The end of the year descended upon Usagi much quicker than she would have liked. After some frustratingly rigorous cram sessions with Hermione, she managed to just scrape by on her make-up exams. Through all of the happenings of her first Hogwarts school year, she was going to be entering the fifth year next year after all. Smiling wistfully, she watched Helios and Fleur walk hand-in-hand across Hogwarts' grounds.
The part-Veela had elected to stay in England for the summer, and to most people the reason why appeared pretty obvious in the silver-haired boy she was always seen with. Luna had a place of residence somewhere nearby they would be staying in, but Usagi knew where she had to be this summer.
Harry had seemingly returned to normal, or he was a terribly good actor, but the subject of Voldemort was rarely brought up anymore. Pulling away from the window, Usagi made her way back to her trunk to place the last of her belongings inside.
As she clasped the thing shut, a small smile lifted her lips into a light curve. She never thought, at the beginning of this whole escapade, that she would have this sense of belonging. On top of that, she didn't expect the feeling of dread at leaving the school, any school for that matter. Unknowingly, the castle had become a part of her, and she would be looking forward to her next year.
"I got the owl from my parents, they say I'm allowed." The blonde turned, smile still stuck on her face as she met gazes with Lee. He grinned back, and offered his arm out to her. "I've come to escort you to the feast, fair lady."
Usagi giggled at his overdramatic tone, looping her arm with his. "Well then, I accept kind sir." She replied with equal enthusiasm. They both laughed as they descended the spiral staircase, meeting up with Harry in the common room. Ron and Hermione joined them moments later, and they all left for the Great Hall.
As soon as they entered, they were met with the noise of a whole school. Black banners hung behind the staff table, and along each wall, as a tribute to Cedric Diggory. An image of the lifeless boy flashed through Usagi mind, and she shook her head to rid herself of it, smiling over at the concerned expression of Lee. They seated themselves next to the Weasley twins just as Dumbledore rose from his seat, instantly silencing the hall.
"The end of another year," he smiled around at all of them, the candles reflecting off of his half-moon spectacles. The gesture faded as he paused on the Hufflepuff table. "There is much that I would like to say to you all tonight, but I must first acknowledge the loss of a very fine person, who should be sitting here enjoying our feast with us."
No one in the hall spoke, or moved at all. It seemed like they were all holding their breath. A few sniffles cut the silence briefly, but Usagi didn't move to locate the grievers. Her eyes were tearing up as well, and she hadn't even known the boy. Dumbledore closed his eyes for a moment, and then focused on the group of students once more. "I would like you all, please, to stand, and raise your glasses, to Cedric Diggory."
The subsequent noise of shuffling echoed through the hall as everyone stood, wordlessly, and raised their goblets. "Cedric Diggory."
"Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities that distinguish Hufflepuff House," the headmaster went on. "He was a good and loyal friend, a hard worker, he valued fair play. His death has affected you all, whether you knew him well or not. I think that you have the right, therefore, to know exactly how it came about."
Usagi tensed in her seat, and exchanged a glance with Harry. He held the same panicked look, and they both stared up at Dumbledore apprehensively. The elderly man opened his mouth, and produced the sentence the two had been dreading. "Cedric Diggory was murdered by Lord Voldemort."
"The Ministry of Magic," Dumbledore spoke, silencing the frantic whispers that had run through the student body, "does not wish me to tell you this. It is possible that some of your parents will be horrified that I have done so--either because they will not believe the Lord Voldemort has returned, or because they think that I should not tell you so, young as you are. It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally preferable to lies, and that any attempt to pretend that Cedric died as the result of an accident, or some sort of blunder of his own, is an insult to his memory.
"There is someone else who must be mentioned in connection to Cedric's death," for one fleeting moment, Usagi thought it might be her, "I am talking, of course, about Harry Potter. Harry Potter managed to escape Lord Voldemort. He risked his own life to return Cedric's body to Hogwarts. He showed, in every respect, the sort of bravery that few wizards have ever shown in facing Lord Voldemort, and for this, I honor him."
Dumbledore raised his goblet towards the raven-haired boy, and Usagi followed suit, breathing a silent sigh of relief that he hadn't mentioned her name. "The Triwizard Tournament's aim was to further and promote magical understanding. In the light of what has happened, of Lord Voldemort's return, such ties are more important than ever."
"Every guest in this hall will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again, that in the light of Lord Voldemort's return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."
"It is my belief, and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken, that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. Not long ago, a student was taken from our midst."
"Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."
Usagi gazed indifferently out at the speeding scenery, barely glimpsing the blooming colors as they flashed through her vision. Her lips were twitching with suppressed mirth, trying her best not to laugh at the noise that drifted from the halls. Harry was looking at her suspiciously, not failing to notice the half-grin on her face, while Ron and Hermione peeked out of their compartment door.
"Usagi, why do you have paint on your hands?" The green-eyed boy asked suddenly, causing the blonde to snort with laughter, shaking with silent amusement. Before she could answer the question, their compartment door slammed open, sending Ron and Hermione stumbling back to their seats. The sight in the doorway sent the whole group into hysterics.
"Tsukino," Draco growled, digging through his robes for his wand. Usagi grinned up at him, still chuckling slightly, and held up the wooden object.
"I borrowed it, hope you don't mind. I needed it to help me with that, you wouldn't want it rubbing off, right?" She giggled, pointing at his face. He glared, only making it seem twice as comical. His face was painted completely white. Over his left eye, there was a nice pink heart, a yellow star over the right eye. A red flower was painted on both of his cheeks. Ron was turning colors from laughing too hard.
"Take this stuff off." The blonde Slytherin demanded. From the wet tips of hair hanging in his eyes, Usagi could tell he'd already tried to wash it off with no success. She smiled sweetly at him, standing to face him at eye level.
"I will, once you apologize to me for what you did earlier this year." At Draco's perplexed expression, she pressed her lips together in a frown. "You know, your revenge."
"Fine, I'm sorry." The blonde spat out in annoyance, which caused Usagi to roll her eyes at him.
"That's the most pathetic apology I've ever heard. You can do better, Draco." She smiled a very sugary smile, not wavering under the intense glare he sent her.
"I'm so very sorry for what I did, now please." Usagi walked closer to him and pressed his wand in his hand.
"You know, I really don't hate you Draco, and I wish we could be friends. I hope you have a nice summer finding out how to get that off, or at least practicing your apologies." She pushed him out of the compartment gently, his face twisted into an angry scowl. He raised his wand towards her, and then saw the four wands raised against him, and thought better of it. He stalked off down the train.
"Nice tail, by the way!" Usagi called, laughing as Draco just discovered the white rabbit tail attached the back of his robes. Several people sticking their heads out of compartments laughed along with her as she retreated back to her own compartment. It didn't take long for Fred, George, and Lee to burst in, laughing their heads off as well.
"Well, it wasn't as good as the other prank, but it was good nonetheless." Fred commented.
"Yeah, and the rabbit tail was a nice touch." George said, looking pointedly at Usagi. She just grinned up at him. By some miracle, the seven of them managed to squeeze into the one compartment, talking on about nothing for the rest of the train ride.
"Are you ready?" Usagi nodded, her golden hair bouncing with the movement. Her blue eyes twinkled apprehensively as they climbed out of the taxi. The car pulled away, cabby returning the wave that the blonde sent his way. As the two walked up the driveway, Lee grasped onto her hand. She smiled over at him, unconsciously drawing in a breath to steady her nerves.
They stopped in front of the door, the once navy blue paint faded from weather, and stood. Lee kept his eyes trained on Usagi as she stared at the entrance, eyes glazed over in thought. Through it, they heard the faint sounds of a woman humming and the soft padding of feet across linoleum. A smile pulled at her lips as she lifted her hand to knock on the door. Stopping once more, she let it drop to the knob.
She twisted the metal in her hands, pushing the door forward until it connected softly with the wall. The movement in the kitchen halted, and Usagi realized she was nearly trembling. She stepped into the entrance, standing on the welcome mat as the footsteps approached her. With one last calming breath, and Lee squeezing her hand, she smiled into the shocked brown eyes before her.
Dare I say anything? -gets publicly stoned- Yes, that is the end and no there won't be a sequel anytime soon. In the mean time, drop by my less crappy stories and help meto justify this...
You guys, and everyone who reviewed this story, have helped me improve and continue writing, and I'm a better author because of it. It's been a long two and a half years, probably more for you guys than for me, and now it's over. I'm kinda sad. Ah well, there are other stories. Speaking of them...
SachiNyoko- "Heart attacks...God's revenge for eating his animal friends."