In the Shadow of the Forest…

by Utena_Anthy_Antics

Disclaimer: *sigh* For lack of any better words, I do not own either Harry Potter or Sailor Moon; they both belong to whomever the various companies that have stock in their ownership and whatnot.

Author's Notes: Since I like to think up weird and new ideas that (I hope) have never been used before, here is my story. As of yet, I have found no HP/SM crossover fan fiction remotely like this, and I am proud to present it. So please enjoy, kay? ^_^

Oh yeah… please review. I really enjoy reading those… Thanks!

Hermione was bored. Bored bored bored bored BORED. She had already read all of her books TWICE, and gone over her homework hundreds of times. Let's face it. There was nothing for her to do.

At all. Ever.

She couldn't very well go and have FUN, now could she? She couldn't go and explore the woods by herself, could she?

No. Hermione Granger would never think of such a thing. It just wouldn't do. It sounded like something Ron and Harry would do, NOT Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes Hermione Granger.

So why not? No one would ever suspect her of going on her own, so if she was caught, she could easily make an excuse. IF she was caught.

Hermione smiled evilly; today had turned out to be an okay day after all.

Hermione shivered, pulling her robe tighter around her. She held her wand out in front of her; it gave off dim light, just enough to light her way. She didn't want to attract any attention from any unwanted beasts or monsters, so she stepped slowly and softly, trying to keep her movements as quiet as she could.

The mists seemed to press in closer, and a lonely bird trilled sharply in a dark tree above, echoing in the oppressive silence. Snapping her head sharply to the left, Hermione's heartbeat doubled, and her breathing hitched, dying in her throat. She held her wand tighter, trying to govern any comfort from the sleek wood. She held her breath, not daring to move as soft noises, footfalls came towards her.

The pace at which the feet stepped seemed cautious, and they paused as if not sure of their intent; or, as Hermione's mind raced, as if sniffing out her trail!

Cold sweat beaded on her brow, and she trembled, her ears trained on the noise, her eyes wide and panicked. She tried to calm down, she really did, but her own hyped knowledge of what could be in this wood only served to send her into a deeper kind of nervous anticipation.

Finally, after an eon of paranoid suspense, the bushes rustled and parted, letting the person –or thing- through.

A small rusty brown wolf stepped out, its head and tail raised as forest green eyes surveyed the frozen girl in front of it.

Hermione's eyes grew wide, and she 'eeped', slowly starting to back away.

The wolf wagged its tail and looked almost amused as she took a step back. It took a step forward to match the distance again.

Taking another step, the wolf matched it again. Another, and again the wolf returned it.

Presently, Hermione suddenly found herself backed up against a tree trunk, the arm that held her wand trembled, and still the wolf advanced. Hearing her heartbeat in her ears, her teeth chattered, and it was all she could do not to collapse and blabber in fear.

"Please…please don't hurt m-me!" she whispered through a blocked throat, ashamed that she could not remember a simple spell, any spell at all!

The wolf paused, one paw raised as if to step forward, and Hermione absently noted that its paws were white socks, sort of like what horses had. It sat down on its haunches, the burning green eyes still locked onto her.

It yawned.

Hermione's breath grew even shorter and her eyes clenched shut as she say the maw of the wolf filled with razor sharp teeth. This is it, she though morbidly, I'll never be able to take the OWL's now! Why can't I remember any spells!?

"That's because I've blocked your mind. There's no reason for you to be afraid," a soft voice said, startling Hermione so much she gasped and her eyes flew open. Her gaze settled on the wolf who SMILED and suddenly blurred, settling into the shape of a young girl with white, silver hair and blue eyes who smiled warmly at her.

"But…!" Hermione started, suddenly not afraid anymore around the girl.

"Yes, I know. Different then the markings of my wolf-shape. But a girl does have to keep an alias, sometimes," the girl smiled, then beckoned her forward, "Come. I shall lead you to a safe place where we can talk."

When Hermione hesitated, the girl inclined her head, and repeated, "There is no reason to be afraid. Come."

Shaking her head, Hermione pocketed her wand and slowly walked forward. The girl waited patiently, a soft smile on her face so different then the wolf. Not for the first time Hermione wondered if she was under a spell.

"No. I have no reason to want to bewitch you, other then for your safety."

"How is it you can read my mind?" she asked quietly, pausing for her answer.

The girl laughed, and amused expression crossing her face. "Ah, I see," she chuckled, shaking her head, "You are one who is not to be satisfied without knowing the whole truth. A commendable trait. Yet be wise, Little Sparrow, there is time when you will have to be satisfied with what is given, and figure out the rest yourself."

She sobered and looked deep into Hermione's eyes, the blue hypnotic and calming, "All will be explained – in time. There are things in this forest that are not as kind as I, and they have already caught your scent. Please, allow me to lead you to my home. There, and only there, we will talk." She held out her hand, offering it to the girl.

Hermione took it, and the girl smiled, relieved; her hand was warm and comforting, not at all like the coldness she was expecting from skin the color ivory. That settled some of the hesitancy still in Hermione's thoughts. A creature of evil wouldn't be so warm and soft, would they?

"No they wouldn't. You are right, Little Sparrow. Now follow me," the werewolf smiled, her blue eyes twinkling as she led them from the clearing, easily seeing through the mist and navigating over the uneven ground.

Hermione had no choice but to follow, her hand held tight by the other's strong fingers.

She shivered; behind them came the sound of a haunting howl, just yards away from the place Hermione had just been.

"Do you want some tea, Miss Granger? I was just brewing some when I went out to get you," the soft voice of her host asked as she led Hermione into a small cave that had been turned into a home for the werewolf's use.

"Uhm…no thanks," Hermione shook her head, still a little nervous of the girl in front of her. She didn't SEEM any older than her own 16 years, but the way she spoke and moved and acted, belied an even older age. She cleared her throat and sat in a chair the girl motioned her at and asked, "How-how do you know my name?"

The girl laughed, lighting a few candles around the cave to cast more light, having built a door in the entrance. The candles added light to the flickering fire in the fireplace in the far corner. Crossing over, she poured herself a cup of tea, asked again, "You sure you don't want any?" and at Hermione's soft yes, took a seat next to her in another old chair.

"My dear, no one in this forest would not recognize a best friend of Harry Potter! And I have seen you before, though you may not know it," she added, sipping her tea after blowing on it.

"You have? Where?"

"Well, sometimes when Hagrid has classes, I sneak down just to see what happens. His classes are so much fun to watch! He obviously has a kind heart towards monster, though doesn't know how to control them!" The girl laughed softly as if a private joke, and then her eyes widened. Looking quickly up at Hermione, she smiled apologetically,

"Oh! I'm sorry. I've forgotten to introduce myself. I'm Usagi Tsukino, Muggle-born Were-mage."

Hermione's eyes widened. A Were-mage! They were one of the most powerful kinds of wizards out there! And to be Muggle-born…!

Usagi nodded, "Yes, I can turn into any kind of animal I want to. Even a fire-breathing wrym, though that's kind of hard to control – fire breath and all. I coughed up smoke for a week afterwards! It was NOT fun."

"But why are you living in the FOREST?" Hermione asked, leaning forward eagerly. If Usagi could teach her some magic…!

Usagi set down her empty teacup and poured herself a new cup, taking a sip before answering, regarding Hermione with calm eyes. "Hold on, Little Sparrow. I have no doubt you would be a fast pupil,"

Hermione smiled proudly, surprised at the praise.

"But you are already attending Hogwarts. I could only teach you after dark, and you would have to sacrifice sleep and your normal studying time."

Hermione opened her mouth, ready to accept, but Usagi cut her off with a stern look, her blue eyes boring into Hermione's brown.

"I am not as young as I seem, and I can be a strict teacher. Alas, were-magic grants the wielder long life and slow aging. If you accept to learn, you will watch you friend's age and probably die long before you do.

"I am warning you," Usagi's gaze was hard yet compassionate at the same time, "Were-magic is not easy to learn if not born to it. So I am asking, are you willing to accept these conditions?"

Hermione was silent for a while, avoiding Usagi's gaze as she thought long and hard for a decision. Finally raising her gaze, she locked it with Usagi's and asked, "May I ask one thing?"

Usagi nodded, a smile tugging at her lips, "Go on."

Hermione hesitated, her hands going sweaty. She wiped them on her robe and asked, "How long have you lived in this forest?"

Her smile widened, and her blue eyes closed in a show of respect at the question. One hand moved to set down the teacup, and Usagi looked through her silvery bangs, pinning the student with her gaze. "600 years. I have lived in this forest for 600 years," she whispered.

"Why?" Hermione asked, her voice cracking.

"To wait for a pupil. I knew sooner or later one would come."

"Why me?"

Usagi smiled, somehow pleased with the question. "You have a strong heart, a quick mind, a thirst for knowledge that does not overpower you yet makes you strive to do better, to know more. You have tasted publicity, yet did not pursue it. You don't let other people's opinions drag you down. But most of all, you are a FRIEND."

Hermione's eyes widened. "You think so highly of me?" she whispered.

Usagi nodded, "That and more." A slightly sheepish look crossed her face and she laughed nervously, "Also…"

"Yes?" Hermione asked, curious as to her expression.

"I'm kind of lonely! It's been years and years since I've been to Hogwarts, and I miss human interaction!" She shrugged, "I am, after all, only human. I came to live here for privacy, but even that got really boring. I can't help it!" She laughed, shaking her head, "I want company."

She smiled at Hermione, her eyes twinkling, "Besides, it'll be nice teaching someone again." She suddenly sobered and tilted her head, looking at Hermione with shrouded eyes, "Do you accept…? I don't want you to feel like I'm pressuring you."

Hermione was silent. Finally looking up, she took a deep breath and composed herself. Raising her head, she cleared her throat and asked, "If I did not accept…would we still be friends?"

Usagi nodded, smiling warmly.

Then Hermione smiled, and said cautiously, "Then, as a friend, may I have some time to think?"

"Of course! I could not ask otherwise! Take all the time in the world. I'll be waiting." Usagi smiled ruefully and stood up, holding out a hand to help the girl up from her chair, "Come now, Little Sparrow, it is time you return to Hogwarts. Your friends are waiting."

She helped her up and tapped her nose, "C'mon, I'll show you a shortcut out of the forest."

So…how was it? It WAS different; I did warn you. Anyway, please review. I already have part of the next chapter written out, so I'll probably post it in a couple of weeks. Thanks.