|After four years of Lu Han asking to visit his house in Muggle suburbia -- “It would be a fascinating supplement to my classes in Muggle Studies, you know!” -- Minseok is taken a little off-guard when (in the middle of writing their final essay for Astronomy) he instead says, “Minseok, do you have summer plans yet? If not, you should stay over at my place for a while.”
Minseok blinks and stops in the middle of a sentence: The properties of Saturn’s largest moon are manifold, but perhaps none are as important as... “I don’t have plans, no,” he answers slowly.
“So then, come over,” Lu Han replies. He smiles, and Minseok senses something off in the way his face changes, but he can’t quite place what.
“I’ll ask my parents, but there should be no problem with that,” he says.
Lu Han’s smile widens into something more natural. “Great,” he says cheerfully. “Now help me write this essay, I haven’t the slightest idea about what Saturn’s moons do.”
Minseok returns to his own home for a week before heading off to Lu Han’s. It’s a vintage, three-story house in one of the outskirts of London, protected from Muggle eyes by layers of protective charms. He uses the doorknocker (decorated, he notices, in the shape of a deer’s antlers) to tap three times, and Lu Han opens the door not five seconds later. “Good morning!” he says cheerfully, reaching over to help Minseok haul his trunk into the house.
“Were you waiting?” Minseok asks.
“I was bored,” Lu Han replies. “You’re in the guest room across from my bedroom, it’s on the third floor -- that’s okay, right?”
Minseok nods, but by the time they’ve gotten his trunk up two flights of stairs, he begins to reconsider. “Your house is huge,” he mutters as they put it down on the floor, leaning slightly against it to catch his breath.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Lu Han says indifferently. “Too big for just my parents and I to live in, but what can you do about that? It’s not like I can make them move somewhere else. Or make it smaller.”
“By the way, Lu Han, where are your parents? I should say hello to them and thank them for letting me stay over,” he replies, standing back up again.
“They’re working right now,” he answers. There’s a pause, and then Lu Han tugs at his sleeve -- “Come on, let’s go out! We can take the Underground to downtown London and hang out. Have I ever told you, there’s a Wizarding part of Chinatown there? They’ve got these elemental lizards, and magical firecrackers and -- well, you know, not to say Honeydukes is bad by any means, but there a candy shop there that’d put it to shame.”
“Okay, okay,” Minseok says, smiling haplessly as Lu Han pulls them both back down the stairs and out the door.
They get back late in the evening after having stuffed themselves with street food and played with fire-breathing lizards until their fingers blistered and ached. “You’re getting better at using Muggle money,” Minseok says as he watches Lu Han navigate through the subways. “And also not openly gaping over Muggle technology.”
Lu Han winks, and Minseok notices the girl sitting next to him blush a little. “I’ve been practicing,” he replies.
“Anyway... you’re sure your parents won’t mind us staying out so late?” Minseok asks.
“Nah, it’s alright, they’re out on a business trip or something -- they travel a lot between London and Asia. But they should be back next week for a few days.” There’s a pause, and then Lu Han says, “Let’s go somewhere in Muggle London next time. Take me to a shopping mall or something, I want to see the apartment stores.”
“Department,” Minseok corrects. “I don’t really know a lot about Muggle shopping malls, to be honest. It was never really my thing.”
Lu Han gives him a look of exaggerated shock. “But that’s what I invited you over for!” he says. Then he grins: “Just kidding, of course. Then we’ll both learn more about them, I guess.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Minseok replies, just as the subway doors open at their stop. To get from the subway station back to Lu Han’s house, they have to take a bus and then walk a few blocks, but they barely notice the distance.
The next morning, Minseok wakes up long before Lu Han does, and walks around the house room by room. He’d always known in the back of his head that Lu Han came from an ancient family, but Lu Han had never really talked about it -- he’d only found out through Yifan that Lu Han’s father is a descendant of one of China’s most powerful lines (“My family’s rivals, actually,” Yifan had said, wrinkling his nose slightly, “but that stuff’s ancient history, neither of us take it seriously,”) and an through off-hand mention from Ernie Macmillan that his mother is related to the Black family through marriage. When he sees the family crest and tree on the wall of the sitting room, though, he remembers it all very vividly. “Looking a bit unsettled there, boy,” says a kindly-looking woman in a portrait nearby. “I assure you, there’s no reason to be. It’s early, isn’t it? I’d suggest you get a good, hearty breakfast in your stomach.”
“I’ll go do that, then,” he replies, smiling up at the painting. There’s a pause, and then he asks, “Just wondering, but... are there many magical artifacts in this house?”
She thinks about it for a few moments. “We’ve our fair share, although compared to other Wizarding families it might not seem like much. Perhaps the most notable one would be the house itself, though. There are some unique enchantments placed upon it.”
“The house itself,” Minseok echoes. “Thank you, I’ll keep it in mind.”
The woman offers him a smile -- from the angle she’s sitting at, something in her face when she smiles reminds him of Lu Han.
After Lu Han drags himself out of bed and they eat breakfast, Minseok says, “I was talking to one of the portraits earlier, she said that your house is special.”
Lu Han shrugs. “Guess so,” he replies. “My mother once told me it’s because our family used both Eastern and Western enchantments on it. Different styles mixing, or something like that.”
“Can I look at them sometime?” Minseok asks.
“Sure, knock yourself out,” Lu Han answers. “But don’t forget you promised me Muggle shopping, alright?”
Minseok laughs. “I’d never.”
Just then, an owl swoops through the kitchen window and drops a letter by Lu Han’s side before perching itself on one of the empty seats. “Oh, shit,” Lu Han says, fumbling with the seal.
“Who’s it from?” Minseok asks, peering over.
Lu Han tears it open and skims it over. The way he holds it blocks it from Minseok’s view, and he’s not sure whether that’s on purpose or not. “My parents,” he answers. “They wanted to let me know that they’re coming back early. Tomorrow, probably.”
“Well, that’s good, isn’t it? You’ll get to see them more,” Minseok says. “That reminds me, my parents gave me something to give to them, you know, as thanks for letting me stay over. It’s Muggle stuff, though.”
He expects Lu Han’s eyes to light up with delight, but instead he seems to slump in his seat. “They won’t want it,” he mutters. “They’re practical to a fault, they don’t like gifts.”
Minseok blinks a few times. “Okay,” he says. “Should I give it to you instead, then?”
Lu Han gives him a half-smile which fades away all too quickly. He hesitates for a moment before he speaks again, and when he does, he doesn’t quite meet Minseok’s eyes. “Can you do something for me without asking why I want you to do it?” he says.
“Within reason, I guess,” Minseok replies carefully. “What is it?”
“Don’t tell my parents that you’re Muggle-born,” Lu Han says.
Minseok has to catch himself before he asks why? -- instead, he presses his lips together and nods. An uncomfortable silence falls between them, and Minseok doesn’t know what he could possibly say to break it.
Finally, though, Lu Han gets up and turns around. “Sorry,” he says. “I have to write them back as soon as I can, they asked me to. I’ll show you around later, okay?”
“Okay,” Minseok echoes, but Lu Han’s gone before he can even finish saying it.
Lu Han is the spitting image of his mother, Minseok thinks, even down to their posture: they both sit high-backed, shoulders hunched in a tiny bit, and it feels almost like they’re facing off with each other. “It’s very nice to have you, Minseok,” she says, smiling at him. “I’ve heard that you’re a very good friend to Lu Han. Thank you for staying by his side.”
“I should be thanking you, for letting me stay over,” Minseok replies, watching as Lu Han’s mother makes them cups of tea.
“Not at all. Minseok, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? Lu Han doesn’t say much about you, besides how much he enjoys your company,” she says. “What do your parents do?”
Lu Han, though, cuts in before Minseok even begins to think about making something up. “I haven’t told you about what a great student Minseok is, have I? His grades are amazing, he’s at the top of our year in Defense Against the Dark Arts and in Arithmancy,” he says, moving his cup away before his mother can pour a bit of milk in.
If his mother is taken aback at his outburst, she doesn’t show it. “Arithmancy? That’s quite the difficult subject. Are you, perhaps, aiming to work at Gringotts?” she asks.
“No, I’m not sure what I want to do yet,” he answers slowly.
“But he’ll be fantastic at whatever he does,” Lu Han asserts, “he’s a good student all-around.”
His mother smiles. “If only it could wear off on you,” she says. “Minseok, I’d appreciate it if you could help him as much as you can. Lu Han could do with the positive influence.”
“Lu Han is a good student too, he hardly needs my help,” Minseok cuts in, feeling a bit awkward for interrupting what feels like a family argument.
“I’m aware of what kind of student Lu Han is, and I hesitate to agree,” she replies. “Have you considered Curse-Breaking, Minseok? There are so few qualified Curse-Breakers nowadays, you’d be paid well for your work.”
“He said that doesn’t know what he wants to do yet, mother,” Lu Han says. Minseok’s always known Lu Han to be self-assured, not the type to react when somebody’s baiting him. Seeing him so upfront is strange -- but Minseok knows why, and it makes him wish he could reach out and touch his shoulder, tell him you don’t have to go so far, Lu Han.
Silence follows. Lu Han’s mother takes a long sip of tea before putting the cup down, ending the quiet with the sound of porcelain against porcelain. “Your father couldn’t make it, and I have to leave tomorrow morning,” she says. “Lu Han, please be sure to treat your guest well. I have work to do, so I’ll be in the study. Please call me when you’re ready for dinner, and I’ll begin preparations for it.”
“Thank you,” Minseok replies, reaching to grab Lu Han’s hand and pulling him out of the room as fast as he can.
They sit in Lu Han’s room, and Minseok waits until Lu Han is ready to talk. He stares around the room, looking at Lu Han’s things -- the miniature broomstick that flies around, the posters of idol groups and Quidditch teams mixed with each other. His bookshelf is filled with a mix of Muggle books and Wizarding ones, including everything from A History of Magic to Batman comics to a flying handbook to what looks suspiciously like Wuthering Heights. He almost wants to ask about it, but before he can work up the nerve to break the silence, Lu Han says, “I’m sorry. About that, from before.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Minseok replies quickly. “You’ve probably got your reasons, right?”
“Yeah,” Lu Han says, before sighing.
Minseok inches a little closer. “Do you wanna talk about it?” he asks.
“About the part where I warned you not to say you’re Muggle-born? Or the part where my mother just openly looked down on me in front of somebody she knows is my friend,” Lu Han says, rather cynically. There’s a pause, and then he adds, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“I know you didn’t. And about whatever you want to talk about -- you don’t owe me any explanations, you know? Just... if it’ll make you feel better,” Minseok replies softly.
For a few moments, he watches as Lu Han stares out the window, glassy-eyed. Then, without warning, he starts talking: “In the East, people think of Muggle-born wizards differently than here,” Lu Han explains, voice flat. “It seems better on the surface, I guess, but I don’t think it is. To enter Wizarding school, you have to pass an aptitude test, and everybody is ranked based on that. If your rank is bad, the quality of your education will also be lower, because they think you won’t be worth decent teachers. But if you’re Muggle-born, then nobody will help you prepare for the tests in the first place.”
“And then it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle,” Minseok says, filling in where Lu Han trails off.
“Basically. So people just start to believe that anything that comes of Muggles is a waste of energy... and that’s why my parents don’t understand why I, you know, like Muggle Studies and all that,” he murmurs. He sighs and rests his head on Minseok’s shoulder -- “They think it’s a waste of time.”
Minseok puts his arm around Lu Han, rubbing circles into his back. “Your mother doesn’t seem like a bad person, you know,” he replies carefully. “Decent people can believe in the wrong things, too.”
“Yeah. But it’s hard when they’re your parents,” Lu Han mutters.
He doesn’t have a response to that, so they sit together quietly, leaned against each other. It’s comfortable, he thinks. Lu Han is comfortable.
The next day, Lu Han’s mother leaves, and Lu Han perks up considerably. “Muggle shopping,” he insists, nearly pushing Minseok out the door after they’ve finished eating breakfast. He can tell Lu Han is forcing himself a little, but decides not to mention it -- after all, if there’s anything that’d cheer Lu Han up, it’d be a trip into Muggle London.
As they get off the subway and start walking towards the mall, Lu Han starts worrying about whether he has enough Muggle money -- “Don’t worry about it,” Minseok reassures him. “My parents gave me one of their credit cards, I’ve got it covered.”
“A credit card! Let me see,” Lu Han says, holding his hand out expectantly. “I’ve read about the theory. Magnetic strips and all that, it’s amazing.”
He hands it over. “Careful to not let anybody see the numbers, though, I don’t want my parents to become victims of identity theft or something,” he says, watching as Lu Han examines the card carefully.
“I don’t get it,” Lu Han says, passing it back a few minutes later.
Minseok smiles. “Yeah, neither do I.”
Just then, the mall comes into view, and Lu Han stops to stare for a few moments. “Wow, it’s bigger than I thought it’d be,” he says, looking almost childishly delighted. “It looks so different from Wizarding London, can you believe they’re in the same city?”
A few people glare at them for stopping in the middle of a crowd; Minseok smiles apologetically and pulls Lu Han forward. “Come on, I’ll treat you to Starbucks, so hurry up,” he says.
“What’s a Starbucks?” Lu Han asks, letting Minseok drag him ahead. Minseok just smiles and walks even faster.
On the way back, Lu Han exalts their trip so reverently that Minseok’s pretty sure that the other people in the subway car are backing away from them slowly. “Amazing, I can’t believe Muggles manage to fit so many things into such a small space without magic,” he says happily. “And the electronics store! I’ll have to save up and see if I can buy one of those eye-cellular-phones someday.”
“Just iPhone,” Minseok corrects. “I’ll get you one for your birthday, if you really want one.”
Lu Han lifts up the bags he’s holding. “Because you didn’t get me enough stuff today?” he asks.
“Birthdays are different, okay! Besides, you’re the one always treating me when we go into Hogsmeade,” Minseok retorts.
“I’ll have enough material for at least four Muggle Appreciation meetings,” Lu Han says. “I can do one on apa -- department stores and another on credit cards. And definitely one on Starbucks.”
Minseok smiles. “So you had fun, then?”
“Loads of fun,” Lu Han answers, grinning.
His parents, he knows, are definitely going to ask him what exactly he spent so much money on when he gets back home. But seeing Lu Han so cheerful -- it’s worth it, Minseok thinks.
The next day, Lu Han brings Minseok to the basement of the house. “Sorry, it’s filthy,” he says, wincing slightly at the dust clouds being thrown up at their feet. “We don’t come down here very often. And ever since our house-elf passed away, we just... didn’t really bother with cleaning the place, I guess.”
“It’s alright,” Minseok replies, even as he narrowly avoids walking face-first into a cobweb.
“Anyway, most of the protective charms on the house are rooted here, in the center of the base. I think there’s a few more on the doors and windows, and maybe some on the fireplace. But I guess you’d have to ask my parents about it, to be sure.” He pauses, and then smiles ruefully. “Sorry, I’m not going to be much use to you here, I don’t anything about these enchantments work.”
“No problem, I just wanted to look at them anyway,” he says. “My parents are architects, so I guess the curiosity comes from them.”
“Archi-whats?” Lu Han asks blankly.
“Architects. They design and help construct houses and buildings, that kind of stuff,” Minseok explains.
The concept of having to design to build, he knows, is a bit foreign to Lu Han, so he can’t blame Lu Han for just shrugging in reply. Living in Hogwarts, it almost feels half-foreign to him, too -- he’s almost begun to take it for granted that he can wave his wand and make things arrange themselves the way he wants it to. He dwells on the thought as he walks, and he almost bumps into Lu Han without noticing he’d stopped.
“Here it is,” Lu Han says, pointing to one of the pillars. In the dimness, the symbols etched onto the stone glow a gentle blue -- runes, Minseok knows, to strengthen the power of the charms cast upon it.
The first thing that Minseok realizes is that the spells cast upon it are still far above his level of comprehension: the enchantments wrap around each other, combining and changing the higher up they go. There are some fundamentally unfamiliar charms, too -- ones, he assume, that are from the Eastern school of magic. He’s skilled enough to interpret them and understand what they do, but not yet enough that he understands why they work.
“Oh, I kind of recognize this bit here” Lu Han says, jerking Minseok out of his quiet reverence. “It looks a bit like a Chinese character, it means ‘to hide’.”
“This is really something,” Minseok murmurs. He almost wants to touch the pillar, as if getting physically closer to it would help him comprehend -- but he knows that it’ll just repel him away.
“Most Wizarding houses have something like this, but yeah, ours is a bit unique --” Lu Han cuts off suddenly to sneezes a few times, rubbing at his nose slightly before looking back up. “Sorry, the dust is too thick,” he says apologetically.
“Let’s go back upstairs,” he replies, even though he wants to stay. “I’ll come back and look at it more another time.”
Minseok has always taken for granted that his parents would accept anything that he wanted to do -- they’d be happiest, he knows, if he’d inherit the family business and go into architecture, but after receiving the Hogwarts letter five years ago, they’d had plenty of time to readjust their expectations. Wizards and witches don’t need to get a driver’s license when they can learn how to Apparate instead. They worry about garden gnomes infesting the backyard, not moles. “It’d be fine if you don’t want to follow in our footsteps,” his father had said during Easter break of his fourth year, clasping a hand over his shoulder solemnly. “We’ll be happy as long as you’re happy.”
Arithmancy lessons makes Minseok happy: numerology appeals to him as a cross between numbers (something even Muggles can understand) and the magical (purely Wizarding fare). Doodling designs of half-impossible buildings in the margins of his notes makes Minseok happy. Flying on a broomstick and feeling the wind in his face makes Minseok happy. Going home during the holidays and watching his mother cook the old-fashioned way makes him inexplicably happy. Lu Han, as well, makes Minseok happy.
About a week and a half into his stay, their O.W.L. results are sent out. Minseok gets Outstanding in Charms, Arithmancy, and Defense Against the Dark Arts and Exceeds Expectations in everything else. “How’d you do, Lu Han?” he asks.
Lu Han shows him the paper: O’s in Muggle Studies and D.A.D.A.; E’s in Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Potions. Acceptable for everything else. Minseok knows Lu Han should be proud, because he’d struggled and fought for those grades, but when he looks over, Lu Han looks almost ashamed. Minseok wishes he could tell him good job, you deserved it, but he knows that it wouldn’t make Lu Han feel better: it’s not Minseok’s approval he craves, after all. So instead, he opens his arms and pulls Lu Han in for a hug -- half as congratulations, half in consolation.
Being rejected for being Muggle-born, Minseok thinks, is something that becomes easier to stand when one realizes the people who reject him are people he wouldn’t have cared about in the first place. Lu Han, strangely enough, is not so lucky as he is when it comes to acceptance.
The next day, they stay in. Outside, the rain pours, and neither of them want to go out and get soaked, so they settle down in Lu Han’s room with glasses of sparkling cider and start up a game of Wizarding chess. “Maybe I’ll try to become an Auror,” Lu Han says idly as he prods a bishop forward.
“Yeah? You’d be good at it, you’ve got the aptitude for it. And the grades.” Minseok moves his knight forward, and it promptly smashes one of Lu Han’s pawns into the chessboard.
“You think?” Lu Han asks, biting his lip slightly as he contemplates his next move.
Minseok nods. “Brave and true, like a proper Gryffindor. But you’re level-headed most of the time, which is more than I can say about most other Gryffindors,” he says, half-teasing.
“Can’t deny that,” Lu Han replies, smirking slightly. He finally settles on moving his queen. She bashes the knight into tiny pieces. “You’d be a good one too, though.”
He doesn’t even have to think before taking his turn: he’d been counting on Lu Han using his queen away from the center, and promptly traps Lu Han’s king on the other end. “I’m not so sure about that,” he says. “And check.”
“How am I supposed to think I can manage it if you don’t think you’d be good at it?” Lu Han asks. He puffs his cheeks out and stares at the board intently -- Minseok can almost see the gears in his brain turning.
“Aurors have to have a certain mindset about their work, you know? I’m not sure if I can put myself in it,” Minseok answers.
Lu Han picks up his bishop again, moving it back to protect his king. “We have to pick what classes we want to take N.E.W.T.s in this year, you know. It’ll be hard if you haven’t made up your mind on what you want to do yet,” he says.
“I know,” Minseok replies, knocking out Lu Han’s bishop. “Check. Checkmate?”
Lu Han stares at the board intently for a few moments, but eventually slumps back and sighs. “Yeah, that’s checkmate,” he echoes. “Jeez, Minseok, this is why I say you should be an Auror.”
“Being able to win a game of chess probably doesn’t correlate to being a good Auror,” Minseok points out.
“I was just thinking,” Lu Han says, closing his eyes and letting himself half-fall onto his bed, “that if I did become an Auror, I’d want you with me, covering my back. Who else could I want there?”
“Personally, I’d go with Yifan. He’s really big, so he’d be a good shield,” Minseok suggests.
Lu Han laughs. “Come on, Minseok, you know what I mean. It has to be somebody I trust a lot.”
Minseok sighs, watching as the broken chess pieces begin to reform themselves. There are some things in your life that I might not be able to support you through, Lu Han, and there’s nobody that fact makes more sad than me, he wants to tell him. Instead, he says, “I’ll think about it.”
Some mornings, when Minseok wakes up before Lu Han, he goes down to the basement by himself and looks at pillar. The spellwork on it is truly alive, he thinks -- it adapts and changes. And when he sits for long enough, he can almost sense something like a heartbeat in it, pulsing gently as the enchantments wrap their way up the pillars and into the very structure of the house. The charms on the front entrance and windows are less complex and more utilitarian, but Minseok finds them fascinating, too.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time downstairs,” Lu Han tells him over breakfast. “Is it really that interesting?”
“Yeah,” Minseok replies. “This is the only Wizarding house I’ve ever been in, after all, and it’s not like I have much of a chance to look at Hogwarts’s protective spells.”
Lu Han chews on a slice of buttered toast thoughtfully. “So this is what you mean when you try and tell me it’s all about context and perspective, huh?”
“Pretty much, yeah. I don’t think I’m quite as intense as you are when it comes to Muggle stuff, though,” Minseok teases.
“Of course not,” Lu Han replies, sticking his chest out. “I’m proud of it, you know!”
Minseok smiles. “Good. That’s what I like to hear,” he says.
His last ten days at Lu Han’s house pass by in a flurry. They go into Wizarding London twice, once to Diagon Alley (where they bump into Zitao and Jongdae in front of Florian Fortenscue’s Ice Cream Parlour and stop to split a large scoop of red velvet and vanilla garnished with chocolate sauce as they catch up with each other) and once to Chinatown again. Lu Han forces onto him several concoctions to give to his parents, which he insists are “traditional Wizarding remedies from China, guaranteed to resolve any aches or pains!” that smell foul, and far too many boxes of sweets and snacks. “My parents could barely handle Honeydukes’s Ice Mice, I don’t know how they’ll react to these,” Minseok comments.
“By saying, oh, you should thank your nice friend Lu Han for these super awesome candies, what a lovely friend, you'd best treat him right?” Lu Han suggests.
“I was more wondering how to prevent them from having minor panic attacks when they open the boxes,” he replies, and Lu Han laughs.
The other times, though, they visit parts of London that Minseok knows through travel shows and television dramas. “I’m not sure how I feel about this Eye, Minseok,” Lu Han says, giving London’s famous riverside Ferris wheel an unsure look. “Are you absolutely certain that this is safe?”
“You aren’t scared of heights, are you?” Minseok asks, mostly teasing. "Or... it couldn’t be that you’re feeling skeptical of Muggle technology, are you?”
“It’s not that,” Lu Han insists, but when their car reaches the peak of the ride, Lu Han grips onto Minseok’s hand tight and says, “I’m not scared, but don’t let go.”
His hand starts to lose feeling a little, but even still, Minseok thinks to himself that he wouldn’t trade the moment for the world.
The last day, though, they don’t go anywhere. Lu Han helps Minseok pack his trunk, and they spend the rest of the morning unusually quietly. It’s not until after lunch that Lu Han says, “Minseok, I’m glad you came.”
Saying something like I’m glad you invited me sounds almost trite, Minseok thinks. So instead he says, “Next summer, you should come over to my house.”
When Lu Han smiles, it’s the kind of smile that makes the entire face change: the corners of his eyes crinkle, his cheeks dimple, and his eyes light up. “I’d like that,” he says. “I’d like that a lot.”
Soon, they’ll start their sixth years at Hogwarts. Minseok will start reading into Hogwarts’s considerable collection of books on protective spells, and begin to remember a childhood dream of helping people find a place they can call home -- somewhere warm, somewhere safe, somewhere comfortable. The Triwizard Tournament will happen. Lu Han will accept a date to the Yule Ball, but somehow end up spending most of the evening freezing cold, walking half-tipsy alongside the lakeshore with Minseok by his side. At the end of the year, Harry Potter will declare that Voldemort has returned, but Lu Han comes over to his house for the summer and they almost forget about it as they pass the time in suburban England.
Their seventh years will be frantic and hectic, as both of them struggle to cram as much knowledge into their heads as possible before graduating. Lu Han applies for Auror training, and Minseok works on studying Muggle architecture while they both prepare for their N.E.W.T.s -- both will pass with flying colors, but the victory will be short-lasted as the Wizarding community begins preparing for the worst. Lu Han will begin his training with fourteen other wizards and witches and leave it with four. Minseok will not go into hiding as Muggle-borns are persecuted and become an unsung hero to scores of Muggles, protecting entire neighborhoods with charms and enchantments. They won’t meet each other, but they will still be best friends.
Almost two years after graduating, Lu Han will take part in the Battle of Hogwarts. A few months later, Minseok will return to salvage and rebuild what’s left afterwards.
The first time they kiss will be in five years, when they finally meet again. “Everything and nothing has changed,” Lu Han will say. Minseok won’t know if he’s talking about Hogwarts or about them, but he understands and that’s all that matters.
(All of those five years will be necessary leading up to the first time they kiss. But when they look back, so many lines will cross here.)
Minseok spends the last few moments of his stay in the sitting room, waiting for his parents to come pick him up. “You know, I’ve always wanted to ask about this, but I kept on forgetting,” he says, gesturing to the family crest and tree on the wall.
“About my illustrious family, or why our crest features so prominently a pair of deer antlers? In a nutshell, my family is an absurdly complicated inter-continental mess, and the antlers are there because our name means deer.” A beat or two passes before Lu Han admits, “I don’t really like looking at it much, actually. It makes me feel like there’s -- I don’t know -- baggage. Familial baggage.”
Minseok reaches over and touches his shoulder gently. “You know... where we come from is important,” he replies. “But I don’t think that it’s as important as where we go.”
There’s a pause before Lu Han cracks a smile. “Anybody who makes fun of Hufflepuffs, I swear. They’d start to regret it immediately after talking to you.”
“You’ve never made a Hufflepuff crack in your entire life? Really?” Minseok teases.
Lu Han makes a face, and they both laugh. When they’ve managed to settle back down, Lu Han smiles and says, “You’ll go far, Minseok. For sure.”
“We both will,” Minseok replies. The future, to them, is still unknown -- but that much he believes must be true.
- - -
focus: Xiumin, Lu Han - implied Xiuhan
summary: (Harry Potter AU) Pureblood Lu Han invites his Muggleborn best friend Minseok to his house for the summer, and both of them discover that their futures are connected to their pasts in ways that they never expected.
notes: written for exomeme’s Hunger Games. this fic was written as a prequel to these two fics, both of which are excellent and which I would highly recommend but are not necessary to understanding this fic!