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Disclaimer: I don't own Halloweentown.

Summary: My explanation of why Luke wasn't in Halloweentown High.

"You lied to me." Marnie said softly and not accusingly. She had come over there to rant and rave and tell him all about she could have used his help with the whole school fiasco, but had immediately let it go when Benny had told her on the cab ride over what had happened. One of the only times she hadn't seen Benny laughing and telling bad jokes. She and Luke were sitting on a wooden bench on Luke's porch. Luke didn't look up from his lap which he was staring at. He was wearing very plain clothes for Halloweentown standards. Just a simple black shirt and black jeans in fact if not for the flamboyantly bright red hair and that fact that his face was a little different he would have fit in well in the mortal wold.

"I know." Luke answered still not looking up from his jeans. She was referring to the fact that Luke had agreed to be part of the Halloweentown exchange program since he already knew her and to make it easier for her. She had been looking forward to being able to be with him more often. After the portal was left open the two of them had become best friends, he was the only one outside her family that really understood her. She didn't have to edit out her magic, or her fights with her mother, brother or sister. He had also told her about his family as well about his arguments with his sister Cathy (although they argued a lot less frequently then she and her sibling did) who was two years older then him and always was getting recognized for her beauty. He had been jealous of the attention his parents gave his sister for her beauty which was why he originally made the deal with the shadow creature that turned out to be Kalabar.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Marnie asked, she thought that if something like this were to happen that Luke would have gotten a witch to contact her first thing. Instead of sending a message to her that said that he changed his mind and didn't want to go anymore. Luke still didn't look at her and it was starting to annoy her, she took a deep breath now was not the time to let the Cromwelll temper fly. Luke shrugged.

"You bet your magic, I didn't want to distract you" Marnie closed her eyes and took a deep breath even as he was hurting, he wanted to protect her.

"Luke that's." she started.

"Marnie I don't want to talk about it." Luke said. Marnie tilted his head up so that Luke was staring into her eyes. He looked sad, no devastated.

"Have you talked to anyone about this?" Marnie wondered aloud. Luke looked away again to the left since Marnie was still holding up his head. She took that as a no. Marnie felt tears gather in her eyes for her friend, he had been dealing with this alone for the past nearly 3 months. She closed her eyes not wanting to cry, when she had to help her friend.

"Cathy is in college, and Dad...Dad works a lot." Marnie flung her arms around her friend and she was glad when she found his arms wrapping around her, she hoped he found comfort in it after three months of dealing with this tragedy nearly alone. Soon though Luke broke the hug and got up from the bench. Marnie followed immediately as he made his way into the woods that were near his house.

A lot of goblins and sprites lived near the woods they found something very calming about them. Marnie knew these woods well from all the times she had come and seen him in the last 2 years. She found something calming about them as well, but that came more from experience rather than genetics which was where Luke got his calming experience from. She absently noted the leaves which crunched underfoot and the leaves that remained above were the autumn colors or yellow, orange, and brown. The fading sun was sinking slowly into the horizon in a few hours it would be dark.

She fingered in her long black coat the miniaturized present she bought Luke nervously, which was why she had had to take a cab in the first place. She had bought it for his birthday, which he was supposed to have spent with her since it had been September 15th. She had already bought him a better present, but she had decided in her anger that she wasn't going to the give him the present she bought him, because he hadn't come like he had promised he would. Now faced with what she knew, she felt very petty. She wasn't sure if now was the right time for this present though.

They walked for nearly 20 minutes before Luke stopped again. Marnie looked around with a small smile this was their place, for lack of better way to describe it. Luke liked to walk around the woods for hours; Marnie after one too many times doing that put her foot down and said she wouldn't do that anymore. So they compromised, Marnie made an area of the forest suitable for sitting and they hung out and talked here. However Luke wasn't sitting, Marnie smile disappeared remembering why. Marnie sat down on one of the benches she had put there years ago and sat down waiting for Luke to look at her or to talk. After nearly 10 minutes Luke sat down as well, but on another bench which slightly offset from the bench she had sat down on, meaning that she could only see half of his face.

It hurt her so much to see him like this. As much as it hurt, she knew that in order to get through to her friend she would have to talk from experience and that meant she was going to have to talk about her Dad. Just the thought of talking to Luke about her Dad made her wince, but Luke was her best friend. If it meant a little pain for her to make her best friend feel better she would do it. She closed her eyes and reminded herself not use the words 'I know how you feel'. She had hated when people said it her after her father had died, because no one but herself knew how she felt.

She had always been a Daddy's girl back when her father had been alive; he had always been lenient on the magic thing. She wasn't sure whether or not he knew about her mother's powers, but whenever they were alone, just he two of them he let her talk about magic, and goblins and witches as much as she wanted to. She smiled softly for a moment before remembering that she was supposed to be comforting Luke in his time of need. She wasn't really sure how to go about it. She then remembered it was her mother who had comforted her after her father's death. Her mother had also comforted her siblings too, even though she had to have reeling from the death herself. She really had to thank her about that...later right now she had to say something comforting. Which she couldn't do from afar, she got up from her bench and went over to sit next to Luke, the best thing she could do for Luke was to be there with him. She grabbed his hands in hers.

"Luke." he looked away from her.

"Marnie don't." Luke said his voice trembling.

"You're my best friend Luke." Marnie said her eyes tearing up again. Luke shook his head, but Marnie could see his shoulder shaking, he was crying. She wished that Luke would just let her help him instead of trying to remain stoic.

"Luke, it's okay to cry." Luke shook his head.

"It is." Marnie insisted through her tears. "Everybody's doing it." Marnie said with a small laugh. Luke moved his head and she saw the tears rolling down his checks. Marnie wondered in the three months since she had seen him whether or not he had cried at all; she hugged him tightly as he cried. The sky turned slowly from the pink and orange and plummeted into black before Marnie reluctantly disentangled herself from Luke. She wished she could stay the night so that Luke wouldn't have to be alone, but she knew that her mom would never go for that. Goblin or mortal her mom had a strict no co-ed sleepover rule.

"I have to go." she said reluctantly, she really wished that she could stay especially since the look that passed over Luke's face.

"I promise I'll be back tomorrow." Luke nodded and turned away again. It would take awhile before Luke got back to himself, but he was her best friend and she would be there for him every single step of the way. She made her way up from the bench and pulled at Luke's hand.

"Let me walk you back to your house before I go." Luke nodded and let her pull him up, although it was mostly Luke pushing himself onto his feet. However once Luke got to his feet he didn't let go of her hand, Marnie didn't either. It was well past sunset and while she could find her way through the woods okay during the day, at night she was hopeless. Luke used her hand to lead her silently through the woods. She hadn't been paying attention on the way there to anything but Luke, on the way back she heard distant hooting and howling in the woods. She kept most of her attention on her feet though so she didn't take the two of them down.

She saw in the distance Luke's house, she didn't need to hold Luke's hand anymore but she still didn't let go. Luke was in a delicate state of mind and since she couldn't stay with him, the least she could do was give him something to hold onto at least for a few moments more. The closer they got Luke's house the more she thought about Luke's family. According to Luke his father hadn't really been around and his sister hadn't been either. No matter what the problem or how many fights her family had, they were still her family, she knew that if it ever came down to it her family had her back.

She only wished that Luke's family was the same way with him. In fact the last time she had been at Luke's house, they all seemed like they were four strangers who happened to live underneath the same roof. Only Luke's mom had been trying ever since Luke had told her about aligning himself with Kalabar to be more approachable and understanding. Now she was gone. She just hoped that she would be enough. They were there in front of his house now. The windows were all covered but she could s still see light shining from the house through most of the windows. Luke's Dad was in there, part of Marnie wanted to give him a part of her mind. However she doubted right now that that was the best move to make at the moment, especially in anger. Luke turned to face her and Marnie smiled at him. Luke was such a sweet goblin, he didn't deserve this.

"I'll see you tomorrow." Luke shrugged noncommittally like it didn't matter to him one or the other whether or not she came, but she knew her friend, knew that he was sad to see her go and she was sad to go as well. Marnie pulled Luke in for one last hug for the night and they stayed that way for several moment before they pulled apart.

"Bye Marnie." Luke said.

"Bye Luke." Luke nodded and started heading up the well worn rickety brown wooden steps up to his house, Marnie watched until Luke faded away from view. Her eyes started watering again but this time Marnie stubbornly refused to let them fall. She had to get home, she had to bring him his real present tomorrow and hopefully that would help him feel better. She walked a little ways away, called up the portal and went to the other side into her backyard. The tears stubbornly stayed in her eyes. A light flicked on illuminating the back yard and a sliding door opened to reveal her mom standing arms crossed in front of her.

"You're late." She said angrily, Marnie didn't care though. Her mom had been there throughout her father's death and she hadn't paid it any attention, because she just thought that's what parents were supposed to do. She only appreciated it now when she saw how Luke's Dad hadn't done the same. She ran the distance between the two of them and hugged her mother tightly for several seconds. Her tears trailing down her face again. She broke the hug and just stared at her mother who stared at her.

"Marnie what was that for?" she noticed the tears trailing down her face and lifted her finger to lightly graze her check concerned "Are you crying? Are you okay?"

"Thank you Mom, for always been there for me especially after Dad's death." she could tell that her mom had no idea why she was saying these things, but she could tell that she was touched by the tears that started in her eyes.

"You're welcome honey...What happened?" her mom asked having figured out something must have happened in Halloweentown. Marnie shook her head and sobbed.

"It was so terrible mom." and spent the next little while telling her Mom all about the events of the day.