wing, finding that besides Dervis and McGonagall, Poppy was just about the only other person in the entire castle whose company he genuinely enjoyed. Leave it to Reid Oliver to find solace in curing the ridiculous ailments the students found themselves with. Most were self-induced to skip out on class, or a prank pulled by older students. He’d sent three owls that week to George Weasley, asking for extra antidotes, as no doubt his shop’s products were behind most of the madness.
As before his free time was spent wandering other parts of the castle as well, once again leading him toward Professor Snyder’s classroom. He waited for the sound of students casting spells or asking questions, to see sparks fly into the corridor, but all he received was silence. Curiosity got the better of him and he found himself standing outside the open doorway, staring into an empty classroom. At the front, Luke stood with his back to the door, shuffling papers on his desk. Reid smirked.
"Snyder," said Reid from the doorway. It wasn't so much a greeting as was a statement, as though he was trying out the word. "Where have I heard that name before?" he continued sarcastically.
Luke looked up at the sound of his surname, face neutral and shoulders tight as he took in the sight of his colleague. After their rather… unpleasant exchange earlier in the week, he was at a loss as to why the other professor was calling upon him now. His brow furrowed a little.
"Can I help you?" he asked casually, breathing away the confusion on his face and turning to finish stacking some parchment on his desk.
Reid straightened up, shrugging smugly and stepping into the classroom, looking around as if admiring the decor.
"I realized that term began over a week ago and we still haven’t been properly introduced,” Reid explained. "I'm Reid Oliver," he said, offering his hand.
Luke paused, silently shaking Reid's hand while studying him with mild interest. "It's nice to meet you," he said politely as he let go of Reid's hand. "I'm--"
"Luke Snyder," Reid interrupted. "Son of Holden Snyder, dragon keeper, and Lily Snyder nee Walsh, co-owner of Carlisle Boutique in Diagon Alley. Grandson of Lucinda Walsh, recently retired Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation."
"You've done your homework," said Luke with obvious irritation, turning away from Reid again and busying himself behind his desk.
"Everyone knows the Snyders and the Walshes. You might as well be royalty," said Reid, his overly-pleasant tone laced with just the tiniest hint of bitterness.
"Are you done mocking my family, Professor Oliver, or did you actually need something?" said Luke, managing to subdue his temper, though the tips of his ears burned red.
“Not mocking,” insisted Reid, though not very sincerely. “I’m simply stating the facts. When you come from a family like yours, it’s only natural that your personal life is public knowledge.”
Luke gave a humorless laugh. “You think after twenty-six years I don’t already understand that?” he said quietly. “What I don’t understand, however, is why you care or what the purpose of reciting my family background to me is.”
Reid stood still, hands in his pockets and smiling. “Never said there was a reason,” said Reid. He turned to leave.
“Reid Oliver, half-blood.”
Luke’s voice echoed in the empty classroom. Reid stopped.
“Former star keeper for Ravenclaw house in the 80s, turned down the chance to play for the Tutshill Tornados to pursue healing at St. Mungo’s. You became the youngest head of the Janus Thickey Ward in 1991 at the age of twenty-six. You’ve published numerous studies on experimental potions and breakthrough research on treatments for the previously considered permanently-damaged. After The War you resigned your post, before you were offered a position at Hogwarts. You’ve never publicly explained that decision. This is your fourth year at Hogwarts, an impressive feat as only a few others are even returning for a second year.”
For a moment Reid stood rigidly, hands clenching into unseen fists hidden by his robes. He shut his eyes and inhaled through his nose before turning carefully, presenting a collected front.
“Congratulations. You’ve heard of me, though that’s hardly a surprise.”
“So you can be well-known, details of your personal life open to all, and it’s an accomplishment. But any knowledge about me must instantly be superficial simply because my family is well known.”
“Basically,” shrugged Reid.
Luke inhaled sharply, struggling to contain his bubbling anger.
“I have lessons to finish, Professor Oliver. You may show yourself out,” he said firmly, eyes darkening as he stared Reid down.
Reid held his gaze, giving the faintest of smiles before calmly taking his leave.
In the hallway, however, once the door to the young professor’s classroom had shut loudly behind him, Reid leaned against the cold stone wall, fists tight and jaw tighter. Back in the classroom, Luke gripped the edge of his desk violently, his breathing uneven as he fought the urge to knock over the chalk board in frustration.
The first few weeks passed and the unprovoked tension between Luke and Reid seemed to only increase with each passing day. They avoided each other in the corridors and made excuses to leave when Dervis or Katie invited the other into their conversation. When they were forced to be in each other’s presence for even a short length of time, it was often with cold glances and forced politeness, though no one was blind to their distaste for one another.
Which explained why Dervis was laughing so hard he had to hold his sides and Reid was glaring so hard he risked impairing his eyesight when Katie brought by the chaperone assignments for the first Hogsmeade trip of the year.
“This is too fucking perfect,” Dervis cackled, covering his mouth to keep his foul language from being heard by students. “I always knew McGonagall had a sense a’humor!”
“There’s nothing humorous about this,” pressed Reid, reaching for the list and crumpling it in his hands.
“Oh, but there is,” Dervis continued to laugh. “You and Luke, stuck together in the village babysittin’ a bunch a’ bored students finally set free. I think I’mma start a betting pool on which one of you comes back alive!”
The following morning Reid arrived early to the Great Hall. A few students were already eating, wearing their weekend clothes, pockets jingling with change to spend in Hogsmeade. Truth-be-told Reid quite enjoyed the village and didn’t mind chaperoning. The year before he’d mostly been paired up with Dervis, of course; they would sit in The Three Broomsticks and enjoy a few drinks, keeping an eye on the students wandering in, out and past the small pub of course. It was an enjoyable afternoon most days. Today, though, he had a strange feeling would be anything but enjoyable.
He ate quickly, leaving before Dervis could arrive and laugh again. He spent the next hour sitting out in the courtyard where the students would later meet, reading the latest letter from his uncle.
“It seems we’re stuck together today,” came an unfortunately familiar voice. Reid looked up to see Luke Snyder standing before him. He wore a light jacket and his hair was a little tussled, as though he’d only just woken up and hadn’t bothered to brush it, which Reid guessed was probably accurate. It was strange in a way, seeing him in such mundane clothes versus the upscale robes he wore to class. Reid made a point not to see much of Luke outside the academic arena, so the ‘street clothes’ as it were was new.
“Apparently so,” frowned Reid, folding up the letter and sticking it into the inside pocket of his own jacket.
“I was thinking of heading into town early, I promised my siblings I’d send them some sweets,” said Luke.
“Exciting,” said Reid unenthusiastically.
Luke rolled his eyes with a smile. “Would you like to join me?”
“And why would I do that?”
“Beats sitting here waiting to walk to the village with a crowd of overzealous students, don’t you think?”
Reid frowned even more, as if considering the possibility that the students were the better option.
“Fine,” he said grumpily, rising to his feet. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and started to walk, coming up beside Luke silently. Luke began to walk, too, glancing over at Reid a few times before shaking his head with a smile, catching on quickly that silence would be the soundtrack of their walk.
Reid stood awkwardly by the door as Luke made his way around Zonko’s, already carrying a Honeyduke’s bag. Things whizzed past him, exploded nearby, or simply smelled. Reid had been a fan of the shop as a child, but those days seemed so far away now. When Luke returned with another bag, gushing about whatever ridiculous toy he’d bought for his brother (“Evan? Nathan?”)
Reid simply groaned and turned to the door, leading them out onto the street.
They heard them before they saw them, the Hogwarts students. As they made their way toward The Three Broomstick they could hear the loud chatter and laughter just up the road. Sure enough within a few minutes they could see them, the older students moving excitedly toward the shows and restaurants, eager to spend their money and enjoy their short-lived freedom from the castle.
Luke ordered while Reid found a table and a few minutes later they were sitting across from each other at a small table by the front windows, each with a large wooden mug, steam rising from the tops.
“How many siblings do you have?” Reid asked, sounding a little surprised by the amount of goodies and toys Luke had purchased.
Luke laughed. “I’m one of six total,” he said.
“Wow,” said Reid carefully, raising his eyebrows as he sipped at the warm drink in his hands.
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Luke smiled. “Holidays were never boring, though, that’s for sure. The Snyder Farm was always crawling with kids. I have a lot of cousins, too,” he continued before taking a sip of his own drink.
Luke nodded, setting down his mug. “That’s what my Grandma Emma calls it. It’s not much of a farm, to be honest. Grandma has a pretty spectacular garden, I’ll give her that, and dad,” he added with a laugh. keeps a lot of the creatures there, we even have a few horses
“I thought your family lived in Tinworth?” asked Reid curiously. Luke raised a brow at him, grinning a little. Reid dropped his shoulders. “Snyder family, public eye, information for all to know. We’ve done this already.”
“Touché,” Luke laughed. “Yes, my family’s main house is in Tinworth. But my father grew up in the Cotswolds, where the farm is. Mum grew up in Godric’s Hollow, actually; my Grandma Lucinda still lives there. I spent time in all three places, but I liked the farm the best. Spent most summers there out by the water or helping dad with the Hippogriffs.”
“And here I presumed you were a city boy,” said Reid¸ bringing his mug to his lips again.
“What about you? Any siblings?” he asked.
Reid tensed, shoulders tightening as he held the mug to his lips a moment longer. His eyes darkened, and Luke immediately wished he could take the question back.
“I’m sorry,” Luke said.
Reid shook his head. “Don’t be. My life may be on the books as well, but the personal stuff has fortunately remained just that.”
“Her name was Arnya, family name. Born April 12th
, 1973. She was five years younger than me,” Reid began.
“Two years,” said Luke quietly. Reid tipped his head. “Two years older than me. Did she attend Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” said Reid. “She was a Hufflepuff. I teased her about it for years,” he smiled. “But the truth is, I was proud of her. She was everything good about Hufflepuff. She was determined and fair, loyal beyond anything else. Our mother was an auror, dad was a muggle policeman. It was hardly a surprise when Arnya announced to my uncle and I at her graduation that she planned to become an auror herself.”
There was a smile in his voice, but sadness in his eyes as he spoke. Luke sipped casually at his butterbeer, fighting the urge to ask about their parents.
“She sounds wonderful,” he said instead, smiling carefully.
Reid nodded again. “She was,” he agreed. “She disappeared while on a job just outside of Surrey, she was with Henry Hillstone’s team. We only learned the details this past spring.”
Luke nodded solemnly. The past year had been a painful one for their world – new witnesses and evidence was popping up all over the place and the disappearances and unexplained deaths suddenly found themselves explained. In a way it brought a sense of closure, but clearly it also brought back the original pain.
“I’m sorry,” said Luke.
Reid shook his head. “We’ve all lost someone to the war.”
“That doesn’t make the pain any easier to bear.”
Reid looked up, eyes locking with Luke’s. Silence passed between them, and Reid inhaled.
“I doubt you remember,” began Luke after a moment, glancing down with a sheepish smile, “But you saved my Aunt’s life, back in ’97. Meg. She was a healer in London at the time, fought for the Order during one of the raids on the Ministry. Randolph Goyle tortured her with the Cruciatus curse. She was in pretty bad shape when they got her to St. Mungo’s, but luckily she had a pretty fantastic healer on her case.” Luke looked up with a grateful smile.
“I do remember that,” said Reid. “Well, vaguely. The attack at least. Most of them sort of blur together,” he continued, his voice trailing off a little, as though lost in thought. “But there’s a few unexplainable incidents that stick out.”
“I can understand,” Luke nodded. “My brother was nearly killed during a battle outside Tinworth; a couple of Death Eaters decide to attack muggle families just outside the village. Aaron, my older brother, and a few others fought them off. I suppose they were lucky that Aaron landing himself in St. Mungo’s for two weeks was the worse they got,” he frowned. “There were so many… sporadic attacks, and with my family, as widespread as it is, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by all the trips we made to St. Mungo’s to visit people. I know too many people in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and most of my family belonged to The Order, but that didn’t make it any easier when bad news came.”
“Bad news is still bad news, whether you’re prepared or not,” said Reid.
Luke looked up and smiled. “Personally, I could do with never hearing a drop of bad news again,” he laughed.
Reid smiled as well, reaching for his mug and raising it toward Luke. “I can drink to that.”
With a wide smile, Luke knocked his mug against Reid’s.
“To no more bad news.”
“I will bet you twenty
galleons,” exclaimed Reid with a laugh “that I would win, by two laps.”
“Two!” laughed Luke. “Don’t over estimate yourself. I might not have been recruited for the pros but I was a top chaser!”
“A top chaser for Gryffindor
, whose chasers are known for being decent at best.”
“Those are fighting words,” said Luke with a grin, stopping mid-step to point his finger in Reid’s face.
The two men laughed and continued to walk, their feet crunching the snow underneath. It was just after five o’clock and the students had begun the loud march back to the castle, showing off their newest buys and already planning next month’s trip. Luke and Reid walked together, lingering a little ways behind the students and other chaperones.
“Why did you turn down the Tornados anyway?” Luke asked casually, popping another Bertie Blott’s bean into his mouth.
“I had an opportunity at St. Mungo’s,” Reid shrugged. “I knew I wouldn’t have a chance like that again, so I took it.”
“Yeah, but you could have been a pro
,” said Luke, “You could have gone back to healing afterward.”
“Maybe,” said Reid. “But I knew that healing is where I would end up eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I love flying and I miss the game, I’ll even admit that the attention wasn’t always such a bad thing – but I would rather be the forgotten healer that fixes lives, truly fixes them, than the famous athlete that brings superficial joy for a few hours and then it’s over.”
“Wow,” said Luke, pausing a moment before suddenly laughing. “You are so full of shit.”
Reid hung his head with a wide smile.
“So what about you,” he said, turning the attention to the blond. “From growing up on a farm to writing for the Prophet, to teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
Luke grinned. “Unorthodox, I know,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to write, though. I read constantly – the Daily Prophet, Quibbler, all the stories I could get my hands on. Fiction, non-fiction, it didn’t matter. I wrote letters to the editor in school, had a few published, too. When the opportunity to write full-time for the Prophet came about, I couldn’t resist.”
A smile passed between them. Finally, something they could both relate to.
“That still doesn’t explain why you’re here, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts,” said Reid.
Luke’s smile wavered, but he managed to keep it from completely falling. “I enjoyed the subject in school, it was one of my best areas, actually,” he began to explain. He inhaled deeply. “My family was a part of The Order back during the first war, and of course during the second as well. I picked up a lot first hand from that I suppose.”
“I thought you spent most of the war in France?” asked Reid. “I don’t mean that as a jab, believe it or not,” he added.
“I did,” Luke nodded. “My Grandmother left the country, did what she could for the Order from her home outside Paris. She asked me to join her, and so I did. But I saw my share of the war up front. In fact,” he hesitated. “I was here.” Luke paused, his steps slowing as he looked up at the castle that was now fully in view.
Reid looked up as well, taking only a moment to grasp Luke’s meaning before turning back to him with a slightly shocked expression.
“Here? You were her for the Battle at Hogwarts?” he asked, voice strained unexplainably.
There was another beat of hesitation and then a nod from Luke. “My sister was a sixth year then. Mum and dad sent word of what was happening, and I came straight away.”
Reid stopped walking and turned to Luke. Luke sighed, watching the students walk ahead.
“I wasn’t in the middle of things, really. I got here after everything had started. I remember watching from the third floor corridor, though, just there,” he said, pointing off a ways to a set of windows, “when they brought Harry Potter, announcing he was dead. I’m not proud to admit it, but for a moment there, I thought we’d truly lost. I’m just glad I was wrong.”
Reid looked down, searching for the right words.
“I’m… impressed,” he finally said.
Luke looked up, confused.
“Though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. You are a Gryffindor after all,” he said, forcing a smile.
“That doesn’t always mean much,” said Luke.
“Yes it does,” insisted Reid. “You came back to fight when our side needed fighters most. The final battle was fought mostly by students,” he said, looking toward the kids laughing and running ahead of them. “Not all of us were brave enough to come make a stand the way you did.”
Luke’s eyes widened, and for a moment Reid thought he was going to tear up. Thankfully he didn’t, but he did smile bashfully, cheeks and ears turning pink.
“My mum would tell you it was reckless, not brave,” he laughed. “But thank you.”
“I would say ‘any time’, but don’t expect the compliments too often,” grinned Reid.
Luke laughed loudly.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Knock, knock,” said Luke from the doorway. He smiled into the classroom with his hands in his pockets, lingering at the threshold.
“Oh, hey,” said Reid a little distractedly, looking up from his desk at the front of the room. He was standing with a tray of six vials in front of him, all containing greenish colored liquids of slightly different shades, two of which were foaming a little. “Sorry, taking longer than expected to get through these. Come on in.”
Luke obliged, stepping lightly into the classroom and looking around as usual. He seemed to find something new to rest his eyes on each time he would come by. Today he noticed a peculiar copper box up on one of the shelves with old runes scribbled around the edges. He could only make out a few of the words, but the thing that really caught his attention was the fact that the box kept moving.
“Tubeworms,” said Reid. Luke looked over to find that Reid had followed his gaze to the old box. “A little too fresh,” he added with a grin. Luke laughed appreciatively and moved further into the room.
“What’s all this?” Luke asked, coming up to the table and leaning on it with both hands, keeping a safe distance from the vials, just in case.
“Girding potion,” answered Reid. “After that class I’m tempted to drink a little myself,” he added with a laugh. Luke laughed along appreciatively. He could understand needing an endurance potion after a hard day.
“Is it supposed to look like that?” Luke asked with a small chuckle, pointing to the second vial from the left. It was the darkest green of all six and bubbling, foam threatening to spill over the top.
“Absolutely not,” Reid actually laughed. “He stirred it clockwise instead of counterclockwise,” he explained. “And this one,” he continued, pointing to the neon-green potion on the end, “has too many porcupine quills. Drink this and you won’t sleep for a week.”
The two men laughed again and Luke crossed his arms, stepping back and leaning against one of the student tables.
“This shouldn’t take me too much longer, just gotta get these bottled and put some papers away,” said Reid.
“I don’t mind waiting,” said Luke.
Reid flashed him a thankful smile and pulled his wand from inside his robe, nonchalantly and silently charming the tray of vials to lift into the air, floating a few feet in front of Reid’s face as he made his way around the desk and up the stairs into his private office. Luke stayed in the classroom, looking around again at the various books and ingredients on the shelves. He kept glancing up at Reid’s office, though, catching a glimpse or two of the other professor as he moved around the room.
It was strange, their sudden blossoming friendship – and yes, it was friendship, even if Reid denied it every time Katie or Dervis dared to comment. Ever since Hogsmeade the bickering had lessened considerably. That’s not to say the pair didn’t still fight. Just a week before they’d gone three days without talking for reasons still unknown. The arguments were sparse, though, especially in comparison to the first month of term. Luke found himself visiting the new potions classroom after classes were out for the day once or twice a week. The trips had become more frequent lately, but the conversations never left the classroom and didn’t last more than an hour at best. This was the first time they were taking their newfound friendship for a real spin and actually making plans together.
“Alright,” said Reid a few minutes later, coming out of his office and clapping his hands together as he quickly moved down the stone steps. He no longer had his usual class robe on, instead showing the dark dress slacks he always wore and a simple fitted black dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows. “Ready to go?”
“Uh, yeah,” Luke nodded, blinking a little and shaking his head.
Reid grabbed up a small leather bag from behind his desk in one hand, his broom in the other, and gave Luke a grin, leading. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” he asked cockily.
Luke laughed. “Just wait until we get to the pitch,” he smirked, bumping elbows with Reid as they both left the room.
They passed through the staff’s housing corridor on their way, allowing Luke to grab up his own bag and broom. The two chatted about lessons and their students, bickering pleasantly over their favorites as they moved across the green lawn. It was late October and there was a distinct chill in the air, the wind sweeping over the mostly open grounds with a fury. Neither man seemed to care all too much, though, being more than accustomed to the weather. Reid scrunched his face, cheeks and nose a little red, and muttered something about the ‘bloody wind trying to tear off his ears’, to which Luke laughed, but that was it as far as complaints.
When they made it to the quidditch pitch it was strangely quiet, though that was to be expected. The usual roar and hustle and bustle one expected from the pitch was absent on non-game days, leaving the large field silent and unmoving. The flags at the top of each decorated tower flapped noisily in the wind, but otherwise it was completely still.
They entered the field and moved out to beneath the east-facing goal posts, dropping their bags into the grass just beyond the sand pit. Luke lowered himself to sit in the slightly dewy grass while Reid simply crouched, both unzipping their bags and beginning to pull the contents out.
Luke removed the light weight jacket he’d been wearing to reveal that he was already wearing a thick woven sweater; in Gryffindor colors, of course.
“Please tell me that isn’t one of your original house sweaters,” Reid laughed, eying the shirt.
“No, of course not. But you’re never too old to support your housel” Luke grinned.
“Touché,” said Reid with a nod, his smile growing as he in turn pulled out a dark blue sweater with a gold stripe across the center, holding it out proudly. Luke laughed brightly as Reid wiggled it on over his dress shirt, fixing the collar and sleeves.
Luke pulled on his leather gloves, tightening the straps at the wrists. Reid did the same, and also strapped on knee and elbow pads. Luke was a lot less likely to be knocked into anything solid, and Reid wasn’t one for taking chances.
“What, no helmet?” Luke teased as Reid finished tightening the padded shield to his left shin.
Reid gave no verbal reply, only narrowing his eyes at the younger man, trying not to let his mouth twitch upward. Luke laughed, reaching into his bag for the final item – a quaffle.
“Kept this after our final match my seventh year,” he said proudly.
“Leave it to you to feel sentimental over a quidditch ball,” Reid laughed. Luke glared jokingly at him, following Reid’s lead and reaching for his broom, rising to his feet.
“So what’s the game plan then?” he asked.
“Thirty tosses. If you get more through than I block, you win,” said Reid with a smug grin.
“Sounds good to me,” said Luke with a grin to match, perching the quaffle under his arm and reaching out and shaking Reid’s hand to seal the deal.
Luke swung his leg over the broom, a well-kept Firebolt, and gave a spall push with his feet. A moment later he was hovering a few feet in the air, quaffle tightly under one arm, the other hand gripping the front of his broom.
“Bring it on, Old Man,” he said with a huge grin, leaning forward and suddenly taking off into the air.
Reid laughed, shaking his head. He elegantly swung his leg easily over his own broom, the same Nimbus 1001 he’d flown in his first match all those years ago as a student. His uncle had offered to buy him a newer model each and every year, including after graduation, but Reid refused. His broom may have been an older model, but he knew it like the back of his hand, and it knew him. If he was going to fly anything, it would be this broom.
He pushed off and was on Luke’s tail in no time, sailing easily toward the goals at the far end of the pitch. It had been a long time since Reid had hovered in front of these goals. Now that he thought about, the last time he’d been here, in this very spot, had been almost twenty years ago. It was a strange feeling and he couldn’t help but smiling as got into position.
“Ready?” called Luke, floating a good thirty yards back.
“I should be asking you that,” Reid shouted back, and both men smiled. Luke surged forward, quaffle in his hand, jeering to the left, and tossed with all his might.
Over an hour passed before the two men’s feet touched the ground again. Luke hit the ground with a soft ‘unf!’, making a show of dropping his broom and falling down into the grass, laying on his back with his arms splayed above his head. Reid was a little more graceful, as always, landing easily and dismounting the broom before setting it down, coming to sit near Luke with a laugh.
“I told you,” he said cheekily.
“You won by two points,” shot Luke.
“Two points would be twenty in a real game,” countered Reid, “which is more than enough to decide a match.”
“Whatever,” Luke grumbled immaturely, causing Reid to laugh.
“Would it make you feel better if I tell you that I was impressed?”
Luke turned his head, scrambling to sit up on his elbows and raising a brow at Reid.
“Did you just compliment me?” he said, trying not to smile.
“Perhaps,” shrugged Reid.
“I thought you weren’t going to do that again,” Luke laughed.
“I said I wouldn’t give out compliments often
,” Reid corrected him. “But even I can’t deny them the rare times they are deserved.”
Luke let out a barking laugh. “Wow, gee, thanks.”
“Any time,” said Reid, grinning like a little kid.
The two feel silent for a few minutes, working to catch their breath. It had been a close call. Reid had nearly missed that last pitch, barely knocking it away with his fingertips. If it had gotten through, they would have tied. Reid couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually played, and not just tossing around with Dervis over the summer holiday. Luke had given him a run for his money, and he couldn’t help but admiring Luke’s drive. He’d witnessed that spark of passion and determination in Luke before, mostly while watching one of his classes, or when they were fighting, but this was different. There was a fierceness he hadn’t been expecting, but at the same time wasn’t too surprised by. It was… curious.
“I vote we just sit here for the rest of the evening,” said Luke suddenly.
“Not that I’m against it,” said Reid, glancing around the quiet field. It was peaceful here. “But why?”
“I’m avoiding my cousin,” Luke said seriously.
This time Reid’s laugh practically echoed in the large stadium.
“She talks too much,” continued Luke.
Another laugh. “I would think you would be used to it.”
Luke chuckled. “I am, to a point. But when she feels the need to talk to me about me
, I can’t find the sudden urge to run really, really fast in the opposite direction.”
With a grin, Reid moved and fell back into the grass a few feet away, staring up at the gray sky and tucking a hand behind his head, the other resting on his stomach. Luke was still sprawled messily, arms unevenly at his sides.
“Details,” insisted Reid.
“She finally realized why she knew Noah,” he said. Reid didn’t move. “You know, Professor Mayer? Care of Magical Creatures?” Still nothing from Reid. Luke sighed. “The one with the scar across his cheek?”
“Ah, right,” said Reid, only vaguely aware of who Luke was talking about. “And why does she know him?”
Luke was silent. Reid turned his head, wondering if Luke hadn’t heard him.
“He’s my ex,” said Luke finally, voice small.
There was a pause.
“That makes sense,” Reid said.
Luke turned to him, eyes puzzled.
“Let me guess, Hogwarts Sweethearts?” Reid mocked. “Tall, dark and handsome, well, at least before he picked a fight with a pixie —“
“It was a nunda,” corrected Luke.
“Whatever,” said Reid, brushing it off.
“So wait,” said Luke, sitting up. “You’re not at all surprised that Professor Mayer
, was my boyfriend
?” inquired Luke, stressing key words he had thought would throw Reid for a bit of a loop.
“If this is about the whole gay-thing, I’ve known for weeks,” said Reid casually. “Like you said, your cousin has a big mouth.”
Luke let out a sound somewhere between a groan and a laugh, falling back into the grass.
“Why am I not surprised,” he said. “The only surprising thing is that she hasn’t tried to play matchmaker with us or something. She’s absolutely notorious for that sort of thing.”
Reid grinned but didn’t look at Luke.
“Apparently my not-so-secret secret is out of the bag, too,” he commented.
“Dervis,” explained Luke pointedly.
Reid laughed. “Of course.”
“As long as Katie doesn’t start acting like my mother, I’ll be alright,” said Luke after a pause.
“What do you mean?”
“My mother adored Noah,” Luke explained. “Still does, actually. Once in a while I’ll pop home for a planned visit only to find Noah had ‘unexpectedly’ dropped by,” he groaned.
“How long were you guys together?” Reid asked curiously.
“Two and a half years,” answered Luke. “We broke up a few months after graduation. He went off to Africa for his work, I stayed in London for mine. We grew up, simple as that. I think my mother was more heartbroken than I was.”
“What, no other boyfriends for her to fixate on?”
Luke laughed. “Other boyfriends, yes, but none seemed to compare to Noah in her mind,” he said. “I dated another writer at this Prophet, this guy named Sam. We were only together about ten months before he transferred to their Dublin office. I left for Italy shortly after. It was serious, I guess, but at the same time it wasn’t.” He shrugged. “What about you?”
“What about me?” Reid asked innocently.
Luke rolled onto his side with a devilish grin, supporting his head with his hand, elbow digging into the ground.
“Oh come on, if you don’t tell me I’ll just go to Dervis,” he threatened.
Reid rolled his eyes, still not moving.
“And you know he’ll tell me everything.
Reid glanced over him at that, and groaned.
“Fine,” he huffed, rolling onto his side and mirroring Luke. “There was… Ben, sixth year—“
“Hufflepuff,” said Reid, rolling his eyes with a smile.
Luke laughed. “Don’t worry, so was Noah,” he winked.
Reid smiled. “That lasted a whole four months before I realized he was going nowhere in life, at least not as far as I planned to go.”
“Wow,” laughed Luke.
“What? I had goals, expectations. I wasn’t going to let some guy drag me down just cause he was a good kisser,” he said seriously. Luke continued to laugh. “Anyway. There was Seamus, another healer at St. Mungo’s.”
“How long were you guys together?” Luke asked.
Reid thought a moment, looking at the sky as he counted back. “Just shy of… five years?”
“Wow,” said Luke genuinely. “What happened?”
“The war,” answered Reid, though his tone didn’t seem quite dark enough to imply anything too terrible had happened. “Lives were crazy then. We didn’t see each other much. We were working or checking on family and friends. Everyone was on edge, never knowing when the next wave of injuries would flood in or if we’d be attacked next. We both lost people, and it took its toll. He left right after the war, moved back to Ireland to help his family rebuild after his dad was killed. I couldn’t leave my uncle, so I stayed in the city.”
“I’m sorry,” Luke said quietly.
Reid shrugged. “I’m not. I learned from it,” he said. “Never date an Irishman, they always leave.”
Luke blinked at the smile forcing its way onto Reid’s lips, and ultimately couldn’t suppress his own smile, the two laughing easily together.
“Don’t tell Dervis I said that, though. It’ll break his heart,” Reid added with a wink.
“Your secret is safe with me,” laughed Luke.
Easy silence fell between them as they stared at each other and then at the blades of grass, the darkening sky, enjoying the serenity of the empty pitch.
“What do you say,” said Luke after a little while. “One more round?”
“I wouldn’t want to embarrass you for a second time,” said Reid.
“HA!” exclaimed Luke. “I think the old man is just scared he won’t win this time.” Luke rose to his feel, tossing the quaffle from one hand to another.
Reid grinned up at him, eyes slightly narrowed, before standing up as well.
“You’re on.” Part Three