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Aug. 15th, 2012


Artwork for Heartgrove, a Merlin Big Bang Fic.

Story: Heartgrove
Author: queasy_mouse
Artist: sripley

Jul. 2nd, 2012


(no subject)

Most of the people on Tumblr spreading hate are just pissed that people were waiting IN THE LOBBY. I'm glad to say we ate inside (we were overheating and starving when we got there xD And Mona & I wanted to catch up cause it's been TWO FREAKIN YEARS <3) and then went outside, and walked back over to try and see him, to find out we missed him. When we did meet him, it was because we were out front, and he WAITED FOR US and went above and beyond to be sweet to us (he didn't need to wait, but he did. He didn't need to get out of his car, but he did).
So yeah. Haters gonna hate, and I don't care xD

Jun. 3rd, 2012


Some Things Never Change (Epilogue)

Reid rolled over, lying flat on his back with a sheet draped lazily over the bottom half of his body. Almost instantly a groan escaped his lips, his arm flying up to cover his eyes from the sunlight streaming in through the open blinds. He wasn't used to the sun being out when he woke up most days, and he was a stickler for keeping the blinds shut until all occupants were awake. Luke, however, never seemed to want to follow that little rule. With a sigh, Reid rolled back over and let his legs hang over the side of the bed, slowly pulling himself up into a sitting position.

"Luke!" he called out loudly, rubbing his tired eyes with his calloused fingers. No reply. "Luke?"

There was still no answer. Releasing another dramatic groan, Reid stood up and walked straight to his dresser, digging out a pair of Harvard sweat pants and pulling them on over his boxer, opting to wander shirtless through the warm house. It was the middle of June and the summer was already turning out to be unusually warm for the Midwest. The hum of room fans buzzed throughout the house and a medley of soft rock songs were playing on the radio in the kitchen. Amongst all the noise, though, Reid couldn't detect any of the sounds he associated with Luke's presence.

Turning off the hallway into the kitchen, Reid called for Luke one more time but was met with the same silent response.

The music on the radio stopped for a beat, the morning host suddenly speaking in a tone far too cheery for Reid’s liking and thanking the listeners for turning it. ”It’s gonna get up into the 80s on this beautiful June 8th, 2012 day,” the man said happily. Regardless of spending years in Dallas, Reid still wasn’t a fan of the heat. He turned off the radio with a triumphant, ‘Hmmpf’. Instinct drew him toward the fridge in search of something to drink, feet dragging slowly across the cool floor. He pulled open the white door and let his eyes fall over the contents of the fridge, finally drawing out the half-gallon of 1% milk, twisting off the cap and drinking straight from the carton - something he knew he could only get away with when Luke wasn't around. He replaced the cap and stuck the milk back into the side door, knocking it closed with his knee. Just as he turned to now raid the cabinets, he noticed the bright yellow addition to the fridge; a note from Luke.

Shortly after they had moved into their new, shared place, Luke had attached a small cork board to the back of the fridge. It was littered with pictures of them, together and separate, as well as their closest friends. For the moment, pictures of them from their beach trip in late April claimed the spot of honor, with some of Luke's favorites taped to the side. The images changed every few weeks as new events took place and new memories were made, and though Reid had complained non-stop about the 'obnoxious scrapbook' on the back of his 'food locker', he'd eventually gotten used to it. With a small grin, Reid relaxed and reached for the pinned up note.

"Good morning, hubby. Gotta run, early meeting. Don't forget our date tonight. Luv ya! xxx PS, Stop rolling your eyes."

The note earned a laugh from Reid as he twisted the ring on his finger out of habit. He re-pinned the note to the board with a smile, shaking his head and of course rolling his eyes.


The sun was high in the sky when Luke finally made it home, undoing the buttons on his dress shirt as he walked up the drive. He wasn't surprised to see Reid's car was gone. Reid had told him he'd probably be over at Katie's for part of the afternoon before they went out, which was fine with him. As much as Luke adored having Reid around full-time, he enjoyed the few moments he had to himself, too.

He took his time showering and cleaned a little before retreating to the kitchen for a quick lunch. His first stop, though, was the fridge, smiling with anticipation. He'd left a note for Reid that morning, and though it had taken a bit of 'training' on his part, Reid was finally leaving him messages in return.

Just as he'd expected, he found a small white piece of lined paper tacked up beside his own, Reid's handwriting scrawled across.

"You know Snyder, you are such a sap... And as if you'd let me forget - just as long as you don't forget your promise that it would be worth my while ;) And I am not rolling eyes... Okay, maybe a little. xxx."

Laughing loudly, Luke could only describe how he felt as 'giddy'. Reid still wasn't Mr. Romance by any means, but he did give it some effort and he seemed to not only tolerate but actually enjoy and appreciate the 'sappy' side of Luke.

He thought about their upcoming date and smiled, reflecting on how far they had come in only a few short years: From hating each other, to now sharing a home and a life. As he glanced back at the notes they were using to communicate, full of the teasing and flirty taunting they were known for, he couldn't help but laugh again. Some things never change.


Some Things Never Change

Title: Some Things Never Change
Word Count: 3,100+
Summary: "All week something has come up with one of us. I feel like I’m dating my phone at this point."
Notes: A huge thank you to soapie_nl for creating the beautiful work! Also a thank you to bhumimak for being a wonderful beta <3 (And apologies that this wasn't unlocked right away!) Enjoy!

It was another early morning at Memorial Hospital, but Dr. Reid Oliver was pretty used to early mornings after all these years. He preferred it, really. Most of his daily activities, from rounds to surgeries to monotonous meetings, were scheduled for the afternoon hours, meaning the earlier he arrived to his office each morning, the more time he had before he had to actually interact with anyone. It gave him time to get things done at his own speed, to work through case files and answer emails without being interrupted every five minutes by the newest nurse that was clueless when it came to his or her own job. The hospital was much quieter at seven o’clock in the morning, just the way he liked it.

Manila folders stretched across the length of his desk, messily overlapping one another. He had a coffee mug in one hand, the other on his computer mouse as he clicked through the latest batch of emails. Two consultation requests, a calendar reminder from Bob for the upcoming fundraiser, replies to his inquiries over new lab equipment from Datascope, and… Well lookie there, Reid thought with genuine smile, setting down his mug and leaning closing to the screen. He clicked on the last email on the list.

To: r.oliver@memorialmed.com
From: luke@snyderfoundation.org

Good morning, Doctor Oliver :) Wanted to leave you something for when you came into work. Sorry I didn’t get to stop by tonight. Ellen’s son was sick so she left early, meaning I get to spend some quality time with my office computer for a few more hours. I’ll call you tomorrow though; maybe we can sneak in some time? Have a good day. I love you.

Reid rolled his eyes but couldn’t contain the smile on his face. He scooped the mouse into the palm of his hand again, but stopped short at the sound of buzzing in his pocket. With a curious frown he abandoned the mouse and dipped his hand into the pocket of his trousers, retrieving his phone. He laughed instantly when he saw the name on the screen and flipped it open.

“Your timing scares me sometimes, I’m starting to think you’re psychic,” he said, pressing the phone to his ear with his shoulder. “I just read your email.”

Luke Snyder laughed on the other end. “Didn’t you know? When Paul Ryan lost his powers they passed onto me,” he teased.

“Wait, what?” asked Reid.

“Never mind, a story for another time. So anyway, how is your morning going?”

“Fine. Quiet, trying to catch up on some things. How about you? I’m surprised to hear from you this early.”

“Got out earlier than expected last night, passed out as soon as I got home,” Luke explained.

Reid leaned back in his chair, taking in his boyfriend’s voice. In the background he could hear what sounded like passing cars.

“Where are you now?”

“Walking into work,” said Luke, and Reid could picture him instantly; crossing the street in his dress pants and button down shirt, tie perfectly fixed around his neck. No doubt that ancient messenger bag he loved so much was slung over his shoulder, one hand holding the phone and the other a carrier with two cups of coffee. Luke was the kind of boss that bought his secretary coffee each morning, and as ridiculous as it seemed to Reid for any boss to do such a thing, he kind of loved it about Luke. “Figured I’d get an early start. Maybe for once I really will get out of here by four o’clock.”

Reid laughed. “Yeah, maybe. If so you should stop by. I have a pretty uneventful day, I should be able to steal some time around then.”

“Sounds perfect,” said Luke, the smile evident in his voice. “Well I’m about to get in the elevator. I’ll see you around four thirty then?”

“It’s a date,” grinned Reid, knowing Luke would love it. And he did.

“Great!” replied Luke, sounding like a kid on Christmas day. “I’ll see you later then.”
“Have fun helping people.”

“Ha, you too. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Reid snapped his phone shut, shaking his head with a grin as he pocketed his phone. Not five minutes later his pager began to buzz against his hip and he was swept into the mix of lab coats and scrubs going about their daily routines. At least he had Luke to look forward to.


Luke closed his office door behind him, slipping the strap to his bag over his shoulder in the process.

“If Rachel calls tell her I’m gone for the day but that she can email me,” he said, stopping briefly at his secretary’s desk.

“Will do,” Ellen chimed back. “See you tomorrow, Luke.”

“See you.”

It was a short walk from the building to his car. Normally Luke would take his time and enjoy the warm weather that had finally started to become common place in the Midwestern town, but today he was definitely in a hurry. He felt like he hadn’t seen Reid in ages. Come to think of it, when had he last seen Reid? Tuesday? Wednesday, maybe? It had been at least three days, he realized, which only made him all the more anxious to get to Memorial Hospital as soon as humanly possible.

Be-de-de-beep, be-de-de-beep.

The sound came just as Luke put the car in reverse. He held his foot to the brake, searching for his phone in his bag. When he managed to pull it out, ’1 new message(s)’ flashed across the screen.

From: Reid
Time: 4:06pm
Just got called into surgery. Rain check on that lunch date? I’ll call you when I’m out.

Luke let out a heavy sigh. Unfortunately he wasn’t too surprised by this turn of events. Accidents, meetings, family crisis. It was always something. But that was life, he reminded himself. Yes, it sucked that once again he had to push back his plans with Reid, but they’d see each other soon, he thought confidently. Tonight probably. Yes, definitely tonight.

He scrolled down his contact list and hit the green ‘call’ button, bringing the small device to his ear.

’This is Reid. If you have this number I clearly like you, so I guess you can go ahead and leave a message. Can’t promise I’ll get back to you.’ Beeeep.

Luke laughed, as he always did at Reid’s voicemail.

“Hey you, just got your text. I hope everything goes well and I’ll see you tonight. I love you.”

He pulled out onto the main road, repeating, ‘I’ll see you tonight, I’ll see you tonight’ in his head.


Ten minutes later Luke was walking into Al’s and grabbing a table. The waitress had just left two menus when Casey Hughes made his grand entrance, bounding over to Luke.

“Your timing is flawless, man,” Casey laughed, falling into the chair across from Luke. “My dad called two minutes after you did asking if I could come in for a few hours tonight. Had to tell him I was busy hanging with my boy!”

“I must be psychic,” Luke chuckled, thinking back to Reid’s comment that morning. “I’m glad I could help you blow off work, Case.”

“So where’s the good doctor?”

“Working,” Luke said. Casey raised his brown, clearly catching the far-from-happy tone in Luke’s voice. “He got called into surgery last minute. It sort of threw off our lunch date plans.”

“Ah, so I’m just the rebound date,” Casey winked. “But that’s pretty typical, right?” the other blond continued, referring to Luke’s unfortunate change in plans.

“Yeah, it is, and we’re used to working around it. But I just feel like I haven’t seen him in forever. All week something has come up with one of us. I feel like I’m dating my phone at this point,” he said with a half-hearted laugh.

“That sucks, man,” Casey agreed. “I’m sure you’ll find time soon, though. And hey, at least you both have your own places now. One less obstacle,” he winked.

“Very true,” Luke nodded. Not having to worry about Katie and Jacob, or worse, Luke’s mother, was definitely a glorious change in pace for them. Reid had started renting a place closer to the hospital a few months back, and for the last five weeks Luke had been enjoying the privacy of his own condo in town. Life as a couple had certainly become more enjoyable in that time.

“Knock on wood, nothing else comes up today, or I thinking I’m going to go crazy!” Luke sighed dramatically, earning a sympathetic laugh from Casey.


“Something came up…” Luke said slowly into the phone, as though each word burned his mouth on its way out. “Mom called about an hour ago freaking out. I meant to call you…”

“It’s fine, Luke,” Reid said reassuringly, rubbing his forehead with his free hand. “Do what you gotta do.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll call you later, okay?”

“All right. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Snapping his phone shut, Reid sunk further into the driver’s seat of his car, pulling into the next available driveway and turning around. He’d been two blocks from Luke’s place when his phone had started buzzing on the seat next to him. The conversation had clearly not gone as he’d hoped.

He stopped at Al’s on the way and picked up two burgers, seasoned fries, a chocolate shake and a bowl of chili. If he was going to be spending his evening alone at home, he might as well try to enjoy some of it.

The apartment felt unusually quiet tonight, he thought. Or maybe he was just lonely. Ugh, feeling lonely was quite possibly the worst sensation in the world. It made him feel needy and codependent, two things he hated in other people and especially in himself. He couldn’t help it, though. When his eyes began to feel heavy in the final hour or so of surgery, thinking about spending time with Luke was what kept him alert. And now here he was in his tiny apartment, eating takeout from Al’s, without Luke. There was something about Luke that Reid still couldn’t quite understand – the way that just having him around seemed to make even the most mundane things appear interesting. They’d spent more nights than he could remember just sitting on the couch at his place, doing absolutely nothing but eating dinner and watching crap television… yet those nights were some of the best Reid could remember.

And now he was simply grumpy. Opening his laptop, Reid could feel the near permanent frown on his face, the tension in his shoulders. He felt like he was going through withdrawal, as ridiculous as it seemed. He hadn’t seen Luke’s face or heard his voice other than over a phone in days and the separation was starting to take its toll.

Reid checked his email again, personal and work, and even replied to a few messages. It wasn’t enough though to thoroughly distract him. So, against his better judgment, he grudgingly clicked on the little blue ‘F’ on the task bar.

Facebook popped up and he felt blinded by the white background and cheery updates and ridiculous pictures. Luke had all but forced him to sign up a few months ago, insisting that it would help him keep in touch with his friends. It didn’t matter how many times Reid reminded Luke that all of his friends lived in Oakdale and that he could just call them. Luke always got his way in the end.

He rarely did anything on Facebook except snoop around, as awkward as it often felt. He had posted two updates in the seven months he’d had the account¸ and both were complaints about having a Facebook page in the first place. Still, he didn’t completely hate the social website. Moving his cursor across the screen, Reid clicked on the familiar image of a very handsome young blond, feeling his frown loosen a bit as Luke’s page came up.

“Finally getting to hang out with Reid this afternoon!” said his latest status. Casey Hughes, Katie Peretti-Snyder and Maddie Coleman’s names were listed underneath as having ‘liked’ the update. Reid felt his frown tighten again.

With a groan he shut the laptop, slouching into the couch.


Purple circles were beginning to form under Luke’s eyes, bold and dark against his fair skin, as he stepped into his condo. It was black outside and the apartment was cast in shadows, one dim lamp on the table by the door offering the only light in the room. He didn’t bother turning on any other lights, feeling the ache of exhaustion in every step. He dropped his keys into the dish on the table and draped his light jacket over the back of the couch as he moved through the living room toward the hall, eventually stumbling into his bedroom and collapsing onto the bed.

The weight in his muscles was enough to make him want to lie there forever, but he knew he had to get up if only to change his clothes. Slowly he managed to do just that before slipping beneath the sheets. Before he allowed his eyelids to win, he reached across to grab his phone off the nightstand, wincing at the bright light as he pressed buttons.

Hey you. Just got home. Sorry if this wakes you. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. I love you.

With a sigh he clicked ‘send’, tossing the phone back onto the stand before sinking into his pillows.


It as another early morning for Reid Oliver. The hospital was fairly quiet for a Saturday morning, much to his delight. He sipped at the latte in his hand, eyes unable to truly focus on anything in front of him. He’d woken up to a text from Luke, frowning to see a time stamp of 1:48am. He considered texting back, but he knew that Luke was probably still in bed and decided to let him sleep.

It was another day without any planned surgeries and Reid silently prayed to whatever power was out there that he didn’t get stuck with another surprise.

He knew Luke was just as miserable as he was. It was probably unhealthy, the way they’d become so dependent, if not addicted to each other over the last year. Truth be told, though, Reid didn’t care. He just wanted to see Luke.


“Hey, Bob.”

Bob Hughes looked up from the nurses’ station where he was signing forms, smiling at the friendly face looking back at him.

“Hello, Luke. I wasn’t expecting to see you today. Everything all right?”

“Oh, yeah, everything is fine. I was actually wondering if Reid was around?”

Bob frowned, looking a little confused.

“I’m afraid you just missed him. He left about a half an hour ago, barged into my office insisting he needed the rest of the day off.”

Luke’s eyes widened a little, confusion seeping into his own expression.

“Oh, okay. I guess I’ll just call him then. Thanks, Bob.”

Luke walked quickly down the corridor, reaching for his phone. At that same moment, it began to ring. He glanced at the screen and frowned.

“Hey Ellen,” he said quickly.

“Sorry to bother you, Mr. Snyder, but Mr. Oliver just arrived looking for you,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, Luke suddenly skidded to a halt.

“What? Reid’s there?” he said breathlessly. “Can you put him on?”

“Of course,” said Ellen. He heard her mumble in the background and the sound of the phone changing hands.



“Where are you at? I got here and Ellen said you’d already left for the day. I thought you worked until four?”

“I’m at memorial, I was trying to surprise you!” said Luke, laughter filtering into his voice as everything began to make sense. He began to walk again, practically jogging toward the parking lot.

He heard Reid laugh. “Believe it or not I was trying to do the same thing.”

“I’m leaving the hospital now. Meet me at my place?”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Reid said urgently, and both men laughed.

Luke hung up and ripped his keys from his pocket, dropping ungracefully into his car.

When he arrived at the condo, Reid was already there. He was parked on the street out front, leaning back on the car with his arms crossed and, at the sight of Luke, a small grin on his lips. Luke scrambled out of the car, looking up to see that Reid was already making his way toward him.

They met on the sidewalk, Luke instantly draping his arms around Reid’s neck and Reid’s hands taking hold of Luke’s hips. Their lips met in a desperate kiss, followed by soft laughter.

“I take it you’ve missed me,” Reid teased.

“Oh, like you haven’t missed me,” Luke laughed along.

They kissed again, relaxing and truly breathing for the first time in days.

“It’s nice to see your handsome face, Dr. Oliver,” said Luke with a grin. “Though we should be careful, my phone is going to think I’m cheating on it.”

Reid laughed whole heartedly, moving to wrap an arm around Luke’s waist as they walked toward the front door.

“I promise not to tell your phone if you promise not to tell mine.”


“So I’ve been thinking…”

“Should I be worried?”

Reid gave Luke a stern look. “Very funny, but no. I was thinking about the fact that we both basically went crazy all because we had to go four days without seeing each other.”

“Five,” corrected Luke.

Five. Anyway, it’s a bit ridiculous. We basically played hooky today. We’re both grown men, we shouldn’t be reduced to teenage antics just because we miss our boyfriend.”

Luke turned onto his side to face Reid, tugging the top sheet with him and curling it against his chest.

“Teenage antics, huh?” he grinned.

“Yes, exactly. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.”

“Oh, very embarrassing.”

“So I’ve come up with a solution.”

“Of course you have.”

“Stop teasing,” said Reid, though he was clearly trying hard not to smile. “Believe it or not, I’m serious. We can’t seem to handle being apart for more than a few days, and as sad as that is, I’ve come up with a very logical, mature solution to the problem.”

“Go on,” said Luke, putting on his best serious face.

“I propose that we move in together.”

The serious façade on Luke’s face disappeared instantly, replaced by something far more natural, more Luke. It was raw and emotional and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Oh god, not the eyes,” Reid winced.

“Reid,” chastised Luke, batting at him playfully. “Do you mean that?”

Reid stared at Luke for a moment, propping himself up on one arm. With his free hand he reached for Luke, drawing him closer and planting a firm kiss on his mouth.

“I mean it.”

Luke’s face was glowing even more than before and he all but tackled Reid, covering him with kisses and dragging him back under the covers.


Oct. 12th, 2011


Lumos; Chapter Six

Luke filled Reid in on most of the conversation once they’d escaped the hordes of reporters and made it safely to Margo’s office. An hour later they were free to leave, using a portkey Margo had set up to take them directly to the edge of Hogsmeade.
The walked mostly in silence up to the castle, hands clasped between them. When they came through the entrance hall, Luke was surprised to find things so quiet. He didn’t question it, though, allowing Reid to lead him through the halls toward the teacher’s corridor.
“I need to make a quick detour,” said Reid, and Luke was instantly suspicious. He frowned but followed Reid without question.
“Why are we here?” Luke asked. They were outside of the professor’s lounge.
“Why don’t you ask them?”
Reid opened the door, and suddenly they were greeted with cheers and whistles, a small crowd gathered in the room. A large banner floated in the air that read ‘Congratulations, Luke!’
Regardless of the exhaustion claiming his body, Luke stepped forward, a smile spreading over his face. Katie and Dervis stood at the front with their arms around each other. Casey was there, too, standing with Noah. Most of the other professors and even most of the ghosts were in attendance, cheering as he entered the room.
“You guys didn’t have to do this,” he insisted, hugging Dervis and Katie in turn.
“’Course we did!” insisted Dervis. “I’ll take advantage of any excuse to throw a party,” he grinned. “And I think this is a pretty damn good excuse to celebrate, don’t cha think?”
Luke laughed. “How can I argue with that?”
By the end of the night the color had returned to Luke’s face, Reid noticed. He didn’t dance as much as at the Christmas party, though Casey certainly tried to get him on the floor every chance he could, but it was clear that he was enjoying himself. He was smiling nonstop and Reid found it hard not to smile himself.
“He looks good, mate,” commented Dervis, standing alone with Reid off to the side.
“He does,” Reid agreed.
“I’m happy fer ya both,” said Dervis. “Looks like you’re gonna pull through.”
Reid was inclined to agree.
They were the first to leave the party, making the rounds and thanking everyone for showing up to support him. A few put up a fight, but Luke insisted that he was simply drained and needed some sleep. The crowd of supporters finally agreed to let Luke and Reid go, giving out hugs and final congratulations.
“Can I stay with you tonight?” Luke asked once they were in the deserted corridor.
“Of course,” said Reid instantly.
The walk to Reid’s room seemed shorter than usual, or perhaps they were simply getting used to it. They had nearly bad it to his door when they heard footsteps from behind, and turned to see Annie Judd coming down the tower steps and walking in their directly.
She stopped shyly, smiling apologetically as she approached.
“Good evening, professors,” she greeted.
“Good evening, Annie,” Reid smiled. “Is everything alright?”
“Oh, yes!” said Annie, “I heard you were back, and I wanted to come see you both and say congratulations.”
Luke beamed at her. “Thank you, Miss Judd,” he said emotionally.
“We all knew you would win,” she went on. “Everyone here was cheering for you, even the Slytherins,” she explained with a gentle laugh. “We’re really happy that you’re back. Classes haven’t been the same without you.”
Luke looked as though he might cry, but he bit it back, nodding gratefully.
“I really appreciate that,” he said thoughtfully.
Annie nodded. “I guess I’ll see you both in class tomorrow,” she said.
“That you will,” confirmed Reid. “Thank you, Annie.”
“You’re welcome, Professor,” she smiled. “Good night.”
“Good night,” Reid and Luke said in unison, watching as Annie skipped back up the steps.
Once inside Reid’s room the exhaustion Luke had mentioned before became painstakingly obvious. He practically collapsed onto the bed, taking a deep breath.
Reid moved around the room and a moment later there was music. It was slow and soft, completely instrumental.
“Come here,” he said gently, offering Luke his hand. Luke accepted, allowing Reid to pull him to his feet. Reid led him to the center of the small bedroom, wrapping an arm supportively around Luke’s waist, the other taking his hand. Luke was smiling in confusion. “I have now been to two parties with you, and yet we still haven’t danced,” Reid explained, smiling.
“Who would have guessed the Reid Oliver was a closet romantic?” laughed Luke.
“Don’t tell anyone,” warned Reid. “I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Luke smiled.
He leaned into Reid, resting his head on the older man’s shoulder and holding him close. They swayed gently to the music, breathing each other in and relishing in the peace. Reid couldn’t even remember the last time he’d felt so… free. It seemed as though darkness had been lingering over him for so long that he’d forgotten what it felt like to just breathe and feel happy. Now, with Luke in his arms, he felt content for the first time in years.
“I love you, Luke,” he whispered in Luke’s ear. This wasn’t exactly how he’d planned to tell Luke, but he couldn’t imagine saying anything else in that moment.
Luke leaned back so they could see each other, a tired, but truly happy smile gracing his lips.
“I love you, too.”
Reid was amazed by how quickly things seemed to go back to normal. Within two weeks after the trial, even with Damian’s face appearing in the Prophet a handful of times, Luke was back to his smiling ways, even happily complaining about writing his N.E.W.T. exams and trying to catch up on grading papers. By Easter, Reid would have almost sworn that none of it had even happened based on Luke’s attitude and appearance. He knew better, though. He still spent a few nights a week with Luke curled against him. He witnessed Luke when he couldn’t quite fake it. He heard him dream.
He knew Luke, though. He hadn’t been lying about that back in the ministry. He knew Luke, and even through the occasional pain that would appear in Luke’s eyes, he could tell that Luke was happy again. His smile was sincere, and he would pass Luke’s classroom to hear laughter and enthusiasm in his voice. Luke was finally happy, and that was all that mattered.

“They’re calling you a hero now,” said Reid, sounding both impressed and entertained by the idea.
“I’m no hero,” said Luke modestly, unbuttoning up his robe.
“‘The identity of Luciano Grimaldi, the mysterious son of recently convicted Death Eater Damian Grimaldi and key witness to the case, was finally revealed during the trial to be none other than former Prophet writer and socialite Luke Snyder’ Socialite, huh?”
“Keep reading,” Luke laughed.
“‘Sources have confirmed with the family that Damian Grimaldi is in fact Luke Snyder’s biological father, and the Snyder was working in partnership with the Order of the Phoenix under Albus Dumbledore’s orders when he went undercover as a spy during The War. The Prophet has now learned the Snyder was responsible for information to the Ministry that helped to prevent several possibly deadly incidents throughout the Wizarding World. People are singing a different tune from two months ago when Snyder first came forward, many even calling him a silent hero of the war.’”
Luke rolled his eyes, coming to sit beside Reid on the bed. “I really hope these articles stop soon,” he sighed, reaching for the paper. “I think I’ll send Tabitha a letter. She’s editor now, she can kill these things before they are printed.”
“Oh come on, you deserve a little recognition,” said Reid, kissing the side of Luke’s head.
“You do realize we are going to argue over this for the rest of our lives, right?” asked Luke, frowning at Reid.
Reid laughed sympathetically. “Yes, but as long as we don’t go to bed angry, I think we’ll be alright.” He leaned in, pressing his lips against the cool skin just below Luke’s air. A smile finally crept onto Luke’s face as he turned to snag Reid’s lips with his own, the paper discarded somewhere on the floor.
The end of the year rushed by, a haze of exams and final papers. Some days it seemed to be going too quickly and other days dragged on without the end in sight. Still, before they knew it, it was June and the last day was upon them.
It was bittersweet, as the last day always is. Reid held a final Ravenclaw meeting where the seventh years announced their plans and final goodbyes were said.
“If you need any sort of recommendation, don’t hesitate to write me,” said Reid firmly.
Annie laughed. “Thank you Professor Oliver,” she said. She seemed to hesitate a moment before finally going with her gut and flinging her arms around the neck of the unsuspecting teacher. Reid stiffened a moment, caught by surprise, but quickly loosened up, smiling and hugging the young woman back.
“Good luck, Annie,” he said, giving her a final squeeze.
She smiled at him, adjusting the bag on her shoulder. Reid watched as she steered her trunk through the air with her wand, directing other students out of the common room.
Reid met Luke, Dervis and Katie in the Entrance Hall a short while later, careful not to get ran over by any floating trunks.
“I can’t believe this year is over,” said Katie sadly, but still smiling.
“It goes fast,” Dervis nodded. “You lot walking down to the train?”
“Of course,” said Luke happily, looking between them all.
“What about you, Reid?”
Reid rolled his eyes. “I suppose I’ll join,” he smirked.
They followed behind the crowd of students, helping to load the trunks into the final car before waving them off. Each window was crowded with small hands waving back at their professors, at the school they were leaving behind, some just for the summer and others for good.
Very bittersweet.
“I’m already anxious for next year,” said Katie as the four headed back to the castle.
“I don’t even know what all I’m doing this summer,” laughed Luke. “I don’t think I can even think about next year yet.”
“That’s right!” Dervis suddenly shouted, causing Katie to jump. “You’ll be back next year! Congratulations, Luke!” he said excitedly.
Luke laughed nervously. “Did you think I wouldn’t be back?” he asked.
“Well, your job is cursed,” chimed in Reid. “Congratulations, Professor Snyder. Assuming you don’t mysteriously disappear this summer, you will be the first Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in over fifteen years to return for a second year.”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” said Luke bashfully.
“The curse is officially broken,” Reid declared, wrapping an arm around Luke’s shoulders and kissing the side of his head.
“I expect you both over this summer,” said Katie demandingly. “No excuses.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Luke with a mock salute.
“I told ye, Katie, we’ll double date the crap out’a this summer,” Dervis laughed.
“Oh, hush,” Katie smiled, slapping him playfully on the chest. He laughed again, leaning down to kiss her confidently.
The friends made their way to the castle and parted ways to their separate rooms to pack. Katie and Dervis stopped by Luke’s room for a final goodbye. Luke finished packing shortly after that, and made his way up to the seventh floor.
“About ready?” he asked, stepping into Reid’s room through the already opened door.
“Just about,” said Reid, waving his wand. His alarm clock and the picture of himself with his uncle and sister at her graduation neatly floated into his bag. With a final twitch of his wrist, the trunk shut and locked and his bag zipped itself. He pulled the strap of the bag over his shoulder and grabbed the handle of his trunk with his free hand.
Before leaving them made one last stop, leaving their trunks outside in the corridor as the gold falcon turned, bringing them up and into the extravagant headmistress’ office.
“I look forward to seeing you both in September,” she said after a few minutes conversation, hugging them one by one.
“So do we,” said Luke as he hugged her back. “Thank you for everything.”
“Oh don’t be silly,” she said, waving him off. “I didn’t do anything beyond what you undoubtedly deserved from me.” She smiled, looking between them. “Now out, both of you. You have a summer to enjoy!” she said, clapping her hands together.
“So do you,” said Reid with a grin as they made their way out of the room. “Don’t party too hard,” he winked.
“Shoo,” she laughed, watching them leave with a proud smile.
“On one condition,” said Reid firmly as they made their way into Hogsmeade. “I am not getting on a hippogriff.”
Luke laughed loudly. “Fine, fine. If that’s what it takes.”
“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Reid groaned.
“Don’t act like you aren’t at least a little excited,” said Luke. Reid gave him a look. “Okay, okay, so meeting my family can be a bit… overwhelming.”
“Terrifying. Or maybe scarring,” Reid interjected.
“Once you try my Grandma Emma’s food, you’ll never want to leave,” said Luke as though Reid hadn’t said anything.
“I like food,” said Reid thoughtfully.
“I know you do,” Luke laughed.
“And when is this nightmare taking place?”
“Next Friday,” said Luke.
Reid grinned, resembling the Cheshire cat. “And what are our plans until then?”
Luke smirked. “Well, I figure it’s only fair that I get to see your place, too” he said seriously. “I’m sure we’ll find some way to pass the time.”
They both leaned forward, sharing a short but deep kiss.
“I’m sure we will,” said Reid with a wide smile. He took Luke’s hand, both of them clutching their bags tightly as they prepared to apparate. “Hold on,” he instructed.
“I plan to.”


Lumos; Chapter Five

Luciano Grimaldi to Testify Against Father
Head of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement Margo Hughes released a statement today confirming that Luciano Grimaldi, the mysterious son of Damian Grimaldi, will appear in court today to testify against his father. Aurors have been receiving information from Luciano since the end of the war in 1997, but conflicting stories and missing pieces have made it impossible for the prosecution to convict Damian Grimaldi without the direct testimony of Luciano.
Many believe that Luciano did not step forward sooner due to fear of being arrested and tried for his own actions during the war. When asked if this was still a possibility, Tom Hughes, Luciano’s representative and member of the Wizengamot, said that it is unclear as of now if charges will be brought against Luciano.
Questions have arisen regarding what Luciano’s testimony will actually do for the case against Grimaldi. Elphias Dodge, the only member of the Wizengamot who has served since before The War, said that Luciano’s direct testimony is more for the sake of confirmation than to bring new evidence.
“We have testimonies from acquaintances of Grimaldi’s that directly contradict the information given to us by Luciano,” said Dodge. “Our hope is that having Luciano tell his side of the story, in person and under oath, will help to sway the council and the jury in our favor.”
Luciano is expected to make his first appearance since the war, in which he was still rather anonymous, late this afternoon. You can count on your friends at the Daily Prophet to bring you coverage events unfold.
Reid had never felt so nervous in his life.
They had spent the past two days arguing over whether or not Reid was even going to accompany Luke to the ministry before Luke finally broke down and agreed to let him come. Luke’s fears that being seen with him once his identity was revealed would somehow adversely affect him were nonsense, Reid insisted, and in fact, perhaps having a family member of one of those killed by Damian would help his appearance. How was Luke to argue with that?
Since no one knew Luciano’s true identity yet, it was easy enough for the couple to enter the ministry and make their way to Margo’s office without so much as a second look from any of the witches and wizards they passed. Luke did notice the reporters waiting outside of the courtroom, though, and he felt his body go cold. Reid seemed to notice as well, and a moment later a warm hand was holding his, giving Luke the push he needed to enter the office.
“I wish I was seeing you under different circumstances, Luke,” said Margo, hugging Luke awkwardly. “I just want you to know that I think this is very brave of you, and no matter what happens in that courtroom over the next few days, you can bet that this office will do everything within their power to protect you.”
Luke looked over Margo’s shoulder to see a handful of aurors standing around, all watching him with gentle looks on their faces and nodding to show that they agreed with Margo.
“Thank you,” he said to her, also looking to the others.
They relocated to Margo’s private office, where Tom was already waiting, shaking Luke’s hand and giving him a similar greeting. Luke in turn introduced them both to Reid, explaining his connection to the case. Margo and Tom seemed to agree with Reid, that having his support could do wonders for their image in this case.
“Are you ready, Luke?” Tom asked, putting a hand on Luke’s shoulder. “As soon as we walk through those doors, they are going to realize who you are. There will be cameras and questions, and it won’t stop once we’re inside the courtroom,” he warned.
Luke swallowed hard, turning to the man at his side. Reid stood confidently, reaching out for Luke’s hand and giving a silent nod of support.
“Yes,” said Luke, looking back at Tom. “I’m ready.”
Tom was right. The lights from the massive cameras were blinding. Luke gripped Reid’s hand tighter, trying to simply make it down the hallway without falling over. People were shouting at him, calling out his name – both of his names.
“Luke Snyder, is it true that you are in fact the infamous Luciano Grimaldi?”
“How were you able to keep your identity a secret all these years?”
“Is it true that you were working undercover for Dumbledore?”
The questions were not unexpected, but to hear them aloud was still startling for Luke. He’d spent most of the past six years trying to separate the life of Luciano Grimaldi and the life of Luke Snyder, and now he was forcing them to crash together violently, and for all the world to see.
“Reid Oliver,” came another reporter, suddenly shoving a notepad in Reid’s face, a Quick-Quotes Quill already writing away. “Your sister was one of the four aurors killed in 1997, possibly by Damian Grimaldi, and yet here you are supporting his son. Does this mean you believe that Luciano truly was a spy? That Grimaldi is innocent?”
Reid didn’t say anything, though it was difficult. He literally bit down on his bottom lip, fingers tightening around Luke’s.
Somehow they managed to follow Tom completely down the hallway and into the courtroom without saying a single word. Once the heavy, eaves-dropping-proof doors were firmly shut, Reid let out a soft groan, tugging his hands through his hair.
“I’m sorry,” Luke apologized pathetically. “I knew you shouldn’t have come.”
“Don’t start that again,” said Reid, rolling his eyes. “I’ve already lived through that pile of crazy, I think I can manage the rest.”
Luke smiled sadly, and Reid kissed him.
“It’s going to be okay,” he promised.
“It’s just about time,” said Tom, coming up beside them.
He led them both to their seats, Reid sitting along the back with a few others that had connections to the case but weren’t directly involved. He recognized a few of them as family members of other victims, and a few, seated apart from the others, as men he’d seen in the papers – followers of Voldemort under Damian’s control.
Luke was taken to the center of the room where he sat alone in a large wooden chair.  Fifty or so witches and wizards in black and red robes and traditional caps sat before him, the Minister for Magic, Henry Hornsby, at the center. Eight jurors were seats to his left. To his right was an empty table with two chairs.
The room was eerily silent, the sound of fabric moving as people took to their seats making the only noise. Tom, dressed in the same red robes as some of those before them, stood beside Luke. Reid wished he could be closer, that he could at least see Luke’s face.
The silence was abruptly interrupted by the sound of a door on the far side of the room swinging open, the same door they had entered through only minutes before. The flashing of bulbs crept in, loud voices echoing through the chamber. Reid turned to see two men, dressed the same as Tom, escorting a man into the room. He was well groomed and handsome, wearing an obviously expensive suit.  He would have appeared rather impressive, if it hadn’t been for the handcuffs.
It wasn’t the cuffs, though, that told Reid who this was. He’d seen pictures of Damian Grimaldi before, but pictures were never the same as seeing someone in person. The first thing he noticed were the eyes, the same eyes as Luke’s, the same eyes he’d stared into a thousand times over the past four months. His hair was darker than Luke’s, face a bit thinner and body leaner, but Reid couldn’t deny the resemblance.
While Damian and his defense were seating themselves at the empty table, Reid found Luke again, trying to get a sense of what the younger man was feeling. He could only see one shoulder and the top of Luke’s head around the massive chair, though. He was anxious, worried. He couldn’t stand being so far away, not now.
Damian was looking at Luke, smiling almost kindly, and it made the hair on Reid’s neck stand up.
“Luciano,” said Damian in an Italian accent. “It is good to see you, mio luce. I only wish it were under different circumstances.”
Reid was really getting sick of those words.
“Mi sei mancata, Luciano,” Damian continued. I missed you, Luciano.
“Non posso dire che sento la stessa cosa, papà,” said Luke. I cannot say I feel the same, Dad.
Reid was fluent enough to understand, but apparently not everyone appreciated their conversation.
“English, please,” said the Minister grumpily. Some things hadn’t changed in the Wizarding World, and a paranoid Minister for Magic was one of them.
“My apologies,” said Damian politely. Reid felt sick.
“Would you please state your name for the record, son,” said the Minister to Luke.
“Luke Snyder,” said Luke. “But I’m also known as Luciano Eduardo Grimaldi.” The name rolled off his tongue gracefully and with an accent that might have made Reid smile in any other situation, but today he could only hear the shame in Luke’s voice, and his heart sank.
“Well, Luciano Grimaldi, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” the Minister said patronizingly. “I hereby call this court to order. Counselor, you have the floor.”
It was well after midnight before they were allowed to leave the courtroom. Reid was at Luke’s side the moment he got out of the chair, helping the tired, drained man out of the room and through the sea of hungry reporters. Once they made it back to Margo’s Luke collapsed into a chair, Reid kneeling in front of him.
“Are you alright?” he finally had a chance to ask. Before Luke could answer, Reid started rummaging through a small bag hooked to the inside of his robe.
“I’ve been better,” Luke admitted. His eyes were red and puffy, his face drained of color. “I didn’t think it would be that hard,” he said.
“Here, drink this,” said Reid, handing hm a small vial. Luke didn’t hesitate, taking it in his hand and downing the contents in two gulps.
“Thank you,” said Luke. “For staying. I don’t think I could have done this without you.”
“I might as well have not been there,” Reid frowned. “I couldn’t even see you. And when he started yelling at you...” Reid made a fist. “It took two of the men sitting with me to keep me from running down right them.”
Luke choked out a laugh. “I knew you were there, and that was enough.”
Without a thought, Reid sat up and kissed Luke soundly on the mouth.
A moment later the door opened and Margo and Tom came in.
“How are you feeling?” asked Margo motherly.
“I’ll live,” said Luke. “How did we do?” he asked, turning to Tom.
Tom gave him a smile. “I think today went well,” he said. “Honestly. Your testimony was solid, spot-on with the information you’ve given over the years. Damian was nervous, everyone could see that.”
“But it’s not over,” Luke frowned.
“I’m afraid not,” nodded Tom. “I must warn you, Luke, tomorrow will be even tougher than today, I’m afraid. We’re going to have to show them your memories, first hand, and I have a feeling that today was just the start of them trying to turn things on you.”
Luke nodded. “I understand.”
“I’m confident though, Luke. Everyone remembers the papers, remembers his face and his name proudly plastered on the front page. He’s not going to win. You need to believe that.”
“We’ll leave you two alone,” said Margo. “We have cots you can use tonight, or we can set up a portkey to take you back to Hogsmeade.”
Luke shook his head. “There will be reporters waiting in Hogsmeade. I’m sure there’s a few outside of the castle already,” he said. “I’d rather stay here. McGonagall already said it’s alright for both of us.”
“Alright,” nodded Margo. “We’ll get something set up. Take your time.”
The two left, leaving Luke and Reid alone in the small office. Luke closed his eyes, struggling to breathe.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” he said shakily.
“You can,” Reid encouraged him, taking both of his hands. “Let’s get some sleep.”
“Luciano Grimaldi,” called the Minister. Luke stood. Even from a distance Reid could tell he was shaking. The Minister waved the court clerk forward. The young man moved forward, his wand in one hand, a vial in the other. Off to the side floated a pensieve.
The clerk raised his wand, setting the tip to Luke’s temple. Luke closed his eyes, concentrating quietly. When the clerk slowly moved his wand away, it was followed by a silvery strand of light. He directed it into the vial and capped it off. He produced a second vial from his pocket and retrieved a second memory before nodding to Luke, indicating he could sit down.
Reid watched as the clerk moved to the front of the room, motioning toward the pensieve with his wand. The pensieve began to move, following him to the front. Carefully he poured the first vial into the large round dish.
“The prosecution would like to enter this memory, belonging to one Luciano Grimaldi, into the record. The date of the memory is the 19th of January, 1997,” said Tom, speaking to the court.
Tom nodded to the clerk, who moved forward again. He waved his wand and muttered an incantation that Reid couldn’t make out. The contents of the pensieve began to swirl, moving upward in a misty fashion before seeming to explode through the room, catching a few people by surprise if their soft gasps were any indication. Reid even jumped a little. He’d heard about projecting pensieve memories at trials, but he’d never actually witnessed it happening and hadn’t known what to expect. He figured it out quickly, though, watching as the murky figures took on a more solid looking form in the open space at the center of the room. Three figures took shape, three men. It was clear within moments that the first two were Luke and Damian. The third was a man Reid didn’t recognize.
His mind immediately jumped back to that morning after Tom briefed them on what would be happening regarding Luke’s memories. They had gone to follow Tom but Luke had asked for a moment alone with Reid.
“Whatever you see in there today, please remember what I told you, that I had to play along, I had to convince Damian I was on his side,” Luke pleaded desperately.
“Of course,” said Reid, trying not to show how worried he was. He hated seeing Luke like this. “I know you, Luke. I know the truth.”
Reid blinked when he heard voices, a cheerful laugh coming from one of the projections.
“It is so good to see you, mio luce,” said Damian happily, embracing his son in a full hug. Luke smiled happily up at his father.
“It’s good to see you too, papà,” said Luke.
“Lingley, please, come,” said Damian, gesturing for the third man to step forward. He had his other arm around Luke’s shoulders proudly. “I would like you to meet my son, Luke—“
“Luciano,” Luke correctly instantly, his accent flawless. “Luciano Grimaldi. It’s a pleasure,” he said, shaking the man’s hand.
Damian looked like he could cry with happiness.
“Come, we mustn’t keep the others waiting,” said Damian, motioning to a door that Reid only just noticed.
The memory shifted, swirling a little before rematerializing. They were seated at a table, a dozen or so blurry faces around them. Damian sat at the head of the table with Luke on his right, the one named Lingley on his left.
“The Dark Lord has a plan as far as Hogwarts go,” Damian was saying. “By the end of term he is confident that Dumbledore will no longer pose a threat.”
There was a murmur amongst the others at the table. Luke was smiling.
“And what if the Malfoy boy can’t do it?” someone asked from a few seats down.
“Such an occasion has already been considered,” said Luke this time. “The Dark Lord has made arrangements in case the boy fails. Have faith.”
“So what are we to do until then?” asked another.
“Lingley has already been briefed on a little trip we’ve been asked to take to Cornwall in the next few days. We are just waiting for the green light, so to speak,” said Damian.
“What does this ‘trip’ entail?”
“It seems there are a few writers for the Prophet that aren’t quite as happy with the Dark Lord’s return as we are,” said Damian, sounding amused. “Timothy Grahm and and Kellan Pickett to be precise.”
“Isn’t Grahm a muggle born?” someone asked, saying the word ‘muggle’ as though it were venomous.
“Yes,” said Lingley. “And Pickett is married to a muggle.”
More murmurs.
“I think we can take on a couple of filthy muggles,” someone spat. The rest of the group seemed to feel the same. Luke was still smiling.
The memory faded, swirling around the courtroom until it dissolved into the pensieve again.
Reid blinked, trying to regain his bearings as the real world took over again. He couldn’t see Luke, but Damian was staring at him, a mix of anger and genuine hurt in his eyes. His lawyers looked only a little concerned, shifting in their seats.
“The prosecution would not like to enter a second memory,” began Tom. “Also from one Luciano Grimaldi, dating 12 May, 1998.”
Again the clerk stepped forward, pouring the second vial into the pensieve. A moment later the familiar swirling sensation engulfed the room. When the memory settled, the room was dark. They were outside, or so Reid assumed. It was dark and smelled of fresh water. He could hear crying.
When the memory solidified, he saw a man cowering against a brick wall that had seen better days. He looked terrified as he stared up, a wand pointed directly at his face. The memory continued to slowly take shape, and as Reid and the rest of the room followed the wand, he nearly gasped allowed to see Luke’s face at the other end.
Luke looked scared himself, jaw clenched tightly. Reid had seen a similar expression many times over the past few weeks. It was hard to watch.
“Please,” the man sobbed. “Please don’t kill me. I’ve done nothing wrong.
“Go on!” shouted a blurry man in the distance, egging Luke on. “Kill him!”
Luke tensed, twisting his wrist.
“Please, please, please,” the man continued to cry pathetically.
“Don’t be such a pansy, Luciano!” the other man yelled gruffly.
“Silence!” came a fourth voice, the tone demanding but calming. Damian Grimaldi entered the picture, standing at his son’s side. He placed a hand on Luke’s shoulder.
“It’s alright, Luciano,” he said kindly in his son’s ear. Luke looked up, blinking back the tears he was trying to hard to hide. He nodded and lowered his wand.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” the man on the ground cried, sounding almost more hysterical than before.
But his relief was short lived. Luke stepped back, and as soon as he did, Damian raised his arm, his own wand in hand.
“Avada kedavra!” shouted Damian without hesitation. The man barely had time to cry out before the green light struck him. Reid found himself flinching away from the horrible light, looking up only to see the man’s body twist away and crash into the wall before slumping down, his eyes open but unseeing.
Luke was shaking – the Luke in the memory and the real Luke. Reid knew that both versions were also crying.
“You will not try to force my son into something he does not wish to do again, do you hear me?” Damian said threateningly to the blurry man, who only nodded obediently. “Do not feel ashamed, Luciano,” said Damian now to Luke. Luke nodded, staring down at the body of the man as Damian patted him on the shoulder moved away.
The memory dissolved.
The court dismissed while the jurors and council members deliberated. Reid was one of the last ones to be escorted from the room and back to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement offices. Luke was already there, waiting in Margo’s office.
“He’s, well, you can imagine how he is,” Margo frowned as she led Reid to him. “I think he could really use some words of reassurance right now.”
“Thank you,” said Reid, only half hearing her as she opened the door to let him in before closing it behind him again.
Luke turned around, arms wrapped around his own chest and eyes wide and misty.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, voice cracking. “I’m so sorry that you had to see that.”
“Shh, stop,” said Reid, taking Luke’s face in his hands and rubbing his thumb under his eyes. “All I saw today was a man risking everything to help the good guys win, a man who even in the worst of circumstances never let go of his morals. I’m proud of you, Luke.”
That was all it took for Luke to break, crumbling against Reid who more than willingly held him close, held him together. Luke cried onto his shoulder without reservation, and Reid didn’t care. Truth be told he’d expected Luke to break down like this a lot sooner.
Two hours passed agonizingly slow. Once Luke had calmed down they left the door open, partly so they could see Tom and Margo coming, but mostly just so they felt connected to the business of the office. Damian’s case was not the only one occupying the department’s time and so the entire floor was rather busy. The movement, the sound of carts rolling and memo planes zipping through the air, all provided excellent distractions. Reid even got Luke talking about his classes and what he was thinking of doing for his N.E.W.T. exams. At one point he even got a smile out of him, and that was enough to make everything seem a little better.
When Tom finally arrived to tell them that it was time to return to the courtroom, all the happiness faded again. Reid took Luke’s hand.
“Whatever happens in there,” he said, “you’ve still one. You’ve still proven you’re the better man.”
“But what if he’s found innocent?” asked Luke. “What if he gets to walk away, even after what he did to your sister?”
Reid shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We know the truth, I know the truth. That’s enough for me.”
He leaned in and kissed Luke gently on the mouth, trying to convey every encouraging thought he had in that one kiss. It seemed to help at least a little, and he watched as Luke took a deep breath, a hint of confidence building in his eyes.
They all took their seats in the courtroom, though Luke and Tom got to sit at the table off to the side this time while Damian was brought to the front. Reid tapped his hand against his thigh anxiously, watching as the council filed into their seats.
A hand touched his shoulder and he nearly jumped, looking up to see Minerva McGonagall taking a seat beside him, giving him a supportive smile. He breathed shakily, eyes filled with emotions and Minerva linked her arm through his and patted his hand.
“Will the accused please rise,” said the Minister. Damian stood, again wearing a fancy suit thrown off by the metal cuffs on his hands. “The charges against the accused are as follows: Four counts of murder, two counts of torture and treason. The accused has pled not guilty on all charges.
“After hearing testimonies from both sides and considering the evidence presented to this court over the past few months, including new information provided by Mr. Luciano Grimaldi, the court will now vote take a vote. All those in favor of conviction on the four charges of murder,” the Minister announced.
Slowly, but sure enough, the majority of the council raised their hands.  Seven of the eight members of the jury also raised their hands.
“All those in favor of conviction on the two charges of torture.”
Again the hands went up, more this time than before. Reid reached Minerva’s hand.
“All those in favor of conviction on the charge of treason.”
Every hand in the room went up and Reid found himself resisting the urge to raise his own hand.
“All those in favor of clearing the accused of all charges.”
Not a single person moved.
“I hereby find the accused, Damian Grimaldi, guilty of all charges.” The Minister banged his gavel on the wooden block, and the room erupted in applause.
“Silence, silence,” the Minister demanded, banging his gavel again. “I must also announce that, concerning evidence presented in this trial, this court has also decided to bring charges against Luciano Grimaldi for his crimes during the war and his assistance to Damian Grimaldi and Lord Voldemort.”
His words were eaten by the uproar that followed. Reid was immediately on his feet, staring bewildered down at Luke, who looked petrified as two aurors moved toward him from the side. Tom was on his feet, too, trying to wave them off.
“On what charges?” Tom shouted.
“Treason and unknown accounts of murder,” the Minister responded, trying to sound important.
“That is absurd!” Tom cried, watching helplessly as the aurors took Luke by the arms.
Reid moved to rush down onto the main floor, but Minerva held his arm.
“If the court will allow,” she said, her voice echoing and demanding attention. The room quieted all eyes on the wise witch.  “I worked with Dumbledore for many, many years, as you are all fully aware.  I will vouch for this young man under the influence of veritaserum if it is necessary and swear that he was acting under Dumbledore’s orders for the good of the Order of the Phoenix, and was never truly aligned with this criminal,” she said bitterly, gesturing to Damien.
“Even if he was working for the Order,” said the Minister, his voice wavering. “There is still evidence to suggest that he killed innocent witches and wizards, a crime that is not excused simply because he was a spy.”
The shouting continued again from every corner of the room.
“If I may…”
The voices hushed and everyone looked to the center of the room where Damian was now standing, eyes focused on the Minister.
“You wish to bring charges of murder on my son, but do you truly have evidence proving that he killed anyone?” Damian asked.
The Minister looked flustered.
“We know that he spent the better part of two years under your command,” said the Minister. “and that your men were responsible for countless deaths. He has no proof that he did not take part in any of the torturing or killings.”
“I didn’t realize that one had to prove innocence. I was certain that my entire case was based on proving my guilt,” said Damian confidently. Reid could hardly believe what he was hearing. “You have come to the conclusion that I am guilty of the crimes you have charged me with, a conclusion no doubt enforced by the things said by my son these past two days,” he continued, gesturing to Luke. “Luciano has boldly stepped up against me in order to help you, and you use my conviction now against him. But you will not be able to convict him, not without my own testimony, ironically,” he said, a small smile on his face. “I guarantee you that neither myself nor any of the men who followed my commands during the war will give you the information you would need in order to find Luciano guilty, and that is because it simply does not exist. You saw Luciano’s second memory, all of you with your own eyes. I killed that man, not my son, because he would never kill anyone. I realized when he abandoned me during that final battle that he was never truly with me, that his heart was too good to ever harm someone in such a way for reasons he did not truly believe. My son never killed anyone. You can try to prove otherwise, but you never will.”
The room was silent save a few murmurs amongst the council and jurors. The Minister looked positively baffled, his face red and he appeared to be trying to find a way to keep the upper hand he clearly no longer had.
“Release him,” he said suddenly to the aurors holding Luke. “Sentencing for Damian Grimaldi will take place tomorrow at noon.”
The Minister banged his gavel a final time before abruptly standing and leading the others out of the courtroom.
The aurors did as they were told, letting go of Luke’s arms. Not a moment later he was being held again, but this time by arms that were far more welcoming. Reid hugged him tightly, though he’d never admit it was a hug.
Luke wrapped his arms around Reid’s neck, burying his face in his neck. It felt like they stood there forever, only half aware of the ‘congratulations’ and pats on the shoulders they were both receiving from people as they left the courtroom.
“I hate to interrupt,” came a friendly voice. Luke and Reid separated enough to look up and see McGonagall, her wise, kind eyes sparkling down on them as she smiled.  “I always knew this day would come, Luke,” she said gently. “And I knew you’d be victorious. Dumbledore would have been proud of you.”
Emotion seemed to flood over Luke’s face again, and he released Reid long enough to share a hug with Minerva.
“Thank you,” he said breathlessly.
She sniffled, rubbing an arm up and down his back twice before releasing him.
“I expect to see you both back in class tomorrow,” she said.
Reid laughed with relief. “Of course,” he said. “Thank you, Minerva.”
The old witch looked between them one more time before leaving with permanent smile.
“Luciano.” Luke looked up. Damian was standing a few feet away, two guards at his sides. “May I speak to you before you go?”
Luke turned to Reid uncertainly. Reid eyed Damian, and though he still didn’t trust the man as far as he could throw him, he had to give him at least a little credit for what he had done at the end. 
“Go ahead,” he said. “I’ll wait here.”
“Would it be alright if we spoke alone?” Damian asked his guards. They looked at Luke, who nodded.
“It’s alright. You don’t have to go far,” he assured them. They stepped away, giving Luke and Damian space to talk privately.
“I suppose I should thank you,” said Luke, feeling a little awkward. “But why? Why would you do that for me?”
“Because you are still my son, mio luce,” said Damian with unexpected emotion. He raised his cuffed hands, fingers just barely touching Luke’s face. Luke turned his head away. “I need to you know that regardless of my actions, I still love you very much, son. You may not believe me, but your safety and happiness is still the most important thing to me.”
Luke looked back up at him, taken aback by the sincerity in Damian’s voice, in his face.
“I know,” he said.
“My defense has told me of this man,” said Damian, nodding toward Reid, who shifted uneasily as father and son looked at him. “His sister, she was one of the young aurors.”
“Yes,” nodded Luke.
“I speak honestly when I tell you that I was not directly involved in her death, Luciano,” Damian said, his voice forceful. “But I cannot deny that I played a role in events that led to it. I know it means very little now, but please convey my apologies to him.”
Luke said nothing, just nodding. He wasn’t sure he could fill that request, but he wasn’t going to tell Damian that right now.
“You two seem close,” Damian commented. “I saw the way he watched you during the trials. He appears to love you very much.”
Luke turned red. “Perhaps,” he said.
“I am happy for you, Luciano,” said Damian. “I am sorry that I have brought such pain into your life. Perhaps this young man can help to fix some of the damage I have done.”
When Luke looked at him this time, he was shocked to see tears in his father’s eyes.
“I hope that someday you can forgive me, mio,” said Damian quietly.
“I hope so, too,” said Luke. “I… I know it’s probably hard to understand… I know that no one else would understand… but I still love you, papa,” he went on, swallowing hard.
“I know, my son,” said Damian, smiling sadly. He reached up again, and this time Luke didn’t turn away. “Ti voglio bene, Luciano. Sarai sempre il mio figlio ed io ti amerò sempre.” I love you, Luciano. You will always be my son and I will always love you.
“Anch'io ti amo, papà. Mi dispiace tanto.”  I love you, dad. I am so sorry.
A single tear ran down Luke’s face, colliding with Damian’s thumb.
“It’s time to go,” said one of the guards, moving up to Damian’s side again.
Luke sniffled, wiping his eyes.
“Be happy, Luciano,” said Damian.
Luke never saw Damian again.

Part Six - Final Chapter

Lumos; Chapter Four

The Great Hall buzzed with conversation, students and staff alike taking the time during supper to catch up on the day’s activities and enjoying the downtime inside the toasty walls of the hall. Snow continued to fall steadily outside, blanketing the entire school in a fine layer of white. Reid had loved snow as a child, as most children do, but hadn’t found himself feeling quiet the same as an adult. He would take it, however, over the miserable rain that would no doubt take its place in a few months.
“Ah!” exclaimed Dervis, head bent toward the enchanted ceiling. Reid followed his gaze long enough to spy a handful of owls carrying the evening mail. A copy of the day’s Evening Prophet landed on the table in front of Dervis. Before Luke fell a simple letter with the Ministry of Magic seal on the back. No one seemed to notice or mind him, curiously looking over Dervis’ shoulder at the front cover of the Prophet.
In large capital letters across the top of the paper were the words, ‘Grimaldi Case Losing Steam’. Beneath the headline was a large picture of a handsome older man with neatly combed black hair and sparkling gray eyes. He looked into the camera a moment, as if looking directly at the reader, before turning his head away with a smirk. He wore traditional Azkaban garments of black and white stripes, and was clearly being led from a court room within the Ministry.
“Listen to this, ‘Damian Grimaldi, the suspected Death Eater leader who was imprisoned in June 1997, just after Lord Voldemort’s fall, was finally brought to trial last November. However, the case against him as been deemed weak from the start and seems to only be unraveling with each passing hearing. New information given to the Department for Magical Law Enforcement last month seemed promising, but Head Auror Margo Hughes says she is concerned that it may not be enough. Our sources within the department tell us that the information was anonymously given, though many suspect it to be from none other than Grimaldi’s own son, Luciano Grimaldi.’”
A goblet fell forward onto the table, the little bit of pumpkin juice still inside spilling onto the floor. Reid, Dervis and Katie all turned to Luke, who was suddenly rather pale and clutching the open letter in his hand a little too tightly.
“Are you okay?” Reid asked quietly, reaching a hand beneath the table to touch Luke’s elbow. Luke pulled away.
“Fine, fine,” said Luke abruptly. “Must have ate something funny, I’m not feeling well.”  Without another wore Luke stood, shoving the letter into the inner pocket of his robe and unceremoniously shoved his chair back and left the table, disappearing through the staff door at the front of the hall.
“Is he okay?” asked Katie.
Reid hesitated, still watching the door through which Luke had left, before nodding carefully.
“Just feeling ill,” he said, turning back to them. “Sorry, continue.”
Dervis nodded. “’Many of those working on the Grimaldi case believe that the evidence they now possess could be more than enough to put Grimaldi away for the rest of his life. However, without the direct testimony of Luciano Grimaldi, aurors have no way of proving that the information is accurate. Aurors believe that Luciano Grimaldi will not come forward for fear of being brought to trial himself on accusations that he assisted Damian Grimaldi and other Death Eaters during the war.’”
Dervis slumped, dropping the paper onto the table.
“Bastard was one of the worse out there, and he’s gonna slip away.”
“My sister will figure something out,” said Katie desperately. “She always does. And Tom, too. They’ve got good people in their departments; they won’t let him get away with what he did. Right, Reid?”
Reid turned to Katie, blinking twice before speaking.
“Of course,” he said half-heartedly as he pushed back his chair. He gathered his robe in his hand as he stood, throwing it behind him and leaving the table without warning, following the same path by which Luke had left. He heard Dervis call after him only once, but didn’t turn back.
Reid felt a little ridiculous chasing Luke down like this, but he couldn’t stop himself. The anguish on Luke’s face before he left the table had been more than that of someone who felt a little under the weather. There was fear and pain in his eyes, and though Reid could have rolled his own eyes for having recognized such things, he was more concerned with making absolutely certain that Luke was alright.
The walk from the Great Hall to the staff wing wasn’t very long, something he’d often envied Dervis about in comparison to his own hike to the Ravenclaw tower. The corridor was dimly lit and eerily quiet, even for Hogwarts. Nothing moved, nothing made a sound – and then Reid heard it. A soft sob, an angry grunt and the harsh sound of wooden chair legs on stone floor. He knew Luke’s room without even thinking about it, spending many evenings in the small quarters over the past few weeks. Never before, though, had he been nervous to approach that wooden door. Until now.
It wasn’t completely closed, probably bouncing back in Luke’s rush to simply escape. Reid crept toward the entrance, scooping his robe into his arm to keep it from making any noise as it dragged along the ground. The door was cracked, a sliver of light falling onto the floor outside. Reid peered in anxiously.
Luke sat at his desk, his elbows on the table and his hands supporting the weight of his head. A few books and quills were strewn messily across the floor, no doubt shoved aside in Luke’s unexplainable anger. Reid frowned, debating what to do next. A part of him knew that he should walk away – after all, if he were in a state such as Luke was now, he would not tolerate being disturbed. However, that pulling feeling he always had around Luke, the desire to fix and heal as only he could, was stronger than his logic. That idea alone was actually quite terrifying.
Gathering up his strength, Reid dropped the hem of his robe back to the ground and pushed the door open, stepping forward heavily to make a little noise so Luke would notice him.
At first Reid wasn’t sure if it had worked; Luke didn’t budge even as Reid fully entered the room, shutting the door behind him.
“I’m fine,” Luke said after a moment, his voice shaking.
“Of course you are,” Reid frowned. He sighed, shrugging back his shoulders and letting his heavy robe fall off of his arms. He laid it across the small chair near the door where Luke’s own robe sat bundled on the cushion. He began to unbutton the cuffs of his sleeves, rolling them up as he continued to speak. “Because it’s perfectly normal for people who are fine to storm off in the middle of supper and throw things around their bedroom.”
“Piss off,” growled Luke.
“You know I don’t scare that easily, Snyder,” said Reid, his voice low, somehow mocking and soothing at the same time. Luke sighed heavily, tightly shutting his eyes. Reid moved closer and crouched beside him.
“I don’t expect you to tell me what’s turned you into such a pain in the ass,” he said, somehow sounding amazingly charming for such harsh words.
Luke nodded, his lips pursing tighter. Reid reached out, his hand finding the small of Luke’s back. Luke appeared to relax, his shoulders slumping a little as he inhaled deeply, fingers tugging at the long sleeves of his shirt, a habit of comfort Reid had come to notice.
“Just answer me one thing,” said Reid. Luke inhaled again and turned to Reid, nodding. “Are you alright? Really alright? Or are you just trying to get me to drop this?”
Luke sighed, looking away.
“Ah, no,” insisted Reid, reaching out to cup Luke’s chin between two fingers, turning his face toward him. “Answer me.”
“Do you want the truth?” Luke asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“I just want you to drop this.”
There was a pause and Reid nodded.
“Alright. I’ll drop it,” he said, staring Luke in the eyes. “For now.”
Luke let out a shaky sigh, apparently of relief. “Thank you.”
There was silence, but Reid didn’t move his hands from Luke’s face, and Luke didn’t seem to want him to. An intense look passed between them, Reid searching Luke’s vulnerable eyes that were typically an open book for some clue as to what was going on; there was nothing, and that terrified him. His jaw clenched as he tried to force down the frustration, intent on honoring his promise to drop whatever was going on for the time being. It wasn’t easy, though, he realized quickly. He needed to distract himself – and what better distraction than the man in front of him?
He moved quickly, knowing by now that he could be eager and demanding without scaring Luke off. Without even thinking it through, his lips were on Luke’s, crashing violently against them. Luke let out a soft whimper, the chair sliding back a little under their combined weight, but he didn’t object, his lips suddenly moving just as eagerly against Reid’s.
Reid pressed a hand against Luke’s hip, the other tangled in his long blond hair, holding him in place. It was clear who was in control, though it was equally clear that Luke had no intention of being submissive. He reached for Reid, pulling him down with such a hard tug that he nearly fell into Luke. The kiss broke long enough for them to cling to each other and catch their breath, foreheads pressed together and eyes closed. Words were nonexistent.
Together they scrambled to their feet, knocking another book or two off of the desk as Reid backed Luke against the edge, both hands now holding onto his waist. Luke held Reid’s face between his hands, looping an arm behind his neck. A moment later they spun around, Luke back to the four-poster bed, Reid swiftly walking him backwards.
They fell onto the linens with a thud – there was nothing sweet about this moment. It was filled with the pent up frustrations and fears both men had felt for weeks, both with each other and toward the rest of the world, though neither quite knew the extent of those feelings. Luke pulled Reid down on top of him, raising his hips desperately to meet Reid’s. Reid didn’t need to be told twice, though, pressing all of his weight into Luke, pinning him to the sheets.
Reid tore his mouth away from Luke’s, crawling down the bed and stopping when he was staring at Luke’s stomach. He pushed up the black fabric of his sweater, exposing the pale skin beneath. He kissed the skin there, causing Luke to squirm. Reid’s hands wandered the rest of his torso, feeling his muscles ripple with each touch. He continued to kiss his way up, kissing and sucking on the warm flesh. He pushed the sweater further and further up until he finally exposed Luke’s chest, his nipples hard and dark. He paid them special attention, teasing the one with his teeth, making Luke cry out quietly. He soothed it with his tongue, leaving kisses around it before moving onto the next and giving it the same treatment.
Luke squirmed beneath him, pressing against him in all the right places. Reid kissed the spot just above Luke’s heart before sitting up on his arms and then on his knees, pulling Luke up with him until he was effectively sitting in Luke’s lap, long legs wrapped around his waist. He gripped the hem of Luke’s shirt, pulling it up and over his arms and head in a few quick tugs. As soon as it was gone, their mouths reconnected, Luke’s arms encircling Reid’s neck. But Reid had other plans.
Pushing down, Reid pinned Luke to the sheets again, lips never breaking apart. He held Luke by the wrists, bringing both arms up and to the sides, effectively restraining him. In need of air, Reid pulled away, resting his head against Luke’s, kissing his cheek, his jaw, his neck, his shoulder…
And then he froze.
“Reid,” cried Luke, whimpering a little at the sudden lack of movement. Realizing something was wrong, though, he lifted his head. “Reid, what is it?”
Immediately he knew the answer. Reid’s eyes were not on Luke’s face, instead looking at another part of his body – his arm. As soon as Luke realized where Reid was looking, he panicked, moving quickly and forcefully beneath a frozen Reid. It wasn’t hard to push his way out, for Reid had launched himself backwards on the bed - away from Luke, still staring at his arm. Luke reached for his shirt, but Reid was faster, grabbing it and tossing it away before grabbing Luke’s arm instead.
Luke let out a small yell, his skin burning from the tight grip Reid had on him. He tried to tug it away, but it was no use.
“Reid, please,” Luke begged. Reid was still staring at his arm. “Just listen to me.”
Reid’s eyes snapped up, locking on Luke’s.
“Reid…” said Luke quietly, reaching for Reid with his free arm. Reid moved away, crawling completely off the bed. He turned his back to Luke, running a hand over his curly hair, shoulders tense.
Luke made his way to his feet, walking slowly toward Reid. He reached out again, putting a hand on Reid’s shoulder cautiously. “Please, just let me explain.”
Reid spun so fast that Luke gasped, eyes wide with fear as Reid once again took a hold of him by the wrist, pulling Luke forward.
“Explain? You think you can explain this?” Reid yelled angrily. “You have the Dark Mark, Luke!” Reid shoved Luke away, causing the blond to stumble back a few steps.
“It’s not what you think—“
“Oh really? Not what I think? Because I think you have the symbol worn only by those loyal to Voldemort, those who sided with him during the war, those who killed and destroyed in his name!”
No!” shouted Luke desperately. “Reid, please, you have to believe me.”
“I can’t do this,” said Reid, lowering his voice though it still shook threateningly. Luke moved forward again. “Don’t – don’t touch me,” he warned. Luke froze this time, eyes wide and damp as he watched Reid collect his robe, not even bothering to put it on before storming out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
“Aaargh!” Reid screamed violently into the night sky, startling a few owls that had perched on the roof of the tower. He shrew his robe, which he still had not pulled on, into the corner by a couple of broken telescopes. There wasn’t much wind but the air was still bitterly cold as it swirled around the tower, weaving through windows and over the open landing.
The sky was dark and covered in gray clouds. The moon and the stars were hidden, giving no light. Reid managed to wave his wand, lighting some of the torches along the landing’s edge, offering just enough light to see his own fists as he smashed them against the stone ledge. He hissed at the sudden pain, but didn’t move, the uneven stone digging into his skin. Reid leaned over, pressing his forehead against his hands, every muscle in his body tense.
All he could see were his parents and his sister, all taken from him by the cruelest of human beings. He could remember being called to Dumbledore’s office and just knowing. Students were being called down every day, and it was never good news. His own visit was no exception. Both parents, gone. His uncle had done his best to care for Reid and Arnya after that, but it wasn’t the same. Years later when Arnya had disappeared, Reid had felt it, the hole in his chest, and he knew he’d lost her, too.
And now he’d lost Luke. While he knew it wasn’t the same, he still felt that hole forming in his chest, that same anger and resentment towards the followers that had taken his family, and had now stolen Luke from him.
He could feel the rage building inside of him as he looked back on each moment with Luke, each lie. His lungs felt smaller, his chest tight and his heart racing. He screamed again into the night, pushing his fists harder into the stone.
He stood up and spun so quickly that his head ached and his vision became blurry, but he could see well enough to recognize the messy blond hair, the strong shoulders and the tall frame of the man before him. He realized there must have been anger on his face, for Luke suddenly looked frightened, raising his hands a little as if to signal that he wasn’t going to hurt him.
Shallow breaths escaped his lips, his body trying desperately to control itself and deliver oxygen to his lungs.
“I just want to talk,” Luke continued, cautiously taking a step closer. The flames from the torches danced on his cheek. Reid could see tear stains streaked down his face. “Please.”
Reid shook his head, careful not to move too fast this time.
“I can’t hear it, Luke,” he said, his voice cracking as he spoke Luke’s name. “I can’t hear more of your lies.”
“They’re not lies,” Luke said desperately. “I’m not what you think I am, Reid. I’m begging you, just let me tell you the truth.”
“And why should I believe you?” Reid shouted.
“Because I’m not who you think I am!” Luke yelled back. He was breathing heavily, shoulders rising and falling rapidly as he tried to catch his breath, eyes still locked on Reid.
“Then who are you?” challenged Reid. “Who are you, Luke?”
Luke looked as though he were about to cry, clenching his teeth and struggling to breathe.
“I’m not just Luke Snyder,” he said, voice shaking terribly. “I was given that name as a child, the name of the man who raised me and that I call my father. But that’s not the name I was born to.”
Reid straightened, eyes widening as he looked Luke over as though he were something strange, something new.
 “My name,” said Luke slowly. “is Luciano Grimaldi.”
Luke sat with his back against the stone doorway that led from the interior of the tower to the open landing used for evening classes.  Across from him, back to the tall ledge of the landing, sat Reid, who was watching him like a hawk – not that Luke could blame him.
“I hadn’t seen Damien in years. We’d write once in a while, but the truth is, I was never close to him. During the war, we knew we had an opportunity that we couldn’t let pass us by. I managed to convince him that my parents had kept me from him, that the silence over the years hadn’t been by choice. I told him that I had never understood my family’s love for muggles. I think he was blinded by the possibility of starting over with me, he never doubted my loyalty.
“When I was told to get the Mark, I nearly turned back. I even went home for a few days. That was when Aaron was attacked, and I knew I couldn’t give up. So I returned to Damian. I got close to him, and the men that worked for him. I sent information to the Order whenever I could, but it was tricky. Still, I had to try.
“That April, Damian opened his home to more than just other Death Eaters – Voldemort himself paid us a visit, shortly after Harry Potter escaped from the Malfoy’s. I overheard other Death Eaters talking about Harry’s break-in to Gringotts and I felt like things were finally looking up. I didn’t know about the horcruxes back then, but I knew that Harry had been sent on a mission from Dumbledore, too, and that whatever he was doing, he could save us.
“When Harry returned to Hogwarts, we knew almost instantly. The Order had broken through but Death Eaters within the school had also fled and informed us. He gathered everyone he could for that final attack.
“I remember standing on that hillside, looking down on the castle I had called home for so many years, picturing all of the innocent children inside that were suddenly soldiers. I thought of my sister… and I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t stand there beside people and creatures that disgusted me and pretend to be one of them, especially not when I knew this was it; they were going to try to destroy everything I’d been lying to protect and I couldn’t stand with them while they did it. So I left, fled to the castle when no one was paying attention.
“I couldn’t apparate in, so I had to get close and walk the rest of the way. Percy Weasley was the first to spot me; we’d known each other when I was still working for the Prophet. I ran down the bridge to the front gates and he let me through. McGonagall told me where Faith and I just ran. Things got chaotic after that. I just remember fighting. I was surrounded by Order members and students, from all houses, just fighting to protect each other.”
Luke paused, reaching up to wipe his eyes, which were so filled with tears and as he stared into nothing that could see.
“What I told you, about watching them from above as they carried Harry back to the castle; it’s all true,” he said desperately, looking up to meet Reid’s eyes. “I am not one of them. I never was. I hated what I was doing; I hated myself for the things I did to prove myself to them. Every time I see this,” he said, pulling up his sleeve again to reveal the Dark Mark, faded and unmoving but still undeniably there, “I am reminded of the darkest times of my life. You can’t get rid of it, no matter how hard you try, and believe me I’ve tried. I can hide it with a cloaking charm, but it’s still always there. It’s always there.”
Tears fell freely this time. Luke covered his mouth with his hand, leaning into his knees.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Reid asked coldly.
Luke looked up with a pathetic sniffle, afraid to completely meet the eyes that watched him.
“Because I was afraid you’d look at me exactly the way you are now,” he said.
Reid turned away.
“And I was afraid of the questions you no doubt want to ask,” Luke added. He paused. “Ask them.”
Reluctantly, Reid looked back up again, brows furrowed a little. Luke was looking at him intensely, tears still lining his eyes. He inhaled slowly.
“Did you…” Reid began, his voice cracking a little. “Did you kill anyone? While you were working with them?”
“No,” said Luke quickly, his voice strong. His entire body tensed. “Not directly at least… I refused to kill anyone, but sometimes another Death Eater would kill them in my defense. I got a lot of grief because of it, but I didn’t care what they thought. I’d rather be called ‘weak’ and ‘soft’ than be a cold-blooded killer.” He paused. “I did kill one person at the Battle of Hogwarts, though,” he admitted, throat tightening. “Gregory Langley. He used the Cruciatus curse on my sister. I didn’t even think twice.”
Luke trailed off, eyes glazed over and unfocused. He clenched his fist.
“Luke,” said Reid soothingly. Luke snapped his head up, eyes wide and wet, a single tear running down his cheek.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry. Next question.”
Reid frowned. “Alright,” he said. “Who else knows the truth?”
“My family,” said Luke. “Lucinda was the only one who knew at first, since she was my cover story. Mum and dad found out the first time my name made the papers, after the attack in Cornwall. No one else knew my real name, though – that I’m Damian’s son. We told the rest of the family as they needed to know, most didn’t find out until after the war.”
“Does Katie know?”
Luke looked up, lips tight and eyes wide. He shook his head.
“No, she doesn’t know,” he said. “I’ve wanted to tell her, but after losing Brad…”
“You’re afraid she’ll take it badly,” Reid finished for him. Luke nodded.
“Her sister knows, though,” he began. “Margo.”
“Wait,” said Reid, sitting up a little. “Margo Hughes? Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement?”
“Yes,” Luke said with a nod. “I came to her just after the war, told her everything I knew. She worked with the Order and we’d been in contact for a few months, though she didn’t know who I was until then. She promised to help keep it quiet.”
“That letter you got tonight,” Reid began, “with the ministry seal…”
“It was from Margo,” confirmed Luke. “She was telling me the same thing the papers are saying, that without my direct testimony, it’s likely that Damien will walk.”
“Do you plan to testify?”
Luke looked up, eyes scared again.
“I don’t know,” he admitted quietly.
“Why is it a problem?”
“Margo and I have talked about it on and off over the years. Originally it looked like there was no need for me to come forward. It’s unclear what would happen to me if I did come forward.”
“They might press charges.”
“Yes, they might.”
“Shouldn’t Margo know, being Head of the department and all?”
Luke shook his head. “It’s not up to her. She’s responsible for catching the bad guys, not punishing them. Her husband is high up in the courts but even he can’t say for sure what the reaction will be if I step up.”
“But you did nothing wrong,” said Reid, a little louder than he meant to. “You didn’t hurt anyone, you were a spy for the Order for god’s sake!”
“I was still a Death Eater,” said Luke, his voice strangely calm. “And there are still people in power that would love to see my punished. Especially these days when people are scared again, looking for anyone to blame. If I step forward and say that I worked for Damien Grimaldi, that I’m the Luciano they’ve been reading about in the papers, they won’t care what the truth is.”
“Why hasn’t Damien told anyone who you really are?”
“Because he knows that if he does, I’ll have no reason to keep quiet.”
“But you haven’t been quiet,” insisted Reid. “You’ve told Margo everything, right? Damien has to know it’s you.”
“He probably does,” Luke agreed. “But he also knows what everyone else knows, that it’s not enough. He has a better chance of going free if he just leaves me alone and he knows it.”
Reid gave a small nod, looking down at his hands.
“You think I should testify, don’t you?” asked Luke.
Slowly Reid looked up, his face unreadable. After a moment he shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I think the choice is yours either way, and I can’t blame you for choosing to remain anonymous.”
“Yes,” said Reid. “I understand what this could mean for you. It may not be right, but, I can see why people would jump at the chance to blame you. Hell, until a few hours ago, I couldn’t stand Luciano Grimaldi either, and he’d done nothing to me personally.”
Luke’s face burned and he looked down.
“But I don’t think that anymore,” said Reid firmly. Luke looked up just in time to see Reid moving toward him, crouching in front of him. “Honestly? I thought he was a coward, running away and trying to make amends for what he did by throwing his own father under the bus. I made assumptions, and I judged a man I didn’t even know. Shocking, I know,” he said with a grin, causing even Luke’s lips to twitch. “But I was wrong. He’s brave, and strong. And he’s also scared, but not without reason, and anyone who says otherwise is a hypocrite. This war… it tore this world apart in more ways that we care to acknowledge. People are still scared, and that’s not going to change. It’s only been five years… I think we have a long way to go before we can expect people to think rationally when it comes to something as touchy as these trials.”
Luke’s body was tense, hands almost shaking against his legs. His eyes stared at nothing and were filled with tears again. God, Reid hated when people cried. He sighed sympathetically.
“Come on,” he said. “I’m freezing my ass off up here.”
Luke blinked up at him, realizing that Reid was now standing and offering him his hand. After a moment he took it, allowing Reid to help pull him to his feet. Reid led the way back into the enclosed part of the tower, pulling out his wand to extinguish the torches along the way.
“Reid,” Luke said suddenly, just as Reid opened the door. The blond seemed to hesitate for a moment, struggling to form words. “Thank you.”
It was silent again, but Reid stepped closer, placing a warm hand on Luke’s cold, damp cheek.
“You’re welcome.”
The castle was quiet, the halls dark. Luke was shivering by the time they reached the staff corridor. He was finding it hard to keep his eyes open and was yawning every few seconds.
“Reid,” said Luke as they stepped up to his door. “I am sorry. I am so sorry that I lied to you about something like this.”
“Shh,” said Reid, reaching up to tuck a few loose strands of Luke’s long hair behind his ears. Luke’s eyes feel shut, his breathing evening out for the first time all nice. “We’ll talk more tomorrow, okay?”
Luke nodded, opening his eyes.
“Get some sleep,” Reid insisted.
He nodded again.
For a moment they just stood there awkwardly, not quite sure how to act around each other anymore. Luke moved first, a little stiff and jumpy, but he managed to move forward, leaning in for a kiss but not quite gaining the confidence to capture it. To his relief, Reid didn’t need much convincing, lower his hand to Luke’s cheek again, cupping his jaw and leaning in the rest of the way, gently brushing his lips to Luke’s. It was probably the softest kiss they’d ever shared.
“Good night,” he said as he broke away.
“Good night.”
Reid’s hand lingered a moment longer, fingers brushing against Luke’s ivory skin as he walked away.
He forced himself not to look back, holding in a breath until he finally heard the sound of Luke’s door closing. It was a battle the entire way back to his own room, pushing through six flights of moving stairs and various twists and turns down the corridors. Only once his own door was securely locked behind him did Reid allow himself to feel. He didn’t even make it to his bed before he collapsed onto his knees, face falling into his hands, tears dripping down his fingers.
Similar stories about the various ongoing trials became more frequent over the following weeks. With each new story detailing the holes in the Grimaldi case, Reid became increasingly frustrated with the fact that he could do nothing but sit by and watch as the happy, free-spirited Luke he’d so unexplainably fallen for turned into someone new, someone tired and losing hope. Luke rarely spoke at breakfast anymore. He didn’t eat much either, his appetite typically ruined by the morning post. After the first week Reid gave up on trying to force him to eat. Now he just sat close, holding Luke’s hand under the table in silent support. By now he’d realized that there wasn’t much he could do short of killing Damian Grimaldi himself – a plan he’d genuinely considered for three days after Luke had nearly passed out after being hit by a simple disarming spell during one of his fourth year classes. Luke had tried to convince Reid that he just had a cold or something, that’s why he was weak, but Reid knew it was from the lack of food in his stomach. It didn’t help that that morning’s headline had been, “Grimaldi Released On House Arrest Until Trial.”
“When I said to play sick, I meant for you to stay out of classes today, not to go to class and actually get sick,” Reid scolded gently as he sat on Luke’s bed with him. The younger man was slumped against Reid’s side, head on his shoulder. His eyes were closed and he was taking in deep, slow breaths through his nose. Reid didn’t expect an answer. He had an arm around Luke’s slender waist, fingers moving absently in circles against his side.
He only left after Luke promised to take it easy for the rest of the day, before begrudgingly returning to his own classroom with compromised focus. Each article seemed to hit Luke harder than the last. He would silently cry into Reid’s shoulder some nights, hating himself for being a coward, as he put it. Reid would spend hours convincing Luke that he wasn’t a coward, trying to make him believe that things would be alright. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, especially when he wasn’t convinced himself.
By the end of February, after Luke had missed Friday classes and spent all of Saturday in bed fighting a cold, for real this time, Reid was convinced that the only thing that could possibly make things worse would be news that all charges had been dropped.
In a way, perhaps that would have been the best thing.
It was a Sunday morning.
Sundays were always peaceful, lacking the strict sort of schedule that everyone was held to during the week. It was certainly Reid’s favorite day at least. Though he loved schedules and was a morning person by nature, the chance to turn off his alarm clock and spend the day as he pleased was still rather appealing.
He began to stir when sunlight hit his face, finding its way through the half-closed curtains.
“You didn’t close the curtains,” Reid muttered, rolling over to find the other side of the bed empty. He frowned, stretching a little and blinking his eyes as he tried to wake up. He looked across the room to find Luke sitting in the back window, using the morning light to read The Morning Prophet. At first he thought nothing of it, but then his eyes adjusted and he noticed that Luke’s free hand was clapped over his mouth, eyes wide and filled with tears.
“Luke?” he asked, unsuccessfully. “Luke,” he repeated more firmly. “What’s wrong?”
Luke finally looked up, appearing terrified to meet Reid’s gaze.
“I’m so sorry,” Luke stammered a moment later, his voice thick and weighed with emotion. “I’m so sorry, Reid. I swear I didn’t know.”
“What are you talking about?” Reid questioned, clearly confused. He made his way out of the bed, smoothing his black t-shirt as he stood and walked over to Luke. He carefully pulled the paper from Luke’s hands. “Jesus, not another article…” he began, instantly seeing the Grimaldi name in bold letters across the top of the paper.
And then, he saw her.
She was staring up at him, blue eyes wide and her sweet, awkward smile radiating from the page. Her curly strawberry blond hair was tied back in a messy braid that hung over the front of her shoulder and her long, elegant fingers were playing with the end. There was youth in her face, a mixture of innocence and confidence. She seemed to be looking at someone just beyond the camera, laughing at whatever they were saying.
Beside here were three more faces, all about the same age and with the same care-free expressions.
“Reid,” Luke barely managed to say. Before he could continue though, Reid shook his head, never looking up. All Luke could do was nod. He bit back the tears, quietly moving to gather the rest of his things. He didn’t speak again, but before leaving he leaned over Reid, trying not to notice the pain on his face. Luke kissed Reid on the head, wrapping a shaky hand around his neck and nuzzling against his strawberry blond curls for a moment, half a moment, before silently leaving the room.
“’Damian Grimaldi has been returned to Azkaban following new information linking him to the disappearances and recently confirmed deaths  of four Junior Aurors in Nottingham in 1997,’” said Dervis, reading from the paper.
Luke had showered and dressed before daring to head down to the Great Hall for lunch. He knew people would already be talking, and though a part of him was afraid he wouldn’t be able to handle it, another part needed to hear what their friends and the rest of the school was saying.
“’Jake Riverly, Milicent Turntale, Cale Marcum and Arnya Oliver were all declared Missing in Action in April, 1997, after disappearing from their posts just outside of Robins Hollow, Nottingham. Confirmation of their deaths was only discovered this past June along with information pertaining to sixteen other missing persons and seven unexplained deaths. Only just this week, however, had any connections been made between these four deaths and Damian Grimaldi.’”
Katie was leaning on the table with one arm for support, the other covering her mouth. Her eyes were closed but a few stray tears still made their way down her face.  Luke tried not to look at her.
“Oh, Reid,” Dervis said sadly, dropping the paper. Luke noticed that his eyes were a little wet as well. “I hope they nail this son of a bitch,” he all but growled a moment later. “Arnya was a sweet girl, damn fine witch. After losing her folks the way she did, it was damn impressive that she kept her wits, even wanted to be an auror herself.”
Luke watched as Katie reached across the table, taking Dervis’ hand. The couple exchanged a look, fingers tightening. Luke had to look away.
“I’m going to go find Reid,” he announced, slowly standing.
Dervis just nodded.
“You do that,” he said seriously, looking up at Luke with pleading eyes. “He may be a right son of a bitch most of the time, and a pain in the ass all of the time, but that bloke doesn’t deserve none of this.”
Luke was at a loss for words, unable to speak out of fear that he would start sobbing right there at the sight of this man, who knew Reid better than just about anyone and still loved him after so many years. Luke suddenly found himself swelling with appreciation that Reid had had this constant, good friend in his life for song long. He put his hand on Dervis’ shoulder and nodded promisingly.
It took longer than he had expected, but Luke finally found Reid. He had checked Reid’s room first, though hadn’t been surprised to find that Reid was no longer there. He searched the usual places – professor’s lounge, his office, even the kitchens – before it finally hit him the one place he needed to go.
It was midday and the sun was high in the sky, warming the otherwise frigid winter air.
“You should have lit some torches,” said Luke, stepping out onto the balcony of the Astronomy tower. He pointed his wand and the torches nearest Reid burst into flames, bringing a little more heat to the chilled tower.
Cautiously Luke approached the ledge where Reid was leaning, saying nothing as he looked out over the grounds. Reid was staring out over the Forbidden Forest, though really, it was more like he was looking through it. His eyes were pointed in the right direction, but it was clear that his mind was miles away.
“Dervis is worried about you,” Luke said after a while. Reid let out a sound that told Luke he’d been heard, but otherwise silence reigned. “Katie, too,” he added. Still nothing
Luke gave into the silence, ignoring the prickles in his cheek every time the wind picked up. He had to let Reid control this, plain and simple.
“She never told me she wanted to be an auror,” said Reid quietly after what felt like hours. “Not til the day she graduated.”
Luke said nothing.
“Our Uncle Angus almost cried. I never knew if it was out of fear or joy.”
Luke turned to Reid, wanting so badly to reach out and touch him, but he didn’t.
“Our mother had been an auror, I think I told you that,” continued Reid. Luke nodded. “Dad was a beat cop in Cardiff. That’s how they met actually.”
“I never knew that,” said Luke carefully.
Reid nodded. “My uncle worked for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He couldn’t do magic, but he wasn’t useless by any means. He worked for the muggle police, a sort of liaison between our world and theirs. None of the muggles knew. He worked with my dad a lot, they became pretty good friends. That’s how he met my mum, through Angus. He’d convinced the department that having one muggle on the force knowing our secret would help him when it came to covering up magical incidences. He also convinced them the man for the job was my dad, David.”
There was a pause, and Reid’s eyes fell to the stone under his hands. Luke again had to fight to resist the urge to reach for him.
“They died on the same day,” Reid began again. “Mum was first, during a raid on the ministry. They came after my dad at work. He hadn’t even heard the news yet when they attacked the station, killing my dad and four other officers. I remember being called down to Dumbledore’s office, already expecting to hear that I’d lost my mum or my dad. I never expected to hear I’d lost them both.”
Luke quietly extended his arm, placing his warm hand on top of Reid’s. It was impossible to fight it anymore.
“When I lost Arnya, I had lost everything,” continued Reid, pulling his hand away.
“Reid,” Luke whispered desperately.
“How could you not know?” said Reid instantly, his voice hard and tense. “You were still with him, how could you not know about this?”
“What?” was all Luke managed to say, breaking the word into two shaky syllables.
“It was all over the papers when they disappeared, everyone knew their names!” Reid shouted angrily. “And again this summer, it was on the front page for over a week, Luke! So tell me how it’s possible that you didn’t know!”
“You really think I knew what happened to her and didn’t tell you?” Luke asked, his own voice growing louder.
“How should I know?” snapped Reid with a humorless laugh. “You didn’t tell me about the Mark, you didn’t tell me the truth about being in the War. I had to find out, and then you only told me to save your own ass!”
“That’s not fair!” shouted Luke, watching as Reid began to pace. “I wouldn’t have kept this from you, Reid. Not your own sister. I could never—“ Luke stopped, choking on his words and the tears that were causing his eyes to swell and his throat to tighten. “I didn’t know,” he continued more calmly. “I didn’t know everything Damian did or every death he was involved in. There were dozens of ringleaders, Reid. It could have been the Malfoys, Lestrange, Laxley – dammit it could have been Voldemort himself for all I knew!”
“Then how did they figure it out?” pressed Reid, his eyes a little wide and desperate and he turned to face Luke. “You’ve been the Ministry’s little mole for years, everything they have comes from you! So how did they figure this out if it wasn’t you?”
“Not everything is from me,” Luke said sharply. “The Ministry has the pieces, they have the evidence. I’m just the storyteller connecting the dots, confirming their assumptions.”
Reid began to shake his head. Luke had never seen him so… emotional. He was a mess, and it was clear he wasn’t used to being this way either. He wasn’t sure how to handle it.
“I didn’t know anything more than you did. I learned about the disappearances from the paper, and I didn’t know that they were dead until the rest of us found out this summer. Please, Reid. If I had known anything, anything about your sister, I would have told you.”
Reid was shaking his head again, his jaw tight and his eyes filled with tears. He didn’t even look like Reid anymore.
“Reid,” Luke whispered, taking two careful steps forward. Reid looked up and met his eyes. He was breathing unevenly and it was clear that he was using what little energy he had to compose himself. “Please.”
Luke only took two more steps before Reid stumbled forward, Luke catching him beneath his arms. Reid’s hands, usually so steady, were shaking as they grabbed fistfuls of Luke’s robe, clinging desperately. Luke couldn’t hold up Reid’s weight, not when his own knees were so unreliable at the moment, and so he at least helped to lower them in a small heap to the ground until they were kneeling in front of each other, arms tangled helplessly around each other.
“I’m so sorry, Reid,” Luke cried quietly in Reid’s ear. Reid stopped trying to fight it, stopped trying to be this man that didn’t care, because god dammit he did care. He cried, openly and freely against Luke’s chest. He could barely breathe and the world seemed to spin around him. Luke tightened his hold, cradling Reid against him, stroking his hair and simply doing whatever felt right in the moment to try and bring some peace to Reid. Perhaps it wasn’t much, but he wasn’t going to stop.
They sat like that for a few minutes before Reid quieted, his chest rising and falling at a normal rate. He still held tightly to Luke, refusing to look up, but Luke could tell he was no longer crying. Luke hugged him tighter.
“I’m tired of running. I’m tired of being a coward, and I’m tired of letting you down,” he said firmly, reaching to hold Reid’s face in his hands. “He’ll pay for this,” said Luke, his voice still shaking, but there was a bitterness there that startled even him. “I’m going to make him pay for this.”

Part Five

Lumos; Chapter Three

November slipped by surprisingly fast. With each passing week the weather turned colder and by mid-November they were already experiencing snow. Most of the students rejoiced, taking to the grounds to hold good old fashioned snow ball fights, making impressive snowmen and building forts. Snow is always more fun with magic.
The school as a whole had become closer over the weeks, as it did every year once students got to know one another and the day-to-day routine of life in the castle became second nature. The same could be said for the teachers, too. While it would be an exaggeration to say that Luke and Reid were inseparable, the days of argumentation and dislike were far behind them – at least most of the time. It wasn’t unusual to catch them arguing the silliest of things, but the fights didn’t last long and usually ended with the two new friends laughing together in the professor’s lounge, sharing a pot of warm pumpkin juice.
Reid found himself agreeing when Dervis invited him to join their little group for drinks on Saturday evenings in the village, or to simply spend time together after class. It was a strange change, but Reid couldn’t find any reason not to continue.
The holidays were quickly approaching and all any of the students could talk about were their holidays plans. Each day there seemed to be a handful of new decorations throughout the castle until finally the entire place looked like a giant Christmas card.
“Look, snow!” a first year shouted one morning as they came into the Great Hall. Sure enough the ceiling showed the snow that was falling outside and a few actual snowflakes managed to land amongst the tables. Students tried to catch them with their tongues.
“Ugh,” Reid grimaced.
“It’s just snow, Reid,” Luke laughed, following him to the table. “Enchanted snow at that!”
“It’s still disgusting.”
“What’s disgusting?” Dervis plopped into the seat on Reid’s other side, immediately grabbing a muffin and taking a big bite, smiling at the other two men.
“Reid thinks it’s gross that the kids are catching snowflakes on their tongues,” explained Luke.
“Oh, like you didn’t use ter do the exact same thing, Reid!” Dervis laughed. “He wasn’t always such a Scrooge, ye know,” said Dervis, leaning on the table toward Luke as though sharing a secret. “Our fifth year, we built the most fantastic snow fort ye ever set ‘cher eyes on!”
“Oh really?” smiled Luke, looking at Reid, who looked mortified. “I thought you hated snow?”
“I do,” said Reid gruffly. “I can’t be held accountable for what my childhood self foolishly found fascinating.”
Dervis and Luke both laughed. They continued to chat as they ate breakfast, mostly teasing Reid.
“Hey guys,” said Katie a while later, finally joining them. “What are we laughing at?”
“Scrooge,” said Luke, nodding toward Reid.
“You don’t like Christmas, Reid?” asked Katie, sounding personally offended.
“I never said that!” said Reid, his voice getting a bit high. Dervis and Luke were nearly in tears. “I’m not a fan of the cold or the snow, that’s all.”
“Or ‘gaudy decorations’,” added Luke.
“Or Christmas lights,” came Dervis.
“Or caroling.”
“Or Christmas shopping.”
“Okay! I think she gets it!” yelled Reid. A few staffers and even students looked up. Reid’s face burned red while Dervis and Luke suppressed laughs.
“I think Christmas is wonderful,” said Katie matter-of-factly. “There are presents and decorations, music and family. Good food,” she added, looking right at Reid. “Even you can appreciate that.”
“Are you going home for break, Katie?” Luke asked.
Katie nodded.  “Margo and Tom invited me to spend the holidays with them. Bob and Kim are joining us, too. What about you? Christmas at the Snyder Farm?” she asked, smiling and sounding a little dreamy at the idea.
Luke smiled bashfully and shook his head. “No, I’m staying here,” he said.
“You’re not going home?” asked Reid suddenly.
“Sorry to disappoint you,” Luke laughed. “No, I offered to stay. I know most of the staff is going home for the Holidays, I figure the few left could use the help.”
“Aww, that’s too bad,” frowned Katie. “I’ll tell everyone hi for you, though. I’m sure they would have loved to see you.”
“Thanks,” smiled Luke. “What about you guys? What are your plans?” he asked, looking to Reid and Dervis.
“Promised my sister I’d make an appearance,” said Dervis with a gentle laugh. “and ’sides, I miss all the munchkins. Got eight nieces an’ nephews between Charlotte and Eoin,” he said proudly.
“Sounds like my family,” Luke laughed. “What about you, Reid?”
“I’m visiting my uncle in Cornwall for a few days, but I’ll be back before Christmas Eve,” Reid answered.
“Give ol’ Angus a smooch for me,” Dervis winked.
“Smooch him yourself,” laughed Reid.
“Excuse me, Professor Snyder?”
All four looked up from the table to see a young Gryffindor standing in front of them on the steps.
“Yes, Dean?”
“We had a question for ya,” said Dean, nodding back to his table where a Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff sat together, watching them. “About yesterday’s class. You see, Sam says that Expelliarmus is the most effective charm to use, but Cas and I think that’s a cop out and the Protego or even Stupefy would be better options and—“
Luke held up a hand.
“Here, we’ll talk this out,” he laughed. “I’ll talk to you guys later,” he said to the others, excusing himself and following Dean around and to the Gryffindor table where the friends sat.
Reid watched as he joined the students, clearly debating with them over whatever it was these boys seemed so concerned about. A few minutes later, Sam, the Ravenclaw, pointed at the Hufflepuff with a victorious ‘Ha!’ Reid couldn’t help but watch as Luke laughed, the corner of his own mouth turning up.
The excitement grew with each passing day. On Thursday evening Reid went into the Ravenclaw Common Room for their weekly house meeting to find even more directions than the week before; a second tree sat atop the landing dividing the boys’ and girls’ dorms, covered in large twinkling ornaments and tinsel. Someone had enchanted the snuffed snowman on top of the fireplace to sing carols whenever somebody walked by. The girls all had red ribbons in their hair, and a few of them had even made earrings that looked like ornaments, snowflakes, and ribbons, enchanted to sound like Christmas bells when they walked.
Reid didn’t hate Christmas, as his annoying friends had suggested, but he’d never been quite as festive as everyone else. He found the decorations his students had taken the time to put up to be enjoyable, and congratulated them on the use of a few tricky spells to bring the decorations to life. He stopped scolding whenever the ghosts came by with their carols, and actually returned Professor Idlewood’s ‘Happy Christmas’.
The weekend before Christmas Break was the second Hogsmeade trip. Luke, Reid and Dervis volunteered to chaperone, much to McGonagall’s surprise. Truth be told, though, they each had last minute Christmas shopping to do. Most of the students were doing the same thing, rushing the shops to find the perfect present for their parents and siblings and friends. Luke and Dervis each had a rather large collection of young relatives to buy toys and sweets for and by the end of the evening they were both carrying three or four large bags. One of Luke’s kept moving and making a buzzing sound.
“You could help us, you know,” said Dervis, groaning a little as he readjusted his grip on the bags.
“My hands are full,” said Reid.
Both men looked at Reid, then at the single average sized bag in his left hand.
“Oh yeah,” said Dervis. “So full!”
Reid flashed them a grin and continued to walk ahead, leaving Dervis with his mouth agape, looking to Luke for help. Luke just laughed.
They stopped at the post office where Luke boxed everything up and sent it on its way to the Snyder Farm. He helped Dervis carry his bags back to the castle after that.
Friday was nearly as chaotic as the first day of term. The professors simply couldn’t keep their students’ attention long enough to be productive. Most didn’t even try. The students had packed the evening before and all they could talk about was their winter plans, seeing their families and, best of all, not having to do any homework for two weeks. 
The students weren’t the only ones who were excited, though.
The party started almost immediately after the students left the castle. A few remaining prefects were left in charge of the dorms, but the professors and staff made their way instead to the professor’s lounge. Dervis, their host for the evening, had decorated the space extravagantly, with the help of their charms professor, Katie, of course. The couches and chairs had been pushed back to line the walls and two long tables ran across the back with snacks and drinks.
Luke and Reid had been two of the first to arrive after seeing the students off to the train and making sure those staying in the castle for the holidays were tucked away in their dorms where they wouldn’t be too much trouble. They’d offered their assistance with decorating the place, but Katie seemed to know exactly how she wanted things set up and would much rather do it herself, thanks.
They weren’t going to push her, happily hiding away in two plush chairs in the corner, pulling a small table between them. Reid managed to wrangle the wizard’s chess set that was always in the room out of the box Katie had stashed it in for the night, and set up the board between them.
By the time other professors and guests began to arrive, the pair had just started their second game. Reid had all but annihilated Luke, but that wasn’t all too surprising.
“Bloody hell, Luke Snyder!” a loud, young voice exclaimed from across the room. Luke and Reid both looked up, Luke curiously and Reid with a scowl for being interrupted.
“Oh my god, Casey Hughes!” Luke answered back in just as loud of a voice, quickly pushing back his chair and jumping to his feet. He moved two steps before colliding with a slightly taller, solid man that had all but ran at him from the doorway. They embraced tightly, exchanging manly pats on the back and laughing loudly in each other’s ears.
“I didn’t know you were coming tonight!” said Luke.
“I’m surprised Katie didn’t spill the beans,” chuckled Casey, to which even Reid had to grin a little. “Thought I’d surprise ya! I’m technically here to escort her back to London, but when she mentioned a party I couldn’t resist.”
Luke laughed happily. “It’s so great to see you, Case.”
They stood silently for a moment before Casey’s eyes wandering to Reid, who was watching them with interest. Luke noticed the quick exchange and turned, a little embarrassed.
“Oh! Right, Casey Hughes, this is Reid Oliver, our potions master. Reid, this is Casey Hughes,” said Luke. The two politely shook hands. “I think Katie already told you about him,” Luke continued. “He interned at St. Mungo’s a few years back.”
“Ah, right, of course,” Reid said unconvincingly, but Luke seemed to appreciate it nonetheless if his small smile was anything to go by. “Margo Hughes’ kid, right?”
“The one and only,” Casey said with a goofy grin. “Well, not the only, one of four actually, but yeah,” he laughed. “So what are you guys up to, sitting all alone when there’s a party going on?”
“Reid’s been trying to help me improve my chess game,” Luke said with a sheepish smile.
“How’s that working for ya?” Casey teased, eying the demolished bishop laying in pieces on the side of the board.
“Would you believe me if I say he’s actually a lot better than when we first played?” Reid piped in, earning a laugh from Casey and a slightly embarrassed smile from Luke.
A moment later music began to pour through the room, upbeat and festive.
“You gotta dance, Luke,” Casey insisted, gesturing toward the center of the room where people were already moving to the music.
“I don’t know, Casey,” Luke laughed.
“Oh, come on! It’s the Weird Sisters! You can lie to your boyfriend all you want, but I know you love ‘um and that you can shake it when you want to,” Casey laughed loudly.
Luke suddenly turned deep red and he cast Reid and apologetic look, expecting him to be glaring at Casey the way Luke secretly wanted to himself. He was surprised, however, to find Reid grinning widely, shaking his head and looking down at the chess board. When he looked up a moment later to meet Luke’s eyes, he shrugged.
“What? Go have fun, just don’t expect me to join you,” he smiled.
With a forced smile and nod, Luke let Casey steer him by the arm out onto the floor. Reid sat back in his chair a little, watching as his colleague loosened up rather quickly in the company of his friends and peers. There were quite a few people there – it seemed Katie wasn’t the only one to bring a guest. The Care of Magical Creatures professor – Noah – joined them, earning another loud greeting from Casey Hughes. Noah introduced them to another young man about their age that Reid could only assume was his date. He hated to admit how relieved he felt that Luke didn’t seem even the least bit phased.
Reid did wander away from his corner after a while, helping himself to a drink and some food, chatting with Nearly Headless Nick against the wall and simply enjoying the party the only way he really knew how – from the outside. Dervis had made sure that Reid wasn’t completely anti-social, sharing a few drinks and talking together about anything but school – it was the holidays after all.
“So you and Katie, huh?” Reid grinned over at his friend. They each had a drink in hand, standing to the side and watching as Katie danced with her nephew and her younger friends.
“Crazy, right?” Dervis said happily. “But I knew the min’ut I sawr her she was somethin’ special,” he continued seriously, a smile on his face. He couldn’t take her eyes off of him.
“I told you you didn’t need me,” said Reid.
“Ha!” laughed Dervis loudly. “If ya hadn’t sent her to my gardens I don’t think I’d ‘av ever gotten the courage to speak to ‘er,” he said honestly.
“Funny how you couldn’t bring yourself to start a conversation, but once it started you still haven’t seemed to shut up,” Reid teased with mock seriousness.
“Shut it,” laughed Dervis. “So what are we gonna do ‘bout you then, mate?” he asked, bringing his drink to his lips and raising his eyebrows.
“What about me?”
“Don’t even try,” said Dervis. “I know findin’ someone to put up with a pain in the arse like you is gonna be a challenge, but you know how I feel ‘bout challenges.”
Reid let out a sarcastic laugh. “I wish you luck, truly, Dervis. But it’s not going to happen,” he said, sipping his drink.
“Oh, I don’t know ‘bout that,” said Dervis mischievously. Reid looked over to see Dervis waggling his eyebrows before pointedly glancing across the room, gesturing with his eyes. Reid followed Dervis’ gaze to see Luke not dancing with Katie, a youthful smile on his face.
“Don’t even think about it,” said Reid warningly.
Dervis just shrugged innocently before leaving Reid to stand alone, deciding to join their friends on the dance floor.
Reid watched him go, trying not to scowl and failing. He glared at Dervis even though his friend wasn’t looking, but it still made him feel better. He watched as he cut in with Katie, and she happily started dancing with him. They were still a new couple, but it was clear how much they liked each other, how comfortable they were together. Regardless of how much he hated Dervis sometimes, he was still happy for him, and knowing Katie’s past and coming to unexpectedly care about her over the past few months, he found he was equally happy for her.
They drifted away and Reid turned his gaze back to Luke and Casey. For having originally had reservations about going out onto the dance floor, Luke certainly seemed to be enjoying himself. Reid didn’t know all of their history, but it was clear that he and Casey were close. Katie had told him that Luke and Casey had been friends since they were kids, their families being close and all, and had roomed together at Hogwarts. Years later, after career paths that led them in different directions and the strain of war, their friendship was still evident in the way they laughed and talked and teased each other. Reid found himself smiling a little, though he hid it with his glass. He was glad to see that Luke had someone like that in his life.
One of Dervis’ favorite singers, Eoghan Kettlehorn, began to play. Reid recognized the song immediately, having been forced to listen to it countless times in their many years together. He found them on the floor again, Dervis dancing merrily and no doubt explaining to Katie why this was the world’s finest singer. He laughed at his friend’s foolishness, but as Dervis spun Katie around, their hands locked and watching each other admirably, he once again felt that strange, warm feeling in his chest. Dervis winked at him over Katie’s shoulder, smiling like a kid on Christmas (appropriately), and Reid raised his glass.
He decided that Luke was like a magnet. There was plenty to do, people to talk to, snacks to be tried, but somehow he kept finding himself looking through the crowd and stopping on that familiar head of blond hair. Luke was standing alone with Casey now, drinks in hand. Casey had his back to Reid so it was hard to see what he was saying, but he was clearly talking to Luke about something. Luke kept ducking his head and blushing, and while it was a rather amusing sight, Reid found himself feeling rather frustrated that he didn’t know what was making the young man behave in such a way. He frowned and turned away.

“You can’t leave yet!” Dervis exclaimed an hour later when Reid informed that he was going to head out. “It’s not even one o’clock!”
“Which is already late enough for me, especially when I have to travel to London in the morning,” Reid reminded him. 
“It’s not like you have to take the bloody train back,” said Dervis.
“Good night, Dervis,” Reid pushed with a grin, refusing to argue his point. “I’ll write to you when I get there. Give Charlotte and everyone my love,” he said kindly, sincere but also wanting to butter Dervis up a bit before disappearing. “Enjoy your holiday, Katie,” he continued, kissing Katie on the cheek.
“You too, Reid,” she said back, smiling up at him.
The couple turned away and Reid moved toward the door, pausing a moment to glance across the room one last time. He found Luke again with startling ease – he tried not to think about the reasons why he was able to pick out Luke Snyder in a crowd so well – and watched him for a moment. Amazingly, Luke looked up almost instantly, catching his eye. Reid played it cool, smiling pleasantly and nodding farewell.
He had barely turned into the third corridor when he heard footsteps behind him, quick footsteps at that. Someone was running. Reid stopped and turned around, quite surprised to find Luke chasing after him, a goofy smile appearing on his young face when he saw Reid stopping.
“Hey,” said Luke breathlessly. “Mind if I walk with you?”
Reid laughed. “I suppose not,” he said. “You’re not already leaving the party, are you?”
Luke smiled. “No, I’ll probably head back,” he admitted. “Unfortunately it’s a lot harder than this to escape Casey Hughes,” he chuckled.
“So I’m learning,” said Reid.
“So did you have fun?” asked Luke as they began to walk again.
“Believe it or not, I actually did,” said Reid, earning a sound of mock surprise from Luke to which Reid simply laughed. “You seem to be having a pretty good time yourself,” he commented.
“I am,” Luke smiled. “It’s nice to see some old familiar faces after so long. I’ve definitely missed Casey, the excitement in every little thing, the laughter. I don’t miss the drinking, though,” he added with a loud laugh. “Never try to keep up with Casey Hughes.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Reid laughed. “You don’t seem too bad, though.”
Luke shook his head. “No, I’m fine now. Don’t expect me to fly a broom or anything,” he joked.
“Let’s see if you’re still singing that tune in the morning,” Reid teased.
“I can’t make any promises,” said Luke. “Especially with Casey in the picture.”
“I would say call on me and I’ll help drag you back to your room if you need it, but I’ve got an early morning, so don’t even think about it,” Reid chuckled.
“Noted,” laughed Luke.
“Looked like your friends brought friends of their own,” Reid commented as they headed up the second flight of stairs.
“Yes. Casey brought his girlfriend, Maddie. Well, ex-girlfriend, sort-of girlfriend. Who knows what’s going on with them this week,” he laughed. “Those two have been on and off since our fourth year.”
“What about the guy with Professor what’s-his-face?”
Luke laughed. “You mean Noah? He brought his boyfriend, Ashton. He was a year above us, Ravenclaw you’ll be happy to know.”
“I like him already.”
There was amiable silence as they rounded the final turn to the base of Ravenclaw Tower. Reid’s room was just down the corridor, though it would be easier for Luke to get back by going the other way. They stopped in the middle of the hall, Reid casually putting his hands in his front pockets. He turned toward Luke to say thank you and goodnight, but never had a chance. Suddenly his lips were silenced, covered by Luke’s, catching Reid completely by surprise. He hadn’t even heard Luke move closer, yet here he was, standing only inches from Reid, snagging him in a kiss.
It didn’t last long. Luke pulled away after only a few moments, a look of terror on his face. It was almost comedic, really.
“I am so sorry,” he said quickly, body freezing. “I don’t… I don’t know why I did that.”
Reid said nothing, honestly caught in a moment of shock as well.
“I mean, well, I know why I did it but… Jesus, I can’t believe… Casey just kept talking about you and us and made all of these assumptions and I guess I thought maybe he was right… and god, I must have had too much to drink, what was I thinking? I must have—”
He never did finish that thought. Reid listened, only half-hearing what Luke was rambling about, when it occurred to him that his words were making his head spin. So he did the only thing he could logically come up with to shut him up – he kissed him.
Reid’s hands gently but firmly held Luke’s face, pulling them a little more flush against each other. This time the kiss wasn’t a fleeting brush of lips. It was simple, easy, safe. A small ‘umpf’ escaped from Luke’s mouth and Reid could feel him tensing again, but he didn’t let go. Sure enough, a few seconds later Luke relaxed, they both did, Luke’s hands coming to sit on Reid’s waist as easily as if they had done this a hundred times.
When Luke’s mouth moved, Reid’s followed. It was closed-mouthed and extremely chaste… but Reid had to admit it felt amazing.
He grudgingly broke the kiss but didn’t let go of Luke, who in turn didn’t let go of him. Luke took a moment to open his eyes and when he did, Reid smiled and laughed a little, looking down for a moment almost bashfully before confidently holding Luke’s gaze.
“Wow,” breathed Luke. “I was only planning to thank you for letting me walk with you,” he explained.
“I think you displayed your gratitude pretty clearly,” teased Reid, brushing a finger over Luke’s cheek.
Luke laughed shyly.
“I guess so.”
“Go back to your party,” said Reid. “Have fun with your friends.”
Luke nodded. “Thank you.”
Reid smiled, truly smiled. “Good night.”
“Good night.”
Neither moved for a beat, as though they physically couldn’t pull their hands away, until Reid took control and kissed him again, light and quick on those smiling lips he’d been trying not to admire for weeks.
Finally they let go of each other and Luke began to walk away, looking over his shoulder twice with an embarrassed smile, rubbing the back of his head. He was almost to the corner when Reid called after him.
“Yeah?” he called back.
“I take it back,” said Reid.
“What?” Luke asked, puzzled.
“About not calling on me,” Reid continued. “I won’t mind if you do.”
“Thank you,” he nodded happily. “Travel safe tomorrow.”
“I will,” said Reid. “Good night, Luke.”
 Luke smiled wide, face simply glowing.
“Good night, Reid.”
A moment later Luke was out of sight, leaving Reid alone in the corridor. He walked to his room with hands back inside his pockets and a smile on his face.
Sure enough, Luke had drunk more than he intended to after returning to the party. Thankfully he hadn’t needed to call on Reid after all, making it back to his room in one piece. When he woke up he heard snoring and rolled over to find Casey sprawled on the floor, half covered by the extra blanket Luke had given him. He laughed quietly and sat up, only to regret it a moment later when his head pounded.
There was a slightly breeze from the cracked window. Moving slowly, very slowly, Luke got up to investigate. When he got closer he found an envelope and a small flask sitting on the windowsill. The letter was addressed to him.
“This will help with the hangover you no doubt have this morning,” said the letter. “There should be enough for you and your friend. I’ll be back before dinner on Christmas Eve. I’ll see you then. –Reid.”
Luke smiled from ear to ear.
“Happy Christmas,” said Reid, arms wrapped around the shoulders of the slightly-shorter, gray-haired man before him.
“Happy Christmas, Reid,” said the man, patting Reid on the back. “Now you take care of yourself.”
“I always do,” Reid grinned, stepping away from his Uncle. “It was good to see you.”
Angus nodded, smiling while appearing to hold wrangle in his emotions. Reid would never say it aloud, but he was sad to say goodbye, too.
Clutching his small bag over his shoulder, Reid apparated, leaving Angus alone on the steps of the small house. The older man breathed deeply, smiling up into the falling snow.
Reid reappeared on the streets of Hogsmeade, just outside of the Post Office. He shivered a little, the cold more prominent up in the mountains. He had barely tugged his coat closer and taken two steps before he heard his name.
“Reid!” came a happy voice. It was Luke.
Despite himself, Reid smiled brightly, watching as the blond jogged the short distance between them. He was carrying a rather large bag that seemed to be weighing him down a little. Reid laughed.
“What are you doing here?”
“I thought I’d surprise you,” Luke smiled.
“Well I’m definitely surprised.”
Luke seemed more than pleased by these words. “I have a present for you,” he said, gesturing to the bag. “What do you say we grab a drink and you open it?”
Reid agreed. They made their way to a back table in The Three Broomsticks, tucked away near a fireplace. Reid rubbed his hands together, grateful for the heat, and even shrugged off his coat. The waitress brought them two warm butterbeers.
“Go on,” said Luke excitedly. “Open it.”
“I think you’re more excited than I am,” Reid laughed, beginning to pull at the wrapping paper.
“Probably,” Luke chuckled.
Reid ripped at the paper, peeling it away to reveal an ornate wooden box. He instantly knew what it was, and once all of the wrapping paper was discarded, he pulled the top of the box off to reveal a mahogany wizard’s chess set with crystal pieces. It was quite possibly the most beautiful set he’d ever seen.
“Do you like it?” Luke asked with a worried laugh after Reid said nothing.
“I… it’s beautiful,” said Reid in awe.
“I thought maybe you’d like having a set of your own at school, so you didn’t always have to borrow the one from the lounge,” Luke explained.
“Thank you,” said Reid sincerely, fingering the pieces as though they were made of precious gems. “I feel bad that I didn’t get you anything.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to,” said Luke. “Honestly, I wasn’t really planning to get you anything… but I saw this when I was in Diagon Alley and I couldn’t resist.”
“When were you in Diagon Alley?”
“Two days ago,” said Luke. “I decided to visit my mum for the afternoon at her shop, figured it would be a nice surprise.”
“You and surprises,” smiled Reid. Luke laughed.
They walked together back to the castle, catching up on the events from the past few days. Reid told Luke about cooking with his uncle and helping to charm his decorations as he did every year for the old squib, and Luke told Reid about sledding with some of the older students and refereeing a no-magic snowball fight. They parted ways once Reid was to his room, just long enough to change and get ready for dinner.
“So I was thinking,” said Reid casually as they walked together from the Great Hall after dinner. “That you should come back with me and we can break in that fancy new chess set.”
Luke seemed to be struggling to contain his smile. “Sounds like a plan to me.”
“Check mate.”
“Agh!” laughed Luke. “I was so close!”
“You weren’t that close,” corrected Reid. “Alright, fine, you were close. You’ve been practicing.”
“Yes I have,” said Luke proudly. “Just watch out, Reid. One of these days I am going to beat you.”
“Like you beat me at Quidditch?”
“Shut up,” said Luke, hitting Reid playfully in the arm.
They both laughed, leaning against the pillows propped behind their backs. They were sitting on the floor, Luke with his back against Reid’s wardrobe, and Reid leaning on one of the bed posts. He had a fire going, the light flickering majestically through the toasty room.
“So I may have lied again,” said Reid as they reset the board.
“You’re really a woman?”
“Very funny, but no. I lied about not getting you a present.”
Luke looked at him curiously, watching as Reid got up and went over to his desk, pulling something out of the top drawer. When he came back he sat down beside Luke, handing him the small parcel. It was a red box with a gold ribbon tied neatly to keep it shut.
“Open it,” he instructed with a smile.
Happily obliging, Luke gave Reid one final look before turning to untie the ribbon and removing the top of the box.
“Wow,” gasped Luke. “Reid, this is perfect.”
His eyes were wide as he reached into the small box, fingers pinching carefully around the handle of a large, well-made quill. Inside the box were two more quills and a bottle of professional ink. There were also two sticks of wax and a brass seal. Underneath was neatly folded parchment.
“There’s a little shop near my uncle that specializes in personalized quills,” said Reid. “Look.” He pointed carefully to the base of the quill. Luke rolled it in his fingers to find his name engraved along the side. Excited now, Luke carefully sat down the quill and pulled out the wax seal set. The wax was red and gold, of course, the seal was a decorative L.S.
“This is amazing!” said Luke cheerfully, carefully putting it all back into the box and setting it aside. “Thank you,” he said, looking at Reid with a touched expression.
“You’re welcome,” said Reid, leaning close. He didn’t think much, only watching Luke for any sign to stop, but such a sign never came. He brought his finger tips to Luke’s chin, bringing their faces together for a kiss.
 Reid preferred second kisses. First kisses were often awkward and experimental, and not in a good way. His first kiss with Luke had certainly lived up to those expectations. Not that it hadn’t been good, but it had still been quick and uncertain. This kiss, though, was anything but quick and uncertain. Luke leaned eagerly into the kiss and Reid could feel the smile on his lips as they shuffled to get closer together. A warm hand landed on his neck, fingers teasing the curls there. Reid wrapped an arm around Luke’s waist, flattening his other hand against his jawline and pulling them toward one another. They moved a little awkwardly for a moment, turning away from the wardrobe and shoving the chess set out of the way with small bits of laughter, until Luke was lying on his back with Reid over top of him. They looked at each other, Luke with his goofy smile and Reid with his confident smirk, taking in the sight of the other from their current angle.
“Let’s see what you got, old man,” Luke teased, his voice heavy. He leaned up, snagging Reid in another kiss and Reid could only laugh appreciatively, not even bothering to argue with him. He pressed a hand into Luke’s side, fingers curling around the fabric of his shirt and pulling up.
“Happy Christmas, Reid.”
“Mm, Happy Christmas, Luke.”
Luke and Reid spent most of the day together, separating only when Luke declared that he should probably send a letter home to his family and Reid decided to drop in on Ravenclaw tower and say hello to the students he’d secretly missed. There were barely half a dozen of them, but it had still been a pleasant afternoon nonetheless.
They walked to dinner together, unsurprised to see the few members of the other houses doing the same. When they entered the Great Hall they were surprised to find only one student table centered long-ways in the hall. McGonagall and Luke were already there along with a few other professors.
“Professor Snyder had the wonderful idea that since there are so few of us, we should eat Christmas dinner together,” explained McGonagall, gesturing for everyone to take a seat. The students seemed to have absolutely no problem with this and Reid watched with admiration as the students found their friends, regardless of house, and took their seats. Reid sat in the seat Luke saved beside him, smiling past him at McGonagall.
The feast was superb. The elves had gone all out this year, not that they didn’t every year. Reid’s favorite part was the apple pie and home-made whipped cream.
“I might have to take some of this back to my room for later,” he said between bites. Luke rolled his eyes.
“You had two and a half overflowing plates, six rolls, and now you’re on your second massive piece of pie. Seriously, where do you put it all? Luke laughed.
“I have my ways of working it off,” said Reid, catching Luke’s eye confidently. The blond blushed a little, grinning and nudging Reid with his knee.
The rest of the holiday passed rather quickly and before they knew it, it was New Year’s Eve. The students stayed up and organized a fire out on the lawn, playing games and telling stories, helping to keep the younger ones awake. When the giant clock overlooking the school chimed, welcoming the year 2003, everyone cheered and music started playing.
“Happy New Year,” said Luke, coming up behind Reid with a cup of hot butterbeer.
“Happy New Year,” Reid returned, leaning in to kiss Luke casually in the firelight. The students and their colleagues were all preoccupied with the fireworks, Weasley Whizzing Wheezes originals, to notice.
“Finally!” Katie all but shrieked, practically tackling Luke into a hug.
“I knew we shouldn’t have told them,” Reid cringed, crossing his arms and glaring at Dervis, who was standing beside him and laughing hysterically.
January stretched on quickly, midterm papers and apparition tests consuming most of their time. Luke and Reid saw each other at meals and occasionally when their free periods patched up, but truthfully they simply didn’t get to spend nearly as much time together as they would like during the day.
Night time, however, was another subject.
They knew the rules and did their best to behave, keeping their relationship completely unseen to the student eye. A few other professors had figured it out, but they hadn’t gone out of their way to say anything to anyone other than Katie and Dervis – and McGonagall, but only because Reid was incapable of hiding things from her, especially when she clearly already knew and simply wanted confirmation. He’d never seen a woman her age giggle until that conversation.
Most of the time they stayed in Reid’s room. Reid claimed it was because he wanted to be as far from Dervis and Katie as possible, but it really was the logical choice. Reid still had to be there in case something happened with his students, so it made more sense to be nearby just in case. Only once were they disturbed, at three o’clock in the morning when Penny Cornwall got sick and Annie wanted him to know they were taking her to the nurse. Reid was confident she hadn’t seen Luke’s sleeping figure, blanketed by shadows, in his bed.
 “Hey,” came Luke’s voice as he pushed open Reid’s door late one night. “Sorry I’m late.”
“I didn’t even notice,” Reid said honestly, looking up from his desk.
“Looks like I’m not the only one swamped today,” Luke laughed, dropping a kiss on top of Reid’s head before moving to lay his robe over the chair in the corner.
“For once it’s not work,” said Reid. “Just reading this article in the Evening Prophet.”
“Anything interesting?” asked Luke from across the room.
“Not really, just more of the usual,” said Reid. “Minister Hornsby made some unpopular decision, shocker. The Cannons just recruited Jimmy Kettle—“
“Shut up. And looks like this Damian Grimaldi guy is giving the ministry a bit of a migraine.”
Luke stopped dead, nearly knocking over Reid’s clock as he leaned on the nightstand for support.
“What?” he managed to get out.
“Seems his case is falling apart at the seams,” said Reid, looking down at the article. “Something about his son and needing more evidence. Who knows.”
“Oh,” said Luke.
Reid looked up.
“You okay?” he asked, concerned. “You look like a ghost.”
“What?” blinked Luke. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine. Just tired.”
“Alright,” said Reid skeptically.
“Come on,” said Luke, moving toward Reid quickly and taking him by the hands, smiling flirtatiously and leading him toward the bed. “Who cares about some Italian Death Eater leader?” said Luke in a bad Italian accent. He gave Reid a tug until they were pressed together, causing Reid to laugh appreciatively before the sound was swallowed by Luke’s lips.

Part Four

Lumos; Chapter Two

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!”
Reid glared.
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.
“Snyder Farm?”
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.
Luke smiled.
“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.”
He paused.
“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—“
“What house?”
“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

Oct. 11th, 2011


Lumos; Chapter One

"Let me guess, another?" the young, big-busted waitress asked irritably, standing over the man seated beneath the window. At the beginning of the evening she'd looked upon him with flirty eyes and high hopes. Now, she returned to his table for the fourth time with a scowl. Nothing upset the prettiest of vain women more than a disinterested man.
"Clearly," replied the auburn haired patron, not bothering to glance up but tilting his nearly empty glass mug to the side.
The waitress let out a huff and scurried away to fetch his drink. He sighed, pursing his lips tightly and bringing the cold glass to his lips, downing the last bit of liquid.
"You know, you could stand to be a li'l nicer," came a third voice, thick with an unmistakable Irish accent. The sound of a wooden chair scraping on the floor and the creak as it took on weight echoed through the noisy room.
"What are you doing here, Dervis?"
"Now Oliver, is that any way to greet a colleague?" the man named Dervis laughed. 'Oliver' rolled his eyes. "Excited for term to start?" Dervis continued, folding his hands on the table and smiling at Oliver.
"Hardly," replied Oliver, just as the waitress returned. She practically dropped his glass onto the table, a bit of foam spilling over the top and down the side. Oliver didn't even flinch at the loud thud, simply wiping away the spill over with his finger.
"Come now, Reid," the man continued, his playful voice taking a turn for the sincere. "It's been a rough year for all of us. Granted, harder for some…" he shrugged knowingly. "But ya can't let that keep you down. So chug the rest of y'er drink and let's get us to that staff party!"
 Reid Oliver looked up without expression at the smiling man across from him.
"I'm not in the mood."
"Y'never are," Dervis laughed, refusing to falter. He held Reid's gaze with a confident smirk until finally, as always, Reid sighed and looked away, groaning and slumping in his chair. Dervis knew he had won. "Yes! Alright, lad, let's go."
As Dervis loudly stood from his seat, Reid decided to chug the rest of his drink after all.
They arrived to the decorated entry hall of the school in no time, almost literally, to find it buzzing with a dozen or so other people. Dervis was his usual social self, but Reid suddenly found himself longing for the ill company of the waitress back at the pub.
"Dervis, my friend!" a rather round, short man with a thick mustache that hid his lips cried, coming up to shake hands enthusiastically with the much taller Dervis. Reid stood there quietly, receiving only a polite nod from the plump man before giving Dervis a look his friend knew all too well and disappearing through the thick of the crowd toward the drinks.
"There's no alcohol in it, you know."
Reid, who already knew as much but was pretending otherwise for his own sanity, simply frowned at the intrusion, not bothering to glance up at the recognizable voice.
"Clearly, Nick, or this party would be far more tolerable." Reid looked upon the translucently pale man with a humorless smile, again retreating in search of a less occupied corner of the room.
He was in luck, managing to lean into a stone pillar near the entryway, unseen by late arrivals and ignored, probably on purpose, by just about everyone else in the room. He refilled his glass a few times, resisting the urge to add his own ingredient into the mix -- if only because he would need his wits about him in the morning. As much as he had never enjoyed the staff party the evening before term, Reid had to admit that he understood the draw. In twenty-four hours they would be greeting a couple hundred students and the following morning classes would begin. It was their last true night of freedom, and Reid couldn't blame them for wanting to enjoy it.
Though granted, he'd rather enjoy it alone.
"I'm surprised you even showed up, Professor Oliver."
For the first time all night, hell, all week, Reid Oliver smiled.
"Dervis," he said as an explanation, gesturing toward his loud friend who was currently telling a rather lame joke he'd practiced on Reid a thousand times but seemed to cause his company endless giggles. The older woman beside him looked over, her small mouth pinched in a pleasant smile.
"Of course," she said in her kind but strong voice. "Well regardless of if you are here by your own choice or by the decision of others, it is good to see you again. I trust the summer months treated you well?" she inquired, the wisdom of her many, many years evident in every fine line and pronounced wrinkle of her face.
"As well as could be expected," Reid answered honestly. The woman nodded in understanding.
"It's been a hard year on all of us," recited Minerva. Reid frowned at the familiar, overused words. "Though harder for some than others," she added, looking up at Reid with a sympathetic smile. Startled, Reid glanced over at her. He shouldn't have been surprised. "I'm sorry for your loss, Professor Oliver."
Reid nodded, grateful for the words in a way he wouldn't be from anyone else. He knew that typically such declarations were followed by lines of, "If there is anything I can do," or some other offer of support. They both knew too well, though, that there was little to offer beyond condolences with circumstances such as these.
"Thank you, Minerva," he said sincerely.
She smiled kindly, patting him on the arm. "Well I best do my job and introduce some of the new staff," she began. "Your rooms have all been prepared and your things delivered. Feel free to sneak away whenever you wish." She winked with her ancient eyes and adjusted her large green hat, before striding away, clapping to gain everyone's attention.
Reid smirked, watching her go. He stayed in his place for a few moments longer as the rest of the staff gathered around and she beckoned the three new professors to join her on the steps, giving them a slight height advantage. There were two men and one woman. The woman had long blond hair and a contagious smile. Reid could see Dervis already drooling and he rolled his eyes.
The first man was on the shorter side, older than Reid but still young, considering. He had small eyes and graying hair and seemed a little too pleased with himself.
The second man, standing between Minerva and the blond woman, was much taller, probably an inch or two above Reid. He was young, mid-twenties at best Reid guessed. His short hair appeared to change from one shade of blond to another every time he moved. His eyes were kind and his modest smile produced dimples on either side of his face.
What struck Reid the most was how familiar he seemed to be. It sparked something inside of Reid that he couldn't place, and Reid Oliver hated such a feeling. He didn't stay long enough to hear their names or what they would be teaching, instead turning sharply around the corner, his robe swinging gracefully behind him. He yawned as he wandered down the stone corridor. Tomorrow would be a long day of preparing for term to start and building his strength for the arrival of the students; sleep was a must. He moved easily through the complicated maze of hallways and staircases, his years as a student and more recently as a professor giving him intimate knowledge of the twists and turns of the ancient castle.
Finally he had wound his way up to the seventh floor, near the entrance to the West Tower. He didn't bother to unpack just yet, merely finding the more suitable sleep clothes he needed. Once he'd changed he lazily maneuvered toward the plush four poster bed, falling onto it with a thud.
With a flick, the rest of the candles went out and Reid looked out his window to look over the grounds, illuminated in orange and red by the last moments of sunlight. With a self-pitying sigh he flicked his wand again and the curtains fell shut. He returned the wooden instrument to his nightstand, curling further into the pillow and begging sleep to take him.
Morning came too soon and the charmed alarm clock began to shake on the stand only minutes after Reid had closed his eyes, or at least that is how it felt. Groaning the entire time, he showered, dressed and gathered his things for the day ahead.
Reid had just stepped onto the stairs leading to the third floor when Dervis suddenly stepped up beside him wearing a faded olive-green robe covered in years of dirt stains, a cup of warm pumpkin juice in one hand and the morning edition of The Daily Prophet in the other, a tattered leather bag slung loosely over his shoulder.
"So I'm thinking that you owe me for skipping out so early last night," he said, sounding far too awake for this time of day. The sun was only just beginning to peak over the thick forest. "And I've already come up with what you can do to pay me back."
"Oh really?" drawled Reid.
"Yes, really," said Dervis happily. "You can introduce me to our lovely new charms professor."
Reid looked at Dervis and grimaced. He was smiling too much. "And why would I do that? I'm sure you met last night, you probably know her better than I do," he said.
"Yes, but she was swept away before I could properly introduce myself," Dervis explained.
"Unless she was a Ravenclaw, Dervis, I don't see how I have any better connection to her than you do."
"Well, no, she was a Hufflepuff," he said, earning a grin from Reid, "but that's not the point!"
"Then make it already," Reid sighed.
"She's teaching charms, Reid!" Dervis exclaimed. "Now that they've pulled potions out of those dingy dungeons, your classrooms are in the same corridor!"
"Dervis," said Reid coolly, stopping as they reached the first floor. "Suck it up, introduce yourself. Now if you don't mind I have a new classroom to set up from scratch, and you have to go play with some dirt. I would like just a touch of sanity before the train arrives tonight."
Stubborn til the end, Reid turned on his heel and down the long corridor. Dervis watched, mouth hanging open as he friend departed, but his frown quickly turned into a smirk and he shook his head, turning in the other direction and heading for the greenhouses.
Complain as he might over the task of setting up a new classroom, Reid was actually looking forward to the day's work. In fact, he'd been the one to request the change of location for the potions classroom, moving it from the dark dungeons to the brightly lit first floor corridor. There were many reasons behind the request, some practical, others personal. Practicality included the fact that the dungeons were ill-lit, musty, and there were too many open corridors for students to accidentally wander into, all of which added up to a poor learning environment.
Personally, there was the obvious fact that Professor Reid Oliver simply wanted to do things his way; this was his fourth year teaching at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and he didn't want to continue conforming to the ways of the past, being forced to try and teach students who were preoccupied with the stories surrounding the 'mysterious dungeons' or too afraid of what might be crawling around near their feet to pay attention. It was also in part because of the memories, Reid's memories, which were attached to the room. There were many of them, too many; some good, some bad, others merely obsolete. While no one kind outweighed another, the quantity did manage to outweigh the quality.
The classroom he would be using this year was new, constructed to his specifications amongst the stones of the first floor. Due to magic, of course, it had taken hardly any time at all to complete and made no real change to the castle's physical appearance, save the addition of a new door in the hallway. It was a large room, much larger than the dungeon classroom had been, or perhaps it just seemed that way because of the high ceiling and adequate lighting. Here, sunlight could actually penetrate the tall room through high windows, unlike the stained slits that called themselves windows in the old room. Tables filled the majority of the space, large and wide enough to host a cauldron when necessary. Said cauldrons were stored on tall racks along the far wall. The opposite wall consisted of a bookcase as well as storage containers and shelves for ingredients. A large chalkboard took up most of the front of the room, Reid's desk just off to the side near the door to his office.
The day was spent, for the most part, filling the shelves and rearranging the tables. The students would already have the basic textbook Reid was requiring for the year, but they would need other recipe books and encyclopedias to aid their study as well. The storage space was probably Reid's favorite part of the room; while most of the supplies would be kept in a spacious closet in his office, the units in the main part of the room would allow him to more easily distribute and regulate the ingredients during class. In the past it had been a logistical nightmare that had led to far too many impromptu trips to the Hospital Wing.
"Knock, knock."
Reid heard the voice and the sound of actual knuckles on the wooden door at the same time. If it hadn't been for the particularly high pitched tone of the voice, he would have immediately set about berating Dervis for disturbing him again.
"Hello," he said awkwardly. At the moment was sitting on a table in the middle of the room, shuffling papers around in front of him and marking them when necessary with the old quill in his hand. He only looked up long enough to recognize the woman as the new professor, apparently of charms. Perhaps Dervis was right.
"I didn't see you at the party last night, so I thought I'd come introduce myself, since we'll basically be neighbors and all," said the woman with a friendly laugh, gesturing in the general direction of her own classroom. When Reid said nothing she, apparently took that as encouragement, walking toward him confidently and holding out her hand. "I'm Katie Peretti."
For a moment Reid considered ignoring her, but the moment he looked up again he knew he was done for. She was beautiful, no doubt, and her smile really was contagious. Reid suddenly felt the need to hug something small and fluffy.
"Reid Oliver," he responded, giving in and shaking her hand.
"I know," Katie returned, her smile growing (how was that even possible?), "My nephew interned at St. Mungo's a few years ago, perhaps you remember him? Casey Hughes? His mother, Margo, is the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
Reid blinked.
"Maybe not," said Katie, sounding only momentarily defeated. "Well anyway, I've heard a lot about you -- who hasn't?" she gushed. "I'm very excited to be working here with you this year. You've been at Hogwarts for a few years now, right?"
"Three," Reid answered immediately with a nod. "Well, this is my fourth," he clarified.
"Wow," said Katie. "That's impressive -- well, considering," she shrugged. "And you were in Ravenclaw, right?"
"Yep," said Reid, lingering on the P with a small 'pop'.
"Margo's husband, Tom, was a Ravenclaw, but I think he graduated before you came here. How old are you anyway?"
Reid was quickly getting bored with this, but didn't have the energy to fight her off. "Thirty-five," he answered dryly.
"Oh! I'm only thirty-two," she exclaimed. "We probably didn't have many classes together, but how strange is that to think we were here at the same time? Granted, you were two years ahead of me, and I was a Hufflepuff," she said proudly.
Reid pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Have you met Dervis Crainn?" he said suddenly. Katie stopped in the middle of a word and blinked. "Herbology professor?"
"Oh," she said softly, trying to remember. "I think so… Irish? Very talkative?" Reid nodded. "Briefly. Why?"
"I'm sure he'd love to show you the greenhouses," said Reid. "And I would love to finish preparing these lessons."
For a moment, Katie simply stared. Then it finally hit her.
"Oh! Ah, gotcha," she smiled, turning a little red. "Busy day, I get it. If you need any help just let me know, I'm pretty much done for the day, and I'm quite handy when it comes to moving things around," she winked, twirling her wand in front of her. "You know, charms master and all." Reid barely blinked. "Well I guess all that's left is to wait for the students to arrive!" Another blink. "So I'll see you at the feast tonight?" she asked as he made her way toward the door. Reid sort-of nodded. "Great! We'll talk more then. Bye!"
Reid was half-tempted to charm the door into slamming right behind her, but something made him resist.
It was just getting dark and Reid had retired to his office for some leisurely reading when he first heard the train whistle. Not even a minute later Dervis barged in, wearing what was quite possibly his only stain-free robe.
"Show time, lad," he winked. Reid glanced at the intricate clock on his desk and nodded, marking his page and setting the book down. Dervis waited in the doorway while Reid pulled on his robe, buckling the clasp at his breast and smoothing out the hood against his shoulder blades.
"Let's get this over with," he frowned, shutting the door behind him as they made their way out of the room. The two men strolled down the corridor, torches lighting the way and their large black robes trailing majestically behind them. In the distance they could hear the sound of invisible hooves (well, invisible to some) and wooden wheels on uneven stone, small voices carrying on the wind.
While the first years traveled the lengthier distance across the lake, the older students began to file into the castle noisily, finding old friends they hadn't seen on the train and relishing in their return to the brilliant Hogwarts castle, a home and haven for so many, if not all, of them. Reid and the other professors were already in the great hall, taking their seats at the staff table at the front. Reid took the furthest seat to the right; Dervis occupied the chair beside him and much to his friend's delight, Katie took to the next chair over. The rest of the staff filled in, and Reid found that he was very aware that only four people separated himself from the blond man.
When the doors opened the students flooded into the Great Hall in a sea of mixed colors, though the colors began to section themselves off rather quickly. Green hoods lined the far left wall, red hoods along the right. Blue and golden hoods took their places as buffers in the middle. As he watched the crowd of children, twelve to seventeen and with such a medley of personalities and talents, Reid found himself actually grinning.
"Told ya you were happy to be back," said Dervis, leaning toward Reid with a wink. Reid shooed him away, which Dervis did happily, returning to a conversation with Professor Idlewood (mustache man) and Katie.
Regardless of her promotion to Headmistress, Minvera McGonagall loved the Sorting Ceremony too much to hand it over to anyone else. The room was still vibrating with conversation when the door opened loudly for a second time, Headmistress McGonagall strolling confidently and quickly down the center aisle with a slew of nervous-looking first years on her heels. Almost immediately the room quieted and all eyes were on the small children and their wide eyes. Houses eyed them hungrily, waiting to see what portion of the fresh meat would soon be claimed by their table.
The Sorting Ceremony was, in all honesty, one of Reid's favorite things about the beginning of term. Over twenty years had passed since he had sat on that same stool and the sorting hat had been placed on his head, letting out a sarcastic laugh that nearly caused him to fall of his chair in surprise. He could remember it vividly, the old hat moving of its own accord, seams turned up in a crooked smile.
"I could very well say Slytherin, you have big dreams, that is for certain. More than that… you are hungry to learn more about this world, aren't you? Yes, yes, that is clear. Ah, how like your mother you are. She, too, had big dreams! Like mother like son, hmm? Well then, there's only one real option is there?" the hat had declared. Reid closed his eyes tight and clenched his small fists on top of his knees. "Ravenclaw!"
The words echoed in his thoughts and in his ears, McGonagall's voice snapping him back into the present. The second child to be sorted jumped off of the stool, her long black curls bouncing youthfully around her shoulders and her face glowing with a proud smile as she scrambled over to the Ravenclaw table where a loud group of students happily greeted her. Reid smiled with them, clapping enthusiastically.
"That's one-one for us, boy-o," whispered Dervis, a former Gryffindor and its current Head of House.
The names were called and the old hat fulfilled its duty, various corners of the room erupting into applause with each announcement. Soon the last student, nearly shaking as he stood alone in front of the rest of the school, was called up to take a seat.
"Hmm… yes, yes. Ambitious, no doubt, but focused. So much focus for such little experience. Impressive. I know, I know… Ravenclaw!"
"Ha!" whispered Reid, clapping loudly again. Dervis sank a little in his seat. "That's what? Eleven Gryffindor, thirteen Ravenclaw?"
Dervis made a face, refusing to verbally acknowledge defeat.
As the boy made his way happily to the sea of blue, Headmistress McGonagall moved to the elaborate golden podium, the same that Headmaster Dumbledore had used for so many years. The decorative owl stretched its wings and settled into place with a loud caw, the room quieting once more.
"It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to Hogwarts," she began, voice echoing off the high ceiling. "I would like to begin with a few start-of-term notices. First years, you will all meet with your heads-of-house this evening to discuss the various rules you will be expected to follow here at Hogwarts. One of these rules, as a reminder to all of you," she continued, glancing knowingly at a few students who seemed to smile and shrink away, "the Dark Forest is strictly forbidden to students."
Murmurs followed. Clearly, students had trouble with this rule.
"Secondly, I would like to take the time to introduce you all to our staff, your instructors during your time here at Hogwarts. Many faces you perhaps recognize from years past, though we do have a few new names to share with you."
McGonagall cleared her throat and adjusted her glasses, taking a step back and glancing at the table behind her. First years craned to see the faces of the professors they had yet to meet, while older students did inventory in their head, checking to see if their favorite (and least favorite) professors were in attendance.
"For Transfiguration," she began, motioning towards a young dark-haired woman with an exotic face seated to the far left. It had been hard to give up her job as the professor for the course, but McGonagall had a lot of faith in the new professor, who was returning for her second year. "Professor Yurahn." The woman stood briefly, greeted by a warm applause and a few whoops from appreciative students.
She continued with Ancient Runes (the new gray-haired man), Flying (a second-year professor who had once played for the Chudley Cannons), Divination (Professor Jervais, a stuffy Italian with a love for obnoxious scarves), Care of Magical Creatures (a young man with a handsome face tainted only by a dark scar across his left cheek), arithmacy (Idlewood, or mustache man, whichever you prefer) and Muggle Studies (Matilda Bottomsworth, the first muggle-born professor of the course). Professor Binns waved his transparent hand as he was introduced as the History of Magic instructor. Again.
"For Defense Against the Dark Arts," said McGonagall. The entire room hushed instantly, all eyes falling on the young blond seated next at the table. Over the years many things had changed, but the whispers and rumors surrounding the Defense Against the Dark Arts position was not one of them. "A new addition to the staff, please welcome Professor Snyder."
Polite applause and a buzz of whispers filled the room, but that seemed to have no effect on the young man's mood. He stood proudly, nodding with a dimple-clad smile. A few seats down, Reid watched him carefully, still unsure what to make of the new colleague.
 "Also new this year, teaching our charms classes, please welcome Professor Peretti," continued McGonagall. Reid clapped sincerely this time, catching Katie's eye and smiling. She waved bashfully with a small curtsy before falling back into her seat.
"Herbology will once again be taught by Professor Crainn--" The loudest applause yet, especially from the Gryffindor table, filled the room as the over-the-top professor stood, waving foolishly and laughing at the evident approval of the students. Reid allowed himself to roll his eyes this time, grinning at his silly friend as the noise calmed and he took up his seat again.
"And finally, for the fourth year as our potions master, we have Professor Oliver," McGonagall concluded, a smile in her voice. Reid stood and awkwardly raised a hand, seeming eager to get his introduction over with despite the fact that he was received with nearly as much enthusiasm as Dervis. Not quite, but close. The Ravenclaws were by far the loudest, a few shouting "Yeah, Professor Oliver!" and whistling loudly. Reid couldn't hold back a grin, shaking his head and trying not to show just how appreciative he was.
"Another round of applause for your delightful professors," requested McGonagall, leading the gesture. "And now, let us eat!"
Plates stacked high with the most delectable of foods suddenly appeared on the tables as McGonagall returned to her seat, cries of happiness and excitement bouncing off the stone walls and high windows, a clear darkened sky and the first stars of the evening visible overhead. Reid didn't hesitate to load his plate, allowing the positive energy of the room to sink in and falling into laughter and conversation with Dervis throughout dinner.
"So," said Dervis, walking alongside Reid as they exited the Great Hall. "Now that the students are actually here, are yer finally excited to be back?"
"I wouldn't say excited, but suppose I am happy to be here," Reid admitted with a grin.
"Excellent!" shouted Dervis. "What about the staff this year? Only three newbies, that's got to make you happy," he laughed.
"Hey, you were one of those newbies last year," Reid pointed out.
"True," conceded Dervis with a thoughtful nod, "But you've known me since we were one of the little ones here!"
"How could I possibly forget, Dervis?" He glanced at Dervis, his lips forming the smallest of smiles. Dervis laughed loudly and clapped him on the shoulder.
"Well at least old-man Crenwood isn't back this year," said Dervis, letting out a fake shiver at the thought of the former ancient runes instructor.
"Yes, but Jervais is back, and Kyswell. Three years as third chaser for the Cannons doesn't give him a right to such an inflated ego," countered Reid.
"This from you!" shrieked Dervis. "You're just jealous that lout made the Cannons in the first place," he grinned.
"My ego is earned," said Reid pointedly. "And I never wanted to play professionally, Dervis. I half-assed that tryout at best, and obviously it was a wise decision on my part," said Reid.
"Yes, yes, we all know the legacy. ‘Reid Oliver, former Hogwarts quidditch star, becomes youngest head of the Janus Thickey Ward since Bartemius Hedgewood in 1757!'" said Dervis dramatically, holding his hands in front of him as though he were reading from a headline. Reid only grinned. There was no point in being falsely modest.
"I am happy to see Yurahn and Matilda have returned," said Reid as he and Dervis ascended up another flight of stairs. They were taking the long way up to the seventh floor in an attempt to avoid the hysteria of students and new prefects trying to feel important by herding first years to their dorms.
"What about the new recruits?" asked Dervis.
"Katie is loud," said Reid thoughtfully, "Bullockson--"
"Blockson," corrected Dervis with a laugh.
"Whatever," shrugged Reid. "He's teaching ancient runes. What more is there to say about him?"
"What about our new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Luke Snyder?"
Luke. Luke Snyder. The name echoed in Reid's head.
"He won't last the year," said Reid, trying to sound disinterested. "They never do."
"Anyone is lucky to last more than a year around here, Reid. Just because you managed to get called in the first year after The War and keep your post doesn't mean everyone can be so lucky."
"True, but the majority of you were asked to return, which means they are finally comfortable with settling down and ending this ridiculous gave of musical professors," he sighed. "I think the Ministry is finally hearing what McGonagall has said all along, that stability is what these students need. They can't flinch at every sound. Still, even I can't overlook the… legacy, surrounding this position. Dumbledore himself believed that Voldemort cursed the job," continued Reid firmly, ignoring the way Dervis tensed at the still-feared name. "This… child, will be no different than the rest of them."
"Still, you have to admit it'll be interesting to have a Snyder on the staff," said Dervis excitedly. "A Snyder-Walsh at that! Powerful families, in influence and talent."
"They are no more talented than you are I, Dervis. They have money and half-deserved influence, that's the only thing that sets them apart from us."
"If you say so," shrugged Dervis, knowing better than to argue.
"Professor Crainn!"
Both men turned around to see two Gryffindors running toward them.
"Mr. Henries, Mr. Turvey, it's good to see you," greeted Dervis, smiling pleasantly at the two sixth year boys. "Shouldn't you already be in the dorms?"
"A couple of first years got separated from the group. We were showing them the way," explained Henries, nodding behind him were three small children stood huddled by the corner. "We saw you and Professor Oliver," he continued, nodding respectfully to Reid, "and thought we would say hello and invite you to walk with us."
"Well I guess I can't turn down an offer like that, can I?" laughed Dervis. "I'll speak with you later," he whispered to Reid before following the boys down the corridor. As the small group turned the corner Reid could hear Dervis excitedly asking the names of the new students, and he could only smile.
A few minutes later he arrived at the West Tower, bypassing his own room and heading up the winding stairs toward the Ravenclaw dormitories, his robe trailing on the cold steps behind him.
"Manticore," declared Reid to the painting of an old wizard in a vast library filled with crooked shelves. The little man scrambled to his feet, muttering "Correct, correct!" before allowing him entrance. Once upon a time the Ravenclaw common room had been accessible only after answering a riddle, however, after a few unauthorized students managed to make their way into the dorms a short number of years back, Ravenclaw house decided to follow the same precautions as every other house. Personally, Reid was not a fan of the rather boring and simple alternative.
The common room was alight with conversation, though Reid proudly thought to himself that at least the excitement was more controlled and quieter than he was certain it was in the other dorms. Students gathered around armchairs and tables, discussing their summers and schedules, sharing books and swapping stories. Reid went unnoticed by most of the students for a few minutes as he leisurely made his way through the thick of students toward the center fireplace, standing at the front with his hands clasped together in front of his stomach.
He waited patiently, a few eyes finally registering his presence and hushing their companions. Reid didn't even have to so much as clear his throat to gain their attention, and within thirty seconds all eyes were focused on him and all talking had ceased. He smiled.
"I would first like to congratulate our newest students; it is an honor to welcome you to Ravenclaw house." His words were met with a round of applause and cheers, older students patting the first years on the back proudly. "My name is Professor Oliver. I am the potions master here at Hogwarts, and I am also your Head of House," he declared, moving to sit on the arm of a chair just to his left, dropping his shoulders in an attempt to look more relaxed. "I remember living in this very dormitory, walking these very halls and dealing with many of the same obstacles and challenges that you shall also be facing this year and in years to come. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you come to me when these challenges come about. My job is to help you, whether that means dealing with disciplinary issues, setting you up with a tutor, or simply listening. As some of our older students know, I am not necessarily the best at handing out advice," he smirked, and a few older students laughed and nodded in agreement. "But I can provide an ear and confidence."
Reid took in the faces around him, the students who looked up to him and turned to him in their time of need. He didn't considered himself to be great with children, but he'd learned over the years, especially the last four, that these children deserved his respect, and his guidance. His job was to educate them, but also to protect and encourage and aid them in their journey as a student at Hogwarts. He knew now that he had taken for granted the presence of his own Head of House, Flitwick, and the other professors during his years here, but they had been there nonetheless. Whether his students took him up on his offer or not, Reid knew he had to be there, too.
"I have a few things to go over with all of you before I dismiss the older students. First, for those of you now third years and above, our first Hogsmeade trip will be the first weekend of October. Permissions slips have already been sent to your parents. We must have a signed slip on file or you will not be allowed into the village," said Reid. "Also, Headmistress McGonagall touched on this at dinner, but let me reiterate: No student is permitted to enter the Dark Forest without supervision from an instructor. The only time this may possibly occur is for your Care of Magical Creatures sessions."
A small girl in the back raised her hand.
"Yes," said Reid, pointing to her.
"What about the lake?" she asked.
"The lake as well. I hope you enjoyed the boat ride over, because that is the last time you will be allowed near those waters." A few students chuckled appreciatively.
"Curfew for first-through-third-years is nine o'clock," Reid continued, ignoring the whining that followed. "Ten o'clock for fourth-through-seventh-years. This does not mean lights out, in bed and under the covers.  You are all intelligent young men and women, otherwise you would not be in this house, and I trust you to make wise decisions concerning your own sleeping schedules. However, you will be inside the walls of this dormitory by your respective curfew time. Prefects will be in charge of making sure all students are accounted. If anyone is missing they will let me know immediately."
Another small hand rose. "Who are our Prefects?" he asked.
"Good question. Prefects -- front and center," he grinned. "You, too, Judd."
Seven students scrambled to the front, four girls and three boys. Reid stood again, stepping to the side to allow them to line up in front of the rest of the house. Each wore a recognizable Prefect's badge on their left breast, except for the fourth girl standing beside Reid, whose badge was inscribed with a large 'HG'.
"Susan Hoot and Jaron Kimmings, fifth years," began Reid, gesturing to each student as he made the introductions. "Rachelle Hollins and Kyle Culburt, sixth years. Arin Fenwood and Jacques Amiri, seventh years." Reid paused, putting his hand on the shoulder of the final student, who smiled bashfully at her schoolmates. "And then we have Miss Annie Judd, our Hogwarts Head Girl," he concluded, pride dripping from his voice. The students erupted into excited applause and Reid joined them.
"Who's Head Boy?" someone shouted as the clapping quieted.
"Chris Hughes," answered Annie, crinkling her nose. "Hufflepuff." A few older students snorted and giggled. Reid bit back a laugh of his own; the kid was a bit of a joke.
"Alright, alright," he grinned. "First years, I need you to remain in the common area so we can go over a few more things. The rest of you are dismissed for the evening. Don't be up too late, breakfast starts at seven sharp!" he called over the sudden noise, shaking his head in amusement as the students hurried up the stairs to their rooms.
The First Years meeting went smoothly, filled with the typical responses and predictable questions he faced every year. A lot of things they would simply have to learn and figure out on their own and Reid knew that a good part of his time tomorrow would be used pointing students in the right direction and requesting the aid of older students to help them learn the ropes. It was still fairly early by the time he dismissed them to their rooms, turning control of the dorm over to the prefects and returning to his own room near the base of the winding staircase.
Entering his room the first thing that caught his attention was a letter sitting on the table by the door. He recognized the handwriting and smiled, walking further into the room. The second thing he noticed was the sound of eager hooting from a dark barn owl perched above his bed.
"Atticus!" he exclaimed happily, laughing as he dropped the letter onto his bed and sat beside it, the beautiful bird swooping down to land on his extended arm. "I see you finally made it," he said to the creature, petting his feathered head affectionately. Atticus cooed.
Reid spent the rest of the night at his desk, finalizing lesson plans and responding to the letter Atticus had brought back with him from his Uncle's. The older man, a squib named Angus, was a grump and a bit of a drunk, but a clumsy drunk who was more likely to make you laugh at his butchered jokes than start a fight. He drove Reid crazy most of the time and while he didn't visit his uncle but maybe once or twice a year, he still kept in contact with the old fool. Like so many things in Reid's past his relationship with Angus was filled with memories, good and bad. At times it was hard to tell which there were more of, but ultimately Reid tried to focus on the good – Angus was his only family left, and he was smart enough not to throw that away.

Part Two

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