Makoto came just walking back from Hogsmeade when she heard something, coming from behind one of the winged boar statues. It sounded like sobbing.
She raised an eyebrow and went to look. She was surprised when she saw a blonde girl in a Gryffindor uniform sitting there in the grass, crying to herself.
Makoto sighed. "I should have known..." she muttered and went to sit down next to the other girl.
Minako looked up at the taller girl. Makoto grinned. "Hi, Padfoot!"
Wiping her wet cheeks, Minako did not even try to deny it. "H-hi, Moony..." she sniffled.
"So Rei was right... it WAS you who turned out to receive Minako's soul after all. No wonder you didn't want to come after helping us against the Dementors."
"Th-that's not the main reason, Makoto," Minako said. "Not anymore... it's... it's my fault that... my fault..." And again, she broke out into tears.
"Hey now," Makoto said, hugging her friend. "That's not what Sirius Black would do, is it?"
"Not Sirius," the blonde girl sobbed. "But a scared, little schoolgirl would do it."
"Even Minako Aino wouldn't just despair like that," Makoto frowned. "I know you better than that, girl! In both your incarnations! You are the Senshi of Venus, are you not? Now, dry those tears and tell me what seems to be the problem." She handed her friend a tissue.
"It's Harry," Minako sniffled. "He hates me..."
The brunette blinked. "Now why would you think THAT?"
"I... I saw him... Mako, the look on his face, you... you should have seen him... right after he found out that... that is was ME who was Lily's and James' Secret-Keeper..."
"What??" Makoto was aghast. How could Harry have learned about that?
"It... it happened down in Hogsmeade... I... I wanted to stay close to him, to make sure nothing happens to him... so I turned into my second dog form, a yellow retriever..."
"You have to tell me some time how you managed to acquire a second Animagus form..." Makoto murmured. "But go on first!"
"He... he and his friends went into 'The Three Broomsticks' to drink some butter beer. However, that's also where Hagrid, Minister Fudge, Minerva McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were coming to... to discuss everything they know about... Sirius Black. They didn't know Harry was sitting close to them, and when he... when he heard that I was the Secret-Keeper of his parents, he..." Minako started sobbing again.
Makoto understood. To Harry, it looked just like it looked for everyone else in the Wizardry World: That Sirius Black was a mass murderer who was responsible for the death of his parents.
If only he knew that they are both fine, only in the bodies of cats...
"I... I can't even tell Artemis about this," Minako said. "I know he's James, but... Moony, I can't just tell him that his son is hating me! I also didn't want to show myself to you yet... but now that you found me..."
"Well, I think that trying to deal with everything by yourself won't be the best way to solve the problem," Makoto told her friend. "Listen, I know that the Sirius Black problem won't be easily solved. Heck, for the longest time, I even believed you to be on Voldemort's side as well. Only after I learned that James and Lily were reborn as Luna and Artemis did I realize that you had to be innocent."
"It's all Peter's fault..." Minako whispered. "If I get my hands on that little rat..."
"We'll deal with wormtail, but for now, I want you to cheer up again. You have friends here, Padfoot! Except for Wormtail, the Marauders are all here. And then there's Luna, Usagi, Rei..."
"Rei!" Minako had to snort at that one. "Don't think that I don't already know that she's in Snape's body! You think he would be glad to see me?"
"Yes, she would!" Makoto nodded. "You have to remember that she's also Rei Hino, the Senshi of Mars, and one of Minako Aino's best friends. Hey, if she can be friends with James, then welcoming you back in the team is the least she'd be willing to do."
Minako raised an eyebrow. "Snape, friends with James? Okay, hell has officially frozen over..."
"Well, at least they're not trying to kill each other, that's a good start, don't you think?" Makoto smirked. "Now stop moping and come back inside! The team needs you!"
"I dunno..." Minako said. "If Harry knows I'm here..."
"He doesn't have to know. We will try to find a way to tell him the truth. For now, Minako Aino can try to become his friends. When he gets to know you better, maybe it will help him by the time he finds out that you are also Sirius Black."
Minako sighed. "I wish it was that easy, Mako..."
"Well, for starters, we could all go to a great party!" Makoto smirked. She pulled a small envelope out of her robe. "Here, look! An invitation to a Christmas party in the Burrow, the home of the Weasley family. Ron Weasley is Harry's best friend, you know?"
"And why should I be invited to that party?" Minako wondered. "Or you, for that matter?"
"Oh, the Weasleys insisted that I'd come as soon as they found out that I'm here," Makoto smiled. "As well as Usagi, Rei, Ami and our kittycats. And, most importantly, Hotaru-chan!"
Now Minako was confused. "But... but why...?"
"Read the invitation, Mina!" her brunette friend said as she stood up. "That's all the advice I can give to you for now. Come to the party! I'm begging ya!"
And then, she went inside.
Minako looked at the envelope for a moment, wondering what she should do with it. In the end, her curiosity was too big, and she tore it open. She started reading.
Her eyes widened. "No way..." she whispered as she looked up from the paper. "Haruka and Michiru?"
"Over Christmas?" Harry wondered.
"Yeah! Wicked, isn't it?" Ron said. "Normally, Mom and Dad let us stay here and send us our Christmas presents to Hogwarts... I wonder why they decided to change this Weasley tradition all of a sudden."
Harry thought about it. Staying at the Burrows over the holidays would certainly distract him from any murderous thought at Black he'd have.
"Sounds like fun!" he grinned. "Hermione, what about you?"
"I'd love to, really," Hermione said. "But you know what Professor Meioh said... there's probably gonna be an Astronomy test right after the holidays. I need to study..."
"Oh sure, because you're soooo not good at Astronomy..." Ron groaned.
"Besides, someone needs to stay and take care of Hagrid's problem," she pointed out. "The hearing about Buckbeak... you know?"
"Right, I almost forgot about that," Harry said. "You think you can do both, study and find something that'll help Hagrid?"
"Well, unlike certain boys, I'm not planning on slacking off over the Christmas days," Hermione said pertly.
Just then, Percy, George and Fred entered the common room. Percy was looking exceedingly discontented. "I'm not going!" he told the twins.
"C'mon, Perce, don't be a grouch," George just said. "Whenever do we get to spend Christmas with the family? Think about what Mom and Dad are gonna say."
"Yeah, and think about the Christmas pudding Mom is going to make," Fred added, licking his lips.
"I'm not going, and that's final!" the prefect snapped.
"Gee, what's wrong with Percy?" Harry asked.
Ron shrugged. "Dunno, he's even more grouchy than usual. Hey, Percy! Any particular reason why you prefer to spend the day with the other, boring prefects instead of with us?"
"Well, it might have to do with the fact that a certain, female Ravenclaw prefect also stays at Hogwarts over the holidays..." George said and whistled innocently, while Fred snorted into his hand.
Percy's face turned a deep shade of red. "Th-that's none of your business!"
He couldn't tell them the truth. If Ron, or even worse, George and Fred found out that he was Hotaru... he'd never hear the end of it. True, he could try to stay Percy for the duration of his stay back home at the Burrows... but he knew there had been times where he just wasn't able to control his transformation.
Just then, Usagi, Makoto and Ginny entered the common room. "What's the commotion, boys?" Makoto asked.
"Well, Mom and Dad are planning a Christmas party back home, and Percy doesn't want to come."
"Yeah, I just read their letter," Ginny said, waving around a piece of paper. "Percy, I think you should come."
Percy glared at her. How could she say that? After all, she knew about his predicament. "You've got to be kidding me!"
A deep frown appeared on Ginny's face. "You'll come with us... or do you want me to tell everyone your little secret?"
Percy paled, while George, Fred and Ron looked at him with sudden interest. "You wouldn't dare!"
Ginny looked like the cat who ate the canary. "Try me..."
"What kind of secret?" Fred asked. "C'mon, Perce, spill it!"
"Yeah, you know you can't keep secrets from us," Fred added.
"Stop that!" Percy angrily said. "Okay, fine, I'm coming."
"No, really, what kind of secret is she talking about?"
Percy gave Ginny a glare that seemed to say: 'I'll get you for this.'
Ginny and Hermione exchanged a grin, while Usagi and Makoto inconspicuously went into their dormitory.
Ami was already waiting for them.
After closing the door, Makoto turned to her blonde friend and said: "All right, I made sure Mina-chan got the invitation. Now all we have to do is wait and see if she's going to come along as well or not."
"I already talked to Rei," Ami said. "And she's afraid she can't make it. She still has to correct a few tests before the holidays are over. Besides, she says that staying under one roof with both Potters at the same time probably won't be a good idea."
Usagi giggled. "What is she saying? While in Hogwarts, we all are under one roof."
"Still, she has a point," Ami said. "Besides, I know there's not enough space for all of us... it's already going to be pretty cramped when we, Harry and all the Weasleys are there. Maybe I can stay in Harry's room, as Hedwig..."
"You're not trying to peep, are you?" Usagi grinned and waved her finger. "Naughty girl!"
"So, how are we going to do this?" Makoto asked. "We just all go there with Floo Powder and tell the Weasley children that their parents are Senshi?"
"Molly and Arthur... that is, Michiru and Haruka are going to tell their children the news gently. They will give us a sign when it's time to come in, and then we're gonna join the party," Usagi explained. "Boy, are they gonna be surprised when they learn that Percy is Hotaru-chan..."
"You didn't tell them yet?" Makoto asked with a smirk. "Now who's the naughty girl?"
"That's gonna be some reunion!" Ami smiled. "Hotaru-chan will be overjoyed to see her 'Haruka-papa' and 'Michiru-mama' again."