Hikari no Daija

(The Serpent of Light)

A Cabbit Patch Production

by Miriani and Andrew Norris


Characters are the properties of JK Rowling, Rumiko Takahashi, CLAMP, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, AIC, Pioneer and the team at #Akane.


Chapter 02 – Starting Out Strange




            Luna blinked, awakening.  She rose slightly to her elbows, wondering what awoke her, and noted that a half grown Siamese cat slipped out of Ranko's bed.  She blinked, and wondered.  She knew that Ranko's pet was a falcon… not a cat, and she hadn't seen any Siamese for Ravenclaw pets. They were rare in the British world.  Daddy said that only Southeast Asian and American wizards used them for familiars.

No help for it, time to get up. Luna rose, and put on her butterbeer cap necklace, and got dressed.


            Outside, if anyone was watching for the early morning storm that swept the grounds, the Siamese blurred for a second, revealing a young girl in a blue shirt and black trousers, in a style that would be recognized by the muggleborn, as a martial artist's outfit.

Ranko shivered slightly, then started to move, blending with the storm overhead, losing herself into her kata, and moving seamlessly from the ground to the air, showing her art as the violent dance it was, a dance of war.  An observer nodded, and for a split second lighting flashed, illuminating her frame perfectly balanced on the middle ring of the scoring section, then flowing back into the wind, riding it, and dictating where it would take her.  The observer returned to what he was doing as he saw her finish up, and left.


During the workout, Luna came down, and saw several other fellow first years, and a prefect.  She overheard their question where Ranko was.  "Perhaps she went out to exercise?"


"How?  The portrait states that she didn't leave this morning."

Luna let her dreamy expression show, and just shrugged slightly.


"Acck! Late, late, late!" one voice called out as a blur of white and red streaked downstairs, to the sound of shoes being slipped on.  "Are we going to breakfast?" Mitzi asked, stopping, slipping a wand into her ponytail that she had just finished tying.


Mel looked at Mitzi. "We're waiting for Ranko. She's not here. Others say she's not left, but she's not in the dorm room or the bathroom, so, where is she?"


Mitzi shrugged. "Let her worry about herself. I have a feeling she's more than she appears, and can take care of herself, 'Kay?"  Mitzi finished stuffing books into her backpack, and slipped a case into her blazer's pocket.


Cho leaned over, and asked. "What's that?"


"My PDA." Mitzi shrugged as she slipped on a white trench coat, and straightened a red beret.


"PDA?" Mel asked.

"Personal data assistant or palmtop computer." Shir replied for Mitzi, putting hers into her backpack.


"Electronics don't work in Hogwart's, that's what the books say" Michel Connor responded for the house, as they started to head out, all stopping to Mitzi's and Shir's laughter.


Luna said dreamily. "Faraday matrixes."


Mitzi and Shir stopped and _stared_ at Luna… "Yes, that's the spell cast to insulate them from high magic environments… How did you know that spell?"

Luna shrugged. "It's supposed to be first invented to capture Snork-headed Snorklesnacks"


Mitzi raised her eyebrow slightly and shrugged at Shir, indicating _she_ had no clue what Luna was talking about, and just followed the other Ravenclaws, answering their questions about American technomagic.  One question related to Shir's and Mitzi's uniforms.


"Why don't you all wear Hogwart's robes?" Cho asked noting with distaste the pink short skirt the Japanese were wearing, contrasting it to Mitzi's pristine white skirt and red blazer.


"We were told we're supposed to wear our school's uniform." Mitzi shrugged slightly, and then smiled. "Could be worse. I could be wearing that…" She pointed at Shir's short skirt, and smirked. "At least _we_ have decent length skirts."


"I heard all you Americans carry guns, is that true?" a nameless Ravenclaw asked.


Shir shrugged, and looked at Mitzi who looked… slightly edgy.  "Not in my experience, Americans are…" Mitzi raised a slight hand to stop Shir.


"Umm… we're trained, yes, but depends on the average magi.  About half don't carry constantly."


The clutch of Ravenclaws entered the Great hall, only to see several other Ravenclaws, including Ranko already eating. 


Mitzi sat next to her, while Luna sat on the other side.  Ranma nodded slightly, still eating at a pace that impressed, yet terrified the other hungry Ravenclaws.


Shir and Melange MacHinery, a fellow first year, sat across from the three, and like them, acquired breakfast, and started to eat. Next to Shir and Ranko, were green tea, rice, pickles, and mizo.  The American had several dishes that weren't common to the British, and several croissants, and hot coffee.  Several pleased sounds were heard from the transfer students, and Ranma stopped in her inhaling… "Oh, Professor Flitwick stated that we'd have food like what we had at home.  Or if we wanted, British food."  Shir and Mitzi both looked relieved


Ranma caught Mitzi's muttered comment "If I wanted to be poisoned, I'd eat Brit food…" 


Mitzi raised an eyebrow at Ranko's sudden sneeze.  "You okay, Ranko?  Sneezing when casting spells is a _bad_ idea, I can attest to that."

Ranma sniffed slightly, and nodded. "Just a bit of a cold."


Mitzi and Shir shrugged slightly, with Shir commenting. "Don't sneeze when casting.  Mitzi-chan's right, Ranko-chan. BAD things happen."  Before Ranko could respond, an older Ravenclaw stepped up.  "Miss Kagehabu, you're to hand these out to the transfer students."  Shir nodded, "Thanks, Penelope. I'll hand them out.  And it's _Shir_ or Shir-chan.  Not Kagehabu."  Penny just smiled slightly, and went down the table


Mitzi raised an eyebrow, and Shir responded. "Our class schedules."  Ranko looked up at that, and Mitzi had slipped her PDA out.


Shir flipped though the pile, and handed them out. "Here's yours, Luna.  Penelope must have slipped it in with ours…  Uggg…”


Ranma shrugged. "Charms first, what's that?"  Mitzi was pounding her head into the table.


Luna shrugged. "General spells… fun. Our head teaches it."  Ranma smiled, while sneezing again.  "Are you trying to summon a Double horned unicorn? I heard Americans can…" Mitzi stopped her pounding to look at Luna with an incredulous look.


"No… I'm just getting the headache now, I _HATE_ transfiguration. I have to work five times as hard as anyone else to get it to work for me."  Shir raised an eyebrow. "Annoys the hell out of me."

Shir shrugged.  "So, it's not your talent area.  Though… that's unusual.  What, it resists you?"  Mitzi nodded in frustration as she muttered "Infra transferrus" and waved her wand while pointing her PDA at her parchment.  Ranko shrugged, and sneezed again. 


Mitzi smiled. "You're going to enjoy _charms_, indeed.  Just don't blow up the teacher, ‘kay? That ruins your grade, trust me."  The other four blinked, as they gathered up their items in preparation to get to class.


"Mind if we go… " *atchoo* "together, Melange?"  Melange nodded at the redhead.


Before they could stand up and leave the hall, Dumbledore spoke up.


“To those 1st and 2nd years attending this afternoon’s Japanese History/Culture class, I’m afraid your professor for it is unavailable for the day, so the class will start on Wednesday.  I do apologize for this inconvenience.”


Ranma blinked, and shrugged, while Mitzi muttered to herself.  The four students (Luna had joined them when they stood up) split up and headed their separate ways, with Shir following Mitzi, and then turning off.




The majority of things in the classroom were placed rather low. Not a problem at all for Ranma, though some of the taller students had some difficulties. The professor’s desk was the average desk, though one could see several books in the seat from there. Seated upon that chair was a wizened little gnome. However, unlike Cologne, Professor Flitwick had a genial look to him. Compared to Cologne’s sense of an ancient inquisitor, Filius had the aura of a kindly, if diminutive grandfather. For some reason, Ranko found herself liking him right off the bat.


The chatter dimmed down when Filius hopped down and stood in front of the desk. “As you probably know, I am Professor Filius Flitwick. My specialty and the focus of this class is beginning Charms and Enchantments. Now despite them being the lowest level of such magic, they can be very versatile and useful in every day life,” the diminutive instructor explained cheerfully. “As for the requirements for this class, you should have your wand, as well as Ms. Goshawk’s Standard Book of Spells Grade 1, as mentioned in your greeting letter. Now, as I call out your name, please raise your hands.”


As Professor Flitwick spoke, every few names was punctuated with a slight sneeze from somewhere in the classroom. Everyone looked toward the source of the sneezes, but for most of them, especially the professor, nobody could see the person. This made Filius a bit nervous but he continued the role call until everyone was mentioned. He then said, “Alright. Our first charm is going to be a rather simple one, a light charm. Now everyone, take out your wands and move them as I show.” He waited for a moment, before showing them a series of motions.


Everyone practiced the motions, and then Filius said, “Now the word… Lumos. Everyone, repeat after me. Lumos.”  After a moment of repetition, Filius began to point people out, to try the spell. Things seemed mostly well, though Luna’s light kept changing colors. It then came to Ranma.


Everyone looked toward the redhead, who took a deep breath, then performed the motion... or at least part of it. As she spoke, a horrendous sneeze escaped her, causing the word “Lumos” to become “Lu…..choooo!” Her body jerked with the sneeze, causing her wand to flick out as she spasmed, and a large gout of flame erupted from her nose, almost setting light to the six or seven people in front of her, including the professor.


Everyone dove out of the way, Professor Flitwick patting himself out. Ranma blinked as she covered her face. Another loud sneeze and Ranko was wreathed in flames once more. “Class dismissed,” the professor called out urgently as he began to escort Ranma to the infirmary.



Dumbledore regularly visited the sick and injured at Hogwarts-- and there were always more than a fair share of them.  What with monsters, magic, curses, badly done potions (Although Snape claimed, at time there were never any WELL done potions) and the like, the infirmary was never empty.


But even he was a bit startled at the heavy asbestos curtains surrounding one sickbed.  "May I ask-?"


“Ms. Shidou.  Sneeze.  Spell Malfunction.  Her... unique conditions.  It's for our own good,” Madam Pomfrey said, somewhat astonished herself.


The headmaster blinked.  "You mean it's for her own-"


FWOOOMP.  Fire erupted over the edges of the curtains as they billowed from suddenly superheated air, and a definite odor of sulfur permeated the atmosphere. 


"No, headmaster... for some reason she's immune to any damage from this mishap...  even her clothes are immune.  WE are not. Fortunately, Professor Snape is concocting something for her right now. It won’t be ready for a few hours, however.”


The headmaster shook his head. “I see things are going to be rather interesting this year,” he remarked before leaving, just before another small detonation went off. Madam Pomfrey put on an insulated apron and something that looked suspiciously like a welding visor, before going behind the curtain.


“How on earth did this happen?” Madam Pomfrey asked.


Ranma stifled another sneeze, before mumbling, “Sneezed during a… Lumos charm?” She blew her nose and looked at the older woman.


“I can understand that, but why are you sneezing?” She raised a gloved hand, then paused, and removed the glove before putting it on Ranma’s brow.


“Um… was just all the dust in the room. Really,” Ranma stammered.


Madam Pomfrey stared at her for a long moment. When is some student going to come in here and not think I’m a total idiot? She thought to herself as she removed her hand from Ranko’s head.



“I’m a total idiot,” Filius muttered, the diminutive professor dusting himself off while sitting down next to Severus Snape in the professors’ lounge.


The taller professor looked at Flitwick and asked, “What happened to you?”


“Ms. Shidou sneezed during a Lumos charm. I’ve never seen a simple light charm explode like that in my years at Hogwart’s,” Filius said as he finished wiping the soot from his face.


“It actually exploded? How can someone make a simple charm like that explode? Even a sneeze shouldn’t have done that,” Severus said, with both astonishment and amusement.


Filius shook his head. “Well, if it was Miss Kuukino or Miss Kinomoto, I’d not be surprised, really, both are sorcerers, and Miho suspects that Miss Kuukino has a strong fire affinity, and Miss Kinomoto is a strong sorceress, to begin with.”


Snape paused, and ransacked his memory for a second.  “I seem to recall that Miss Kinomoto at the least is a cousin of Miss Shidou’s, and well… it’s possible that Ranko has some affinity for fire.”


Filius shrugged slightly. “I’ll suggest to Miho that she look into that”


Snape and Filius turned to the sound of the door opening, and watched as Poppy came in shaking her head.  Neither man noticed Cologne following behind her.


“Filius, you’ll be glad to know, she is no longer sneezing flames anymore.  Remind me to thank your Miss Patil.  She came to me with a recipe for curry that she said her mother used once when she performed accidental fire based magic.  Though I’d still like to know how Miss Shidou came down with a cold.  It’s too early for them, even for our students from Japan or California.”  Poppy raised an eyebrow.


Snape shrugged slightly. “I… might be of assistance, Poppy.  She went out this morning for martial arts practice.  It is colder here, in the mornings, and with the heavy dew this morning, it would be… unusual for her.”


Poppy raised an eyebrow and shrugged slightly.  “That’s possible, but… why would she come down with it so fast?  That is unusual.  Especially for a martial artist of her reputed caliber.” 


Snape shrugged. “It’s possible she was due for one.”  He raised an eyebrow at Poppy’s dubious look.  “Well, if you don’t quite believe that, Poppy, then do a more thorough examination of her.”


Poppy nodded, and spoke to Filius. “When you have a chance, have Miss Shidou report to me for a full physical, would you, Filius?” She left after receiving his nod of assent.


Cologne stayed in the shadows, rubbing her chin.



Ranma walked into the common room, after lunch, yawning, and chatting with Sakura over charms.


A stunning Chinese witch stopped them.  "Where were you this morning?" Her voice was accusing. "Your roommates said you weren't there when they woke up."  There was a definite tone of accusation there. 


Ranma blinked.  "I get up that early normally, need to practice!"  Ranma's tone indicated to her it was no big deal.


"Practicing what?  You're not on the Quidditch team, and it's a little early in the year for homework!"  Cho's tone carried ugly overtones, and had several other students looking at her in puzzlement.


"Also, the Grey lady said no one matching your description had left, when you clearly had.

What are you playing at, Shidou?"


Ranma shrugged slightly, and answered her.  "I'm a martial artist, Chang-san.  That requires practice no matter when or where."


Cho's response was delivered with a disbelieving snort. "That doesn't explain how you got out, even with an invisibility cloak; you'd still have needed the Grey lady to let you out. She'd have remembered."


Ranma smiled at her.  "Window, perhaps?"


Before Cho could respond to the statement, a second Chinese girl broke in.  "From five stories up?"  Su Li's response wasn't quite as disbelieving as Cho's would be at the statement.  "However, I think your roommates would have noticed the draft from the window."


Ranma shrugged.  "Assuming I didn't close it, and they did all have their curtains drawn, so they'd not notice 'til they woke up."  Su Li nodded in response.


"Tell me another one, Shidou," Cho retorted.  "You wouldn't have reason to sneak out anyway unless you were up to something."  She raised an eyebrow.  "Which reminds me... you weren't in potions, either.  Where are you sneaking off to?"


Padma growing tired of Cho's behavior stepped up.  "Well, it just could be, after she lost control of her magic, in Charms, she was in the infirmary."  Padma stopped, shrugged. "But, I wouldn't know, I mean, all I did was bring her some curry and had Madam Poppy feed it to her."


Luna nodded.  "It was... intriguing to see a simple sneeze that exploded. For a second there I thought there was a helopath in the room, to cause Ranko's fiery sneezing."  Before people could ask what the hell she was talking about she added. "But it couldn't be that, since everyone knows Fudge is building an army of them, and keeps them all locked up.  It had to be a Fire Sprite, from the Mojave, and Ranko just was allergic to them."


"Lovegood isn't helping your case at all, Shidou."  She sneered, and then moved her face inches from Ranma's.  "I don't know why you're here.  I don't know what you're up to.  All I do know is that the Sorting Hat came within moments of putting you in Slytherin - but stopped."  She practically growled at the smaller girl.  "You're up to something.  Eventually, I'll figure out what.  And when I do, you'll wish you'd never been born."


Several people, including a slightly puzzled prefect looked at each other as Cho walked away.


"Does _anyone_ know what that was about?" Mitzi asked, as she walked up to Ranma.


Melange shrugged.  "Nary a clue, but we have Transfiguration now, Ranko."



Ranma filed in after the other first year Ravenclaws and Slytherins.  She overheard various comments. “Where’s the professor?” seemed to be the primary comment.


Ranma stopped for a second, blinking at the cat sitting on the table, then smiled softly, and she sat down at a table, pulling Luna and Melange with her.  “The professor’s here.” Ranma quietly said into both their ears, gaining a “Say what?” look from Melange and

“She must be using the skin of a Flibberworm to be invisible” from Luna.


Ranma blinked and as several Slytherins started to pack up, watched as her professor returned to her normal form. 

“Sit down.  I am Professor McGonnagal, and I will be teaching you the art of Transfiguration, the art of changing one thing into another. From your first lesson, transforming a matchstick into a needle, to as complex as changing one’s own form.”  She waited for all the students to sit down, and called roll.


After instructing the students, in how to transform their matchsticks into needles, she walked around, encouraging various students, suggesting other ways, and by the time she reached Ranma’s table, smiled. “Well done, Miss Shidou, I did expect you to complete this assignment first, but you exceeded my expectations.  5 points to Ravenclaw.”  The professor walked off, after suggesting a few things to the others, while they stared at the silver needle in front of Ranko, who had a slight smirk on her face.



Ranma and Melange walked into the common room after dinner, stopping as Mitzi was looking at a desk studying it.  In the middle of the room was a pile of boxes.  Shir was looking at a different desk and shaking her head. 

"Mitzi, we can't run cable to our rooms, Professor Flitwick already nixed that, and wireless without prepping won't work in this environment, until we get a half dozen repeaters."  Shir's statement was complete mystification to the rest of the Ravenclaws.


"Yeah."  Mitzi was nibbling on a piece of Pocky.  "So, we simply place the modem here, and set up a router here as well.  We were told we could have as many desks as we needed." Mitzi pointed at a small table next to the fireplace.


"That'll work for now, yeah.  I rather go wireless, when we can convince the Professor to get the school to pay for it."  Mitzi snorted at Shir's statement.


"You honestly think the prims here even have a _clue_?" Mitzi flicked her ponytail back with that statement.  "I mean, c'mon.  They seem to think they're not even in the Industrial age."


Shir shrugged.  "Well, it's not like they had much reason to advance.  Both _our_ nations had a reason, you know that."  Mitzi nodded to that statement, and both began to go to work.  In less than a half hour, as the mystified Ravenclaws watched, what a few muggleborn and the other exchange students knew were computers were set up.


After Mitzi stopped and wiped her forehead and Shir tossed a cable into the fire a handsome 3rd year finally asked.  "Okay, I know those are computers.  I know you can get them to work in Hogwarts.  But... what the hell is the rest of that?"


Mitzi plopped down in a chair she dragged looking at Shir. "Standard NAT, Shir-chan?"


Shir nodded. "According to the paper I got from Flitwick-sensei, I have the IP for us, and our domain server we're to leech from.  Technically, we have no domain server, but ether Sora or Patterson's will allow us to access theirs, and we keep our emails from there."


Mitzi nodded.  "DCHP or IP?  Oh, Conner, we're setting up our computers for both the Magical Net and the Internet," Mitzi nodded at Shir's nod, and flipped a switch on her computer.


Sakura nodded. "Daddy is supposed to be sending me a computer; will there be enough ports for me?"  Mitzi nodded at Sakura.  "8 port, and we can always toss more switches on"


"Umm... might be a stupid question but..." Michael Collins asked. "What _is_ the MagicalNet and Internet?"


Mitzi stopped and looked at her fellow housemate.  "MagicalNet, and the Internet.  Which is the mundane equivalent of the MagicalNet. Both allow computers widely separated to talk to each other."


Michael looked at the puzzled expressions and braved a question again.  "And what's so useful?"  He watched as Mitzi finished typing something into her computer, and finished, moving a small device around. 


Shir and Mitzi both nodded at about the same time, and Mitzi muttered. "Up and running."  Mitzi waved at Michael to come over.


"It's this." With that she was busy clicking around, and a screen filled with the Logo of Patterson's school, with the words "Online Library access point.  Please enter student number and password to access online books"


Michael blinked, along with several other Ravenclaws who were looking over the shoulders of the two girls.


"Oh, and don't forget it's also a news feeder, way to chat with your friends back home, and a mail sender, too." Shir smirked at Mitzi.


Ranko rubbed her temple, and muttered, “Nevermind, sorry I even considered asking,” to herself before walking toward her bed, reaching for some parchment and a quill, beginning to write a letter.


Dear Mother,


            It hasn’t been a couple days and already I’ve missed you lots. Things have been kind of exciting I guess, though I think I’ve already made a fool out of myself. What else is new?


            I’m worried that Professor Flitwick doesn’t like me too much…though I imagine accidentally blowing him up might not have helped matters. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t my fault I sneezed when trying to cast a spell. Missed my first class with Snape-sensei because I had to go to the infirmary for it. I’m ok now, but I’m not sure Madame Pomfrey’s hair will grow back quite the same.


            Could you do me a favor and try to send me some warmer clothes, please? I didn’t realize how cold I can get in this body, especially since it’s a lot colder here than it is back home. I swear, I’m going to be sprouting icicles.


Love, Ranma


Just as Ranma was about to put the letter in the envelope, Mitzi stepped into the room. “Heya, Ranko. What’re you doing?”


Ranko looked up. “Oh, Hi, Mitzi. I was just writing home.”


A slight glint entered Mitzi’s eye as she said, “You know, Ranko, I’m sure your mother would appreciate hearing your voice, wouldn’t she?”


Ranko blinked and nodded slowly. “I’m sure she would. What about it?”


“Well, I know a way to make it so that the letter will read itself in your voice,” Mitzi offered, trying to stifle a grin.


Ranko smiled. “That’d be wonderful, if you don’t mind.”


Mitzi pulled her wand out as Ranko held her letter out. She tapped the letter, muttering a spell as the letter glowed a bit. “Ok, go ahead and put it in the envelope and it’s ready to send.”


Ranko nodded as she whistled out the window. A moment later, Soratsume hopped down onto the ledge. “Here you go, Sora-chan. Can you go ahead and take it to mom?” The falcon nodded and then took off. “Thank you a lot, Mitzi,” she said softly, smiling.


Mitzi nodded and grinned, patting Ranko’s shoulder before walking out, stifling a giggle. Ranko began to pack up her gear before heading back to the common room.


Ranma followed her roommates up, as Mitzi and Sakura were left in the common room, chatting over something.  The yawn that Ranma released was a clear indication it was time for bed.  Ranma snorted disgusted at how much sleep she seemed to want. She didn't remember being this sleepy last time she was eleven.  Her train of thought was interrupted by a dreamy voice.


"You know, fur is always a good thing to wear to keep warm, especially on our cold and wet mornings, don't you agree, Ranko?"  Luna's back was towards Ranma, and Ranma's expression was a study in puzzlement.


As they all reached their room, Ranma shrugged, and got changed for the night, and curled up in the warm blankets, not really caring what Luna knew or not knew.




A Siamese cat slipped out of her bed, her paws landing silently against the stone floor.  She leapt for the window, pondered it for a moment, and then placed one paw against the latch.  She pushed the latch down, let the window open, and slipped out of the room.  The window pushed back into its original position.


Luna's eyes shot open.  With a speed born only of manic insanity, she threw off her covers and ran to the bed next to hers. 


"Melange, wake up!"


"Mmmm... no more... tir... huh..."


"Melange!" Luna hissed. 


Mel woke up, and tried to focus on Luna.  "Huuh?"


"Ranko's out and about to practice.  Wake up Su Li and Mitzi."


"Meh."  Mel's verbal processing was still asleep; she groaned as she slid from her bed and reached for a robe. 


"Come on, come on!"  Luna was like a ferret on amphetamine-laced Aquila.  Mel... was not.  She trudged from her area, and moved to wake up Su Li.


Fortunately for Mel, Luna had failed any attempt at subtlety; by this point, Su Li and Mitzi were stirring on their own.  "Aw, come on, Luna... we've still got a couple of hours before breakfast," Mitzi whined.


"Trust me.  This should be fun," Luna grinned. 


Having a grinning maniac in your face tends to wake a person up quickly.  "Okay, okay... let me get some clothes on, first."


A short time later, the foursome snuck into the stands of the Quidditch pitch.  What they saw...


"It's... beautiful," Mitzi breathed. 


The picture was straight out of some legend or fairy tale.  Ranko perched atop the highest of the goals on the east end of the pitch, with the orange glow of sunrise for her backdrop.  Her movements were a perfection of mind, body, and soul, each movement weighed and measured to meld with the next in a seamless, unceasing skydance.  She moved as though height did not matter, as though gravity were an afterthought; jump-kicks, flips to neighboring hoops, and rebounds from location to location came with seemingly no effort or concern.  She moved in ways that should not have been, yet seemed obvious upon second glance, as though to say, "Why shouldn't a person be able to stand on one finger?"


The foursome watching had to remember to breathe.  What they saw violated every bit of common sense they had.  They knew she was good; they never imagined such skill being possible, let alone capable from someone barely old enough to attend Hogwarts!  Fortunately, they had enough sense not to question what was going on, but to enjoy the moment. 


A moment ended, for them, by the clump of boots on wood.  They ducked down behind the seats, careful not to be spotted.


Cho Chang stood at the entrance to the Quidditch pitch, dressed in the full gear of a trained Seeker.  A suitcase full of balls lay open behind her; she clenched a Snitch in one hand, and her broom in the other.  She let one hand open; the Snitch darted from place to place, and then flew in search of momentary freedom.  A moment later, she mounted her broom, and followed the Snitch out onto the pitch.


The Snitch zoomed over to near their seats; Cho didn't follow.  Instead, she lazily flew around the pitch, and then turned her broomstick toward the hoops. 


"This can't be good," Su Li whispered. 


Cho picked up speed as she zoomed toward Ranko; the girls grimaced as she approached her target.  For those who called Hogwarts home, the moment was doubly perplexing.  Cho was a gifted flyer, but Ranko was... Ranko.


Ranko had her back to Cho as the broom approached; Cho's body language eased, thinking Ranko an easy target.  She stuck her left arm out, expecting to nudge Ranko off the ring...


Ranko reached out, grabbed Cho's hand as though greeting a friend, and turned Cho around 180 degrees, all while making the movement appear perfectly natural.  "Good morning, Chang-san!" she called out cheerfully, her body still engaged in the dance.


"Shidou!" Cho spat, circling her broom around the pitch.  "This is a Quidditch pitch!  You have no business here!  Get off!"


Ranko's smile could have given Quidditch a night game.  "I was here first, Chang-san.  Please be careful, if you must practice."


"Be careful?  Ha!  You're the one without a broom here!"  Cho circled around, showing off the casual ease with which she flew.  She readied for a second pass.


The girls in the stands gasped.  This time there was no mistaking Cho's trajectory; her broomstick was aimed straight for Ranko's ever-moving form.  "I said... be careful!" 


This time, Ranko preferred avoidance to contact; one moment, she appeared a sitting duck about to be impaled by a broom; the next... a sitting duck directly behind the departing broom.  In between was a move that none of the girls had seen outside of the movies.  She twisted her body down and to the side at the last second, moving at speeds no normal human should, and twisted back into position as though nothing had happened - and all without appearing even remotely off balance.


"Whoa," Mitzi whispered.  "Is she The One?"


Melange smiled.  "She Knows Kung Fu." 


Cho, by the way, was not taking Ranko's avoidance well.  "Arrrgh!"  She whipped around on her broom and readied for another pass.


"Are you sure you want to do that, Chang-san?"  Ranko asked, looking completely undisturbed by the recent events.


"This is *my* pitch, first-year!  Get off!"  She flew well outside the pitch's boundaries, and then turned around, pushing the speed of her broom to its maximum. 


The move Ranko performed next made her last one look pedestrian by comparison.  Even though her back was to Cho's broom, she launched into a back flip, landed with two fingers on the front of Cho's broom, tweaked Cho's nose as she launched herself into another flip over Cho and the broom, then landed back on the ring, her movements in perfect balance. 


The four girls gulped as one.  "Did you see...?” Mel asked.


"Uh-huh", the others responded in unison. 


"Did she..." Mel asked.


"Uh-huh," they responded again, stunned beyond belief. 


Cho screamed in frustration; it seemed as though this most recent event had driven her beyond verbal conversation.  She snarled, whipped her broom around, and readied for another pass.


"Chang-san?" Ranko called to her, a touch of concern in her voice.  "You should probably stop now."  Cho wasn't listening.  She bore into Ranko with a terrifying ferocity, trying to impale Ranko with her broom. 


"Okay..." Ranko sighed just as Cho was about to ram into her.  With a deft move, Ranko pulled Cho off of her broom, and then tied Cho's hands to the scoring ring.  The broom, bereft of the will to fly, sailed off to land in a nearby field. 

"This is how _I_ get down from five stories, Chang-san” Ranma stated, and with those words, simply flipped off the ring, landing on her feet, with a smirk.


She passed the three girls, and was quietly laughing to herself. "That was more fun than sparring with Pops. Wonder if she'd do it again."


Before the three girls could sneak off to talk about it a silky voice behind them spoke up.

"While I know none of you do not posses a broom, I do know that leaving a fellow member of your house hanging, is... unbecoming of a student at this school.  Miss Kuukino, I would suggest you rescue Miss Chang from her predicament."


Mitzi spun around blinking.  "Umm, Professor... I don't own a broom."


Snape just raised an eyebrow, and with that, Mitzi sighed, lowering her head, and made a slight twisting motion on a charm on her bracelet.  Moments later, a small board hovered next to her.


Su Li and Luna looked at the hovering wood as Mitzi nudged it down, slipping her feet into two straps and shot up towards the hanging Seeker.


Snape walked off smirking to himself.  Along the way he passed Filius who was blinking at the display.  "Ah, Filius, I did tell you it would be an enjoyable show this morning, did I not?"

Filius could only nod to the display.   Before he could response a soft cackle came from the shadows. 


"And that was the young lady _holding_ back the majority of her talents, Filius.  I suggest you have a discussion with Miss Chang."


Filius turned and nodded to Cologne.  "I shall, though I don't know if it will do any good.  I do not understand where her behavior is coming from.  Perhaps a detention will allow her to explain to me her behavior."




Many times, Saotome Ranma has had bad feelings about situations. Most of them quite justified. And now, Shidou Ranma was feeling one of those very sensations. It was tickling her... Not so much a 'danger, Ranma Shidou, danger' siren, but more a nagging "It's going to be one of those stupid days" buzz. Unfortunately, like in the past, it was dead on.


And unfortunately, it started the moment /he/ walked in the door. Well groomed blond hair. A smirk that brought to mind Mikado Senzanin. And a booming, self-congratulatory voice. Yeah, Ranma thought to herself. This... is /really/ going to suck.


Ranma struggled to stay conscious under the Attack of the Loudmouthed Bore - er, Boar. This was probably the most difficult battle she had ever participated in, and the least interesting. Kami above, can't this guy go three words without breaking his shoulders patting his own back?


"Ms. Shidou?"  Ranma barely stifled a groan as she looked up. "Hai, Inoshishi-senshi?"  She mumbled, not really realizing she was saying her thoughts out loud.  As a redhead near her stifled a laugh, apparently agreeing, Ranko stopped, and realized what she just said.


Given the class, and the teacher, Ranma saw no point in staying, and stood, gathering her books into her bookbag, wondering idly if Mom could return them and get their money back.


Given it was only halfway though class, the irritated voice that stopped her before she reached the door, wasn't really a surprise.  "Miss Shidou!"  Professor Lockhart asked, clearly irritated by the seeming show of disrespect, and more importantly lack of attention she had given him.  "Pray tell, where do you think you are going, Class is not over!"


"I'm doing what I should have when seeing the books you required. Dropping this class, See you, baka-sensei!"  She waved and began to walk out the door. She stopped on hearing the voice again. 

"Care to explain that? DADA is required, and 50 points for such disrespect and insolence to me!"  Lockhart's oily voice snarled out.


"An eagle hides its talons, is how we Japanese put it.  And you're right; Defense against the Dark arts is required.  However, there is no requirement I take _two_ separate classes in it, in a year.  I'll stay with the Japanese one, Baka-sensei.  After all, she seems competent, and doesn't yet boast about her abilities, when anyone with sense can see your soft hands, and unlined face, nor any other signs of a person who has actually faced what you claimed to have faced."  Ranko held out a closed fist, the faint scars on her slightly swollen joints clearly visible.   "Nor do you move like you have fought.  Otherwise, your hands would be as mine.  Ja ne!"  She spun out, leaving Lockhart sputtering.


As she walked down the hall, whistling softly, she was stopped by a dark robed man, before she could turn the corner.


"May I inquire Miss Shidou just why you are not in Professor Lockhart's class?" the silken voice promised dire punishments if the response wasn't to his liking.


"Well, Snape-sensei, I chose to drop out.  After all, if I wished to listen to a braggart and a liar, I would find Malfoy or Kunou.  Even my pops was at least able to back up his tall tales on occasion, with proof he had done some of them.  However, I value my time, and since I don't look up Malfoy or Kunou... " She shrugged, clearly not rattled by the threat in the voice.


"I would be... cautious in whom I accused of such, Miss Shid-" Before the professor could finish, Ranko had snapped.


"Lockhart is nothing BUT those things, and if you think I won't call a pig a pig, you're mistaken!"


Snape studied the fuming student.  "Lockhart, I see.  Never the less, even if you do not respect the _person_ holding the title, you still must respect the title.  Otherwise you weaken the title for others who are worthy of it.  Now go onto Professor Flitwick's office, and explain your actions.  I'm sure Professor Lockhart has already punished you."


Ranma slumped, and began to trudge off.  Snape waited until Lockhart and several others were in range.   "Oh, and before you go, Miss Shidou..."

Ranma stopped, waiting for Snape's next words.  "20 points TO Ravenclaw, for your display of your house's wit and ability to see what is being hidden behind words.  Such must be rewarded."  Snape smirked as Ranko's shoulder's straightened, and she walked off.

Lockhart rushed up, and Snape watched as Ranma's ears caught the discussion before she was out of sight.

Lockhart's flushed face, was emphasized by his shrill voice.  "How dare you!"


Snape raised an eyebrow as he looked down his nose at the twit.  "I honor those who have both wit and wisdom, which is doubly so from those from Ravenclaw.  That IS that house's trademarks.  Pray tell why I shouldn't?"  Snape smirked as Lockhart sputtered.


Snape waited until Lockhart regained just enough ability to speak, cutting off any attempt by him to speak.  "If you care to dispute her wit and wisdom, or mine, pray tell, Professor, have a will or a good medwitch with you.  You will need the latter for her, because she won't kill you... as much as you might wish otherwise.  I... will consider it an affair of honor, of course."


Snape watched as Lockhart stormed off, smirking to himself.  If the twit attacked either him or Ranma, a new DADA professor would be needed shortly.