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"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.