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Some Secrets

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“You can’t make me do this!”

“Mr. Payne, it’s your responsibility to give tours to new students, you knew that when you signed onto this peer guide position.”

Liam groaned, crossing his arms over his chest as he slumped in the chair he was basically forced into. Twenty minutes prior he’d been informed by his quidditch coach, Madam Hooch, that he had been requested for a meeting with the Headmistress. He’d then begrudgingly gotten off of his broom, muttering to himself about how unfair it was.

He kept cursing under his breath, not even bothering to change out of his practice attire and into proper robes as he made his way up to the Headmistress’ office. Sometimes being the favorite of the school was horrible. When Liam arrived in the office he was told to take a seat, and then Headmistress McGonagall informed him that he had an assignment.

When he was in his second year Hogwarts launched a new mentor program to try and ensure the safety of all students, particularly transfers. After the war ended and it was clear there was no longer the threat of Voldemort returning all of the wizarding schools began to slowly reinstate their foreign exchange programs and encourage students to study at different schools. Most students decided to stay close to home, but sometimes they chose to transfer abroad or return to their countries after trying another school.

“But, McGonagall,” Liam protested, gaining a stern stare from his elder. “Sorry, um Headmistress McGonagall,” he amended. “The transfer program is only in the beginning of the term, why is someone here in the winter?” he asked, eyebrows furrowed together. It was almost unheard of to have someone transfer so late, the last time he heard of it happening was with the eldest Potter boy.

“Yes, well this is a special case.”

Liam wondered how it was possible to have a case more special than son of the man who literally saved their school, and their entire world, from destruction.

“So they’ve been sorted into my house? Gryffindor?”

“No, we have yet to begin the sorting process,” McGonagall replied, bringing her glasses down onto the tip of her nose as she sifted through papers.

“Not sorted?” Liam exclaimed, his voice bouncing off of the walls of the large office and reverberating through the wood.

When a transfer student arrived it was always customary to having a make-shift house sorting. Often times their houses at their previous schools translated well enough to have a clear fit, the sorting was more of a formality. Since it was such an important part of someone’s experience at Hogwarts, the sorting hat was used to make all final decisions. It was unheard of to not sort someone before assigning them a tour guide. Guides showed students everything, from where to eat meals to where their dormitories were.

“Yes, Mr. Payne. I’d appreciated it if you didn’t shout.”

Liam scoffed, sitting forward in his chair. “If the student isn’t sorted why was I chosen?”

McGonagall sighed, putting down the papers that she was reading to look Liam in the eyes. “Mr. Payne, you know that you were chosen to be a guide because of your extreme pride for being a Hogwarts student, and your leadership skills from a young age,” she explained. Liam sat back then, her words making him calm down a bit.

He was proud to be at Hogwarts, especially since he was muggle-born. Everything about the Wizarding World fascinated him to no end, and he always wore his robes with pride. His parents were finally proud of him, he’d done something extraordinary.

“It was actually one of your fellow classmates who suggested you for the task, said you were doing exceptionally well with the previous tours,” McGonagall explained, returning to her papers. “I agreed with Mr. Tomli-”

She was cut off then by Liam groaning as he slouched back in the chair, the owl that was next to the Headmistress’ desk squawking in shock.

“Louis, of course. He only suggested me because he knows we have a big quidditch match coming up, doesn’t want me out there practicing with the team. You shouldn’t listen to him, he’s a Slytherin! You were Head of Gryffindor once, don’t you want us to win?” Liam protested.

McGonagall pursed her lips together, clearly beginning to be angered by Liam’s reactions. “Mr. Payne, I am the Head of Hogwarts now, I can’t show bias in anyway. Besides, I agree with Mr. Tomlinson. You’re best suited for this student, regardless of house sorting.”

Liam was about to protest when Hagrid came bursting through the doors, lumbering to the front of the room. “Morning, McGonagall” he said with a nod of the head. In his hands was a large bag that was rustling a bit, tied shut with a drawstring.

“Ah, Hagrid. Thank you for showing our new student here,” McGonagall said with a nod, picking up the bag and placing it on one of the only spots of her desk that was clear. She then pulled the bag open, a voice becoming clear the higher that she lifted the object.

“Finally, the light of day!” the sorting hat exclaimed, spitting out some dust balls from its mouth as it spoke. Liam cringed, remembering the last time that he saw the hat. Needless to say, it didn’t go well and he nearly let the whole school know his worst fears.

The sorting hat mumbled a few things under its breath before chuckling. “Ah, spoon boy,” the hat mused, a small smile appearing across its fabric lips. Liam sighed, hating that he was still remembered for the incident. Luckily, Hagrid and McGonagall didn’t seem to react so he wasn’t too embarrassed.

As soon as he thought that, though, he heard a cough from behind him. Liam quickly turned around, his quidditch jersey puffing out.

There stood possibly the cutest boy he’d ever seen in his life. The boy stood feet together, clearly quite uncertain about what was going on. His hair was messy and a bright blond, but it framed his round face well. There were a few spots, but it fit, made him look relatable. He wore a loose jumper with ripped jeans and trainers, it was clear that he hadn’t bothered to change into proper Hogwarts attire yet. Or maybe he didn’t know what to wear, perhaps he hadn’t expected there to be a strict dress code.

But the part Liam noticed most were his eyes, bright blue and almost piercing. His body said that he was unsure, but the eyes showed a great deal of strength, curiosity. Liam craved to see more of them.
“Alright, Mr. Payne?” Liam heard McGonagall ask, and he was quickly pulled out of his trance. The boy furrowed his eyebrows a bit, motioning for Liam to step back. He quickly realized that was what the Headmistress had asked him for and he nodded, moving to the side so that the new student could walk to the desk.

The boy bit his lip, looking at the hat that simply smiled back to him, clearly eager to finally sort someone after months of nothing.

“You put the hat on and he’ll decide where you go,” Hagrid explained, grinning as he placed the hat down on the blond’s head. The boy was clearly uncertain, his hands stuffed in his jean pockets.

“Parents from Gryffindor, you say?” The boy shuddered, probably hadn’t been expecting the sorting hat to be able to read his thoughts. “Don’t worry, Niall is it? Don’t worry, I won’t be mean.” The hat chuckled a bit, shifting itself on the head of the boy, Niall.

It was strange for Liam to be standing there, witnessing such an important point in a wizard’s life. But it was intriguing, seeing how the hat worked up close without the pressure of being sorted himself.

“I see bravery in you,” the hat spoke. “A bravery that few possess, a bravery so strong that it only makes sense to put you into…” The hat paused, straightening itself before shouting, “Gryffindor!”

McGonagall and Hagrid both rejoiced then, applauding and congratulating Niall as they put the hat back away. Hagrid pat the boy on the back, reassuring him that Gryffindor was a lovely house to be in.

“That’s the house I’m in,” Liam finally said, offering a small smile to Niall. He was met with bright eyes and a curt nod, a reaction he wasn’t expecting.

“I know a lot about it, yeah. My parents were both Gryffindor,” Niall replied, his Irish accent thick and his tone brisk.

“Alright! Hagrid and I will finish sorting out your schedule, but for now Liam can show you to your dormitory and give you a short tour,” McGonagall explained, waving both of the boys out of her office.

Liam was still perplexed, his heart heavy that the new student seemed to already hold animosity toward him. But Niall nodded, thanking both of the adults before turning to Liam, waiting for him to lead the way.

There was a light in Niall’s eyes, a light that Liam wanted to see more of. He just had to figure out how first.

******

The tour was relatively uneventful, as Liam found out Niall wasn’t really one for conversation. They went over the basic, where the Great Hall was, the best ways to get to classes. Liam even showed him where the Room of Requirement was rumored to be, but he was sure to point out that it was probably just made up by some of the seventh years.

He learned almost nothing about Niall, besides the fact that he didn’t seem to be much for talking. Liam understood, moving to a new school was probably stressful, especially one in a new country entirely. From what he found out Niall had previously been an exchange student at Ilvermorny before his parents decided it’d be best to transfer back and be closer to home. He didn’t give any more clarification, so Liam let it rest.

It was odd, he wasn’t used to giving a tour that was so small and so bland. He tried to do all of his usual jokes, lighten the mood, but Niall never so much as smiled at them. By the time they made it to the dormitories Liam had practically given up.

“So this is the Gryffindor commons room,” Liam explained once they had passed through the portrait. “The girls stay up on the left and us boys on the right. Don’t worry, the doors are charmed so no one can sneak into a side that they don’t belong on.”

Niall noticeably stiffened at that, and Liam’s heart sank a bit, confirming to himself that the boy was likely straight. Maybe the blond had been hoping to sneak a girl into his room late at night and was disappointed that dream wouldn’t become a reality.

Liam cleared his throat, trying to move on by motioning Niall to follow him into the boy’s side of the rooms. After a moment of waiting for Niall to continue walking they made their way up the stairs, Liam searching for the number that matched what McGonagall had written on Niall’s information sheet.

“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone in this room. I’m friends with almost everyone in Gryffindor, never seen someone in 204, and there are usually three or four lads per room”

“Uh, yeah. My parents arranged for me to have a private room, I think,” Niall explained.

A private room. Liam couldn’t even comprehend the kind of power it must have taken to get such accommodations, especially for someone who had just started at the school.

“That’s rather fancy,” Liam pointed out, finally finding the room at the top of the stairs. He pulled out his wand then, using a simple spell to unlock the door.

The room was rather small, about half the size of many of the other rooms. Liam felt a small pang of jealousy since his own room housed four students in total.

They walked into the room, both amazed by the interior. There was a standard bed, but it was already made with pillows nearly toppling over the sides. In the corner was a desk, filled with notebooks and quills, obviously ready to be used. There was a . Finally, by the bed rest an owl cage that was occupied by a sleeping barn owl.

“Nessy!” Niall exclaimed, hurrying over to the owl which awoke quickly at the sound of her owner near. The boy opened the cage, his owl quickly hopping onto his shoulder and nuzzling into his cheek in greeting.

For the first time since meeting Liam finally saw a glimmer of happiness in Niall. It suited him well.

“Um, that’s your owl, then?”

“Yeah. Had her since I got my acceptance letters. Named after the Lochness Monster, I like legends like that,” Niall explained, petting Nessy as he spoke. “They exist, but only for those who know where to look.”

Liam chuckled at that, just observing the way that Niall interacted with his owl. It was nice to see the boy that had been so shy just ten minutes prior finally start to feel at home a bit. He couldn’t help the feeling of a crush starting to form.

“So I’m going to let you get settled. I’ll come back before dinner to show you the Great Hall?”

Niall lifted his gaze from his owl and nodded slightly, offering Liam a small smile for the first time since meeting.

Fuck. Liam was definitely getting a crush.

******
A few hours passed until it was finally time for dinner. Liam almost felt bad for Niall, his first time in the Great Hall wasn’t going to be spectacular like it normally was on the first day of school. He remembered his own first day with a sad fondness. He was so innocent, so ready to learn everything that he could about the new world before him.

Liam ended up spending the time alone in the common room, wrapped up with a quidditch theory book after changing back into his robes. Since he’d missed practice because of Louis he figured that he might as well study some to make up for it. About half way through his study session Danielle showed up, deciding to lay on the couch with him.

They’d dated his first year, her third, and it’d been rather lovely. Liam was a quidditch star, and Danielle was helping to start the first official Hogwarts dance team to perform at their games. They fell into an easy friendship, and an even easier relationship. It was nice, for those first couple of years. By Liam’s third year they realized that they were better off good friends, but they continued to loyally support one another through everything. It was better like that, being able to have a best friend who was in the same house and was always up for a good cuddle. Danielle had admitted to Liam in his fourth year that she wasn’t really interested in dating anyone again, and he supported her fiercely.

The pair ended up wrapped around each other as the fire roared and students shuffled around, sometimes saying a few brief hellos to them.

“Uh, Liam?” a voice called from the entrance to the boys’ dormitory entrance. Liam’s head shot up from where it was resting in Danielle’s lap.

Niall was standing there, dressed in Gryffindor robes with an unsure look. His tie was a little crooked, and it made Liam’s heart leap. He wished he could go over and fix it, get close enough to the boy to look directly in his eyes. Liam cleared his throat, standing up and straightening his robes as Danielle gave him an amused smirk.

“Sorry, am I interrupting something?”

“No! It’s fine, really. We’re not like… it’s not… Danielle’s asexual!” Liam blurted all at once, not able to make sense of his thoughts at all.

Danielle cackled behind him, sitting up on the couch and waving to Niall. “I’m Danielle, as Liam so eloquently revealed,” she explained, smiling widely as she did. “Even though he acts like he knows everything, I actually do since I’m in my seventh year.”

Liam was glad that he had such an understanding friend, even if she teased him mercilessly.

“Um, okay,” Niall said, laughing softly as he ran a hand through his hair. Liam could tell then that his roots were darker, maybe he dyed it or spelled it that blond color. Either way, it fit him nicely.

“Right. Uh, dinner?”

******
Their walk to the Great Hall wasn’t too eventful, along the way Liam would sometimes stop to introduce Niall briefly to other students. Eventually they made their way to the doors and Liam motioned for the new boy to walk forward.

Danielle rolled her eyes, shifting her weight to one side as she waited. “Liam always does this thing, says it’s an experience to open the doors for the first time,” she explained, her voice a mixture of annoyance and slight amusement.

“It is,” Liam insisted back, giving Niall and encouraging smile. “It’s not spectacular or anything, but it’s something.”

He remembered his own first time, seeing all of the magic around him and being amazed by it all. Everything about Hogwarts fascinated him for months, and even after five years he was sometimes taken aback by it all. Even though Niall had grown up in a magic household he knew that it would be a special moment.

Niall blinked a few times, likely realizing that there was no way to convince Liam that it was pointless. He pushed open the doors then, and as his eyes scanned through the hall Liam was focused entirely on his reaction.

He stood there for a few moments before a small smile formed on his lips and he began to walk inside. The tables were filled with students, all chattering eagerly about tests or homework or relationships. Above them were what looked like thousands of candles, the flames dancing around the image of a starry night sky. It was spectacular, the way everyone moved at once in such an organized chaos.

“Payno!” a boy on the far right yelled, standing up slightly so he could be heard . The boy’s hair was swept to the side and he wasn’t wearing his robes like the majority of the other students. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows, and his Slytherin tie was barely tied together properly.

“Tommo,” Liam replied with a curt nod, keeping the group moving down the center aisle.

“Missed you at practice today,” Louis added, making one of the girls next to him giggle under her breath.

“Yeah, well, I had other things to take care of.” Liam left out the bit that Louis was the reason he had to show Niall around because, honestly in the end it worked out alright.

The group made their way over to the Gryffindor table, students scooting over to make room for the three of them. They all started to grab different foods that they wanted from the platters in front of them, Danielle and Liam mainly going for vegetables and protein while Niall had bread rolls on all sides of his dish.

“Um, sorry about Louis,” Liam finally said after a few minutes of awkward silence, prompted by Danielle poking him in the leg with his fork.

“Huh?” Niall replied, mouth full of bread. “Oh, the guy earlier. Is he your friend?”

Danielle scoffed, ducking her head down as she ate.

“Friend is… a tricky word when it comes to Lou,” Liam said.

“They hated each other for years,” Danielle explained, leaning closer to Niall as if she was telling him secrets. “Both of them are great at quidditch, pretty much stars of the team. But Louis loves to tease, and Liam’s too nice. They got into fights a lot about stupid things.”

“It’s all fine now. We get each other more, though there are times when we clash. Dunno if friends is the right word, but I support him.” Liam said after he cleared his throat.

Niall nodded, picking up another piece of bread and then noticing someone directly behind Liam and Danielle waving to him. The boy had curly hair and bright eyes, next to him sat a blonde girl who giggled and waved, as well. Niall furrowed his eyebrows together before giving a small wave back, which Liam noticed quickly.

“Other… not friends of yours?” Niall asked

Liam turned around, recognition spreading over his face as he gave the pair a wave. “That’s Harry and Perrie, our resident Hufflepuff friends,” he explained, turning back to Niall. He then pointed behind the boy to two other students. One was a girl with glasses who was scanning through a book, hair tied in a high ponytail. The other was a boy with a quiff, doodling on the napkin next to him by using his wand. “That’s Jade and Zayn,” he added.

At the mention of her name Jade’s head popped up suddenly and she smiled brightly to Niall, giving him a wave before leaning to the side to blow a kiss to Perrie. Zayn looked up, too and chuckled, waving and returning to his drawing.

“Jade and Perrie have been dating for a few weeks,” Liam explained, looking over his shoulder to find Perrie blushing a bit before returning to his food.

“So that’s normal? Like… inter-house dating?”

“Yeah, a lot of people do, especially if you have a lot of classes together. Sometimes it’s easier to date in your house, though, since you live right there.”

“Trying to put the moves on your transfer, Payno?”

Suddenly Louis was standing behind Liam, his hands on the boy’s shoulders. “I finished eating, thought I’d come over her and introduce myself for real.”

Next to him were two Slytherin girls holding hands. One of them was also without her robes while the other somehow made the robes still look fashionable.

“I was just explaining that sometimes people from different houses date, but other times it’s a lot easier to stay within your house. As Jesy and Leigh-Anne have demonstrated, being the power couple of Slytherin for two years running.”

Jesy, the one without robes, shrugged nonchalantly while Leigh-Anne kissed her cheek. “We just get along, is all. Doesn’t hurt that we’re also both on the quidditch team.”

“You have a girls quidditch team here?” Niall asked, perking up a bit.

“All of our teams are co-ed. Gender doesn’t affect how well you ride a broom,” Louis replied, reaching onto Liam’s plate to steal one of his biscuits.
“Hey!” Liam exclaimed, reaching to get it back but ultimately giving up.

“Oh! In America they were separated, was kind of shit,” Niall said.

“Well, you should think about joining the Gryffindor team, hopefully maybe kick Liam out of his place,” Louis teased.

“You wish someone would so you don’t have competition,” Danielle retorted, getting up from the bench and following Leigh-Anne and Jesy back to their rooms.

Louis rolled his eyes, resting his knee on the bench so that he could get a little closer. “Why don’t you come by the pitch tomorrow and show us what you’ve got?” he asked, Niall nodding in response.

A moment later Louis, and the majority of the rest of the students, was gone.

“So you’re really going to come to practice?” Liam asked as they made their way back.

“Yeah, maybe,” Niall replied with a small nod. “Never played back at Ilvermorny because I didn’t think it was fair to separate girls and boys.”

Something about his statement seemed like it wasn’t quite the truth. The way that he said it mixed with his gaze being at the ground made Liam wonder what the real reason was. But he didn’t want to push, so instead he gave the boy instructions on how to get to the pitch and said goodnight. Maybe one day he’d try to find out more.

******

It wasn’t until the next day at quidditch practice that Liam started to get suspicious again. Niall had said that his parents had wanted him to leave Ilvermorny, but never gave any other real reasoning to it. Maybe that would make sense for someone who was transferring in the fall, but definitely was not grounds to transfer in the middle of the year.

“Louis, help! Liam’s doing that thing again where he thinks too much,” Harry said, poking the boy’s side with the end of his broom.

The three boys were standing on the edge of the pitch, watching as Jesy and Leigh-Anne showed Niall the ropes of Hogwarts quidditch, which was apparently slightly different rules than Ilvermorny. He was doing fairly well, catching on quick enough that Liam and Louis were impressed. Harry was impressed, as well, but he didn’t really pay attention to the rules that much. He wasn’t on an actual team, but sometimes he’d show up when the pitch was open to all students just to fly around for a few hours. No one really minded.

“Aw, poor Liam’s got a crush on little Nialler,” Louis teased, wrapping his arm around the boy and pulling him out of his thoughts.

“I do not!” Liam protested, though it was the truth. He couldn’t help it, something about the secrets surrounding the transfer student intrigued him, he wanted to find out more.

Harry and Louis exchanged a look of disbelief, but tried not to press him any further on the subject.

“Don’t you just think… something’s up? He comes in in the middle of the year, doesn’t tell us anything?”

“I think you’re reading into things a little too much, Li. Way to go, Niall!” Harry called, clapping enthusiastically as he waved to the boy who gave him a small nod back.

Liam sat down on the bench putting his chin in his hand as he watched Niall and Jesy chase each other, trying to determine who was faster.

“I think… if it’d make you feel better we should do some digging around,” Louis offered, sitting next to Liam and rubbing his back slowly. “How about we… go to the library and do some research?”

“The library?” Harry replied, turning around quickly to face the pair and sit with them. “Can we go today? Say… Four?”

Liam rolled his eyes, knowing exactly why Harry was suggesting the library at that time.

“Let me guess, Zayn will be working then?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Liam. Harry and I just want to help out our good pal.”

“And try to stalk Zayn.”

Louis shrugged, as if the information had no relevance to him when it clearly did.

“Isn’t it weird for you two? Having a crush on the same boy while you’re such close friends?”

“Not really. He’s cute, that’s all that I care about,” Louis replied.

“If he ends up liking one of us then great. If he doesn’t, that’s fine. If he likes both of us, even better Right, Lou?”

Louis nodded in response. “Even I would put up with Harry’s antics for Zayn,” he teased, sticking his tongue out at the boy who leaned over Liam to swat his leg.

“Alright… Time to figure out exactly why Niall’s here,” Liam said, watching as the boy looped in the air a few times and then high fived Leigh-Anne.

******

By half past four Harry, Louis, and Liam were all hard at work in the library trying to find some scrap of information to use. Students all around them were shuffling around, taking books off of the shelves and setting up study areas.

Harry, once he was done chatting with Zayn about their charms class, was the first to get started. He pulled out a notebook, flipping through the books he was searching in and taking very detailed notes. He’d found a few books of interest, mainly autobiographies about wizards who had gone to Ilvermorny. He thought the best approach would be to find out dirt on the school as a whole, possible reasons to wish to leave it.

Louis had decided to take a more historical approach, grabbing two books off of the shelf as soon as they arrived. One from Hogwarts during the time Niall’s parents would have attended, and another that was an overview of all of Ilvermorny history. He hoped to find clues as to why the Horans wouldn’t want Niall to start off his schooling at Hogwarts, maybe they had a horrible time at the school. If that didn’t work he wanted to find some compelling reason to attend Ilvermorny instead, perhaps a program that was prestigious enough to make the boy wish to go to a school in the states.

Liam was possibly the least organized one of the whole group. He wanted to get to the truth, no matter what. So he took out every book in the library that mentioned the Horan name, and he began to scour through them all. He circled things that would of interest later, folded the corners of pages, and made different piles depending on what could be useful later.

A few seats down Jesy and Leigh-Anne were beginning to study for the O.W.L.s, though they were really just whispering to each other and giggling. Ever so often Jade, who worked at the library, would walk over to them and hit them on the head with her wand to keep them quiet. The girls would both apologize, but once she was gone Jesy would make a comment about how she was just jealous Perrie wasn’t there to do the same with. Leigh-Anne would just laugh and tell her girlfriend to focus again.

Liam was happy for them, he really was. But he wished that he could flirt with someone while studying, preferably with Niall once they figured out more about him.

Three hours later and they still didn’t have much information that would be of use. Harry had found that most people liked Ilvermorny, the only really bad things of note was the mountain weather of Massachusetts. There were no scandals or crises like those that had plagued Hogwarts during the war.

Louis found no extreme events that had happened in the time the Horans were at Hogwarts, no untimely deaths or teachers that had been fired suddenly. Everything seemed normal, or as normal as they could be. He hadn’t really found anything that was of note at Ilvermorny, either, they seemed almost identical in program offerings.

Liam was even less successful, almost everything he read about the Horan lineage was simply about their family history. He had learned that they were rather wealthy, mostly working for the Ministry. Perhaps Niall had wanted to get away from that legacy and make a name for himself.

“Hey,” a voice said, all three of their heads popping up from where they were hunched over their books.

There was Zayn, smiling warmly to them all, if not mainly Louis and Harry who were sat besides each other. He had a few books in his arms, and his wand was tucked behind his ear. “Um, just a reminder that the library closes in thirty minutes,” he said.

“Thanks,” Liam replied with a small nod, realizing that the other two were too caught up staring to say anything.

“You’ve been here almost all night… Is there anything I can help you with?”

“We’re looking for information on the new transfer, Niall,” Louis spoke up.

Liam kicked him in the shin under the table, giving him a look of annoyance. They’d discussed not telling anyone else about their plan, but of course Louis went out and told his crush.

“Oh. Alright… Have you checked the public birth records? Not everyone is in there, but it could be possible? We don’t really get many updated versions, either. I think the last year we have now is the year most of us fifth years were born. He might not have been recorded, or he could be a little younger,” Zayn explained.

“That’d be perfect! Can you show us?” Liam asked excitedly, making Jesy glance over to him with a quirked eyebrow. He gave her an apologetic look back before standing up to follow Zayn as he led them through the library.

The four of them weaved between aisles, Zayn in the lead with Liam close behind them. Then Harry and Louis followed, nudging each other the whole time and whispering, probably about Zayn.

When they got to the birth records Zayn hummed, climbing up on a ladder to reach one of the higher shelves. The bookcases were filled with thick books, each with shiny gold lettering that marked what year they were from. They looked like they were rarely touched.

“Oh, here it is!” Zayn said. “Looks like someone put it back in the wrong place, looks like it’s been read recently.”

Zayn climbed back down the ladder, Harry holding onto his arm to help him down at the last couple of steps. They murmured a few acknowledgements before Zayn motioned them over to a nearby table so that they could look at the records.

“It’s listed by birthdate, but we can use a spell to look up Horan,” the Ravenclaw explained, pulling out his wand and whispering something under his breath.

The book started to flip its pages quickly then, a soft glow coming off of it. The four boys took a step back, all startled by the sudden movement.

In a few seconds the book stopped, landing on a page that had the corner turned down. Liam inspected the rest of the edges of the book then, noting that it was the only one marked in such a way.

“Someone else is looking for Niall, too,” Liam murmured, the rest of the boys nodding with him.

“Look, he’s not even on the page!” Harry said, pointing to the spot where the Horans were listed.

Sure enough, there were the names of the couples, with a record showing an unnamed baby girl was born to them.

“Maybe he has an older sister, or a twin and he just wasn’t marked,” Louis suggested.

“Or maybe he’s a little young, I know Perrie’s in our year but was born a year later,” Zayn added.

“Maybe these Horans aren’t even his parents.”

Liam still wasn’t convinced, he knew then more than ever that something was going on with Niall.

Right as he thought that there was a loud thud a few rooms down a squeal in reaction.

“Shit,” Zayn exclaimed, slamming the records book closed and taking a step back. “Sorry, that was probably Jade. Dunno why, some of the books just have a tendency to fall on her head when she’s looking for them,” he explained. In a moment he was gone, leaving the other three behind.

“So we know something is up now,” Liam recapped as they made their way to the library exit.

“Yeah, Niall is definitely-”

“Niall is definitely what?” a voice from behind them asked.

They all turned around to be met with Niall, a book that was almost falling apart held tightly against his chest.

Liam froze, unsure what to do until Louis finally spoke up.

“We were saying you’re definitely going to make it in the quidditch team if you try out.”

“Oh, thanks. I’m thinking about it,” Niall replied, clutching the book a bit tighter and giving them a friendly nod. “Um, I’ll see you around?”

The boys exchanged a few goodbyes, but as Niall was leaving Liam caught a glimpse of the book title. All he could make out was “transfigur”. What was Niall doing with an old book about transfigurations?

******

Liam took a break from the investigation after that night in the library. At least, he took a break from letting his friends help. He decided instead to focus on observing Niall’s behavior from afar.

He was there at every open quidditch open practice, claiming that he was keeping an eye out for potential new members. He left his door open a crack so he could see when Niall came and went. He even bribed the Fat Lady to tell him if Niall came back to the tower late at night, which had happened four times in the two weeks the boy was at school.

Maybe it was a tad creepy, but it was Liam’s responsibility to keep the rest of the Hogwarts students safe. There was definitely something suspicious about Niall, and he was determined to figure it out.

So on a snowy day when Quidditch practice had been canceled Liam decided to visit the Headmistress to try and find out some real information about why Niall transferred so suddenly.

“Headmistress McGonagall?” Liam asked, knocking on the large door that was propped open. It was during her office hours, which meant that any student who needed to talk to her was welcome to visit.

“Ah, Mr. Payne. Come in,” Headmistress McGonagall said, setting down the paper that she had been reading and motioning for the boy to enter.

Liam nodded and closed the door behind him before moving to sit in one of the large chairs in front of the desk. He was always amazed by the Headmistress’ office. There were so many generations of history in that room, books on every wall that held more secrets than he would ever be able to know. There was so much about magic that he had yet to learn, so much he knew that he would never be able to master. But he always tried to know everything, and sometimes acted as though he did. His professors always told him that it was his biggest weakness.

“How is it going with Mr. Horan? Have you showed him everything Hogwarts has to offer?” Headmistress McGonagall sorted through some papers as she spoke, obviously trying to hold the conversation but still accomplish her daily tasks.

“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about,” Liam replied, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “I was hoping that you could tell me more about why he’s here so I could… help him more.” He knew that he probably sounded unsure of himself, and the suspicion was confirmed when the Headmistress set down her papers and focused only on Liam.

“Mr. Payne I’m sure you’re aware that I can not discuss someone’s personal files with another student. If he wishes to disclose that information to you on his own then so be it, but I am not at liberty to share for him.”

“I know, but-” Liam was cut off by a loud hoot from the owl, probably disgruntled about the argument.

“Mr. Payne-”

“He’s dangerous, Headmistress McGonagall! I saw him in the library two weeks ago with an old book on transfiguration, and he isn’t in any of the birth records! What is he hiding?” Liam questioned, standing up because he was so frustrated.

He knew what he was talking about, and he was tired of no one taking him seriously. There was a reason that Niall went to Ilvermorny, a reason that he left in the middle of the year, and a reason that no one wanted to talk about it.

Suddenly the door to the office was opened, and in the doorway stood Niall. “Sorry, am I interrupting something?”

Headmistress McGonagall cleared her throat, standing up and brushing her robes off. “No, not at all. Mr. Payne was just on his way out,” she said, giving the boy a stern look.

“Um, yeah,” Liam said, knowing that he wasn’t welcome anymore. “Thank you for seeing me,” he mumbled, turning to leave. On his way out he tried to fake a smile to Niall, act as if everything was alright. He got a small smile in return.

While Liam was leaving he overheard a bit of the conversation.

“I got the book that you told me to look into. It was very insightful, thank you. Transfig-” Before he could hear anything else the door was slammed shut behind him.

So Headmistress McGonagall was helping Niall and knew about the boy’s secret readings. It only made Liam more determined to find the truth. If the administration wasn’t going to help, he’d just do it himself.

******

That night Liam checked out another book from the library, one about transfigurations. He needed to find out exactly what Niall was looking into, how dangerous it could become. He convinced himself of a story, one where the boy was kicked out of Ilvermorny for getting to wrapped up in spells. Well, the same thing wasn’t going to happen at Hogwarts.

Liam changed out of his robes into a comfortable jumper and some sweatpants, and then made his way into the common room. He had a cup of tea resting next to him that he’d put a little too much sugar in to try and keep himself up the majority of the night. Beside him the fire crackled as students shuffled around the room, but by ten or so it was only him and the howling wind against the window.

Right as he started to get into information on young wizards learning complicated transfiguration spells he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Liam looked up quickly, his gaze falling on Niall.

“Oh, sorry. I was just going to study here for a bit,” the boy explained. “But I can just go back to my-”

“No, it’s okay.”

Niall took a moment before he nodded, curling up on the couch adjacent to Liam’s chair. He’d changed into a onesie that was Gryffindor red, complete with gold stitching that said Horan over the breast. Liam wondered how he got it, maybe it was a gift for getting into the family house.

Liam pulled his legs up to his chest then, trying to hide the spine of the book he was reading. He didn’t want Niall to find out that he was on to him.

“I’m sorry for interrupting you and Headmistress McGonagall earlier today,” Niall finally spoke up after about half an hour of silence. His voice seemed deeper than usual somehow, maybe from lack of sleep.

“Oh. It’s alright, we were just catching up, talking about how the year is going,” Liam lied, nodding a bit to try and sound more convincing.

Niall nodded with him, looking back down at his book. “She seems to like you a lot. At Ilvermorny no one on the faculty really cared for the students, but she seems to.”

Ilvermorny. Maybe Liam could find out information not from a book, but from Niall himself. Get him into talking more to actually find out the facts of it all. He closed the book then, picking up a blanket and putting it over his lap so that the topic was still hidden. He wanted to make it seem like he was fully engaged in the conversation.

“She does care a lot,” Liam agreed, smiling fondly.

He remembered his first year at Hogwarts. He’d been so unsure about everything. He didn’t have any friends going into it, he knew nothing about magic. He didn’t feel like he belonged in the classrooms because everyone knew what was going on except for him. But then he met Louis, who was also muggle-born. They hated each other at first, but it was still nice to see someone succeed that was an outsider. For the first time he felt like maybe he did belong.

“She, um… She convinced me that even though I felt out of place sometimes I wasn’t. I didn’t even know magic existed until I got my acceptance letter. All of this is still new to me,” Liam added, glancing down.

Niall chuckled under his breath, and Liam looked up to notice that he wasn’t holding his book any more, either. “I understand the feeling.”

“Because you transferred?”

“Even before that. At Ilvermorny, all my life,” Niall explained. “I’ve always just felt like… I’m constantly trying to learn ways to fit in. I’m never going to stop having to try.” He took a deep breath, obviously holding back tears.

 

Liam’s heart sank because he wished that he could reach out and hug the boy, let himself feel everything. But deep down he knew it could be dangerous, he couldn’t have feelings for someone like that.

“Is that why you left Ilvermorny?” Liam asked, getting a slow nod from Niall in return.

“Thought it’d be different here. And it is, a bit, but… realized it’s never going to be exactly right.”

“Let me help. If you just tell me exactly why you left I can help you,” Liam said, scooting closer and putting his hand on the boy’s knee to try and comfort him.

Niall shook his head, keeping his gaze locked on the fire in front of him. “I can’t,” he whispered, voice cracking. “I can’t tell you, I don’t want you looking at me differently.”

“I won’t! Look, if you’re in trouble or you’re doing something bad I can fix it.”

“It’s not like that.”

“Then what is it? Just tell me!” Liam begged, his eyes full of desperation.

“No, Liam. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Maybe I would! Just give me a chance, let me-”

“I said no!” Niall exclaimed, standing up suddenly. Tears streamed down his face as he grabbed the book he’d been reading and held it close to his chest.

Liam retracted his hand quickly, seeing that he’d pushed too far. “Look, I’m sorry. Can we just talk?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Just leave me alone,” Niall said with a shake of his head, wiping his face with one hand. He waited a moment longer before turning and running up the stairs to his room. He didn’t look at Liam once.

Liam sat there, frozen for a few moments in shock. The fire still roared beside him, the wind howled, and his tea grew colder, but something in him changed. He realized then that he didn’t just want to find out what was going on to save Hogwarts. He had to save Niall from it, too.
******

“So he just ran out?”

“Yeah, he was crying, and he told me to not talk to him.”

Louis, Harry and Liam were all sat in the Great Hall during what was meant to be a silent study session. Since O.W.L.s were approaching everyone was busy cramming for the tests so they were encouraged to attend study sessions. Technically everyone was supposed to sit at their house tables, but Louis and Harry were sat at the Gryffindor table anyway. They didn’t wear their ties and folded their robes just enough that the crest wasn’t visible. It usually worked long enough for them to hold a conversation before someone noticed.

It was the night after Liam had confronted Niall, and he still felt horrible about all of it. He needed to know the truth, though, and he wasn’t going to give up before he found out the truth.

Liam sighed, slumping over his textbook that he’d barely been able to touch all semester because he was so busy with quidditch and Niall. “I just know that if I could get into his room I could find some clues,”

“Into his room? Isn’t that majorly against the rules?” Harry asked, eyebrows furrowed together.

“Yeah. Think it’s even beyond you to break the rules for a boy, Payno,” Louis replied with a smirk.

Liam nodded glumly because he knew it was true, he was always afraid to make someone mad in fear that they would kick him out of Hogwarts forever or ban him from the Wizarding World. He knew that would never happen, but he still afraid.

He snapped back to the conversation a few moments later, realizing that Harry and Louis got off topic and were instead talking about Zayn.

“He’s just so…”

“I know! And the way he…”

“Yes!”
“Lads!” Liam interrupted, raising an eyebrow. “What if we… did room checks? Made it seem like we were going through everyone’s room randomly.”

Louis gave the boy a dubious look, turning to Harry who shared his concerns. “Li, that sounds kind of dangerous. Especially because there’d be no way to justify only going through Gryffindor.”

“Then say you’re going through Slytherin, too! Say we suspect someone of cheating in the upcoming match and we’re searching rooms to find out.”

“So you’re actually going to search every room?” Harry questioned.

“No, but we can tell Niall we are if he asks,” Liam explained. “Please, Louis? I’ve done so many things for you, please do this one thing for me?”

Louis groaned, rolling his eyes. “You let me cheat off of you one time and now it’s like I owe you my life.”

“Hey! My three favorite Gryffindors,” Zayn said as he sat down at the Ravenclaw table. He laughed a bit, opening his text book. “You know I’m not going to snitch on you, but Professor Cowell is looking over here. Don’t want him to get a grudge and flunk you out of defense against the dark arts.”

Harry and Louis both sat up at that, seeing the Professor Cowell was looking at the group.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered, quickly grabbing his things and moving over to the Hufflepuff table.

Louis took a moment, looking at Liam before getting up, too. “I’ve got your back, Payne. Just be careful.”

With that he was up and moving to the Slytherin table, leaving Liam behind to scribble the details of his plot in his notebook.

******

The next morning Liam put his plan into action. There was another Quidditch open practice going on, and he assumed that Niall would be there like most days. It was the perfect time for him execute the room search, and it was possible that he could pretend it never even happened.
Liam was still dressed in his practice uniform, ready to get onto the pitch once he was done so that Niall would at least see him there and it would cover some of his tracks.

He’s stayed up almost the entire night tossing and turning, trying to convince himself that what he was doing was right. In the end he’d forced himself to get out of bed, to get ready and to go to Niall’s door.

He stood there for a minute, just breathing and telling himself that it would be alright. He heard Niall’s owl hoot a few times, and he cursed under his breath. At least he’d thought ahead enough to bring owl treats with him to calm her down.

Liam took a deep breath and then knocked on the door. What he didn’t expect was for there to be a loud clatter in the room.

“Fuck!” Niall’s muffled voice sounded from behind the door as he shuffled around the room. “Shit, fuck.”

“Niall?” Liam called, his heart racing. “Niall, um it’s Liam. I’m going to come in, I’m doing room checks.”

“Fuck. No! Just wait a second, okay?”

“Niall, I can’t wait. What’s going on?”

“Just wait!”

Liam could tell that Niall was distressed, he could hear that the boy was starting to move things around in the room. If he didn’t get in there soon everything would be hidden and he would have no evidence.

“Niall I’m coming in,” Liam announced, using his wand to spell the door open for him.

He never expected to find the sight that was before him.

The room looked like it was in complete chaos. Nessy was perched on one of the ceiling boards, startled by all of the ruckus. There were clothes everywhere, piles of dirty laundry in the corners of the room. There was even a bra hanging off of a lamp, Liam briefly felt his heart lurch at the idea of Niall having a girl in his room, taking the bra off of her and throwing it. He wondered who she was, when Niall had her over, if it was one time or a regular occurrence.

The sheets of the bed were coming off at one of the corners, most of the pillows were on the floor instead of on the actual bed. There were products all over the dresser, mostly hair products but some face washes or acne creams. Beside it was a razor made for beards, still in the packaging.

But the most shocking part was what was on the bed. There was storage container there, it looked like it had been packed away quickly. In it were alcohol swabs, needles, bottles of clear liquid, syringes, and bandaids.

Standing next to the box was Niall, dressed in a t shirt and sweatpants. One of the legs of the pants was rolled up all the way to his upper thigh, and there was a bandaid pressed against his skin. The boy looked panicked, like he knew that he had just been caught for doing something awful

“Liam-” the boy began before he was cut off.

“You’re doing drugs?” Liam accused, slamming the door to the room behind him. “That’s why you’ve been acting so strange? What is it? Heroin?”

“No, it’s not like that!”

“Then what is it, Niall? Because this looks like drugs!” Liam exclaimed, moving over to the box.

Niall jumped into action then, closing the container and trying to lock it shut. His hands were shaking slightly and he fumbled with the lock a few times, which gave Liam enough time to walk over and grab the box from him.

“Give it back!” Niall shouted, grabbing for the box while Liam held it over their heads. Tears were rushing down his face and he sniffled to try and keep his nose from running.

“No, I’m not going to let you hurt yourself like this!”

“I’m not hurting myse-”

“Yes, you are! Drugs are going to destroy you if you don-”

“They’re not drugs!” Niall insisted, his arms falling to his sides as he took a step back from Liam. He looked exhausted, like he was finally giving up after years of fighting. “They’re not drugs,” he murmured, his voice broken.

“Then what are they?” Liam asked, slowly lowering the box.

“It’s testosterone,” Niall choked out. “I’m trans, Liam.”

******

Liam had imagined how he would feel when he found out Niall’s secret hundreds of times. He imagined feeling relieved, even happy to finally have the mystery that had taken him weeks to solve over with. He never expected to feel so devastated.

Niall’s chest heaved and hobbled backwards until finally meeting the back frame of his bed. Using it he sank down to the floor, knees pulled up to his chest. His face was covered in tears as he tried to hide it behind his hands. The boy who had once seemed so allusive and mysterious was suddenly vulnerable and exposed.

Liam took a moment, trying to gather all of his thoughts together. He slowly set the box down on the bed and made his way over to Niall, taking a seat near him but still far enough away that he wasn’t intruding.

The rest of the sounds of the castle were suddenly all they could hear. Cheers from the quidditch practice outside, laughter from the rooms down the hall. Around them life was moving, but in that room it was as if any small movement would suddenly make everything crumble.

Nessy hooted and then flew down onto Niall’s shoulder. Finally he let out a watery laugh, reaching up to pet her feathers.

“She always knows when I feel bad,” the boy explained quietly, eyes still downcast as he rolled the leg of his sweatpants back down. “Sometimes she brings me a tissue, even. She’s a good girl.”

Liam nodded, staring at the knee of his uniform that was starting to form a hole. “You trained her well, it’s obvious.”

“Thanks.”
“So you used to be a girl?” Liam asked, his voice unsure. He’d never actually met someone who was transgender before, at least not to his knowledge. His parents never talked to him about it, all that he really knew was from movies.

“The proper term is assigned female at birth,” Niall explained, clearing his throat a bit. “I was never a girl, even if people said I was.”

“Right. Um, sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, neither of them very sure what to say or how to start. There was so much Liam wanted to ask, wanted to find out. He just didn’t know how to approach it without making the other uncomfortable. That’s all that he really cared about, making Niall feel safe again.

“What does the testosterone do?” Liam asked finally, looking over at Niall.

“Um, for different people it does different things. I’ve only been on it a few months, so my hormones are still really unbalanced. I only give myself a shot once every week.” Niall gave a small shrug, moving Nessy onto his knees so that he could look at her as he spoke. “For me it’s made my voice drop, it’s given me acne which I really hate. My hair is growing in thicker and I hope I get a beard going soon.”

“You don’t. Shaving your face is awful, mate. You have to do it just right, I end up bleeding half the time.”

Niall laughed at that, giving a small smile. “Yeah, maybe you can teach me how to,” he mumbled, making Liam’s heart flutter.

“Yeah, of course.”

“Cool.”

“Does it change your appetite? You eat almost only bread.”

“Yeah, it has. I crave things a lot more, mainly carbs and sweets. Also affects my mood. I get angrier a lot more now, which is why I yelled at you the other night. I’m sorry, you were just trying to help.”

Niall swallowed thickly, his newly prominent Adam’s apple bobbing slightly. He looked over to Liam and for the first time since they had sat down their gaze met. They were the same boys, but somehow it was like they finally understood each other.

“It’s alright,” Liam whispered, inching a bit closer so that their feet almost touched. “I have some questions, though. Is that okay?”

“Yeah,” Niall replied, giving a small nod as he returned his attention on Nessy.

“Um, so I was kind of investigating you, trying to find out stuff. One because no one really switches schools halfway through the year. But also… I wanted to get to know you and you weren’t letting me. I thought if I knew what was going on more you’d open up.”

Niall stayed silent, but Liam could tell that he was starting to relax a bit more.

“Anyway, uh… that night in the library that I saw you. You had a book on transfigurations? I couldn’t actually see the title, but I saw the first couple of words.”

“Transfigurations? Oh! The headmistress suggested I check out a book, Trans Figures in Wizard History. That must have been what you saw. She thought I could get some inspiration from it since I don’t have any trans friends.”

Suddenly it all made more sense. The book wasn’t about dark magic, it was about having role models. Liam started to understand the rest of that night, too. Niall had been in the birth records book, but under the wrong gender since hospital records weren’t updated by themselves.

“Did you know someone was looking you up in the birth records book?” Liam wondered.

“Yeah, it was me. I was checking to see if it said female and it did, so I was trying to figure out how to change it. Don’t want curious boys snooping around and seeing that.”

Liam was about to apologize, but he saw a playful smirk on Niall’s face so he just smiled with him.

“I’m sorry that I looked for it.”

“It’s okay, you didn’t know.”
They returned to silence then, finding that it was nice to just be together finally without worrying that the other would find their secret. Somehow in those moments Niall ended up with his head on Liam’s shoulder, and Liam returned the gesture by wrapping him up in his arms.

“Why did you leave Ilvermorny?” Liam asked, closing his eyes once Nessy had flown back up to her perch to rest.

“I was being harassed,” Niall answered, his voice a monotone. “When I started going there I tried to hide that I was trans, tried as hard as I could. But for the first eleven years of my life I tried desperately to pretend to be a girl. I had years of behavior engrained in my mind of how I was supposed to act, and suddenly I was in a new school away from my family and learning all new behavior.”

Liam nodded slowly as he listened, unable to imagine what it would have been like.

“I was finally myself, I was using the name I wanted, I could go to the bathroom that I wanted to. But I was constantly teased. Last year it got worse, someone found out that I wore a binder and everyone just… turned on me. Parents complained that I was sleeping with boy roommates and ‘tempting’ them, I was kicked off of the boy’s Quidditch team. I had to leave in order to just be safe.”

Liam bit his lip as he felt a few more tears fall from Niall’s eyes. He knew he would never fully understand what it was like, but he could sympathize with the boy.

“Hey, it’s okay. You’re safe here, I promise. I’ll make sure of it,” Liam whispered, cupping Niall’s cheeks in his hands and wiping away the tears slowly. Niall nodded, his eyes clenched tight as they hugged tightly.

“Thank you.”

“The sorting hat was right, you are incredibly brave.”

******

Spring time was always exciting at Hogwarts. Everyone was frantically trying to study for their O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s, and the house competition was beginning to draw to a close. Students were rushing around campus, studying and getting ready for the summer. But it also meant preparing for months of time without their friends.

As a final get together before exams started their whole friend group decided to meet in the courtyard to destress. It was a sunny day, and birds chirped around them as they lay out in the sun. They all used their robes to sit on in a circle, and most of them had even brought sunglasses.

“Can you believe we’re almost taking our O.W.L.s?” Jesy asked with a sigh.

“I know, like… next year we’re going to be proper taking classes for stuff we care about. We’re going to have to start thinking about jobs,” Harry replied, scrunching up his face a bit.

Jade was laid out with her feet toward the center of the circle, Perrie’s head resting in her lap. She had brought a book so she could try to sneak in some studying, but everyone teased her until she put it down with a huff. The pair had been dating for four months officially, and they were still in the stage where they constantly flirted. Jade was able to tutor Perrie and improve her grades a bit, and in return she was taught hairstyles other than a ponytail.

Next to them were Harry, Zayn and Louis, all of their robes overlapping to make one large sitting area for the three of them. They sat side by side, every so often reaching out to play with the hems of each other’s clothes or their fingers. In late March Louis finally got tired of waiting around for something to happen, and he made a move on Zayn. A few days later they were on a date in Hogsmeade. When Harry found out he was a little disappointed, but he was happy for his friends. That was, until Zayn admitted that he also had feelings for Harry and he suggested they find a way to make it work out. They were only a few weeks into the arrangement, but everyone was happy with how things were happening.

Jesy and Leigh-Anne sat beside them, every so often looking at the new couples and whispering to each other through giggles. Years of dating meant that they made fun of all their other friends, but no one really minded.

Finally Liam and Niall sat together, hands linked tightly until Niall got bored and decided to make a flower crown out of the weeds around them. After the day of his confession, Niall started to open up more to Liam. He’d tell the boy things he was scared to tell other people or ask questions about Hogwarts like where he could buy new tampons.

As promised Liam taught him how to shave once stubble started to grow in. They shared their first kiss then, giggling through the shaving cream that covered both of their faces. The night ended with many more as Liam applied bandaids to the boy’s face where he’d nicked himself.

A few weeks after Niall even came out to the rest of their friends one by one, and they were all very supportive of him. As his hormones started to balance out he became less moody and was finally truly happy to be himself. He was more excited about things, and quickly became the jokester of the group. When he was around everyone ended up laughing.

There were no more secrets between them, they were able to tell the other everything. Liam learned all about Niall’s experiences. Every so often he’d say something a little insensitive, but Niall would be quick to correct him and he’d learn from his mistakes. In return Liam taught Niall about the muggle world, promising that one day they’d visit his home together.

Niall tried spells on himself that he could use instead of using a binder, but they all wore off at the end of the day. When he booked his appointment for top surgery that summer he also wished there was a way to get a more permanent solution by using magic. So he decided to start working closely with Headmistress McGonagall to help create spells for other young wizards like him.

Niall would spend the summer at Hogwarts recovering from the surgery and training with her, while Liam would stay for extra quidditch practice. They were both grateful for the summer program, which was put in place by Harry Potter for other kids who were unable to return home for whatever reason. It meant being able to stay in a safe environment filled with magic and acceptance, and also time to spend as new boyfriends.

“Going to miss you all over the summer,” Jade murmured, pushing up her glasses.

The rest of the friends murmured their agreements and nodded.

“We’re all only a train ride away. Well, except when Z and Lou and I go on holiday,” Harry replied, smiling at the thought of their trip to Australia.

“Yeah, and we’ll FaceTime, don’t worry,” Leigh-Anne added.

“As long as we survive our O.W.L.s we’ll be able to survive the summer. We always do,” Louis noted.

“I’m going to send you all a week by week update on my surgery,” Niall said, smiling brightly as he finished the flower crown and placed it on Liam’s head. The boy murmured his appreciation, kissing Niall’s check lovingly.

“You better,” Zayn replied.

“This has been a good year,” Perrie noted, her eyes closed as Jade started to braid her hair.

Everyone agreed, starting to go around the circle and share their favorite moments of the year.

As Liam listened he reached out to hold Niall’s hand, knowing that he never intended to let it go.

******