1. When they became Seniors
Tom and Carl celebrated their promotion with a sprawling party that filled every odd corner of their large house. Nita and Kit arrived early, helped them prepare their buffet, and tried to stay through the whole party.
Nita and Kit left around 10 pm, wide eyed and giddy from the sight of so many wizards. Nita was flushed with excitement, and hugged both Tom and Carl before she left. Kit gave them a manly nod, but it was clear he was impressed with the clout that Tom and Carl carried, and the friends that they had.
When their house finally emptied, Tom and Carl sat on the couch together. Carl's head rested on Tom's chest, and together they basked in the post-party glow.
"The real work starts tomorrow," said Tom, ruffling Carl's hair.
"I'm worried about the neighborhood kids," said Carl, thoughtfully.
"Why?" asked Tom, leaning his head back. Far above his head, someone had left a slime mark on the cathedral ceiling. He groaned.
Carl sat up, and looked at his partner. "Because they're… ours. They're ours in a way that none of the wizards we had Advised before had been."
"Had you noticed," said Tom, smiling slowly, "that we weren't promoted to Senior until there were neighborhood kids for us to take care of?"
2. When young wizards ask hard questions
One Sunday morning, Nita and Dairine Callahan show up on their doorstep, half wild grief and anger rolling off of them. Nita asks a hard question: "Talk them out of being there… talk them out of killing? Something like that?"
Tom and Carl look at each other. They're touching under the table, hands held for support against the news of Betty's cancer that affected them too. And through this touch they said a lot more than the look on their faces communicated.
Tom reminded Carl that Nita was the wizard under their care who once signed up to Sing in the Song of Twelve without reading the fine print. Carl reminded him that this was the wizard under their care who had read the Book of Night With Moon, and changed the description of the Lone Power just enough to allow for the possibility of change. This was wizard who followed her sister on her Ordeal and took direct hits from a Power on a shield that probably cost her one year of her life at a time. Tom had doubts, worried about the folly of youth that Nita had shown in the past. Carl wanted to see what she'd do with the information they could give her, wanted to see what her strength really was.
"You know the rules," said Carl. " 'If they're old enough to ask…'"
" '…they'd old enough to be told,'" Tom completed. He squeezed Carl's hand under the table, and then folded his hands on the table top to ask more hard questions. In the end, they couldn't protect her from the fire. They had to give her the flame.
3. Before the Sun almost bubble stormed
Carl always made dinner a huge production; he pulled out all of his ingredients and spices – out was the marjoram, the curry powder, the lemon juice. There were sweet potatoes peeled and cubed, cauliflower, and chickpeas. The pot boiled with rice, and bread baked in the oven. Given enough time, and just enough energy to cook things through, there would be a pretty good approximation of curry ready for dinner, and a weeks worth of leftovers for lunches.
Tom sat at the bar chewing on stray cauliflower he took from the bowl that Carl had left unattended. Tom looked down at his hands and sighed. "Harry's a good listener, Carl," Tom said, looking up at his partner. Carl turned down the heat on the wok he was using, and moved across the kitchen to have this conversation. Tom sighed again and smiled wanly. "I was telling him, about this upcoming intervention, with the dark matter. And… what it would mean to be a hinge on which the universe swung…"
Carl reached out and caressed Tom's cheek. "You spend every day putting things in order because you're afraid we won't come back." Tom shut his eyes, squeezed them shut, both confirming and denying what Carl had said.
Then the Call came. Tom and Carl froze where they were, stiff with fear and the electricity of the Call. They had to be ready to spell, as they were the best solution that the locality of the universe needed to stop the dark matter. They turned off the oven, turned off the burners, and transported away.
They would need groceries when they came home.
4. When they got married
On May 29, 2008 the Governor of New York State ordered the State agencies to begin revising their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. While the controversy would rage in the courts for years to come, Tom and Carl were married in Tom's hometown in California on June 1, 2008.
They were married in Town Hall, without witnesses.
"Should we… send announcements?" asked Carl, when they were home.
"In a lot of ways it doesn't matter," said Tom. "It doesn't really change anything. And I don't really want to deal with the looks of disgust from the printer, or the misunderstandings from people who thought they knew us."
"But… I want people to know," said Carl. "It's changed our names in the Speech, it's important for people to know."
In the end, they sent a picture of themselves to human family and friends with the following caption:
Tom B. Swale and Carl J. Romeo
Announce their marriage
June 1, 2008
"We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together"- Hemmingway
5. When the Nita and Kit became the Seniors
Carl handed Tom the wizardly equivalent of an envelope. "Remember when we told Nita and Kit that they would be running the universe while we were out of commission, all those years ago?"
Tom opened the envelope and adjusted his reading glasses. "Yeah, I do."
"The Powers want a letter of recommendation for their promotion. And you're the writer." Carl sat down at the kitchen table across from Tom.
Tom took a deep breath and blew it through his lips as he read the request. "Do you think they can handle it?"
"Nita and Kit?" asked Carl. "I think they'd be really good at it. They have empathy, and professionalism, and they know the stakes."
"They have a neighborhood kid coming to them for Advice?" asked Tom, remembering what had propelled them up the career ladder.
"Worse," said Carl. "They're pregnant."
Tom shook his head. "If we don't give them the chance, we'll never know."