I know that I'm the most unreliable author in the history of the world. I'm definitely aware of that. And yet, I continue to let you all down... I'm really, really sorry about the huuuuuuge delay here. That's all I can really say.

So, I still don't own the characters or setting or anything.

And here's chapter 14:

Chapter 14

They all stayed at the castle for holiday break. When Julian got the disappointed yet approving letter from his mum, he jumped up and down screaming. When Derek got the rather detached go-ahead from his parents, he stuck his broomstick (which he'd been polishing) in the air in victory.

Logan watched them both, sulking a little. Why couldn't his dad love him like Julian and Derek's parents loved them? Their letters were signed with 'Love, Mum' or 'Love, Your Parents' or whatever, and what did he get?

Logan – Not only is it allowed and welcome for you to stay at school over Christmas break, but it is highly recommended.

It wasn't even signed. It was like his dad knew that no one else would be sending Logan mail. That hurt his gut and made him feel like throwing up, especially at his friends' loving letters from their loving families.

Logan was torn between feeling like he'd done something wrong, and hating his father.

It snowed Christmas Eve. Julian, Logan, and Derek walked across the grounds, the castle looming above them, talking and laughing about a story Derek was telling about a witch who tried to dye her hair purple but instead dyed her skin purple, and her husband thought she was a monster when he came home from work, and he killed her.

"I don't believe that," Logan said, even as he clutched his stomach, which ached from his laughter.

"I don't think it's funny! She died!" Julian said, chuckling anyway.

"It's true, Logan!" Derek said defensively. "I swear. I read it in – in a magazine."

"Witch Weekly, probably," Logan said sideways to Julian, who erupted into laughter again. It was like someone had put a laughing charm on all of them. All day they'd been giddy: from when they'd been awoken before dawn by Julian falling off his bed and shrieking when he hit the ground; to breakfast, where Professor Longbottom had tripped and fallen on his way to the head table, then got up, cheeks burnt red; to when they were sitting in the library, trying to be quiet and get some of their break work done, but ended up looking at each other and giggling for no reason; to now, mid-afternoon on the grounds.

"I don't read Witch Weekly!" Derek exclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest. He was absolutely indignant.

"Suuuuure ya don't," Julian said, grinning. "We know what you do when you get bored."

"If I read it...it would just be for…the pictures," Derek said lamely.

Logan raised his eyebrows. "Witch Weekly has pictures of guys."

Derek cursed under his breath. "Okay. You guys got me. I'm gay too."

"I knew it!" Julian exclaimed, snapping his fingers.

They all dissolved into laughter once more.

"Okay," Derek said, catching his breath, "seriously. I don't read Witch Weekly. So." Derek stuck his tongue out at his best friends.

"Gotcha." Logan winked at him and Derek rolled his eyes.

"It's almost Christmas." Logan yawned. He was sprawled across one of the couches in the Slytherin common room. They were the only three there; of all the other Slytherins, only four others had stayed on this Christmas, and they were all in their chambers.

"Just a couple more hours," Julian said. He was sitting with his back against the stone wall, right next to the fire, reading a book by firelight.

Derek was conked out in a chair nearby. His mouth was open and he was probably drooling (neither Julian nor Logan wanted to look that close).

"So do you feel really bad about leaving your mom?" Logan asked. He watched the green flames jumping up, receding, licking the air. He did not look at Julian.

"Sort of," Julian said after a moment.

"Will you stay next year?" Logan asked, even more tentatively than before.

Julian closed the book carefully. "Probably," he said. "I think there's a point where…you have to make decisions based on yourself and what you want, and not what your parents want." He looked at Logan meaningfully only to find that Logan refused to return his gaze.

Logan traced a pattern on the dark green velvet of the couch. "I feel like your words are a double-edged sword."

"I would have said double meaning."

"I meant what I said," Logan snapped.

Julian curled back. Okay. "Well. Yeah. I guess they kind of do." Was he ready for this conversation? Every time he tried to help or comfort Logan, he basically got snapped at for awhile until finally Logan conceded and let it happen. He didn't feel like getting snapped at now.

"He hates me, Julian," Logan said quietly.

Julian nodded sympathetically but didn't say anything.

"I didn't do anything. It isn't my fault. And he just hates me. I mean…he's never been particularly fond of me but…he's not supposed to just hate me! He's my dad! Right?" Logan looked at Julian finally. "Right?!"

Julian nodded quickly. "Yes. Yeah. Right. Of course."

"You don't think that," Logan said.

"I do, Lo, I really do. He should love you. He's your dad and he should love you. He should have treated you right from the very beginning, and right now he should accept you. It's terrible that he doesn't. And I'm so, so sorry." Julian said all of this very sincerely, looking at Logan, and Logan, for once, didn't look away. The green flame flickering in his eyes made them even greener.

They stared at each other for a little while, or a long while. Julian broke the gaze first. He stood up and walked over to the couch. He picked up Logan's feet and sat down underneath them, setting them back to rest on his lap. They sat like that for awhile. Logan's legs tingled a little from where they touched Julian's. Julian's legs tingled a little from where they touched Logan's. Both were glad the other couldn't hear their thoughts.

"HAPPY CHRISTMAS!" Julian was jumping up and down on Logan's bed the next morning to wake him up. "IT'S CHRISTMAS AND YOU HAVE PRESENTS!"

Logan sat up, bleary-eyed. "'s too early," he mumbled.

Derek was sitting up in the bed next to him, nodding a little in agreement.

"YOU HAVE PRESENTS TOO DEREK!" Julian exclaimed, jumping off Logan's bed and landing neatly on the floor. "And me! I'm so excited for you guys to open my presents for you!"

"Yeah." Logan rubbed his eyes. "Let's go back to bed."

"It's Christmas morning!"

"In my book, you open presents whenever you happen to get around to it," Logan said, waving a hand dismissively. "Now. Bed." He laid back down.

"Well in MY book, you open presents right now and oh, look what time it is, right now, and look what book we're looking at…MINE!" He pulled Logan's covers off of him, then turned and did the same to Derek.

Derek groaned and cursed and Logan did the same, but they got up anyway and looked at their piles of presents at the ends of their beds.

Julian had three presents (one from his mum and one from Logan and one from Derek), Derek had four (two from his parents and one from Logan and one from Julian), and Logan only had two (from Julian and Derek). Logan pretended not to notice that his father hadn't sent him anything, and Julian and Derek followed suit.

Derek's presents consisted of a new broomkeeping kit and new Quidditch gloves from his parents, a book called Use Your Magic to Impress Muggles! from Julian, and a poster for his favorite Quidditch team from Logan.

Julian got a new book about Harry Potter that was written by 'Hermione Granger with help from Ronald Weasley' from his mum, a box of candy from Derek, and an enchanted globe that contained fake werewolves walking about who, when you poked the glass, would jump up on the glass and growl at you for quite some time (usually until you apologized). This launched Julian and Derek into a ten-minute discussion about Remus Lupin, which Logan only managed to quell by tearing the paper off his present from Derek, ripping it in half, and stuffing one half into Derek's mouth and one half into Julian's.

Logan's presents were a Slytherin hat and scarf from Julian (which Julian admitted after a little while that he'd hand-knit himself ["I GOT BORED THIS SUMMER!"]), and a book about Transfiguration from Derek.

After they opened their presents, they all wandered down to the Great Hall, where they enjoyed their breakfasts, then sat there for awhile talking and arguing and laughing.

That night, as Logan fell asleep in his four-poster with the forest green curtains wrapped around him, he felt completely calm and happy. It had been one of the best Christmases of his life. He hoped he might be lucky enough to have more like that.