Chapter 13: Sakura's Sorrowful Departure
The Quidditch season had ended, the final examinations had been taken, the house standings had been finalized, and all that remained was the closing ceremony. A sleepy lethargy had overcome Hogwarts, its rooms and hallways filled with the silent echoes of remembered joys and sorrows. Even the spirits of the castle didn't fly around or cause undead mischief with nearly the same amount vigor they had just one month prior.
After the incident with The Song, the rest of Sakura's examinations had been completed without anything of note happening. She had had a couple of problems with her remaining exams, such as getting a few of the constellations confused with each other in the Astronomy test, but nothing so bad as to cast any doubt on her chances of actually passing. Even her Charms test had proved quite doable once she had figured out a combination of spells which could accomplish Professor Flitwick's assigned task. The only question was how well, or how poorly, she had done in each test.
As all of the formal events of school besides the closing ceremony were finished, there was a definite dearth of things to do. Even in conversation there was little to talk about. There were only really two topics remaining worth discussing: talk about the house standings, and talk about what people would be doing over the upcoming holiday. There was actually a third and fourth topic as well, although they were more the subject of gossip behind closed doors than outright proper conversations. The third was a school-wide rumor about how some Gryffindor students, including the famous Harry Potter, had embarked on some adventure on the forbidden floor in the castle; while the fourth was much more limited to Ravenclaw Tower and involved some strange escapades of an unnamed group of first year Ravenclaws students in one of the greenhouses.
At first several of the students in Ravenclaw had been talking about Sakura, Anthony, and Lisa's disappearance at the Charms final examination, but this questioning was quickly supplanted by the school-wide rumors of Harry Potter's adventure. Even after a year, anything which involved The Boy Who Lived managed to capture the imagination of everybody outside of the Gryffindor house and overshadow all but the biggest of news stories. This suited Sakura and Keroberos perfectly, who preferred for her escapade with The Song to go as unnoticed as possible.
This difference in notoriety of their adventures was only made more stark by how much larger the adventure Harry Potter and his companions had been through as compared to Sakura's own. Despite there being no official discussion about what had happened on the forbidden floor of the castle, it was an open secret that it was something big. There were contradicting rumors about what it might have been, ranging from the believably improbable rumor that Harry and the rest had found a secret treasure long hidden from the Ministry of Magic, all the way to the less probable rumor that there had been an epic confrontation in which Harry had defeated a reborn Voldomort moments before he could unleash a massive curse which would have destroyed the entire castle in a fiery cataclysm. The Slytherins were more inclined to believe the former whereas the Gryffindors were insisting the latter was the more accurate description of events. Sakura wasn't sure what she believed.
Gossip and speculation can only take a conversation so far, however, so inevitably the primary topic of conversation in the open was the house standings. They had been finalized and Slytherin was decisively in the lead. Again. It was hard to miss Professor Snape's smugly arrogant look of complacence as he traversed the halls of the castle, or the overly controlled continence of Professor McGonagall as she did the same.
The standings affected Sakura much more than she had thought they would. When she had first joined the school, the competition had seemed more quaint and silly than anything. However, living and watching the events unfold side-by-side with her fellow Ravenclaws had slowly but surely changed that, to the point that she felt almost as bad as the sixth year students about their loss. While it might not have matter in the least in the grand scheme of things, she couldn't help but picture the emblem of Ravenclaw featured prominently in the Great Hall.
The Ravenclaws promised each other that next year would be different. Next year they would take the Quidditch cup. From there they could launch their attack on winning the entire house competition. Next year Ravenclaw would stand proudly above the others.
The Quidditch comment was more of an open joke than anything. Nobody really believed they could win at Quidditch, despite the fact that Ravenclaw had thoroughly trounced Gryffindor on the last game of the season this year. That last game hadn't been a true comparison of their respective teams' skill after all, as Harry Potter had been absent. Moreover, even with that overwhelming loss Gryffindor had still managed to win the tournament. Gryffindor and Slytherin were simply too dominant in the sport.
Prospects for the next year looked bleak as well, given how the poorly the first year Ravenclaw students had flown thus far. However it was always fun to dream of a brilliant new Seeker which would lead the team to victory, and there was always the chance that one of the heretofore uninterested students would come back from the summer with a newly discovered interest and talent in the game.
However, the talk about winning the overall house tournament was much more serious. It would be hard to win without taking the Quidditch house cup, but they were only 46 points behind Slytherin this year, a difficult but not impossible amount to overcome. Never mind a non-Slytherin year hadn't happened in the living memory of any of the students in Hogwarts. Each Ravenclaw student could guilty remember at least two points in the last year they could have retained if only he or she had been a bit more obedient, and that would have been enough to have put them over the top.
Much like the gossip and rumors about Harry Potter, though, ultimately the recriminations and regrets about the house competition could only sustain a conversation for so long. Inevitably every discussion would turn to the question about what everybody had planned for the summer break. While Sakura didn't mind this topic in and of itself, it had a nasty tendency to turn into a question about what classes people would be taking next year, which was a topic Sakura absolutely hated. She hated it for a simple reason; she wasn't sure if she would be coming back to Hogwarts.
Sakura had enjoyed her time in Hogwarts. She had learned more about magic than she thought there was to know, and had become more proficient in English than students twice her age. However she didn't have any intention of leaving Japan on any long-term basis, and therefore she didn't want to spend too much time away from her home. So Sakura would often end up needing to perform verbal gymnastics to avoid committing to the coming year whenever anybody brought the subject up.
This social awkwardness would be coming to a close today, however. The time for the end-of-year feast had finally arrived. The classrooms had been proverbially mothballed and everybody had gathered in the Great Hall this one last time before the students and staff were to be all scattered to the four winds. While most would return, a year older and hopefully a year wiser, the oldest students would disappear from these hallowed halls which would make room for a new class of wide-eyed naive students.
In the air hung a tense expectation which Sakura hadn't felt since her first day at Hogwarts, when she and all of the other first year students had walked into the silence of the Great Hall at the start of the start-of-term banquet a lifetime ago. The nervous tension in the air and the grand decorations spread throughout the hall, most prominently the green and silver banners of Slytherin house, were the only things in common between the current situation and that September event, though.
Back then, when she had first come into the school, she had felt like an outsider intruding into an alien new world; now she was as much a part of the establishment as the most high-profile seventh year student. Back then everybody had looked forward with anxious anticipation for the year which was to come; now everybody was looking back at the year which had been with both joyful remembrance and longing remorse. Back then Sakura had had no idea what to expect for the upcoming ceremony; now Sakura only wondered what unexpected happenstance event would conspire to interrupt the celebratory feast and leave her hungry yet again. Back then the entire school had watched in silence as the scared first years had shuffled into the room practically clinging to each other; now the loud din of humanity waiting in eager anticipation filled every nook and cranny of the Great Hall.
Then, with shocking alacrity, the atmosphere changed to mimic the start-of-term banquet when, by unspoken signal, a silence fell across the entire student body. Harry Potter had just walked into the room.
There was a great deal of jostling and pointing.
Then one person stood up for a better view of the boy.
Then whole room exploded in excitement as everybody strained their necks to see the boy that everybody had heard so much about but knew so little of in the past few days.
Harry made his way to the Gryffindor table, but the loud mummer of hundreds of concurrent conversations repeating the rumors heard from a friend of a friend of a friend showed no sign of stopping until Professor Dumbledore appeared. A second silence came over the room as quickly and as completely as if Professor Dumbledore had been the living personification of The Silent himself.
He announced in his booming voice which needed no amplification, magical or otherwise, "Another year gone! And I must trouble you with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are a little fuller than they were... you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts... Now as I understand it, the house cup here needs awarding, and the points stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw has four hundred twenty-six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two."
Professor Dumbledore had to pause momentarily as a spontaneous bout of cheering and stomping broke out from the Slytherin table. It was fortunate that the plates and goblets were empty, as undoubtedly food and drink would have been wasted to the floor from all of the banging around if they hadn't been.
Professor Dumbledore spoke up again, silencing the clamor and making himself heard. "Yes, yes, well done, Slytherin. However, recent events must be taken into account. Ahem, I have a few last minute points to dish out. Let me see. Yes..."
A deathly silence fell over the Slytherin table and a glimmer of hope sparked inside the other students. This wasn't part of the script. Points were supposed to be finalized by now. Technically it wasn't over until the declaration at the feast, but nobody had ever heard of points being awarded on the last day.
"First - to Mr. Ronald Weasley... for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house fifty point."
An enormous shout came from the Gryffindor table, loud and raucous enough as to make the earlier celebration of Slytherin seem merely like some polite applause at a sedate golf tournament. While the students from the other tables didn't join in directly, the chattering between the children as they exchanged shocked words at this development added to the overall noise level of the room. The unprecedented last minute score on its own was enough of an event to cause excitement, let alone the sheer number of points just given out.
"Second - to Miss Hermione Granger... for the use of cool logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points," Professor Dumbledore continued to say, once the sound had died down enough for him to be comfortably heard.
The Gryffindor cheering redoubled at this. In addition to the obvious, the announcements and the awarding of points had a second result as well, serving to confirm or deny many of the rumors floating around about what exactly had happened with Harry Potter and his friends. It sounded like some of the more implausible sounding rumors actually had more truth to them then it seemed on the surface.
"Third - to Mr. Harry Potter... for pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor house sixty points," Professor Dumbledore announced at the next opportunity.
That was enough to put Gryffindor past Ravenclaw. A couple of frowns were shared among the Ravenclaw students. The idle hope of "anybody but Slytherin" was true as far as it went, but it somehow felt much less satisfying then they would have guessed the previous day. Ravenclaw had been knocked down from second to third place, which did sting a little. More importantly, though, it somehow felt as if the spirit, if not the outright rules, of the competition was being undermined and Gryffindor was being given an undeserved victory.
These frowns didn't break out into actual vocal jeers, though. After all, if some of those rumors which had been floating around the school were true, and based on Professor Dumbledore's unprecedented point awards they likely were, Gryffindor's sudden influx of points might not be so undeserved. Moreover there would always be next year, and the thought of "anybody but Slytherin" did hold true to a large degree.
Sakura did the math in her head. By her count, the 160 points that Professor Dumbledore had just awarded Gryffindor only made them tied with Slytherin, and all the rumors she had heard of had only spoken of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. With nobody left to give points to, it seemed the competition would end in a tie. This raised the question of what that would mean.
Professor Dumbledore resolved this question once the next gap in the shouting quieted down enough to be heard. He finished by announcing, "There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom. Which means, we need a little change of decoration."
While the hollering and shouting, not to mention pointing and jeering, continued from the Gryffindor table, Professor Dumbledore clapped his hands. The green and silver banners surrounding the hall changed to the scarlet and gold of Gryffindor, and the Gryffindor lion appeared as if in triumph over the fading Slytherin serpent.
At the head of the room, Professor Snape shook the hand of Professor McGonagall. His strained and forced smile was obvious to Sakura even across the giant room. While the two clasped hands Professor Snape kept glaring at the Gryffindor table, although at who or what Sakura couldn't make out.
It took a long time for the hall to settle down enough for the feast to be served.
The Hogwarts Express arrived tomorrow. Its appearance and subsequent departure would scatter the children of Hogwarts across the country, and indeed across the world, like a summer squall scattering so much pollen to the wind. Seizing upon this single last chance when everybody could be together under one roof, some students were having a party in the middle of the night; an unofficial, unsanctioned, and very-rule-breaking party.
With their reputation for rambunctiousness and creatively bypassing rules when something important needed doing, or even just when some jolly good fun could be had, the party could have been thrown by the Gryffindor house. It wasn't.
With their reputation for having a sense of entitlement, enjoying the social high-life, and the vast resources they had on tap, the party could have been thrown by the Slytherin house. It wasn't.
With their reputation for being too clever by half and ability to plot meticulous and incredible plans, the party could have been thrown by the Ravenclaw house. It wasn't.
In fact, with their strong spirit of friendship, camaraderie, and loyalty, the Hufflepuff house was throwing the party. This annual tradition, kept a dire secret from everybody outside of the house, celebrated kinship and provided the best send-off possible to the graduating members of the house. Every student contributed what they could, and each depended on the others to keep everything hidden from all the professors and as many of the ghosts as possible. The Fat Friar helped with the latter substantially.
Some of the professors who were former Hufflepuff students may even have helped out with the arranging of supplies, although none of the students would confirm that. Certainly Professor Sprout and all the other former Hufflepuff students were conveniently busy or absent the night the party was to take place. Regardless of how it was arranged, though, the students had managed to smuggle in decorations, food, drinks, and even some alcohol. Their dormitory location near the kitchen had once again proved to be quite the unexpected boon for the house.
Despite the lack of adult supervision, though, in the history of the party nothing untoward had ever happened. No underage drinking occurred despite the easy availability of firewhisky, no inappropriate socializing occurred between curious young couples, and no strange injuries appeared the next morning as a result of short tempers or bad judgment. There was a tacit agreement that the Hufflepuff professors would give the students a wide berth, and the Hufflepuff students would in turn make sure the professors would have no cause to regret that. Loyalty went both ways and bound the house together with chains tighter than any Incarcerous spell ever could.
Everybody attending the party had some connection to Hufflepuff. This primarily meant students within that house, but it also meant that a few students from the other three houses in Hogwarts were present as well. This included Sakura, Lisa, Anthony, and Gloria. Wayne had invited all four of them, in part for his friendship with Lisa but more likely as an apology for the trouble he had caused with his theft of The Song. Gloria had wondered why she had been invited, but had chalked it up to her good luck for having gone to the hospital with Lisa and Anthony back during exams.
Sakura had ended up using The Illusion to facilitate the journey for herself and the other Ravenclaws from Ravenclaw Tower to Hufflepuff Basement. This was both because of her de facto promise to her friends to show them more of what she could do, as well as because it provided the easiest solution to the question of how to secretly sneak across the castle. After Anthony and Lisa had gotten over their amazement and surprise of not being visible despite not wearing any invisibility cloaks or using anything else similar, they made their way to the Hufflepuff common room without incident.
Despite the relatively small number of non-Hufflepuff students, they felt so unconditionally welcome by everyone that there was never even the hint of a question of feeling out of place. A friend to one Hufflepuff was a friend to all of them, and everybody at the party was a friend.
It wasn't even particularly difficult to include the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin students into the party socialization. Everybody in the whole school only had one thing on their mind.
"What do you think of the house cup results?" Sakura asked one of the older Hufflepuff students with long brown hair tied in a ponytail, probably graduating this year by the look of him.
"It was, like, crazy, yeah?" the older boy said, shaking his head. "They must have, like, done something really big to get a hundred and seventy points like that."
"What do you think it was?" Wayne asked, appearing at Sakura's side.
"I don't, like, know. I mean it feels good that I finally got to see Slytherin, like, lose one of these house cup things before I graduate, but it feels, like, strange, yeah? Like Professor Dumbledore rigged things up or something," the older boy said.
"I heard that Professor Dumbledore used to be in Gryffindor back when he was a student. Think he might have tried to skew things for that?" a Hufflepuff girl with short curly blonde hair, maybe in her fourth or fifth year, asked.
"Nah, doubt that. If that was the case then, like, why'd he let Slytherin win for the past six years running?" the older boy asked.
"I still think it looks strange. All I can say is he'd better not pull the same stunt again next year. But in the meantime, I guess we can just be happy that we finally got a non-Slytherin year," the blonde-haired girl said.
"Do you think it might be related to," Sakura said, trying to think of what rumors she had heard, "You-Know-Who?"
"That's, like, a good question, yeah? Like, that would be something big enough to be worth that many points. Harry Potter got the most points of any of them too, and, like, the only thing I knows about him is he beat You-Know-Who and he's the devil on a broom, and I didn't, like, hear of no secret Quidditch match or nothing," the older boy said.
"You know what I heard?" a younger Hufflepuff boy, maybe a second or third year student, jumped in. Not waiting for a response he went on to say, "I heard that there was this big three-headed dog who was about to eat Professor Sinistra, and that Harry Potter found them and killed the dog with a single glare, like he did to You-Know-Who as a baby."
"That doesn't make any sense," Wayne interrupted. "What about Ron and Hermione then?"
"Ha, let me tell you what really happened," a Gryffindor girl with long red hair accented with golden ribbons said. "Now you didn't hear this from me, but what really happened was that You-Know-Who actually was about to come back. He had taken over Professor Quirrel's body and was hiding there all year. They were in the middle of some ceremony when all of a sudden Harry Potter breaks in and takes him down."
The Gryffindor girl was clearly smug, basking in the reflected glow of superiority that Harry Potter cast for everybody in Gryffindor.
"What about the other three then? Ron, Hermione, and Neville?" Sakura asked.
"Ron and Hermione helped Harry get to Professor Quirrel. Neville, he, uhh, he did something brave too," the Gryffindor girl said.
"Is that what happened? I guess it does make sense. Professor Quirrel did go missing after all," Sakura said.
"Like, don't pay any attention to that, yeah? Defense of the Dark Arts professors, like, always go missing at the end of each year. Like, I haven't had the same professor for that class for two years running in all my time here," the older Hufflepuff boy said. He then leaned in and whispered to his companions, "They, like, say that that post has a jinx on it, cast by You-Know-Who himself. Scary stuff, yeah?"
"A jinx? Is it true?" Sakura asked.
"Are you going on about that jinx again?" a younger Hufflepuff girl, maybe in her second or third year, jumped in. "There is no jinx on that position. It's just an old rumor. Who could jinx a position like that?"
"You-Know-Who could," Wayne said.
"No he couldn't. No matter how strong he was he couldn't have gotten through all of Hogwarts's defenses just like that without leaving some sort of trace," the younger Hufflepuff girl said. "And if he had, they'd have gotten rid of it by now."
"But it is true that we haven't had a person stay on as the Dark Arts professor for more than a single year since forever," the Gryffindor girl said.
"Well that might be true, but it's just a coincidence," the younger girl insisted.
Sakura backed away and left the group while they continued to argue about whether or not there was a jinx on the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She was mildly interested, but more interested in finding where her friends were and what they were doing. On the way she dropped by a table on the side of the room for a quick snack. She wasn't hungry, surprisingly having not been interrupted at a celebratory feast for once, but it gave her something to do with her hands. When she went back to Japan she wouldn't have access to such foods anymore either, so didn't mind overeating just a bit this time.
Her decision to go to the snack table proved to be a fortunate one as when she walked over she saw two of the friends she was looking for sitting on the side by the drinks. Lisa and Anthony were there, Anthony looking quite disheveled and Lisa patting his shoulder.
"I'm telling you I failed Herbology for sure," Anthony said, holding his head was in his hands. "They're going to hold me back a year, and my parents will kill me."
"I am quite sure you did fine," Lisa insisted, rubbing Anthony's shoulder. "Nobody fails their classes, especially Herbology. I am sure you did fine."
"Easy for you to say. You aren't the one who thought question three was asking about a Snargaluff," Anthony said.
"Hello Anthony. Hello Lisa. What's going on?" Sakura asked.
"Nothing special. Anthony here is just panicking about a silly little mistake he made during the Herbology test," Lisa said.
"Silly little mistake? I mixed up a Devil's Snare with a Snargaluff. If I did that in real life I could have been killed," Anthony said. "Professor Sprout is going to fail me for sure."
"I'm sure you did fine. It was only one question," Sakura agreed with Lisa. "I'm sure Professor Sprout won't fail you for just one question, especially for a little mistake like that."
"Easy for you to say. You aren't the one who said to use a heavy pair of gloves. She's going to fail me, and my family's going to kill me for sure," Anthony repeated.
"Buck up mate. Professor Sprout's the best. She'd never fail a student for anything," an older Hufflepuff boy picking up a Butterbeer said. "Why I remember one time Andy threw a Fire Seed Bush seed as a joke and set half the greenhouse on fire. He was stuck in the hospital wing for a week, but all Professor Sprout does is make him write an essay on plant handling safety. No detention, no points off, no nothing."
"Maybe for you Hufflepuffs," Anthony said.
"No, not just for Hufflepuffs, for everyone. She's not like Professor Snape. She treats everybody nice," the older boy said.
"She'll kick me out for sure," Anthony said.
"Well, panic if you want, mate, but I'm going to go back to having fun. Good luck with your test results," the boy said then wandered off.
"Don't worry, Anthony. What that boy said is right. Professor Sprout has been really nice the whole year. I'm sure you won't fail just because of one question," Sakura tried to reassure Anthony.
"That's easy for you to say. You always do great in Herbology," Anthony replied.
"Not really. I'm only average in that class," Sakura said.
"Humph," was Anthony's unintelligible reply.
"Cheer up. I'm sure things will be great," Sakura said, then added, "Come on, you need to help me find Gloria. I have some news to tell all of you, but we need to find her first.
"I should have just written 'light a fire.'" Anthony said, ignoring Sakura.
"Let us not worry about him. I doubt anything we say could help," Lisa said, and then got to her feet. "I thought I saw Gloria when we came in. She was talking to one of the Hufflepuff Quidditch players I think. I swear, that girl and Quidditch. Actually no, I take that back. I swear, all of Gryffindor house and Quidditch. I wonder if that is one of the things the Sorting Hat sorts on."
Lisa led Sakura to where she had last seen Gloria. While Gloria and Cedric had since moved from that location, they were still in easy eyesight. They had taken a position near a wall and were leaning towards each other.
"... got me too. Herbert had just blocked the Quaffle but then suddenly pointed behind me, so I turn around and see this Bludger flying straight at me. I barely had time to get out of the way. I got lucky," Cedric was saying as the pair approached.
"Still, I never saw anybody drop into a Sloth-Grip-Roll so fast," Gloria said. "I was really impressed."
"Don't get me wrong, I'm happy I didn't get clobbered, but I was so upset. I was sure I had seen the Snitch just before I dropped below the broom, but by the time I got back up it was gone," Cedric said.
"Oh, is that why you went flying in circles in front of the Slytherin section back then?" Gloria asked.
"Yes. I'm surprised you remember. That was a game against Slytherin, not Gryffindor. Only about half of the Hufflepuff students even bother to attend our Quidditch games, and most of them don't remember anything after it's over," Cedric said.
"Oh, I watch every game," Gloria said.
"I wonder what Oliver would say if he knew you watched all the games and not just the Gryffindor ones," Lisa interrupted.
"He'd just say it was good intelligence gathering and ask if I could find some way to bring Fred and George along with me. I manage to get a seat next to him most matches, you know," Gloria answered. "Oh, I should introduce you. This is Cedric, the Hufflepuff Seeker. These are Sakura and Lisa, two friends of mine."
"Nice to meet you," the three said to each other in chorus.
"Oi, Cedric, there you are," an older Hufflepuff boy called out from across the room, running towards them. "Got a second? I'm trying to convince Heidi to try out for Quidditch next year, but I can't find our fearless captain anywhere."
"Heidi? As in Heidi Macavoy?" Cedric asked in an excited tone. "I've seen her on a broom and she's definitely good enough. Is she interested?"
"A bit, but she's still not sure. Come on, she's over here," the boy said, pulling Cedric by the hand.
"Oops. A Quidditch player's work is never done. Well, nice meeting you all," Cedric said over his shoulder as he was being led away.
As Cedric disappeared, Lisa turned to Gloria and said, "That was quite the surprise. I thought for sure we would have to rescue Cedric from your non-stop Quidditch talk."
"Are you kidding? Cedric's great. He's almost as Quidditch crazy as Oliver is," Gloria said. "Still good timing you're showing up right when he had to go. How are you enjoying the party?"
"Never mind the party, what is this big news that you wanted to tell us?" Lisa asked.
"Oh, news? What news?" Gloria asked, her voice perking up at the suggestion.
"I wanted to come find you and to tell you goodbye," Sakura said.
"Goodbye? That's news? You didn't need to tell me if you were leaving the party," Gloria said.
"No, not the party. Goodbye, goodbye. For the year," Sakura said.
"What? Why now? We still have the trip on the Hogwarts Express tomorrow. Are you planning on sitting with somebody else or something?" Lisa asked.
"No. The news is that I'm going to be taking the floo network with Professor Mizuki again," Sakura said.
"What? Again? I know you got permission or something for the holidays, but I didn't think they'd let you leave school on the floo network. What about all of your luggage?" Gloria asked.
"She said it wouldn't be a problem to bring it with me," Sakura said.
"We shall miss you. If you want to come and visit during the summer let me know. We have plenty of space in our house and I am quite sure my parents would just adore seeing you," Lisa said.
"Me too. You can also help me teach my brother a lesson with you-know-what too," Gloria said with a hint of mischief in her voice.
"If you're ever in Japan be sure to come and visit too. Our house is a bit small but I'm sure we can figure something out," Sakura said. "I can introduce you to all of my friends and family and show you around Tokyo too."
"Actually all this talk about goodbyes makes me wonder what you both will be doing for the summer," Lisa said.
"Nothing but stay around at home. Our family's big trip is in the winter, so the summer is really boring," Gloria said.
"I don't know. I'll probably catch up with all my friends in Japan. I might try and practice my magic a bit too," Sakura said.
"Wait, did you not know? You are not allowed to use magic outside of school. Not until we graduate," Lisa said with a worried tone of voice.
"Oh, relax Lisa. I'm sure the Ministry of Magic has better things to do than chase down a young witch all the way around the world for violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Actually, I wonder if they can even detect if you use magic in Japan," Gloria said, a thoughtful look appearing on her face.
"We'll see. It will be hard, though. Charms and transfigurations will be easy enough, but I'm not sure about getting supplies for things like potions," Sakura said.
"Be sure to let us know all about it next year," Lisa said.
"Actually," Sakura started saying, hesitated, and then blurted out. "I'm actually not sure if I'll be back next year."
"What?" Gloria exclaimed.
"Did you say that you may not return next year? Why would you not?" Lisa asked, equally shocked.
"I'm not sure. I need to talk it over with my family," Sakura said.
"Talk it over? What's there to talk over? Didn't you have fun here?" Gloria asked.
"And there is so much more to learn too. I am quite sure you will not learn nearly as much in any school in Japan," Lisa added right after Gloria.
"It's not that easy," Sakura said, and then sighed. "It's hard to be away from home for so long. I want some rice."
"Oh. If it's just the food we can talk to the elves. They might be able to make something special for you or something," Gloria said.
"It's not just the food. I miss my family. And Tomoyo. And Syaoran. And Yukito. I even miss my brother. I miss cheerleading, and music, and everything," Sakura said. "And there's the question of what I'm learning. I don't want to fall too far behind in my studies in Japan. I don't think the people in Japan have even heard of Hogwarts, and I'm not even sure how much magic I'll use when I grow up."
"You simply must come back. We shall all miss you if you do not," Lisa said.
"Don't worry, I'll stay in touch even if I don't come back. I'll write, although now that I think about it I need to get your addresses," Sakura said.
"Address? Why do you need an address? I always just give my letters to Cannon and tell him who I want them delivered to," Lisa said.
"I use my owl too," Gloria said, and then admitted, "I don't even know my address."
"Me either," Lisa admitted as well.
"Hoe?" Sakura said. The idea of somebody not knowing where they lived struck her as incredibly odd. "I guess I can ask Professor Mizuki. She can probably figure something out."
The group lapsed into a thoughtful silence. Eventually Lisa interrupted it by saying, "And now we are all moping about just like Anthony. This is a party and we should be celebrating, especially if this will be the last time Sakura will be with us."
With that, Lisa took Sakura and Gloria by the hand and led them back to the snack table.
"See? I told you that you were worrying too much," Lisa said.
It was a bittersweet time. Sakura, Lisa, and Anthony were leaving Ravenclaw Tower for the last time before heading home. Sakura had checked her room over three times to make sure she hadn't left anything behind, paying particular attention to make sure she hadn't somehow missed one of her cards. The wardrobes and chests were empty, and the desks and beds were cleared. The only indication that the dorms hadn't been empty for the past 10 months was the packed suitcases on the ground and the echoes of memories forever reverberating in the room. In a few hours, only the echoes would remain.
"I was really worried, okay?" Anthony defended himself.
The results of the tests had finally been released and were waiting for all of the students first thing in the morning; a late morning for some of them as it turned out. Sakura had found the results to be rather anti-climactic. She had easily passed all of her tests, even the History of Magic test despite it being essentially a long paper which she had had to write in English. Lisa likewise found the announcements to be very unsurprising, passing all of her tests with ease as well.
Anthony, on the other hand, was a different matter. He still couldn't believe the passing results he had received despite double checking them. He even had Lisa read through them to make sure that he hadn't misread something.
"Everybody ready to go?" Sakura asked.
"I think so," Lisa said.
"I completely muddled up Devil's Snare with Snargaluff. I thought Professor Sprout was going to fail me or something," Anthony continued, ignoring the two.
"Are you still on about that? You've been talking about that test for over half an hour already, not to mention yesterday. You passed. What more do you want?" Keroberos asked.
"I told you Professor Sprout wouldn't fail you," Sakura agreed while she opened the door.
"I do not think Professor Sprout would every fail anybody. She is not like Professor Snape or Professor McGonagall or anything," Lisa agreed.
The open doorway revealed Professor Dumbledore, standing not five feet away from the entrance.
"Professor Dumbledore! What are you doing here?" Lisa squeaked out as much as said.
"I was just on my way to see Sakura here," Professor Dumbledore said, surprisingly accenting her name correctly unlike most of the professors and students Sakura had met in Hogwarts. "To my good fortune, not only did I find her but I find Anthony and yourself here as well. I was hoping to speak to you both too."
"You were looking for me?" Sakura asked.
"It's quite the odd thing. Madam Pomfrey tells me we had something of a banshee problem. Coincidentally it seems like you three not only miss your Charms final exam but bring Mr. Wayne Hopkins, its one victim, to the hospital wing," Professor Dumbledore said, speaking as calmly as if he had been commenting on the weather. "The strange thing is, I spoke with Argus Filch as well as all of the resident ghosts, and they all assure me there was no trace of any unusual spirits in the castle, let alone one as obvious as a mad banshee."
Professor Dumbledore paused here to make sure all four of them were following what he was saying. After few moments of silence he continued, "Despite that, when we investigated Greenhouse Three we see the remains of a fearsome battle, and undoubtedly something happened to Mr. Hopkins to make him lose his hearing as well. If I had to guess, I would wager there is a bit more to the story than you've let on."
"Sorry. Things kind of happened and then got out of hand," Sakura said, facing the non-judgmental gaze Professor Dumbledore had fixed on the three students.
"No need to apologize. Actually we owe you a debt of gratitude. It may have been overshadowed by..." Professor Dumbledore hesitated, "other events, but taking care of mad banshees is something usually best left to specialists. It's very impressive of you three to have handled it. It's a shame we lost our supply of mandrake and half of our Venomous Tentacula plants, but Professor Sprout should be able to grow some more of both in the coming year without too much difficulty."
Sakura visibly relaxed, having concluded that Professor Dumbledore wasn't there to punish them. If Professor Dumbledore noticed, he gave no indication of it.
"Still, it's very strange. I checked and all of our wards keeping dangerous spirits away, and they were all very much intact. It's also a very odd place for a banshee to go, Greenhouse Three I mean. So much life and vitality there. Banshees, even mad ones, usually prefer places of solitude and death," Professor Dumbledore mused out loud.
Sakura fidgeted under Professor Dumbledore's steady glance and looked down, but said no more. Anthony and Lisa kept their silence as well, as did Keroberos.
Mercifully, Professor Dumbledore only held her fixed in his gaze for a couple of seconds before saying, "Well, I suppose it may be best to leave it at that. Madam Pomfrey is satisfied and everything is resolved. I trust everything is in fact resolved?"
"Yes," Sakura said, nodding her head at the same time.
"Good!" Professor Dumbledore said. "That should help my life tremendously. I have enough things which demand my attention as it is, and I doubt the Ministry of Magic will bother investigating an incursion by a mad banshee which has already been dealt with, especially in light of recent events."
"Recent events? You mean that thing with Gryffindor you were talking about at the end-of-term feast?" Anthony asked. "What happened there anyway?"
"Yeah, what happened?" Keroberos chimed in.
"Why did you award all those points to Harry Potter and everybody else?" Lisa pressed further.
"Some people were saying that You-Know-Who came back and Harry Potter beat him. Is that true?" Sakura added.
"Now it wouldn't do for me to go around telling Harry's secrets any more than it would do for me to go around telling yours, or anybody else's secrets in this school," Professor Dumbledore said.
"I supposed not," Sakura said.
"Suffice it to say, this has been a busy year. A very busy year, it would seem. I guess things really have changed a lot since how they used to be. I wonder what Professor Reed would say about that," Professor Dumbledore said, as much to himself as anybody present in the room.
"Professor Reed? Who is that?" Lisa asked, caught completely off-guard by the unrelated tangent Professor Dumbledore's musings had taken.
"Professor Clow Reed. He was a professor here when I was a student," Professor Dumbledore said. "It's strange. I haven't thought about him for a long time, but when I see Sakura and Keroberos here, they remind me of him somehow."
"You knew Clow Reed?" Sakura asked. "What was he like?"
"He was a bit of an odd one to be perfectly honest. The other professors would whisper behind his back, about how his unorthodox methods and lax discipline were hurting the academic standing of this institution," Professor Dumbledore said. He shook his head and chuckled at some sights and sounds which only he could see and hear before abruptly frowning. He concluded by saying, "I think he left Hogwarts after a while."
"That's good. It sounds like he wasn't a very good professor," Anthony said, secretly thinking of a few professors he would have leave Hogwarts if he could.
"On the contrary, he was one of the best professors in my opinion. Certainly the most fun one," Professor Dumbledore said. "I wonder if he ever did manage to achieve his dream of mixing Eastern and Western magic. If he did, I'm sure he would have made an artifact powerful enough to move the stars themselves. Of course anybody who had such an artifact would undoubtedly keep it a secret. Wizards and witches have quibbled and killed each other over much less in the past. "
Sakura caught the meaningful glance he directed at her, and she could feel his stare pierce her robe to see the cards she kept out of sight. He knew! She didn't know how he knew or what he would do with that knowledge, but she knew he knew.
"Eastern magic? What is that? I thought the East was really undeveloped and had they very little magic there," Lisa said.
"That's a very common misconception, but that's a discussion for another time. I must let you go now, otherwise you might miss the train. There will be plenty of time to talk about it next term. I trust you will all be back next year?" Professor Dumbledore said as much as asked.
"Yes," both Lisa and Anthony answered in chorus.
"Ehh," Sakura hesitatingly said.
"'Ehh?' What 'ehh'? You are going to be back next year, right?" Anthony asked, turning towards Sakura.
"I'm not sure," Sakura said.
"Oops. I seem to be guilty of accidentally bumphing. I better be off before some referee flags me for it. I still need to find Mr. Hopkins before he leaves for the Hogwarts Express, too," Professor Dumbledore said.
As Professor Dumbledore turned to leave, Lisa hesitantly asked, "Professor Dumbledore?"
"Yes, Lisa?" Professor Dumbledore asked.
"You will not tell them what I said, right? Professor Sprout and Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape, I mean," Lisa said.
"Tell them? Tell them you said what?" Professor Dumbledore asked.
"That I said... Umm..." Lisa said.
"I most certainly won't tell them you said 'umm' my dear, but don't worry. Like I said before, we all have our secrets and it's not my place to tell anybody else's," Professor Dumbledore said, then gave a mischievous smile, "And even if I did I doubt that even Professor Snape would fail you for it."
Lisa blushed in embarrassment while Professor Dumbledore turned and walked away with a jolly laugh. As he walked, he said, "It looks like we have a great group of students this year. I just hope next year's are even half as interesting."
"Now what do you mean you're not sure you're going to be back next year?" Anthony asked Sakura once Professor Dumbledore was out of sight.
"I mean I haven't decided yet. There's a lot to think about and I need to talk about it with my family," Sakura said.
"You just have to come back. We'll all miss you if you don't," Anthony said.
"See? I told you so," Lisa said.
"You mean you knew she was going to leave?" Anthony asked Lisa.
"She told me and Gloria yesterday at the party," Lisa said.
"You told them, but you didn't tell me?" Anthony asked.
"I tried to, but you were busy being worried on the side of the room," Sakura said.
"Gee, thanks," Anthony said.
"Do not worry. I am quite sure Sakura will be back next year," Lisa said. "I am more interested in hearing about what you heard about Harry Potter, and who was that Professor Clow Reed person Professor Dumbledore was talking about."
"I heard it last night at the party," Sakura said. "Somebody was telling us that You-Know-Who had taken control of Professor Quirrel and he performing some ceremony when Harry Potter breaks in and stops them."
"I suppose the whole school's heard that rumor by now," Kaho said, suddenly appearing in the doorway.
"Is it true, Professor Mizuki?" Lisa asked Kaho.
"Even if it were true I wouldn't be allowed to tell you," Kaho said. "It would cause a panic in the whole magical community if that rumor was true and word got out."
"Professor Mizuki, you're here. You tell Sakura that she just has to come back to Hogwarts next year," Anthony said, still thinking about his friend's possible disappearance.
"I'm sure we would all love for her to return, but that is her decision to make. Her family will probably want to discuss things with her as well," Kaho said. "Regardless, she will always have a place here if she wants it."
"At least we'll still have the trip on the Hogwarts Express to convince you to come back," Anthony said.
"Didn't you hear? We're not taking the Hogwarts Express back. We'll be traveling by the floo network," Keroberos corrected him.
"That's why I'm here actually. I'm just checking to see if they're ready to go," Kaho said.
"What? Again?" Anthony asked, jealous. "I was told that none of the children were allowed to use the floo network."
"No. It's just children aren't allowed to travel on their own on the floo network, and we can't have all the parents coming here to pick up their children. It would be such a mess on the last day if we did," Kaho explained. "Luckily for Sakura here we are both going to the same place, so I can bring her with me, just like we did last winter."
"Lucky. The floo network is so much faster," Anthony said.
"You would have known that too if you had not been moping about all during the party last night," Lisa said.
"Party? Actually no, don't tell me. It's probably better if I didn't know," Kaho said.
"So this is goodbye then, I guess," Anthony said.
"Yes," Sakura said. Tears were close to coming from her eyes, but she held them back.
"Say goodbye to Gloria and Wayne for me too," Sakura said.
"We will," Lisa answered. "And be sure to write. All summer."
"That reminds me, Professor Mizuki, I don't know Lisa or Gloria or anybody else's address. If I send you some letters can you forward them for them?" Sakura asked.
"Can we send you our letters too?" Lisa asked.
"I can do that, at least until you figure out a better way to communicate," Kaho said, then turning to the other two students she added, "But it sounds like you two need to take my Muggle Studies course soon. Their telephone and mail systems really are better in many ways than just relying on owls and the floo network all the time."
"Okay, Professor Mizuki," Lisa and Anthony said in chorus.
"So do you have everything then?" Kaho asked Sakura, picking up one of her suitcases for her.
Sakura counted her containers then nodded, saying, "Yes, that's everything."
"Let's go to the fireplace then. I'm sure Eriol has a warm meal waiting for us," Kaho said.
"Goodbye, Anthony, Lisa," Sakura said. "The past year was a lot of fun. Be sure to send me your addresses once you figure them out. I'll write to you all the time."
"Okay, I promise," Anthony said.
"Even if I need to figure out the whole muggle mail system I will," Lisa agreed.
They would even keep their promises too.
This story began longer ago than I would honestly like to admit. I had watched a Harry Potter movie, read some of the books, and thought, "Cardcaptor Sakura would match together very well with the Harry Potter universe." At least I had thought it would, but lots of searching back then didn't reveal any crossovers which were quite what I was expecting. So, after much thought, I decided I'd write for myself what I thought I would be looking for in a Cardcaptor Sakura-Harry Potter crossover.
Over the years I've dropped and picked up "Sakura and the Scottish School of Magic" numerous times. I've watched as J. K. Rowling expanded the Harry Potter universe (for the most part not ruining anything I'd written in doing so), wrote and rewrote sections and major plot points numerous times (intentionally and with much pain deleting countless of pages worth of content through the years, and once unintentionally losing something like two to three chapters due to a computer issue), and overall spent far more time on this project than I had expected when I had first started it.
For that matter, in some sense, the counter of time spent on this story hasn't ended. You probably noticed the "Last Updated" dates at the end of each chapter. As you can see, I'm still occasionally making minor corrections to the story as time goes by. These are primarily typo fixes, as I refuse to get caught into the classic trap of wanting to get caught in the trap some authors do of starting a full-scale rewrite of things (which they never seem to finish). Also making major changes to the plot by this point doesn't seem fair to those who have already read this story to completion. What this does mean, though, is if you see anything which should be tweaked or fixed, please let me know. For that matter, if you have any general thoughts or feedback, such as having liked the story or having ideas of ways to improve things, please let me know. I'd love to hear it.
As for "what I thought I would be looking for in a Cardcaptor Sakura-Harry Potter" crossover, for those curious, my ground rules for this story before I had outlined the plot or even outlined the characters were as follows (modestly re-written for understandability):
0) Have fun with it.
1) This is Sakura in the Harry Potter universe. It must not interfere with the main Harry Potter storyline. Write it such that even if this story happened, the original J.K. Rowling's books could and would still be written as they were written.
1a) This means Sakura and other characters should have only limited contact with Harry Potter and other high-profile Harry Potter canon characters, and their contact should be muted at that. For example, Harry Potter falling in love with a random girl would have been noted in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Maybe if Harry were impressed with a random girl for a few days it would be minor enough that J.K. Rowling's wouldn't have written about it, but even this is iffy at best.
1b) Sakura will not influence major plot points in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". This story will explore alternative plots of what is happening in Hogwarts. Sakura most notably does not save the day for Harry Potter.
1c) There will need to be some limitation to the Clow Cards such that they don't become major enough to intrude on the original story of Harry Potter.
1d) The majority of action in this story will happen in different classes and between-classes scenes than "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
1e) Stay away from Quiddich. Harry would have heard of another prodigy.
2) No Mary Sues, brothers thereof, or God Mode Sues. A character with an ordinary life, a character with legitimate problems, social misfits, and socialites are all fine. Make sure characters are 3-dimensional, though, and fully formed. Child/teen angst-filled overly dramatic melodrama is fine, so long as the author/reader (with more perspective) realize it is the character misinterpreting the situation. Don't try to create false sympathy for a character, and none of the characters should be know-it-alls.
3) Have a plot. Cardcaptor Sakura in Harry Potter's universe is *not* enough
3a) An outline is a good thing.
4) Try to integrate Harry Potter items into this story, but don't feel obligated to do so. If a clever pun doesn't spring to mind, move on.
5) Possibly include cameos of other anime/fiction/etc, but don't make this a mega-crossover. Those *never* work.
Maybe I succeeded. Maybe I didn't. I'd like to think if I stumbled across this story that I would enjoy reading it, but author's bias means I can't honestly judge whether or not that is true. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
You probably noticed the waffling at the last chapter about whether or not Sakura will be back next year. Part of the reason it's framed that way is that I'm not sure whether or not I'll write a sequel to this story. I do have an outline for 1992-1993, but finding the time and the will to actually turn that outline into prose is another question entirely.
To be honest I really want to make this a trilogy, as in the third year the worry about the Prisoner of Azkaban and the associated happenings around the castle would really let Sakura and everybody else do a lot of interesting things without breaking the Harry Potter canon as such. However that requires getting past 1992-1993, and, possibly more importantly, having enough interesting content left to write for 1993-1994.
Regardless, if as sequel is written, don't expect it any time in the near future. Chances are if it ever is released it will be released so far in the future that you will have long forgotten about this story by then. If a sequel does come out, though, and you do notice, and you do remember, I hope you will enjoy reading what further adventures Sakura and everybody else will next embark on.
Otherwise, whatever you, the reader, think happened after Sakura left Ravenclaw Tower with Kaho and Keroberos, I'm sure you are absolutely right.
Alternatively, if you are interested in a sequel, you can now just go and read it. Set concurrent to the events of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Sakura and the Whirlwind of Discovery" depicts the events of Sakura's return to Hogwarts Castle for a second year at the magical school.
In writing the sequel, I had to strongly fight against the "George Lucas Temptation" for "Sakura and the Scottish School of Magic." There are numerous things I wanted to edit and alter throughout this story. My writing has noticeably changed (and hopefully improved) since I wrote it years ago. There are also several characterizations and plot points of greater or lesser importance which I wanted to "fix" as well. However, for the sake of artistic integrity and historical accuracy, I resisted "improving" things. The temptation was certainly there, though, and I had to constantly fight against it.
One other thing as well; please be sure to let me know of any ways to improve this story. I really mean it. As an egregious example, I went for over a year with Professor McGonagall's name spelled incorrectly throughout this story. Nobody ever bothered to tell me. If you do notice anything, be it typos or mis-characterizations or even plotholes, or if you just have general comments or praise, please let me know. I love hearing from readers.
With all of that being said, years after having written it I still hope you enjoyed reading "Sakura and the Scottish School of Magic." I equally hope you decide to take a look at and subsequently enjoy reading "Sakura and the Whirlwind of Discovery."
Last Updated: May 1, 2013