Honoka emerged from the door to the Potions classroom, the look on her face equivalent to that of someone who just watched another person kick an innocent puppy.
As she closed the door behind her, she was met with an ash-haired Hufflepuff, whom had been waiting outside the classroom for her.
"Any luck, Honoka?" Kotori prodded worriedly.
The sixth-year Gryffindor shook her head. "Professor Slughorn hasn't seen a remembrall and no one has turned one in to him. But, I swear I had it in my pocket during Potions, and that was the last class I had today."
Kotori patted her on the shoulder comfortingly. "If Professor Slughorn hasn't seen one and if you and Rin didn't find it in the Gryffindor common room, then it has to be between here in the dungeons and the grand staircase. Let's retrace your steps. Where did you go after class ended?"
Honoka cupped her chin in thought as she tried to remember the exact series of events. "Hmm. Well, like I said, it was in my pocket during Potions, and as soon as class let out, I saw Nico and Nozomi coming down the stairs. They were going to go watch Eli hold Gryffindor Quidditch tryouts so we didn't talk to each other long. I kinda sorta maybe got a little lost in the dungeons after that, but I finally found my way out. I went to the common room and saw Rin sitting on the sofa with some of the other Gryffindors. Eli had just left for tryouts. I sat there and talked to them for a little bit, and that's when I noticed my remembrall wasn't in my pocket. That's when we started looking in the common room. Kotori, I swear we searched it from top to bottom, and it wasn't there! Rin was going to help me, but she had plans to go to the Owlery with Maki and Hanayo, so I told her that you and Umi would help me, but then I thought that Umi would probably scold me for losing it again, so I just came to you. And here we are."
"Umi just wants you to take better care of it, Honoka," Kotori said gently with a smile. "We did get that as a birthday present for you during our third-year, after all."
"I'm kinda glad you guys, did," Honoka sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck with a small grin. "It's helped me a lot since then."
Kotori smiled. Honoka had a one track mind most of the time, and it was just part of who she was. That's why she and Umi had chosen a remembrall as Honoka's birthday present that year. It wasn't meant to be an insult to their orange-haired friend. It was just to give her a little bit of aid whenever she was forgetting something important. Since then, Kotori and Umi both noticed great improvement in Honoka. Grades and all.
"You said you got lost down here in the dungeons, right?" Said the sixth-year Hufflepuff as it was her turn to put a finger to her chin in thought. "Then there's a strong chance that you may have lost it down here somewhere."
Honoka looked up in realization before slamming her fist down into her open hand. "That's it! Kotori, you're a genius!" She all but dragged her best friend into a bone-crushing hug.
Kotori only giggled at the energy and happiness her best friend emitted. "We'll probably have to split up, though. These dungeons are pretty big."
"Right!" Honoka agreed as she released Kotori from the hug. "These corridors are all connected, so we should be able to meetup somewhere in between, right? So, I'll check this half and you check the other half?"
"Yes, that sounds wonderful, Honoka. We can meetup back here at the Potions classroom when we've finished looking."
"Fight on, Kotori! Fight on!"
Honoka sighed. She had completely scoured this side of the dungeons for her beloved remembrall but ultimately had no luck whatsoever. However, just because she didn't find it didn't mean it was lost completely just yet. Kotori was still searching on the other side of the dungeons, after all. Maybe the Hufflepuff would have better luck than she did.
As she trudged through one of the dungeon corridors, she heard the sound of someone clearing their throat and immediately turned around.
"Looking for this, Kousaka?" One of the female Slytherin students taunted as she flashed what looked to be a small glass orb with a golden ring around it in the Gryffindor's direction.
"That's my remembrall!" Honoka gasped. "Give it back! It's not yours!"
The Slytherin pretended to study the object in her grasp closely. "It doesn't have your name on it, so I think I'll keep it, yeah? If you had kept that head of yours out of the clouds, you wouldn't have lost it. Honestly, I don't know what thought process you Gryffindors have, but it obviously isn't a very clever one. You and that mudblood Hoshizora are prime examples."
"You can drag me through the mud all you want, but don't you dare talk about Rin like that!" Honoka growled.
The Slytherin tutted. "Raise your voice to me again like that, Kousaka, and I'll smash it to the ground."
Honoka gritted her teeth at the recognition of being trapped between a rock and a hard place. If she were to attempt to do anything to get her precious remembrall back, the Slytherin girl would break it where she stood. And if it were to shatter to pieces, Honoka's heart would go right along with it. It was one of the best gifts she had ever received, even more so because it had been from her two best friends. She didn't know what she was going to do. Her only hope right now was that Kotori would show up.
"What's going on here?"
Honoka and the Slytherin girl turned their heads to where the voice had came from.
Three girls dressed in Slytherin robes were standing there to Honoka's left and the Slytherin girl's right. Honoka didn't recognize them at all. She had never seen them at Hogwarts before and she was almost practically a social butterfly, so she knew pretty much almost everyone save for some of the more hostile Slytherins.
The voice had come from the shorter girl in the center, most likely the leader of the trio. This particular girl had a very prominent forehead and the most absolute pair of piercing green eyes that Honoka had ever seen.
The two other girls at her sides stood taller than she did. The one to the left of her had long orange hair down to her shoulders and a pair of magenta eyes, while the one to the right had long purple-hair and eyes that were sort of what look to be an oceanic green color. She was probably the oldest of the three.
"A-A-Rise?" The Slytherin girl sputtered out, almost as if she was shocked to be in their presence. "I-I was just teaching this bloody Gryffindor a lesson on reality."
A-Rise? What? Now, Honoka knew she had never seen or heard of them before. She and her friends had been collectivelly dubbed as µ's by the other students of Hogwarts because they were all basically attached to each other's hips all the time, but other than that, she'd never heard any others with a group name before.
The three Slytherin girls known as A-Rise approached, the smaller one glancing down at the remembrall in the opposing Slytherin's grasp before looking her in the face and speaking calmly. "Is that yours?"
"N-no." The Slytherin girl stuttered out meekly.
"Then it's hers?" She glanced toward Honoka, blue eyes meeting green for the very first time.
The girl stayed silent, not daring to meet the leader of A-Rise's eyes.
"Is that her remembrall?" She reiterated a little strongly this time.
"Then why are you trying to take it from her? I'm sure she hasn't done anything to you, and even if she has, that gives you no right to steal something from her. Now, give it to me or we will report you to Miss Toujou and Professor Slughorn, or if you'd like to keep it, we can go higher up to Professor Minami about this. We're not rats, but when someone is being treated unfairly, we will do what's right. So, it's your decision."
The opposing Slytherin girl looked at the faces of A-Rise and then back at the doe-eyed face of the orange-haired Gryffindor before reluctantly deciding to slowly hand over the remembrall to the girl they called Tsubasa.
"Thank you," She said, the calm tone of her voice never breaking. "Now, I do believe you owe that Gryffindor an apology. You don't take things that belong to others."
"And if I refuse?" The girl countered with a scowl.
"As I said before, it's your decision," Tsubasa repeated. "I'm sure one of the higher-ups can find a suitable punishment, but I assure you none of them will be lenient, especially Miss Toujou. That Gryffindor is her friend, is she not?"
The Slytherin stayed silent for a bit before sighing and abruptly turning to Honoka, the scowl still present on the girl's face. "Forgive me, Kousaka. You'll need that remembrall to find your way around, anyway."
Tsubasa nodded before sending the Slytherin on her way. "Carry on. There's nothing more here."
And as the girl angrily made her way back down the corridor, the three girls of A-Rise made their way towards the sixth-year Gryffindor, the smaller of the three reaching out with the remembrall in her hand.
"I believe this belongs to you?" Tsubasa said, waiting for Honoka to grab her beloved gift.
Honoka did just that, reaching out to take the remembrall from Tsubasa's hand all the while being entranced by the other girl's green eyes. "Thank you. I've never had any Slytherins stick up for me before. Well, besides Nozomi and Nico. You didn't have to do that, you know? It's just a silly remembrall. I could've gotten another one."
Now, the orange-haired Gryffindor was rambling nonsense. She would never have been able to replace the sentimental value of the object clutched in her hand. Sure, she could have gotten another one if the Slytherin had broken it, but it wouldn't be the same.
While it was true that Honoka rambled about nonsensical things sometimes, this was different. She actually felt a little nervous under the supervision of those mesmorising green eyes. Honoka couldn't pinpoint exactly what kind of feeling it was, to be honest. She had never felt that way before.
"There's no need to thank us. We just did what we felt was right, yeah?" said Tsubasa with a smile. "Sorry to cut things short, but Slytherin's Quidditch tryouts will be held right after Gryffindor's, which should be about over with if our timing is correct."
Honoka couldn't do anything besides nod dumbly.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Kousaka. I wish it would have been under better circumstances, though. But I do have a feeling I'll be seeing you around soon, yeah?" Tsubasa said with a wink.
That harmless little wink sent shockwaves through Honoka's heart and blood abruptly rushed to her face, and before she could say anything back, A-Rise departed from her.
"What's up with Honoka, nya?" Rin asked, having been nose deep in Herbology homework (with assitance from Hanayo, of course) and having just decided to take a small break.
All eight girls at the library table looked to the sixth-year Gryffindor in question, whom hadn't even bothered opening the Potions notebook laying in front of her to study her notes and was instead leaning her chin into her hand lazily, elbow propped up onto the table as that same goofy smile she'd been wearing since she had found her remembrall remained.
"I don't really know," Kotori replied worriedly. "She's been like this ever since we got out of the dungeons. I think something happened, but she won't tell me."
"Maybe she's finally lost her mind." Maki commented while looking over a diagram of Strengthening Solution in one of the older Potions textbooks the library had.
Nico scoffed. "Do you ever have anything nice to say?"
The fifth-year Ravenclaw looked up from the diagram and replied to the raven-haired Slytherin with that signature poker face. "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
"Wha-?! Are you trying to imply that the great Nico-Nii is not nice?!" Nico was a hair away from blowing up. "I'm a lot nicer than you!"
"Whatever helps you sleep at night."
"Children! Children!" Nozomi attempted to break up the two bickering girls by putting an arm in between them. "That's quite enough."
Both Maki and Nico scoffed before they both resumed studying, the former resuming the study of the Strengthening Solution and the latter studying for her upcoming N.E.W.T's.
"She won't say anything to Umi, either." Kotori spoke again.
The blue-haired Ravenclaw looked up from her Defense Against the Dark Arts essay and shook her head. "When I elaborated to her earlier about taking better care of her things, I highly doubt she was paying attention. She just continued murmuring something about emeralds and the beauty of the earth. Typical Honoka behavior, yes, but I have never seen her act in such a particular way that almost seems...poetic? I guess that would be the word?"
Honoka giggled dreamily as she spoke up for the first time in a while. "Don't you just want to give mother nature a big, fat, wet kiss for creating such a beautiful place? I do. Especially for creating her. Her and those deep fields of emerald green grass she has for eyes." Another dreamy sigh.
Umi's face turned a shade of red at that particular pronoun. "Her?!"
Kotori's eyes went wide in realization. "Umi? You don't think-"
"A-as shameless as it sounds, Kotori," The Ravenclaw stuttered out, desperately resisiting the urge to cover her eyes with her hands to shield the blood rush to her cheeks. "It sounds like sh-she's-"
"It sounds like our dear Honoka has been struck by cupid's arrow!" Nozomi finished Umi's sentence for her.
That's when Umi fainted, falling sideways out of her chair and onto the floor. Every single student in the library at that time looked over to the spot in the floor where the Ravenclaw had landed with a small thud.
"Umi!" The ash-haired Hufflepuff said worriedly, getting out of her own seat to tend to her fallen friend.
Rin stood up from her chair to be nosey, Hanayo looked on with evident worry, Eli facepalmed out of slight embarrassment, Maki didn't even bother looking up from the page in her book, and Nico rolled her eyes so far back into her head, they probably would've gotten stuck like that if she had done it any harder.
Nozomi just sat there in genuine confusion before looking in Eli's direction. "Was it something I said?"
Instead of a reply from Eli, the purple-haired Slytherin earned a comment from Maki, whom was still nose deep in the Potions book. "We'll etch it on her epitaph that she was killed by cupid's arrow."
"Sit down, Rin," Eli gently chided. "Kotori will get her up. Just give her a few minutes."
Hanayo grabbed Rin by her Gryffindor vest and gently pulled her back down into her seat.
"As I was saying," Nozomi continued after order was restored to the table. "It seems that our dear Honoka has been struck by cupid's arrow. She's in love."
Honoka released another dreamy sigh, followed by a giggle. "Love~."
"So, she has lost her mind." Maki reiterated.
"Not necessarily, Maki. Being in love doesn't mean you've lost your mind, does it Elicchi~?"
"No. If anything it has a positive impact on the mind." Eli replied as she and Nozomi both shared a loving look.
"Ugh," Nico almost retched. "Gag me with a spoon."
"Now, now, Nicocchi. You'll understand when you fall in love one day." Nozomi patted her fellow Slytherin on the back.
And unbeknownst to the other girls at the table, both Nico and Maki shared a small grin.
"Honoka?" Nozomi prodded from the end of the table. "Do you care to share the identity of this mystery woman~?"
The sixth-year Gryffindor giggled. "Her name is Tsubasa~. She's a Slytherin like you and Nico, but much more...heroic~. Her and those eyes~." Another blissful sigh.
"Was that an insult?" The fact that Nico wasn't regarded as heroic in Honoka's eyes felt like a slap in the face.
Nozomi immediately recognized the name. "Tsubasa Kira? She was one of the three new transfer students from Beauxbatons that they sorted into Slytherin. She, Erena Toudou, and Anju Yuuki. They called them A-Rise back at Beauxbatons, and they'll probably most likely be addressed as such here at Hogwarts."
"Beauxbatons, huh? Do you think she speaks french? That would be lovely~." said Honoka.
"You'll o-only know if you ask her, Honoka," Hanayo decided to speak up. "I'm sure she does considering it's a s-school in France."
Kotori was finally able to revive the fallen, blue-haired Ravenclaw and was in the middle of helping her back into her seat. "It's a very lovely school. I was originally going to go there, but once the Ministry appointed mom as Headmistress of Hogwarts, I came here."
"You would have made a wonderful Beauxbaton, Kotori." Umi said as Kotori helped her sit down, the seemingly out of nowhere comment causing the latter to blush slightly as a result.
"So, in all seriousness, what are you going to do, Honoka?" Nozomi prodded yet again.
"She said she had a feeling we'll see each other again soon~," The Gryffindor replied.
"I get it, nya!" said Rin. "You're going to bust a move next time you see her, right?"
Honoka nodded. "I'll think of something, but for now I just want to savor this new feeling for as long as I can, you know? I didn't think love at first sight could possibly be a thing, but it is. I'm not going to get ahead of myself and say we're going to be a thing because it would be lovely just to have her as a friend, you know? She's interesting. It's almost hypnotic. Love. I'm sure some of you understand this feeling that I'm feeling right now."
Nozomi and Eli's hands slowly clasped together on top of the table, Rin put her arms around Hanayo's shoulders from the side, Kotori and Umi gazed at each other lovingly, and Maki and Nico shared another small grin.
"Love is a wonderful feeling, isn't it~?" Honoka sighed. "It's a sad thing to think that there are some people in the world that don't have it or want it."
"Very true," Umi agreed. "It's not often that I hear you speak of love so maturely. I'm proud of you."
"As am I." said Kotori.
"Love comes suddenly. You don't expect it or anything. No warning signs. Nothing. It happens out of nowhere." Nozomi said.
"That's the honest truth if I've ever heard it," said Nico honestly, followed by a swift kick to the shin by Maki's foot under the table. "Ow!"
Everyone at the table shared a laugh, despite the fact that you were supposed to be quiet in a library, but no one bothered to stop them. Having the nine girls known around Hogwarts as µ's being together in one spot was enough to lighten the castle's atmosphere.