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*Ta-da! It's Chapter 26! Thank you so much to those of you who keep reviewing! You really make my day! For those of you wondering who CF is read back in some earlier chapters I have mentioned CF if you can figure out who it is. Also, I'm on summer break so these might be coming out more frequently, except when I go on vacation. You can check my author page for updates of where I am. I'm not sure how long this stroy is going to be, but we're over half way through. So that's enough rambling for today enjoy reading!*

Return To Hogwarts

Hogwarts loomed out of the hazy twilight, its tall towers and parapets casting great, solemn shadows on the ever darkening grounds. Snow still covered everything that did not move, giving the castle an eerie glow. Hogwarts’ luminescence made it seem more other-worldly than it already was. Taryn felt like she was slipping into a dream as she stepped off the Hogwarts Express and onto the platform. It’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare. For here she would have to come face to face with her fears. Submitting to them was not a luxury she could afford. Instinctively her eyes scanned the crowd of returning students for a head of platinum blonde hair, but she found none. I should be relieved, but I’m not. Instead this only heightened her feeling of foreboding. Setting her face she turned towards the castle and followed behind the others as they walked to the doors. Silence stretched across the snow like a blanket, one that was not broken until all had entered the Great Hall. Clutching her cloak tightly around her, Taryn stood taller she would not show any signs of weakness.

Hermione was worried. Nervously she fiddled with her fingers trying desperately to calm down. In moments the four of them would enter the Great Hall for the return feast. She hoped they were making the right decision. No, I know that we’re making the right decision. We can’t let Taryn face him alone. Trying not to appear downcast Hermione linked arms with Taryn and gave her as much of a reassuring smile as she could muster. Taryn smiled back slightly, grateful for Hermione’s support. Harry and Ron flanked either side as the four walked into the Great Hall.

The Gryffindor table looked stunned as Taryn joined their ranks while the Slytherins continued to look murderous. Taryn did not look over at her house table, she didn’t want to see the eyes that she felt watching her. Instead she glanced up at the staff table and noticed Dumbledore watching the group take their seats. The look in his eyes was puzzling. For a moment Taryn could not read it, but she could take a guess at the emotions that hid behind the wise, old eyes. If she were to guess she would say that Dumbledore’s eyes held sadness, but behind that a triumph though she had no idea what he had accomplished.

Dinner was a quiet affair, tension was strung to high for ideal conversation so none was made. Taryn hardly ate anything she was too nervous about the confrontation that was bound to happen. All I have to do is stay calm, I don’t have to say anything. Just breathe. Taryn found that the breathing was easy, staying calm was more of a task. When dinner had ended her stomach tightened with dread and she felt like her feet were cemented to the floor. Hermione gently touched her elbow and Harry took a hold of her shoulders and started to steer her towards the door. Taryn heart caught in her throat when they exited the room. There was Draco, standing with Pansy looking utterly bored. His eyes locked on hers and she sent a pleading look to Harry, Please, let’s not start anything. Harry seemed to understand what she wanted and nodded slightly at her. They began to walk past Draco and Pansy when Ron suddenly said,

“What Malfoy no remarks?”

“Ron.” Hermione said under her breath as she grabbed his arm, preparing to drag him away.

“Go to hell, Weasley. And take the mudblood with you.” Draco said without emotion. No Sinicism, or maliciousness, just nothing. Taryn could not fail to notice the faint remains of a bruise around his left eye or the way his nose looked slightly different, as if it had been broken. He looked her in the eyes with so many emotions that Taryn wanted to run away, but she held her gaze. She could have handled hate, and she could have handled happiness and disregard. But this she could not handle. She could handle the look of regret and remorse. Most of all, above all else she could not handle the passion that still resided in his eyes. The passion that she had fallen for, the passion that had almost broken her.

“We’re already in hell, Malfoy. Or can’t you tell?” Taryn said venomously deciding to end the confrontation as she turned and stalked away. If she had turned around she would have seen another emotion in those eyes, one that had not appeared in a long time. Instead she kept walking, her new support enclosed around her trying to keep her from the harsh reality that they were living in.

* * * * * *

When Taryn arrived in her dorm she went straight to the bathroom and locked the door ensuring that no one would bother her. There, using water from the sink and a flame from her wand she boiled infusion of honeysuckle with the root of the mallow in a tin pot she had managed to scrounge up. The smell that rose to meet her nose was heavenly, one that she had smelled before long ago. It reminded her of her mother, or the shadow of the mother she wished she had. Securing a lid over the tin pot she tried to think of somewhere she could keep it. The Room of Requirement, I could have boiled this there too. Cursing her slow thinking she left the dorm quietly and carefully, prefects were bound to be patrolling the halls by now. The corridors were oddly empty as Taryn walked up to the seventh floor. She did not meet any prefects, but this was not comforting to her. When she reached the door she closed her eyes as she walked in front of it three times thinking of a place to put her potion.

“Wow.” She whispered when she opened the door. Before her lay a room much like the potions classroom in the dungeons on this was so much more. The entire back wall was a window that looked out onto the frozen grounds. The full moon could be seen clearly as it hung like a beacon in the sky. Marble countertops spanned the other walls while cabinets above them held a massive variety of potion ingredients. Selecting a spot on counter nearest the window, Taryn set down her tin pot. Immediately a cabinet under the counter opened up to reveal several pewter caldrons. Taryn carefully took one out and transferred her potion. Wiping her hands off on her robes she took one last glance around the room to make sure that everything was in order before she left. As she stepped out of the Room of Requirement she smiled, I’ve actually accomplished something. Soon, I’ll have answers.

“It’s late, you shouldn’t be wandering the halls.” Taryn whipped around sharply when she heard a voice speaking to her. In the dim lighting she only saw a shadow in the dark, but still she knew who it was. “You never know what could happen when you least expect it.”

“Are you going to hurt me Malfoy?” Taryn asked confidently as she drew her wand.

“Malfoy now is it? What happened to Draco?” He asked as he stepped forward so she could make out his expression.

“He’s dead to me.” Taryn said with quiet intensity.

“You’re all that keeps him alive.”

“I could care less if he was alive.”

“You shouldn’t do that to yourself.”

“Do what?” Taryn asked incredulously.

“Hide your feelings like that, it’ll get you into trouble eventually.”

“I shouldn’t hide my feelings? I should be open about them like you were right?”

“I was open about my feelings.”

“Really? Then why didn’t I know that you didn’t care about me at all, you were just waiting for your big break with Voldemort?” Taryn spat back at him. Draco eyes burned with cold furry at the mention of Voldemort.

“I didn’t lie when I said I cared about you. I won’t lie now. I love you, Taryn. If you don’t see it now, that’s fine. Because you will, I promise. Voldemort has no hold over me anymore.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“You shouldn’t. I’m banking on trust.”

“Trust? Trust is a hard thing to build back up, Malfoy. And quite honestly you don’t deserve it, no matter how much you’re going to say that you love me.”

“Then I’ll just have to prove it you. Or maybe you’ll have to prove it to yourself. You’re the one that saw the future.” Turning on his heel he left in the same direction he had come leaving Taryn staring blankly into the dark. You’re the one that saw the future. What the hell is he talking about? Taryn was about to turn and walk away when she noticed something that Malfoy had dropped on the floor. It was a thin leather cord with a metal ring at one end. She bent down to pick it up and as soon as her fingers brushed the cool metal the familiar shiver ran up her spine.

“Tell me what you saw girl!”

“You have no power over me!” Taryn watched herself yell back defiantly. From where she stood, she saw herself in a dimly lit cave, behind bars that were guarded with magic. Before her stood a tall man, with a hooded robe so she could not see his face.

“I believe I do.” The man said, casting a glace deeper into the cell. Taryn could make out another body face down on the floor.

“I won’t tell you, I won’t make that mistake.” Taryn heard herself say, and noticed that some of her confidence was gone.

“Your foolishness will kill him.” The man sounded like he was smiling. “Crucio.” He said pointing his wand to the body on the floor. As the screams reverberated around the cell, the body’s head jerked up and Taryn could see clearly who it was. Draco Malfoy. The man stopped the curse and looked directly at the girl standing before him.

“It is your choice. If you do not tell me I will take his life.” Taryn saw herself collapse into sobs on the cell’s floor. As the vision began to fade Taryn heard the man say to himself, “They will do anything for love.”

I’ve had the vision before. Taryn remembered when she had first seen that. When Malfoy had kissed her in the common room several months ago. It hasn’t changed. Is that what he meant? Malfoy had said he wouldn’t have to prove anything because she was the one who saw the future. She had told him about that vision. Did he still think that was going to happen. It is still going to happen. He said he wasn’t afraid then, Is he still afraid now? Taryn smiled grimly as she walked back to the common room. She had that vision for a reason and now after seeing it for the second time she fully understood what it meant. Voldemort was going to use her feelings for Draco to make her submit to him. Now I can make the vision change.

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