A/N: Ok, I know this is a very deep read. It is a fan fiction that describes Hotaru's view on war, and is lightly crossed over with 'Grave of the fireflies' in terms of referencing and her views. Please be mindful you may need a tissue, it is a heavy, and what I think may be a slightly emotional read. I want to thank Rukangel for watching the movie with me, laughing at some cute scenes and crying with me at the end. My inspiration for this piece comes from that movie, and my own personal views on war in general, mixed with what I feel Hotaru feels about her deity and what the human heart is capable to do if it is willing.
I do NOT own Grave of the Fireflies. It is a masterpiece as far as wartime movies go. With depth and thought placed into such an animated movie, and also a live action movie, I can only say I HIGHLY recommend finding it to watch.
I also do NOT own Sailor Moon. I am merely a fan of the fun loving, yet deeply moving series.
As Rukangel knows, I tried very hard to make this fiction to the ability to do both series Justice. I just want to say, that do to the splendor of both works I don't think this can really compare in the slightest. I also want to extend a Thank you because the idea to use a school teacher setting came from her. From there we talked back and forth lightly and I decided that Ami would be a great school teacher, From there I ran with it and this is the result.
Again, I do NOT own either of these great works, and I feel that no matter what I write, I just cannot do it justice. This is as close as it can possibly come.
A teacher stood at the front of her class turning off the T.V. and the video player. Replacing the disk to the movie back into the case that sat on her desk the class began to pass work books around for the next segment. She sighed inwardly as she started the lesson she had intended for after the movie. Her voice was crystal clear yet very soft and light. Her poster was perfect as she stood donned her clothing, that of a simple blazer. Her hand had marks from the dry erase board, a sign of constant verbal teaching and explanation that she frequented instead of written assignments. She remembered what Usagi was like as a teen and had decided long ago that this method was a far better idea. She kept written work as low as possible aside from tests or small essays. Her glasses were thinly framed and very modern, only adding to how young she looked. Senshi aging had kicked in long ago and she continued to look like a high school student herself.
"I will read the opening paragraphs, but, afterward I would like you all to write a small paragraph on your feelings afterwards to bring into class tomorrow." She began giving instruction for the assignment first. "The instructions are on the back pages, but, I'll make it easy. Pick one point of view or other for the story. The little girl you saw named Setsuko is you're first option. The second is the older boy, Seita. You may choose either one, but I want something written on the back pages for the class, and, no, something does not only mean one sentence. Please for the love of basic logic put together at least the very least, a clear, concise, seven to ten sentence paragraph."
Inwardly she sighed. That wasn't an easy feat. It was asking a lot for these kids to even pick up a pencil, let alone to actually use it for anything other than a weapon. How she ended up with such a troubled class this year she honestly had no clue. Most of these students ended up in her room for three classes or more, two of them had her for every class except gym. Those two were the exception to every rule, including aging, as they sat in the back for the fifth year in a row. It was only for appearances sake. A formality by the government at best, a very poorly constructed lie at worst. By now the lie had turned from them being students, to both of them being part of a mentor program.
How Setsuna happened to wave that over the school boards head Ami would never really know. She and Usagi were active members in the PTA, the latter having attempted to befriend every parent in the school. It would make more sense for Haruka and Michiru to buy off the small charter school since funding was hard to come by. Then you had Makoto having weaseled her way into being a Physical education teacher and the Combat arts club director. With so many Senshi in one place at any given time any number of lies could have been made. At any rate, it did make things quite interesting. Minako being a volunteer lunch mother increased the havoc, purely due to the fact that it was Minako doing it.
Ami put her momentary thoughts aside and began reading the material. "Let's play pretend. Let's be the children of a past long gone. One of us will be a little girl, no older than the age of four. She won't understand what gunfire is. She'll never comprehend what it means to lose loved ones. All she will know is that mommy is gone and daddy is fighting someplace far away. One of us will be a boy, hardly a teen, forced to care for the little girl." She read the printed out pamphlets sure in her ability to simplify it to the level of her students, even if they should be much more advanced by this point in their lives.
"He won't know how to care for her. He'll be selfish, angry at the world for not being able to help him. He'll try his best, and, yet in the end it won't be good enough. This boy will end up watching his sister slowly fade away, and, finally she'll die. This boy will send her into the afterlife where her Mother and Father are now awaiting her. He'll cry and soon he'll die himself. He'll be a boy that will be forgotten just like all of the rest. What is this game called? Simple, it's called war." She paused to clear her throat as she continued, after taking a sip of water from her desk, then she paced the room again, all while reading.
"What are the rules? Well, to start you'll have to dress in dirty clothes, ones that are worn and haven't been properly washed in weeks. You'll have to make sure there isn't enough food to eat and pretend you can begin to understand what it was like. Can you even come close? Can you even begin to do that? Well, let's try and play our game, this little game called war. No, we don't need cards like the table top game, and no, toy guns will do us no good. If you want to play, let's utilize the one thing children use best. Let's use our minds." Now the pages turned and diagrams were found on the next page.
"Can you smell it? The smell of blood, bile, burnt flesh and smoke as it clogs the air much needed to breathe. It should smell sickening as it is without realizing that among that smell are others like yourself who would have to endure it. Can you see it? The glitter of bomb fragments in the street. The houses crushed. The innocent wounded who have never taken a life, and yet, must pay with their own. Children crying out as loved ones are lost in tides of war that they haven't caused. No, they haven't done a thing, and yet, here they are facing a scene they can barely understand. They are being orphaned for the actions of the very adults who should have raised them. Can you hear them? Crying for mommies and daddies who won't wake up. Asking for food and finding none. These are the children who are like us, the teen boy and the little girl. Can you feel it? The rumble and aftershock of bombs as fragments of ash rain on your head. The hunger in your belly hurts from lack of food knowing that no one will give you any. There is something called a shortage, another called rations, and you must work in order to eat. The sharp ground offers no solace as it glimmers with fragments under your feet as you hide from the dangers around you. You cut your knee on one of the small fragments as you skin your knee on the ground. It hardly hurts right now; you have other things to worry about as the planes fly over head. Now you need to make a choice. You can hide in the shelter, being pressed up against others like you trying to survive another frightful night. It'll be hot and stuffy, but that'll be your only safe choice. Can you understand that class? Shall we play our little game?"
Ami felt a slight pang of something she could hardly describe having seen war herself, hell, she even died one in a frozen wasteland, and even through all of that, she would never be able to understand. She wouldn't even try. "Can you?"
A child stood at the back of the class. She wasn't a new student, and, as much as Ami wanted to say this girl didn't know, she probably knew better than anyone in that class. "I can Mizuno-Sensei." The girl was shy and quiet, well, normally. Ami would have removed her from this particular history lesson if it hadn't been for the fact that this girl insisted on staying.
Icy blue eyes met those of determined violet. Setsuna, watching outside the window held a breath knowing what was about to happen. Hopefully, the least of the three evils would happen. Ami looked outside the window and Setsuna nodded. Hotaru wanted to be in that class, and now she knew why. "You have the floor." Ami said as she sat behind her desk, she was prepared to transform if possible. People weren't supposed to know about the Senshi, and here Hotaru was, about to bring more attention to the conditions that made people hate her. Chibiusa was even more alert, if she had too, she would step into the crossfire without a second glance. She doubted it would happen, part of her knew the truth, that it would end alright, and without incident. But she would be ready to dive out of her seat just in case.
The small girl looked to the class. Her voice was neutral, her eyes soft, and yet her stature commanded that she have respect. This was Sailor Saturn now, she wasn't transformed, but she was Saturn for all intents and purposes. "I know you all dislike me; I know that Chibiusa is the only one that doesn't fear me. You've heard of the pink that may or may not come from my body. The darkness I can emit due to the school and its ability to cause rumors. I am a child of war. More than you will ever realize, more than you will ever know. I know you'll never be able to understand, and, I don't want you too."
"Instead I want to speak of personal experiences." Hotaru started slowly. "I want to say, Mizuno-Sensei, that to teach this will not do well. Though try as you might, we are not in World War II anymore." Hotaru spoke to the class now. "We have no suffering of those days to remember. No one can tell us, and the books we read are out of date and cannot fully express what was caused. That movie you have upon your desk, the books we hold in this school, it is all obsolete after it is made. Why? It is because we cannot feel it, we cannot ever know." She took her seat as the class remained in awe. Blank stares and fearful eyes regained composure as class was resumed by Ami. Thankful that the threat to the time stream had passed, no student spoke out, Hotaru had not gotten angry, and no one had to transform.
After class ended Hotaru sat at her desk, looking at the video box in her hands. Ami, grading papers, remained confused as to why the girl was still there. She knew it was a bad idea to let Hotaru participate in the lesson; she even tried to persuade the girl to avoid school that day, all fearing for what could have happened. It had turned out alright. Or had it? The girl was dark, and the aura she was emitting was that very darkness that Ami hadn't ever looked into. "Hotaru…" The girl ignored her.
For the past years, the girls had been excused for lessons Ami thought they couldn't handle. Lessons of war for Hotaru. For Chibiusa anything pertaining world politics. Personal plans were left for them in regards to both topics. Being a Senshi world leadership wasn't going to be a concern for Chibiusa due to what her status would one day be. When she returned home this world wasn't going to be of importance any more. The real events she would need to focus on would come after her birth. This was merely a break in paradox, and as a result, unimportant for her to retain such information. The girl still had a hard enough time in math thank you very much.
In Hotaru's case, the girl already had enough emotion strain to deal with, why add more with taxing lessons that could possibly bring up painful memories. Why Hotaru had decided to refuse this time had eluded everyone, even when she was told the topic and the assignment. It may have been a bad idea, but, Hotaru was still that of a second year middle school student by how she looked. In all reality, a diploma couldn't be handed too her purely by the looks alone, that was why they managed to always fail her in one needed credit class. Since she looked like a problem student it worked out well.
"Hotaru?" Ami said again as she went to the back desk. "Class ended awhile ago." The child cleared her eyes. They looked sad, but, also calm. "Why don't you go home, or, at the very least tell me what's keeping you here."
"My name…" The girl sighed. "firefly…" She exhaled noisily as she looked at Ami. "Hotaru means firefly. I am my deity. My name and all. I guess I was just trying to feel out the area. I wanted to see if I could find anything from the past. That's Setsuna-mama's ability. I can't do it, to govern time and thus the past, it is her job. It doesn't change what I said in class though; you can't teach what real war is. You miss the point completely."
"How do you want me to teach this then? It is a requirement, and, sadly just because we have an idea it doesn't mean others could possibly comprehend it. In the end, all we speak of will merely be a formality one day." Ami was always the professional; she knew how to detach Senshi duty from other areas of life.
"You mean I." Hotaru said softly yet with a level of firmness hard to miss. "You don't know. You could never know because you weren't there. Setsuna-mama could never know everything she didn't see firsthand. What she saw, was what the gates had shown her, and thus, it was like this movie, she could never really feel it. Senshi battles aren't like real war. Real war, you're right, it's not on the front lines… but, then again, I don't classify war the same as you do..."
"Then what do you call World War II if it was not a 'war'. What else could you call that?"
"A war, Ami, is when people have honor. When innocent lives are kept intact as much as humanly possible. What World War II was, well that was easy. It was a Massacre… I would go so far as to call it man slaughter, murder, anything but simply war. When you do what happened back then, on such a high degree, I don't care what side you are on, or who the hell you think you are, when you are an innocent, when you have done nothing wrong…and you are killed…I refuse to call that war. I refuse to say that mass numbers taken on such a large level can even be called a war."
Hotaru stood from her seat. "That…that is when you play me. When you play god in the worst manner possible, but you know what the worst thing is? Do you have any idea how messed up it gets? It's when you really are me, and you have to fix things that go too far. When you have to be me and kill off everyone because you have to have the willpower to fix what their planet failed at. When you have to eradicate what war could not, when you have to also give your life as a cost, then, and only then, will you ever have the basic premise of what war is and what it will entail." She walked out, fuming, but also sad. She wished she could explain it better, she wished she could explain it at all. Not even she, the Senshi of death and rebirth, not even Sailor Saturn, the girl who played god in her own way, could even understand it fully herself. She wasn't meant too. She ran off into a field nearby. She liked it there, it gave her peace.
One small bug flew among the grass. Its light was bright, it would pass away soon just like all the other fireflies who held such beauty. She sighed as it landed on her knee; it was time for the others to take flight and on occasion she saw others who shined as brightly as the one on her knee had. This is why she liked this place; this is why she came here often. She smiled softly, perhaps with a little remorse.
As Setsuna kept a close watch she too felt at peace. Her adoptive daughter was still just a child. One whom she at one point had tried to kill only because of fear alone. Yes, she hated to admit it, but she too, had tried to commit such a hateful task. She had almost succeeded as well. Irrationality becomes one of the causes for lives lost without a second glance, yet many more reasons also remain under the surface. Yet this girl, one to be feared because of sure power alone was still a fragile girl with a large heart to give. She could hear whispering from the girl, speaking to the small bugs again no doubt.
When Ami started walking up from behind Setsuna halted her, pulled her back, and gave her only one instruction. "You as a teacher may know many things. However, what we saw today, and what I know she told you, she has kept much more inside than she will never say. Only now will you hear the real messages she wants to tell others, but, she has no idea how." As both listened insight was granted. The small girl, once of fury, now held a soft voice, one of comfort, one filled with love.
"Dance now little one." The girl whispered. "You aren't long to return to the circle of life, and the power that governs us all." She often tried to softly shoo the small bug away, only to see them return. She knew Ami was behind her, auras were a specialty Hotaru held within her power to sense, and Ami's was clearly one of a Senshi. "You need to dance you know… it will do you little good to rest on my knee, I will not be able to save you. If you don't enjoy life, and respect the cycle, it will be a failed planet; I will have failed even in doing my job." If Hotaru was speaking to the bug or the people behind her, most would find it unclear.
That was how Hotaru wanted it. "Fireflies are impermanent creatures, passing away shortly after they reach their adulthood. We live for years, fireflies don't…They are also said to be a symbol of the soul." She saw the lights among the grasses, the small sounds of flapping wings as she stood.
As she turned to walk to the car she noted that the same little one was back. That same bright little firefly who didn't shine at that moment. "You can come with me if you want, but, I think you'd be happier out here." She saw the light on it flicker as it tried to flap its wings and her eyes downcast slightly, slowly understanding. She walked to the car and placed it in the grass. "You're place should be here little one." As she walked away it followed her back onto the asphalt, and she sighed again as she picked it up, it was now too weak to fly, that's why it hadn't left her. She sat down, and that earned a quizzical eye from the others as she cradled the small bug in her palm. "I'm staying here, do as you like, but, I'm staying here."
"But why?" Ami was confused… What was the affinity with bugs? "Why do you want to stay?"
"The glow is ending, this one is too ill to fly and it will pass on. I won't leave it. I refuse to leave it." Hotaru watched the small bug in her hands.
"Why don't we take it with us?" Ami suggested. Again, she missed the point.
Hotaru just shook her head and smiled. "Would Usagi leave you like this? Would she take you away from your home when she knew there was no hope? I don't think she would… She would stay with you and she would be there. Even if she couldn't do anything she would still be there for you wouldn't she? No matter how small or seemingly unimportant you were to everyone else?" Hotaru spoke from experience. "She would do it for anyone, I think, even this little one here…"
"How do you know that exactly?" Setsuna was confused now too, Bringing Usagi into this conversation over a bug was a bit much. Yes the blond had a heart of gold, but, moments of vanity still stood out.
"I know it because she stayed for me didn't she? Even when you hated me, she stayed with me, risked her life for me. This little one doesn't need that; it just needs a friend, is that so much to ask?" Ami stood still, thinking about that as she and Setsuna both took a seat. They would wait because Hotaru would wait. It was a cycle, and one that could never be taught or fully understood. To Ami it was just a little bug, no one would really see it. Most wouldn't care. No one would have even known about it had Hotaru not seen. Then, and only then it made sense. Why Hotaru stayed.
Such childlike innocence pained the viewers of Ami's classroom that day. That was a point Ami could remember a lot of her students were crying. The malnutrition and eventual death of the siblings caused more very real tears; even as a movie came to a close and the lesson plan started, Ami hadn't taken into account what Hotaru had. It was odd in that way. You know at the start that death was going to happen. You knew within the first few moments things would take turns for the worst. Even so, it was still a movie that hit the soul deeply. One that pained greatly.
"You stay because it is just one of many." Ami said softly.
"No, I stay because it wanted a friend. You speak of war like you know what you are saying… but have you thought about it… I mean really thought about it. Pretend this firefly was a human in front of you… would you have asked why I wanted to stay? We, as all mortals, have the ability for a cruel and spiteful heart… that is what can cause a war… but when you leave something for dead, when you cast them aside, then are you any better than the ones who takes a life? I stay because while I may not be Usagi, I may not be a moon princess, I don't have to be one to have the kind of heart she does. All I have to do is open my heart to the ones who are left to be forgotten. Ones such as myself."
The small bug stopped moving. Its life was gone. It was insignificant to most, but, to Hotaru that firefly was one that she had seen. It was one she felt sorry for, and, in the end it was she, the Senshi most feared, the girl most hated, that gave the most sympathy in a time of need. A tear was shed that day, a farewell spoken and a small grave dug. When her task was complete she stood and began to walk away. She had stayed, she had cared, and in the end of it all, the world moved on as if nothing happened. The next day she was the first to stand in class. She too had written a paper. It was short, however it was perhaps the most solid piece written. The deepest emotions felt.
"I am not a child lost from war. I am not the child killed by famine. I am not the four year old who was lost that didn't understand. Finally, I am not the little boy frustrated and angry. I could never be these things. I could never fully know what that is like. Instead I'll tell you what I am. I am a girl standing before you now. I am a girl saying I cannot feel these things. Do you know why? It is because I am still here. I still live and breathe, I am still fed and clothed, and I have a roof over my head.
I have never feared my life to be lost by gunfire or a bomb. I have never seen black rain hail from the sky, and, despite knowing what I know, I have never really felt the tides of real and true war. Just because I do not know war, I know there are still children out there who know of such a situation. Real war, well, it doesn't need to be a war for territory. Real war is one where you fight to survive.
You fight to live. To beat famine and illness. To work all day long and barely make enough to sustain. When you have no roof to keep you safe in even the cleanest of rain. When you have no mother or father. When every day is an uncertainty. When you have a very real fear that you may not see the next day. That too, is real war. Before you all claim you know what war is, before we say we have lived it to the extent we many have, or may not, understand this. Real war is one to fight for your survival.
The reality of this is simple. Ironically, so is the solution. To be fed and have clean water is just a small start, but, you've no idea how many people that can save alone. To have a blanket in the cold, or a solid roof can mean so much. We live in the lap of luxury compared to some, and, the only thing we really need to do is remember that. If you give even just a little bit to those in need you'd be amazed how much war that alone will stop. You'd be amazed how many that alone will save. Sometimes all you really need to do to stop war, is use your heart. It doesn't fix everything, but, it's a start if nothing else." Hotaru took her seat after that, leaving the class speechless.
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