Dark. It was so damn dark. Usagi narrowed her eyes in a further attempt to penetrate the endless gloom around them, but found it to be of little use. Instead she focused off in the distance, where she knew everything would be going down soon enough. Too soon.
Luna stood at her side with one pale hand place gently on her forearm, whether to assure her or subdue her from running off she scarcely knew. Her ruby eyes also trained forward into the night, rarely wandering back to the blonde's face written with concern. Only moments before she had watched the two most important people in her entire universe walk away, and maybe she did want to run after them. Maybe she would have already if Luna wasn't there.
Somewhere in the darkness around her she knew her guardians were hidden, also waiting. All eyes turned toward the sky waiting for a burst of green sparks. Hoping they wouldn't be red. She'd spent the past few nights wide awake, tossing and turning, getting a few hours of exhausted sleep at most. Thinking of what was to come, of what she'd told Harry in the graveyard just a few days before.
When this is over.
One of us could be dead, or both of us. It's the thought that moved her forward when Harry turned away to leave with her brother. She pulled him back and kissed him with everything she had. He was surprised but eager while she was unsure. What if she'd been wrong all this time to ignore both of their feelings? What if that short amount of time was the only amount that they would ever have together?
Would she regret it?
She'd pulled away, tentatively glancing toward Draco, but he wasn't angry as she expected. Mildly disgusted and somewhat resigned was how she would describe his expression, but no degree of surprised.
Usagi glanced at Luna again, silently praying that they all survived the night, no matter what else happened.
A blossom of green lit up the moonless sky. It was literally painful, the quickness of her heart as she jumped and sprinted forward. Luna was somewhere behind her, but held no chance of keeping pace with the blonde. Everything flashed past in a distorted blur of time.
"A portkey," Luna nodded at this. It had been an option they heavily considered after Harry had explained Voldemort's use of a portkey during his fourth year. Usagi glanced anxiously over the two of them but neither appeared to be harmed. Her guardians were appearing on all sides as Luna bent to examine the tattered robe that was to be their portkey.
"We're in luck; it will be able to transport all of us." She said finally, as Minako appeared as the last of their party. "Ready?"
Of course not, Usagi though, but nodded regardless as she reached for the robe.
A familiar tug behind the navel brought them stumbling to their destination. She knew the instant she opened her eyes something had gone wrong. They knew.
She was shoved to the ground as a shower of multicolored lights exploded above. Everything around her was terribly loud; she couldn't regain her bearings to discern what was happening. Until she saw a dark robe from the corner of her eye and raised her arm. The weight that shoved her down had disappeared but she was still sprawled on the ground as she shouted the spell. Her target went down as she jumped to her feet.
There were people everywhere. She could hardly tell ally from enemy, or if some of the fighters on the ground were friend or foe, dead or just disabled. But she suddenly spotted her brother on the other side of the room, still alive. She jetted to the left and hid behind some sort of stone statue, sure she felt the heat of a spell pass close to her skin.
Taking one deep breath to regain her stability, she darted from her hiding place once more. Her fingers brushed the crystal in her pocket as she mumbled a familiar spell. Quiesco. The Death Eaters she passed dropped to the ground, unmoving in a coma-like sleep, as she searched out Luna. Finally the mane of wavy dark hair appeared.
"Where's Voldemort and Beryl?" Usagi pressed her back to Luna's and continued disabling every enemy in her sights. She could feel the hum of the crystal's power in her pocket like a soft vibration, the warmth on her forehead where she knew there would be a crescent moon shaped insignia. Though she'd spent the past months training, focusing on her ability to endure using the crystal's power for longer periods of time, she could already feel the exhaustion tugging her down, making her weary.
"There seems to be a passage to the far left, slightly hidden, where Death Eaters are appearing. You should take Harry and slip away as quietly as possible. They'll follow you two if they know. We'll stay here and hold the fort." Luna was already panting with exertion. Time was short. Usagi ducked away, using her petite size as an advantage as she searched out Harry.
She spotted the green eyed youth near the corner that Luna had described and approached. He seemed to sense her coming, for he turned and joined her off to the side. She quickly explained the improvised plan to him. "We should get going."
Harry nodded his agreement and led the way, taking down the single Death Eater that blocked their path before he even knew they were approaching. As the pair slipped into the narrow corridor, a strange sort of silence descended upon them. Usagi's ears still rang with the sounds of the battle. She was a bit disoriented, but willed her feet to keep the path behind Harry and tried to ignore her trembling hands. She couldn't give in to her fear now.
A sudden sound from behind her made her jump, and without hesitating she whirled on her heel, wand hand raised and ready. Her lips parted to utter a spell before she caught sight of a familiar face appearing through the shadows. Relief spread through her instantly, relaxing her muscles, before anger caused them to tense once more.
"Draco, what are you doing?" Usagi hissed at her approaching twin, her blue eyes narrowed in fury. Why would her brother want to follow them right into the jaws of the beast? Draco bridged the distance between them, his own face defiant. Harry had stopped as well and was now standing behind her, so she couldn't see his face.
"I'm coming with you. Don't argue."
"What do you mean don't argue?! You're being ridiculous! You know Harry and I have to do this alone. Go back and fight with the LPA." Though she meant it to sound angry, or full of authority, the tone of her voice was pathetic to her own ears, so she simply added the plea, "Please, Draco."
"Not going to happen. Let's go." Draco was determined. She frowned and opened her mouth to argue when she felt Harry's hand touch her arm. She turned to him and he shook his head.
"If he wants to come then let him. He could help us. Besides, we don't have time to stand here and argue." Usagi stopped, thinking about it, her expression one of misery. She remembered the already tiring Luna and knew that Harry was right. They couldn't waste time.
"Fine, let's go then." The three of them moved on down the corridor. Apprehension ate away at the blonde as she glanced between her two companions and squinted into the dimness ahead of them. Where was everyone? Shouldn't there be some guards by now? An opening ahead made her heart skip a beat, and the trio entered the large room, skidding to a halt.
Silence reigned, penetrated only by the sounds of their breathing as they tried to catch their breath from the jog down the path. Usagi's blue eyes locked ahead, where the form of a tall, slender redhead stood, a malevolent face smiling down at them. Her orange-hued eyes, however, were fixed solely on the single female of the group.
"Princess, I've been expecting you." Her ruby lips curled into a smile as Usagi scowled. "Oh yes, I suspect you don't go by that title. No matter. Once I destroy you, the rest of the Lunarians will fall with little resistance."
Usagi remained silent. She wasn't sure what she should say in this situation, if she should give some sort of speech about justice or goodness. One hand clenched white on her wand, which she had unconsciously raised and fixed on Beryl, and the other was in her pocket, fingers tight around the crystal. She could feel its subtle hum of power vibrating all the way up her arm, as though the object could sense the real battle was near.
"It seems they have both arrived," The dark voice that rang out send a sudden shiver down Usagi's spine; it was pure evil. The pale, ghostly figure of Voldemort stepped up beside Beryl with a sinister grin highlighting his serpent-like features. "But it seems they have some extra baggage in tow. Lucius do tell me what your traitor of a son is doing here."
Lucius Malfoy appeared next to Voldemort before Usagi had time to process that statement. Her mouth dropped open in shock before she could stop herself. She looked toward her brother. Draco was scowling, but he didn't seem surprised. Is this why he had insisted on coming along? Did he suspect their father would be here, waiting for the final battle?
"Draco." The name came out without her really thinking about it. Her brother glanced in her direction, and then sent her a wry smile.
"Don't give me that look. After everything you've said. Father has chosen his side. It's time to end it." Usagi could feel the tears collecting in her eyelashes, blurring the edges of her vision, but she nodded. Draco was right. Lucius had chosen Voldemort over his own children, so this is what it came down to. Steeling her resolve, she turned back toward Beryl, whose orange eyes were full of mirth.
When the battle commenced, she found her concentration could scarcely move past Beryl. Only the occasional light of a spell in her peripheral vision reminded her that there were other battles taking place in the room. Beryl fired a series of dark attacks in her directions, not a spell so much as a concentration of negative energy. She seemed to have no problem in calling one after the other while Usagi clumsily dodged and countered, pulling more and more strength from the crystal and relying less on her wand.
Still it was obvious Beryl had the upper hand. Usagi's continued use of the crystal was drawing heavily on her energy. With each passing moment she felt herself getting more sluggish, but still she fought it. Everyone was counting on her. A whole race of people were looking to her for hope. If she didn't win, all hope was lost.
A sudden shout of pain penetrated her concentration. Draco. Her blue eyes instantly shot to the other side of the room where her brother crumpled in a heap on the floor. Her heart stopped as Beryl's cackle was the next noise that invaded her head. "Bad move, Princess."
In the second she had looked to her brother, Beryl had easily closed in. Usagi whipped her head back around, raised her wand, but words failed her. The attack was already closing in. It was over. She had lost.
Then suddenly she was hit, but unexpectedly from the side. A weird sense of vertigo overtook her as the weight sent her flying to the right, out of the line of fire. Her small body made hard contact with the stone ground and she bit back on a cry of pain, emitting a muffled groan instead. For a moment she lay still, dazed, wondering what had just happened.
Slowly, she moved her arm, placing her palm flat against the floor. She pushed herself up into a sitting position, turning her head, her throat dry, her palms sweating. There, crumpled to the floor in the spot where she should have been, was the immobile form of Lucius Malfoy. In disbelief she moved toward him, closing the few feet in a crawl.
"F-Father?" He remained still, his blue eyes turned skyward, empty. As her fingers brushed his face, she could almost feel the life leaving him, brushing up against her. A strange feeling coursed through her veins. She became aware of Beryl's delighted laughter in the background. Was this sudden sensation flowing through her the last remnants of Lucius Malfoy's life, or was it anguish, or pure rage?
Usagi returned to her feet, fists clenched and trembling at her sides. She raised her tear-streaked face to Beryl and delved one hand in her pocket. An upturned crescent moon was shining proudly on her forehead, glinting in an unseen light, and as she stretched her arms forward the brooch in her open palm started to glow.
Beryl stopped mid-laugh when she sensed Usagi's sudden spike in power. Her eyes widened as the glow from the brooch wrapped the entire frame of the blonde girl in a pulsing light. Frantically she began another string of attacks, but the dark energy reached her and dissipated in tiny crackles of black lightning, never touching her.
Usagi watched this but did not react. The crystal finally rose from its place in the piece of jewelry, hovering between her hands as the empty brooch fell uselessly to the floor. As it powered up, Usagi fought against her drooping eyelids and the exhaustion that was quickly overtaking her. Tears were still falling from the corners of her eyes, burning their way down her cheeks. Her father was dead.
Almost as if triggered by her thought, the crystal finally released what looked to be a wall of light or energy. It headed straight for Beryl, leaving her no room to dodge or escape. The redheaded woman was engulfed by the light and emitted one final, ear-piercing shriek before her whole body was reduced to a glittering pile of dust. It was almost pretty, almost magical.
That was Usagi's final thought before she collapsed.
It hadn't seemed right, inviting Harry to the funeral. He had never even liked Lucius Malfoy. Though he wanted to be there, to stand beside her, to support her, Usagi had asked him to stay behind. So now she took her seat in the front pew and allowed her mother, Narcissa, to lean against her as she cried.
A sudden weight on her other side let her know that Draco had taken his seat. Without hesitation, she reached out and grabbed his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. She was so thankful that her brother was still alive.
Waking after the battle had been one of the most terrible experiences of her life. She'd been out for nearly a week. Luna explained that the crystal had reacted to her emotional distress and pulled power from her very life force. She was very lucky the crystal hadn't shattered, or overdrew on her energy and killed her. The dark haired woman ventured that it had something to do with her other magical abilities that compensated for the lost energy and kept her alive.
Draco had been there, silent, stoic. She still could not fathom what it was going on in his head. The best she could wager was that he blamed himself for what happened. He was a failure. She didn't know what she could possibly say to console him. In truth she blamed herself for her Father's death. So what could either of them say?
The LPA had suffered heavy casualties during the battle. Though none of the eight princesses had fallen, many loyal soldiers and friends had. The loss was deep, and the whole agency was currently in mourning, remembering their friends. Later they would celebrate their freedom from Beryl. Usagi wished they would rejoin wizarding society, but that was a discussion for another time.
"Dearly beloved." She turned her blue eyes on the casket, drowning out the speaker with her thoughts. Harry had recounted his battle with Voldemort, recalling that it had ended almost in time with hers. He had felt the sudden surge of light and hope with her final attack, he explained, and it renewed his resolve. They had succeeded, done their duties, and fulfilled the prophecies.
If the serpent and the lion ever unite, you will fall. Usagi had pondered these words since she awoke. She was certain now that Lucius Malfoy had in reality been the serpent and that she, the only Malfoy to ever be in Gryffindor, had been the lion. Lucius's final act had been to save her life, and his sacrifice had given her the strength to defeat Beryl and inadvertently assist Harry against Voldemort. Voldemort had never worried about the prophecy because he was sure he had Lucius under his thumb.
You did love me, didn't you Father? Something had been lost between them on the day that she had been placed in the Gryffindor house. It had placed a wedge between father and daughter that they had never been able to overcome. But she remembered the happier days, when she and Draco were still just children. There were many good memories to outweigh the bad. She was just thankful that she had let Lucius know that she really did love him. And he had let her know the same, in his own way.
"What will you do, Usagi?" The blonde glanced up from a spot on the windowsill. It had been several months. Luna stood before her in the guise of Professor Desdemona, intent on finishing out the Hogwarts school year before officially resigning. Usagi, Draco, and Harry had all returned to the school as well. It only made sense, to finish their final year of schooling. Narcissa had begged it of the twins so they had agreed, and Harry had little other choice. "The Lunarians need a leader."
"I'm not a Princess, Luna." Usagi stood, closing the distance between them and taking Luna's hands in her own. Softly, she continued, "I feel a great deal for them as a people, but we aren't a kingdom anymore. Maybe it's time to join the wizarding community, share what we know. Either way I don't feel comfortable leading them. Their future is in your hands Luna. If anyone knows and loves them, it's you. I know you will do what's best."
"I understand." Luna smiled, down at the short blonde girl, and then said, "But you still didn't answer my question. What will you do?"
"I don't know." Usagi glanced down, her cerulean eyes uncertain. "Right now I'm just thankful to be alive. I don't want to look to far ahead."
"I understand that. Stay safe, Usagi. Remember, you always have a home with us." Luna pulled her into a hug, and Usagi had to blink fiercely to hold back the tears.
"Don't talk like it's the end. You will keep in touch, right?"
"Of course, Usagi. Now, I believe there's somewhere else you need to be?" Luna pulled away and smiled mischievously down at the blonde, who blushed a light pink and ducked around her. She whirled down the spiral staircase into the common room, where Harry was waiting for her by the fireplace. As she approached him, her eyes glanced over the group of familiar students who followed the dark haired Gryffindor nearly everywhere he went.
"Don't you ever get tired of it?" Usagi turned back toward Harry to find him smiling at her. It caused a funny flutter in her heart she hadn't quite gotten used to, so she ducked her head to frown at the group again.
"Not really. I'm kind of used to the attention." He reached for her hand as she turned back to roll her eyes at him. "Come on, Ron and Hermione are already waiting on us. Oh and Draco too, with whoever he conned in to coming with him."
"Don't be mean," Usagi frowned at him but allowed him to lead her out of the common room. As soon as they swung the portrait closed, both teenagers set off at a run, quickly ducking down a few corridors. They paused, pressed in the shadows and listening as the troupe of feet rumbled by their hiding spot, and shared a grin. "Lost them. I can't imagine being in the spotlight all the time. I guess that's why I'm always in the shadows, huh?"
"Not always," Harry ducked his head and pressed his lips against hers in a sweet, chaste kiss before he pulled away and led her onward. "Let's go, we're late now."
They made their way to Hogsmeade in silence, Harry leading the way with his hand still gripped around hers. Ron and Hermione were waiting for them outside Honeydukes, the former looking quite grumpy. Hermione smiled apologetically as she explained that Draco and his date had already left for the restaurant, which meant Ron had instigated something yet again.
When they had returned to Hogwarts, the three of them retained the habit of sitting together, mostly because of Usagi's insistence. Hermione had been a little uneasy with the arrangement at first, but warmed to Draco being there over time. Ron, however, had barely managed to move past glares and grunts in the blonde male's direction. At least Draco had stopped antagonizing him on purpose just to watch his ears turn an unhealthy shade of red.
The four of them walked on down the main lane of Hogsmeade until they reached their destination. As soon as they were in the doors, Usagi craned her neck trying to spot her brother and his mystery date. The host smiled and led them back toward their table. As the group of them squeezed down the small aisle of the relatively tiny restaurant, the blonde girl finally caught sight of the two of them.
"Ami?!" The blue haired girl looked up suddenly, turning a dark shade of red as Usagi took her seat, her mouth still open in shock. Draco just smirked. Usagi tried to think back to their time at LPA, whether Draco had spent a lot of time with Ami, but most of the time was a blur of exhaustion and fear of what was to come.
"You can lose the expression now." Draco was still smirking when she snapped her mouth closed, but still looking at Ami in disbelief.
"I had no idea!" Usagi finally exclaimed, making the poor girl turn a new shade of red.
"Good." Draco offered, turning his attention to the waiter. "Now let's order."
"We should have made this a study date. The N.E.W.T.s are next week you know." Hermione cut in, looking anxious at the thought but mostly speaking to change the topic of conversation. Everyone else at the table, excluding Ami, grimaced.
"Don't remind us, 'Mione." Harry groaned.
"Yes, let's just have a nice, stress-free meal and some fun afterwards. We can try to forget we're even in school for the moment." Usagi nodded enthusiastically with this idea, while Hermione seemed a bit put out at the thought of no school at all. The blonde wondered what she would do once they really were free of Hogwarts. Her thoughts were cut short when the waiter finally asked for her order.
"So what will you do?" Usagi grinned over at Harry before snuggling closer to his side and letting him drape his arm around her. They were sitting on the stone steps that led up to Hogwarts, looking out across the grounds as the sun set. Somehow they'd yet to be rediscovered by Harry's avid followers, so they were both relishing the quiet.
"Luna asked me the same thing earlier." She paused, her expression becoming serious as she thought about the question. "Assuming I pass exams, I'm not sure. I think I need to find myself, who I am. Not the forgotten Malfoy or the princess of an ancient race, or some hybrid witch related to Voldemort. Just Usagi. I'm still not sure who she is."
"Do I fit in there somewhere?" Harry's voice was soft, maybe a little unsure. A small frown touched the blonde's face as she glanced up at him. A few moments passed, silence echoing in the space around them, before Usagi closed her eyes.
"Only if you want to." Harry shifted, moving his free hand over to cup her face. This time she made the move that closed the distance between them, pressing her lips hungrily against his. The response was immediate, passionate. Right.
You can say it. I'm awful at battle scenes. That's why I dreaded this chapter so. But it's done, and I'm sort of relieved, even if the end was kind of cheesy. I hope the readers of this story are satisfied with how it turned out. Please review.