Rounding a corner, he looked up slowly and stopped. Glaring, he saw Thomas sitting at one of the large tables reading a book, one hand holding a quill, the other propping up his head. Eyes narrowing, he wondered why the wolf was in the library instead of with Serena. He smirked thinking that maybe she had told the fleabag to go back to the mountains where he belonged. Why else would he be alone?
Walking assuredly toward the table, he stopped and asked silkily, “Are you getting a lot of research done?”
Thomas looked up, his blue eyes filled with intense hatred. “Actually, I am. There is so much written about the Wolfsbane Potion. I wish I had heard of it before now. Things would definitely be different.” He smiled slyly, leaving no doubt in Severus’ mind to what he was referring.
“Perhaps, but there is no guarantee that the potion could change things so dramatically.” His voice wavered slightly and he silently cursed the emotions that were making him appear weak.
“I wouldn’t be so sure, Professor Snape.” His eyes became icy and a slow smile crept up his face. “In fact, I want you to be the first to know.”
Snape’s stomach dropped. “Know what?” he asked frostily, thankful that his voice didn’t give away the sudden dread he was feeling.
Thomas dropped the quill on the table and leaned back. He folded his arms across his chest, the self-satisfied grin still on his face. “I am sure that you are aware that Serena and I met this morning.”
Severus merely stared at him and nodded tersely.
Thomas smirked. “Well, let’s just say that she won’t be a teacher at Hogwarts much longer.” Placing his hands on the table, he leaned forward, dropping his voice to whisper. “Soon, she will join me in France as my wife. She’s packing her things even as we speak.”
Severus stared at the table, incapable of saying anything. He felt as though someone were squeezing the air out of him and he was unable to catch his breath. Thomas looked at him in mock sympathy and clicked his tongue.
“Now, now, Professor. Don’t look so shocked. I told you that she would always belong to me. Did you really think that she would choose you over me? She has loved me since we were students. How long has she even known you? Six months? In her mind, there was never a choice.”
Severus looked up and glared at him. “It’s not that I don’t believe you, Mr. Caron, but you do have a history of hiding the truth. So, until I hear those words from Serena’s lips, you can rot in hell for all I care,” he said softly, his voice dripping with venom.
Thomas smiled contemptuously. “Suit yourself, Professor. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He picked up the quill and turned his attention back to the book he had been reading. Snape just stared at him, hating the self-assuredness of the man in front of him. Stalking out of the library, he made his way towards Serena’s chambers, hoping that Thomas was, as usual, not telling the whole truth.
Serena paced the length of her room. She had escaped the library as quickly as possible after Thomas had asked her to marry him, claiming that she had to have time to think about it. She bit her lip and covered her eyes, groaning as bits and pieces of her encounter with him echoed in her mind.
His blue eyes shining with love. His lips saying her name. The memory of the way he smelled and the way he felt in her arms. She shook her head trying to get rid of the traitorous thoughts. Glancing around the room, she looked for anything that would distract her from him. Her eyes fell on the book she had been reading the last few days, her stomach lurching as she reread the title. The Dark Creature’s Role in Society. Feeling a sudden unexplained anger, she grabbed the book off the table and threw it across the room. It hit the wall and fell with a loud thud to the floor. Strangely, the violent gesture eased the conflict in her mind. Throwing herself in a chair, she hooked her legs over the arm and laid her head against the back of the chair.
“It was an accident”
“Complacent in my knowledge of werewolves”
There was something that was bothering her about what Thomas had said and she couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Now that she was no longer in shock, she was replaying the conversation over and over trying to understand the strange feeling she was having.
“I put both of us in a dangerous situation, and I paid the ultimate price.”
She sat up, her eyes widening. That’s what had been bothering her. What exactly had he meant about putting them both in a dangerous situation? She leaned forward and put her head in her hands.
Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths, pushing all thoughts from her mind except that night. As the images began to clear, she stood at the edge of her psyche like an outsider observing the memories of a stranger. She saw herself kiss Thomas good-bye as he left for the Dark Forest. She carefully watched herself return to her room to do some research for the next day’s lesson, only to remember that she had left her book in his chambers. Following her past self, she entered his rooms and saw the moon charm in the middle of the bed. Serena bit her lip as she watched her past self pick up the charm in a complete panic. That memory had always disturbed her, and seeing it happen again, only brought up more questions. Thomas would never have left without it. It was a protective charm, one that she insisted he wear whenever he went into the forest. What had made that night different? Serena tried to keep up with her past self as she ran though the forest to the clearing where she knew he would be, the golden moon clutched tightly in her hand. She watched herself find Thomas and give him the charm. She carefully observed the anger on his face as he gazed at the charm, but there was something else. Not just anger, there was also a flash of annoyance.
Her eyes flew open and she started to breathe heavily. Standing, she started to pace the length of the room again, her thoughts tumbling over each other.
Thomas hadn’t just been angry that she was in the woods. He was annoyed. Why would he have been annoyed? Suddenly, with a flash of insight, Serena understood. He wasn’t angry that she had followed him. He was angry that she had brought the moon charm, because he hadn’t simply forgotten it.
Her voice broke the stillness of the room. “He left it behind on purpose.”
“I had simply become complacent in my knowledge of werewolves and thought that I couldn’t be hurt.”
“What was he thinking? How could he had done something so foolish?” she whispered, horrified. What exactly was Thomas trying to hide? Serena knew there was only one way to find out. Hurrying to the door, she opened it quickly and gasped as she collided with Severus, his arm raised as if intending to knock.
“Well, that wasn’t quite the greeting I was expecting,” he said, his left arm coming down to steady her. His other arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her tightly into an embrace.
Serena smiled into his shoulder, not wanting to let him go. He pulled back and looked at her curiously, searching for any sign of what Thomas had hinted at earlier.
“Is everything all right?” he asked quietly, his low voice soothing her.
‘It is now that you are here,’ she thought. Frowning slightly, she wondered where that had come from. Turning her attention back to Severus, she smiled vaguely. Grabbing his hand, she pulled him into her chambers and closed the door behind him.
Keeping his face blank, he said, “I take it things didn’t go well with Thomas.” He hoped that her answer would give him some indication of what she was feeling.
“Oh, I think they went as well as can be expected.” She led him over to her bed and sat down, tugging him down beside her. She held his hand, caressing the pale skin, trying to think of what to tell him about her meeting with Thomas that wouldn’t push him away or make him angry.
“Severus,” she began.
He looked at her and watched the conflicting emotions flicker across her face. He closed his eyes. The last thing he wanted to hear was that she was still in love with Thomas and would be leaving Hogwarts. Wishing to postpone the inevitable, he leaned in and captured her soft lips in his. He threaded his hands through her hair, pulling her closer. She deepened the kiss, her stomach tightening at his touch. His hand drifted down her cheek, cupping her chin lightly. Everything disappeared except him. He made her feel so safe and secure, and she knew that she could trust him. No wonder she loved him. Eyes widening, she pulled back, gasping, a small smile on her face. Looking into his deep black eyes, she realized that it was true. She did love him. She shook her head and laughed lightly. How long had she felt this way?
Severus eyed her, his lips curling slightly. “What are you so happy about?”
She reached up and smoothed his hair, her hand trailing down the side of his face. Leaning in, she placed a quick kiss on his lips. “I just realized something very important.” She smiled conspiratorially at him.
He raised an eyebrow. “And that would be?”
She bit her bottom lip. She wanted to tell him how she felt, but she wanted to first put this whole Thomas business behind them. She shook her head. “I can’t tell you yet. There is something I have to take care of first.” Her heart sank as she watched the hurt look cross his face, only to be covered quickly by a blank expression. Nodding slightly, he stood.
“I should let you get back to whatever it is you need to take care of.” He walked toward the door, silently cursing his inability to be honest with her. He was too late. She had made her choice. He wasn’t about to wait around to hear the words spoken aloud.
“Severus,” she said gently.
He turned to look at her, his face hidden in the shadows. She walked toward him, a seductive smile on her face. He held his breath as she neared him, her presence overwhelming him. Reaching out, he pulled her into his arms, and kissed the top of her head. He savored the feeling of her in his arms and he knew that he didn’t want to let her go. Taking a deep breath, he knew it was now or never. Dumbledore would never let him forget it, if he didn’t take that bloody leap he had been prattling about. “I love you,” he whispered.
She pulled back and looked at him, shocked that he had admitted it first. His eyes were downcast, afraid to look and see the rejection that he was sure was there. Placing her hands on his cheeks, she tilted his head up, so that his eyes met hers.
“I love you, too,” she whispered back, capturing his surprised lips in her own. Severus let her control the kiss, letting the fact that she loved him sink in. Breaking the kiss, he leaned his forehead against hers, breathing heavily.
“I have to talk to Thomas, one last time,” she said softly.
“I know,” he replied, hating the fact that she would have to see him again. He knew that Thomas would not be able to let her go as easily the second time.
She looked at him adoringly, rubbing her hands gently over his biceps. “Don’t worry, Severus. I love you.”
He smiled, not used to hearing his name and the word love in the same breath. It was definitely something he could get used to.
Reluctantly, she pulled out of his arms and opened the door, looking back at him. “Wait for me?” she asked quietly.
“Always,” he said. He watched her smile and blush; amused that one word could have such an effect.
Serena closed the door, trailing her fingers over the wood, smiling brightly. She loved Severus, and more importantly, he loved her. Why hadn’t she realized that before? Everything seemed so clear now. Grimacing, she thought about Thomas. He had been right about one thing. He was no longer the Thomas she had known and loved. She knew it was time to let him go, once and for all.
She stood outside the guest room and took a deep breath. She pulled the charm out from under her gown. Raising her hand, she knocked loudly.
Thomas answered the door, a smile lighting his face when he saw her standing before him. “I am so glad to see you, Serena,” he said gently.
His eyes drifted down to the charm and the smile faltered.
She looked at him, her face expressionless. “May I come in?”
He stepped back and ushered her into the room. She walked toward the chair she had occupied earlier that day, taking a seat and waiting until Thomas had settled in the chair across from her.
She eyed him. “I want to know the truth about that night, Thomas.”
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “What do you mean?” he asked, his voice tense.
“I want to know why you purposely left the charm behind. I want to know why you’ve been 'dead' all these years.” She cocked her head and looked at him reproachfully. “You’ve never been very good at lying. So, tell me the whole truth.”
He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “You aren’t going to like it.”
“I know,” she said quietly, pausing. “But if you ever loved me, then I deserve to know the truth, even if I won’t like it.”
He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his fingers entwined. He stared at a spot on the floor and began quietly, “It started about a month before that night. I was in the library doing some research when I found an antique copy of a book supposedly written by the leader of an ancient werewolf clan. I’d never seen it before and was fascinated by the details of what being a werewolf was like.” He paused and looked at her, unnerved by her calm expression. He would definitely have felt more comfortable with a show of her temper.
Taking a deep breath, he continued. “In the back of the book was a handwritten spell that claimed to make a person impervious to a werewolf’s bite. If it worked, I believed there was a chance that it could be altered to perhaps find a cure for lycanthropy. So, I worked on creating the spell. After a few weeks, I was able to produce the spell, but there was no way to test it unless I came face to face with a werewolf.”
Serena shook her head. “You tested the spell on yourself? Are you crazy? How do you even know who wrote the spell? Or what it was intended for?”
“Looking back, it probably wasn’t the wisest decision I ever made. I lost a lot of things that night.” He glanced up at her.
Anger flashed across her face. “You are still making this all about you. Did you never stop to consider that this decision would affect more than just you? In one moment, you were telling me that you want to make plans for our future, and in another moment you were risking the fact that we would even have a future.”
“I know, my love.” He stared at the ground. “That was really why I stayed away. I thought that I deserved what had happened and that it was my penance to pay.”
She gritted her teeth. “First of all, I asked you not to call me your love. Second, it wasn’t just your 'penance'. Why can’t you understand that?”
They sat in a tense silence. Thomas gazed into the fire, seemingly unwilling to break the stillness. Serena sighed. She was so tired of trying to make him see her side of things.
Crossing her legs, she leaned her head on her hand and stared at him, absorbing all the information that he had just shared. The theory behind the spell sounded reasonable, but it was just like Thomas to act before thinking. Her brow wrinkled and she asked, “Why didn’t the spell work?”
He was quiet for a long time. “I think it did for awhile. Once I put the charm on, it counteracted the results of the spell. It was no longer a protective charm. It became more like a magnetic charm, almost seeming to pull any werewolves towards me. After I left Andréa’s, I did a lot of research about the potential of such a spell. I even asked my father to retrieve the book for me from the library, so I could maybe figure out what went wrong, but it had disappeared. I haven’t been able to find it since, and no one seems to know anything about such a book.”
Serena felt sick. “So, in the end, it was my fault.”
Thomas shook his head, “No, my-,” his eyes flickered up to her face at his slip. Seeing her stony look, he continued, “If I had been honest with you, then things may have worked out differently. I’ve thought about that night everyday since the accident, and I think it was just everything put together, choices we both made. There’s not really one person at fault, and I’m sorry that you blamed yourself for so long.”
He leaned back in his chair and smiled slightly. “But it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve learned a lot from the lycans in my clan. Believe it or not, there are many benefits to being a werewolf. The only thing missing is you.”
He searched her face for any glimpse of her true feelings. Not seeing any reassurance, he asked uncertainly, “Have you considered my proposal?”
“I have Thomas,” Serena said quietly, staring at the floor. Reaching up behind her neck, she unclasped the charm and took it off. Holding the charm in her hand, she looked up at him. “I cannot marry you.” She stood and walked over to him. Taking his hand, she placed the charm in his palm, curling his fingers over the smooth golden moon.
“Is this because of him?” he asked, his hand trembling slightly.
She hesitated. “Yes, but it’s not the only reason. I love you Thomas, but things have changed. You and I are no longer the people we used to be. And if we were being honest with ourselves, we would admit that we could never make each other happy.”
She turned and he grabbed her hand. “You would throw away everything we had?”
Staring at the floor, she answered, “I didn’t throw it away, Thomas. You did.” She looked at him. “The moment you attempted that spell, you put your needs and desires above mine. I would have done anything for you. You know that. But, obviously, it wasn’t enough. We’re just in different places now. You are responsible for the lives of the people in your clan. I’ve found a place that I am needed and loved.” She pulled her hand from his and said quietly, “Perhaps we were never meant to be in the first place.”
She walked slowly to the door, and opened it. Turning to look at him, she felt a slight ache to see him simply sitting there staring at the glowing charm in his hand. She wished it didn’t have to be like this. Giving him one last sad smile, she said, “I wish you nothing but the best. But it’s time for you to move on. I hope that you find the happiness you deserve.” Her eyes shifted to the open door and focused on the wall across the hallway. “Good-bye, Thomas.”
Serena closed the large wooden door behind her, and let out a huge breath. That was harder than she had anticipated. Thomas had been a part of her life for so long, and it seemed so strange for things to end this way when they had been through so much. But she was ready to let the past go and move into the present, with Severus. The closer she got to her own chambers, the lighter her steps became. She opened the door and was amused to see how quickly his dark head whipped up from the book he was pretending to read. She strolled over and leaned in kissing him deeply, taking the book from his hand and tossing it on the floor. She laughed as he pulled her down onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her waist, and whispering in her ear. Sighing, she leaned her head against his shoulder, looking forward to whatever the future held.