Chapter Eight – Battles Won and Lost.
T.J started awake and looked all around her. Everything was dark, a little too dark. She looked up trying to see anything familiar, but even the stars weren't there. She began to feel very unnerved, but at the same time, she could feel her body beginning to relax. It was almost as if she had been here for a while. She had always loved being in her own company, but she usually knew where she was by something familiar. The silence that surrounded her was almost touchable. Something wasn't right and she wanted to go home. As she took some deep breaths, trying to calm herself, she thought she heard faint voices coming from a distance.
"Hello is anyone there?!", she shouted, her voice echoed through the darkness and silence.
No-one answered immediately. The calmer she became the clearer the voices were. There was only one person who called her his Angel.
"Logan where are you? Please help me.", she called out hoping her friend would hear her.
"I'm right here my Angel. You need to come back to us.", he answered from right behind her.
"What do you mean Logan? I'm scared. Where am I?", she questioned, turning to face him, reaching out to him.
"Just follow me Angel and everything will be fine. Trust me.", he said as he turned and began to walk away.
T.J didn't want to be left here alone, so she began to follow him. She had no idea where he was leading her, but she hoped it was home. She trusted Logan implicitly and so she followed him without any more questions.
"She's waking up. Good work Logan."
T.J heard the voice, but she couldn't place who it was or where it was coming from. The bright sunlight assaulted her eyes as she opened them. The room she was in was white and the sunlight was pouring in through large windows above the many beds that lined the walls. She wasn't sure where she was or how she had gotten here. She turned her head and came face to face with a pair of emerald eyes. She focused on those familiar eyes and the rest of the face they belonged to came into focus.
"Harry is that you?", she croaked reaching out to the man in front of her. In one swift movement, she felt strong arms encircle her, pulling her into a tight hug. She closed her eyes relieved.
"Thank God you're ok T.J.", Harry said, tears dropping onto her shoulder as he buried his face into her neck.
Suddenly T.J knew where she was and exactly how she had ended up here. She was in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts. The final battle against Voldemort and his Deatheaters had been fierce. She tightened her arms around Harry and shuddered as her mind took her back.
Voldemort had swept into the Great Hall flanked by eight of his most loyal and dangerous Deatheaters. Serverus Snape had been stood in the centre of the room with his head bowed. He looked to everyone to be the loyal servant that he pretended to be. Behind him stood the X-Men, ebony cloaks hiding their uniforms while hoods hid their faces.
"Welcome my Lord Voldemort. I have recruited more people who believe in your vision of the future.", Serverus said, bowing low.
"You have done well Serverus. You will be rewarded generously for your loyalty to me.", Voldemort said glancing briefly at the X-Men.
T.J couldn't help but be fascinated by the wizard stood before her. She watched as his eyes flashed in triumph. She wanted more than anything to wipe that look off his face. She grinned to herself knowing that was exactly what was going to happen.
"Now to make Hogwarts mine.", Voldemort said gleefully.
"I don't think Hogwarts is on the market at this present time.", T.J drawled as she threw back her hood. The other X-Men followed her lead waiting for her orders.
"Who has the audacity to question me, Lord Voldemort!", he bellowed his eyes glowing with anger and disbelief.
"Trisha Jane Foster. Iceman if you please.", T.J said calmly.
Iceman let out a blast of energy so powerful that he froze Voldemort from the neck down in a cocoon of ice at least a metre thick. He let out a whoop of triumph as Voldemort screamed and his Deatheaters sprang into action.
"Accio wands!", T.J shouted raising her hand and discarding her robe as the Deatheaters advanced. Eight wands left the hands of their owners and clattered to the floor at her feet.
With a wave of his hand, Pyro set the wands on fire. With a quickly muttered spell, T.J erected a forcefield to contain the flames to the centre of the room and stop them spreading. Serverus and the X-Men encircled the flames facing the Deatheaters as Rogue approached Voldemort.
As T.J dodged the punch thrown at her by Lucius Malfoy, the others spread out around the Hall. Rogue began to drain Voldemort of his life force and powers. Nightcrawler was teleporting all over the Hall keeping the Deatheaters from getting anywhere near Rogue.
"Nightcrawler stay close to Rogue, we'll handle these guys!", she shouted as she ducked below the fist aimed at her temple. She came up hard and fast catching Malfoy under the chin with a blow that knocked him off his feet and sending him flying across the room. He crashed into the wall and crumpled to the floor not moving.
T.J turned just in time to see Nightcrawler grab a struggling Rogue and vanish with her. Seconds later he was back. He gave her a grin that said mission accomplished, meaning Rogue was tied up in Hagrid's hut with her giant friend standing guard. She grinned as Nightcrawler floored the Deatheater in front of him, then teleported to the other side of the Hall to help Storm.
"T.J look out!", Wolverine shouted. Her instincts took over as she ducked. The axe that was heading towards her neck sailed harmlessly over her head. With her opponent unbalanced she thrust her dagger, that she had grabbed from her boot, into his chest. She felt it puncture his heart as his life blood flowed warm and wet over her hand. The axe fell to the floor with a dull thud, followed by his lifeless body.
As she recovered her balance she heard a strangled cry and turned to see Jean slump to the floor with a gaping hole in her throat. As Jean's precious and beautiful lifeblood pooled across the floor T.J could see Cyclops and Serverus lying on the floor. Their heads were at an odd angle due to their broken necks. T.J looked into the dead staring eyes of Serverus Snape a blanket of red rage descended over her vision. She looked up seeing two Deatheaters heading her way. With a roar, she called upon the bone claws. She dispatched the two Deatheaters with one stroke of her claws almost cutting them in half.
Lucius Malfoy was the only one left standing. His gaze jumped nervously to the pile of ashes, all that was left of his beloved Master. The X-Men surrounded him so he couldn't escape. Each of her team-mates was sporting injuries of one sort or another.
"Wait!", someone shouted from behind them.
T.J turned to see Draco striding confidently towards them flanked by Harry and Ron. They stopped briefly and looked around taking in the scene before them, before continuing forwards. All three of them had a determined look on their faces, but this couldn't hide the exhaustion they felt. Ron shot T.J a look that told her not to ask any questions or interfere in any way. T.J turned to face Lucius signalling the others to step back.
"As you see my son has come to help me.", Lucius sneered at T.J.
"Help you. I'm not here to help you.", Draco spat at his father, his voice dripping venom.
"What do you mean?", Lucius asked puzzlement and fear clearly flooding his voice. He looked at Draco in disbelief.
"I'm here to end your reign of terror over me.", Draco said going and embracing his father. Lucius stiffened and his eyes widened in shock. He opened his mouth to say something, but it was too late.
"Goodbye, father. I have someone better to fight for and you will never hurt me or anyone else ever again.", Draco whispered, before stepping back.
T.J saw the blade protruding from Lucius' side as he slumped to the floor. She now realised the reason Ron had given her the warning look. Draco had brought the knife with him for the sole purpose of ending his father's life.
A movement caught her attention. The Deatheater laid out by Nightcrawler threw something at Draco. With lightning quick reflexes she stepped in front of him, as Iceman froze the Deatheater and shattered him with a brutal blow. The knife embedded itself to the hilt in her liver. T.J fell forward into Draco's arms. She felt the poison working its way through her body as Draco gently lowered her to the floor.
"T.J please don't leave me. Stay with me. T.J please I love you.", Draco cried. His anguished face was the last thing she saw before the darkness claimed her.
Serverus Snape's face swam before her eyes, followed by Jean's and Scott's. She would be haunted by their dead gazes for the rest of her life. Not because she had to, but because she wanted to. The wall she had spent the last three years building around her emotions, blocking them in, came crumbling down. The mask she had worn for so long was ripped away viciously. Gripping on to Harry as if her life depended on him not letting her go, she vented her emotions in giant sobs that ripped their way out of her body.
"It's alright T.J I've got you.", Harry said gently stroking her back. He knew she needed this release.
He pulled her closer and rocked her gently back and forth, all the while speaking softly to her. She felt like a small child in his arms and this scared him. T.J had always been the one they went to for comfort. She had always been the strong one. She chased their fears and doubts away, especially his.
After a few minutes, T.J's tears subsided. T.J pulled away from Harry, but not quite fully breaking contact. She held on to his hand tightly, anchoring herself, as she slumped back against the pillows, closing her eyes trying to rebuild her dam.
"How's Rogue?", she asked her voice barely a whisper.
"I'm fine T.J.", Rogue answered gently wiping away a stray tear from T.J's cheek.
"You always were a lousy liar Rogue.", T.J accused with a slight smile.
"Ok you got me, I never could get anything past you. Thanks to Ron and the others I'm better than I was. They've helped me a lot over the past few days.", Rogue laughed as T.J opened her eyes and looked at her young friend.
"Thank you, Rogue. I know I asked you to do the worst job of all of us. You're my hero.", T.J said as Rogue just smiled and nodded.
T.J sat up so suddenly, Harry had to grab her shoulders so she wouldn't headbutt him. She looked around for her red headed friend. Besides Harry and Rogue, there was only Charles Xavier and Logan at her bedside. Madam Pomfrey was flitting around the Hospital Wing tending to her usual duties. When she saw T.J sat up she came over and laid her hand on shoulder.
"You gave us quite a scare young lady. Dragon Sand is the most potent and powerful poison known to wizards. Not many people survive its effects. I'm glad to see that you are awake.", she said smiling down at T.J.
"Thanks, Madam Pomfrey. When can I get out of here?", T.J asked looking up at her with a smile and a look of hope in her eyes.
"You are free to leave whenever you feel well enough to get out of bed. Then again I never could keep you here.", Madam Pomfrey replied laughing as she saw T.J's eyes brighten. T.J flashed her a smile and swung her legs out of bed and stood up reaching for her clothes.
"We'll leave you to get dressed.", Logan said, coming over and kissing her forehead and turning to leave.
"Harry will you stay please?", T.J asked as he turned to follow.
Harry nodded and sat on the edge of the bed as she dressed. Something in the way she had asked him to stay made him watch her closely. She seemed to have returned to her normal, usual self. On the outside maybe, but something about the look in her eyes told him differently. She had lost three good friends and been to Hell and back because of the poison. She had lost part of her soul, her inner light had been dimmed. This made her more human now, more vulnerable.
"Where are Draco, Ron and Hermione?", she asked pulling him out of his musings.
"They should be in Draco's room waiting for you to wake up. We've been taking it in turns to sit with you.", he replied. Something in the way he responded made her stop and look at him sharply.
"How's Draco doing and please be honest with me.", she asked.
"He's not doing good. I don't think he will be until he knows you're ok. He needs you T.J, he's completely lost without you.", Harry said sadness flooding his voice and concern marring his features.
Could it be possible that Harry and Draco had put aside their differences for good? T.J prayed it was true. Both Harry and Draco were important to her, as was Ron and Hermione. She didn't think she could cope if she had to choose between them. She loved them all.
"Well, shall we go and put the others out of their misery.", she said grinning wickedly at Harry and taking his hand.
As they made their way through the hallways from the Hospital Wing, Harry told T.J what had been happening while she had been unconscious. Everywhere she looked was draped in black. The corridors were eerily quiet. This made what Harry was telling her hit home harder. T.J was fighting hard against the multiple emotions fighting for dominance. Happiness, sadness, relief, grief and anger were waging a war in her mind.
Turning the corner they spotted Albus Dumbledore talking to Fred and George. T.J let go of Harry's hand and whistled to get their attention. As the twins broke into big silly grins she ran to them, wrapping her arms around their necks. They steadied her by wrapping their arms around her waist.
"Now that's what I call a greeting.", Harry said laughing at the twins faces.
"T.J you're awake. It's good to have you back with us.", Dumbledore said joining the reunion.
"It's going to take more than a bit of Dragon Sand to get rid of me.", T.J laughed as she let go of the twins.
"You took your time.", Fred said grinning at her.
"You sure did. We thought you were gonna sleep for a month.", George laughed, kissing her temple.
T.J watched the twins closely. Even though they were laughing and joking with her, she could see genuine relief in their eyes and behind their smiles. Harry she noticed had stepped closer to her and she took his hand instinctually. He had become her anchor since she had woken up and in doing so he was protecting her.
To anyone that didn't know Harry this step forward would have been mistaken for curiousity. To those that did know him, his protective streak was clearly visible. His friends were more than just friends, they were his family and he would do whatever it took to keep them safe and happy.
"It really is good to see you awake T.J.", Albus said placing his hand on her shoulder.
"Thanks, Albus. Harry tells me I've been out of it for nearly a week.", T.J responded.
"Yes, you had us all very worried. We thought that the Dragon Sand had got the better of you. After all other ideas had been exhausted, Charles helped a few of us to enter your mind. We tried talking to your subconscious to see if we could get you to come back to us. You didn't listen because you thought it was a trick.", Albus said sadly.
"I remember.", she said her voice clear, but her eyes held a distant look.
T.J's mind spiralled back to her time in the darkness. At first, she had only felt agony and terror. This had left her feeling scared and disorientated. That was when Albus had come to her. He told her that they had beaten Voldemort, but she had been injured. He told her he had been sent to bring her back. T.J felt fear and anger rise up inside her and she had run from him. She was sure it was a trick intended to lure her to her death.
The next person she saw was George. She had become used to the darkness. The silence was beginning to feel like home.
"Hello T.J.", George said, suddenly standing in front of her, startling her.
"What are you doing here? What do you want?", she asked backing away from him.
"Do you know who I am T.J? Please think and find me.", George pleaded holding his hand out to her.
"Your name is George. You're my friend, George.", she said after a minute or so of searching her memories. T.J reached out and took his hand tentatively.
"I'm here to bring you home T.J.", George spoke softly as he stepped closer to her. She searched his face for any signs of deception, but she didn't see anything.
"I'm scared George. You can't be anything more than a figment of my mind. I can't come home with you because this is my home.", she said letting go of his hand and turning to walk away. She was stopped by his hands on her shoulders.
"I understand you're scared, but please remember this one thing. I have faith in you T.J and I believe you will come back to us when you are ready. I love you and I'll be waiting with the rest of your friends for you.", he said gently squeezing her shoulders. When she turned around he was gone, but his words echoed in the darkness.
Logan had been the last person to come to her, but it was George's words still in the forefront of her thoughts that had allowed her to release the fear she felt. She had trusted Logan and had allowed him to lead her back.
"Albus, George I'm so sorry that I didn't trust you. Can you ever forgive me.", she pleaded.
"There is nothing to forgive T.J.", Albus said gently.
"You were scared I could see that. I guess I just wanted to do something to help you like you helped me. I wanted you to come back and I didn't care who it was that got you back.", George said tears welling up in his eyes.
"You did help me, George. I remember what you said to me. I held on to those words with every ounce of strength I had. It was your faith and belief in me that gave me the strength to fight the effects of the poison. It was you who helped me defeat my fear and come back. Oh and I love you too George, don't you ever forget that. You and the others are what keeps me going.", T.J told him wiping away the tears from his face and smiling at him.
"T.J is that you?", a voice questioned from behind her.
T.J turned to see Draco stood behind her with Ron and Hermione. She almost collapsed as her heart dropped to her shoes. Harry had been right, Draco looked terrible. His skin was gaunt, it looked like he hadn't slept in days. There were dark circles under his eyes. He seemed to have aged years in just a few days. She could tell he hadn't been eating properly because he looked thinner. T.J turned and gave Harry a pointed look, he dropped his head with a guilty look on his face. So he had lied to her when he said Draco wasn't too good. Even after her asking for the truth, he had not wanted to worry her. Or maybe it was the fact he didn't want to believe how bad Draco really was. Maybe he couldn't bear to be the one to tell her the terrible truth.
Draco took a step towards T.J and his knees buckled. Before T.J could move to help him, Ron stepped forward and caught hold of his shoulders to steady him and stop him falling.
"Easy mate. Let T.J come to you Draco.", Ron said gently, lending Draco some of his strength.
Ron it seemed was as worried about Draco as Harry was. When she looked at Ron she wasn't surprised to see the concern and a protective look in his eyes. At that moment T.J finally figured out why Ron was so important to her. He was the heart and soul of the group. He felt everything so deeply, but he still kept his humour as well as keeping everyone around him together. Ron held on to Draco as T.J closed the gap between them. He only let go when T.J wrapped her arms around Draco. He nodded at T.J as Draco collapsed against her, tightly wrapping his arms around her.
"I'm here darling.", she whispered in his ear.
"I thought I'd lost you.", Draco sobbed, tears of joy soaking the shoulder of T.J's shirt. He tightened his hold on her, almost as if he was afraid if he let go she would disappear.
Hermione and Ron had tears in their eyes as they watched the reunion. T.J held her hands out to them. They stepped forward and took her outstretched hands. Ron placed his hand on Draco's shoulder while Hermione put her arm around his waist. Harry came and threw his arms around T.J's and Hermione's shoulders. T.J felt complete again. She was with the four most important people in her life.
"It's good to see you up and about T.J.", Hermione said, squeezing her hand.
"Yeah, we've missed you. It's not been the same around here without you.", Ron said grinning broadly.
"It's good to be back.", she whispered pulling them into a group hug, signalling Fred and George to join in.
"Please don't leave me again.", Draco pleaded, looking down at her.
T.J kissed him and smiled at him, "We'll talk about everything later. Right now you need to eat and get some sleep."
She took his hand, leading the way to the Great Hall. Ron took hold of Draco's other elbow and smiled at her. T.J reached out her other hand and Harry took hold of it as he had since she woke. He was still protecting her. It would seem that all her friends were protecting her. Harry was her anchor, Ron and Hermione her help with Draco and Fred and George were her shields and she loved all of them.
The rest of the students, teachers and X-Men were in the Great Hall as they entered. A huge cheer erupted as T.J sat Draco down at the Gryffindor table. She smiled as she said hello and waved to those who welcomed her back. As she took her seat between Draco and Harry her eyes fell on an empty chair at the teacher's table.
It saddened her to know that she would never see Serverus again, to know he was truly gone. She knew he had died doing what he wanted to do. He had given his life to stop Voldemort and to protect the students and Hogwarts. T.J also knew she would always have a part of Serverus with her forever. He had given her the best thing he could give her. His knowledge and she would always be thankful for that. Her eyes fell on to the cuff she still wore on her right wrist. It would be a constant reminder of him and she was glad that no-one had taken it off. As she looked around she noticed that all those who had been part of the battle were still wearing their wrist cuffs too.
As she ate her meal she glanced around the room searching for her fellow X-Men. They were dotted around the room talking to the students. Bobby and John were sat with Ginny and Percy at the other end of the table. Kurt and Ororo were sat at the Ravenclaw table talking to some of the younger students. By the grin on Kurt's face and the rapt look on the kid's faces, she guessed he was telling them about the battle. Rogue had settled herself close to Ron. He must have felt her watching him because Ron turned and smiled shyly at her. T.J winked at him and he turned his attention back to Rogue. Logan was sat with Bill and Charlie. By the awed expression on his face, T.J figured that Charlie was telling him about the work he did with dragons in Romania. T.J's mind drifted, as she tuned out the noise of the Great Hall, to Scott and Jean. She had lost two of her best friends less than a week ago. T.J became lost in one of her many memories of them.
When T.J had first arrived at Xavier's School for Gifted Children she had been scared and angry. Scott and Jean had been at X-Mansion for many years and felt almost comfortable with their mutations.
T.J had been introverted and a bit surly at the apparent ease with which they used their abilities, but she also held an admiration for them. T.J had been alone for so long she found it hard to open up to others, but she had eventually opened up to Jean. Jean had told her that even she and Scott had been scared and had no control of their powers in the beginning. With the help of Professor Xavier they had learnt to control their powers and now they helped others like T.J to do the same.
Scott and Jean had taken her under their wing and taught her how to channel her anger productively. T.J, in turn, had taught them about different spells and potions she thought would come in useful. She also told them of the magic she had learnt during her time at Hogwarts. Over time and with their help T.J had turned from being a scared young girl into a strong, confident young woman thanks to their faith in her.
T.J was brought back to the present by a hand on top of hers.
"Are you ok T.J? You looked miles away.", Fred asked concern coming through in his voice.
"I honestly don't know Fred. I know I should be happy that we won, but I can't help thinking the price we paid for our victory was far too high.", she replied sadly.
"How do you mean?", Ron asked as he and Rogue came to stand behind her.
"Look at all the people Voldemort hurt or killed when he was alive.", she paused as she dropped her head into her hands, "Even after he was defeated he still managed to take three good people. In death, he still beat us."
"He nearly took four good people from us.", Hermione broke in gently.
"That's what I mean Hermione. It was my job to lead everyone into this battle and yet I survived. I guess I thought it was up to me to keep everyone else safe. It was my job to bring everyone out of there alive. I feel I failed them because I should have been able to protect them. I should have been the one to die. Do you guys understand.", T.J explained seeing the shocked look on their faces.
"Well I, for one, am glad you survived. I'm sure I speak for the rest of us. Besides every single one of us knew exactly what we were doing.", Draco said taking her hand and squeezing it gently.
"Besides Professor Snape wouldn't have been able to sit back and do nothing if there was something he could do to help.", Harry agreed.
"T.J I have to agree. There was no way that we were gonna let you face Voldemort alone. I know sometimes you thought about telling us to leave and don't deny it. Scott and Jean knew the dangers, but they fought because it was the right thing to do.", Rogue said fiercely.
"How did you become so wise, Rogue?", T.J asked smiling up at her young friend.
"I don't know. I learnt from the best.", Rogue said winking at her.
T.J knew they were right, but deep down she still felt as if she had lost too much. She still felt she had failed her three lost friends, as well as the rest of her friends.
"Come on Draco, you need some sleep.", T.J said standing up and holding her hand out to him.
Draco nodded and took her hand. He allowed her to lead him back to his room. Harry and the others followed. As they walked along in silence, T.J watched as the new friendship dynamic changed to include Draco. It was wonderful to see. Each of her friends seemed lost in their own thoughts. T.J knew she had a decision to make and she knew she would end up hurting someone. She needed to talk to Charles.
When they got to Draco's door, T.J waved her hand and opened it. Once they were inside, Harry went and lit the fire as T.J helped Draco to bed. She sat on the edge of the bed stroking Draco's face gently, talking softly to him. Within minutes he was sound asleep. As T.J looked down on him he looked so fragile, so vulnerable. T.J finally knew what her decision should be. She leant down and kissed Draco on the cheek, stood up and strode over to the others.
"Harry, Ron there's something I need to do. Will you stay with Draco?", T.J asked her gaze moving from one to the other.
"Sure, but what if he wakes up and you're not here. He'll freak.", Ron replied, worry flaring up in his eyes.
"He won't wake up. I've put him into a deep sleep, so I'll be back before he wakes up.", she promised.
"Ok, we'll stay with him until you get back.", Harry responded.
"Thanks, guys.", T.J left the room and went in search of Charles.
T.J found Charles out by the lake talking to Albus and Logan. She was nervous but glad that they were there.
"Charles can I talk to you?", she asked nervously
"We'll leave you two alone.", Logan said turning to leave.
"No please stay both of you.", T.J said quickly grabbing Logan's hand.
As they turned back she noticed that Albus didn't seem too surprised by her request. Logan, on the other hand, had a very puzzled look in his eyes.
"What can I do for you T.J?", Charles asked. T.J took a deep breath plucking up the courage to say what was on her mind.
"I don't think I should go back with you.", she said quickly before her courage failed her.
"Why?", Charles asked no emotion showing on his face or in his voice.
"I think I could be of more use here. There's a lot of work to be done, a lot of damage that I feel is my fault.", she replied weakly. Her words sounded pathetic even to her own ears.
"What do you mean your fault?", Logan growled spinning her to face him, his eyes flashing.
"We lost Scott, Jean and Serverus because of me and my stupidity. I grew overconfident in our abilities and skills to defeat Voldemort. I overlooked just how dangerous his Deatheaters really were and that cost us a high price. That's why I think it would be better if I left X-Mansion before I get any more of you killed.", T.J's anger at herself flared up as she stood toe to toe with Logan.
"Charles can I say something?", Albus asked softly. Taking T.J by the shoulder and pulling her a step away from Logan, as Charles nodded.
"You didn't fail T.J. I know that's what you think, but you're wrong. Serverus was a good man. He loved you dearly and because of that, his conscience wouldn't have allowed him to sit back and do nothing while you fought. As for Jean and Scott, I believe they would have followed you into the very depths of Hell because they knew it was the right thing to do, the right choice to make.", he paused allowing what he had said to sink in, giving T.J time to process his words.
"Now if you wish to stay here you will be very welcome. We need a new Potions teacher and I think you would fill the role nicely.", Albus said as T.J raised her head to look at him.
T.J smiled her thanks at Albus and turned to face Logan ready to apologise for her outburst. Her words died on her lips as she saw the expression on his face. Logan looked like he could quite gladly rip her to shreds. There was a myriad of emotions flashing in his eyes. Anger, disappointment and grief seemed to be the main ones. Without another word he spun on his heels and stalked towards the Forbidden Forest. T.J moved to follow him ready to knock some sense into him when she felt a hand on her wrist.
"Let him go T.J. He's the one that's going to miss you the most. Just give him time to calm down.", Charles spoke inside her mind.
Sadness crashed over her like a tidal wave as she watched her friend's retreating back. She knew he was angry and he had good reason to be. Logan and T.J were the same. They were two sides of the same coin. He didn't even look back as he entered the forest.
T.J thanked Albus and Charles and turned back towards the castle. She felt as if the weight in her heart had doubled instead of lightning as it should have done. If she was being completely honest with herself she wasn't just doing this to relieve her guilt. She was doing this for very altruistic reasons. She was doing this for Draco. Her heart hurt so much at the thought of leaving him again. Logan was right, but she didn't care. Draco had held sway over her thoughts and feelings for three years. She couldn't leave him even if she wanted to, he was like her own personal drug, he was her addiction. When she had left Hogwarts, she had left part of her heart with the blond Slytherin. It had taken her return to realise that the prospect of seeing him again had been too hard to resist, even if she didn't know it. Now that she knew how he felt she didn't want to leave him. She had no intention of ever leaving him again. She knew she was hurting her team-mates by leaving them, Logan had just proved that point. She also knew that they would probably support her choice. Hogwarts was where she belonged. Deep down she had always known this was where her heart called home.
Draco was still sleeping as T.J entered the room. Rogue and Hermione were talking quietly while they watched Harry and Ron playing chess by the fire. By the look of it, Ron was winning as usual. They all looked up as she closed the door.
"Everything ok?", Hermione asked.
T.J nodded going to stand by the bed. Draco looked so peaceful. As she watched him sleeping she realised just how close to losing him she had come. It was like a switch had been flipped. At that moment she realised she had made the right decision. The weight that had settled on her heart melted away. Finally, she could grieve for her friends.
T.J went and stood by the door. She felt the eyes of the others on her back as she rested her head against the door. The loss of Scott, Jean and Serverus washed over her, and the dam she had just rebuilt came crashing back down releasing a flood of tears she couldn't stop. Tears spilt down her face like a waterfall as silent sobs racked her body.
Draco stirred and seeing T.J by the door he got up and went to her. As he got closer he saw she was crying. He placed his hand gently on her back. T.J turned and threw herself into his open arms as her grief overwhelmed her. He gently pulled her tighter against him and stroked the back of her hair. Nobody said a word. As Draco looked at the others he noticed that Ron, Hermione and Rogue seemed shocked at T.J's behaviour. Harry, on the other hand, wasn't surprised at all. Draco could tell by the look in his eyes that this was not the first time he had seen this side of T.J. A look of understanding passed between them.
T.J finally broke away from Draco and looked up at him. Her eyes were red and blotchy from crying, but she was regaining some of her composure. As she looked at Draco she saw love and concern in his silver gaze. T.J felt an understanding pass between them. They would always be there for each other. T.J still had a small doubt about her decision, but the look that Draco gave her made the choice that little bit easier to make. She would stay here at Hogwarts and help the X-Men as and when they needed her.
"I need to talk to you guys about something.", she said, leading Draco over to join the others. Draco perched himself on the arm of the chair next to Ron. T.J saw the worried look they shared.
"It's nothing to worry about guys. It's just I came to a decision today and I want to know what you all think.", T.J reassured them, seeing them visibly relax. They watched her as she took a deep breath steeling her resolve to tell them what she had done.
"Here goes, I've decided to leave X-Mansion and stay here at Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore has offered me Professor Snape's position and I've accepted. Please don't be mad at me.", she explained hoping they would be happy for her.
Rogue stood up and T.J braced herself for another angry outburst like Logans. What happened next was something she didn't expect. Rogue hugged her tightly.
"I'll be honest with you T.J. I'm gonna miss you so much. You've been like a sister to me, but if this is what you really want and will make you happy, then you have my full and complete support. Just don't forget us.", she said brightly.
"Thanks, little sis. I could never forget you. I just wish Logan felt the same way.", T.J said releasing her young friend and smiling sadly.
"Don't worry about Logan. He'll come round. Besides you always could wrap him around your little finger. All Logan has ever wanted is for you to be happy and if being here is what makes you happy then he'll just have to accept it. He's just scared he's losing you for good.", Rogue said smiling at her.
"Again how did you become so wise?", T.J asked shaking her head.
"Again I definitely learnt from the best.", Rogue chuckled, hugging T.J once more.
T.J knew she was right about Logan, but she could still see the scene of him storming away angry at her. This still bit deep into her heart.
"What about you guys? What do you think?", T.J asked turning to the others, as Rogue sat down on Ron's lap. Harry ran his hand through his hair as he looked at the others. Standing up her cleared his throat.
"I think I speak for all of us here when I say this. T.J when you left Hogwarts, this place was never the same again for us. Hogwarts became a little duller and a lot emptier without you in it. All that changed when you first walked back into the Great Hall that day. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's fantastic.", he said a bright smile on his face.
"Yeah I agree, but you'll be leaving your other friends, your family and I can only guess how much that is hurting you. If this is what you really want then all I can say is their loss is our gain.", Ron said grinning as Rogue punched him playfully on the leg. Hermione enthusiastically nodded her agreement with what her friends had said.
T.J grinned at her three best friends. There had never been any doubt in her mind that they would support her whatever she decided to do. Draco stayed silent his head bowed deep in thought. T.J couldn't begin to imagine what was going through his mind.
"What do you think Draco?", Hermione queried when he showed no sign of saying anything.
"Are you staying because of me?", he asked without looking up.
"You're the main reason I'm staying, but not the only reason. I'll admit the thought of leaving here, leaving you hurts so much I can't breathe. I can't be without you I'd rather die.", T.J answered honestly moving to stand in front of him.
"What's the other reason?", he asked looking up locking his eyes with hers holding her in place with his gaze.
"You all know that I believe I failed you all.", she paused as she heard the murmurs of agreement, "Well, I feel I have a lot to make up for and there's a lot to be done here. I think this is where I can do the most good."
"Then you have my full support. To be honest I prayed that you would stay because I can't let you leave my life again. I also think that Professor Snape couldn't have picked a better successor, but you seem to have forgotten something.", Draco said smiling.
"What?", T.J asked as puzzled as the others.
"The Potions Professor is always the Head of Slytherin House.", he replied grinning wickedly as realisation dawned on the others.
"Well, that should be something worth writing home about.", T.J giggled.
"Yeah. A Gryffindor as the Head of Slytherin. That should definitely be in the new edition of Hogwarts: A History.", Hermione said laughing.
T.J turned to say something to Ron and her laughter died abruptly on her lips. The sadness that shone from his eyes made her heartbreak.
"What's the matter, Ron?", she asked touching his arm.
"I think it's time to get ready. It's nearly time we were heading down for the feast guys.", he said tapping his watch.
Harry had told T.J there was to be a feast that night to honour Serverus, Scott and Jean. She had already decided what to wear, but now that she was the new Head of Slytherin it seemed even more appropriate.
"I'd better change.", she said simply, moving away from Draco.
T.J raised one hand above her head. As she said a simple spell she drew a circle in the air. A circle of golden sparks hung in the air above her head. Closing her eyes and concentrating on the outfit she had chosen, she lowered her arm slowly. As the halo descended over her she felt her clothes changing. When the halo touched the floor the transformation was complete. The others gasped in awe as she opened her eyes.
T.J stood before them dressed in a floor-length silver dress with an emerald snake shaped belt around her waist. Round her shoulders was a cape of the sheerest emerald fabric with flecks of silver running through it. Emerald jewellery and shoes completed the outfit. She had kept the silver wrist cuff that Serverus had given her on her right wrist. When the Garnets and Emeralds caught the firelight they blazed brightly showing her allegiance to both Houses.
"Wow, you look awesome.", Ron breathed, as Draco wrapped his arms around her waist and gently kissed her neck.
"Why thank you, kind sir.", T.J quipped bowing her head to him.
"Well, I feel decidedly underdressed.", Harry drawled.
T.J laughed as Draco shoved him playfully. Rogue raised an eyebrow and inclined her head towards Harry, Ron and Hermione.
"Ok Harry, close your eyes and imagine what you want to wear and leave the rest to me.", she said, stepping away from Draco and drawing the halo above his head. Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. T.J gave him a minute to decide.
"Ready.", she said.
"Yes, I'm ready when you are.", Harry said nodding.
T.J lowered the halo over Harry. He soon stood before his friends dressed in what he had imagined. He had chosen black trousers and shoes. His shirt was a deep forest green that deepened the green of his eyes. Over the shirt, he wore a black blazer with the Gryffindor House Crest on the left breast pocket. T.J had to admit he scrubbed up well.
Hermione went next. She chose a floor length dress in gold similar to T.J. A burgundy cape with gold flecks running through it fell from her shoulders like a waterfall. Garnet accessories and sandals completed her outfit. T.J heard Harry's sharp intake of breath as he gazed at his girlfriend. Ron was sat with a puzzled look on his face.
"You ok Ron?", Draco asked.
"I was just wondering if these clothes are real or if they are some kind of glamour.", Ron responded standing up and admiring the outfits that his friends were wearing.
"They're very real Ron which means Harry and Hermione have a brand new outfit.", T.J replied.
"Oh ok can I go next then please?", he asked his expression brightening.
T.J nodded as Ron closed his eyes and concentrated. T.J said the spell forming the golden halo over his head. She lowered her hand and the halo descended over Ron transforming his clothes. Ron's outfit was basically the same as Harry's except for a couple of small differences. His shirt was a deep burgundy and instead of a blazer, he wore a leather jacket with the Gryffindor House Crest on the back.
While T.J had been sorting the others out, Draco had crossed to the other side of the room to get changed. When T.J turned to look at him her breath caught in her throat. Draco was wearing black trousers and shoes, similar to Harry and Rons. The shirt he wore was made of the softest silver silk which made his eyes sparkle. What caught T.J's eye was the long leather coat he wore. This too was black and on the back was a dragon and a serpent intertwined surrounded by flames.
"How do I look?", he asked turning around for her.
T.J couldn't speak as she closed the gap between them. He looked gorgeous, but her voice betrayed her. All she could do was stare at him. A lock of hair fell forward as he looked down at her.
"You look amazing.", T.J whispered, pushing the lock of hair away from his face. His eyes locked on to her and she felt the rest of the world melt away as she became lost in his gaze. Draco leaned toward her and she tilted her face upwards as his soft lips caught hers in a kiss that sent her soaring.
"So do you.", he breathed gently breaking the kiss. He smiled at her and she knew that it would take some time, but with her help, Draco was going to be fine.
The mood was sombre as T.J and the others took their seats in the Great Hall. Professor Snape's chair was draped in black. T.J noticed two empty chairs had been placed at the front of the room. They too were draped in black and on one chair was Scott's visor. On the other chair, Jean's coat had been lovingly folded as a reminder of her. Behind the two chairs stood the X-Men. Logan leaned over and placed the dagger that had taken Jean's life on top of her coat. Professor Xavier beckoned to T.J and she rose from her seat. She joined her friends stood behind the only reminders of those they had lost. Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat as he stood up and faced the students.
"The past week has been eventful, to say the least. Finally, the terrifying threat of Voldemort has been ended. We have buried three brave people who gave their lives for us. I know some of you think this was a high price to pay for victory.", he paused as a murmur of agreement travelled through the Great Hall.
"Some of you are no doubt looking for someone to blame for the loss of our own Professor Snape, as well as Scott Summers and Jean Grey. I urge all of you to blame the right person. Lord Voldemort is the one that should take the blame for the tragic loss of our friends.", he paused again as he looked at T.J who had dropped her head.
"T.J Foster came to see me and Professor Xavier earlier today. This brave young woman had found someone to blame. She blamed herself, which I don't agree with at all. If it wasn't for the bravery and courage of her and her team then the threat would still be here. I, for one, am eternally grateful to all of them.", he concluded.
The Great Hall erupted as the students burst into applause, every one of them rising to their feet. T.J smiled through her tears. Albus waited for the students to finish.
"I have offered T.J the position of Potions Master. I believe that Serverus Snape would be content with the choice I have made. Which means that Slytherin has a new Head of House.", he said as another cheer erupted this time from the Slytherin table.
"Speech, speech, speech!", chanted the Slytherins led by Draco. The other students quickly took up the chant. T.J stepped forward and raised her hands to quiet them. The room quickly fell silent.
"Professor Snape has left an awfully big pair of shoes for me to fill. If I can be even half as good a teacher as he was then I think I'll do ok. During my few years here at Hogwarts, Serverus intrigued me immensely. Here was a man who was a constant contradiction. A Paradox, if you like. On the surface, it appeared he despised the students, but he was always the first to come to the defence of any of you when needed, even if you never knew it. His surly attitude and dark appearance masked a heart of gold that only a few people knew about. It was this that made him an amazing person, a wonderful teacher and a person I had the privilege of calling my friend.", she stopped unsure of how to continue.
"Tell us about Jean and Scott!", a voice shouted from the back of the room. Looking up she saw who the voice belonged to, Fred Weasley, coming to her rescue. T.J thought for a moment searching her memories. She decided to tell them about her first meeting them.
"I first met Scott, Jean and Charles less than a year after leaving Hogwarts. I had been living rough on the streets for about eight months when they found me.", she paused as the images arose in her mind's eye, "Charles sent Jean to talk to me because he thought I would be afraid of Scott. I guess he thought I'd run, but he would have been wrong. I probably would have attacked him. Jean took my hand and told me it was ok to be scared of my ability, but that I wasn't alone. She told me that I was like her, a mutant, and there was a place where I wouldn't be judged. Somewhere I would be accepted for my ability, but also somewhere I could be safe.", T.J wiped away the tears that had spilt on to her cheeks.
Logan came and stood beside her. He took her hands in his, turning her to face him. Lifting her hands he placed a kiss on her knuckles.
"Please don't cry Angel.", he said gruffly, pulling her into his arms. She felt that he had come to terms with her decision even if he didn't like it. After a few moments, T.J broke away from him and walked over to Charles. She dropped to one knee in front of him.
"Charles I want you to know I will be eternally grateful to you for everything you have done for me. You gave me a home and a wonderful family when my own family didn't want me. You taught me that just because I'm different, that I'm special and beautifully unique. I will always love you more than you can imagine for that gift. I am going to miss you so much, but if you ever need me all you have to do is call and I'll be there in a flash with plenty of back-ups.", she said taking his hand in hers, smiling up at him.
"We will miss you too, more than you can ever imagine. It won't be the same without you, who's going to keep Logan in check. You have to do what your heart is telling you is right. You will always have the help of all of us at your disposal wherever you are T.J.", he said placing his hand on her cheek as he spoke.
Later that evening T.J was in Serverus' office. She guessed it was her office now. As she walked around scanning the shelves of books her gaze fell on a small book that didn't fit in with the others on that shelf. She pulled it down and went to sit at the desk. She still couldn't make herself sit in his chair, not yet. Placing the book on the desk she opened the front cover. Inside she found a piece of folded parchment. On the front was her name written in Serverus' unmistakeable handwriting. Opening the parchment she began to read.
My Dearest T.J,
If you are reading this then you have sat alone in my office. By this time the battle is over and I have died. So that makes this your office, I guess.
I spoke to Albus a few days before the battle and asked him to appoint you as my successor. I knew you would want to stay because Hogwarts has always been where you have shone the brightest. It will always be where your heart calls home. I also think a certain blond student of mine may have a hand in that decision.
If I know Mr Malfoy as well as I know you, then he is going to need you more than he has ever needed anyone before. He may not have told you, but he came to see me the night you came back and he told me what had happened between you and him. He also told me he planned on killing his father. Lucius Malfoy has caused him a lot of pain and humiliation over the years and perhaps with your love and support he can finally begin to heal the wounds Lucius has inflicted on him.
Take a look at the book you found this letter in. You will find I have left you all my notes and lesson plans for the rest of the school year. After that, you are on your own, but I know you can do it. You were the most naturally gifted student I have ever had the pleasure of teaching.
I have always believed in you T.J. You weren't just my student, you were my friend and I grew to love our time together. I have every faith in you and your talents. I wish you nothing but success and happiness in everything you do.
Remember what I always told you. Never doubt yourself and you can do anything in life. I will miss you, my dear T.J, so until we meet again. Goodbye.
T.J re-read the letter several times. She could almost hear his voice. So Draco had been right, Serverus had shown faith in her and chosen her himself. Standing up she moved around the desk. Sitting in his chair she folded the letter and placed it on the desk. She reached for the little book, pulling it towards her. Flicking through the pages she found that she knew all the Potions. Serverus had taught her all these when she was in her third year. Closing the book she picked up the letter and stood up crossing the room to the door.
"Thank you, my friend. I promise to do you proud.", she said extinguishing the candles and closing the door behind her. T.J didn't know what the future held for her here. All she was sure of was that she would face each challenge as it arose with hope and happiness, but all that could wait until tomorrow. Right now she was heading to get some sleep. Entering Draco's room, he was still awake waiting for her. She went to the bathroom to change. When she came out Draco was already in bed, the lights dimmed. He enfolded her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. T.J fell asleep with the sound of Draco's heartbeat and Serverus' voice in her mind.
The next morning T.J made her way to the Entrance Hall after sorting a few things in her office. She was meeting Draco, Harry, Ron and Hermione down there. They were going to see the X-Men off. Bobby and John were just coming back through the front doors. They'd just finished loading everything onto the Blackbird. Bobby's eyes lit up as he saw T.J. He tapped John and pointed to her.
As the others said their goodbyes to the X-Men, T.J hung back. Logan whispered something to Hermione as he gave her a hug. Hermione nodded and glanced over her shoulder at T.J. T.J could hazard a guess to what Logan had asked of Hermione. Ron stepped forward and T.J could see he was holding something.
"This is just a little something for you guys. It's our way of saying thanks for everything and that you will be welcome back anytime you want to visit.", he said blushing furiously as he handed what he had over to Charles Xavier.
As Charles turned over the gift, T.J could see it was a plaque. In the four corners were the House Badges of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. It was the centre design that caught T.J's eye. A big X had been intricately etched in the centre to represent the X-Men and the new bond of friendship between them and Hogwarts.
"Thank you all this is a wonderful gift and I know exactly where to put it. If any of you want to come and visit us you will be made most welcome.", Charles said shaking Ron's hand, then the others, much to the delight of the young man, who grinned broadly.
As the others stepped back, T.J took a hesitant step forward. She gazed at her friends, committing their faces to her memory. She knew she would never forget any of them, but she wanted to remember every little detail. They hadn't left and she missed them already.
"I can't and won't say goodbye, it sounds so final. Instead, I'd like to say until next time. I love you guys too much not to see you again.", she said as she hugged Rogue, then Ororo.
"I'm going to miss you so much, guys.", she said hugging Charles and Kurt.
"Now you two please try and stay out of trouble ok.", she said as she hugged Bobby and John tightly.
"Well, we can't promise anything.", Bobby said holding her tightly.
"Yeah, but we'll try for you T.J.", John said as she released them.
Turning to Logan T.J became totally unsure of what to say for the first time in her life. This was her hardest goodbye. She knew he didn't like her choice to stay, but he had come to terms with it, however grudgingly.
"Take care of yourself T.J.", he said holding out his hand to her as the others left to board the Blackbird.
"Yeah, you too Logan.", she said shaking his hand.
He turned and headed towards the doors. As T.J watched him walk away she felt a piece of her soul rip away and die. He was still angry at her and it appeared it would be a long time before he forgave her. With a sigh, she turned and began to walk towards the entrance to the Dungeons, where the others waited for her. She had only taken a couple of steps when she heard someone behind her. She turned to see who it was and found herself face to face with Logan, who wrapped her in a bear hug. T.J wrapped her arms around his neck, breathing in his familiar scent and let the tears flow.
"Don't you dare be a stranger Angel. If you need me for anything then call me ok.", Logan growled, his voice betraying the sadness he felt at letting her go.
"I will. Don't forget you're my best friend Logan and I love you. Just look after the others for me. They are gonna need you more than they know.", T.J choked.
Logan let her go and looked her in the eyes. He nodded sharply to indicate he would follow, what he considered to be her final order to him. T.J kissed his cheek and grinned at him. He grinned back at her and she knew she now had his complete support.
"You look after her.", Logan said to Draco as he joined them.
"You can count on it.", Draco said smiling down at T.J. As T.J watched Logan's retreating figure she had every intention of seeing him again soon.
Turning to her friends she linked arms with Draco and Ron. As they walked out into the sunlight T.J couldn't help but let her joy bubble to the surface. Turning her face to the sun she laughed with pure happiness. She was where she wanted to be finally. She had taken a long way round, but she was home. She would take on whatever the future holds and she would do it with Draco, the man she loved, and her friends by her side.
END OF CHAPTER EIGHT.