Chapter 9

            Winter changed into Spring and Spring faded into Summer. Krista was amazed at how quickly the months had gone by. The day she would have to leave grew closer and closer. As that day came closer, she sank into greater fear and utter depression. Not only would she be spending eternity with her mother and her cohorts but she would also be spending it without Severus.

            Over the months, they had grown even closer. Every day they spent together and every evening he would bring the dreadful serum, but he would cheer her up by staying with her and talking to her. Very late into the night he often stayed and she enjoyed his company. Though it hurt her to know that she would only be leaving him in the month of June, she still wanted him by her side. He was the one person that brought her happiness.

            The students were still slightly apprehensive but they slowly warmed back up to her. They were still by no means as friendly as before but she had expected that they never would be again. By the closing of March there were no more nasty rumors flying around about her. There was nothing left to talk about once they all realized she wasn't going to suck their blood after all.

            Finally, the day before school ended came. She had given all of the students their final exams. Dumbledore said he was pleased with the results. They had their last class that day. Some students, with a little egging on by their buddies, worked up the courage to thank her for her class. She told them all how much she'd appreciated teaching their classes and she wished them all good luck for the next year.

            Night soon set and the rest of the school was in the Great Hall, celebrating the end of the year feast. Krista remained in her office. She had no need to eat human food anymore and she wasn't in the mood to be out amongst them all. She walked solemnly around her classroom. She would have to start packing soon. She had always loathed packing. This time though, she wouldn't need to pack too much. Where she was going there would be no need for mortal possessions.

            She walked from her classroom into her office and pulled out her trunk from underneath her old bed. She sat it on the bed and opened it. She pulled her wand out of her pocket and pointed it at her chest of drawers. The drawers opened one by one and poured out their contents into the trunk, all of which landed neatly organized. Once everything was in the trunk, she looked around once more. All that was left were her wizarding supplies. She would leave them to the school; they were of no use to her anymore.

            She shut the suitcase and sat down on the bed. Just as soon as she'd sat down she stood back up. Someone was coming. It was probably Severus; he'd said he would come. She walked out into the classroom and she was surprised to see not Severus but three of her Gryffindor students, Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

            Hermione looked at the other two, rolled her eyes, then walked up to her. "Good evening, professor," she said.

            "Good evening, Miss Granger," Krista replied. She smiled with great care so that she wouldn't bare her fangs. "Can I help you with something?"

            "Well, professor, Harry, Ron, and I just wanted to come by and personally thank you for all you've taught us this year. We all thought you were an excellent professor and that you deserved more praise than was given to you," she said.

            Harry joined Hermione's side and Ron followed suit. "We're going to miss you next year, professor," Harry said.

            Krista smiled warmly feeling a higher level of content. "Thank you all. This means a lot to me, you three coming here." The three students exchanged pleased smiles. She sighed and said, "It was a very awarding experience teaching your lot. If it were up to me, I would teach you all again next year."

            A moment of unease passed between them. She shouldn't have mentioned it at all. She and Dumbledore had agreed that they would try to keep as much of her ordeal secret as possible. She was sure that they were all wondering exactly what would become of her. She quickly added, "I want you three to promise me that you will do well next year,"

            Hermione's smile reappeared and she nodded enthusiastically. Ron and Harry looked at each other doubtfully but nodded all the same. Hearing footsteps approaching again, Krista looked to the doorway to see Severus walking in. He looked distastefully at Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The three of them seemed to tense up at his presence.

            "Hello, Severus," Krista said, still smiling. "Harry, Ron, and Hermione here were just bidding me farewell."

            "I see," he said in a flat tone, his glittering black eyes studying them carefully.

            "Perhaps we should be going," Hermione said quickly. Harry and Ron nodded. They each took turns shaking her hand and saying goodbye. She thanked them again for stopping by and then they were gone.

            Krista looked to Severus, who was now studying her with those piercing black eyes. "You really shouldn't scare off my students like that," she said sarcastically.

            He smirked and said, "I see you've cleaned out the room." Her smile faded. "Yes, I've spent the last few days cleaning up." He looked at her sympathetically. He should have been more careful choosing his words.

            "So close now. By this time tomorrow I will seal my fate," she said, looking off into nothing.

            Severus came closer to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Don't speak of such things. That is tomorrow, this is today." She smiled a weak, worried smile and placed her hand on top of his.

            Severus embraced her and stroked her long hair. He was at a loss for words. He wasn't quite sure what to say to her. He knew nothing he could say could change what was about to happen. Consequently, he felt the same way as she did. Tomorrow would be the worst day of his life. Why had life been so cruel to them? Just when they had been brought together (by fate it seemed) they were being pulled apart.

            She let go of him and smiled wearily. "So, was the feast good?"

            "As good as it ever is, I suppose," he said. "Of course, those wretched Gryffindors won the house cup again." Krista chuckled. As long as she'd known him, Severus had always strongly disliked the Gryffindors, though, he wasn't very fond of the other two houses either. He grew serious again and said, "You should have come."

            Krista shrugged. "There was really no need for me to go anyway."

            "The other professors were concerned about you," he added.

            She scoffed. "That's a surprise," she said, turning away from him.

            He put his hand on her arm and massaged it gently. "They really are concerned, you know. They worry about you," he said softly and calmly.

            She said nothing but he knew that she was brooding. She had the right to be angry; the whole of the school had been afraid of her. Their fears were silly and unreasonable. He knew the feeling of rejection and loneliness and supposed he'd feel the same way.

            She turned around and stared into his eyes. "It's getting late, shouldn't you be going to bed?"

            He shook his head. "No, I will stay with you till dawn."

            "But Severus, you need your sleep. I may get to sleep all day but you will not."

            He smirked. "I am much used to sleepless nights. Don't you worry."

            She smiled her beautiful smile and planted a soft kiss on his lips. He put his arms around her and they embraced once more.

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            She spent the entire night with him, holding dearly onto every last moment. When dawn came, they both knew it was time for her to sleep. Though she felt as if she couldn't sleep at all, she nodded off almost immediately. Severus returned to his chambers and despite the sleepless night he'd just endured, he found he could not sleep. For the day they'd both dreaded had finally come and he was filled with sorrow and grief.

            That evening she was going to take a carriage to Hogsmeade and it was there that she would meet with her mother and leave forever. If she would let him, he would destroy the entire clan; he would even turn vampire himself, just to be with her. He'd thought about that possibility on several occasions. She always gave him the same answer though: she wouldn't let him waste his life. To him, he was wasting his life anyway. He couldn't see why he couldn't waste it with her.

            He stalked around the castle the entire day. Time was such a cruel thing to him—it always worked against his will. The day light seemed to fade faster than normal and before he knew it, it was dark.

            He walked quickly to the dungeons and headed for her room. He walked through the door and found she'd already risen. Her face seemed devoid of all color. She was walking around, rather aimlessly, her eyes darting around the room. They came to rest upon him and she tried to force a smile but it looked more like a grimace.

            "It's time," she said in a rather helpless voice.

            He nodded curtly and looked to the floor, trying to avoid those desperate eyes.

            "I guess we need to get your things outside," he said, still looking at the floor. She nodded this time and she stepped into her office.

            He followed her into the office and together, they levitated the trunk. Their wands pointed at the trunk, they walked out into the hall, up the stairs, and out into the foyer. Once out in the foyer, they met Dumbledore who was waiting for them patiently. "I've come to see you off, Miss Trebaxus," he said. Again, she forced that half grimace smile and Dumbledore joined them as they walked out the door.

            A carriage was waiting just below the stairs and they set her trunk in it. After the trunk was secure, Dumbledore addressed her again.

            "Tis a pity to see you go, Professor Trebaxus. Though this school's teachers are often of high caliber, you are no exception."

            "Thank you, sir," she said, looking to the ground.

            He smiled graciously and said, "I hope that wherever you go, you will do well." She looked at him and forced another smile. He must be kidding me, she thought. She was a vampire now; nothing she could ever do would be good.

            "Well, I must be going. I believe that Severus is riding with you to Hogsmeade?" She and Severus both nodded. "Very good."

            As Severus was climbing into the carriage, Dumbledore moved closer to her and whispered something into her ear. "Don't worry about him. If your heart is true and you are faithful, then this won't be the last time that you cross paths. You will meet again." Krista looked at him, surprised. He smiled warmly, winking a bright blue eye, shook her hand, then walked back into the castle.

            Krista gathered her senses and climbed into the carriage. Once inside the carriage, it set off, driven by its invisible driver. They said nothing along the way. Instead of talking, Krista could think of nothing but Dumbledore's last words. Somehow, they had driven hope into her. Although she felt that there could be no happy ending and that there was no hope, she knew that Dumbledore hadn't said what he'd said simply to make her feel better. She knew that somehow, he may have some insight on the future. If she didn't give up hope, this wouldn't be their final goodbye.

            It wasn't long before they arrived at Hogsmeade. Severus helped her get the trunk out of the carriage. She looked around until she spotted the pub that her mother had specified they'd meet in. She turned back to Severus and looked him in the eyes. His face was distraught and sorrowful.

            "I guess this is goodbye," he said in a gloomy tone.

            Krista smiled and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Don't say goodbye. We will see each other again,"

            His eyes met hers and he looked at her in wonder. Her mood had changed so much. She seemed so much more positive now. He wondered what could have changed her mind. Whatever it was, he couldn't doubt the look in her eyes. He knew that she was telling the truth when she said that sentence. It made him feel slightly better.

            She pulled him close to her and kissed him passionately. When she released him from the kiss, she was still wearing that happy, truthful smile. "Don't worry about me, I will be fine."

            From the corner of her eye, she saw her mother standing in the entrance of the pub, watching her. She turned back to Severus and said, "I love you." She pointed her wand at her trunk and levitated it into the air. She looked at him one last time, longingly, then began walking. After taking a few steps, she stopped and turned back around. "Don't forget what I said!" she called. He looked at her, his face slightly less sorrowful now, and nodded. At last, she walked away.

            As she reached the doorway of the pub, he saw her give him one last reassuring smile. Her mother looked from her to him before they finally walked through the door. He stood watching the door for a few moments, hoping that she would come back out but she didn't. Finally, he climbed back into the carriage and began the ride back to the castle.

           He recalled their last words over and over in his mind. She had seemed so happy. Even though she was so optimistic, he couldn't help but be sorrowful. Even though she'd said that they'd meet again, he knew that it would be a long time before he saw her. Still, he wouldn't give up on her. He had to have faith in seeing her again. He smiled slightly and said, aloud, "I won't forget."