Waving her wand over her suitcases, she sent them ahead of her to the train station. Putting her wand away, she wiped her hand over the burgundy robe, taking it off one last time, and hanging it on the hook beside the door. She bit her lip and said a last, silent good-bye to this room and this school. Thankfully, she would not have to face her colleagues for another mushy farewell. Serena stuck out her tongue in distaste as she remembered the party last night. She had never been one to share her feelings freely, and hearing all her colleagues talk about her in front of her face made her feel uncomfortable. She much preferred the whispered secrets behind her back.
She broke the stillness of the room. “Well, time for a new adventure.” She grinned excitedly and prepared to Apparate to the train station, when she heard a knock on the door.
Rolling her eyes and cursing herself for wasting time by wallowing in memories, she opened the door. Before her stood Headmaster Caron, his familiar eyes sparkling with amusement, clearly knowing the annoyance his last-minute visit created.
“Now, Serena,” he clasped his hands together and brought them up to his lips to hide his momentary smile, “you wouldn’t be trying to slip away without saying good-bye to me now, would you?” He cocked his head to the side and eyed the quiet woman in front of him.
She smiled tensely at the Headmaster. It was so hard to look at him, especially at his eyes, after… Shaking her head slightly, she whispered, “Well, actually, yes I was.”
Headmaster Caron laughed slightly. “Well, at least you are finally being honest with me.” He took a few steps towards Serena but stopped when she stiffened and dropped her eyes to the gray marbled floor.
“It’s been five years, Serena,” he began quietly.
“Please, stop,” she warned, tears threatening to spill over.
“I can’t. I should have said this long ago. He was my son and what happened to him was not your fault. I never blamed you and I know that Thomas wouldn’t have as well. I am glad that you are leaving.” Serena snorted quietly, and Caron continued. “It’s time to let your wounds heal: to meet new people, and perhaps one day to fall in love again.”
Serena’s head whipped up and she stared at the Headmaster, astonished. She would have laughed if the tears hadn’t fallen first. How could she ever fall in love again? She didn’t deserve to have any kind of happiness. The Headmaster watched as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
Closing the distance, he placed his hands on her shoulders. Drawing her close, he hugged her. Feeling the tension leave her body, he held her as she sobbed, trying to forget Thomas’ kind blue eyes and the fact that she was responsible for his death.
Once her sobs had subsided, she pulled back and looked Headmaster Caron in the eyes.
“Thank you,” she said, but in her heart, she knew that happiness was not to be hers no matter where she went.
Caron smiled sadly, as if knowing her thoughts. “Give my best to Albus and never underestimate this opportunity.” He started to leave, and then, turned back around.
Pulling a box out of his pocket, he handed it to Serena.
Staring at the box, she was afraid to take it, fearing that she already knew what it contained.
“Wh-wh-what is it?” she stuttered, taking a subconscious step back, distancing herself from the plain black box.
“Something to remember Thomas by,” Caron whispered. “Please take it with you, and keep in mind that you are deeply loved.”
Feeling nauseous, Serena took the box. Looking up, Serena saw that Headmaster Caron was already gone. With shaking hands, she opened the box. Through her tears, she could barely make out the golden moon on a chain. Caressing the smooth surface of the full moon, her mind flashed back to the last time she had seen it.
“Thomas!” Serena yelled, waving at the dark-haired man across the yard. He turned and smiled brightly, causing Serena’s stomach to tighten and her heart to race.
He jogged over and she marveled at the way he moved with such easy grace. Reaching her, he leaned in and tenderly kissed her.
“How is the prettiest Dark Arts teacher this fair morning?” he teased.
Pouting, she mockingly glared at him. “And just how many Dark Arts teachers do you know?”
Thomas laughed. “Only you, my love.” He placed his forehead against hers and whispered, “Only you.”
Taking her arm in his, they strolled across the grounds in a pleasant silence, just happy to be with each other.
Reaching the edge of Lake Crystal, Serena saw a blanket on the ground and a picnic basket off to the side. She smiled and looked sideways at her companion. “And what, pray tell, is this?”
“Well,” Thomas began, helping Serena to sit down on the blanket and pulling the basket closer, “I get hungry in the morning, you get hungry in the morning, I just thought we could satisfy those hungers together.” He grinned wickedly at the blush that spread up Serena’s face and the gasp that squeaked from her throat. Looking at her innocently he asked, “Was it something I said?”
Smirking, Serena looked pointedly at the basket. “So what do you have in there?” she asked, clearly ready to change the subject.
Thomas let the subject drop and opened the basket, taking out three containers. “Well, I brought your favorite.” Opening the first container, Serena saw huge red strawberries that looked as though they had just been picked. Seeing the pleasure in her eyes, he opened the second container. She saw it was full of fluffy whipped cream to dip the strawberries in. Her smile widened as Thomas opened the last container. It was full of her favorite chocolates that could only be purchased in a small Parisian candy store.
“How did you get those?” she asked, her voice breathless.
“Marcus owed me a favor.” Thomas shrugged. “It was worth any trouble to see the happiness in your beautiful green eyes.”
Serena melted and leaned against Thomas. “I love you,” she said softly. Thomas laid his head on top of hers. “I love you too.”
After finishing breakfast, they sat and stared at the rolling waves. Serena turned and watched the breeze blow Thomas’ hair across his cheek. Feeling her stare, he turned towards her, his eyes questioning.
“Do you want to do something tonight?” she asked hopefully.
“I can’t,” he said pulling away, picking up the containers, and packing up the basket. “It’s the full moon and I have a line on a pack of werewolves in the Dark Forest.” He looked at Serena’s face and smiled faintly at the fear that he saw there. Taking her hand in his, he rubbed it, trying to reassure her.
“Don’t worry. I have my protective charm.” Pulling the chain from under his shirt, he revealed the smooth, gold moon on the heavy roped chain.
“I know, my love, but…”
Thomas placed a finger on her lips.
“Trust me, Serena.”
She smiled sadly and nodded, fear robbing her of her voice.
“Now, I may be busy tonight, but tomorrow night is entirely another story.” He gazed directly into her eyes. “There is something very important we need to talk about.”
“Oh, really?” She raised her eyebrows suggestively. “And what would that be, Professor Caron?”
“Well, nosy,” he reached out and tapped her on the nose, “ that is for tomorrow. But I can give you one hint.” He picked up her hand and placed a chaste kiss on the top. “It has to do with the future.”
Serena shook her head, willing the memories to leave her alone.
Dropping the empty box onto the floor, she opened the clasp of the chain with trembling fingers. Placing it around her neck, she tucked it under her blouse, feeling the coolness against her skin. She covered the charm with her hand, wishing it held the protective powers that Thomas had claimed, but knowing for certain that it didn’t.
Not wanting to linger any longer, Serena Apparated to the train station, wishing to leave the past at Andréa’s and wondering what the future would hold at Hogwarts.